The Nose Knows

With Louisa, it was easy to bare my heart. To spend countless hours just knitting, just talking, just being. To depend on her as a true and trusted friend.

I miss Louisa every day. In 2008, she lost her life to pneumonia, a “complication” brought on by rheumatoid arthritis. For several weeks, the hospital became our second home as we waited and hoped… and as we eventually watched her life slip away.

A few weeks after Louisa’s death, I found myself in another hospital visiting a family member. But nature called, and I stopped at the restroom before making my way up to his room. After doing my “business,” I did as convention and personal hygiene dictate: I washed my hands.

Sweet, flowery, painfully familiar. The smell. The soap. Its scent transported me to a time and a host of feelings I thought were well behind me. I left the restroom, found a quiet corner, and tended to my unexpected tears.

To this day, I can’t go in for a physical, visit a sick friend, etc., without that whiff of hospital soap bringing a certain pressure to my eyes and an ache to my chest. Though some time has passed and my grief is less raw, it seems my nose still knows what an incredible loss Louisa’s death will always be to me.

So is it any wonder that writers are encouraged to employ all the senses when setting a scene or developing a character? Such are the triggers that can drive flashbacks, progression, regression, etc. Such are the stepping stones along a story’s path.


WRITING PROMPT 1: Make a list of the smells that trigger some kind of emotional reaction within you.

WRITING PROMPT 2: Perhaps you’re at a crossroads in the plot of a story you’re writing. How will you use the characters’ senses to help the story move along?

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