A Certain Cachet… by
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Couple at dawn

My first submission here. Also, I’ve had writer’s block for over five years, so a Quick Take is in order.

Smell is the sense most connected to our inner brains, to our memories and emotions

My First Great Love was as a freshman in college, back in 1974. Her name was (not really) Maria. I picked a seat at random the first day of English Comp. It was next to Maria. The details of How It All Began are for another essay, but we were a couple by early November. It was, for both of us, our first adult relationship. We were eighteen; we learned quickly.

Winter Break (nearly five weeks long at our school) forced us to be apart most of the time, so we wrote letters. Detailed, explicit letters. In early February, her parents found my letters to her, and were very unhappy with her, with me, and with my relationship with Maria. What happened afterwards was long and complex, but we were finished by the Spring of 1977.

In 1986 I was clearing out some old boxes that had been in storage for many years in my parent’s basement. One, long forgotten, contained items that I packed when I graduated college. Inside, wrapped in decaying rubber bands, were the letters that she had sent me during that Winter recess of our youth.

When she had mailed them, back when we were young lovers kept apart, she had sprayed them with her signature scent, a perfume called Cachet. Nearly a decade later, the base notes of that perfume remained, faint but definite, trapped within the fibers of the note paper she had used. I sat in that damp basement for a couple of hours, reading the letters, smelling her again across time and distance. Memories and emotions flooded through me in waves, of laughter, of tears.

I have heard that smell is the sense most connected to our inner brains, to our memories and emotions. I do not doubt that this is true.

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.

Tags: Cachet, scent, smell, love


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Poignant, lovely memory, Dave. Welcome to Retrospect. I hope you’ve gotten over your writer’s block and will share more of your memories. I think you will find us to be an open, supportive community (there are more than half a dozen of us who write on a weekly basis). We tend to share with a certain intimacy, so feel free here. Thank you for sharing this one.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    This is such a beautiful story, Dave. Welcome to Retrospect and I hope you will be sharing more.

  3. Marian says:

    I am glad you wrote this story, Dave, and look forward to reading many more. Welcome to Retrospect.

  4. Suzy says:

    I love this story, Dave, and I’m so happy that you found us here on Retrospect and found this prompt that triggered your reflections. That’s what we are all about here. If you decide to write the “how we met” story, that was another prompt we have done. Welcome, welcome, and please keep writing!

    • Dave Ventre says:

      Thank you for the kind words!

      I am actually working on the how we met story, but not the one involving “Maria.” That was pretty much covered. What the hell happened to us is pretty sad and depressing enough that as a new writer here, I’d rather show my upbeat side first!

      What I started tonight is the story of how I met my second wife. It is a much more interesting story!

  5. Wonderfully engaging story, Dave, and I join the others in welcoming you to Retrospect! Really looking forward to getting to know more about you through your stories…and what a great way to start the new year!

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