But I had no idea what to answer. I could tell that there was some sort of scent there — like the smell of toasting bread or the chlorine from a swimming pool, yet different but no matter how I tried, no other thought came to mind.
My mother waited, but when I said nothing she sighed quietly.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “To you, this is no more than a few drops of water. But it can’t be helped. It’s all but impossible to recall the things we’ve lost on the island once they’re gone.” And with that, she returned the bottle to its drawer.
When the clock on the pillar in her studio struck nine, I went up to my room to sleep. My mother returned to work with her hammer and chisel, as the crescent moon shone in the large window.
As she kissed me good night, I finally asked the question that had been bothering me for some time.
“Mama, why do you remember all the things that have been disappeared? Why can you still smell the ‘perfume’ that everyone else has forgotten?”
She looked out through the window for a moment, gazing at the moon, and then brushed some stone dust from her apron. “I suppose because I’m always thinking about them,” she said, her voice a bit hoarse.
“But I don’t understand,” I said. “Why are you the only one who hasn’t lost anything? Do you remember everything? Forever?”
She looked down, as though this were something sad, so I kissed her again to make her feel better.