A Memory.

As I breezed into the room, feeling my way along the wall for the light switch, my nose picked up the sweet scent.

It hit me straight away, taking me back, transporting me in time.

I was eight years old, sitting at my Nian’s dressing table. Her jewellery and bead’s hung own over the side of the mirror. Her perfume, face powder and a tub of cold cream on the left hand side. A crystal glass tray containing her broaches, her old watch and some mother of pearl earrings I always liked.

How I’d sit there for hours in her room, playing dress up with her hats and shoes. Such a lot for a young girl to rifle through. Being nosey my own mother would say. She always wore dresses, her smart ones for town, and always with a piny over the top when she was home. Never with a hair outa place. Smart and very proud, she was a strong woman on her own. I’d try on her stockings and apply her rouge as best I could, and then trample the room in her best shoes. Hat on my head, I thought I looked my best, as my Nian would smile and every now and then check in on me.

A tea chest full of buttons in one of the drawers she had. Hundreds of them, all shapes, colours and sizes, each one unique, and some very old.

Then she would come and sit with me, and we would play the game that we so liked to play. I’d choose a button, each time it would be a different one, the one that stood out the most, that attracted my eye that day. And then my Nian would tell me a story.

‘Every button had a story, some quite a few’ she would say, as I sat mesmerised. As every button belonged to something old, something worn and now gone. That couldn’t be saved, so they were taken off and kept.

Then she’d relay a time gone by, a event or moment of when she wore that very one. Sometimes her voice would trail off, as she sat, looking, turning the button over in her hand. As if to bring back the feelings from that day. Then her mind in a far off place, she’d get up, still holding the button, and sit down on the end of the bed. Looking out of the window at the street ahead. Not seeing the modern cars parked up or the people walking home, but reliving a memory, a time so different to now.

I’d get up and stand by her, moving the net covering the curtain so we could have a good look, and she would stop me. Putting her arms around me and pulling me onto her high bed. My legs dangling down not touching the floor yet. We would sit for what felt like hours, but was minutes at the most

‘What are we looking at Nian? ‘ I would ask.

‘just watching’ she’d say, her arm around my shoulder, as I’d look from her face to the button in her hand as she rubbed it between her thumb and forefinger.

‘just watching, just waiting’ she sigh but I never knew for what. Frozen in time, her eyes not even moving, saddened and heavy, just starring straight ahead.

And as I nestled my head into her body, feeling the comfort and warmth washing over me, how I loved my Nian.

Lily of the valley, pears soap and her favourite blossom talc. Everything of my Nian’s smelled of this.

The familiarity hits me right now, in this room so new, and casts my mind back.

Burning my nostrils, its so strong and clear, I would recognise that smell anywhere. Soothing my mind as it takes me back to that time, so many spent with my Nian. And now knowing that right now, she is here with me. Just come for a visit, or to say hello,Her smell reassuring me, that all is well.

The End

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