The Smell

Brian and Hazel sat on their front porch enjoying the evening air. Brian was the first to notice it. His nose wrinkled as he sniffed the air.

“Skunk,” he said, wiping his nose.

Hazel’s nose scrunched. “Doesn’t really smell like skunk. Maybe fresh manure?”

He shook his head. “Too pungent for that. Breeze must be picking that up from the farms.”

“Yeah, probably right.” Hazel coughed. The stench was getting thicker and made her eyes water. “I’m going in.”

Brian followed on her heels, hoping for fresh air inside the house. Both froze in the doorway and covered their noses.

“Something die in here?” Hazel grew concerned that an animal may have gotten into the house, but she didn’t hear or see anything out of the ordinary.

“Nah.” Brian coughed and gagged on the stench as it filled his throat. “Gotta find it though.”

Nothing in the front room, but it was stronger in the kitchen.

“Garbage?” Hazel pointed to the corner of the kitchen.

Brian looked and shook his head. “Empty.”

They unplugged their noses and followed the stench that now smelt like onion dip. Decay and onion dip. Brian gagged again and wiped his eyes as they started down the hallway. Decay, onion dip, and musk. Hazel was confused. What could be causing this stench?

Decay, onion dip, musk, cheese?

Brian sniffed and his nose recoiled as far as humanly possible outside their son’s door. He covered his nose and pointed toward the door.

Without knocking, they opened the door and discovered something worse than a blooming corpse flower…a fourteen year old boy who had not bathed in a month sitting in front of an open window eating sour cream and onion chips on pizza, farting up a storm. Flashes of biohazard lights went off in Brian’s mind and Hazel shook her head.

“What?” Julian asked through a mouthful of sour cream and onion chip pizza.

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The Blank Page

The page is blank.
There are words on the page, but it is blank.
Nothing exists behind the words.
The couple that lived there moved out.
Now it is an empty shell.
The apartment is waiting.
Vacant. Dark. Cold. Quiet. Still.
Waiting for a new occupant.
No one is calling. No one is inquiring.
The words lighten. Begin to fade.
A distant memory.
The page is blank.

Yes

How much is too much?
How little is too little?
Is there an unseen scale that weighs things out?
Is there an unseen judge examining action and inaction?
Are we bound to such unseen devices?
Are we not free to act or not act?
Life is not written for anyone, so is it not up for debate?
Is it a debate already lost?
Or perhaps not even begun?
In the end are we not our own judge?
Can others truly understand?
Action and inaction – two sides of a coin?
What if we roll down the middle?
Or linger too long along the way?
Is there an end goal?
Does anyone know the way?
Do some have a map?
Do some make their own?
Is there a navigator?
Is there a guide?

Michael sat and pondered on a rock by the crossroads.
A breeze brushed by his ear. “Yes,” it said.

Painful Silence

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He knew he shouldn’t have.

She was already upset.

But he did it anyways.

He said it.

It was out in the open now.

He felt better; she did not.

Rain on the windshield traced echos of her tears.

He just wanted to get home.

She wanted to explode.

The curve was too sharp; her strike too hard.

In a blink of an eye they were gone.

Arrangements made and fulfilled.

She to Ohio. He stayed local.

Nothing could make it right.

Nothing could be undone.

No words could be taken back.

Six months passed.

Silence. Painful silence.

One fall day, the silence was broken.

“It’s okay Daddy. Let’s go home now.”