I’ve joined an on-line workshopping group where we engage in a monthly creative writing exercise and then comment on each other’s posts. The idea is that we’ll continue to push ourselves, and each other, to improve our writing abilities. The first exercise I took part in was to “write or modify a scene in which your character (or group of characters) is deeply affected by a smell”. Here’s my effort… I look forward to taking the feedback I received and refining it further.
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And then it hits me, that familiar smell of guilt. Metallic. Coppery. A salty mineral-like smell blended with synthetic lavender and citrus.
Tears flow from my cheeks but are quickly washed away by the running water of the shower. The dried blood of last night’s hunt haunts me. It hides in my hair and refuses to release its hold on my skin. These soaps and shampoos soften its grip but the ghosts go deeper than the skin.
I only kill animals. I have only ever killed animals.
I keep their tags as a reminder. I keep his tag as a reminder.
The thought of his name triggers a near-seismic response in my body; my body shakes and I crumble to the floor. An invisible force reaches through my throat and wraps itself around my lungs. I fight back the darkness that gathers near my eye lids and force myself to breathe.
Max was the world to me. He was my best friend, my brother. We would spend hours at the park. I reimagined team sports so they were suited to one boy and his dog. Max was my fielder, my point guard, my winger.
I don’t even remember the night I killed him. The wolf inside me was a separate being then. The connection is stronger now, between wolf and man. Back then I was controlled by the hunger. I can only hope that I was so drunk on blood lust that I acted quickly, that he felt as little pain as possible. All I know for certain is that I woke up in a pool of his blood and I am still washing it off of me. Last month I killed some rats, last night it was a rabbit, but every time I shower after the hunt it is Max that I am brought back to. It’s not just the smell of the blood. Each animal smells different. It’s the combination of blood and cheap toiletries that triggers the memories.
I could change brands or scents but I don’t want to. The pain reminds me of my humanity.