This is my first attempt at a short fiction post for Lady J’s Fiction Fesitval – I’ve chosen the topic “A story/poem based on one of your five senses (or a sixth sense)”. I don’t know where the story came from, it just kind of fell out of me onto the page. I hope you like it.
Isn’t it funny how a smell can remind you of so many things? The smell of creosote drags me back to a time before I was even old enough for school and used to spend time following my Grandad around, in and out of his shed that he meticulously sealed with the pungent, sticky liquid at least twice a year.
I try now to conjour that smell, a desperate attempt to force my mind to think of happier periods of my life, when things weren’t so complicated. It’s no use of course, the smell of fumes, fast food, cheap perfume and my plastic coat overwhelming my senses, blocking my path to reminiscence. If only life was as full of sunshine as it was then.
My hero. His hands smelled of the tomatoes and mint that he grew in his garden. The peas that we’d shell together at the kitchen sink on a Sunday afternoon. He used Old Spice, but it never smelled cloying or tacky on him like it seemed to on everyone else. It smelled rich, mingling with the natural scent of his skin, the combination like nothing my olfactory sense has encountered since.
If only I’d listened to him, I may not be in this mess.
My life couldn’t be farther from the innocence of my time with my Grandad, the organic vegetables and organic parenting methods he employed. But grandparents aren’t around forever. And when they go, all we’re left with are our dreams and our spirit, both if which can let us down if we allow them to lead us to the wrong places.
The big city. The bright lights. The drugs. The people we thought we could trust.
A car slows down, creeps past. A siren sounds in the distance and the driver speeds up. He’s not stupid, he knows the drill.
I bet he’s married.
Eventually someone stops, beckons me over. I get into the car, we talk money, we drive around the corner to the place I always take them. Just enough light from the streetlamps above the industrial shutters on the service entrance to the shops that I feel a false sense of security, but not so much that we can be seen.
He pays me.
He’s wearing Old Spice.
The smell makes the bile rise in my throat.
I wish I had a house, a husband, a shed that smelled of creosote.
It’s over in a flash. As I get out of the car, I mumble something before walking off into the night. He doesn’t hear me, asks me to repeat myself as I slam the door shut. I say it again as I walk away, the same thing I say every time;