She worked in Brambles, the pioneer-themed confectionery story on High St near the school’s campus. The store was forever engulfed in the redolence of molasses and liquorice which spilled out the store and down the street. Sinewed, saccharine flavours of pick ‘n’ mix and boiled lollies, milk chocolate, honeycomb, toffee apple and fudge washed about the aisles and display counter. The longer Dale lingered in the store the delicate bouquet of Turkish delight, white chocolate, cardamom and mint coated the air like sugar dusting – occasionally interrupted by a momentary affront of walnuts, peanuts and desiccated coconut.
The ambrosia of fragrances stuck to her like bubble gum and drew Dale in through the open glass doors every time he passed with his weekly allowance. Eventually they got together and sank cream-soda spiders till they were sated and sick. Lana’s long blonde hair seeped strawberries & creams, and her skin smelt like milk bottles. Her lips tasted of cola and sherbet centred lollipops and her tongue was a wet sour bear.
He told her, ‘you smell so fine,’ but didn’t say she made his insides tingle like Spacedust.
They spent most their time stuck together like gummy bears and snakes – pashing on like each other was cotton candy.
He was still reminded of Lana when he passed the confection section of Flossman’s Department Store. Even Genevieve’s mother with Genevieve’s shock of copper hair occasionally popped into his memory when he passed the perfume counter. But by now he was old enough to appreciate time invariably exaggerated nostalgic flavours dedicated to memories of beauty.
He hadn’t been home since his father, the saddler passed away. Recalling his early childhood, Dale found it odd that they remained so fresh when his more recent memories were a watery backdrop. Dale couldn’t even properly recall his first serious girlfriend. And it wasn’t that long ago. He met her in second year of university, after he swapped from Engineering to Law. All he could remember about Wendy was her impeccable visage – tug-of-war pony tail, an assertion of make-up, legs like plumbing in nylon, and clothes freshly pressed.
Dale didn’t mind. She introduced him to curries and Asian flavours – and the briny estuary hiding behind a floral chaparral that surprised him because he didn’t think he would like it, but found so alluring. One time his old playmate and neighbour Kelly flickered his memory while deep in the forest of her thighs.
Wendy was pretty, in a chaste and dull way. With movement she embalmed the air with a cashmeran effusion of an air hostess pushing a duty free trolley cart. But her duty to remain pristine didn’t end when she finished classes or work. And her natural penchant towards perfection was unending and she soon transferred her compulsive tendencies onto Dale.
She forced him to be uncomfortable in uncomfortable threads, shave every morning then moisturise. She also taught him how to be clean and inculcated him on clutter, especially in regards to the coffee table and kitchen surfaces, so their apartment retained an immaculate and sterile state. It was as if she owned his shadow after a while, paying it off slowly via lay-by. When Dale eventually realised he concluded everyone should own their own shadow.
He graduated, and vaguely recollected seeing a vegan for a while. She had no scent, which Dale liked at the time. It matched his utter impartiality to her, and to world through his youthful and exuberant independence. It was what he liked most about her, but without a smell she held no form in his memory, which he now regretted. He tried to picture her image, but all he evoked was a vapid smoky outline of grey and green – before his imagination compensated by rallying a composite of features from all his other past romances. Then he met Jocelyn and within two weeks they moved in together.
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