R L Ames’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Cigarettes and Aftershave
Sometimes, when I catch even the faintest of whiffs of that smell, I think of him. I can’t help the way my mind is drawn back to those precious few days we spent together. Before him, I’d found the smell repulsive, but when I met him, suddenly it didn’t seem so bad anymore. I liked the way it clung to him, mingling with his aftershave and soap until it became a smell that was distinctly him.
Sometimes when it hits me unexpectedly, like on a bus or when someone who’s smoking walks past me in the park, I close my eyes and let myself remember. Memories wash over me like waves cresting at high tide, and I can’t help losing myself for a few moments.
I remember the first time I saw him. I’d snuck into a crowded bar with some of my friends after the concert. I was underage, but somehow managed to get my hands on a fake ID. The lights pulsed relentlessly, and the music was so loud I could feel it deep in my chest. I was riding the high of having successfully gotten past the bouncer when I saw him. I couldn’t believe he was there. We’d just spent two hours watching him on stage, and there he was.
He was sitting at the far end of the room, his cigarette dangling loosely from his fingers and adding to the haze that clung to the air like a purple fog. He was flanked on all sides by others who were already just as enamored with him as I would quickly become.
He sat there, taking it all in as if this was his normal everyday scene--and I suppose for him, it was. I’d stared at him, like so many others unable to tear my eyes from his face. But unlike so many others, after a moment, he returned my gaze, his eyes intense and somehow searching, even in the dim light of the bar.
He crooked his finger at me, and from that moment on, I was his. Without another thought, I’d moved closer to him, drawn to his side like a moth to a flame. He’d smiled and my heart had skipped several beats. Somehow he’d managed to make room for me next to him, and it wasn’t long before we were chatting like old friends. As cool and confident as he was, when we spoke, he turned out to be surprisingly grounded and rather unassuming. He told me his name, and we both pretended like I didn’t already know who he was.
That night flew by, and amazingly, he seemed to never want to let me be further than arm’s reach from him. All the other adoring girls who’d surrounded him all night seemed to slowly disappear, until it was just the two of us.
For that weekend, we were inseparable. He was my first in so many ways, and part of me had hoped it would never end. But the other part of me knew that I was living a fairytale that was destined to draw to a close. It was with sadness that he gathered me in his arms that last night and whispered his goodbyes. The tour was pulling out, heading to a new location, and our time together was over.
I closed my eyes and buried my head in his chest, breathing deeply. It was as if I thought that I could take a piece of him with me if I tried hard enough. And in a way, I did. Whenever I catch the smell of cigarettes, I’m reminded of him. And whenever I see him, either on television, or even just pictures of him, that heady mix of soap and aftershave and cigarettes touches my nose, and it feels like a part of him is there with me still.
Now, she spends her time chasing after her almost two year old son and sneaks in time for writing whenever she can. She dreams one day of earning a living from the words she puts on paper, but in the meantime, she’s just having fun stretching her creative muscles in whatever ways she can.