Scent's Memory

By Tricia Theis

October 14, 2019

Scent's Memory

My son pops the lid on the swing-top bale jar, and using both arms to hold onto it, presses his face into the opening, taking a big whiff.

“What’s the word where it reminds you of a long time ago?”

I’m trying to get us out of the house and I know I sound impatient when I respond.


“Yeah,” he says, “I love that smell.”

He tips the opening towards me.

“Smell it. It reminds me of something old.”

I move my nose towards the jar cautiously.

“Wafting…wafting…” I say, mimicking the words of my seventh-grade science teacher, Mr. Aguzzi, and the way he swept his hand over a row of test tubes, keeping his face at a safe distance. “You didn’t fart in here, did you?” I ask because he looks so delighted.

He rolls his eyes.

“Just smell it. It reminds me of something.”

I take the jar in two hands, giving him a look like, “You better not be messing with me, kid,” as I inhale.

It smells like my grandmother’s basement.

“Huh,” I say, “I know what you mean.”

I’m curious about where and when in his ten short years the smell transports him when over the next few days I catch him sneaking hits from the jar, contentedly exhaling, “Ahhhhh…” And I can’t help but wonder in which vessel and what smell, someday in the future, he will find the memory of me.


Tricia Theis lives in Baltimore, MD where she spends her time reading, writing, communing with earthworms in the garden, and fixing up her 1960s-era rancher. She keeps house casually with her husband, children, and dogs. 

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