Like the time I chose a macrocarpa frond from the box on Palm Sunday. It lay flat on the back of my hand. I smelled its lemony freshness that I stripped to its stalk and rubbed until the scent became muddy.
Like the time I held a candle, protected by a cardboard square skirt, to catch the melting wax. I tilted the candle on its side to allow the wax to drip onto my skin and harden.
Like the time I listened to the story about the Three Wise Men, and I wasn’t interested in their gold, because I wanted to understand frankincense and myrrh.
Like the time my uncle brought me a doll from the Tower of London, and she carried a lavender-filled basket.
Like the time I thought perfume might be important to being a woman, and I began wearing 4711 and Charlie.
Like the time the Opium in the courtroom became oppressive, and I realised there was perfume I could never wear.
Like the time the green-lidded woman spritzed perfume on my wrists and then pulled the collar of my dress towards her spraying perfume onto my chest. Her enthusiasm surprised me.
Like the time I decided I couldn’t wear perfume with jasmine in it, because jasmine makes my head heavy.
Like the time the man walking beside me asked what is that alluring fragrance you have on, and I wondered at his emphasis of is.
Like the time my husband said the perfume didn’t smell like me.
Like the time a friend I hadn’t seen in twenty years reminded me of the perfume I used to wear. How could she remember when I had forgotten?
Like the time I wore perfume and my son pressed his nose against the inside of my wrist.
Like the times the women in the perfume shop told me about the perfumes they wore, but I’d been there so many times and I still couldn’t choose.
Like the time my husband gave me a bottle of the perfume I wore when we first met and I wouldn’t open it.
Like the time I gave up on perfume, because I couldn’t decide how I wanted to smell.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Russ is a writer and artist who lives in Nelson. She completed the MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2018.