As I occasionally do, this month I’m giving our Romancing the Genres readers a piece from my collection of two-page stories. When I complete a hundred of them, I’ll publish these little ditties in a collection titled Is There an App for Life’s Third Act? – Short Stories for Baby Boomers in a Hurry. Yep, the title is excessive for extra-short stories, but that’s by design. As we boomers get older, I want to capture those moments that defined our youth, entry into adulthood, middle age, and finally our retirement with headwinds.
The change of season, especially from summer to fall, sparks memories triggered by aromas, like the sweet and savory blend of vegetable beef soup, the spiciness of chili bubbling on the stove, or the mouth-watering fragrance of cinnamon rolls puffing up in the oven. There are other triggers, too, even more powerful ones than food. Some scents ignite memories of first loves and desire. Ah, yes, the perfume that lingers in the fibers of that forgotten sweater in the drawer. This short story is one of those.
The first step into the perfume department of Nordstrom scrambled my memory like aromatic crossed wires. I had only one scent on my mind; the memory of a citrusy aroma. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the name, but its secrets were lingering in an old sweater that had been in my drawer for years. So much clung to that sweater that I could never get rid of it.
“Can I help you?” the saleswoman said from behind the counter. A variety of delectablepotions waited in glass bottles of sensual, curvy shapes. Dishes of coffee beans dotted the area to clear the olfactory palate.
With my wrist extended, a jet spray of something amber from an S-shaped bottle made my nose wrinkle. Too vanilla and sweet. Did the woman just ask me a question? “What? Oh . . . I hope so. I’m trying to find my youth.”
The sixtyish woman pursed her lip-sticky smoker’s lips, an odd shade of Bing cherry that had bled into the crevices. She tapped her matching acrylic nails on the glass case, which tinkled a small key attached to an orange rubberized wrist coil. “Never heard of it. But Youth Dew is right over here.” She moved down the case like a cougar stalking a bunny rabbit.
“No, no, no. A scent from my youth ―I was fifteen,” I said and dodged her clawed paw. “I can’t remember the name. I’ve been swimming in the memory of the fragrance for days. It’s driving me crazy.” I pointed to my temple and rolled my eyes.
“Give me a bitty hint.” The saleswoman studied me for an expensive sales clue.
I ignored her, but I caught a glimpse of myself in the oval mirror on a stand, someone I didn’t recognize. With sagging eyelids, my once-vivid blue eyes appeared tired. The peachy glow in my cheeks had been brushed on from a compact. Even my blond hair was a result of a combustible mixture concocted by a hairdresser. But at fifty-five, the aroma of a memory never faded. If I could just get a whiff, the years would roll back to the moment where I was young and fresh, my whole life ahead of me.
“Fresh, light and fruity,” I said. The memory whirled like an iced strawberry daiquiri. In the strobe of colored lights in the high school gym in 1976, I was beautiful as my lemony fresh eau de parfum swirled around me. The guy I had a crush on took my hand to dance. I’d never touched him before. His skin was softer than I expected as we slow danced to Lynrd Skynrd’s Freebird. In slow motion, the flickers of light animated his fingers against my clingy synthetic blouse.
“Do you want to Be Delicious?” the woman asked, interrupting my thoughts.
“Yes. . .” I whispered. A spritz of Donna Karan’s Be Delicious on a white strip waved in front of my nose. I closed my eyes. Crisp green apples, with undertones of savory herbs. “Nope. Nice try, though. Mine was lemony. Wrong fruit.”
The saleswoman nodded and gave me a knowing smile. “Guilty? It’s Gucci.” She released the words like a tickle session.
“Gotcha, but that’s not it.” I shook my head.
The woman moved to a new display. “Mmmm...how about this?”
A citrusy aromatic strip transported me to a Florida orchard with Jo Malone’s Nectarine. “Yes. Completely.” I widened my eyes. I’m close. Senses sparkled. “Begins with an S. Skin . . . Skinny . . .Skinny Dip!” I drummed my forefingers on the counter. “Thank God! I remembered the name!”
The saleswoman snorted a laugh. “Honey, that cheap drugstore cologne was discontinued forty years ago.” She snatched another tester bottle from the mirrored tray and pointed the nozzle at me. “I think Obsession is more your style.”
|Loma Smith Photography|
Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her new family. She writes for baby boomers. By day, Courtney is an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, she is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and She Writes. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal.
Check out all of Courtney's books at:
courtney-pierce.com and windtreepress.com. Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com
The Dushane Sisters are back in Indigo Lake. More laughs, more tears...and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.
New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."
Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's trilogy about the Dushane sisters. Beginning with The Executrix, three middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death. Mom’s book gives them a whole new view of their mother and their future. Is it fiction . . . or truth?
Get out the popcorn as the Dushane Sisters Trilogy comes to a scrumptious conclusion with Indigo Legacy. Due out in summer, 2017.