It was money we didn’t have, but I spent it anyway; counting out handfuls of coins on a glass counter and receiving a small pink bottle in return. I had wandered into a perfumery tucked away in one of the city’s forgotten corners to escape the rain and fell in love with a scent. The woman behind the counter, she didn’t even blink when I emptied out my purse and revealed my share of the tip jar, handed to me by my boss only an hour before. Instead, she put her hand over mine when my coins didn’t even add up to half the price yet, and insisted on gift wrapping my treasure in delicate, gold-striped foil. I chose to give her a genuine smile and a thank you, accepting her act of kindness and refusing to feel embarrassed.
It smells like bravery, I had laughed when she asked me if I liked it, because to me it did. This fragrance, it made me feel like a million dollars. Bold, and sexy. Confident. I could fake it like any nineteen year old girl could and wear it on my skin, but this scent… It made it sink in deeper.
When I made it home to him at a whisper to twilight, I woke him up from some much needed sleep with kisses and wandering hands, coaxing until he was heavy on top of me and trembling with the effort of holding back. I want to try again, I whispered when he was fully awake, and he kissed me.
I was still scared it would hurt too much, just like it hurt too much the last time. And the time before that. And the two years before that. And yet this time the fear didn’t cancel out my desire to get caught underneath him, to feel his weight pressing me down. I wanted to hear his breath catch in his throat and feel his mouth stain his desire all the way down my stomach and back up again. Yes, I was scared. But you can’t be brave without being scared.
Fast forward about seven years. I haven’t smelled that perfume in years, until today. As we wander around our local department store to kill some time before our therapy session, I spot the pink bottle – my liquid bravery. Smiling slightly, I spray a bit on my wrist and let it air for a bit before holding it under his nose. His grin his instant, genuine and Cheshire-like.
And I feel brave all over again.