Julian-specific Aroma-fusions

Once Julian left for good, I started riding the Route 11 bus northbound to the Towson Mall. It was an hour ride one-way, so I made the trip mostly on Saturdays. I don’t remember what I did to occupy my time en route. Most likely, I thought about specificities pertaining solely to Julian — not to torture myself but because I was truly afraid I’d forget certain characteristics that belonged only to her. Like her extraordinarily long fingers that could perfectly cup the right side of my face, from my jaw up to my temple, while we’d lie in bed facing one another, talking about God-knows-what: children, coffee, the latest nonfiction book she was reading and why she liked or disliked it. She’d gently tap her fingers on the side of my head; brush away the wisps of hair that fell into my eyes. I’d inch closer to her, turn and press my face into her pillow — that’s where I could smell everything about her all at once: her perfume, her breath, her body lotion; her sweat that had built up in the pillowcase fibers, that permeated back a sweet mixture like fresh bread and recent sex. The day she took off, I came home to find she’d left me that pillow and pillowcase. Months passed and when her scent started to fade from them, I frantically jumped on the Route 11 bus northbound to the Towson Mall. That’s where she’d bought her perfume and body lotion. Every weekend, I tried to find it again, that perfect mixture with a precise perfume-to-body-lotion ratio. Trouble was, I didn’t know the brands, or even their singular smells. I only knew them together as Julian-specific aroma-fusions. They did come from the same department store. I got a lot of strange looks in that place when I’d stoically take a tester bottle of perfume, walk with it to the nearby lotion counter, spray it on a bottle of lotion, and with my nose as close as possible, sniff with all my might.

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