Madame Marchand is, everyone agrees, a timeless, ageless beauty. There are many rumors, but no one really knows how she does it. I've been picked to find out. The party is in full swing downstairs. I've sneaked up the back staircase and am about to enter her room. My hand lightly touching the doorknob. I pause and listen intensely for sounds of anyone within. Nothing. Then I turn my head and try to hear whether someone is coming up either set of stairs. No one. All is quiet; I am alone. I open the door, slip inside and close it stealthily behind me.
Madame's bedroom is unlit, save for the moonlight coming in through the open French doors. Still standing near the closed door, I examine the room. Everything seems normal enough. The bed, the wardrobe... Then it claims my attention - a lone, exquisitely crafted bottle sitting atop her dressing table. Odd. Every dressing table I've seen is covered with bottles of perfumes, jars of potions, containers of everything a woman feels she needs to be beautiful. Yet here on Madame's dressing table, stands only a single bottle. Stepping noiselessly closer, I see that the bottle's shape is that of an upside down teardrop. The stopper is tall and fluted, with a single, translucent rose budding from its top. The bottle catches the moonlight, glowing in ever changing, pastel colors.
Drawn by its beauty, I approach the bottle slowly. It wears an ivory label. I stop, listening again for sounds of other intrusions. There are none. Hesitantly, I reach out my hand and close it around the bottle. It is unexpectedly warm. I lift it carefully. Holding it up to the moonlight, I read the inscription on the label. It says, "Love - massively destructive to hatred, selfishness and greed. Use liberally." I'm curious, but uneasy so I start to put the bottle back on the table - but now, there is another, identical one in its place.
The bottle in my hand becomes hotter and the stopper starts to rattle. I reach out my other hand to steady the stopper just as it pops out of the bottle. The delicious scent from the bottle is so sumptuous that without thinking I draw it up to my lips and drink it dry. The liquid transforms into a warming flush that spreads throughout my body. I am filled with contentment and purpose. The bottle is suddenly heavier in my hand. It has become full again. I lovingly replace the stopper and put the bottle gently into my hidden pocket.
With a lightened heart, I leave the room and go back to the party, descending the front staircase as if I had only been where I was supposed to be. My gaze is drawn to Madame, who also looks up at me. Our eyes meet; she smiles a radiant, knowing smile. I step onto the floor and turn to head in her direction. A small crowd gathers around me. "Did you do it? What did you find?" the whispers ask. Running my fingers along the bottle in my pocket, I answer with purpose. "Go and see for yourself." Not one ever did.
Causes Catherine Dudley Supports
The Peace Fund