A Funny Smell ( A Short Memoir)

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

By Wendiann Alfieri

That day I came home with a scholastic book order form for school, I felt like I had just been accepted into a secret world. A secret world that I had always been apart of, the world of books. But now it felt like I had officially been initiated, officially able to read books other nine year old's AND ten year old's could read! To dive into the ocean of reading even more, to submerge myself as the words floated by me and formed pictures that waved gently in my brain as though it was coral, well, to say I was excited was an understatement. The form felt like a newspaper just delivered on a Wednesday morning resting softly in my hands. It didn't feel like it had secrets, like an envelope which is private or a magazine which the secret they hide is that sometimes certain magazines lie, and try to draw a green envy or black disgust out from right under people's noses. This form, I felt like I was ready to swallow the delicious excitement, truths, morals and lessons and let them digest and sink in. I brought it home and I anxiously showed my mother the book form, waiting to see the excitement in her eyes. And it was there, but one glance from her to my grandmother mad me think maybe she had some doubts. Her eyes were a deep brown, so were my grandmothers, like rich dark savory chocolate. But right now it looked as though they were being sucked into a pit of mud looking at the others eyes. My mother sat me down. She said I could pick one book, just one book for now. As we flipped through the pages, my mother got up, her chair squeaking, but I was only paying attention to the order form. She turned to my grandma and even though they didn't say a word, their silence spoke volumes. My eagerness caused me to feel even more like the anticipation was creeping under my skin clawing trying to get out and reach into the form and grab all the books. When I finally found one, I knew it was the one. It was red and had an old black and white photo on it. " That ONE!" I screamed, and started jumping up in my seat. My mother drew a shaky breath of trepidation as she spoke. " Honey, that book is too old for you, all these books are too mature for you. They're themes are something you shouldn't be learning about at this age, do you understand?" My mother finished, not meeting my eyes until I spoke. " Mom, I read adult books all the time, I LOVE them. We read adult books all the time in class. You said one book, any book I wanted. Please??" I gave her my biggest hopeful, big green eyes boring into her soul stare. She looked at my grandma and my grandma threw her hands up as though in defeat, though she hadn't spoken a word. My mother agreed, and that began the two week journey of waiting for it. There's something about getting a new adult book like that when your so young that makes it seem like all other books are inferior. I kept trying to re read all of Roald Dahl's children's books in the mean time, but the wait was agony. I pestered my mom every day, and I have to give her credit, she didn't seem as frustrated as she was relieved when I finally got the book. This is it, I thought as I held the crisp book in my hands. This is it. But something smelled odd. The smell that wafted up smelled like dried fruit, sweet but still sad. Beautiful but inedible. Preserved but it seemed as though people wanted to forget it, but couldn't. It was remnants of a past beauty that the world left out to die. Try as they might, they couldn't save this fruit but they had something as a reminder. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't forget it. I read that whole book in three days. I didn't understand a word of it. I never forgot the smell. That was the first time I ever read The Diary Anne Frank.


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