In my reading, I have noticed that several recommend trying to write in different genres. On the site, Critique Circle, an exercise asks you to describe a scene. However, there is a caveat. You can only hear and smell, all other senses are gone. With that, I wrote and submitted this short story. This was not a comfortable exercise, but challenged me to think outside the box. Feel free to comment or critique on what you read.
This is also posted on The Daily Post – That’s Absurd Challenge.
The Smell of Death
Having leprosy as a child, I had lost my sight and all sense of touch. To most, my world was a tragedy. However, what I lacked in sight and touch, I more than made up for with my enhanced ability of hearing and smell. I had learned to adapt through a unique ability called synaesthesia. The word means that two of my senses are permanently attached to each other.
Every word I hear has its own scent pattern. If you said money, you might think of cash, dollars, or coins. When I hear the word money, I smell fresh grass. Today, my guide dog, Gladys, had brought me to the bank and the smell of fresh grass was everywhere. The sound of her padded feet guiding me smelled like morning dew.
I waited my turn and listened to the smell of people speaking. Each teller had a distinct smell to which I long ago adjusted. Most were floral smells, but the teller who spoke to me each week smelled like a mixture of pineapple and coconut. I no longer tasted anything, but it did not take away the memories of certain foods.
Each trip to the bank was made on a Tuesday, a day that smells like ginger tea. It is the most soothing day of the week. As usual, I walked in at precisely 8:15am and by feeling my watch knew I had been waiting for seven minutes.
A man walked up behind me. As he scuffed his feet, I sensed something was wrong. His smell was overpowering, and I tried to place in my mind the smell of his voice. It had been years since I had been in contact with that odor. In a flash, I remembered just as the pineapple and coconut teller called me to the counter.
“Gunpowder!” I whispered. “The bank is about to be…”
It was too late to say more as the bank doors were jerked open and I heard and smelled more people enter the building. The wind blowing through the briefly opened doors had brought the smell of more gunpowder.
All around me, I heard fear. Fear smells like decaying garbage and is as black as the world my eyes cannot see. But today, I smell something new. The teller was calm and gently asked me not to move. Her words brought the additional smell of lavender. It was strange that I had never noticed it before.
Screams mingled with the smell of fear as gunshots rang out. Falling to the ground, I waited until the gunmen left. The sounds and smells of the robbery surrounded me. There was blood, flowers, and gunpowder, but something was missing. I did not hear or smell pineapple or coconut. The leash holding Gladys was slack and I no longer smelled the sound of morning dew. Something was very wrong.
A new sound filled my ears. It was deafening and its smell overwhelmed me.
Now I hear nothing but the smell of death.