The bus turns left. Another man’s body pushes hard against mine. Warm, soft, alive. He doesn’t apologize. I don’t say a word. I don’t look at his face. The bus stops and he takes his bag and rushes through the door. His smell lingers. On my way home I think of him, feel his warmth, smell his sweat. My first friend in months, since that old lady at the supermarket smiled at me.
The first thing that people used to ask about were the bugs.
“I’m really sorry for that. I was born without a sense of smell.”
“Oh,” they always said. “But don’t you notice the bugs?”
The bugs. Everywhere. Of course I saw them, the way they followed me. Flies, mostly, but many others too.
It’s not that I didn’t want to shower. My mother too made me shower every day, she just never explained why. Nobody told me why. They all assumed I knew and rather than tell me that I smelled bad and how to fix it, they concluded that I was handicapped and thus just stupid or dirty or crazy.
In 22 years nobody told me that. For 22 years everybody assumed I was scary and creepy and stayed away from me. Continue reading
It’s not that I’m ugly. People don’t turn around and gag when they see me. The problem is that they don’t smile either. And if there’s one thing every woman learns far too young it’s that everything is about looks. Only it isn’t.
I tried clubbing, house parties, online dating – hell, even book clubs. We exchanged glances, introductions, nice words – but no matter what I tried, it never went further than that. Men always seemed to run away from me. I thought it was my looks – make up, push up, perfect pants and a shirt or dress with a cleavage so deep that I thought my nipples might jump out – and yet, nothing.
I was online, searching for operations to fix all the flaws in my face and body. There was an ad on top of one of these websites, blinking fast in red and orange with large black text:
“Be attractive. No operations. No effort. Guaranteed effect.” Continue reading
I can’t understand it. I never will. Why? And why me?
And why my sister?
He shook my hand with a sweaty group of sausages. He smiled and said his name and even in that short moment of meeting him, with two steps of distance between our bodies and his thick and soft fingers in my hand, I noticed the smell.
From that day on it was always there. I walked past his nodding face behind the reception desk, unsure whether to breathe in deeply or to hold my breath. It was not something that made me jump out of my shoes, but it made my nose itch and my feet sweat. The smell was musky but light, intruding and penetrating but relaxing and, even as that is hard to admit, arousing. Continue reading
The sweet smell of chocolate, one of the warm and soft cookies melting on my tongue. My grandmother smiled, then turned back towards the sink to clean the tray.
The orange sun rained warmth on us. With my fingers still sticky I sneaked up to her side, grabbed a cookie from the white plate and quickly ran back to my chair.
“Hey,” she said. Then she laughed.
I reclined on my chair with both hands on the cookie. The backrest knocked against the only wood-paneled kitchen wall. A dull, hollow sound. Then my chair slipped.
During those two weeks in the hospital the orange sun and sweet chocolate air filled my head. That might be why this moment still lives so vividly in my wind. Whenever I remember that moment I can place my hand back into the scene; the coldness of the wooden chair and the warmth of the sunrays on my skin. It is the last memory in which I can still see my grandmother with brown hair. The movie that lives in my head just lacks the end; the fall. The best of hundreds of memories in that kitchen. Continue reading
On Tuesday morning, around 10AM, I heard the first glimpse of eternity. It was my second holiday day. I was standing between cereals and pickle jars and somewhere above me a voice tried to convince me to buy slabs of steak that I had seen and that looked unhealthily red. When I saw those steaks a sick cramp formed in my stomach. Humanity has degenerated to the point that meat must be pumped with salt and chemicals to look red as we have grown so accustomed to colored food that we don’t even know anymore that flesh, after being drained of blood, is gray.
I picked a pack of sugared cereal off the shelf and it began. There was no warning. Just one voice stinging through the normal bustle of the shop. It sounded like a young screaming child that quickly ran towards me. I looked around to see the child until I heard it right in front of me but still could see nothing. Then, one after the other, more voices joined in, a choir of pained screams that grew in number and loudness by the second.
My forehead was slammed repeatedly against cold linoleum until one of the clerks did the last nice thing anybody will ever do for me. She pushed a pack of marshmallows between my head and the floor. I slammed my head into the pack rather than the floor. My hands were still pressed on my ears and I kept screaming for the voices to stop. Continue reading