The Five Senses
Elijah: a 22 year old young man
TIME AND LOCATION
Unspecified; Unspecified (till the end)
(A spot light comes up on a man in what looks like psychiatrists couch lying diagonally on down stage right. Even though he is lying down, he is looking straight up at the audience. A dull beep is heard at regular intervals in the back ground)
Our olfactory sense, sense of smell… is a funny thing. Just a whiff of something particular and a torrent of memories are released in your conscious. They say it’s because your olfactory bulb is situated right here (points to the middle of his forehead) in the area right above your hypothalamus, the place that stores your memories. I think, that’s why my earliest memory of you is the way you smelled.
Right before leaving work, and after hugging mum, you would scoop me in your arms and tell me to be a good boy in school. I would nod, wide eyed and vigorously, and bury my head in your chest; the smell of your aftershave, mingled with mom’s gardenia perfume would invade my senses.
It served as a place to regress to when I sat beside mama and the thick smell of sickness hung heavily in the air. It was where I went, when I bent low to clean the vomit off the floor when you came home soused every night. Every time she retched into the septic bowl on the side of the bed, I could see you leaning over the edge of the sink, red eyed throwing up, your head hanging dangerously close to the garbage disposal unit.
I would sit up at the window, way past a 10 year old’s bed time, waiting to hear the sound of your slow heavy trudging or the police car that would bring you back to your contorted reality, so that I could check on mama again and trudge up to sleep.
In the night, I would hold my pillows around my head, to drown out the medley of your inebriated snores with mama’s screams. It would prepare me for the harmony of taunts I’d hear in school about my drunken father the next morning.
Do you remember the crash of the old armoire, where mama had kept grandma’s china, when those large burly men from the collection agency dropped it on the driveway while taking it away? So many little shards of glass got into my legs, but it didn’t hurt, very little hurt after you left my hand and walked away for a cigarette when the Father Bill was talking at mama’s funeral.
Did you know how many times I tried to kill myself then? The cold steel against my wrist would feel like an unfulfilled promise. And my outsides, tightly wrapping my insides would tremble for joy. I would have to keep switching side, time and again, so that my bones would not dig too deep into my flesh while I slept on the wooden plank every night inside the dusty church orphanage.
Even at fifteen I was too short to be peering over the top of the heads of the crowd in church every Sunday. But I would somehow always spot you, scanning the pews, finding her a spot to seat her 400 dollar dress covered ass. You always missed the spot I was sitting at somehow. The people at youth group said that you looked like her bitch.
Like her little dog, eager to please her, your eyes widened big and brown every time she turned to bark a command at you. The sight of the bouquet of orchids
that she carried on the day you married her is still burned into my eyes.
I was already used to the taste of blood by then, but the metallic taste of the cut in my lip from the slap you administered on my face was a treat.
The bile in my throat had already choked me, but it was the least of my concerns as you walked away that day. I don’t even remember what I wanted to
say, and you kept interrupting me, just like you are right now.
(A long flat beep is heard)
(A nurse enters, frantic. She is talking out to the door, the light on stage is following her and she stops at a bed with a skeletal figure in it.)
He’s flat lining! (to Elijah) What happened?
Good bye father.
(He gets up and walks out. Lights go out)