Dora left a deep impression on him the very first time he met her.
Was it her emerald eyes that seemed to always speak her mind before her lips ever opened?
Was it her lips which were pale and thin as cherry blossom petals?
Was it her womanly curves which were soft as the ocean waves?
None of those traits impressed him.
It was no denial that Dora was a gorgeous woman who could sweep any man’s heart at first glance.
Any man’s, not his.
Her precious charms did not move his heart; what did instead was something subtle as a scent.
Dora always had a lingering sweet scent on her body whenever she met him. As he asked her one day about the kind of perfume she was wearing, Dora just smiled meekly and told him she never wore perfume.
He was startled.
He met her that day in her flower shop. Amidst a sea of fragrance, he was able to clearly pick out her scent.
He knew that scent too well not to recognize it. He knew it because it was the scent of Vanessa.
Vanessa was his wife, or used to be. They had been leading a happy married life for five years and though they had no children, he had been convinced they would be together like this until time turned them old and withered.
Wrong. Deeply wrong.
Five years ago, Vanessa disappeared like a puff of smoke. No matter how he had exhausted his resources to find her, all he got were bits of clue which led to nowhere. No one knew where she’d gone or the reason for her sudden disappearance. It seemed as if a mysterious hand had reached down and Vanessa’s existence had been swept away from Earth.
It was the time of darkness and despair for him, for his love was too great and he couldn’t bear the thought of losing Vanessa to whatever had taken her. Sometimes he imagined she’d gotten into a tragic accident and perished in a faraway place. Sometimes he imagined she’d run away with another man and was having a happier life than the previous one with him.
His imaginations did little to ease his soul. When he gave up his last ray of hope of finding her, Dora came into his life.
Dora was carrying the scent of Vanessa, the scent he loved and missed so much. In spite of their vast differences in appearance, when he looked at Dora, he always saw Vanessa.
Not only was Dora a great beauty, she was generous far beyond a woman’s heart could ever be. Even if she knew he was only took her for his missing wife, she accepted the situation.
Love was her simple reason.
Naturally as the way fate had led him to Dora, it came a day when he asked for her hand in marriage.
For the sake of their married life, he never spoke a word about the missing Vanessa. Still, in the deepest corner of his consciousness, the lingering scent on Dora’s body only spelled “Vanessa”.
He thought he had been doing a good job at hiding such thought from Dora’s knowledge for years. Not once had it occurred to him that Dora’s ignorance had also been pretentious.
Everyone had their little secrets.
He had one. So did Dora.
Unlike her, his ignorance wasn’t feigned.
Her secret lied in the basement of her flower shop, a place he had never visited.
Dora went there on a regular basis.
As soon as she entered the basement, her exotic scent melted into the overwhelming scent here.
Dora lit a small candle and made her way through the pitch-black basement. Where the light didn’t reach, darkness reigned like a tyrannical warlord. At the end, she found what she’d come for.
A handful of strange-colored flowers Dora picked from the strange-colored vines were what she needed. She hold them in front of her nostrils, softly inhaled the scent and smiled.
The flowers emitted the scent that lingered on her body.
The scent of Vanessa.
It was no coincidence these flowers which could not be found anywhere else in the world possessed Vanessa’s scent. Dora had been painstakingly cultivating them for five years.
With a unique nourishment.
The candlelight in her hand casted an orange-yellow sheen on her fair countenance as she sat down to check the root.
Her pretty eyes narrowed sharply and her manicured fingers caught a small white worm.
The maggot wriggled helplessly in her grip before she threw it to the ground and mercilessly crushed it with her sole.
“My my, I was careless for only a few days and these insolent worms had tried to infest you? Don’t be afraid, darling. You’re my treasure. I won’t lose you to them.”
Her lips curved up joyfully as she took a black bottle from the corner.
“Time for medicine.”
If you listen very carefully, you could pick a faint whimper as Dora emptied the bottle’s content.