I met Abigail one year ago today. Dr Polov’s waiting room smelled like daisies that morning—an aura of warm tones hovered on the surface of my nostrils and I covertly gagged through my mouth once the smell drew closer. I didn’t catch the culprit till she walked by my peripheral view into his office and I saw a trail of her scent abandoned as she closed the door behind her. I heard murmurs from inside and the only full words from the English language I could make out in between the buzz of the air-conditioning were, “Father,” “Them”, and “ Why”.
She emerged from the room some 45 minutes later still mysterious as ever and I caught the shadow of her hair—wild and free— and the shape of her nose; slightly crooked in a beautiful sort of way. I didn’t know it at the time but the loveliest woman in the world once sat on the chair beside me—a queen on her thrown. She left a book behind and I grabbed it before any other prince charming could.
“David, come on in.” I heard Dr. Polov’s voice, but chose to drown it out for several more seconds so that I can envelop myself in the imagery of spring and smell the remnants of fresh daisies.
“Wine for Dummies,” the book title read. A girl who smells like daisies, hair wild and free, nose crooked in a beautiful sort of way—what could she possibly be doing with a book called wine for dummies?
I wash my hands with purell.
Usually I spend the 10-minute subway ride home from Dr. Polov’s office trying to think of all the ways I can incorporate all the ways he tries to fix me in our session prior into the banalities of my daily routine.
I wash my hands with purell a second time.
I skim through Wine for Dummies.
My foot taps the ground in a consecutive motion.
I learn new things. Brut is pronounced Brute. Now that’s just silly. Tannic wine leaves the mouth feeling dry. The oldest winery is founded in ancient Armenia. Interesting.
I read it on my walk home. I continue reading it in the bathtub. I read it before I head off to bed and almost forget to check if I locked the doors and if I shut the oven off. By the end of it I know nothing more about her than I did before. She must be seeing Dr. Polov every week because she’s an alcoholic. It’s the only way to make sense of it all.
I count the tiles on the ceiling. 1, 2, 3, 4. I count them clockwise. 1,2, 3,4. I dreamt that night of crooked noses, hair wild and free, and the smell of daisies.
The following week I make sure to pack her book in my briefcase, the one my mother got for me as a Christmas gift 5 years ago and I swore I’d never wear. If she knew I listened to her just once she may badger me to rid of my ginger beard that I felt complemented my blue eyes the way the sun only could.
It didn’t fit in the satchel I usually carry to and from Dr. Polov but I emptied out my belongings and transferred them over to the leather briefcase making sure to organize them exactly as they once were.
I got there early in case I should miss her by one wild hair. She was sitting there. She was lovely. I approached her with the book outstretched in my raw hands.
“Excuse me, Miss?”
“Yes?” Her voice was saccharine-sweet.
“ You left your book here last week, “ I replied hesitantly.
“Hm. Oh gosh. I was wondering where that disappeared to,” She responded.
“Wine for Dummies?” I couldn’t leave her be without an explanation.
She looked at me for a moment and opened her mouth before closing it again. When she finally got her thoughts together she said,
“I saw this book left behind at a bar one night. I presume, by a bartender. I’m the type of girl who finds pleasure in reading all kinds of things. The encyclopedia fascinates me. I didn’t think twice about bringing the book home with me the same way you wouldn’t think twice about bringing home a pretty girl.”
She was wrong. I think twice about everything. I check. And I count. And I make sure of things. I clean. I clean some more.
But with her, I never thought twice.