Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)
TITLE: Lavender Grace
By Amy Michelle Wiley
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I was free here, I reminded myself. Free to live my own life, unshackled by parental oppression. I was an adult! Why did they think they could rule me, dictate who I should become? That was my choice. Should be my choice. And now it was. I could be whoever I wanted out here.
As if in answer to my mental call, one of my new friends sauntered around the corner. Damien was confident and free spirited and everything I wanted to be.
“What are you doin’ here all alone?” He smiled at me in a way that made my heart flutter. “Come on. I know a dry place.” He held out a hand and winked.
I took it and we sauntered down the street. This was me! I had the cute guy, no matter if he had a tattoo snaking across his arm and his hands shook from want of a fix. If I didn’t like him, I could pick someone else. I had the power to do that.
We were nearing the basement hangout when the sudden scent of lavender assaulted my nostrils. Mom! I whirled around, searching for the source of her favorite perfume. A flash of anger filled me, mingled with fear. Was she spying on me? Come to rip away my freedom? Judge me for my choice in companion?
Damien grabbed me. “What are you doing?” He pulled me toward the nearby door. Tendrils of smoke slipped out, reaching for me, mingling the heavy sweetness of marijuana with the fading lavender.
He tugged me closer, but the smells filled me and I couldn’t breathe. I pulled away. “I’m sorry. I can’t.” I gasped for air. “And I’m not alone.” Those words surprised me as they slipped out, but I looked once more for Mom.
Of course she wasn’t there. Already the street was empty, Damien abandoning me with only a shrug. Just like Mom had abandoned me. Letting me come here. But no, this was what I wanted, right? I didn’t need her. Didn’t need her God always telling me I was wrong.
I flounced away to find my own entertainment. There was a bar down the road. It would be dry. And noisy… And smoky…. Somehow I found myself back in my corner, alone, watching the rain. A verse came unbidden from a long-ago church song. Grace like rain falls down on me.
Grace. I’d forgotten that word, so focused on condemnation. Was there grace for me? More to the point, did I want grace? I pushed against the hard wall and felt the burn of tears in the back of my throat. Somehow that persistent scent of lavender was back, filling my nose, bringing memories I’d pushed aside. Memories of lavender hugs and laughter. Chats and…yes, and even acceptance. Undeserved. Grace.
Could I let it in? Would it fill that ache deep down inside? The ache that all the independence and freedom in the world couldn’t touch.
I was crying in earnest when I stumbled to my feet. My toes caught on the rough bricks as I moved down the road, pushing my way into the lobby of a corner store. I let myself pick up the pay phone and a little something deep inside broke as I dialed the number. Pain filled me, but somehow it was a good pain. The pain of the first step in healing.
A voice answered. A voice that sounded like lavender.
“Mom? I’m ready to come home.” I couldn’t understand my own words. But she did. Somehow she did.
I didn’t wait inside the dry store. I waited on the sidewalk and slowly lifted a trembling face to the dripping sky. Toward God. The wetness caressed me, wiping the grime from my face.
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away; they're washed away.
The rain continued. His tears mingled with mine. Grace. It smelled like lavender.
Song lyrics from “Grace Like Rain” by Todd Agnew
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