THE DEVILSCENT PROJECT XIV
- a review of Esscentual Alchemy’s ‘Coda’ for the Devilscent Project
For months, I prevaricated and procrastinated over this one, knowing it would be The Last Review, The End, the closure I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted, because then what would happen? What would I find on the other side of that event horizon, would I even be the same woman who began it all out of boredom on a rainy, windy night in a faraway November?
Even Dev, I suspect, felt the same, since my original sample vanished and was not to be found anywhere I looked. I had to request another one. When it arrived, I stored it away with greater care. Ever since, no matter what I reviewed, it tugged away at the packed guilt trip suitcase in my mind.
I had to sniff it, write it, add a verbal flourish at the end of an undertaking that has changed me, my olfactory perspectives and even my life… forever.
So I did what I often do to kick my own procrastination to the curb. I proclaimed to Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy that by golly, I. Would. Review. It.
If it were the last thing I did.
Only to spend my Saturday night eating Bing cherries while watching history documentaries. In other words… procrastinating.
An inkling of what awaited lurked in my dreams this warm, sweaty Saturday night. That spectral black-clad figure that often stalks the edges of my dreams and has ever since that faraway November, wandered in and out of phantasmagorical storylines. In a sudden glimpse, I’d see him clearly, shaking his head with a laugh before he turned away and vanished, only to return in an unrelenting dream so powerful I woke up with a start far later than I expected.
“I was wondering when you’d ever wake up.” A familiar voice I knew, a form I felt burning down my back in the morning light of a blue sky day.
Hairy Krishna, usually plastered against me, took that as his cue breakfast would be served in a few, jumped out of bed and loudly proclaimed his immediate state of starvation, belied by the generous size of his backside. I chose to ignore it.
I blinked. “You!” The real world crashed into my consciousness. My iPhone by the bed, the postcards from friends on the opposite wall, that haunting dream that refused to fade away. “I’m not nearly dressed enough for this.” I tried to sit up, but Dev pulled me back down.
“I’ll be the judge of that. But what I’d really like to know,” he purred his baritone in my ear, “is why you think this is the end, just because it’s your last Devilscent review? I told you, baby…I’m not going anywhere. We. Have. Things. To. Do. You know.”
“I know. It’s just… a bit like that maxim I kept quoting in the story. Now that everything is about to happen, it feels so finite.”
Be careful what you wish for. You will get it.
What I didn’t say and didn’t have to: a lot could be said waking up in the morning with your muse wrapped around you. At my age, I’m so grateful, it’s bathetic.
“Here’s a secret, baby. It will never end. Your story poises on the brink of so many probabilities instead of possibilities, and so many people you never even knew when you wrote it now believe in it and more to the point, they believe in you. I think you’re terrified, is what I think.”
“If anyone else but me woke up with the stand-in for Evil Incarnate nearly naked and wrapped around their backs, they’d be rather terrified themselves.”
His voice dropped down to a very low D.
“I meant to say, before I was so rudely interrupted, that you’re terrified not of falling splat on your face and failing, but of succeeding beyond anything you ever dared to dream.”
“You’re right. I am.” All too true. Be careful what you wish for.
“OK.” He shifted a little away. “Breathe in. What story will this Coda tell of our little pas de deux, what secret did Amanda Feeley ferret out of your story?”
“She found the secret of how the story both ends and begins again.”
“Good girl. This isn’t an ending and you know it, and it never was. It’s just that terror that holds you back.” His lips were right by my ear, and I felt his hot breath as he growled:
“I told you to believe.”
“Oh, I believe…how can I not, when the ending, the crossroads, that fulcrum of all time and destiny begins so…” I had to search for the right word. “Happy? Yes! That’s it! It’s zesty and lemony, it’s spicy and sparkling and is that a rose I sense in there somewhere? This is very romantic. Something like a big, blowsy, exuberant tea rose. I get it! This is you, standing at my door in nothing but a huge, yellow rose in your teeth you stole off a graveyard rosebush. You take it out just long enough to say: ‘Miss me?’.”
We both laughed in that Sunday morning sunshine. Hairy Krishna stalked off with an indignant twitch of his tail.
“You forgot the aviator shades.”
We laughed harder.
“So I did. My bad. That rose… is underpinned by that same dark and ominous thread she wove into the other three perfumes. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, I don’t have any notes.”
“Too hot for those.” He moved closer and held on tighter. “Keep going.”
“Do you know, it’s surprising. Coda is very floral, spicy, even sweet. Not precisely something I’d say about you.”
“Only when I want to be.” Another growl. He held tighter. It was definitely getting hotter.
“You can prove it later.” I tried to edge away toward a cooler spot. “We have a review to write. That rose gets spicier, greener and mossier. There’s got to be oakmoss in there somewhere. Cinnamon, vanilla… Benzoin? Tolu balsam? Fir. Fir is in it, too. I swear it is.”
“It’s a tribute to my manly, furry chest.”
“A woman could wear this in a heartbeat, you know,” I felt compelled to add.
He never missed a beat. “Hopefully with a few more flowers and a lot less fur. On a nicely sized rack, that goes without saying.”
“Later, baby.” I had to bite the pillow so I wouldn’t laugh. As it was, I could scarcely believe I was having so much fun without even my first cup of coffee.
In the other room, Hairy Krishna and Janice were having their first marital spat of the day. They’d eat each other if I didn’t feed them soon.
“But…” I went on. “But it’s so not what I expected! I mean…who are you? You’re high drama and histrionics, Sturm und Drang and Beethoven’s Fifth, and this is just, well… the word joyous comes to mind.”
Dev sat up and looked me straight in the eye. It was his infamous ‘stop-being-stupid’ look.
“I usually leave the histrionics to you. You write about them so well. Listen up. You say you pay attention…” he left that statement to hang, and them went on. “But you’re forgetting something. Not all endings are unhappy, and not all beginnings are fraught with fear.” He leaned down over me, his face scant inches above my own. “When you’re very, very lucky and very, very good, the ending of one great thing is simply the glorious beginning of something better. Amanda got that right. This stuff should walk off the shelves. It’s far too good not to. As for you…”
I didn’t dare move, caught in the subtle gleam of two very brown eyes.
“I told you to believe. Your possibilities became probabilities, even maybe, a kind of certainty. You should have trusted your muse. Especially when he tells you, as I’m about to, to…believe. Now…you need to write it all down.”
Before I had a chance to blink, he was gone, and only a happy end or a glorious beginning to remind me what I woke up to on the fringes of yet another haunted dream.
But as I walked out to feed the feline George and Martha and make my coffee, I heard a laugh and a dangerous baritone sing:
‘Could I be less undone? Could I fall deeper down?”
Wearing this Coda, I certainly could.
Coda is an all-natural perfume available from the Esscentual Alchemy website. With a thank you from the bottom of my pitch-black heart to Amanda Feeley.