Strange New Perfume

It was the second hour, past midnight.

Sleep had escaped from her pillow like water through fingers. Her days about getting scared due to a distant clap of thunder had passed years back. The days, which she was living now, were of Microwave Ovens and candlelight Tandoori Chicken. All of the thirty-six years of her life, the last fourteen were the happiest. On the first day of these fourteen years, she got married the man who loved her more than anything else in his world. This night, when she was tossing on her bed, alone, waiting, was the very same day fourteen years ago, when they had tied the knot. The years passed before her eyes like a book, and every time this happened, she smiled. She smiled that lonely night too. Caring less about the new little black dress she chose for this evening, all but crumpled now.

It was his favorite color. She wanted to look at herself again in the mirror, like she had been doing since 6 pm. She turned the light on, reached the mirror, and read the card he gifted to her, early morning. “To the most beautiful woman. Happy anniversary, Rhea. From Sameer.” it read, and she read it silently, but her full lips moved with every word she said. She had lost interest in admiring herself in the mirror again. She knew she looked good, curves at the perfect places and a skin that glowed, but worry had taken over her expression.

Rhea moved to the window, which overlooked the gate of their bungalow. Thunder clapped at irregular intervals, but the town was fast asleep, not a dog barking, not even the moon. Distant car headlights flashed and the patterns on the iron gates graced beautifully across the concrete pavement. The car drew towards the gate, gained as if by the growing smile on her lips and turned a harsh right, vanished sooner than her smile. She was about to turn away when a familiar car horn honked at the watchman to open the gates. It was the Santa Fey, alright. It was Sameer, no doubt.

Her anger, which had built up since six hours, had lost its power over her. She rushed downstairs caring less if she tripped, to the door behind which Sameer was standing now, smiling, a bit tipsy, but it was okay, she could’ve dealt with it. They hugged, when she realized. A new fragrance hit her sharp between her eyebrows. A strange new perfume declared itself. That, which a woman would wear. But it wasn’t what she had worn or she ever wore. It was a strange new perfume that took the beauty of the night away. Lightning flashed through the open door. All that he saw was the twinkle in her eyes, he knew that she realized, he smiled and walked towards the bedroom.

Not on this night, Rhea thought, his betrayal could’ve delayed.

But it didn’t.

She knew not why.

Based on “Thunder Rolls” by Gaarth Brooks


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