Jim bought Mary perfume for their third anniversary. He read an article in a health magazine while waiting at a doctor's office about the positive effects of aromatherapy. He knew Mary had been feeling bored lately, maybe even down, and although he was not the type of man to discuss such things or intuitive enough to give advice, he thought that it might be a good idea for his wife who was very difficult to shop for. He considered a bottle with a more minimalist design, but it smelled too much like a brothel he visited once when traveling for business in Thailand. Although he never paid for sex and it was long before they were married, he never told Mary and just the thought of the perfume made him feel guilty. On the other hand, pink glass and bows made him think of a little girl, perhaps one they might have together one day, if Mary agreed.
Mary had never worn perfume and always assumed it would give her sensitive skin hives. In fact, she had never thought much about smell, her own olfactory organ seemed lacking in insight. Mary examined the pink glass bottle shaped like a bow and wondered if her husband even knew her at all. She watched him reading his new book, the one she had spent hours researching to ensure a perfect gift. Her perfume was named, Go Girl, a phrase she had heard commonly used in pop culture, but had never used herself. Had he stopped into a drug store on the way home from work, suddenly remembering their anniversary, and picked up the first thing he saw? She sometimes wondered if marriage made Jim complacent, as if he had checked it off his list of things to do and could move on with the rest of his boring life.
Opening the bottle, Mary smelled flowers and thought of her dead grandmother, her doilies and plastic covered sofa. She missed her grandmother, the way she told her fairy tales and gave her caramel candies, the way they giggled together like little girls. Sniffing again, Mary remembered an old dive bar where she hung out in college before she met Jim and did shots until the early hours when she went home with random lingering men. She always slipped out in the morning, a mystery they could later fantasize about. Mary liked the mix of grandma and dive bar. She looked over at Jim and considered that she might have underestimated him.
She sprayed the perfume into the air and jumped into the spritz. “Wonderful!” she exclaimed, laughing. Jim was surprised by Mary’s sudden amusement. He laughed with her as she sprayed the perfume around the house, misting furniture and dark corners. Soon, the perfume filled the rooms, causing them to cough and convulse with laughter. They ran to open the windows and doors. Once outside, they kept running until they reached the forest, the scent of whiskey and roses trailing close behind. Tripping over stumps and rocks, Jim and Mary laughed harder still when butterflies mistook her hair for flowers and shrouded her head with white wings.
About the author:
Johanna DeBiase is a freelance writer based in Taos, New Mexico. Read more of her work here.