Nose: Sweet wafts of honey on buttered toast.
I’m alone in this thicket of people, I glide around the party, stream along with the ripple of hellos and sugared air kisses. Watching you, I hold my whisky glass close, a hard roundness, comforting and warm, the buttery smokiness rising.
You meet my eyes, your face lights up. “Do we know each other?” you mime, we laugh. We talk of heather honey as we swap whisky, tasting the delights of each other.
I breathe in your cologne, the molecules inhaled, categorised and added to my olfactory moments in time.
You touch my face, trace my cheek down to my chin, the crimp in my soul eases.
We have breakfast together—we laugh at the chance of our meeting.
Palate: Crab-apple jelly.
There is an acid sourness at the back of my throat, but I continue peeling, scrubbing, slicing, my edges brittle and sharp with sureness.
You yawn, pour a glass—too early for me, I say—you call me sanctimonious.
Our meal tastes of birch sticks, a helping of lichen sauce, and a powdering of pulverised leaves.
You snarl, your anger has a bony sheen to it, white and hard, the bark stripped back.
We finish the meal together—wearing matching frowns.
Finish: Pear and dried oak.
I’m alone in this thicket of people. I stick to the wall, tendrils of roots holding fast, my whisky glass pressed to my heart, its cut-glass reflecting the light in the room, and the fury within me. I catch the spirit of a scent, it chills my fingers, then my arms.
You are invited, she warned, wanting me to refuse. I was stubborn as an oak. These are my friends.
I watch for your sure-footed swagger, the angle of your head, the colour of your hair.
You arrive, a blonde in tow, introductions here, there, hugs and kisses. She’s pretty but varnished, her grain revealing. Was I once like this? I am now cork-soft.
We stream false smiles as you pass by—she whispers, who’s she?
Joyce Bingham is a Scottish writer who enjoys writing short fiction with pieces published by VirtualZine, Funny Pearls and Free Flash Fiction. She lives in the North of England. @JoyceBingham10