Monday 23 January 2017

Bad Smell

Cathy Leonard

un coup de champagne

Sipping a coup de champagne on one of those famous French boulevards when the call came through. From home. Heart sank. What now?

Bad smell in the study.

Well, what do you want me to do about it? Figure it out. Trace source of bad smell- it’s not rocket science.

We were on our twentieth wedding anniversary weekend break and damned if a bad smell was going to ruin it.

But as we joined the queue at the Glass Pyramid in the expectation of a glimpse of that enigmatic smile, however minuscule, the bad smell enveloped us.

Food left to spoil by careless brother? Dead mouse? Or dare we venture? Dead rat under the floor boards?

How long did it take a dead rat to disintegrate?

And so the dead rat scuttled alongside us around the Ile de Saint Louis. It circled the gargoyles, snuck past the bouquinistes and imbibed our every other coup de champagne in whatever rue we ended up in. Our ubiquitous topic of conversation-rats turned to plagues, bilboes as big as apples.

There were of course the frequent updates by text.
It’s still there.
Can’t use the study.
My mock leaving cert starts in 3 days
When are you coming back?

Can’t she move the fecking computer?

And then the arguments about our parenting skills, or lack thereof?
The Celtic cubs’ lack of initiative, the infantalisation of the modern teenager, their hopeless dependency, how we in our day would have sorted it out ourselves, how long does parental obligation last? She’s over 18. It’s our twentieth. For Christ’s sake!!!

And so Paris was one long whine about children, parenting and dead rats.

About the author

Cathy has been writing and teaching for over thirty years. She has published poetry, short stories and children’s stories and has been shortlisted for a number of awards, most recently runner up in the Fish Flash Fiction Award 2013 and the Sceine Poetry Competition 2014. She had a short story selected for publication in Baubles 2016. Cathy lives in Dublin with her husband Stephen, two adult children, Molly her trusty red-setter cross and our new arrival- a stray one eyed three month old kitty- Sherlock. Now all we need is a Watson!


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