by Lisa Kwan
Written for: The Writer's Tower
Theme: Name (August)
Bonus words: mustard, asylum
Her name was Paradise. Indeed, what a beautiful name, he thought. He closed his eyes and he could vividly see her wavy brown locks, the stray strands caught on her moist ruby red lips, her porcelain alabaster skin.
It couldn’t have been a chance encounter. Of all the coffee delivery girls at all the branches of Coffee R Us, it had to be her. Of all the offices in the building, it had to be his. And of the sixty-odd interns at his office, the one with coffee duty today, of all days, had to be him.
He hated coffee duty, because getting coffee for his coffee-crazed superiors was really, he felt, an opportunity. An opportunity to screw up and get yelled at, with your face covered in superior spittle, for the entire department to watch in glee—until it was their turn.
So far, since his six months here, this was his second time on coffee duty, and he hadn’t screwed up. Yet.
Then she had emerged from the elevator like an angel, complete with angelic halo, courtesy of the too-bright lights that lit up the office and made it look like a sterile hospital.
Exchanging the artistically-balanced cups of coffee for cash, he just had to ask.
“What is your name?”
He was sure he must have looked like an idiot, with his mouth hanging open, and his eyes as round as the base of the coffee cups she was holding.
She had smiled when she told him. The I’m-pretending-to-be-shy-but-actually-wouldn’t-mind-you-asking-me-out kind of smile, instead of the I’m-just-being-polite-but-EW-get-away-from-me-you-freak kind. At least he hoped so.
It had to be fate, he thought. I have to see her again.
As he walked off, absentmindedly wondering how she had carried these twenty cups of coffee without spilling them, he made plans. It was a small world. He would find her. Besides, with such a uniquely beautiful name, how many coffee-delivery-girl Paradises can there be?
He couldn’t believe she had said yes. He couldn’t believe she had said yes and that she was sitting opposite him across a table filled with pastries, right this moment.
Dressed in a pretty dark blue top and mustard short skirt, he just couldn’t take his eyes off her. And apparently, everyone else in the quaint little pastry shop couldn’t either.
She was perfect. Everything about her was perfect.
When she threw her head back as she laughed, he thought, Paradise. When she licked the pastry crumbs off her fingers, Paradise. When she playfully slapped her hand against his arm, when she announced that she never really liked strawberries anyway, when she dusted some icing sugar off the side of his lips, Paradise, Paradise, Paradise.
She was intoxicating, the smell of her, the sight of her. He wondered about how she would taste. As sweet as she seemed to be?
They talked for hours, way after teatime and well into dinnertime. He suggested they try a Mexican restaurant located near his apartment. She happily agreed.
By the time dinner was over, and their leftover nachos had gone soggy, they were both hopelessly drunk, and horny. How convenient it was that his apartment was just nearby, wasn’t it?
They tumbled into his bedroom in the dark, hands groping each other, hastily and clumsily pulling off articles of clothing. Giggling like schoolgirls. But their lovemaking was anything but.
After she had drifted off to sleep and lay beside him snoring gently, spent, he slipped out of bed, his desire rising once more. From his closet, he pulled out the knife he always kept in a corner, and stood over his sleeping angel, silently watching her chest rise and fall in a rhythm.
As he gently placed the knife by her neck with one hand, he pulled some of her hair up over her head with the other, not wanting her hair to be matted with blood. It would be a bother to wash it off later.
He gave her a light kiss on the top of her forehead, and she stirred. But before she could open her eyes, he slit her throat, quickly and painlessly. Immediately, her entire body went still. He traced a finger down her delicate nose to her lips, still as ruby red as when he’d first met her. Paradise, he whispered.
The entire process was tedious, he knew. And required so much patience, which was so difficult considering how impatient he was. Days and hours of waiting. But he also knew, it was utterly and completely worth it.
Over the years, he had perfected the craft, and he could do it with his eyes closed. Slather the entire body with lard. Wrap securely and firmly with a cloth. The longer you wait, the more saturated the lard becomes with the scent it is set with. He had found that three days were the best; any sooner or any longer will yield less than perfect results.
Remove the lard from the body and the wrap, squeezing out as much as you can from the hair as well, so as not to waste. Soak with ethyl alcohol to draw the fragrance from the lard into the alcohol. Finally, distill the mixture to yield beautiful, fragrant perfume.
He held up the translucent yellow glass bottle in his hand, as close as he could find to the colour mustard, in remembrance of their first, well, and final, date. Labeled Paradise, it was filled with the scent of her. He unlocked a glass cupboard located in the corner of his bedroom, which Paradise had unfortunately failed to notice, being as ‘busy’ as she was when she had first entered.
In it, sat rows and rows of glass bottles, of different shapes and sizes and colours. Tall ones, short ones, wide ones, slim ones, those with a round base, or an angular one; shining with all the colours of the rainbow as they reflected the light.
Each one held a label: Angelique, Paz, Phoenix, Willow, Florence, Annabelle, Lexi, Perla, Alexis, Mya, Victoria, Zara, Faith, Bethany, Chrystal, Hollie, Skye, Eve, Alexandra; each one held a name. He carefully placed Paradise between them, already wondering if this one could be his new favourite.
He opened the sealed cap, just a crack, and took a whiff of the fragrance captured within. Like a hallucination, he could see Paradise’ face, sparkling brown eyes, her uninhibited laugh, her white skin.
Oh, how he had fallen for her! Her craziness, her spontaneity, her passion.
Well, now he could keep her forever.
Note: Story inspired by the 2006 movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.