What was she thinking? She felt the fool, standing outside in the rain, her legs tethered to the ground by the invisible rope called ‘indecision.’ She had heard about others coming here, she fancied it foolishness, hence why she was beginning to believe herself the fool.
The garishly loud jingle of the brass bells hanging from the storefront door clanged, pulling her out of her thoughts. A middle-aged woman, clutching her purchase to her chest with greedy hands, locked eyes with her before shame snatched them away and she scurried off into the shadows of the night, the heady fragrance of candle wax dragging in her wake.
Lucinda shook her head. Her kind was so odd when it came to these kinds of things, these kinds of purchases. It was mostly because of their own mental assimilation to being on Earth, passing for native Earthlings.
Lucinda’s kind looked no different than the true Earthlings, though they were decedents, they were different. Who else would open a store with a glaring sign saying “Free Smells?”
The message was misleading in its nature. The scents weren’t free of cost, not by a long shot, and once those “scents” were set free, there was a lot of responsibility to be managed.
Again Lucinda hesitated, her fingers drawing away from the door handle as if it had burned her. She forced herself to take hold of it and step in. She needed help and fast. She needed to free a scent, a particular scent at that.
* * *
If it were at all possible, Lucinda felt even more stupid after explaining her need to the Nose. He stared at her curiously, stroking his naked chin as if it were heavily bearded.
Leaning forward, one of his eyes narrowing, he said, “You are not the usual customer. I mean, if we were home your request would not be so unusual.”
The tension in Lucinda’s shoulders fled. The Nose clucked his tongue. “Alas, we are not home and so this is unusual.”
“Does that mean you don’t have such a candle?” Defeat was scrapping its claws down her belly with the worst of cramping.
The Nose held her gaze. “My dear, we are on Earth now, have been for centuries,”
“I understand that,” She pressed her eyes closed as not to lose her patience.
“Then you know the saying, “When in Rome, do like the Romans.” Forget about…that.” He wagged his finger at her with disgust as if the “that” she had confessed to him was the vilest thing he had heard of. Such sad assimilation.
Lucinda wished she had it that easy. But wishing was as useless as believing that some magic could solve her problem. An Earthling might have believed the candles were the works of magic. This, the store, in Lucinda’s mind, was far more reproachable, but she was desperate.
The Senthians had lost, this, the candles was their end. Claiming one was Lucinda’s right, or more so her rebellion. The Senthians weren’t meant to be freed…but then they were no longer home. The rules did not apply. She chewed her lip, more indecision.
“Maybe I should forget about this,” she said.
“Exactly! None of us can go backward. But the smells are still available. I have some very nice woodsy tones, nodes of pine with touches of sweetness. What woman doesn’t enjoy a sweet scent.”
He winked. “I could even mix you the perfect blend if you’d like. You tell me what you want down to the smallest detail and it’s done. I can whip you up the perfect companion, tall, handsome, sensitive, dotting, boyfriend or husband. A master in the kitchen!”
Lucinda was feeling sick. She shook her head and made to rise.
He smacked the table top. “Just can’t get that issue off your brain, can you?! What you want is a Prophet! No one asks for those!”
“So you don’t have one, or can’t mix one, because clearly, that is what I am looking for. I don’t need,” She swallowed her words rather than lie. She would love a nice male companion mixed up just the way she liked, but the thought didn’t sit well with her, playing God that way.
Senthians were once an elegant race. Now they were nothing but candles whipped up at the whims of lonely women and men.
The Nose finally heeled and stood. “I don’t need to mix one. They couldn’t be rendered. Prophets are very specific in their structure.” He disappeared into the back of his shop and returned with a round jar, cocooned in a centuries-old skin of dust.
He dropped the jarred Prophet on the table and spit out a hefty price, one that made Lucinda wish to faint. She paid it anyhow and with hands just as greedy as the woman she had met outside the store, she clutched the candle to her chest.
“I hope you like forevers, because that’s what he will be once you release his scent; a forever responsibility for you and you alone.” The Nose warned. “Prophets are not like their Senthian brothers. They can’t be re-rendered. There are no returns for obvious reasons.”
Lucinda swallowed down the knot in her throat, the jarred Prophet suddenly feeling warm and heavy in her hands. “I-I understand.” She said, and with haste ran from the store.
THE END FOR NOW.
A NOTE TO READERS: A few years ago, a friend and I were window shopping. We stopped at a store that had some of the most lovely, heady, masculine scented candles I had ever smelled. They weren’t overpowering at all, as some of the candles can be. My friend and I laughed and said, “Wouldn’t that be something if you could just buy a candle that was made of the perfect man, burn it and there he was? Could you imagine women shopping for men like they did candles?” We laughed then and I am laughing now, but that is not Lucinda’s reason for a candle…obviously. I hope you enjoyed the start of her tale.
*This story was originally written and published on my sister site, http://www.icameforthesoup.com on July 28th, 2015.