Let me take you by your elbow, I’m not patronising you am I? It’s just that I’m in a hurry and quite honestly I’d just like to get you sat down over…there; gently pushing you through the faint smell of disinfectant and the thick, cloying music of voices floating and bubbling past your ears as they strain to pick out a strand of sound to form into words and make sense of what people are saying…your daughter stops at the door behind you…our feet clip-clopping on the thin carpet (whoops, you alright there?) and set you down here in this big smelly comfy armchair. Why yes, it does smell of tobacco and coffee and body odour and dead skin doesn’t it? Not to mention all the other smells. They’re in layers aren’t they? These smells; each one mingled with the others and laid on top of each other like a malodorous sandwich, each layer telling a different story about what happened before I plonked you down in this warm, soft smelly alcove, greasy fabric brushing your fingertips. Are you all right there? Would you like a cup of tea? You’d probably appreciate one yes? Even if you don’t want one, you’ll say yes out of politeness. Milk, no sugar? I’ll be right back…while you tune into the sounds and smells around you like an organic radio receiver, filtering the odours and sounds, and the feel of the air whooshing past in little swishes and swirls as people move around you. Who is that, that stink of urine and layer upon layer of dead skin? Some old fellow, the smell of incontinence, senality and death hanging off his ageing bones. He’s not saying anything, but the fellow next to him (smelling of urine, sweaty feet and tobacco) is telling him that “it just isn’t right you know, if they want to sell horse meat then they should sell it as horse meat and put it on the tin, I’ve eaten horse meat, don’t know what all the fuss is about, the French eat it you know, mind you the French eat some funny things, have you ever tried snails? Like little balls of garlicky squid don’t you know”…you turn your head down slightly and about twenty degrees to your left, your right ear tuning in to another conversation, your nostrils shutting off the smell of urine as you hold your breath for a second, the voices by the door, is that me you’re listening to? I’m glancing over although you don’t know this, you might suspect if I pause for long enough…you hear my voice and your daughter saying “mmmm” as if she agrees with what I’ve said, but you can’t hear me because I’ve dipped my head down and I’m talking too quietly; now you know I’m talking about you, but what am I saying? Does this make me less trustworthy? Or does it mean that I know something that I think might upset you? Maybe I’m just thinking of you, well, you can always ask me later, just in passing, and listen for the tension in my voice, smell the sweat emanating from my palms and from the skin on my face…you tilt your head up again and turn it slightly to the right…there’s a TV on in the corner of the room, Pointless is on, that quiz show where you win by picking the most unlikely answer, and next to it are a couple of what smell like old ladies (urine, dead skin, floral perfume); one of them coos like a pigeon and chuckles softly like all old ladies do, then coughs roughly to clear up some of the phlegm in her chest before she smacks her tongue against the roof of her mouth and tells her friend that she “never would have thought of that one”…”yes”, her friend agrees, “hmmm”…where is that bloody tea? Getting thirsty now, in this dry old place with these living mummies (still gooey), need the hot, clean liquid to cleanse the mind of their inane babblings, although the smell of urine is bound to make the tea taste bitter…you hear the clip clopping of footsteps trotting over to you, and the smell of steam from the teacup you hear delicately clinking in the saucer as it is placed on the arm of the chair, my hand guiding yours to the side and placing your fingertips on the edge of the dish, are you feeling bitter now dear?
Don’t worry, we’ll soon get you settled in.
Based on a prompt from CreativeWritingPrompts.com