A Sweet Sweet Smell In The Air
by C. F. Legette
Each step he makes is short, slow but sure, just like that pet turtle that he has in a tray in his room. Ethan advances slowly but with steadfast determination. This could very well be the last time; so, Ethan will try and make this meeting last as long as he can.
The old man is waiting patiently as he always does. His face is mostly hidden. A large soiled straw-hat sits on his head and the front brim flops down almost to his nose. His long gray beard starts just below his nose and spreads all the way down to his chest exposing only his crusted lips. Closer inspection shows that the beard is actually more salt and pepper in color than gray. Ethan doesn’t realize it but his face is so mixed with different emotions that it makes him look a little unusual.
He is happy but he is nervous and also sad. Inside, his stomach feels as if it is doing somersaults one right after the other. This is a very serious time and he is old enough to know it. Before he gets to the old man, Ethan checks his posture out to make sure that his back is as straight as he can get it as he walks.
“Firm…a firm hand shake.”
He repeats the words inside his head. Then, as usual, he reaches out to the old man. A craggy hand touches his in a firm hand shake. That is what he has been taught years ago by this same old man. Ethan has his head up and his eyes look directly into the old man’s eyes. For a second Ethan’s mind wonders back.
“A handshake is a statement of who you are. It shows some of your character.”
The old man had said this so many times before:
1. Stand up straight with your shoulders square.
2. Keep your head straight and give good eye contact.
3. Your grip should be firm (not like a dead fish).
4. A man always gives a man’s handshake.
5. Give respect and respect is what you will receive
At first, it is hard for a boy to stand up straight and look an adult directly in their eyes like that. But, Ethan does it every time now. That’s one reason the old man has a special place in his heart now. Ethan can’t remember exactly when
the old man came to live with them. It seems like he has always been around
because that fruit smell goes back a long time. Each day the old man brought something new to our attention.
Now however, things are changing.
After they shake hands the old man slowly lowers his body to sit on the bench that he often sits on when they talk. Like always, he asks Ethan to sit beside him. Only this time, he leans to whisper something to Ethan. Before the words enter his ear, Ethan notices that smell again. As always, the smell reminds him of something. It’s like fruit, no specific one but just fruit. Ethan can never quite...