Olfactory Memory
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Joshua closed the front door behind him and kicked his shoes off on the tile foyer. Sprinting to his room with his new treasures bundled in a cloth kerchief, he paused only to quickly scratch an excited brown pitbull between her ears.

"C'mon, girl, let's go check these out."

The dog shot past him, jumping up onto his bed, her rump excited and airborne, tail whipping to and fro like an elastic metronome. Shutting his door with a familiar 'click', he joined her on the bed, wrestling her down and rubbing her belly.

Once she had settled down, Joshua laid out his treasures before him, admiring them. A fragrant geranium, half of a sandalwood-scented candle, and a discarded, empty box of surgical gloves.

"Which one first, sweetie?" he asked her, watching as the dog sniffed her way through his prizes. She seemed to like the smell of the flower. He gently picked it up, bringing it to his nose. Giving it a single, slow, determined sniff, he let his mind wander for several moments. Eventually he tossed it aside.

"Nah, nothin'." His dog watched the flower descend gracefully back down to the bed just as he snatched up the half candlestick. "Let's see about this one…" The candle came to his nose, another long, thoughtful sniff.

Moments later the candle tumbled dejectedly back down, accompanied by the boy's morose sigh. "Seems like not a very good haul today, baby." He sounded hopeless as he idly scratched her rump. "Well, last one."

His dog watched as he brought the empty box to his nose. Watched as he inhaled pensively. Watched as he sat there, still as stone, until soon, he started trembling. She saw the tears well up in his eyes, heard his choked attempts to hold them back.

She wasted no time, standing and nudging the offending box away from him, planting a sloppy, wet kiss on his teary-eyed face.

Joshua tried and failed to stop crying, wrapping his arms around her as she licked away his tears. He didn't even know why, as he sat, overwhelmed with a crushing sense of loss and guilt which he couldn't, try as he might, properly identify.

Hugging his dog well into the evening, Joshua knew only one thing. He missed his dad.

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