It wasn’t a bad smell, but it was overpowering and made the bridge of her nose ache. A bit like cedar, but wetter, mustier, and with a slight lavender accent. The lavender was pleasant. She could smell it when they pulled the dress down over her head, the crinoline bunched in their hands. As the skirt fell it wafted up briefly, a small relief. But she couldn’t smell it now, even as she crunched the layers of crinoline between her fingers. It was a momentary gift; the something borrowed. A memory of the tall fence of lavender her mother grew behind their house to keep the canyon critters out. The something old.
She was the eighth. There was something reassuring about that. To be spared lucky seven, hidden away at eighth. Eight felt rounded and complete, and turned on its side was marked a never ending loop. At eighth she could forget how she got here, and not worry about where she ended up. She knew there would be a nine and a ten, and who knows, probably an eleven, but somehow, whether eight placed her in the middle or left her at the end, it didn’t feel like there would be much pressure. She wouldn’t have the weariness she saw pressed into the forehead of the first, or the worry that stiffened the neck of the fourth, or the jealousy that gave the second darting eyes. She could be lost at eighth. It was perfect.