At the risk of killing whatever muse is encouraging me to write at the moment, I present a very first very rough draft of the beginning of a number of stories.
Alexi did not wear the cologne that other men wore; smoky and woody like peat. Instead, Drina noticed as he embraced her that his skin smelt almost sweet, like cut grass in late summer. Months later, when she was alone in that distant, silent wing of his second house, she opened the tiny window and breathed in the almond-like scent of late summer from the immaculate lawns below.
She remembered then that first embrace, tainted now – as much a reminder as her third-story cage of the bittersweet ending of summer. He smelled, as did the well-tended and infrequently-visited gardens, sweet but still strong, persistent and inviting. It had comforted her, reminding her of her family home, and she never failed to be swept away by it. She had been as unable to escape him then as she was now; locked in her quarters with only the scent of September grass cuttings to constantly remind her of how she got there.
Although it sometimes made her want to cry, Drina did not close the window and shut out the familiar, cool scent. Her mother had always said that a baby in the womb could perceive the world around it as well as anyone else and so Drina wanted her baby, unborn as she was, to experience the outside world as much as was possible. The cumbersome bump and its occasional kicks were enough of a reminder of her circumstance as the beautiful room with its gilt lock to keep her in, as the smell of summer itself, so to deprive her firstborn of this feeling would be nothing but cruel.
Drina often spoke to the baby, comforting her from without. They were in this together, and she wanted her child to feel loved. She remembered her mother’s whispers when she was young and refused to sleep, and the comfort that she had found in her elder sister after her mother had gone. Often she would wish that her mother or Alina were with her in her quiet bedroom, to sing her to sleep as she lay exhausted night after lonely night.
Sometimes Drina dreamt about Alexi, that he had changed his mind and was coming to release her. She scolded herself for thinking in these terms, she was not imprisoned, she reasoned, but secured. But it was always hard to remain convincing and as the months had passed Drina’s hope faded. Then she began dreaming of him as he was, as she remembered him, and it did not matter that his hands could no longer circle her slim waist or his lips trail across her stomach, for she slept better dreaming of him and the familiar scent of broken grass.