Naptime Terror

by Annette O'Brien
(United States)

I hated getting sick with a chest cold as a child. Mom insisted I stay tucked under the bedcovers while the blue glass humidifier puffed and hissed, spewing its medicine into the air. The water and medicine boiled together to fill my room with the thick fog-like perfume of Vicks.

The creepy sounds it made kept me awake, not the congestion it was meant to loosen. It breathed. I could hear it slowly breathe in. It gurgled. Then it breathed out, always the same, always in perfect time. Shadows of space monsters slithered along my bedroom walls, breathing, staring…scaring.

Thick air entered my lungs like poison, like their very breath would become mine. The exhale of the plastic lid dropped like dreadful footsteps: clomp, hiss, gurgle, clomp, hiss, gurgle. Terror froze me. Torment jeered me.

Eventually the rhythmic pumping lulled me to sleep.

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Glitter

by Tiffany Davidson
(Westfield, IN)

Like glitter reaching through the blanket of earth, begging the sun to strike its harsh angles, the quartz rocks glimmered along the railroad tracks for miles. The rocks were crisp and white, bathed in a stark cleanliness against the sooty iron tracks. My father would take me for walks with the lowering sun against our backs and allow me to gather the precious stones in my dress like so many wildflowers. Bent over the lean rail, with my haunches pressed against my calves, I could feel the heat from the day rising from the metal under my skirt as I examined the finest blanched quartz. The smells of the railroad are succinct. Iron, coal, productivity – these smells are easily identifiable. Traces of blood and copper tangle in the iron fumes, offering proof that labor was shaved into these very lines – hammered in for good measure so that the hard work could not escape. We walk forever, and longer, with my bare thighs reddening to a blush under the retreating warmth of the sky as my dress is pulled tighter around my waist to accommodate my growing catch of glitter. As evening creeps in we arrive home, to a modest rental with a grand fig tree suited best for little climbing children in the backyard. Carefully, I ascend upon the wooden entry stairs and make my way to an abandoned dog house. Here I lower my cotton skirt basket and set free my delights under the protection of the cracked plywood house. I look up at my father, and he is smiling. Painstakingly I must examine each fare for quality, consistency, and hidden treasure. My hands are stained with earth and sweat and a thousand greasy rail workers’ residue; yet my quartz remains dewy and fresh. I press the cool rocks against my ankles, and run them along my jaw until I find myself flat on my back on the old unsteady porch with a rock covering each daintily closed eye. There is different smell; the smell of new. I sit up and close my eyes, trying to identify the attributes of the quartz without the prejudice of my own sight. Forgiveness, cleanliness, relief – these are the smells of quartz. Much like heat smells of the color red; I am certain. I soak the rocks in my own filth, covering them in my iron painted hands in hopes of coming away washed in their innocence. But there is nothing – more on them, less on me. And so I sit and breathe in their coolness, capturing the last of their glitter as the evening settles to the likes of night. In the morning we rise, my father and I, and we walk again along those hammered rails. And I, with the weight of my investment tugging at my dress, carry each rock back to where it was born..and there I leave it. For another little girl might someday need glitter too.

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The Scent of Daddy

by Alice Granered
(Nashville)

I drove up the steep hill and long driveway, following my girlfriend Lisa to the building site of her new home. I could feel her excitement and pride from a car away. We silently smiled at each other as she led me inside the framework, being careful not to step on nails. I caught a big whiff of something. Before I had a single thought, my body remembered something. It took a few minutes for my mind to catch up. That smell. I love that smell! Sawdust. That's what it was. I was emotionally transported - taken back to when I was a little girl, a time when sawdust was a very familiar smell. My father loved to work with his hands. He loved wood and cutting and hammers and nails. It was a family joke about how much he loved to put up shelves. Whether it was needed or not, Dad was ready, willing and able to put up a shelf. He had built many additions onto the house I grew up in. It started out as a cabin and grew and grew. Build a porch, enclose the porch. Build another porch. Enclose the porch. And so it was, our house grew out in every direction. "Jeanie, Joanie, Jackie ..... aeckkk ..... Alice, come hold this board for me", I would hear him say. I was once of eight kids. I grew up thinking my name was JeanieJoanieJackieAlice. My parents usually got it right on the fourth try. I would always gladly come hold the end of a 2x4 board as my father cut. I never felt like I did a very good job, especially when he used a hand saw and the force of his arm motion was a formidable opponent to my little arms. But he never complained about my capabilities. Sometimes he would use a power saw which was always very intimidating. I was always scared one of us would get hurt. Dad did things on the fly - no vises for him! Permeating the air, was that smell, saw dust. I never thought about it until the day I went to see Lisa's new house being built, 40-some years later. I never consciously said in my youth, "I like the smell of saw dust, and come to think of it, I smell it quite often". But now, it takes me back to a time when my father was alive. My silently strong, wood-cutting Dad. The unspoken peace he obtained from creating, building and cutting was felt but not pondered, until now. When I stayed in the hospital with him before he died, I said "Dad, I bet in heaven your gonna have that garage you always wanted and the best set of power tools anyone's ever seen. You can put up shelves in everybody's mansion up there". "Yeah" he said and smiled. I loved my Dad, and I love sawdust for bringing him back to me.

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Summer stories

by Sue Ribeiro
(Taunton, MA USA)

My parents came to America from Portugal back in the early 60s. My mom would tell me stories of when she first came to America and how she and her sisters would walk to the grocery store in the rain. Life was tough yet easier in so many way. She would recount these stories as we lay underneath the grape vine. As the lazy days of summer slowly moved on the grapes began to change color and become more and more aromatic. The stories. The hot summer days. The smell of grapes as they ripen. The sign of the changing in season was through the smell underneath the grape vine. September would approach and it was time to go back to school. Those lazy summer days are embedded in my memory. To this day, when I smell the aroma of ripened grapes I remember the stories of a much simpler era.

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Memories

by Livvy
(PA)

Even though I am not in school anymore, every time I open a book, I think back to those days in the school library.

I'd walk through the glass doors and into the vast room, or what seemed huge at the time. I'd be following my teacher, friends trailing behind. We would walk over the colorful parrot rug that goes between two shelves packed full of books waiting to be opened. That's when the glorious aroma of paper would float through the air.

This wonderful world has some exquisite smells to offer, but the scent of a book is like none other. A book's scent is a comfy armchair by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate. It's sitting on a hammock in the shade. It's Neverland, Hogwarts, Narnia, and the Shire. It's being transported to a different world, sucked out of reality for an hour or two.

The librarian will lead us down two more bookshelves before we reach a empty space with tables randomly set across it. Chairs encircle the tables. I’d choose a table that I can share with friends. I pick up a book and turn the first page, the crisp sound breaking the silence.

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The wonderful smell of my neighborhood

by Johnita Renee Minnifield
(Miami, Florida, United States)

So long ago, I grew up in Potrero Hill in San Francisco, California. A few blocks up the road and the next few blocks were the aromatic and powerful smell of sweet potatoes roasting. This is very intense for me and brings back memories of playing at Jackson Park, going trick or treating, and playing outside with my next door neighbor.

I'm not sure where the smell comes from but probably a plant. I live far awary from California now, but whenever I am in the neighborhood, I remember childhood friends and the mom and pop pizza joint because of the sweet potato smell. It brings relaxion and tranquility to smell this roasting sweet potatoes. What a wonderful neighborhood!

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The Smell of Nature

by sally
(United States)

It was not long ago since I can remember, how when I used to lived in a secluded part of our province in Negros Oriental,(Philippines) the smell of nature bombarded me once I got up in the morning. It was a very distintive aroma of the earth, especially during the rainy seasons from June to August. You can really hear & taste the beauty of nature, it's raw, fresh & calming during the night when all you could only hear were crickets chirping & the drops of falling rain, hitting on the roof. I really liked it when after a few days of raining, then the sun was up again & mushrooms would grew everywhere- under the banana trees, in the shades of the trees & on a hilly small mountainous curvy soil where the grasses were green, wet, moist & soaked with water. The early morning dew, cascading down the hills with blossoms of new tropical plants as pretty as the new day the whole month through. Then when the sky is blue & the sun peak through, a rainbow would suddenly appear! My mother used to tell me that, rainbows appear because Mama Mary is visiting her garden after a good days rain.
You know when it's morning when the rooster crew & then the early morning sunlight would pick through the mountain in due time. I could hear my father rushing through the kitchen & brewing a native coffee, which he planted, harvested, roasted in a wooden fire & pounded through a wooden "losong" & the smell was captivating, it always woke us up! There were no electricity then, roads were not paved & no running water. Some of you might think that what a pity, but for me those were the good days! It is really different from where I am now.
I was told by my late mother that when I was three years old, on a hot summer month of March in 1968, I got lost in the jungle for almost three days! She told me, I followed my father washing clothes in a nearby river. I don't remember it now but they were looking for me everywhere & then on the 3rd day, I Came back naked, with bruises all over my body, leeches & all kinds of insect bites but on top of it all, she said, " I had a big smile on my face, whistling & giggling as if nothing happened! I oftened thought of that now, I am curious of what happened then? Was the scenery as nice as what I can vividly remember when I was in my teenage years? Most of the memories I have then, were the smell of nature, so natural & simple unlike the busy city where I am now.

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Christmas

by Noah
(US)

You remember the sounds and what you've seen, but do you remember the smell?

The smell of a thousand pine trees in your home. The smell of raw cookie dough. Ah~ the smell of cookies baking in the oven, sometime all soft and melted others burnt and as hard as rocks. The smell of stationery all colorful and wonderful just waiting to be torn apart by the children. The smell of ginger almost too overwhelming, put inside the gingerbread people giving them a lit' bit of spice. Oh! The most pleasurable the smell of all, the burning of the wood that as soon as you walk in from the first of the falling snow it fills your insides with warmth.

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Love Spell

by Morgan
(Cold Spring, KY, USA)

It can only mean one thing when a certain smell brings you back to a certain place. It means that that memory is somehow very meaningful to you. My meaningful smell is Victoria Secret's Love Spell perfume.

It all started with brown hair, blue eyes, and a thousand freckles. A girl. Yes, I was in love for the first time. I wasn't prepared, and I had no idea how to love someone. I was fourteen and had no no clue what I was getting myself into.
It all started off great. I was happy and so was she. There was nothing I loved more than her hair, her eyes, her freckles, and... that smell. For the longest time I didn't know what she wore, but the tangy smell of the perfume mixing with the sweet smell of her skin had me weak at the knees. When I missed her, I longed for her touch, one that would be accompanied by that beautiful scent.

Things continued like this for a long time, about a half a year. And even though we thought it every second, we barely had the time to say we loved each other between the laughing, the hugging, and the kissing. I loved the smell of her skin so much, I sometimes thought I could breathe her in. Times spent away from her were times of sadness. The smell of her perfume clinging to her jacket put an ache in my heart when I was missing her. This, I thought, was love.

About a half a year in, things started to change. Some of the laughing turned to yelling and the hugging into blank stares. Our kisses became tears. Things were still good most of the time, they had just slightly changed. Jealousy had creeped up on us and arguing came more and more. Even than, when I found out she had to leave, I was heart-broken.

For personal reasons, she had to go away for a few weeks. During the time that we were getting worse, leaving was the worst thing that could happen. Separation came with more fighting and with what I thought was the end. During this time of sadness, I unbelievably forgot her beautiful scent.

The first time I saw her again, I thought it would be goodbye. But when I walked up to see her, something happened before I saw her. Her perfume filled the air and hit me like a solid wall. My heart raced as I walked to her with legs I couldn't feel. All because of a smell, I thought I was going to faint. Even though I already knew that I loved her, that was the moment I realized what it meant to love someone. What it meant to never want to lose them. Ever. So we stayed together, and we still are today. To this day, two years later, that smell still makes me catch my breath.

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A visit from Grandpa

by Karen van Wyk
(South Africa)

Standing in the grocery store examining the fruit, as I pick up a ripe peach the smell of the sweet fragrance brings back memories of my childhood.

My parent were not rich so we had to live in a rented house, owned by the firm my Dad worked for. But that did not worry me in the least. The yard was large, giving me enough space to play. At nine years of age you still liked play outside. My mother's garden was her pride and joy, I could not understand why she put so much effort into a rented garden. The neighbors did not,but it was not the garden that attracted me. It was the back yard, there was a large area beyond the wash line. This was my Dad's place, I am sure you could guess what he planted there.

Summer holidays and the best time for any child. Grandpa came to visit. I was so excited and especially about the sweet smell that filled the air. I wanted to take Grandpa to the back yard but it was late in the evening. My parents told me to wait till morning.

Early morning long time before breakfast, I got out of bed dressed quickly and went to find Grandpa. The poor man was dragged off his feet. We made our way to the back yard to where the intense sweet smell was permeating the air. Two rows of trees laden with fruit greeted us. There were yellow cling peaches, apricot, desert peaches and other guests. The insects buzzed around our heads and around our feet. But that did not matter. Grandpa and I were going to eat fruit for breakfast, straight from the trees.

Grandpa smiled at me and reached up and plucked a large yellow peach and handed it to me. I took a bit, Oh! so delicious, the juice ran down the sides of my mouth. Grandpa grinned and took a bit of his peach. I do not remember how long we stood there eating, but we herd my parents calling. New they were looking for us.

My parents final found us, at first they were not to happy. But I remember saying to them, "fruit is good for you" they agreed; smiled and joining in. That was the best breakfast ever.

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