A Smell From the Past by Em Paquette ’19

White Shoulders, a beautiful woman, coated in gold, fingerprints covering every inch of the top, with the liquids inside of it moving with the small movements of my fingertips. A small container, small enough to fit a few grapes or maybe raspberries. But for me, it holds a world of smells that takes me back to my childhood. It smells almost Victorian, a smell that is so hard to put words to. Rich in nature, with a hint of sweetness at the core. Bringing me back to when I was younger, running through the door, my nose filling quickly with the richness of my grandmother’s perfume. With a touch, my hand is cooled.

I can remember the time right after her funeral. With tears streaming down my face, my body shaking with sadness. I only wanted to smell her once more, feel her touch, the touch of her old frail hand, and a touch of her warm kiss on the top of my head. My little self sat by the door, waiting for all the grownups to leave her apartment. Once the door creaked open, I waited. Waiting and watching all of the sad faces leave with a few objects here and there. I wondered what they were doing, why were they taking her stuff, that belonged there. But one day I would learn to know they were reading through her will, handing out every last “meaningful” object she left behind. My small body quickly scurried into the door, looking at a once lively and warm home, but now I was just alone. My small hands took what my small brain wanted, her handprint in clay, some old gloves she had, small Christmas cards, I grabbed enough stuff to fill a box that sits at the end of my bed now. But one last thing my small hands latched onto was the smell. Not knowing how much it would impact me in the end, my eight-year-old brain took it and held it close to my heart as I walked out. My feelings, love, and hope for everything have been hidden and secretly told to her through this bottle of perfume. A perfume that reminds me of my past, a time when my best friend was still here to wear it. Tearing up my body still reacts to the meaning, and to the pain.

As I have grown older, my emotions for this small bottle have grown greater. As I moved away from the house I once shared with her, this bottle sat in my lap, with my fingertips touching every inch.