Here in Corvallis, our friend Michael is a fan of perfumes. He’s a scent collector. He watches perfume YouTube videos, makes vacation excursions to buy perfumes, and otherwise educates himself on the subject. His enthusiasm for scent is contagious.
Recently, Kim and I have met with Michael (and his wife, Rae) for a couple of perfume-sampling sessions. We spray samples on swatches and pass them around, then talk about what we get out of each scent. It’s more fun than you might think. And it has, in fact, led both me and Kim to order a variety of perfume samples for ourselves. Over the past six weeks, we’ve slowly been working our way through a variety of scents to discover the ones we like most.
Anyhow, the last time we got together to do this, I mentioned to the group that once (long ago) I had written a short story about a man with a heightened sense of smell. This was back when I took writing classes at the community college, back at the very dawn of the internet. “I think I have the story somewhere on a hard drive,” I said.
“I’d love to read it,” Michael said. “If you can find it.”
It took some hunting, but I did locate my story. Looking at the file information, I completed this story on 27 October 1998. The ancient Microsoft Word document was a bit of a mess, but I spent two hours massaging the formatting (and making some minor edits) and have now reconstructed “The Smell of Love”. (I also call it “The Scent of Love”. I never could find the right word.)
I enjoyed reading this far more than I thought I would. I was worried that it’d appear clumsy to a J.D. now 25 years older than when he wrote it. It doesn’t. The writing is surprisingly sharp. Better still, the story is entertaining. It’s filled with hilarious (to me) in-jokes and references to things that were important to me in 1998: cats, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Black Adder, superheroes (the protagonist is, essentially, a super-villain and was meant to be from the start), and so on.
Anyhow, I’m not going to ramble on because I’m about to the post the entire story, which is relatively long (about 6000 words). I will offer one warning though that seems appropriate for 2023 but wasn’t needed in 1998: The story is filled with (deliberate) misogyny. The main character is supposed to be a dick. And he is, as you will see.
The Smell of Love
by J.D. Roth
28 October 1862
How can I convey to you the strangeness of these past two days: the torment in which I have lived, the frightening nature of my dreams, the bizarre quality of my waking hours? You would not believe me, even should I give this nightmare words.
Where shall I begin?
You are already intimately acquainted with the details of the tragedy that befell me in my youth, but perhaps it would ease my mind, and allow me to more clearly express what follows, if I touch upon my origins. Forgive me if I tarry upon history with which you are only too familiar.
My youth was a happy one; my mother and father were devoted to me, their only child. We lived at Westbranch, on the outskirts of the county and, as a result of Grandfather’s vast fortune, lived a life of comparative means. The proximity of your own estate, Uncle, was among the great pleasures of my youth. I cherish memories of days that our family spent with yours. You were kind hearted, and quick with an explanation or a loving word, and Aunt Dora’s voice filled the halls of your home with song, morning and evening.
Upon my tenth birthday, you made a present to me of a canvas and oils. For a child yet unexposed to the city, this gift reeked of the cosmopolitan; I adored it. I took to the canvas with enthusiasm and, though my initial attempts were as shoddy and misguided as one might expect from a child, I began to develop an uncommon sensitivity to color and texture.
My parents were only too delighted to keep me supplied with the materials of my hobby, and in all ways nurtured my blossoming talent. While other boys around Westbranch left to school, preparing to become barristers or clerks or ministers, I remained at home and filled my days with silent hours before the easel. I had selected a wholly different path for my life, with the complete support of my parents. Whatever time I could spend with my art, I spent with it, and I began to display definite talent.
Do you remember the first canvas which brought me notoriety?
Father had, in a moment of whimsy, placed a painting of mine, of which he was particularly fond, in an exhibition under his own name. The opening occasioned my first journey to the city. I was awed by the experience. I marveled at the architecture of the cathedrals and the Parliament buildings, gazed with interest upon every variety of person on the seething streets, and found myself transfixed by the intricate web of interaction that bound the city together. The sights, the scents, the sounds: it seemed another world entirely.
The gallery itself was ornate, fabulous beyond anything I could have possibly imagined. Great stone columns abounded, and the walls seemed gilded in gold. We wandered the hall, perusing the exhibit, and I was washed in the beauty that had been produced by the hands of men.
We stood before my painting, anonymous, and we listened as others commented on the canvas. I had depicted a simple impression of a workaday scene in the village marketplace. Without fail, those about us praised the work for its depth of perception, its candor, its subtlety. This was surely the work of a significant new artist, they said. When the exhibitors chanced to learn that the painting was actually the product of a twelve-year-old boy, I was hailed as a prodigy. I felt the passion for my calling burning inside; I was sure this was how I would spend my life.
Such joy as I found in my art is difficult to convey. It was my morning, my evening, my all. My eyes were filled with the colors and textures and shadows of the world around me, and for the next two years I produced a series of canvases which drew universal acclaim. Perhaps I was received kindly for being but a boy, but I truly believed what the critics said: I had the makings of a master.
Then, my world was destroyed in a single night, in a torrent of smoke and flame, as our home was consumed in a blazing inferno, the fires of hell itself. Though I escaped with my life, my eyes were seared so severely that I was blinded; but of greater loss were the deaths of my parents, both destroyed in that damnable fire. You lost a sister, Uncle, but I lost a family.
Knowing how much of the world my eyes perceived, can you then imagine the absolute terror I experienced at the loss of my sight? Can you imagine how it feels to wake into a world of darkness? To leave a world in which light and color and shadows play an integral part of your life? To find yourself immersed in the blackest black? It was a nightmare beyond my worst imagining.
I had been a prodigy, a promising artist who using the infinite variety of colors and textures of nature to convey my personal vision. I was but a child, unprepared to cope with the trauma of having the very purpose of my life stripped from me so suddenly. I lost my mother. I lost my father. I lost my art. Without my vision I was isolated, severed from the world. My body was numbed, and my senses were dulled; I felt little, I heard little, I tasted even less.
My world collapsed around me that night. Now I fear that it has now done so again. Once more, I cry for help from within a hellish inferno. Could you twice prove to be my savior?
You know, dear uncle, I spent months in despair. I was disconsolate. My nights were spent in darkness; my days were no brighter. My future had once lay before me like a glittering path to the kingdom of heaven. The world was mine, and my natural gifts, come unbidden, were the keys with which I was to unlock the door to this paradise. Now that future was lost to me, and I to it.
During the weeks following the fire, I did little more than lie in bed, lodged safely within the walls of your home. I did not eat. I would not talk. My only pleasure was derived from your presence. You came in the evening and read to me, with Aunt Dora singing by your side. Do you know that your voices filled me with the only measure of hope in my life? Here was my beloved uncle, reading to me from the Thackeray or from Defoe. Here was my aunt, her sweet voice lifted in song, almost rescuing my flagging spirit.
The two of you replaced, if only to a small extent, the joy that was missing from my life, and provided some semblance of family.
I remember clearly one Saturday several months after the fire. I was dejected as ever, but you proposed that we take a stroll through the rose gardens. I agreed. You led me outside, and I recall the shock of the sunlight on my skin. After months spent indoors, the sunlight burned with furious intensity. As we walked through the rose gardens, I found that although I could not see the yellows and pinks and reds about me, I still experienced some portion of joy through the myriad fragrant blooms.
Though this walk was, indeed, an important event in my progress toward recovery, the depths of my despair had not yet been reached.
I remained despondent, suicidal. I thought that perhaps the best thing for me, and for you, would be to take my own life. Does it seem possible that a fourteen-year-old boy could sink to such despair as to end his life, to curse his soul to ever-lasting damnation? It made no difference to me; my life was already a living hell.
One night I reached the nadir of depression and, while you slept, and after the servants had retired for the evening, I stole into the kitchen. I pawed through the cabinets and the drawers until at last I found a sharp knife. After standing for a moment by the kitchen fire, I stumbled to the table, slumped into a chair.
My hand trembled as I drew the blade across my wrist, applying a gentle pressure. I considered my dim expectations. Had I anything to live for, without a family, unable to practice my art? I decided not. Slowly, I began to draw the blade across my wrist. I pressed firmly and felt the tip of the knife pierce my skin and then, quite suddenly, I could _smell_ the blood.
It is completely true, though it may be difficult to believe. I could smell that singular drop of blood that rested upon my wrist. What’s more, I felt it, too: that solitary drop of blood. My mind had awakened, as if from a fitful slumber. How could I possibly both smell and feel something so minute? Perhaps I imagined it? But, no! When I drew a finger over the drop, I felt it smear. When I put that finger in my mouth, I tasted the bitterness of the iron, the sweetness of the sugar.
I breathed deeply, inhaling the vapors of the kitchen. The sharpness of the fire stung my nostrils, and I was flooded by myriad odors of meals long since served: I smelled the tang of cheese and I smelled the juices of savory roasts. Above all, I smelled the sweet scent of an apple pie, not from some dinner long since passed, but here! Now! Somewhere in the pantry!
I rose and, without using anything else to guide me, my nose led me to the pastry. I feasted upon it! Its smell! Its taste! Its texture! All were exquisite, like nothing I had previously encountered. I was near a pitched state of religious ecstasy. After months without an appetite, I was ravenous. I devoured the pie entire.
Then I heard (from the distant servants’ quarters!) a high and pretty laugh, like bells, and Mithaug’s woody voice. I was enveloped by sensations of which I had never been aware. Without using my hands to guide me, I navigated from the kitchen to my bedchamber. As I sat upon the bed, I felt invigorated, suddenly more alive. I sensed that I did have a future; I had a gift that had previously been unrecognized. From someplace within me, the same source that had allowed me to employ my vision to produce my art also allowed me to experience my other senses more thoroughly.
You are aware, dear Uncle, that I have been able to accomplish feats that seem remarkable considering my circumstances, but you know a mere fraction of which I am capable. You know, for example, that I can write with a clear, legible hand, my blindness notwithstanding. Have you ever stopped to wonder how? Like everyone else, you assume that I possess some strategy that allows me write despite my lack of vision, and you are correct, but if only you knew of what else I was capable.
I can best illustrate the difference in our modes of perception through the use of an example.
You must remember the cat which Aunt Dora gave to me some years ago. I suspect that you held the cat as a member of a class of visual objects with which you had very little other sensory connection. By this I mean that your interaction with the cat was strictly visual in nature. You watched her movements, you noted the quality of her fur, and the manner in which she groomed herself. Perhaps the cat occasionally made an impression on your other senses (you must have surely stopped to stroke her fur, likely causing her to purr), but she existed for you primarily in a visual realm.
Did you ever consider how I perceived this animal? How much more must I have noticed about her with my gradually heightened senses! I had no means whereby to view her: she was to me without visual qualities. She might just as well have been a common calico as a proud Siamese for all that my eyes could perceive.
How much more I knew of her from my other senses! Her movements were to you nearly silent, imperceptible. Perhaps from time-to-time you noted the click of her claws across the marble tile, or observed her plaintive wail at feeding time, but you surely missed the absolute cacophony of noise this creature produced.
When she walked, the cat’s hairs brushed against each other and produced a soft swishing sound like grass in a summer wind. When she licked her fur, it was as if I heard clothes on a washboard, and when she walked she sounded as the horses’ hooves on the gravel drive. Her purr was like thunder.
Touching her produced a similar flood of sensation. Her fur was as silk, but her skin as crevassed and porous as canvas. When she licked me, my skin burned from the abrasions of her tongue, and her claws, which in one respect felt as smooth as ivory, came to a point every bit as sharp as one of aunt Dora’s knitting needles. Hew wet nose was as slimy as any pond frog I have ever touched.
Did you ever notice how the cat smelled? The dewy, dampness rising from her on an autumn morning? Her fleshy breath when she had devoured a mouse or a bird? Were you aware that she had her own personal odor, the same as any other living creature?
Now perhaps you begin to understand what I am attempting to convey.
You, and everyone around you, lives in a world filled with visual stimulation. I was once a member of that world (and if I still was I would not be in my current predicament!), but I now live in a world outside your experience. I have spoken with other blind men and find that, though they too have some degree of heightened senses, my abilities are beyond what they have acquired.
Do I sound arrogant if I say that I believe that I have, in some fashion, transcended mere humanity? I have! I know and feel more than any man that I have ever met! I have become closer to God. But this blessing has become my curse.
I may safely omit the next six years of my history. You need no reminder of how suddenly my disposition changed. Despair became foreign to me, and I believe that I was soon once more the happiest child in the world. You and Aunt Dora treated me as if I were your own son. Though nothing could assuage the pain of losing mother and father, I loved you as if you were my own parents. In time, I was sent to school where I adjusted to life among my peers reasonably enough. My marks were excellent and earned me a place at the University.
Life at the University has been pleasant, although I find the company of my fellow students detestable. They are, on the whole, a dull lot concerned with dull matters. Their focus is not on their studies, but on women and drink. If I could conceive of a more appropriate means whereby I could attain the knowledge I desire, I would leave the University in a moment. I find respite in my rooms on Water Street, however, and have secluded myself from the world. My only companions have been Rochester (a friend from my days as a schoolboy), and a long succession of tutors.
Obviously, I am perfectly capable of writing; my sense of touch (with assistance from my hearing) is sufficient to allow me to reproduce a passable script. However, I am not capable of reading. I have found a few volumes published using the Braille System of lettering, a system developed expressly for the blind by a gentleman from France. However, the selection of books published using this method is severely limited. I must, instead, rely upon a tutor (or assistant, as I prefer to call him) who reads to me from the books I have at hand: not just the volumes for school, but those incidental books that occur to me, and the books I want read for pleasure.
Finding a reliable assistant has proved to be a miserable task. Rochester fills in capably when I am between assistants, but he has his own studies to attend, and I do not like to use his time in such a fashion. During my three years at the University, I have hired no less than thirteen assistants. Only one has proved to be able to the task. It is of her that I write this letter, this most terrible confession.
The long line of assistants was perhaps inevitable. Anyone willing to hire themselves for such a position is likely to be ignorant themselves, thus unsuited to the task. A sort of a double-bind, I am sure you will agree. I am willing to tolerate a number of faults in a person under my employ, but one must draw the line somewhere; there are certain behaviors one cannot abide.
My first assistant, Edmund, was a thief. He mistakenly believed that it was possible to steal from me despite my presence in the room. Perhaps his ploy might have worked with another blind man, but it failed with me.
Though Edmund was the only thief that I have had the misfortune to employ, the other assistants have each had shortcomings. Baldric had halitosis that might have killed a rhinoceros. Melchett stuttered, and he had a polyp so that he was always hiccoughing, an unceasing annoyance. Percy babbled incessantly about the merest trifles of his day: his maid, his lunch, his walk through the park. Of the assistants that I could bear, none remained with me longer than three months, despite my offers to increase the handsome wages that I already paid them.
Then, Uncle, last Spring an unfortunate event befell me, masked in the guise of joy. My landlady, Mrs. Bennett, came to me one evening, during a period in which I was without a tutor, and asked me if I might be interested in allowing one of her relatives to fill the position. I readily agreed (as I was dreadfully behind on my reading) and agreed to meet the her relative the next day.
Mrs. Bennett appeared at my door as promised the following evening. I greeted her, and I sniffed the air and listened in an attempt to discern some first impression of this prospective assistant. I have found that a person’s body odor is a clear indication of character; the rhythm of a man’s heart and lungs are equally revealing.
Some men may seem, on the surface, fine up-standing citizens, but on closer examination, they reek of evil. Once at a party, I met a banker, introduced to as one of the greatest men in the country. He smelled of death. His fingers bore the taint of blood and his breath was heavy and quick. I learned the following week that he had been arrested for the murder of a business partner, a murder which he had committed the very evening of the party.
As I greeted Mrs. Bennett, I inhaled deeply in an attempt to divine the character of the man who accompanied her. O Uncle! Such confusion! An overwhelming passion that sprang into my bosom: there was no man before me! Before me stood a woman, a young one, by the sense of her height and the quickness of her heart. She smelled of rose petals, and of cinnamon. I felt her warmth. I was overcome.
“Who is this young man which you have brought for me,” I asked Mrs. Bennett, having recovered my senses enough to conceal my foreknowledge of the applicant’s sex.
“Begging your pardon, sir, I bring no young man. This be my niece, Catharine. I hope that she will be sufficient for you,” Mrs. Bennett said.
I was still too overcome by surprise and emotion to protest the unsuitability of this proposal. What did a young woman know of literature and history and other arts? I was too tongue-tied to argue. This is what the other men at the University felt: the clash between love and knowledge, between the body and the mind. I checked my passions and found the strength to answer.
“At this point, madam, I am desperate. I was, of course, expecting a young man. However, I will give this, this Catharine an opportunity to perform the duties. I cannot be expected to pay as I would for a young man. She cannot possibly possess the same skills.”
“Of course not, sir. As you say,” said Mrs. Bennett. She hesitated.
“I will leave you two to them books then,” she said, and she left the room.
I found myself alone with this exquisite creature. For some minutes I could say nothing. I made a show of busying myself with some work or other at my desk. When I had quite had an opportunity to compose myself, I addressed myself to her.
“Have you an understanding of history?” I asked.
“I have,” she said, and her voice was like a rippling brook. “Do not judge me to be as ignorant and unlearned as my aunt. My father was a member of Parliament, and I have been educated at Lockwood under the supervision of Miss Maria Temple and Mister Brocklehurst. I graduated at the top of my form. Had my father and my fiancè not have been killed in a shipwreck, I should be happily married.”
Her voice turned colder as she added, “Do not pretend that I enjoy this particular misfortune that has befallen me.”
I loved her instantly.
Catharine’s initial animosity dissipated over the course of the next two weeks and she became tender and attentive. She read to me for hours each day and was, in every way, superior to any of the assistants that I had previously hired. Her voice was delightful, and she read with such a flair that the texts were emphasized and clarified, and I was able to grasp meanings that might have otherwise remained hidden. Kant and Descartes have never been imbued with such life!
When the Spring term ended I decided not to return home, as you may recall. Though I dearly love your company, Uncle, how could I possibly forgo the opportunity to spend more time with this heavenly creature?
By June we had become quite amiable, even familiar, such that I felt that the time was proper to declare my love for her. We had, on occasion, strolled through a nearby park and sat by a brook for a picnic lunch. It was on such an occasion that I proclaimed my love for her.
To my surprise, and my delight, Catharine — my Cathy! — returned the affection. I fell upon her with my kisses, and she kissed me passionately in return. I felt the flushing of her cheeks and heard the quickness of her breath, and I knew that she returned my love; but the time and the place were inappropriate for such a display of affection. In our haste, we repaired to her room instead of mine.
Mrs. Bennett had retired for the evening and Cathy exhibited none of the inhibitions I had expected. I fell upon her and smothered her with my kisses. I protested my love for her and told her that I could not live without her. I told her all manner of nonsense such as might be expected by a young man off his head with passion. Would she not be my wife, I asked her, and, Uncle, she agreed!
We could not contain ourselves, we were firmly in the grips of passion, and the consummation of our love was sheer delight: her breath was like roses, her skin was delicate like mountains of silk, her voice that of a wild animal. When it was finished, we lay naked together upon her bed, telling stories and laughing. She told me how happy she was to have found me and I told her that I could not imagine life without her. The inappropriateness of our behavior never occurred to us.
It was at this time that I confided in Cathy my extraordinary abilities. I explained to her that though I was blind, I could ‘see’ better than most men whose eyes functioned. She laughed, and I could tell that she did not believe me. I continued to boast and I offered to prove it. She stood, and I sensed her naked body gracefully pacing, tracing her finger over the objects on her bureau. At last she laughed and said, “What am I holding in my hand?”
I concentrated. I shut out all of the noises around me and directed all of my attention in her direction. I felt the gently patterned movements of the air as she waved her hand about, and I smelled the delicate particles of pollen. I knew that she held the flowers that I had brought for her the previous week. I told her so, and she laughed, though I could sense that she was surprised.
She moved to another cabinet, and I heard (and felt) her open the top drawer. She hesitated a moment and then asked me again, “What am I holding in my hand?”
This was more difficult, but again I focused my attention on the object she held in her hand. The temperature of the air had dropped, if only slightly, from the direction in which she was standing, indicating that whatever was contained in the drawer might be composed of metal. I detected a faint odor of sulfur, too, and when she had opened the drawer, I had heard the slightest sound of metal scraping metal.
“You have a pistol,” I said.
She laughed, and told me that I was wrong; she was holding a mirror. I laughed, too, though I was certain that I was correct. Perhaps she had been holding a mirror, but I was certain that she kept a gun in her drawer, perhaps a memento of her departed father. Regardless, Cathy was disconcerted. My demonstration had not had the effect I intended. Nevertheless, I dressed, and then crept upstairs, happy, failing to realize that the evening had been the start of my ruin.
We spent the most pleasant summer together.
Since complete veracity regarding my abilities now seemed unwise, I decided to share my delight in the sensuous and the sensory in other ways. If I could not convey the minuteness with which I could experience the various senses, then I decided to paint a broad picture for my beloved Cathy.
I took her to concerts, and we dined at great meals together. We wandered through the city’s rose gardens, and spent afternoons basking in the sun. We strolled the countryside, swallowing the rich scent of the earth and the fields and the farmyards. I shared the immense sensory pleasures that are possible even to those with normal sensory perception.
Uncle, how madly in love I was!
I believed that the world could be no better, and I believed that Cathy loved me in return. Though I looked forward to the resumption of my studies in the autumn, I also looked forward to their completion, so that I might wed my beloved, so that we might erect a household.
I made grand plans and related them to Cathy endlessly: We would be married soon after my graduation. I would write to you, Uncle, once the final year of my studies had commenced, and I would convey to you my intentions. With your blessing, we would hold a lavish wedding on the grounds of your estate, to which we would invite every person we had ever known, both the wretched and the sublime. Then we would attach ourselves to a small cottage near the edge of the city, and I would begin my position as professor of history at the University. Cathy would tend to the housekeeping and raise a small family. She had aptly demonstrated her ability with both words and numbers, and I had no doubt that she could manage a household capably.
When I resumed my studies at the University this autumn last, dark clouds (if I may be excused for choosing such a visual metaphor) appeared in our sunny relationship. The discontent I had sensed in Cathy became more pronounced; she began to change. I realized that she was no longer devoted to our love.
Cathy’s once gay voice became tainted with impatience as she read to me, as if she there were some other place she would rather be. She smelled altogether different, too: times that she had once smelled fresh and clean, she now smelled musky and earthy. In our close, passionate moments (which became more infrequent) I sensed notes of the raw countryside beneath the cinnamon in her cologne. She no longer wore her finery when we were together, but instead wore common frocks, as if I were a daily chore.
Twice, though, when I happened upon her during afternoon walks through the city, I touched her arm and could feel that she was wearing a silken gown. In short, I began to suspect that Cathy’s love for me had faltered and now belonged with another man.
Uncle, the past two weeks have been a hell such as you will not believe!
Last Friday, I resolved to return home early, that I might confront Cathy regarding my suspicions. It was cold and raining, and my senses were duller than normal. I had difficulty navigating the muddy streets and was twice nearly struck by a coach or carriage.
As I approached the house I found myself discomfited by the barely perceptible sounds of laughter beneath the patter of the rain. I quickened my pace and soon reached my destination. No cat was ever so stealthy as I, creeping into the cottage. I made my way to the rear of the house, and I could hear two voices behind Cathy’s door: the voice of my own beloved, and the pounding laughter of a man. My face burned and I shook with anger.
In red-hot fury, I burst through the door. The lovers sat bolt upright, and I could feel the air rush against me as they pulled the bedclothes about them. His guttural voice rose in question, but Cathy’s hand flew to his mouth, muffling him. As if she could possibly hide his presence from me!
I could smell him! I could hear him! I could feel him! I could smell the two of them, entwined; the smell of love was everywhere in the room, so strong I could taste it. My senses were filled, operating at a capacity that they had never before achieved.
Cathy’s voice was thin and reedy from fright as she greeted me, not the voice of the woman I knew and loved. Her flesh was hot, and the air was warm from the energy of their love-making. I could smell the sweat of her, and I could feel the tension in her neck. The man, hulking and hairy (I could hear the thick hairs of his body bristling as he moved), slunk off the bed and grabbed for his clothing. His breathing was heavy, and I could sense that he was large, muscular. He carried the odors of grass, and of dirt, and of the shit of cows and hogs. Cathy, making love with a common farmhand!
I boiled in rage. I shook uncontrollably. I leaned against the bureau for support, and it was then that I remembered. I opened the drawer and I reached, without hesitation or fumbling, and withdrew the pistol.
Cathy gasped and began to plead, but I did not listen. I took aim and I shot the cur. No sighted man ever fired such a perfect shot; I hit him squarely in the chest, I am sure. He staggered once and then fell to the ground in a great cascade of noise. The reek of the wound was nauseating.
Cathy shrieked. The sound was so piercing, so deafening, that I found that I must be rid of it. I threw the gun to the ground, and I fell upon my beloved. Her body burned from the just-interrupted passion, her skin soft and fiery. Her breath smelled of roses. She whimpered under my weight, and then she shrieked again.
O Uncle! Can you guess what I did next? I could not bear the sound in my ears and I could not bear the thought of this man with my Cathy and I could not bear the thought that my love was gone and I strangled her, Uncle. I put my hands around her throat, and I strangled her. I crushed her, and her hot skin burned my hands, and her gasps made me weep (how I cried!), but I kept hold til she made no more sound.
As I stood in the silent room, I found my senses had been shattered. My ears were deafened by the pistol’s explosion, and my nose stung with the burn of the powder. My tongue was thick with the taste of the smoke and the blood, and hands fingers throbbed from their horrible deed. I stood senseless. When I finally grasped the enormity of my crime, I fled, blindly, clumsily, to my rooms.
Now, Uncle, you know of my crime. With my own hands I have killed my only beloved.
I fear that I am no longer fit for this world. What am I to do?
I have packed some few belongings, only the barest of essentials, and find myself lodged in a small inn not far from the city. I know that I am now a wanted man, sure to face the gallows. Worst of all, I am pursued by my own demons. What is to be done, Uncle?
Please, I beg of you, you must see me and help me to repair this situation, if reparation can be made. Whatever comes, I beg you to understand my actions. I make this full confession only to you, dear Uncle, as you have always been so kind and understanding.
I am desperate. I am blind. It is only with great difficulty that I have been able to write this letter. What was once so easy is now nearly impossible.
I am blind, Uncle! I cannot see.
Your Nephew, Jude.
And there you have it: This is the sort of writing I was working on at the dawn of the internet age. It was at around this time that I was posting my first blog entries. I took one more writing class after this before devoting my entire attention to writing online. So, in a sense, this is a look at a possible alternate path for me if I hadn’t decided to make blogging my focus.
It might be fun to write short stories again. This one was certainly fun for me to read.