A GUILTY FRAGRANCE

By Daryl George

The smell lingered in her nose, caressing and dancing, firing neurons in the amygdala and stirring her memory. What was that smell? And why was it so familiar?

“Patricia?”

The sound of her name shook her, dragging her from her reverie and bringing her back to the real world. Her mother was speaking to the funeral home director Mr Ambrose, with Mr Bascus, her father’s closest friend and former drinking partner, seated on the living room couch next to her.

“We’ll be back soon,” her mother assured.

“Yes, as soon as I get the report I can release the body,” said Mr Ambrose as he rose from his seat.

A quick, concerned glance was shared between her mother and Mr. Bascus as they walked out the door to see Mr Joseph, the coroner. Both men had been on the scene quickly after her father had literally drunk himself to death.

Despite the arguments, the cursing, and the occasional fight, her mother had been distraught by her cantankerous husband’s death. She tossed out anything that reminded her of him; clothes, shoes, even the dishes used to prepare his final meal.

But why did that smell linger on Patricia’s mind, bringing back memories of the morning her father died?

She remembered it clearly; the clink of his bottle on the sidewalk had reawakened her that morning, and she got up out of bed and peered out the window to see her father staggering home. He tried to open the gate but his level of inebriation turned an easy everyday action into an operation that required the delicacy and patience of brain surgery. He dropped his bottle and cursed, staring wistfully at the spilt contents before returning to the stubborn gate latch.

That smell…was it there that morning?

That morning, Patricia had heard the snap of the bolt as her mother ushered her father inside. This was a change from the norm; she usually let him struggle to unlock the door, the lock dancing away from his unsteady aim until he finally got it right and stumbled inside. But that morning Patricia’s mother had let him inside with little fuss.

No, that smell was definitely there before her father had returned. Before her mother had let him in and busied herself in the kitchen with his breakfast, the sweet strain of fever grass tea wafting over to Patricia’s bedroom. “Bush tea good fu ebryting,” Patricia’s grandmother had once told her, and Patricia’s mother took that to heart.

Patricia remembered hearing her mother’s bedroom door close before falling asleep. Then she was violently awoken by her mother, tears streaming down her face as she explained that her father would not wake up, and saw Mr Joseph trying desperately to revive him while Mr Bascus called the ambulance.

Patricia took a break from her thoughts to make breakfast. Try as she might, she couldn’t find the sugar bowl. She decided to forgo tea and made herself a sandwich. Just as she raised the snack to her mouth, she heard her mother at the door.

“Are you sure that he’s not going to say anything?”

“Yes jack, I’m sure. In fact, when I…”

“Mommy, we have any sugar?”

Patricia’s mother screamed and Mr Bascus jumped, surprised at the sudden intrusion.

“Baby, you scared me!” Patricia’s mother said breathlessly.

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

“No sugar, darling. I threw everything out…I’ll get some tomorrow.”

As Mr Bascus leaned over to close the door, Patricia was hit by that musky odour.  A sense of suspicion washed over her as she began to understand what really happened that fateful night.

Daryl George

Author’s bio: Daryl George is an honorable mention in the 18 to 35 age category of the 2014 Wadadli Pen Challenge and was a strong contender for the main prize. He was an honourable mention in 2012; and won and placed second in the category in 2013 and placed second overall. Born and raised in Antigua and Barbuda, the Youth Department employee has always had a passion for literature. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in consumer psychology with business.

Copyright belongs to the author; so, no stealing.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Wadadli Pen 2014, Wadadli Pen News

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