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Scent and Sensibility

Story by Jeff Lindsey (Read author interview) September 15, 2003

I could taste her scent on the breeze. Light and airy with just a hint of fresh cut flowers. Absolutely appalling of course, but in this place change is a welcome diversion.

Trying to find her would not be easy. She should stand out like a lighthouse in a dank, dark fog, but there were just so many others. So many others writhing in their beautiful torment.

I looked out over the plain, watching the others fall like rain. Screaming their exquisite symphony of agony and loss as they dropped through the undulating sulfur air. They landed in blobby little pools, leaving a bluish-white slick across the surface of the lake. They did not like the lake. Not one bit. Its red-orange waves roiling, pushing them back and forth. Their wails growing louder and then softer, a perpetual Doppler effect of the damned.

Then there it was again. That light, pleasant, wholesome, totally wretched scent. The noisome smell of the innocent. Here and there the smell drifted lazily on the breeze. Taunting me, teasing me. I couldn’t tell if she had taken her place in the lake, or is she was still drifting down, a single pure snowflake caught in a blizzard of shit.

There must have been a mistake. It would have been a first. There had never been an error before. It was unprecedented. Countless millennia the system had ticked along, mindless and precise. Never an error. Never until it happened.

I knew that I had to find her. I wasn’t sure what to do with her if I did. It just isn’t every day a total innocent falls from the sky after all. So many possibilities. So many wonderful atrocities. It made my mind reel.

I wondered if she would talk to me. The conversations we could have. They could have lasted decades. I could have even put the torment off for awhile. There really isn’t a rush when you have forever.

It was all a pipe dream of course. The system was perfect, or very nearly so. A mistake had been made, but correction was swift and sure. I watched as he swooped down over the surface of the lake. Flying there with his disgustingly white wings. Searching through the blob. I thought about throwing something at him, but decided it was useless. He would get what he wanted eventually, and I was simply too tired to make a case of it. Innocence, true innocence so close and so far.

Finally he found her, floating near the top. He scooped her up in his muscular arms and smiled his vulgar, beatific smile. He whispered something to her and then floated lazily over to me.

“There has been a mistake. I’ve been sent to correct it. You know how it is, old boy.”

I sighed. “Yes Michael, I know. Take it and go. He gets impatient if things aren’t just so.”

Michael smiled. “It has always been that way. Take care.”

I spat. Take care. Bloody comedian.

Ah innocence. So close, and now gone. Typical.

About the Author

Jeff Lindsey co-admins an on-line writing community called The Wannabees. Offline he has been published in a small literary magazine, Halftones to Jubilee.

This story appeared in Issue One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue One

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"The Shape of Things: Movement, Momentum, and Dimension in Flash CNF" with Steve Edwards

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From sentence-level craft concerns to questions of overall approach, this 90-minute webinar will explore strategies for adding shape, intensity, and depth to your flash creative nonfiction.

Steve Edwards is author of the memoir BREAKING INTO THE BACKCOUNTRY, the story of his seven months as caretaker of a 95-acre backcountry homestead along federally protected Wild and Scenic Rogue River in Oregon. His work has appeared in Orion MagazineThe Sun MagazineLiterary HubElectric LiteratureThe Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives outside Boston with his wife and son.