The Science of Potency

              Once, maybe, a girl found herself in a stark room.  It seemed bare, empty.  And yet, as she took a step, a wooden stand appeared.  On the stand was placed a delicate crystal vial.  The vase was cut with flower patterns, and the stopper a crystal leaf.  Its beauty was astounding, too lovely not to pick up and examine such exquisite craftsmanship, too intricate not to stretch fingers towards the stopper and lift it up.  As the girl did so, she bent her head toward the vessel, and found, arising from the opening, an aroma of purest rose.

              When she had breathed her fill, the girl took another step.  And as she did, another wooden stand appeared, with another vial, this one as intricate as the first.  She knew what to do.  Lifting the stopper, she did not even need to raise the bottle to her nose, for the smell of jasmine permeated her every sense.  When satiated with jasmine, the girl took another step, and then another.  Honeysuckle and gardenias, pansies and sweet peas, wallflowers and violets, and more besides wafted in her wake, as she opened each vial that appeared with each new step.  The scents swirled around each other in perfect complement, as though she walked through the most wondrous garden there ever was.

              Until, at last, she came to the end of the room, and one remaining vial stood before her.  This time the pattern was less delicate, though no less interesting.  But the girl hardly noticed, eager to know the notes the bottle held, and raised the stopper for her last scent.  And as she inhaled, she hacked, coughed, and on instinct threw the bottle against the wall.  It shattered, and mixed with all of the sweet perfumes, until each one was tainted by its foul stench.

              And so, she fled, as one must always do when one comes to the smell of skunk.

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