Shaky hands turned the page. There it was. Pressed between two pieces of crinkled wax paper, edges bleached by the sun from when it was framed on a bedroom wall beside a whitewashed vanity, were the ironed remains of her corsage. Orchidaceae cymbidium. The name was written at the bottom of the page in handwriting that was both intimate and unfamiliar. The calyx had withered away over the years, but the soft pink petals, dotted in blotches of dark fuchsia, survived. Forever fresh. Vacuum-sealed for eternity in the dusty pages of a scrapbook.
She brought the page to her face and inhaled. She could still recall the scent. Crisp like the early summer breeze that rushed up from the sea on the morning after. Raw like the first dab of a new perfume. A whiff of undiluted vanilla. The memory of a dance that lasted for days and a life that continued for decades after.
Now it smelled like mothballs and old paper.
“What is that?” Like the handwriting, she knew the voice and she didn’t know it.
Her eyes were wet. The thin skin beneath her lashes irritated by the dust and the memory. It had seemed so important to write down the name of the blossom. Now she wished she’d written the name of the person who’d given it to her instead.
“Mom? What are you looking at?”
She closed the book, returning the orchid to the pages of history.