Scent from the Past

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.”
– Richard Bach

Sun

It’s remarkable how intimately our sense of smell is linked to our memories.

The other morning on the bus into town I sat engaged at reading, silently enjoying that pale golden shade of sun you only see in early spring or late autumn, when a young woman sat down next to me. As the scent of her perfume filled my nostrils, my mind filled with memories.

Sixteen years ago almost to the day, the sun coming through her windows had the exact same silvery-golden quality and my nose was filled with that exact same scent. It was the first night we had spent together and I had not yet fallen in love. As I lay there drowsily admiring her sleeping form, trying to decide if I should hold on to the moment or if I should wake her with a kiss and a hope of repeating the events of the night before, her eyes fluttered open and she smiled. We kissed. It was every bit as full of sparks as our first kiss had been, some seven hours earlier.

A few weeks later she told me that she loved me. I watched her sitting by the window in the light of the spring sun, eating muesli mashed together with banana. I felt proud and guilty at the same time, wondering if I could ever feel the same way about her. Later on, we kissed in public for the first time – a big step for a woman not overly fond of public displays of affection.

A few months more and we had slept together for the last time – though neither of us really knew it at the time. I was in love, but knew we had an expiration date. Ours was an entanglement of poetry, flowers, art and breaking rules. It was not meant to last. Having never really been together, we never really had to break up. There was no last goodbye – not even when she moved away, not even when we spoke a few years later, and all the memories I have of her are happy.

The first time I smelled her scent on another was on a crowded city street. All of a sudden my body was alight with passion and I was back in her sun-lit bed, her body pressed so close to mine it almost hurt. I’m back there every time it reaches me, her scent from the past.

I cannot for the life of me recall what scent it is and I’m afraid to ask. I fear the magic will be ruined if I know.


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2 comments

  1. Have you heard of a book called Ashes by Ilsa Bick? The main character is a young woman who has lost her olfactory sense due to a brain tumour. Bick deals with the fact that this loss has had a significant effect on her memory. I’d forgotten about this till I read this entry.

    Liked by 1 person

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