Don’t Give Me the Stink Eye, But…

564px-Frown_(8187991157)Chapters 21-34 of Irish Firebrands yielded eighteen more sentences referring to smells, one cliché (derived from the reflex of turning one’s nose away from a stench), and a poem recited by a character. Only five chapters in the whole novel make no olfactory observations. This averages out to just over two references per chapter for those that do, and just under two for all chapters.

1. “It smells good, too.”

2. Lana locked herself into the flat, and then leant against the door with her eyes shut, savouring the faint, familiar scent that would always mean – Dillon!

3. She grasped a woolly fold and held it to her cheek – its warm, soft prickliness evoking a fantasy of snuggling against Dillon’s fuzzy chest and abdomen – but the aura she sought was too faint.

4. Dillon’s scent on the pillow seduced Lana into staying the night in his flat – but then, she really didn’t have far to fall.

5. An egg of unknown vintage but that still smelled fresh, and milk from an unfinished litre that had passed its pull date, went into making buttered pancakes for her supper.

6. She’d also stopped smelling of cigarettes – although once, when pulling off her jumper had inadvertently raised the hem of a long tee shirt she wore over low-ride jeans, Lana glimpsed a nicotine patch adhering to her hip.

7. The poem quoted in Chapter 25 is Onyons, by Jonathan Swift. It refers twice to the smell of the vegetable that makes entrées worth eating:

Come, follow me by the Smell,
Here’s delicate Onyons to sell,
I promise to use you well.
They make the Blood warmer,
You’ll feed like a Farmer:
For this is ev’ry Cook’s Opinion,
No sav’ry Dish without an Onyon;
But lest your Kissing should be spoyl’d,
Your Onyons must be th’roughly boyl’d;
   Or else you may spare
   Your Mistress a Share,
The Secret will never be known;
   She cannot discover
   The Breath of her Lover,
But think it as sweet as her own.

8. They attended midnight Mass, and in the morning, he summoned her to breakfast at a table set between the fireside and the fragrant Christmas tree that filled one corner of his living room.

9. Lana remembered losing her virginity–she believed all women did, even if the anticlimactic fumbling that often accompanied the event didn’t fulfill their fantasies of lingering lovemaking upon scented sheets bathed in magic moonlight.

10. It seemed tragic that Medb would remember dispensing with hers through faceless fornication amid the reek of urine and rotting rubbish on a damp December night.

11. Afterwards, he couldn’t remember how he’d reached Lana – he was only aware of her warm body in his arms, her soft, scented cheek against his own and her husky laughter in his ear.

12. Thick tobacco smoke had sullied the air by the time Lana re-entered the house.

13. To protect his eyes, he pressed his face against her soft flesh … where he breathed deeply of the scent of her skin – and for one mad moment, it was the fragrance of heaven–

14. That first intimate moment was intoxicating – the clean, wet smell of his skin … the softness of his damp chest hair against her cheek … the feeling of him in her arms, living, breathing, heart pounding under her lips – and she could no longer fight her desire for him.

15. Picking up a pillow from the tumbled bed, he held it to his cheek. The cool linen still held the fragrance that to him would always mean – Lana!

16. The air was filled with the scents and sounds of the early spring night: damp earth … frogs’ peeping serenade … tinkling bell in some faraway sheepfold … whiff of peat smoke … all so achingly beautiful. (N.B.: There are one generic and two specific scents mentioned in this one.)

17. His last day at Drumcarroll was gusty, good for drying bedclothes, and his final task was to remake the four-poster bed with wind-freshened sheets and duvet cover.

18. Lana’s warmth and fragrance transported him back to that paradise to which, for so many long months, only daydreams had taken him.

19. The cliché is in Chapter 30: “Well, you keep it on that level, and we’ll see what we can do about it. We can’t be having an American woman turning up her dainty nose at the Editor of Ireland’s biggest newspaper!”

20. “So that’s what we do. But when we get back, Sinéad’s not waiting. We look inside the pharmacy, but she’s not there, so we check the pub – and there she is, in the phone box, with her back to us. There’s no door to the box, so we can hear her talking – and she’s saying that we’re working her to death, and one of those filthy calves has stepped on her foot, and the everlasting stench of manure gives her the migraine.”

So there you have it. If no other novelists are writing scenes that include the sense of smell, I’m here to take up the slack.

©2012, 2013 Christine Plouvier

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