The Scent of Unscented

He fumbled through darkness with a lighter in hand, to find his place. He had set out a large candle, a pad of paper and a pen on his desk. Flicking the lighter to life, he used it to guide his intent to the first wick, lingering briefly to enkindle the target. Then, deftly maneuvering to the neighboring wicks, he offered each the gift of fire.

A triad of flames now huddled at the bottom of a shallow recess in the orange candle. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the low light.

The edge of the candle obstructed direct illumination from the flames and cast a shadow upon the wall of notes and sketches in front of him. It snapped and bounced below a soft, uneven glow, like empty frames of film, loosely set in a reel to reel projector. His thoughts drifted to days of elementary school and the constant rolling click of an educational film.

He wavered with a sleepy yawn.

Shaking away the sensation, he snatched up the pen and pad and began to write. He scribbled down observations of the tall, cylindrical candle. It’s deep orange facade, marbled in a chalky patina. It’s top quarter glowing with a fiery orange gradient. It’s short range of spherical warmth against his face.

As he wrote, the scent of unscented wafted outward co-mingling with the fumes of his ultra fine point Sharpy and together invaded his olfactory. The sensation amplified the fuzzy warm feeling in his cheeks, as the nerves in his face gently tingled, mocking a subtle intoxication.

His focus diminished.

He found himself locked in a sleepy gaze, eyes fixed again upon the jittery box of light projected before him. His thoughts began to unravel, and he felt the urge to use the bathroom. Exhaling through pursed lips, he returned himself to darkness.

He waited once more for his eyes to adjust, remembering how back in elementary school they would call the bathroom, “the lavatory”. There in the dark, a grin crinkled up on his tired face.


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