Noun. The essential element, central, or integral part of something; a person's total self; the vital core.
At times, I am suddenly overcome with the distinct aroma of maple syrup, and it is always when I am nowhere near food or a kitchen, or any other obvious source in sight. When it happens, I think about urban legends, specifically the scent of burnt toast being an indicator of a brain tumor, or a stroke that is imminent. Wonder whether this is indeed fiction, or fact. Realize that burnt toast and maple syrup aren’t that far apart from each other on the spectrum of breakfast foods, with perhaps a cinnamon roll bridging the gap between.
Today, when it hits me again, it is on a Sunday morning just past ten. I am standing in the shower, water handle turned all the way to ‘H,’ even though it is already 92 degrees outside and climbing. I have exfoliated and washed my skin, shaved here and there and there too, shampooed my hair (twice). I am waiting for a deep conditioner to take hold, pressing my cheek against cool white subway tiles. No longer needing to make room for two in this space that was once shared. Where despite our best efforts, someone was always exposed to the harsh bite of the open air.
Once, when we were taking turns under water, you asked me if I believed in soulmates. I said yes. I said maybe. I said, “It depends on the definition,” then, “It depends on your definition.” You said me. You said us. Reassigned my initials to mean just that.
You said a lot of things.
It’s strong, this time, the sweet molasses scent, so thick in the air I can almost feel the stickiness on my fingers, my lips. I stand directly under the flow to try and wash it away, mouth open, rinsing not just what sits on the surface, but also what was inhaled, swallowed, that which can no longer be digested or sustained.
The syrup persists, and I can’t help but hold on to the myth of what this means. If this is the end for me. Of me. Wonder where the soul goes when it leaves its primary vessel. Does its mate immediately feel it, and know. And if not, how long would it take for them to find my body. Who is them. Who will be the first person to notice I am gone.