“Passion fruit… patchouli… peach… peppermint…”

Hannelore smiled, listening to the woman as she read the labels on the delicate bottles out loud. Just another moment or two.

The woman sighed heavily, looking at the shelves with a perplexed expression while her finger lingered beside the last label.

Hannelore stood up, smoothed the wrinkles out of her smart black skirt, and approached the woman.

“Can I help you? Are you looking for something in particular?”

The woman looked at her, then past her. “Um, no. Well, yes. Kind of?”

Hannelore smiled encouragingly.

“A friend recommended you to me,” the woman said. “At least, I think so.” She frowned, as if trying to recall something that had slipped away. “The perfect scent. She said you have the perfect scent. Like, THE perfect scent. But…”

She looked at the shelf, and Hannelore followed her gaze. “Ah. P for Perfect. I must admit,that would make sense. Perhaps I missed a trick there.”

She gestured politely for the woman to follow her,and made her way through the displays.

“It’s stupid really,” the woman said as they walked. “I don’t even know exactly what I’m looking for. Like, it’s more of a feeling than a smell?”

“Something to bring back precious memories,” Hannelore said. “A wistful summer’s evening. The touch of a hand. The whisper of the breeze.”

The woman stopped and stared at, or perhaps through her. “Something like that, yeah. How did you…?”

Hannelore took a small fluted glass bottle from a shelf and laid it in the palm of her hand to present it to the woman.

“Uh…” She looked at the bottle, then squinted at Hannelore, puzzled. “Is that, like, an off-brand or something? There’s no label.”

With an expert flick of her wrist, Hannelore spritzed the perfume into the air. The woman sniffed hesitantly.

“You could say that,” Hannelore told her. “I think it’s just what you’re looking for, though.”

“Oh my…” The woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath. A beatific expression crossed her face. “How on earth… no, that doesn’t matter. How much?”

With a professional incline of her head, Hannelore led the customer to the cash desk. The price was high, and she felt a customary twinge of guilt as she named the price. The customer, however, paid without hesitation, as they always did. It was, after all, something money shouldn’t be able to buy. And a fairy had to make a living.

“Use it sparingly,” she told the customer. “There will never be another bottle, and you won’t find me again.”

The woman nodded dreamily, lost in her memory and not paying attention as Hannelore shimmered and vanished, her dainty shop replaced by the ordinary surroundings of a high street chemist.

(C) Kari Fay 2017