Death has a flavour of its own.
I know; I had smelt it before.
I smelt it now.
Coming from inside my apartment.
I hesitantly teetered on the threshold clutching two large grocery bags, a forest printed handbag and a wad of junk mail wondering if my sense of smell was mistaken. I leant into the void next to the partly opened door, felt the groceries lean in with me, felt my ponytail brush my cheek. All appeared quiet except for my heart’s rapid knock and the faint clatter of keys still swinging from the front door.
I took another whiff.
I shot up straight and swore.
What did that mean exactly?
That a dead body was in my home?
I almost laughed; the thought was seriously ridiculous. I mean really, what would a dead body be doing in the modest home of a pair of hardworking twenty-something’s on a late Tuesday afternoon?
This time I did laugh but I couldn't ignore the edginess in it.
So why the smell?
Several explanations crossed my mind, unemptied garbage, a blocked drain, a keeled over rodent. Add to it the relentless February heat, a small apartment with little ventilation and… bingo!
Relief spread through me.
I liked those alternatives; they were probable, rational.
I scolded myself for imagining the worse.
Somewhere my memory tuned in and I heard my Year Eight English teacher, Sister Iglesias champion my thinking. “Claudia Cabriati,” she said, “you have a febrile imagination that’ll either make you loads of money or get you into loads of trouble.” I recalled taking her comment as a compliment, until I looked up the word ‘febrile’.
It meant delirious.
I didn't think her analysis of me was very ‘godly’.
Back to the present.
The present sadly saw me still hugging the doorsill, still reluctant to take that step forward.
The ridiculous now bordered on the downright insane.
Honestly, Claudia, Simon’s been away just two days and you're already freaking out like some trapped butcherbird in your classroom. Do something before there are witnesses to your craziness.
The horrifying thought of an ogling, gaping audience spurred me onward.
I hooked my head around the door unsure what I expected to see. The place was in near darkness. But to switch on the light meant going inside. And again, that didn't particularly press my happy buttons. I blinked repeatedly, waited for my pupils to adjust to the dark, felt my overstretched neck crick under the pressure. When shapes began to take form, all I could see was the shadowed foyer wall and the taunting light switch centred a metre in.
I groaned, and silently cursed the architect of these units.
Still balancing at the threshold, I bit my lip and counted the footsteps to the light switch.
Maybe four… five max.
Perhaps, I should just go in. I mean what’s the worst that can happen?
A dozen pictures of ‘worst’ drowned my sorry head and riveted me back to the spot.
Writing order: Kalli Deschamps (USA), Linda Alley (Aus),, Jasmine (NZ), Ken Burns (NZ), Suraya (NZ) Ray Stone (Cyprus) Donna McTavish (NZ), Roseyn (Aus), Anna Zhigareva (Rus), Leif Rennes (NZ)