Thursday, September 18, 2008

"The Smell" by Leon Wing

The Smell
By Leon Wing

She didn’t flush after evacuating, or even wipe herself .  She went to the bureau  in the adjoining room of the apartment, to rifle through the drawers for any clean clothes to put on. She sniffed at her pong, but she thought the smell coming from the kitchen was even worse.
     She had been getting familiar with all the rooms in this apartment for a week now, sleeping in one, then the other. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, she finally found the softest, most comfortable, bed.
     She wasn’t going back to bed, now that she was up, even if the sun wasn’t.  Outside was humid, and dusty ten floors down, in the KL streets. Up here, she made to go into the kitchen, but the smell caused her to gag.
     She had to go in, anyway.  How else was she going to get to the fridge, for something to eat, having finished off any edible stuff around this place?  The last real meal was before there was that smell, when she used the knife, when it was still clean.
     Now, it was dirty.  It was congealed with blood.  She pulled the knife out of the rotting body on the kitchen floor.  She wiped the blood off the blade on her clothes, and sliced some bread up for sandwiches.

© Leon Wing 2008

Creative processLeon Wing:  I wrote this while facebooking with someone.  When our conversation finished so did this short story.  I was not composing it in my usual manner, which is long complex syntax, as with my other pieces.  This time I wanted to get the story down fast without thinking too much about style, grammar, sentence structure; all those linguistics gimmicks (pun!).   I dashed this off in the fashion of flash fiction – or whatever people now term these types of writing – short shorts, micro fiction, flash fiction, 1-minute, 20-minute (from McSweeney’s).

Leon Wing writes poems, mostly. He “sees” shapes, colours, objects, structures, when reading them; like some people do when listening to sounds or music. However, he does write  fiction, at times, like this time.


  1. I love the story.

    The only word that does not fit in (for me) is "evacuating".

  2. Thanks, damyanti. I used 'evacuating' to mean 'excreting or discharging from the body'. I didn't want to start of the piece with something so immediately scatological. The main motif all over this piece is the 'smell' instead of the thing that's smelling. I wanted to bring on the final shock value of the rotting body as the embodiment of the pervading smell in the apartment.

  3. I completely agree with your reasons.

    It is just that the menace and the shock value of the story lies in the casual, matter-of-fact way it is narrated:

    She pulled the knife out of the rotting body on the kitchen floor. She wiped the blood off the blade on her clothes, and sliced some bread up for sandwiches.

    A deliberate word like "evacuating" jolts the reader.

    Just a suggestion: She didn’t flush, wipe herself, or wash her hands.

    In this way we still know what she is doing,the narration remains simple throughout, and the reader is plunged into the story straightaway.

    Just my two cents :)

  4. The matter-of-fact way of the narration is deliberate. It belies the fact that this girl doesn't belong to the apartment. Glad someone caught this!

    'She didn’t flush, wipe herself, or wash her hands.'

    That is one way to put it, without actually saying the obvious - that she has done her business.

    Thanks for this input. Hope there are more writers like you who could comment the way you just did.


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