I Believe in Smell

By , Chantilly, VA

I believe in the sense of smell. I believe in the use of candles, lotions, and essential oils. The scent of lemon lotion bringing you back to your mother’s room; where she would cradle you, pledging to never leave you alone in this unbalanced world. The aroma of a new car, throwing you into the backseat of a social worker’s vehicle as she passes you along to your “new home”, or the fragrance of freshly made cheesecake where you abruptly arrive in the kitchen of a house that was never a home. The so-called “home” where your mother assured you countless times that soon enough your life would return to normal, but what did normal smell like? Surely normal had a smell; hunger had a smell, and so did anger, but normal; that scent hasn’t been experienced yet.


Later, the stench of reality hits you when you realize that you are never going to see your mom again. You will never embrace you baby sister again. You inhale another whiff of reality and comprehend that you haven’t been smelling clearly, instead there was a barrier around your senses that only let you smell so much; but what was this barrier called? Childhood. Right then and there, you lost all of it. You no longer smelled roses or candy or play, those were replaced with work and cleaning. After a while the new car aroma wakes you up, and you are again in the backseat, where you and your two younger siblings are being taken to a new home where you will stay until you can be brought to a new family. When you arrive you smell mud, dogs, and something that doesn’t have a name just yet.


After four years of smelling dogs, mud and what you later call realization, you and your younger siblings are brought to a family that smells of something sweet called hope. That family takes you in and tells you are no longer alone with your thoughts and hurts and you never have to be again and, most importantly, you are loved. You think to yourself, “how is it possible for these people to love me although I reek of dogs and mud and new cars and broken innocence?” Somehow, they love you through it all and add a couple more smells to you. They are known as happiness, care, and love. For the first time in your life you feel complete.


“Though that feeling can only last for so long” you think to yourself, after all you have never felt this before how can you be sure that it’s even real and sure enough there are replaced with scents of hatred, depression, anxiety, and realization. These odors swirl together around you and create a tornado that causes you to break and stumble and fall. You bleed and cry and that only adds to the whirlwind constantly surrounding you. Left to fend off this depression, you start to hurt yourself, hoping to end it all. One night you find yourself lying in a bathtub desperately trying to end you suffering once and for all; at the very next second, your saviors rush in and help you to see that you are not a mistake, and soon your pain will be gone.


Your family starts to smell the tornado and are quick to destroy it with love, care, and devotion, which smells of lavender. They communicate that they are never going to leave you to fend for yourself and you shouldn’t worry about your past; to live for the moment. That’s just what you do, you live for the moment; you smell the world as it is meant to be: without the barriers that once held you. Certain fragrances remind you of lost memories that beg to be remembered, just as they should. For these reasons, I believe in the sense of smell.






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