It´s a small shop full of shelves that I end up in. Each shelf has tons of scented candles lined up in neat rows (which I appreciate). I wasn’t going to wander in- I wasn’t. But they were organized by color, and I really wanted to know what scent could possibly be so blue- and my desk could use some decorations. I had a few hours to spend before I needed to be home, anyway. That´s what ends me here, standing in an otherwise empty shop, perusing through a ridiculous amount of candles. I run a hand over the glass jar of the first one I come to- the one nearest to the door. It´s a cinnamon-brown color, and it smells exactly like… pinwheels? What the heck? That´s the exact smell- I look at the label, and it does, in fact, advertise the smell of pinwheels. This is insane, I think. There´s a small button on the lid, and I press it. Immediately, I´m standing in my kitchen, as it was when I was… six? What? I try to call out to my family, but none of them respond. Not even my sister. (I´m of the firm belief that if I was a ghost, she´d be the one to see me.) But this little girl looks at me strangely.
“Can you see me?” I ask, thoroughly freaked out.
She smiles at me with her tiny face. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Nobody else can. Listen, where am I?”
“You’re in my house,” she says. Thanks, kid. “Maybe you’re my imaginary friend.” She’s already walking away into the dining room when she finishes- leaving me in the empty kitchen, so I scurry to follow her. There’s… a Christmas tree set up in the piano room? Is it Christmas?
“Amelia,” someone calls.
My head whips up. So does the little girl’s. It’s my mom. “Do you want a pinwheel?”
The girl- me?– clamors over the treat, and I feel myself snap back into the shop.
What just happened? What on earth? Was that me? There’s no way that whatever just happened is even possible, but no notion of leaving the shop ever even crosses my mind. Instead, I pick up another jar. Meringues, it reads. Pressing the button on the lid brings me back to the kitchen- but I’m older, and my sister is there.
I- the younger me- looks at me, then startles, and curses. Sophia looks around, then gives younger me a strange look.
“Mind your language,” I tell myself. “You won’t like it when you’re older.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m you, but I ride a motorcycle,” I reply, dryly.
Younger me splutters, then chokes out a laugh. “Is that that meme?”
Sophia turns around fully. “Who are you talking to?”
“Nobody. My imaginary friend.”
“You’re so weird. Here, try this.”
My vision of the scene fades out as a meringue is stuffed into younger me’s mouth.
Full of nostalgia, I go through the scenes of ice cream for snacks at my grandparents’, cotton candy at Cirque Du Soleil, warm cookies at home, the salty smell of the ocean at beaches in the Dominican Republic, and things that don’t really have smells- the trip to Europe, churches and cathedrals with tall ceilings, singing in choruses, joking with my friends, with my family.
Strangely, the only person to notice me in each memory is me. And by the end- the most recent memory (accidentally setting a cheesecake on fire with my friend- don’t ask), both versions of me stop asking questions. I just let myself enjoy the memories- things I’d long forgotten, or things that really didn’t make sense to be associated with smells, without complaint.
And if my bag is a few candles heavier, and my wallet a couple of dollars lighter when I leave, then that’s nobody’s business.
However, I can’t help but think that the employee behind the counter, who helpfully rung up my purchase, had looked a little like me, if I had shaved one side of my head and let the other grow out. Strangely, I don’t question it- rather, I can’t wait for my next visit into town.