Smells

February 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

What I never told her was, as the day of the move drew closer, I began to smell the parts of my house I had simply used to absorb. I became privy to the smells strangers took home from my clothes when we bumped into each other at the supermarket or squeezed inside the train.

The fried fish, the moth balls, the dusty abaca mat outside the front door. I smelled the wet leaves, the excess of corn products in the garbage, even the color green.

And when the day finally came, as I lay in my new bed staring at unpacked boxes, I smelled the street I grew up in, and the floods that washed them clean.

The smell of death on the last page of a good novel, the black coiling edges of a letter in a fire, yesterday’s paper.

I knew it was going to end when I began to smell the green apple in her hair. I never knew her breath smelled like a slice of cold watermelon on a hot April day, or that her feet had a sharp, sweet scent, like a basket of overripe strawberries.

I knew it was going to end the moment I smelled her brown eyes and tiny ears. And the almond in her skin, and the acetone on her nails, like all the other things they sing about in lonely love songs on 6:45 p.m. Sunday radio.

I knew it was going to end when I smelled her on the sheets, and on the walls were her handprints, that smelled like buy-one-take-one PCX peppermint hand soap.

One night a man in the hotel lobby stopped us to say she smelled like the color red, and that I should be careful. And because it was going to end, I could smell it too. I corrected him.

It wasn’t like playing with fire; more like warming your hands by a toasty orange glow.

But it was only when I smelled my bedroom– my mom’s budget fabric softener, the cat’s flea powder, the aquarium’s dirty water–in the middle of a desert in dry Arizona, that I knew I wasn’t home.

And so it was only when I smelled her on my sweater, the blue knit one she had borrowed years before, that I knew she was finally gone.

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