Once more the aroma of tobacco smoke drifted into the room, overwhelming my thoughts as I tried to compose myself in conversation. From someone who never smokes and has no contact with a smoker, the stale and pungent smell of cigarettes began to emit from Jack's clothes. He followed my gaze as I looked beyond him, my concentration unable to continue while he carried on talking. I could clearly see the woman who stood behind him. I do not know who she was. I had no idea of her reason to be in my vicinity. Her features were that of an older lady, perhaps in her 70's. Her hair, grey and wispy, fell untidily upon her face, long strands almost covering her eyes. No makeup adorned her skin, just wrinkles appearing amidst a ruddy complexion, perhaps from outdoor living. She wore a turquoise overall, falling slightly below the knee. Small white buttons fastened, a collar turned over.
Jack questioned my distraction, turning his head to search over his shoulder into an empty space. I smiled at him. I wondered how he would feel should he have been able to see the woman too. I wondered if he had sensed the stale aroma on his clothes. Before my thoughts could be turned into words of intrigue, the woman had gone. The smell with her. My attention once more rested on Jack's story as we both made our way back through the house.
Upon our return to the lounge later that day, my hand reached out to turn the door handle. My strength seemed to have momentarily left me as I began wrenching, unsure as to why I could not manage the simple task of opening the lounge door. Being prevented from entering the room by an unseen force, I moved aside to allow Jack to try. Stuck fast he turned to look at me. Unable to see the woman yet feeling her presence, the same profuse aroma attacked me as I pondered for answers as to why my attention had again been sought. Eventually the handle turned. We were permitted to enter the room, followed by the gentle footsteps of a visiting soul. I have never appreciated the smell of smoke on one's clothes, the same smell that clings to fabric after standing outside to inhale their addictive fix. Yet it filled the room, bearing down on my shoulders, making me ache and feel heavy as I tried in vain to relax.
I turned to Jack. "Have you been smoking?" My thoughts were no longer as words fell from my mouth.
"Of course not!" he replied, astounded at my ridiculous question.
"I can smell smoke; stale smoke, as though you have just been outside for a cigarette."
"But I don't smoke," he assured me. Assurance of which I did not need.
Within minutes, the aroma vanished. Along with the presence I once felt had joined our group. The woman had succeeded in vying for my attention. The night before, she had also attracted the Farmer's.