Excerpt from The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury:There was a smell of Time in the air tonight.
What did Time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like, it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. Time looked like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theatre one hundred billion faces falling like those New Year balloons down and down into nothing. That was how Time smelled and looked and sounded.
Marlene’s Musings: I love the idea of writing what Time smells like. . . sounds like . . . looks like. . .
Your Turn: Choose an item, an object, a thing, that interests you. . . what does it smell like? sound like? look like?
Frank Schofield, having used a thousand aliases, looked and acted like any other man; having adopted the same habits and been careful to adjust his behavior to any walk of society in which he had found himself. It hadn’t always been this way. Frank had witnessed every change in the Universe, every deception, every misguided truth that had occurred through eternity and the only thing, in all that time, that had remained the way it was as the first day he found it, was the beauty of the Earth’s sun setting; the pink and the gold. Time, the passing of it, had been one long feast of birthing stars. Then, in a billion year desperation, he had called out; his voice crackled, shone, and blazed ahead into the intoxicating darkness; words that cut and shaved through nothingness, then through the ice age, on past prehistoric animals, the smells of volcanic ash and its plea bending around those planets between him and his search for a home for his kind; words seeking recognition. It was a moment of weakness; for he knew those words would go unheeded. Infinity, with its round painful eye-sores of grotesque mysteries, had been his shadowless place until Earth. Was there really a world out beyond nothing, in the fat belly of gases? Time stank in the farthest crack of space, it knew nothing of desire, ugly whores, small fingers, breasts or the purity of snow. It was just a deep eternal wound. If it wheezed, it did so for 300,000 years.
mcullen Post author
Strong, imaginative writing. Creative, spell-binding. . . Unique “Time, the passing of it, had been one long feast of birthing stars.”
I love, ” the beauty of the Earth’s sun setting; the pink and the gold.” Intriguing: “Frank had witnessed every change in the Universe, every deception, every misguided truth that had occurred through eternity and the only thing.” fantastic writing!
mcullen Post author
I wonder, what does a crunchy red apple smell like? Does a soft Gravenstein smell different from a Red Delicious apple? Does a cold apple smell different from a warm apple?
I think a red apple smells like an orchard that has recently been plowed. There is an earthiness to the smell. If the apple is cold it smells like a cool porch on a lazy summer afternoon, with a wood swing drifting lazily by the breeze from a fan, and a good book waiting to be read on a nearby table. If the apple is warm, it smells like a hot summer afternoon in an orchard in Sebastopol. Or it smells like autumn, rich with harvest and apple pies and warm applesauce simmering on the stove.
What does Hendy Woods in Northern California smell like, deep in the redwood grove where it’s quiet and as still as a cathedral. The grove smells old and ancient and calm. What does old, ancient and calm smell like?
old . . . smells like parchment paper
ancient . . . smells like musty book
calm . . . smells like summer rain candle
old sounds like coughing and wheezing
ancient sounds like rattling breath
calm sounds like church . . . sitting in an old Catholic church in the middle of the afternoon with no else there. That’s calm.
What did a 1950’s five-and-dime store smell like? Blackberry pie and coke at the counter at Newberry’s or Kress or Woolworth’s, tuna fish sandwiches on white bread and French fries. The middle of the store smelled like paper, Nancy Drew books and Archie comics. The front of the store smelled like old wood, from the scuffed wood-planked floors. The right side of the five-and-dime smelled like grandmothers: talcum powder, bristly hairbrushes, hairnets and bobby pins. The cosmetics counter smelled like date night: perfume, lipstick, mascara, rouge, compacts with pressed-on face powder.
Hopeful . . . it all smells like hope. Hope for a good meal, a rejuvenating walk, an enjoyable date. It smells satisfying, into an absorbing book, a good meal, quiet reflection.
Excuse me, while I take a walk, nip into a piece of pie, and then take a nap, with a good book waiting my next visit.
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