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His Scent

Gripped by a man's scent

Funny how the mind protects us from trauma and stress by shutting off memories and emotions. I did not understand why I have been so on edge about the MRI my doctor ordered for the pain in my shoulder. They gave me earplugs, strapped me down, covered me in a blanket and started sucking me into that tight tube with only a panic button in my hand. As I lay there, gripped by the claustrophobic panic, the technician told me they have to redo the study because of my movements. I forced my body to still and my thoughts to focus.

A couple of years ago, I was trapped in an elevator. I had been on my way up to the temporary office they gave me, on my very last day of a year-long consulting assignment. The elevator jolted hard and came to a sudden stop. Then it was pitch black except for that tiny LED emergency light on the control panel. I did not know that I was claustrophobic until I started hyperventilating and went into a complete state of panic. I was screaming at the top of my lungs, drowning out the voice of another person in the elevator cab with me. His hands found me and attempted to calm me down, but not before I clipped him a few times with my fists. He finally convinced me to stop screaming so he can talk into the emergency phone.

His voice, deep and commanding as he spoke with the outside world, resonated through me. He said his name, Robert Johnson, and then he summarized the situation with military precision. I thought he even made intelligent and expert suggestions, but I was not clear minded enough to process any of it. It was not long before another wave of panic choked me. Later, I figured that I was in that elevator for a little over an hour. In that time, I witnessed a part of me fall apart like a house of cards. And a faceless person reached a place inside me that had never seen the light of day.

The inflection of his voice became lower, softer yet more commanding; he lulled me into a sense of calm. His firm arms gripped me and steadied my shakes. I remember the coarse wool of his suit, the crisp of his shirt, the silken sweep of his tie. Most overriding of all, I imprinted on how he smelled: the scent of his skin, his body, his adrenaline. His scent made me feel safe and at the same time, it made me want to have his babies. Time lapsed, he was on the emergency phone again and his arms fell from me but he kept one hand, steady and reassuring, on my back. I breathed him in, whiff after whiff, soothed and sedated by his chemistry, intoxicated and taken by his smell. I wondered if this was what it was like to take a hit of drugs, to feel the rush to your brain, the desperate need to satisfy primal urges. I entered a trance of the evanescent, the ephemeral. I inhaled the transient wisps of him that triggered and recorded new longings in me.

His hand had fallen away from me and I had immediately searched out for it. I grasped it with mine while he intermittently conversed into the elevator telephone. We intertwined our fingers. He held my hand and I held his. Then I felt his ring. I gasped; I withdrew. He reached out and found my hand again. He held it and held it. Finally, the elevator jolted into motion, and then came to a halt. The doors opened and we were blinded by the light. I bolted out of there without setting eyes on the man whose scent was buried in my soul.

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