'The Scent of a Memory' by Lucy Oliver

A flash of bright white light in her eyes. The red skirt tight against her legs. She pulled it high and danced the jitterbug. Whistles made her jump - loud shrill sounds that disturbed her mind.

Cigarette smoke hung in the air, the exhaled white tendrils twisting towards her like spirit fingers. She forced them into her lungs. The sharp smell reminded her of the bed sheets after he returned to his corvette ship. She would rest her face against the warm pillow to trap his scent in her mind.

After he sailed, she haunted the cinema, watching the newsreels. Dozed through most of it, until she heard the word, ‘Atlantic’. Then she would jerk awake, eyes wide and staring. 

The crash of waves on the screen scared her. He could not swim.

Now, she stood still, remembering him, the touch of his stubble on her face, the look in his eyes as he gazed at her. 

 A jive started and she danced again, alone beside the couples. Ferociously twisting, slamming her heels against the floor, sweat sliding down her skin. The jive suited her, fast and quick. She thought she saw him, his face in the shadows, but when she stopped to stare, he vanished.

 She thought of his coat. So long and heavy. Had he suffered?

As she remembered his touch, her tears mingled with the perspiration.  

The band started, ‘We’ll Meet Again.’

This time, she stood still.

A flash of bright white light in her eyes. She heard a voice.

“Miss Lansworth. Eight-five. Bed blocker. Nothing we can do. Take her to genetics.”

She breathed in the scent of cigarette smoke and hoped he had returned at last.


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