Musk and Memory
I knew a woman who'd lost her her sense of smell after being beaten up. That long-ago episode of domestic violence, along with my own temporary loss of olfactory ability, inspired the fictional story Musk. It's now published in The Lobsters Run Free, an anthology of short-short stories put out by the people who run the Bath Flash Fiction Award. When I lost my sense of smell after a sinus infection, it would only be for a couple of months, but I didn't know it at the time. I kept burning food on the stove, I worried about gas leaks, I fretted about body odor and, most of all, I grieved the ability to perceive life in that certain way. I’d always had a sharp sense of smell and it had influenced my writing and enriched my daily life. I read where some people tried to commit suicide after losing both their senses of smell and taste. I drank ginkgo biloba tea and kept sniffing at coffee, garlic and perfume. When I began to pick up on odors again, I wrote the story Musk. Despite everything I've just written, Musk is ninety-nine-point-nine percent invention. Still, it's a reminder that fiction feeds off of emotional truths.