Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)
TITLE: Yellow Clouds in the Kitchen or, Rotten Eggs, Garlic and Burnt Rubber Effluvium
By Anita van der Elst
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I wasn’t the only one in my family offended by that particular miasma; we all dealt with it in our own way. But there was a family living in the woods near by that didn’t seem to be bothered by Eau de Poule Fumier. And they were a bunch of stinkin’ thieves. Every few nights those egg-suckers snuck onto the farm, dug tunnels under the chicken wire fence and raided the henhouse. Must’ve been that the signature cologne these robbers wore, in smothering amounts, was the perfect antidote.
My dad determined many a night to sit out there with his shotgun waiting for them. Regardless of the emanation advertising their arrival, their black suits made them hard to spot in the dark. One night, to Dad’s elation, the moon was shining bright enough to reflect off the white stripes I guess those varmints hadn’t realized ran down their backs. Dad aimed and fired. Got one! Well, he clipped him anyway. Abandoned by his family, the critter slunk off, Dad figured to die somewhere. Dad was right. But we all had reason later to wish the somewhere had been a galaxy far, far away or, at least back in the woods where the scavenger belonged.
The next morning before Mom even came downstairs to start the coffee going and get breakfast under way, her nose detected the pungent redolence. It was so rank as to be actually visible as yellow clouds drifted up from the kitchen sink drain in steady succession. Our efforts to describe the stench ranged from rotten eggs to garlic to burnt rubber and eventually we agreed it was all of them rolled up into one noxious fume. No one wanted breakfast that morning and it was several days before everything we ate had lost the tainted flavor of Eau de Skunkerue.
That black and white cousin to a weasel had found the crawlspace under our old farmhouse, dragged its wounded body to the sacred skunk burial grounds, which was apparently under our kitchen sink, and gave up its sulfuric spirit.
The question of the day became who was going to go under there and retrieve the odiferous offender and bring relief to our watering eyes and choking throats? The task fell to my oldest brother. Whether it was due to his handicapped mental condition or not, the boy didn’t seem to have a sense of smell. And he was willing. In retrospect maybe we should’ve tied a rope to his leg just in case he ended up asphyxiating before he completed his mission. But we didn’t think of it at the time and fortunately it ended well. Or as well as retrieving a dead skunk can end.
Sometimes my wounded spirit finds its own deathly dark place. My thoughts are followed by behaviors that betray the smelliness of my bitter resentment and unforgiving attitude. Jesus pursues me and pulls me out of the rottenness. He offers me a free life in exchange for the captivity of death I’ve put myself in. Then I can join in the celebration that Paul describes in the second chapter of Second Corinthians. I like the way The Message puts it:
“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.”
No rotten eggs, garlic and burnt rubber effluvium for me!
Scripture reference: 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
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