A Scent

Love leads to pain. Love is often one sided. And when love ends, it doesn’t do so for all parties simultaneously. It is one of those lingering feelings like the scent of scones any given morning in Marseilles, still present in the late afternoon, drawn out until evening, growing fainter, but there. And what good is a scent if not to elicit emotion – or memory of said emotion – which in the case of scones, is really quite a strong craving. Martha Stewart has amazing scone recipes, all leading to the most wanton confections, drenched in a rich syrup, lending them an off-white hue, yet luscious in color nonetheless.

But in Marseilles, as the essence of scones wafts in the air even at dusk, the scent leads to hunger, and then a pang of pain deep inside as you remember the pastry shop closed hours ago. You can smell, but you can’t have any scones. You trick yourself into wanting donuts instead but you know better: donuts aren’t scones.

You imagine a light, succulent scone resting, cradled in your hand. You would be enjoying your scone if you had gotten to the pastry shop sooner, but instead you just have the image of it in your head.

I once decided to make scones, but I don’t know how. I ended up serving cookies and candies instead as I watched my newly baked batch of scones crumble on the kitchen counter, slowly at first, and then, as they cooled down, disintegrated into small piles of crumbs. What ingredient did I leave out?

The pungent odor of scones floats in my kitchen, just like in Marseilles, often making its way into the other rooms, without a single trace of actual scones, but only the recollection of a failed attempt.

The pastry shop is closed, but I can still distract myself in other shops with dresses, shoes, and purses. Nevertheless, just like donuts, all the pretty dresses aren’t anything like scones, and shoes won’t sate my hunger. Maybe I should have tried a different recipe. Instead of rolling them, I could have shaped them into tiny mountains so they would keep better in the oven. I know, it must have been the temperature.

According to the dictionary, to bake is to harden by heat. I must have pressed the wrong button on the temperature gage and instead of baking, practically incinerated everything. I should have properly, and carefully, read and followed the instructions.

Before destroying the batch I thought about perhaps adorning them with icing, or sprinkles, or chocolate chips, or fruit, or countless other possibilities, as they sat in the oven, caked in potential. Kind of like the walk towards the pastry shop in Marseilles, you go down all the little streets, giddy with anticipation, unaware of their horary. Their sign reads “closed definitively.” But the long walk there, in conjunction with intensified pockets of decadent aroma leaves you unable to comprehend, so you ring the doorbell simply to inquire within; they close when the scones are sold out, and you are curtly reminded to please read the sign next time.

You can’t have scones, can’t bake scones, and in fact, you better start liking cookies, because scones aren’t going to magically appear (and scones are very rare, so just be glad you have ever even seen one).

But even as you stare at it through the window of the closed pastry shop, still smelling it in the air, practically tasting its sweetness, you know that like love, scones are one sided, in that, as you fantasize about them, they don’t think about you.

Does cake feel the same way?

Each day you contemplate visiting the pastry shop, or sending them a brief email, but then you remember the last time you rung the doorbell, and seriously, how many times do you need to be reminded that they are closed?

So you go to your mother hoping she will impart a marvelous trick for baking your scones, but instead she offers you cupcakes, and holds you while you cry, feeling like a small child again, because, like donuts, and cookies, and articles of clothing, cupcakes aren’t scones.

So you pretend you don’t really want scones (because that is the rational, grown-up thing to do).

Except, sadly, you do want scones, so saliently you refuse to scorn their scent, as you told yourself you should. So, every so often you think about the closed pastry shop in an attempt to sate yourself on the idea alone. You won’t trifle with truffles, or anything else, just reminisce.

You reread the recipe books, reminding yourself how scones are made. The idea of the scone – despite the fact that you never had the slightest clue how to actually make it – momentarily satisfies. It’s form, perfectly hewn from memory, lives in your mind, if nowhere else, as it was. You can still taste the sugar and flour, and even a hint of baking powder. You think you can hear its ghost, sizzling in the oven, as you thought it should, before it all crumbled on the table. Its crisp textures, warm, hard and soft, sits in your hand. And the closed bakery in Marseilles continues to plague you with delicious scents of pastries you will never enjoy. The pastry shops in Paris keep better hours, but unfortunately, they don’t sell scones.

Maybe you will eventually cease being tormented by the scent of scones. In the meantime, they make candles for that sort of thing.

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