I don’t mean to put pressure on you, darlin’/
but i might just not kill myself/ if you’d sleep with me tonight/
they won’t pass a law, to make you love me/
but girl, for what it’s worth, i’ve got a knife.
tomorrow starts a four-day swordfighting frat party with people who know eachother by made up names and wear funny pants. it’s gonna be kind of radical and hopefully will pull me out of my funk. i hope whatever you’ve got going on is equally cathartic.
Every once in a while, i catch one of their scents, briefly, always gone by the time I’ve associated it with a person, never sticking around long enough to be fully picked apart.
the mean spirited druggie smelled faintly of chlorine, a member of a swim team at her old art school. to my memory it has only been triggered once, when i received a hug from a lifeguard.
The immature poet always smelled of ensure. her mother was a firm believer and where most homes would have soda or juice, hers contained bulk crates of tiny ergonomic bottles. triggers whenever i visit a mexican food store in Sandy, OR, i think it’s the coffee creamer they sell.
The knife-wielding hippy smelled of Cassie’s house- a not unpleasant blend of lapsang, catholic candles, mildew, and the sweat of four large occupants. it triggers when in north Portland or when i consume raw honey for any reason.
The inconsiderate warrant server smelled of weed. nothing triggers it. was an asshole.
The Gothic Hawaiian has a kind of coffee and cigarettes smell, but never overpowering. faint notes. triggers whenever i am in a position to be offered alcohol and am forced to refuse it. less often than you would imagine.
The Persian Hipster smelled like some kind of perfume- not cheap, not powerful, not memorable. triggers when i am in a recently cleaned car using or looking at an older style moto RAZR. (more often than you would think)
My brother’s fiance’s friend drove a pontiac sunfire that always smelled vaguely of piss. triggers when near piss. sometimes. didn’t know her well.
The swordfighter’s sister had a smell i used to associate with raves- the truth is, it’s the smell of a meth house. triggers when i think of all the druggies i know who were once just ‘weed smokers’
The broken Tennis player did not have a scent i can identify in words- vaguely christian, i guess? also smelled of hospitals, being that that was where we met most regularly, along with my sweat, i’d have to bike there, and it was summer. came up once at an open mic night where i went first- realize in retrospect that it’s a smell i associate with captive audiences.
She always smelled fresh- not just cleaned or brand new, but clean, the way a street is after rain; like the top layer scrubbed off and raw and pink- along with hints of what she asserted was some kind of hemp lotion but which never smelled of hemp. it was a complex and subtle smell i still don’t understand, and i wonder now if it was a combination of the art supplies, her father’s flannel, her regimen of skincare products, (to stave off the advance of an itchy, if strangely attractive skin condition,) the vague hint of chapstick and wisp of stale smartfood on her breath- or simply one unnamed hemp lotion that i have never been able to find. it triggers irregularly, uncommonly, and when i am least prepared to defend myself.
often, when these triggers occur, where once was a disappointment- not a longing, but a feeling as though i had wrecked something that could have been healthy- i now feel a sense of accomplishment. they all kind of smell of fire- the fires i’ve started, the fires i’ve escaped, and the fire who’s remains i pick through, day in, night out, for signs of a glowing ember or uncharred heirloom. things that i guess i’ve survived.
—Lies, and other stories i tell.