AS Finn held out the candy offering, the strange girl gestured for her to come closer. Not wanting to be rude, Finn walked slowly toward her. The girl reached out and accepted the candy with in inclination of her head.
"I'll give you a treat. Choose any one of my perfumes." The girl gestured grandly to the shelves.
Finn turned and warily surveyed the glimmering bottles in their individual cubbies. All of them seemed to glow like magic potions. The bottles themselves were lovely, spun glass formed into animals, flowers, people, objects, and mythical creatures. The girl continued speaking, her voice almost a lullaby. "There is the fragrance of a boy's first heartbreak. There is one of summer rain on skin. There is the scent of a taste of power. A perfume created from a first kiss. There is one made from a mermaid's tears and another from an animal's first taste of blood."
Finn wondered if the weird girl was messing with her. "Is there one that smells like lilies?" She reached for a shimmering purple bottle with a label on it, its picture that of a lady holding flowers. She took it down and turned.
"Hey!" She flung up an arm as the girl, who had risen, lifted an old-fashioned camera and clicked it. The flash blinded Finn.
The bottle slipped from her fingers. She tried to catch it, but it hit the floor and shattered. Blinking furiously, she stared down in dismay at the broken glass, the torn label that now looked as if the lady with the flowers had a skull for a face. The liquid from the bottle wasn't purple . . . it was a bright scarlet. There was something small and white in it . . . Finn bent closer, squinting. It couldn't be a tooth . . .?
She looked up and the parlor faded for an instant, into gloom and shrouded furniture and a floor littered with debris. Then the glamorous parlor returned with a queasy wavering.
The camera flashed again. Finn recoiled. As the flash flared again and again, she turned her head away, backing toward the door. "Stop!"
The girl lowered the camera. She was close now. Finn saw that her skin was as white as powder and she wasn't wearing make-up--she looked bloodless. Fear wormed its way back into Finn as the scent of flowers became overwhelming--and it drifted from the girl.
"That was Mother's Last Embrace, that fragrance you just spilled." The girl tilted her owl-masked head and her sweet voice seemed poisonous now. "Did you lose your mommy?"
The memory of the horror of her mom's car accident last year swept up into Finn's throat like vomit. She smelled winter and blood and gasoline. She swoooned. As her knees hit the floor, she felt glass cut into her skin, tasted tears in her mouth.
"This was my trick." The girl in the owl mask crouched before Finn. She reached out with one livid hand, her sharp nails shining like metal. "Wasn't it splendid? I wonder what perfume your blood will make?"
Finn's vision blurred as she remembered the scent of her mom's shampoo, the tang of fresh-cut daisies in the kitchen, the spicy perfume her mom wore whenever she and Da went out to dinner. Mom.
Finn snapped from the enchantment. She lunged at the girl and tore the owl mask away.