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The Perfume Lingers

I was hanging out in a YouTube livestream tonight when a question was asked: "How do you show a person has trauma without outright stating it." That concept spawned this short piece.

The Perfume Lingers

By Laura Nettles

The smell of her perfume lingers in the air. Adele’s. The Woman’s. It’s cloying scent sets my grinding teeth on edge, the sweetness so thick it coats my tongue. Stifles my words. Just as she once had.

I run to the window, throwing open the curtains revealing the spectacular view of Lyon, France. My fingers slice open on the metal latches keeping the fresh air out and memories in. I take a deep breath trying and steady myself. The scent sends my brain into a whirlpool of history I had wrestled away into locked boxes in the darkest, deepest abysses of my mind. They have been freed by air alone. A whisper of her presence. The suspended particles talons in my soul.

Blood races from my index fingers, down my wrists and forearms to drip on the rich Parisian rug as the latches finally un-catch. Blown glass widows open wide letting the breeze off the Rhône River delicately run its fingers over my face. The hints of the alps from which the river flows fills my very being with the clarity of melted glacier. Freedom.

I am free of her. She does not know I am here. It’s just a coincidence. And yet…

There, upon the low table is a clutch purse. Hers.

Snick. The door to the small parlor unlatches.


The single word freezes my blood. The perfume has returned, leeching through the air, reaching its shackles towards me. My heard stutters, the arrhythmia I thought I had recovered from returning in full force. The Woman. The Woman is behind me. Knows I’m here.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

The phrase I had longed to hear for years reaches my ears, but my stalled mind cannot comprehend them. After all she had done. The lives she had ruined. Was she even capable of feeling remorse?

“I promise to leave you alone. You will never see me again, unless you call for a meeting yourself. If it’s any consolation, I’m leaving my entire estate to your daughter. She misses you. I’ll see myself out now.”

As she leaves, her perfume lingers. The sweetness now overshadowed by regret.

The End

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