Snooze alarm dreams are always the strangest. They float just beneath your consciousness like corpses in a frozen lake.
It's a supermarket but also a department store, a high-end department store. My cart is almost full. I am shopping for a huge event. I need something to wear and am also responsible for catering the event.
I round the corner, careful not to tip the cart which is balanced and counterbalanced with piles of food service-sized packages. Foie gras in enormous vacuum-packed bags. Glass vats of artichoke hearts. Plump Long Island ducklings. Mountains of produce.
I am drifting through the sillage of pungent herbs and sweetly ripe pineapples.
He is there in the wine section. I can tell he is deciding between chianti or pinot noir. I watch him for a moment while I collect my insides, which are threatening to fall out.
Inexplicably, the smell of baked apples with cinnamon and nutmeg curls around me.
He turns and sees me. His face is expressionless. He turns back to the wine racks, changes his mind. He begins walking toward the department store area.
Rosemary. Sage. Dill.
I follow him. I try to call his name but his name cannot squirm past the lump in my throat. I can't catch up with him; his cart is almost empty, and the contents of my overflowing basket threaten to spill out onto the slick white tiles. I abandon my cart to try and get to him. The cart looks like an island oasis, lonely in the cold white gulfstream of the frozen food section.
I run through a fragrant cloud of baking bread, caraway rye.
I ease up next to him and reach out. I want to touch his face. He has grown a beard since I last saw him. The scruff on his cheeks and chin is shot through with silver. We are getting older.
Passing the perfume counter I am assaulted by gardenia, tuberose, jasmine.
He won't look at me. He stops to glance at a rack of suit jackets. I touch his shoulder and move closer. I want to kiss him. I touch his shoulder and move closer and just as I am close enough he jerks his head as though an insect is harassing him.
Peaches. Why do I smell peaches?
I cannot stop. I dart to the other side of him. I touch his face. I pull him close, ignoring his silent protest. I kiss him. I kiss him. I see his face relax into the smile I knew back when I thought I knew him.
A kaleidescope of scent whirls around me. Sandalwood. Narcissus. Yeast. Grilled lamb. Blackcurrant jam. Chocolate. Strawberries.
Why are you here he asks me. His chin is resting on my shoulder. I can feel his beard through my thin t-shirt. I can feel tears prickling in my throat. I am here because I have to cook tonight I say. Is it a wedding he asks. Yes I think it is I say, my voice thick and distorted with grief.
I can't smell anything anymore. All I can taste is the salt and scorch of tears.
He raises his face and looks at me full on. His eyes are greyblue and opaque. You should go now he says flatly. You have to cook.
He turns and walks away slowly. He does not look back.
I wake up and the bed is cold. The air conditioner has been turned up too high. My pillow is wet.