You don’t easily forget the scent of the woman in whose arms you have regularly breathed out your last breath. Even if it was only an affairette, the aftermath of it is like fine, grinding sand that settles into every crack of your life. The sound of high heels on the wooden floor. The way the waitress in your local bar puts off her glasses. Accidentally putting down two plates for breakfast.
But smells last longest and hers is a perfume. Poison by Dior: a perfume with notes of orange flowers, honey, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, cherry, rose, tuberose, wild berries, jasmine, cedar, sandal tree, vetiver, musk, vanilla, heliotrope and opopanax, according to the advertisers.
That scent can suddenly fall upon you from behind: the hairdresser that bends towards you to cut your sideburns, the cashier that says ‘sorry’ when she wants to pass by the queue, an African girl with a saffron headscarf in the tram.
Even when you walk out of your own house with a friend, when you cross your own street minding your own business and go to your own cafeteria to share a fish & chips, it happens to you. A woman crosses our path and leaves an oriental trail of flowers.
‘Poison.’ I grumble.
‘How do you know?’ she asks.
She is silent.
‘That scent,’ I tell her, ‘is a memory every time: we take a stroll though the park; share a cigarette; we kiss.’
‘That will pass.’ she comforts me.
I protest: ‘I don’t want it to pass!’
‘That will pass too.’
Nothing, really nothing is sacred.