Here is my entry for my second week at the writers group.
Prompt: The smell of burnt sugar.
Title: Sweet Hypochondria
In the labyrinth of my mind, where the lines between genius and lunacy are drawn in disappearing ink, I found myself teetering on the precipice of an olfactory enigma. It was a mundane Tuesday afternoon, the kind where time stretches like a lazy cat, when I suddenly detected an oddity in the air. A subtle shift, a hint of… pear drops, I thought triumphantly. Or was it?
My left arm seemed to have a will of its own, rebellious and determined, as if it had joined a teenage rebellion without notifying the rest of me. A spark of panic flickered, but I was determined to exercise the muscles of reason. Or at least attempt to.
The scent, a spectral whisper, floated around me. Was it truly pear drops, or perhaps the faint perfume of wet cardboard? I entertained wilder possibilities – the elusive fragrance of a garden gnome colony or the lingering aroma of a daydream. My mind’s theatre, always ready to put on a show, had turned my arm into an actor, playing a role I hadn’t scripted.
Wait a minute, was I having a stroke? Was this it? Was this how it would end? Me sat here slowly melting, unable, yet more likely unwilling, to call for help? No, I’d know if was a stroke. Was it pear drops you could smell if you were having a stroke? Did I make a will?
Was it pear drops you could smell if you were having a stroke? Wait, was that something to do with diabetes?
Confidence swayed like a palm tree in a breeze. Pear drops, was that universal knowledge or the kind of trivia you’d trade at a cocktail party. My certainty deflated, and I found myself standing on the shaky ground between imagination and reality. Can I really smell pear drops?
Just as I was about to relegate the incident to the annals of “The Chronicles of Paul’s Imaginative Antics,” a new scent tiptoed into the spotlight of my senses. What was it? Crème brûlée, or was it the aftermath of a kitchen mishap?
I sat still, my nostrils flaring like detectives on a trail. It was burnt sugar. I would smell burnt sugar. I think. But what did it mean? Was it a symbol, a signal, a cipher waiting to be deciphered. Was my body speaking in a caramelised code, warning me of a culinary catastrophe or as (as the hypochondriac inside me would usually go for) was this a neurological incident? My thoughts raced, sprinting alongside my heartbeats, in a race to unravel the mystery.
Toast! Toast was the smell you got when you were having a stroke. But could I smell toast? Toast, pear drops or burnt sugar. It wasn’t like the all smelled the same. I wasn’t smelling toast. I was smelling burnt sugar. Or pear drops. Oh I don’t know!
Reason, that small island in the sea of chaos, raised its flag. A smell, it whispered, is often just that – a smell. Not an oracle, not a prophecy, not a sign of cosmic shifts. But reason, it seemed, had never met me.
It was a stroke. It had to be a stoke. Was I old enough to have a stroke? Was there an age requirement for a stroke? Did I need to provide identification? Could it be a trapped nerve? Is that why my arm is trying whisk a non-existent bowl of something? No, if it was a trapped nerve I’d know but if it was a stroke I wouldn’t know so as I’m sat here knowing what I don’t know and not knowing what I do know then it must be a stroke.
I succumbed to the gravitational pull of Google, tapping away at keys in search of reassurance or confirmation of insanity. The results sprawled before me like a bazaar of bewildering ideas – medical terms, forum threads where unicorns and black holes mingled with symptoms and anecdotes and one dubious medical expert who confirmed I probably had West Nile Syndrome.
Hours dissolved like sugar in hot tea, and my arm had mercifully halted its peculiar dance. The burnt sugar scent, though, remained, like an uninvited guest at a party that refuses to end. I exhaled, realising that perhaps, just maybe, my imagination had spun an intricate web around reality.
Maybe it wasn’t a stroke signal, but a call for me to audition for a baking show. Maybe my arm had ambitions beyond my comprehension, dreaming of becoming a that crème brûlée or a caramelised masterpiece.
I rose from my seat, arm behaving for the moment. The scent of burnt sugar tagged along, a loyal companion on my journey to the kitchen.
“Alright, arm,” I chuckled, giving it an affectionate pat. “If you’re intent on transforming into dessert, remember: raspberries and a blowtorch are essentials.”
Thus, armed with whimsy and a willingness to dance with my senses, I embraced the peculiar symphony of my mind. I decided it’s okay to wander through the curious corridors of my senses, chasing whispers of burnt sugar and the promise of a culinary masterpiece. Now, if only I knew how to bake!