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Emilie and the Strange Loss

The estate manager and crew finished a long day selling, lifting and loading. By late afternoon, buyers and collectors had emptied Emilie’s house of contents. The estate sale workers were busy folding and stowing display tables, when someone walked out of the house.

“How much for this old perfume bottle,” a young woman asked. The estate manager was sweaty and fatigued, and done with dealing with the public.

“You almost got yourself locked up in there,” he said. “I thought everybody had cleaned the place out, and we’d cleaned everybody out. That antique bottle? Twenty bucks. Very collectible.”

“How does ten sound?”

“Fifteen sounds better.”

The woman removed the lid and sniffed the contents of the blue glass bottle. “Wow! This bottle is full of memories,” she beamed.

“This whole house is,” he replied.

She pressed her fingertip over the opening, inverted the bottle quickly, and turned it upright again. She tapped her finger behind each ear, and smiled at the man. He did not return the gesture.

The woman inverted the bottle again, then touched the man’s sweaty cheeks with her wet fingertip, first one cheek then the other.

“There. Perfect,” she said.

He laughed. “You can’t hide new stink with old stink.”

“No, but you can make new memories from old ones. Some day you’ll look back, and the only thing you’ll remember about today is that some strange girl put very collectible antique cologne on you.”

She laughed. He grinned.

“And to whomever you’re telling the story, you’ll swear that, after all these years, sometimes you can still smell it in the strangest of places. Do you have change for a twenty?”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s on me. Literally,” he laughed.

“Are you sure?”

“Enjoy the bottle, and the memories inside.”

“You enjoy the memories too,” the woman said.

The estate manager folded the last of the display tables.

“How much,” she asked.

“Our tables aren’t for sale.”

“Not the table. The house.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Full disclosure: The owner and someone I think was maybe her husband died in the house.”

“That’s partial disclosure,” she said. “Full disclosure is that they also lived there.“

“Fair enough. Here’s my card.”

What remained of Emilie had listened to their conversation. She had watched as her home sold, piece-by-piece, and she now knew that the house was next.

“The final disclosure is that I’m never leaving,” what remained of Emilie said, although the man and woman never heard a sound.

“Call me tomorrow. I’ll give you the grand tour,” the estate manager said.

“It’s a date!”

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