Smell


I bought the place on something between whim and dare. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms, an upstairs, downstairs, basement, attic, kitchen and all the other pieces that made it a house. Not a home, but maybe in time it could invite with open arms the sort of family I never had.

The space was tangible, fat, rich with itself. A fine layer of dust and sunlight stood silent in the foyer while I waved off the last unfamiliar face I would ever see. Ownership was mine and I was ready to grow into this place.

I slept in the livingroom that first night and all night I had a dream I was in the desert. I wasn’t thirsty, but hungry. I tried eating everything I could find but nothing satisfied; sand and rocks, scorpions, cacti and foxes. A pit opened inside me and swallowed the world and still would not sate. When I woke up, I was sweating and starving. I thought it was the flu but by the afternoon I’d forgotten all about it.

I unpacked the kitchen last. When I was young I had an accident with an old fridge and wound up stuck in it for hours. I cried for help until I was hoarse but the worst part was the smell. That old, warm fridge smell gives me a sick feeling that can ruin my day. Whenever the power went out it usually meant I would be eating out and getting a friend to clear the fridge for me.

The fridge in this kitchen didn’t smell like old, warm fridge. It didn’t smell like cold and old, or new and clean. It smelled like something I’ve never smelled before. Between cinnamon and vanilla, or old leather and brown sugar. Roses and salt.

A few weeks later I began to notice the smell. The soft and almost invisible smell that came from the fridge, only everywhere. My bedroom, the backyard, my clothes. Subtle and quiet enough that the only place it crept up on me was sitting at home. I could smell it all the time, or maybe smell the memory of it. It lived in my home as much as I did.

I made a mistake. Buying this home was a mistake. The smell isn’t malicious, it’s delicious. It’s better than salt or roses. It goes on everything but only one thing suits it. I was making dinner, hungry out of my mind and I found what I was missing.

I put my hand on the table and cut just a small slice off my little finger. Just the tip. It bled everywhere. It smelled like a bouquet of flowers, like allspice and cumin. I was drunk.

I put the piece in my mouth, chewing slowly and savoring the powerful flavours. I cut another piece. Another. It was my thumb that was hard to say goodbye to, but I was finally starting to feel full.

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