gift? Nah, it’s more like a curse. And different people get different type
Like Mrs. Hinckley, my old neighbor,
see rain in front of your face. Yeah,
rain. If you were the one, she’d see streams of water coming down, so she
could hardly make out your features. And real soon, you’d be. . . .
Some people smell flowers, like at
Lilies, I guess.
But me . . . I don’t know anybody else who
smells what I do.
Years back, it started, when I was
in high school. The week before my brother was supposed to graduate.
You know, Vinnie. Who was more like
than a brother. Always whining, and depressed about stuff. This time it was
It was this unusually hot, humid June night.
I’d sniffed the air. “Hey
Mom . . .” I said.
“Are you baking? In this heat?” We had no a/c, back then.
“Baking?” Mom laughed, hoarsely. “You crazy?
I’m doing my hair. It’s Saturday night.” A whoosh of hairspray, but I couldn’t
Cookies, I smelled. Mmmmmm . . . Chocolate chip, or . . . oatmeal? They smelled
so good. . . .
least, in my head.
I’d checked the oven, and it was cold.
Oversized cookies, with
burnt edges, I pictured.
But inside them, maggots squirmed.
I gagged. Hunger
had turned to nausea, fast.
. . .” I said.
Please don’t go out, I thought.
It’s raining. Roads are slick.
“What?” she said,
through a Virginia Slim.
Those long, skinny cigarettes she loved more than Vinnie and me.
I feared. Tonight, more than ever. What was it
about this night? Why couldn’t I shake this feeling?
The smell of cookies was stronger,
they’d come fresh out of that cold, dead oven.
It took Mom forever to get
ready. Finally, she
grabbed her purse and keys. “Sandy,” she said. “Where’s your brother?”
He’d been gone since
supper. In the kitchen,
he’d split up his chicken salad with the fork but hadn’t taken one bite. That
glazed look was in his eyes, like he saw far beyond what most kids saw.
In my mind, I saw him, upstairs: eyes bulging, stretched neck bloated and
purple, swinging from a homemade noose.
“Mom!” I screamed.
Maybe she saw it, too. One look, and she raced
upstairs, dropping her purse on the way. The can of hairspray fell out, clunked
down the stairs.
was frozen. She threw open Vinnie’s door and
wailed. I sunk down to the floor.
the smell of cookies finally went away.
It came back, naturally, when the cancer ate up
Mom’s liver and brain. That one lung was just a midnight snack.
In college, I was caught off-guard. Winter
nights, most of us hit the diner for hot cocoa and pastries. But on our floor,
some chicks baked for the hell of it.
I smelled cookies long after our dorm burned
down. . . .
And my husband was shot. I could
Nah, enough of this. Thanks
for the coffee.
Next time, it’s on me.
We can share one of those rich,
No? Well, whatever they are,
they smell really,
Cindy is a
Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side
Story. She works
out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she
wants She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun
Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the
Gutter, Mysterical-E, and
Twisted Sister. She is the
editor/art director of the
ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights