Compass Rose

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She’d been born and raised as Marie Rose Jackson, living most of her life in dirt and poverty, and constantly yearning to get out of it. From a young age, she knew she was different: sneakier, tougher, wittier than all the other kids her age (and most adults she knew, to boot). In her early teens, she’d decided she’d had enough of living in a decrepit, ancient apartment, crammed in with her siblings and mother; she wanted freedom, exploration, and not having to bathe in cold water in a shared basin with her sisters, just one time, dammit.

Stowing away on a cargo ship headed … well, she didn’t know where, she just knew it was leaving and that was good enough for her. When the crew inevitably found her hiding in the sacks of grain a few days later (she was clever, but c’mon, you can’t hide on a ship forever), she said her name was Rose, and that she was off in search of adventure. The crew laughed. “Well, let’s see where you land, Compass Rose,” and the nickname never left. She didn’t know what a compass rose was at the time, mind you; it just implied travel and adventure, and that’s exactly what she wanted.

In the twenty-some-odd years that have passed, Rose thinks about that moment a lot. Perhaps it was fate, to hide on that particular ship; maybe she was just lucky. She never would have gotten to sail so many seas, meet (and bed, or rob, sometimes both) so many people, or get the life of adventure she had always yearned for without that name, and the confidence it built within her. She had learned, of course, what a compass rose is. In fact, she had one tattooed on her right inner forearm (pirates have hazing too), and she uses it as a spiritual, and sometimes actual, guide.

“Ay, Captain!” one of the crew yelled down to her, bringing her out of her reverie. “Which way we headed today?”

Rose grinned, looked down at her compass, and back up at the crewman. “True North, and fast! Or we’ll be late for the party.”

Scent notes: the ocean on a stormy morning; crisp white sails floating in the breeze, anchored to a mossy, kelp-strewn ship; pipe tobacco; bay rum; a perfect red rose and a lingering touch of vanilla. The perfect balance of refreshing, oceanic notes fading into crisp, light, slightly feminine notes.

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