Amelia Wilmer


Her hair curled in a way that the earth seemed to agree with.

Natalie Wilson, Associate Editor

Casey Blank ran the tip of her finger down the edge of her Sunday paper.  There was something elegant to be found in Casey’s big ears and narrow chin, and her hair curled in a way that the earth seemed to agree with. Her eyebrows crunched into the top of her nose as she analyzed the grooves etched into her prints by the paper knife. I had never noticed that freckle dancing around the edge of her eye, but the way she tucked her hair behind her ear in one subconscious motion drew attention to its simplicity. I think you could say she was beautiful.

It was after maybe four more times of checking her watch and hearing a muffled announcement over the intercom that Casey finally tucked the paper in the front pocket of her suitcase and stretched her muscles as she stood. I caught a glimpse of her pink press-on nails as she reached for the handle and began rolling her luggage away. Twelve seconds. Twelve seconds was an acceptable time to wait before I slung my bag over my shoulder and started to follow her. I pushed through the crowded terminal, wondering why all of these people would ever want to fly away to Woodburn, Oregon, but this was probably the only flight to arrive there annually, and I suppose that the residents there had visitors every now and then. With a population of roughly 24,000, there would have to be at least 72,000 people associated with the citizens of Woodburn, and I chuckled to myself as I imagined that many people crammed on a passenger plane.

I situated myself three people behind her at the boarding line, hoping that the tall and slightly ugly man between us would block me from her sight should she turn around to throw away her gum. I considered falling back a few more positions to be safe, and then I remembered she had no idea who I was. He had never told her. I did not matter if I went up and shook her hand; it would mean nothing to her.

Hot blood shot through my face as I thought of how he had disregarded me, but I bit my tongue and shook it off, harboring and pushing back the same shiver-inducing screams that have been burning up my cheeks and throat and the soft skin under my eyes for the past year, two months and seventeen days.

“Miss? Would you mind handing me your boarding pass?”

I nearly jumped as the attendant’s snooty twang snapped me back to the dirty grey carpet I was standing on and the congested air I was breathing. I silently slid her my crumpled piece of paper.

“What takes you to Woodburn, Ms., um… Wilmer?”

It took me a moment to remember that was who I was today. My eyes widened at her questioning, and I suppose she noticed.

“Oh, no worries, it was just a curiosity.”


I shot her a gentle lip-pulling smile and grabbed my pass out of her hand. Someone should teach their employees to mind their own business.

Casey was out of my sight at this moment, and that made me a little uncomfortable; however, she could not have gone anywhere but down the extendable walkway and onto the plane. I took a breath. There were exactly 14 freckles on the back of the young child who stood in front of me– I counted.

When I finally reached the end of the walkway, I ducked my head to board the plane and was welcomed by an overwhelming amount of attendants. One of them even sounded like my good friend from home. As I moved past, I flashed my eyes one way and another relentlessly, counting faces until I came to the one with the beautiful freckle on the edge of her eye. Her neck was curved down to help her eyes sweep gently across the page of her newspaper again, although I knew she had already read every page. A sliver of a curl flopped in front of her face, and by the way she did not even bother to push it back, I knew that she must be reading the page about the elderly French woman who had roamed nearly all of America to find an American tourist she had fallen in love with as a child. I had read the same article this morning and found it just as captivating.

My seat ended up being four behind Casey’s. I watched the back of her head stand still until the tall and slightly ugly man who shielded me a while ago slid into the seat next to me. He reeked of week old cigarette smoke, but I have always heard that the smell is hard to wash out. Maybe that is why he smelt a little of laundry detergent as well. His shoes were roughed up and the paint drop on his jeans told me his appearance meant little to him. His fat lips pulled away from his teeth, revealing two rows of tobacco-stained bones.

“What’s calling you to Oregon?” he questioned.

I shifted my weight to turn towards him and moved my hair behind my shoulders so that he could clearly see my piercing face.

“Oh, just a good friend. She’s quite the lovely girl.”

He chuckled before replying, “Well, maybe you could introduce me; I’ve had a bit of a hard time finding a girl so lovely.”

Jealously clawed into the flesh of my throat as I held back telling him that she was not single. I decided it would be best to leave the conversation there.

I fidgeted uncomfortably and refocused myself on Casey. She had already leaned her head against the side of the plane, and I assumed her eyes were closing and her body was slipping into oblivion. We had both been up for a while. It would probably do me good to sleep as well, but these next few hours were the only chance I had to complete the work required to keep my nine-to-five job. I pulled out my laptop and began organizing numbers and charts like a 21st century drone. I was so caught up in my work that I did not even notice Casey stand up 2 hours and 57 minutes later to walk to the restroom; only on her way back did I recognize the creamy vanilla scent she always carried with her. I slammed my laptop closed and bit down hard on my tongue to punish myself. How could I have let myself get so distracted? The vanilla lingered in my system a few minutes longer, throwing itself into my veins where it thickened my blood, and seeping into my stomach to make my body curl as I imagined him breathing her in.

He had always loved vanilla.

I checked my watch and reminded myself that not even numbers and charts were worth losing track of Casey– nor time, for that matter. I pulled the fat of my thighs out from under my legs to situate myself comfortably before falling back into staring in Casey’s general direction. The woman next to her had bright blonde curls that frizzed up under the intense air conditioner. Every few minutes or so she would run her hand over them to try to smooth them out; I could not figure out why she would not just turn the nozzle to cease the air.

Casey did not move around much, which came as a surprise to me. I thought that by now her stomach would start to feel uneasy or heat would collect on her face. Either way, she sat comfortably. Seconds, minutes, another hour ticked by, and all I could do wait for at least some sign of realization, some sort of anticipation to slap her, but yet, she sat. It disgusted me how she was allowed to simply sit there with not even the tiniest clue of what she was doing to me. Man, I wish I could return to the beautiful cloud of oblivion which was so easily wiped away when Casey came along.

My legs went weak when my internal clock finally told me that it was time; I did not even have to look down to check it with my watch, I just knew, and could never in a million years tell you how it was that I knew. My heavy coat pocket bumped against me to give me one last reassurance. I told the ugly man that I needed to use the restroom and made no attempt to come across kindly. I was headed towards Casey, just a few rows in front of me

Suddenly, all I could taste was birthday-cake flavored ice cream, licking away at my insides. Every song by Mumford and Sons beat on my throat until I nearly choked, remnants of water drops paraded around in my ear drum, and crooked teeth jabbed into my entirety with every movement. Memories of you swallowed me whole, yet somehow pushed me forward when my morals were begging me to give it a rest. Lies and deception were at war in the back of my head, and manipulation plucked at my heartstrings.

My hand worked its way around the metal lump in my deep pocket, encompassing each tiny crevice and filling them with sweat. I saw your sweet blue eyes in everyone who turned to my direction.  And in one flawless motion, I pointed the barrel at the back of Casey’s neck and squeezed the trigger.

It was impossible to board a plane with a gun in your pocket, but luck is one heck of a fool.

Time slowed and all I could make sense of was the numbers rolling through my brain.  I could not even feel the ugly man slamming me to the ground and holding my hands on either side of my head. I did not see the tears after that, nor did I smell the iron. It all just smelled like vanilla, and by God, he would never hold Casey again.

There are 193 countries in the world. When I was seven, there were 94 tadpoles in our pond. Coke comes in 127 different flavors. A single dime has 118 ridges around the edge. Camels have 3 eyelids.

It all just smelled like vanilla.