An Aroma of Plums

Travis Inglis

Photo credit: jay-chilli/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

She, Rose, she thinks about it. It’s funny how life changes. You grow and get older, and those days of youthhood, terrifying and ballistic no longer exist. What was carefreeness, is now unfreeness. Unfreeness. She likes this thought. She likes words that aren’t words. When had she signed up to this life? She cannot remember.

Looking around Anna’s home, she sees furniture new and shiny, she sees clean surfaces and good salaries. She sees old friends, all hidden and dressed to impress, the way women do. Dressed as metaphors of their happy shiny lives. Dressed to impress each other, impress and shame. She wonders whether there is a breath of honesty anywhere.

The wine is good, it is red. She is an adult; therefore, it is important that she knows the difference between good wine and bad wine. She had learnt the difference between red wine and white wine when she was thirteen. She also at thirteen learnt that they both do the same job, more or less. Happiness, bliss, openness, chaos, hangover, vomit, dread, repeat. And then when she was in her awkward growth between childhood and adulthood, she learnt its other trick, the one involving lack of inhibition and sex. It was a good red, fruity note, an aroma of plums.

What had happened to these other women, her old friends? They acted man-made, their appearance and how they moved, were full of straight lines, full of function. They were shaped and fitted by trends and expectations. They are cookie-cutter versions of each other. Fashions usurping truth. Artificial. Maybe, she thinks, maybe she was too. This realisation had been haunting her. She had always thought she was on the outside looking in. That she occupied the high ground so often claimed by devout-individualists. Devout-individualists. She smiles, smirks at her new phrase.

This was another trick of wine. The self-doubt about one’s worth, about one’s uniqueness.

There apparently is a lot to talk about. At first it appears that the conversation must be around spouses and kids, and childcares and homeownership. This bores her, it more than bores her it sucks the will from her. She replaces her will with wine, which she sucks from the glass. She tries to outwardly look interested. Tries to mask the straight lines she can feel in her face. She wonders whether everyone else is pretending to look interested too, whether they are burning on the inside. A room of masks?

She is a risk taker, always has been. There is foreplay in the pursuit of annihilation, a fulfilment in the chaos that she can cause. It is addictive, like the taste of blood, and dangerous, like choking in sex.

Her friends all have children; she is the only one who sees the sense in being childless. And of the four, she again is the only one not to have married. She had been with the same man for ten years, but couldn’t reconcile why you would marry, convenience maybe? They had never talked about marriage. What would it change?

Maybe it was time to grow up. Maybe it’s just the way of things. Nature or social conditioning. That self-doubt. Maybe she should pity herself.

The room talks weddings. Her friends are in competition, each trying to extend the importance and pomp of their big days. Openly take pride in the obscene amount of money spent, and waste created. As the politely veiled insults battle, she opens a second bottle of wine and observes. She laughs internally at the idiocy, and the ridiculousness of it all. These women are clichés.

She escapes into memory, into fantasy. Drifts away from that room, that space, those old friends and their words. Memories are like lucid dreams. She controls and shapes histories. Connects dots and creates new pasts, discards unneeded truths.

She remembers the wedding, Tom’s wedding, Anna’s wedding. Like a story told for generations, it changes from truth to myth. She replays the chaos, the risk, the sounds. The pictures are dull. What are dreams and what are memories, what’s the difference?

It is unhealthy, but she remembers the rush of destroying something beautiful. When was the last time she had been destructive? She misses that high.

Lucid dreaming mixes with reality.

The battle has simmered down, as it does between old friends. Memories and laughs are being shared. They talk now about Anna’s wedding. She had been beautiful. It was a beautiful wedding.

Her own private peace.

A memory from her hidden and dangerous past; sin flashes in her mind. Heavies her breath. She had enjoyed Anna’s wedding, enjoyed it well, the risk of being caught.

A lot of money had been spent on that wedding. And looking around the pristine house it seems important to Anna to display wealth. Everything shines with expense. The house is imposing, and the little corner of it where wine is being taken, is not little at all. Thirty square metres dedicated to the sole function of lounging formally. High ceilings and chandeliers. Decor and furnishings are a blinding array of whites.

She has an urge. An internal fantasy. A secret joke. Foreplay. An urge to spill wine on the obscene whiteness. Destroy something beautiful. She thinks about fighting this urge. The chaos is too tempting. She reaches for her glass, clasps her fingers around the stem and drinks. She hesitates, but only briefly, returns the glass to the table. Her hand spasms. There is a magnificent spill, and a bloody stain across the blinding white rug.

There is a rush by her friends, and an attempt to reverse time, reverse the bloody stain. A brief chaos brings her a brief satisfaction. A low-current of joy. It does not last.

The moment passes and the afternoon moves on. That’s how it is, events evaporate into nothing.

Wine has eroded inhibitions. They are back onto the topic of weddings. Weddings and who had fucked who in past lives, in the hedonism of the wedding reception.

She looks at her friend Sarah, she remembers her how she used to be. Reckless and beautiful. Sarah would leave carnage not chaos. Looking now at her friend, she remembers how much she was in love with her, that lifetime ago. A catastrophic beauty. She smiles at her thoughts; she smiles at Sarah. Sarah winks back, and in that briefest of moments they have removed their masks. They are twenty-one again. This is dangerous. This is honest.

She is terrified by the way Sarah is looking at her. There is experience of memory; that look will lead to devastation. She is alive with electric current caused by the foreplay.

“I know what you did.” Sarah announces to the room, face hidden behind false expression. Was she play-acting?

“What…? What did I do?” She, Rose, she speaks, conceals her real fear, the fear of the unknown, not the fear of admission.

“I can’t say.”

She could leave it there. The moment would move on. But she wants that rush and completeness of chaos.

“Why can’t you say?” She dares her friend.

“You know why… you… you hooked up with Tom.” It was a masterpiece. “Tell her!”

“What! You’ve got it wrong.” She was in between excitement and fear, she didn’t know whether to confess.

“Tell her! At their wedding!”

“You’ve only got half the story.” This was not a game anymore, this was real, this was people’s lives. People’s expensive, shiny lives. But she cannot stop herself. Vile admission spills forth. “I fucked him, well… he fucked me! He bent me over and he came inside me.” She is shocked by her own words. Shocked by the crudeness.

Chaos and carnage.

“Get out!” A voice pierces the room. She assumes it is Anna’s, she is electric and blind.

She stands and walks. But high with the moment and drunk enough not to give a shit, she cannot help herself, adds. “And you know what, I didn’t enjoy it!”

There is fury and violence and punches, kicks and hair is loosened. Skin is collected by fingernails. She does not fight back; she just laughs and spits and smiles and bleeds. Oh the fucking rush.

She is the centre of the world.

The moment passes, like all moments.

Bliss of chaos, she feels alive with self-harm. Her face is swollen from the attack, she loves the pain. She is aglow with self-satisfaction.

As she drives, erratic and reckless and drunk and dangerous. She is living.

It is glorious, her triumph of annihilation. She is wet thinking about the ramifications, Tom and Anna and their happiness distressed. The destroying of friendships, a cathartic culling of useless people from her life.

And from the safety of home, and in her garage, and still in her car, secure and blissful, she is static with orgasm. And as she climaxes, she admires her perfect lie. Laughs to herself, satisfied and electric, Imagine, she thinks, if only it had been true.


Travis Inglis has been living abroad on and off for the past ten years collecting stories, he guesses. His work is influenced a lot by the idea of home and identity and finding out how to fit in in this world. Email: travisinglis[at]

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