The Last Molecule of Daniel

Picture credit: Fulvio Ciccolo

She was famously known as, “The Nose.” Her power of smell exceeded that of all living creatures, but what good did it do her now?  Still, she sniffed the air and breathed in deeply as she walked along her village street. She could smell the pungent Linden tree leaves, buttered toast from an open window, the dog’s breath as it yawned, clay bricks warmed by the sun, the greasy odor of leaked car oil, and the dank earth of a turned flowerbed. But more potent than any of these was a scent that was not even present, a scent called, Daniel, that only existed in her memory.  

She sighed and unlatched the door to her trim whitewashed house, with its blue shutters and window boxes of red geraniums. She ignored its comforting smells of old leather, wood polish, nutmeg and cinnamon taking the stairs two at a time to her bedroom. She walked swiftly to her treasured Art Nouveau wardrobe, pulled open the double doors, and slid a sealed, odorless glass container from the shelf above her clothes.  She’d had it custom-made… a rectangular shirt sized box.

Carefully carrying it to her bed, she laid it down on the black and white fleur-de-lis bedspread and removed the lid. She lifted the soft, slate blue shirt to her nose and inhaled. The scent was gone, the molecules having evaporated every time she indulged herself and exposed it to the air. She buried her face in his shirt. What good was her genius perfumer’s nose when it sniffed at the absence of odor? It was like expecting light from an empty bulb socket.  People say that in time you can’t remember the voice of the beloved, and even what they look like devolves into some human radiation’s half- life.  How long did she have for his smell to remain vivid in her memory?

But still there were her dreams, where he was restored. She didn’t know she was dreaming until she awoke: he was so real that all the forgotten things became vivid. The small uptick of a smile in one corner of his mouth when he was pleased. The way he moved with the grace of a dancer, the way his silk shirt would whisper over his body when he pulled it off before reaching for her.  The dream lingered like the disappearing vapor of clouds and then she realized her mistake and gasped from this fresh loss and closed her eyes again and lay there with her nostrils quivering, willing herself back into the dream.

Those dreams had their own inventive purpose and weren’t faithful to the real past. Instead, he was here in her life now, in this house that he never lived in, coming back as a stock character, or a walk on, and always, inscrutably disappearing. Or worse, when she was on the verge of some physical bliss, his lips moving toward the kiss, or lying naked in bed, her sexual tension building – that’s when she woke up. Too depressed to move, she would lie there remembering the first time she smelled him.

She was in her favorite café on the Boulevard and she looked up, captivated by something wafting in the air that made her instantly, and bewilderingly, wet.  She followed the scent to the man walking toward her, and then he was beside her, the air thrumming from him. Once past, he grew fainter.  Then the barrage of coffee and sweet pastries and other people’s smells buried his scent. She felt like she was emerging from a drugged state. In her life of the nose, nothing, no one, had had this powerful effect on her. She turned slightly in her chair and looked behind her. He was across the room seated alone. She put money on the table for her bill and grabbed her purse, and as she walked toward him his scent got stronger and she felt weak in the knees. Standing before him, she didn’t say a word. She laid her business card on the table with her name and the address of her perfume workshop. And then she left…

She had slid off the bed and was on her knees, keening with grief too stricken to carefully tuck his shirt back into the glass box, foolishly squandering what was left, hastening his last disappearance. Oh, if only she could breathe him back into her life she would have defeated death.

And then she had the idea.


When she was a child she didn’t know that people couldn’t smell the world. Her mother told her that as a toddler learning language, she would point to things and her mother would unhelpfully say tree or dog, so she thought that was the name of what had entered her being through her nose. She had to unlearn her early language and retrain herself to understand that people experienced the world visually and named people, places, and things by sight.

It took practice and discipline to train her brain away from the distracting assault. Her mother couldn’t understand how she could be set off in howls and tears in her stroller when nothing was going on to provoke it. Equally baffling was why her infant self would be suddenly giggling and smiling at nothing. Smells could make her faint, or they could make her stand still as if in a fugue state, or she would run toward an odor heedless of dangers. When she was five she was almost run over by a car. There was a smell she was chasing across the street.

And now it was Daniel’s scent she was chasing.


She began by placing advertisements in the local paper, printing cards and flyers. “The Great Parisian Perfumer, Tapputti, will create a custom fragrance for you made from the scents of the person you loved and lost. These one of-a-kind creations are made by appointment only. Phone: 0-590-26-33-01.” 

She went to funerals. She stood in the back, unnoticed in her plain black skirt and jacket inhaling the intense smells of grief; the pungent tincture of fear, anguish and anxiety mixed with the saltiness of tears. All feelings had odors. The exhalations of the body (breath, glands, palms, damp underarms, soiled tissues) helping her identify the one whose essential oil was “Bereft.” This was the person she would find after the service and stand in front of making eye contact that made her own eyes fill with tears. “Sorry for your loss,” she’d say, as she pressed her card into their palm, then turned and walked away. 

Her first customer was a woman named Clarisse. She was young, a new bride – her marriage had tragically ended in less than a year. André was a mountain climber and had died in an avalanche only a week before. “I can’t stop imagining it.” Clarisse’s voice was sweet and hollow like a piece of chocolate with an empty center.

“Clarisse – may I call you Clarisse? Yes? – I will make you a perfume. It will smell like André, but I need you to gather belongings of his and bring them to me. Here is a glass container to put them in. I don’t want anything of his to be contaminated. I would like you to wear these gloves for handling his things. Don’t wash anything – the dirtier, the smellier, the better. Can you do that for me?”

“Do what? I’m not sure…”

“Bring me his favorite jacket, shirt, sweater, underwear, pants, socks, his deodorant, his toothbrush, his shoes, and anything you find that smells of him. Look in the laundry basket.”

She was lucky that her first customer was young and compliant, not asking so many questions.

“Excuse me, Madame Tapputi, but what is the charge?”

“Oh,” she waved her hand dismissively over her head, “There is no charge.”

“But you must… you can’t…”

“But I am. I have my reasons and I don’t need your money. I am very rich.”

She ushered the stunned Clarisse out the door. “Gather his things as soon as possible. Time is of the essence. Bring them to me tomorrow. Call first.”

And so it began.


Working into the wee hours of the morning, she was first a chemist, laboriously, patiently, obsessively, extracting the molecules from the fibers of each item brought to her. The artistry came from the arrangement of these molecules: the bottom notes must linger like a long-term relationship; the middle notes should have the power of a summer fling; and the top notes were a first kiss, over so quickly, but startling in the moment. She knew she was a molecular artist, no different than a master painter layering brush strokes, or a composer arranging the notes of a chord.

And then there was the most exciting part, the extraction from her distillations when she found a molecule from another man that, when applied to her skin, smelled just the tiniest bit like Daniel – frustratingly gone before she could fully recall it – like a word on the tip of her tongue. 

She had hundreds of small vials of syphoned liquid scents that she combined and mixed and measured against her memory. She would rage in the little house in her attic apothecary when yet another attempt at recreating Daniel failed. 

It was a long process, this transformation of taking smells from objects to the replication of a whole person. Once combined into these experimental concoctions, they had to marinate, sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month or more. The bereaved were understandably impatient.

She knew that the human nose was a poor weak thing compared to the abilities of other species. Just like we experience the difference in the strong smells of a pigpen as opposed to a horse stable, our distinctive, human aroma alerted animals and insects to our dangerous or tasty presence.

It was the African Elephant, with its 2,000 special genes for detecting odor that had the best nose in the world.

And then there was her.

A blindfolded mother when handed a strange baby, the same size and weight as her own, would know in one sniff that it wasn’t hers. But when another baby was placed in her arms and she pressed her nose to its scalp, she’d say, “THIS is my baby!” And it always was.

For her, this singularity was the whole world.

She looked up at the pale daylight, just beginning to warm the air. Opening the window to clear her nasal palette, she allowed herself to inhale the dawn, its odorless drops of dew transforming the heated air by releasing the smells of earth and plants that rose and combined with the beloved aroma of wet earth after a spring rain—that luscious scent of petrichor released by microscopic bacteria in soil. But most of all, the air smelled like the daily reminder of being alive, which she thought of as the earth’s scent of hope. 

Turning from the window, she stretched her back and felt heavy with weariness. Dawn was meant for anticipating the new, but instead she was always traveling to the past, in her life, in others’ lives looking for that someone who’d disappeared to bring them back. Was she the Frankenstein of the perfume world? She dismissed the disturbing thought as quickly as she’d had it.

She stretched again, felt her tired aching muscles, and wished for Daniel’s hands messaging her all over.

Daniel’s hands. Mon Dieu

He had a musician’s touch, caressing, pressing, holding down the note, releasing her, then building the excitement, clasping her hands above her head, his prefect rhythm inhabiting her body, merging into something not him, not her, but them – and when they reached their perfect pitch, she felt herself delivered beyond the burden of consciousness, molecularly decomposing and evaporating into their mingled perfume, called Love.

“Daniel,” she’d sigh.

“My Tatiana,” he’d whisper back.

To the world she was Madame Tapputti, but with Daniel she was his Tatiana.


No matter how much she concentrated on her work, it didn’t shut out the memories that flooded her. Daniel was her youth – twenty-four to thirty-five – the years she had become famous for her “nose,” the years of her greatest happiness. It had been eight months now since she’d lost him and she didn’t like to think about the end. Right now, she was remembering the beginning.

They had gone to Scotland to hike across the Moors. Stupidly, they had only brought two muffins, a small bag of nuts, and one thermos of water, for a hike they didn’t know would take thirteen hours. Their shoes were woefully inadequate. It never occurred to them to prepare. That’s how they were together. Always discovering the world as it appeared right in front of them. Chickens would have more sense.

They walked together for hours, on into darkness, and the entire time they were under an enchantment. It was exotic and barren, and they never saw another soul, only heard stillness. The landscape kept changing and each change – from sweeping amber colored hills and carpets of purple heather, to craggy rocks broken by black pools of water reflecting the moon – all of it cast its spell over them. The most desolate landscape she had ever seen and she loved it. And the smells! She felt drunk on the air redolent with heather, honey, and peat moss.

She and Daniel sang, or were silent, or giddy with laughter. He wore a ridiculous knit cap on his head that came to a point, but it didn’t deter him from pretending to play guitar like a rock star or walk toward her up the path, frowning and pursing his lips looking both sexy and ridiculous at the same time. Then looking up at her for her reaction, for her approval, a shy smile turning into a wicked smile as he got closer. And she in turn walked toward him, a spray of purple heather in her green leather gloved hands, putting on airs, walking like a queen, sashaying through her crowds of imaginary admirers until she was close enough for him to grab her around the waist, tip her backwards and kiss her.

They were high, from their thirteen-hour hike mostly without food or water, where there was no fear, and only pain from feet that felt like bloody stumps and from stomachs that panged from hunger, and none of it mattered. There were no fights. No complaints. It was their honeymoon and her life smelled sweet.


After weeks of trial and error, and batches that didn’t quite work, her nose and intuition told her she had finally mastered the scent, “Andre.”

She called Clarisse into the small windowless room in her house that had been cleared out for the purpose of testing fragrance on skin. She asked Clarisse to close her eyes and she withdrew a glass dropper from the small amber bottle that she held in her hand.

“Hold out your left wrist, Clarisse,” she said, wanting to test on the one closer to the heart.

Clarisse obediently exposed her skin.

Releasing one drop, she asked Clarisse to lift it to her nose while still keeping her eyes closed.

She watched Clarisse’s shocked look of recognition as her mouth and eyes opened wide and tears began to soak her cheeks. Clarisse inhaled the scent again and looked like she was about to swoon. Madame Tapputi quickly grabbed the wood, ladder-back chair she had put in the room for such an eventuality. She caught Clarisse’s elbow and upper arm and guided her onto the seat. Clarisse buried her head in her hands and wept.

When she could compose herself she looked up at Madam Taputti and simply said, “Thank you,” in her sweet voice, the hollowness gone.

She smiled with tenderness toward Clarisse, moved by her joy. For the first time in years, she felt she had accomplished something worth doing.


Word spread and the heartbroken began calling for their custom perfumes. Women whose partners, husbands or lovers, had died or left them. Naming them was easy. Each one was named for the person, or sometimes a place, like “Morning with Joseph.” If it had been a secret lover, perhaps it would be called. “X.” or “M. Between The Sheets.” “Thou” for the poetic. “You” for the modern secret.

She, of course, had her own agenda. For years now she had been stealing molecules, from this person and that, hoping to discover the perfect blend that would replicate Daniel’s personal chemical signature. She had nothing of his scent left to mine, so she hunted and stole from other men.

One night, while eating her simple dinner of bread, wine and cheese, she had a thought. Daniel had a spicy quality to his scent. What was it?  And then she jumped up and ran to her kitchen cabinet and pulled all her spices and herbs out, putting them on the table. She opened each bottle and sniffed. No, no, no! But then, pumpkin and licorice and paprika made her leap to her feet. “Voila!

Grabbing them, she ran up the stairs. 


There was a memory, unwelcome, unbidden that she didn’t want to think about.

Daniel was lying in bed reading when she came into the room. They’d been together for eight years and for the first time she had missed her period. Her anxiety made her stupid.

“Daniel, I think I might be pregnant.”

He sat up and smiled at her. It reminded her of a boy’s smile when he’d been told he was getting a puppy.


She couldn’t stand that he might be happy about this.

“I just wanted you to know that if I am pregnant, I’m not keeping it.”

He said nothing. His expression revealed nothing. Everything about him closed down. And what did she feel? Relief that she’d told him. Defensive. Defiant.

It wouldn’t be till later, much later, that he’d tell her how profoundly hurt and angry he’d been.

“Why?” she asked, truly not understanding, or perhaps, deliberately not understanding, because as soon as he said it she’d felt a sharp pain in her gut.

“It was my body. My decision.”

He looked at her with his arresting brown eyes that held secrets. These were the same eyes that once looked at her with adoration, and there’d been nothing disguised in that.

“You never thought to ask me what I felt? What I thought?”

She was stunned. At the time, she truly didn’t think he’d care. They’d never talked about having children. Didn’t he know she didn’t want any? Had he ever said he did?

“Honestly, it didn’t occur to me.” Even as she said it, she knew it was a lame thing to say, and worse, appalling.

“It was my child too, and it never occurred to you?”

There, finally, was the exasperation, the piece of ruin between them.

And that’s when she felt his misery, his sense of neglect and betrayal. Her guilt was instant and profound. She felt sorry, so sorry. How could she be so unconscious? Who was she? She wanted to hold his heart in her hands and kiss it. The fact that he might have wanted to keep it touched her deeply. But in a moment, that same guilt that immediately made her empathetic, just as suddenly made her defensive and angry. Ah, the self-protective perversity of it all. What she’d said to him, she could never take it back. The moment was irreversible. What it revealed about her exposed something that she didn’t know about herself and didn’t want to accept.

She couldn’t remember what she’d said, only what she didn’t say – I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Daniel. She didn’t explain how scared she was. How the very idea of a baby growing inside her was like being taken over by an alien. No, no! It was her body. Her choice. And from his point-of-view could there be understanding and sympathy? Could he possibly know how much this wasn’t about him? Because he thought it was all about the exclusion of him. Her unilateral decision. How could he know that her fearing birth was like fearing death.

So, she didn’t apologize. She said nothing. And the silence between them was not a fissure but the widening crack of an earthquake.

They never spoke of it again.


After awhile, her concentration was broken by the strong scent of ozone in the air. She looked up from her work. Through the window in her workroom she saw black thunderheads spreading their menace across the night sky, their rumblings getting closer.

She shut out the world to exclude everything but her aromatic brew, searching for the ineffable, always guided by her scent wisps of memory, Daniel drifting ever closer.

The storm was no longer outside, but in her brain, where their molecular whirl connected to her limbic system, triggering emotions and memories. Smell was the sense that by-passed consciousness and reason. She often lived at its mercy, her gift holding her hostage to the beauty or assault of the world, a blessing and a curse.

There was a brilliant flash of light – the roar of the gods – a vision of Daniel – and then utter darkness.

When she came to, as she lay there on the floor brought to consciousness by an intense feeling of joy, Daniel was with her. She smelled him everywhere. She opened her eyes and saw daylight. Lifting up, she grabbed her work counter and pulled herself to her feet. She was bathed in his scent. She saw the tipped beaker. She remembered she had it in her hand when the tree branch broke through the window.


Yes, yes, it was true; she had captured his essence in a bottle, but once accomplished it led to fresh disappointments. She wanted more. She needed it on living flesh.

Sprinkling it on his pillow, his shirt, or into the air – the illusion, or was it delusion, made her heartache worse. Now that he was palpable again, she had pretended all sorts of things – he’d just gotten out of bed and gone for a run as she laid there, her arm stretched across his side of the bed anticipating his return. Then, as she pretended to be asleep, he would slip back into bed still damp from his shower, her eyes shut tight as she hugged his clothes to her body, his sleeves wrapping her, kissing his pillow, or mashing it between her legs as she pressed and rubbed and fantasized. Being able to smell Daniel made the fantasy more vivid and therefore more devastating. Opening her eyes after her orgasm, her loneliness worse, she wept like the inconsolable.

Was this why she never had repeat customers? Because they experienced the same delusions and fresh abandonments, never allowing themselves to heal? When she thought that, she was appalled. She saw how ghoulish her whole enterprise was. She tried to console herself by hoping that, for some, it had been a gentler, more merciful way of letting go. When they were ready they could uncap the bottle releasing the last breath of memory to join the living breath of the planet.


She was stubborn. She was a slow leaner. Having toiled for so long, she was unwilling to give up on finding, no, creating another Daniel. Perhaps this obsession came from the fact she had only loved once. Loved and lost. But it was so much worse than that. Of all the men in the world she had come in contact with, only one drew her – before she even saw him, before they’d ever spoken. It was something that defied category and thought, something that was such a powerful mix of desire and helplessness that the only possibility was her fierce attachment. What was once their loving bond had become her bondage.

She decided to start dating, searching for someone who looked like Daniel, or walked like him, or was the same height, weight, had a smile that was reminiscent, a similarly shaped back of the head, had athletic legs, forearms, something, anything that would make her say to him while in bed, “I have invented a particularly masculine perfume that I made just for you. Let’s try it out. See if you like it.”

 “I’m very flattered.” And she would daub some on his wrists. “May I?” she’d ask daubing more behind his ears and on his neck and for a moment, with her eyes closed, in his arms, she would be back with Daniel, as though he’d never been gone. But as the top notes dissolved into the heat and sweat of his body, Daniel’s scent would become contaminated, perverted and fouled.

Her eyes open, disoriented, she would scramble into her clothes and flee, while he called out, “Wait! Don’t leave. What’s the matter?” in a baffled voice, or angry voice, or injured voice, and each time this happened, she felt the capacity of her heart grow more diminished.


She was waiting on the 6th floor for an elevator in one of the new office buildings in Paris. As soon as the doors parted, she felt snapped awake, as if smelling salts had just passed under her nose. She breathed in the male musk of whiskey and coffee, cherry pipe tobacco, the deeper notes of ocean brine, tangy sea spray, salted, sun warmed skin that she suddenly wanted to lick.

There was one man in the elevator.

 She had to say something.

“Hi, I can’t help but notice that remarkable scent you’re wearing. I’m a perfumer. I would love to know its name.”

He turned and looked at her. Then she saw his green eyes that reflected light like glass, but were also transparent, so she could see into the depth of him.

“I’m not wearing a scent.”

  But she already knew that.

“I’m Madame Tapputi. Please come see me. I need to bottle you.”

She gave him a coy smile. He raised his brows, and smiled back, amused. She fished a card out of her purse and handed it to him. She laughed for no apparent reason, and then he laughed, as though they’d just shared a good private joke. The moment felt intimate.

As she exited the parting doors of the elevator, she cocked her hip to hold them open and turned back to him. “What’s your name?”

“Rafe,” he said.

“Rafe… call me.”

They were still smiling at each other as the doors closed.


Rafe was a surprise in her life. She was not looking for him, was not looking for any man. Years had passed since the loss of Daniel and she had abandoned her mission. When she wanted to go on a sentimental journey, or torture herself, she would open the bottle of his scent and sniff, conjuring him. It was really hard for a living man to compete with that.

Rafe, in fact, was the opposite of Daniel. Where Daniel had been silent and introverted, tender and sensual, Rafe was bubbly champagne, ebullient and sexy, always smiling and embracing her, touching her wrist, her shoulders, when moving past her from behind always grazing her so that she felt his heat.

And, they smelled so different! There wasn’t the slightest similarity, and yet each appealed to the most primal part of her, the locus of her being. Intellectually, she knew that everyone had their own olfactory fingerprint. She smelled the truth of that. She also knew that the people we fell in love with were responding to the call and response of our mutual chemical attraction. But why his scent? Why her scent? There was the mystery. There was no known explanation for why a certain person’s aromatic molecules enticed us into love. Our oblivious conscious brains – always thinking that we were in charge, making rational decisions, checking off our criteria boxes for partnership – were, in truth, just us rutting around searching, sniffing, for the rare buried truffle.

From their first day together, which turned into night and then morning, she never thought of Daniel. She realized it had been years since she’d been fully in the present. She’d lived past the sharp pain of mourning, but never past yearning. It was ironic, since she above all others, was made so keenly aware of life in every breath she took.

When the sun rose on their first morning, and she slipped out of bed and stood naked in front of her open window, she thought of the romantic notion of “becoming one” that came to be proven true in the age of science. The invisible world was all spinning atoms, with protons and electrons repelling and attracting everything, and us, to each other. This morning she feasted on the pungent, intermingled smells of their sex, floating by her nose, wafting out the window, drifting into the emerging day, into this “rosy-fingered dawn” and once more she experienced the world on fragrant plumes of hope.


A year after they’d met, she and Rafe decided to celebrate by spending the day in Paris, pretending to be tourists in the city they lived in and loved. She’d kept her little house outside Paris but had bought a flat in The Saint-Michel neighborhood.

It was a fabulously sunny day and she was in a great mood. She had gone to shop while he spent the morning poking around used bookshops. They would meet up for lunch. Later, they’d go to the Monet gardens and at night, dinner on the Seine. She felt happy with anticipation, heart warmed and sensual from their languorous morning of lovemaking.

She stood in front of a store window, her eye caught by a yellow polka dotted silk scarf draped over a naked mannequin. It was a scarf that should be worn on a summer day, flowing out the back of a red roadster, top down, driving on country roads.

Right now, Rafe would be engaged in conversations with booksellers and other book browsers. He never met a stranger. She loved that he was talkative and social and charmed the world with his open smile and lack of guile. His attention was sincere and when he turned it on her, she felt listened to, seen, taken in. Yes, he was thoughtful and responsive, not like Daniel who’d been hard to read and often remote.

Just as she was taking inventory of her great good fortune, she smelled Daniel.


How was that possible?

Had she conjured him simply by thinking about him?

Was this a hallucination?

Was she having a stroke?

Worlds had just collided and her sense of reality was in question.

She turned her nose in the direction of his smell, and spotted him across the street. He didn’t see her.

What were the odds? He’d moved to Australia. He lived and worked halfway around the world.

She almost cried out in amazement, less from having seen him again after years of his being the ghost in her life – but because, now, smelling the vividness of him – she felt nothing. Daniel’s scent was eviscerated, emasculated, had no power whatsoever. What once made her weak in the knees, made her wet, and enslaved, was now just the smell of another man in the world. She was freed from her desire and obsession for a man that was dead to her.

When Daniel had left her, it was as if he’d called out to her to say that he was just leaving to go pick up some milk and eggs, and then he never came back. She never saw him again. Later, when she found out where he was and phoned him, he told her that he’d left her for another woman. But there was no discussion. No explanation, no argument or recriminations. She said nothing and just let him go.

But she didn’t, did she? She couldn’t.

She watched him hail a taxi and get in without his having a clue that she was there.

She turned back to the store window and a vivid image formed from her memory museum of scents; the stinking garbage cans filled with rot cooking in the soaring heat of childhood summers. The stench always made her sick – spoiled fish, the fetid remains of uneaten meat, congealed, soured milk, rotten eggs, rat feces, the blood of cockroaches—all combining into the frightening pungent decay of death. It made her feel faint. She was just a child. She was terrified that she would die from inhaling it.

Shaken, she thought, it must be from the shock of seeing Daniel.

But then another thought displaced her lucid dream. So this is what had compelled a life of creating perfume – the desire to mask the mortal smell of death, the smell that accompanied life that only she experienced – the smell of everything dying.

She placed her hands on the window to steady herself and felt consumed by guilt and shame. Her denial had informed her work, her response to the loss of Daniel, to helping the bereaved, insanely making her believe that her gift gave her the power of resurrecting what was gone. And her professional life, before that, making the chemistry of a person come alive to make them smell appealing.

She caught her reflection in the window and gasped with surprise. Her eyes were haunted, but then her face began smiling joyfully. It was a smile seen on the faces of liberated prisoners freed from their closeness to death.

She stared at the yellow polka dotted scarf, the happiest thing she had ever seen. She went into the store to buy it, her memento mori, a keepsake of her revelations – remember you must die – remember you should live!

As she left the store wearing the scarf around her neck, she sniffed the lively Parisian air, full of the bustling exuberance of human activity, happy in the knowledge that the last molecule of Daniel had finally disappeared.

About the Author

Sally Schloss was born in Brooklyn, New York and has been a short story writer most of her life, published, unpublished and award winning. She now lives in Nashville, TN where she is an English Language Coach to International Managers, and a Developmental Editor for novels, non-fiction and short stories. She has recently published an essay online in Lilith Magazine. Her debut novel, Helping Howard, published in 2021. Another novel and a collection of short stories are in progress.

Litro Magazine

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