A Certain Scent by Townsend Walker

March 8, 2012 Comments Off on A Certain Scent by Townsend Walker

I take the number 36 to work every morning at 7:45. Sal pulls the bus into the stop in front of me.

“Looking a bit tired this morning,” Sal says. “Late night?”

“You know me, always on the go.”

At the next stop, a woman gets on and sits down beside me. She’s not a regular. The tap-tap-tap tells me she’s wearing heels. She doesn’t brush against me when she sits; most people do, seats are narrow. She’s slim. A moment passes–I hear the near silent sibilance of nylon against nylon as she slowly crosses her legs. She doesn’t bother to pull her skirt down; I’d sense the movement. But the skirt thoughts don’t linger as I become enveloped in her scent. Top notes of orange blossom followed closely by notes of rose caress my nose and tongue. While I’m conjuring a pale long-haired honey blonde, base notes of vetiver and sandalwood drum their way into my consciousness, revising her to a lithe henna haired Mediterranean. Such a woman would wear this fragrance.

But at this time of day? On a bus? Where would she be going? Or more likely, coming from. From a night of story telling? Was this the first night?

I turn toward her to say something. But what? Do you ride this bus often? Bland. Are you on your way home? Forward. Where are you off to this fine morning? Lame. That’s an interesting perfume you’re wearing. A maybe. Hurry Harry, say something. The bus pulls into my stop before I find a line.

I get off. She’s behind me. This can’t be happening. Through the front door of the building, to the elevator. I’m dreaming.

“Excuse me.” A husky voice, trace of an accent, maybe French. “Is this the elevator to the East Tower?

“No,” I reply, my heart dipping. I can only guess at the disappointment on my face. “It’s on the other side of the lobby.”

I stumble toward her. “That’s an interesting perfume you’re busing home.”

“Thank you, it’s Je Reviens.”

© 2012 Townsend Walker

Townsend Walker is a writer living in San Francisco. During a career in finance he published three books: foreign exchange, derivatives, and portfolio management. His stories have been published in over forty literary journals and included in five anthologies. Two of his stories were nominated for the PEN/O.Henry Award. Four stories were performed at the New Short Fiction Series in Hollywood. His book “A Little Love, A Little Shove: Stories” is forthcoming from Shelfstealers Press in September 2012. The website is http://www.townsendwalker.com

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