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A perfect wife. Her husband is a dignified man with a good position, who comes home straight from his office and right to their neat two-storey nest. A usual peck on the cheek, a pet of their terrier, a plate of steaming dinner, a couple of routine questions about the kids. There are two. Both are doing well at school, the older is a top student, the younger is into sports. In-laws are satisfied with their son’s choice - she’s a decent match. Friends and neighbors sing in unison that the family is exemplary.

Some are even envious. Her mother’s liking of her son-in-law is maybe even too much, enough to make jealous though he never gave any reasons to. Summers at the resort, holidays at family reunions. Everything is set, everything is just the right fit, everything is perfect. Except for sometimes there’s The Scent.

 It appears out of nowhere. While doing the dishes, trying to read a book, drawing up a to-do list, spacing out after a long day of hustle. It’s as if kept within the storehouse of her memory in a lockbox, that somehow gets unlocked every now and then and spills The Scent. It makes her freeze for a moment, taken off-guard, with a bittersweet smile and non-blinking eyes that have no relation to the image bursting in her head. Painfully familiar, yet so alien, since nothing in her life smells like this anymore.

There once was an item that preserved The Scent for her, but it got lost long ago somewhere in the commotion of her decisions. She used to keep it securely wrapped, at the bottom of her drawer where no one would ever decry it. Even if it had ever been found, no one would pay much attention to a plain old T-shirt, while for her it was an object to treasure, an artifact, created by her after she heard a story of women sending their men to war. Whether it was true or not, it told of how a woman would make her man wear the same shirt to soak in his scent and then put it under the pillow to create a feeling of safety and closeness while he was away.

There was no war in her own story but there was lots of ‘away’ and The Scent, that she always found stupefying, helped her through it. A characteristic scent, unmistakable, fresh and dense; his own kind of perfume, now deeply ingrained in her olfactory receptors. It brings out the memory of looks, of touches and silences.

A scent of utmost secrecy, a raw bestial urge; the body speaking, longing and disregarding the rational, when the hand just goes down, taking her into a special fold of time, a succession of inhales and moans, ending with a strong exhale, that brings her back to her reality. And then she’s free, but she knows it will come back, like a blot on calligraphy, an unexpected call to haunt her perfect world should the rational part give in a little.

And it always does.


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