#1liner Weds: The Nose Knows

Have you ever been drawn to something that your normal logic tells you should repulse you? Scare you even? But you just can’t explain it. And you just can’t help yourself…

The Nose Knows- a flash fiction tale

The smell hit her in a wave of nausea as she slid into the driver’s seat. He’d done it again! Smoked a cigar in the car, ground it down into a stinking ball, and left it there it in the ashtray overnight. Left it there for someone else to clean up. She gritted her teeth, opened the window, and drove off, her hands tight and tense on the steering wheel.

On the highway, exhaust fumes from the car in front of her made her gag, so she closed the window again. With her indicator on, she managed to overtake the car and continue to the offramp where she turned into the mall and into her usual parking bay. She noticed a dark patch of oil on the tarmac next to her as she pulled in- someone else’s oil leak. Its petroleum stink, hot in the late morning sun, rose to meet her as she stepped out of the car. The nausea nearly overwhelmed her as she locked the car behind her and headed for the salon, the doors sliding open as she stepped into the entrance.

The smells of the salon– peroxide and acetone and all the things for nails and hair dyes– was stifling, and the stink of hair being by fried by extreme heat made her feel dizzy. The receptionist was understanding: “It’s no problem, Mrs Arends. Rather just go home if you’re unwell. Just phone us when you feel better, and we’ll be happy to reschedule today’s appointment.”

Stepping into the house, the smells of aerosol polish and oven cleaner reminded her instantly that today was Wednesday, the day the cleaning service people came in. Walking quickly up the stairs to her bedroom, she could tell that there would be no peace up here either– the entire upstairs level smelt of linen washed in too much detergent (she had asked them previously to adjust the amounts), and of the overpowering, artificially floral scents of fabric softener hanging in the air. Opening the door to the ensuite bathroom, she collided with the harsh stink of household bleach stinging her nostrils, her eyes, her throat.

She was walking towards the far end of the homestead grounds now, far from the main house, where the air was cool and soft and smelt of greenery and of the bark of the surrounding trees. She’d walked this way exactly once before: years ago, when they had first moved onto the property. Now she made her way past the simple stone and brick cottages that belonged to the farmhands and other workers on the property. It was peaceful, and very quiet- nobody home during working hours. Ahead of her was a simple stone wall, not very high, and some distance behind the wall was a cottage made of yellow bricks, a bit bigger than the simple cottages that the farmhands occupied. She recognised it as the home of the groundskeeper and his wife. There was a small garden adjoining the cottage, with rows of ripening mielie cobs, a few spinach plants, and five or six red and white hens scratching about. She kept walking.

The smell was like nothing she’d ever experienced: gamey and pungent and almost overpowering. It was the smell of something rotting, but with a strange, almost-freshness to it: organic and nearly edible. As she approached the wall, she saw that it was one section of a square enclosure, its height reaching just above her waist as she leaned over. The pigs continued to grunt contentedly as they chewed and slurped and sucked– the slops and kitchen leftovers being churned and pushed and pummeled by their round, flat, fleshy snouts as they grazed. As she stood and watched, the thought of humus came to her: stuff of the earth, and mushroom compost or maybe manure. She thought about the vegetable garden they had kept briefly when they first moved onto the property. It hadn’t really worked out– he’d wanted pavers– and the project was finally abandoned. She stood and watched the pigs, admiring their snouts, how busy-busy and agile, and imagined them rooting in the roots, hunting for truffles in the dirt (it was pigs that did that, wasn’t it?), their nostrils alive with the sweet smell of decay. Imagined then grinding their snouts into the dark earth, the stuff of life. She imagined them sniffing out and hunting down those hidden treasures, till, finally, success- their noses caked in dirt, and the precious thing, the strangely shaped nub of fungus, now within reach.

When he at last found her, she was lying on her back on one section of the wall with her knees bent, gazing calmly up at the early evening sky. She had one hand on her stomach, gently caressing the small mound there: 16 weeks exactly, give or take a day or two. He vaguely heard her say something about not coming back tonight. About being just where she needed to be.

 

Written for One Liner Wednesday at Linda G Hill

(Not always) the sweet smell of success.’

 

 Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

#1liner Weds: How to find your Writing Feet

“Tain’t no Sin to Take off your Skin, and Dance around in your Bones.”

Ray Bradbury’s book, ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’, mentions this little ditty above, which he describes as his ‘favourite tune’ when he was young. At first glance this ditty is deceptively quaint and whimsical, but I find it quite profound: it talks of the act of baring your writing soul, reveling in the freedom of unrestricted expression as you go about finding your voice, and the joy of being unrestrained and unconcerned about what everyone else might think of you as you do so.

I’m loving reading this book; I find it many things: humorous, informative, irreverent, wise, enthused, energising, reassuring, warm, honest, and all based on Ray Bradbury’s many years of writing experience and ‘living large’ even as a pre-teen. He delves into his childhood loves and fears and pains and talks about how these things carried him and informed him as writer and story- teller.

I’m quoting below from Chapter One- The Joy of Writing:

“… the first thing a writer should be is -excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms. Without such vigor, he might as well be out picking peaches or digging ditches; God knows it’d be better for his health. How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”

I love writing fiction; expressing myself through storytelling- I find it cathartic, and I find it helps me to delve into my thoughts and feelings and reveal these on the page in the way that’s right for me. Frustratingly though, storytime too often ends up on the back burner as the rest of the stuff of life takes over. Not a good excuse, I know. Ray Bradbury would probably tell me to just Find my Feet, Hit the Page Running, and to Spill my Guts in the process!

Written for One Liner Wednesday at Linda G Hill

Because today is Earth Day

sunflower during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“For we forget our origins; in our towns and cities, staring into our screens, we need constant reminding that we have been operators of computers for a single generation and workers in neon-lit offices for three or four, but we were farmers for five hundred generations, and before that hunter-gatherers for perhaps fifty thousand or more, living with the natural world as part of it as we evolved, and the legaccannot be done away with.” From “The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy”, by Michael Mccarthy.

And similarly, from marine biologist and human being truly in love with nature, Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring first ignited the Environmental Movement back in the 1960’s: “Our origins are of the earth. And so there is in us a deeply seated response to the natural universe, which is part of our humanity.”

International Earth Day 2021 is today: 22/04/2021

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 21/04/2021 : Random

Knowing when to Run

Clarens 2021
View of Golden Gate, near Clarens, South Africa

‘True self-care is not bath salts and chocolate cake, it’s making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from’ – Brianna Wiest

Talking of escape, that’s exactly what I happened to do this past weekend. We (my husband and I) spent a weekend in Clarens, a little town about three and half hours from where we live in Johannesburg. It is a beautiful little town, surrounded by hills and mountains and with an abundance of little shops and restaurants and places to enjoy a home grown craft beer or two.  Amazingly, the place seems to be flourishing despite the devastation of Covid, although sadly there are probably casualties that I am not aware of. From Wikipedia: Clarens is a small town situated in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State province of South Africa and nicknamed the “Jewel of the Eastern Free State”. It was established in 1912 and named after the town of Clarens in Switzerland where exiled Paul Kruger spent his last days.

The weekend had been planned some weeks back, and I was looking forward to the break- a change of scene, a breath of fresh air, the pleasure of a mini holiday at a place that we had visited and delighted in over previous visits. However I was not really thinking of it as an escape. That’s a strong word. The feeling of escape came towards the end of the weekend, while we were driving back on the Sunday afternoon, when I reminded myself that I had not checked my phone for messages or notifications, or even gone online the entire weekend since the Friday morning.  And it felt good. It felt liberating. There is a kind of delight in the nonchalance of not feeling inclined to keep checking your phone, when you really feel in your bones that it’s just not important right now, that you have bigger fish to fry, and that fish is called Enjoying Your Day, Unimpeded. And I think that we all need to go there sometimes, to that place where you don’t feel FOMO tugging at your sleeve, or your heart strings or whatever, because that thing that’s REALLY tugging at your heart strings is often what you see when you just lift your eyes from the screen and look beyond your arm’s length to the trees and the clouds, and the Maluti mountain range out there in the distance.

  

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 31/03/2021 : Had To Run

Looking to where truth lies

blue and white planet display
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Perhaps the truth lies in the spaces inbetween. When we stand back and truly take a look at what is in front of us, at what surrounds us. At what we are in fact a part of. A term known as the Overview Effect may be just the wakeup call that is needed here on planet Earth. Wikipedia describes the Overview Effect as “…a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space.”

The genesis of the term is credited to Frank White while on an airplane flight in the 1970’s: “Anyone living in a space settlement … will always have an overview. They will see things that we know, but that we don’t experience, which is that the Earth is one system. We’re all part of that system, and there is a certain unity and coherence to it all.”

Or as described in stronger terms by Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut who clearly knew how to call a spade a spade: “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

For more on the Overview Effect and similar kinds of different, you can visit Kyle Kowalski’s beautiful website HERE.  

Prompted by Linda’s #1LinerWeds Challenge: 17/03/2021