Imaginary Authors: Stories IV (Air of Despair)

IA-logoAn Air of Despair’s story reminds me of one its predecessors, the Littmus lozenges in Because of Winn-Dixie, a book about a dog, and the only one I can think of where the dog doesn’t die in the end (and it’s set in suburbia, a stark contrast to Where the Red Fern grows which casually tears your heartstrings apart and chews on them like tobacco set in rural backcountry.)

When you roll the lozenge around your mouth, you get the sweetness of candy, and then a bitter tang that reminds you of sad memories, or just “taste funny” depending on how old you are. The lozenge is supposed to taste like root beer, strawberry, and melancholy or sorrow. Air of Despair doesn’t smell like either of the former, but I think one could make an argument for the latter.

An Air of Despair

  • Wet: wet cedar, moss, axe, cocoa powder
  • Dry: rubber, caramel, wet cedar, new pennies, rain

Is it weird that I get caramel? Not hot, fresh caramel, or the butter-slicked homemade stuff, but the stuff that Kraft packages for caramel apples that has a barely detectable dairy tang, but mostly just smells like plastic. It smells like that on a trunk of wet cedar that’s threatening to mold or grow other organisms, like an uncomfortable camping trip before you can get the fire to catch. It’s vegetal and dry, arguably drier than L’Air du Desert Marocain (which I’ve written about here and here), and substantially less sweet. There’s heat to this air, but it’s a sharp, mean heat to LADDM’s sweet breeze. An asshole just got off his bike and blew exhaust fumes into your kid brother’s face; no spicy home-cooking reaching your nose on a gentle, welcoming wind here. No flowers either.

It makes me feel more isolated than sad, which I suppose is just a sadness I’ve gotten used to. It’s good though. Unusual in its dryness, and very affective, at least at the time I’m writing this. Don’t wear it to funerals or times where you’re anticipating not being okay: wear it to places where sadness can give strength. When you need to be empathetic, or gentle, or forgiving.

An Air of Despair

Dreams were good. Dreams meant that his mind was working and that it hadn’t gone out of commission despite his trying to drown it. Having dreams, even the weird ones he was having, and not having nightmares, meant that his conscience was clear (I mean, why wouldn’t it be?) and that he was having a drink to have a drink, no harm done. It certainly wasn’t his fault she had gone fanged Chihuahua on the wrong dude. He was fixing something up at the back for the bartender and couldn’t have known what was going on. No one had expected the guy’s group to be patient and rig her bike the next time they stopped by the same bar.

Usually you’d expect a throw-down of some sort, maybe someone needed to be tossed into the hospital. He was standing next to Corinne when her bike exploded and covered him with burns, among other things. His grip on his glass nearly slipped, and the sound it made on the wood was too loud for the silent room.

She didn’t feature in any of his dreams and why would she? Kinship extended only so far as the living in their world even if he did like her. She was good at organizing distribution, and her bravado was matched only by her bloodlust, which read well to the crowd. Confidence. Cockiness. Well anyway, she was gone. The rest of the gang scrambled to get things fixed up with her contacts and her position, and there were very few tears among them. He drank to her death though, toasting the air. He felt like he was in a forest made only of shadows since.

And now his dreams were full of smoke and furniture and dust. A house that had been on fire now put out and abandoned. Thick layers of dust and cobwebs enveloping the place he visited every night since Corinne’s death, undisturbed by his presence.

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