Rediscovery

Kath prodded the contents of the last box — a tangle of gig laminates, fliers, badges, non-functioning lighters and broken CD cases.

Tammi’s voice in her head was brusque, sensible: “Let it go, Kath. It’s time to look forward.”

The apartment was bare. Two grey American Tourister suitcases stood by the door. On top of one, a plastic file folder with copies of her acceptance letter and financial aid forms; the orientation week agenda; emergency numbers.

She was lucky. If she tried hard enough, she might even deserve it.

As Kath tilted the contents of the box into a black trash bag, a red oblong fell onto the floor. Picking it up, she leaned in and sniffed. Gardenia, freesia, jasmine, patchouli banded together into a deep, pungent floral that brought back a thousand and one lost nights.

Gucci Rush was her scent — the one Gabe swore he could sniff out in a crowd, the only thing she could smell after a night of cocaine, the aroma that made her feel beautiful when her eyes were raw and mascara ran down her cheeks.

That world was thrilling. It was also the reason for twice-a-week dialysis and wore long sleeves in the heat.

“You’re not that person anymore,” Tammi liked to remind her.

Closing her eyes, Kath inhaled and let the memories rise like a tide. Sweat, whiskey, cigarettes, hot lights, smoke machines. The swell of sound as the band appeared, the first thrusting guitar chords and defibrillating drum kick.

Reckless. Immature. Self-destructive. Kath thought of how she’d come to view that time. And the reasons: looking for something, grieving, acting out.

Tammi would say: “Don’t romanticize it.”

Kath looked at the empty room, cleansed of her messy, selfish, chaotic self. Then, with a smile, she pumped perfume into the air and twirled into the cloud of scent.