by Kelsey Page
Published on: Apr 8, 2006
Type: Short Stories

And this is what it feels like to die. At least she observed the details so carefully she missed the larger picture. The scent of vanilla had always seeped in from the garden and courtyard to the more private and personal corners of the house, haunting its very mistress. She hated vanilla. The warm, addictive smell of something that could smell so wonderful and taste so horrible reminded her of her life’s bittersweet story. She would never lie and say her own life had been well spent, but at least it was spent. Everything had passed before her dimming eyes. Her thick auburn curls had gradually been exchanged for a limp mass of gray gold. Her skin, which was until the age of responsibility and heartbreak, once smooth like the water upon which her husband rowed across every dawn and dusk, had been churned to a map full of deep crossroads and experiences. The only two things that had remained in perfect tact were her sadness and green eyes. That’s how she had ended up living in hell with the least considerate man the south had yet to see. He was crazier about the forests and summer afternoon rains he saw in her eyes than the actual character behind them. And that’s why it was no surprise why instead of holding her hand, fragile for the first time in her life, that he was out on the lake, rowing away until mortality got the best of him and called him home for rest, shelter, or food. It was no wonder why their marriage of 60 years had produced nothing more than three dead cats and a fatal heartache. Her parents had been the first to warn her against his empty words, wandering eyes, and his unquenched thirst for change. Unfortunately, she had been the last to discover him and the first of his public lovers in their honeymoon bed the first fresh day of their marriage. She decided to move frequently. Not to try and prevent him from his cocky nature, but to try and preserve her honor and reputation for at least a few months at a time. Their dead unborn child had been more than enough to keep her quiet about having the children she always wanted company from. Those first years were simply heartaches, the next to follow not only broke her heart and soul, but her bones as well. Her inclining hospital record worried doctors as her husband made sure that they were paid to mend her bones instead of her life. She never planned on forgiving him, but cancer has a way of speaking gently through the pain. So as she lowered herself back into her nest of sickness, her mind finally allowed her body to pass on in peace. The only change death had brought onto her was a weaker body and a more forgiving nature. It took him nearly a year to notice her absence. And even then, a wedding invitation had only pushed him to venture onto the side of the house that attempted to fight off the suffocating vanilla, use all his aging strength to open the heavy oak door, and find the imprint of her missing body on the neatly made cot. On the bedside was a note that read; I was never alive to you, so I don’t see how my death will mar your existence in the least. Tell the others you buried me somewhere that smells of the salted oceans, far away from the vanilla. This was the only way. He raised his eyes to the cheap aluminum burearu, wiped clean of what few possessions she had owned, bare of her trace forever. He then picked up the phone, and called what few friends he still had living. He told them that she had passed in the night, an unexpected fervent wind had stolen his perfect wife from his grasp forever. He said he was to bury her in the midst of vanilla. ‘She’s always loved vanilla.’ He insisted. ‘Could never get enough of the stuff.’ And as their remaining three friends coughed and tried to conceal their own slow deaths they cast their eyes upon the cheap
empty casket perfumed by vanilla. She was right, this was the only way.

« return.