Ammonia, Iodine, Dust, and Death [The Sweetest Stink Challenge]

by ♠Ana Cristina♥
originally published at 05:39PM on Friday, October 03, 2008

Gene shrugged into his coat and eyed the clock. It was two minutes before five AM, two minutes before his shift started. It promised to be a long one. He grabbed his clipboard and walked briskly into the hallway, his steps echoing on the marble floor. Today marked his 30th day as a resident doctor at Blessed Cross Hospital.

As he opened the door to his first patient’s room, the familiar scent accosted his nostrils. He breathed it in with a sharp sigh. It had always simultaneously bothered and tantalized him that he could never identify the smell. What was it? Ammonia? Iodine? Dust? Death?

It bothered Gene, too, that his wife would never truly understand what pulled him here. To say that she was displeased with his new work schedule would be the grossest understatement.

“I don’t know how you could be happy working like a slave. I’ve barely seen you all month!” she’d shouted last night before grabbing her bag and leaving the house.

She didn’t stay to hear his reply: “I just love the smell of hospitals.”




  • from chakatreatmentson!(LoA):

    This is really good. A lot of times we say its smell when we can’t verbalize or articulate something. This is a perfect example of using the idea to communicate a certain je ne cais(i don’t know how to spell it)-you know what I mean! Good entry!

  • from ♠Ana Cristina♥:

    Je ne sais quoi? I think that’s what you mean, but my French is un peu rusty! :-p Thanks for reading!

  • from Mistress Elsha Hawk:

    this was very focused on a main theme, as it was for a challenge, and I bet I would feel like the confused, frustrated wife if my husband spent all his time at work… yet the money coming in must be nice…. lol! I love how you described an undescribable smell.

  • from g2 (la pianista irlandesa):

    Describing the undescribable? Only a master could do that. Beautifully done.

  • from thebetweenspace:

    First of all, you expertly described the tension between work and marriage, or relationships, here. The unheard final comment, “I just love the smell of hospitals” is simply amazing when coupled with the earlier buildup of what the hell is that damn smell?

  • from chakatreatmentson!(LoA):

    Je ne sais quoi? yeah that EXACTLY ! The only french I know is how to order Cajun food, (so none at all, but I can say poop, and sausage) but just to drive it home. This piece is the essence of Je ne sais quoi ...all the just out of reach intangible details that make up the core of the man’s existence…I often use smell as the sensory jumping off point when I’m trying to convey something just shy of a sixth sense…Does that make sense?I’ll stop now…

  • from RainDance:

    Mmkay, slightly creeped out that he could be intoxicated by the smell of death…. But very good overall.

  • from ♠Ana Cristina♥:

    LOL . To each his own, as my mama would say.

  • from OrangeOreos:

    Shweet! I love hearing random French tidbits in comments, seeing as I’m learning it right now! And I definitely agree with everyone above. Describing the indescribable is the single coolest thing that books can do that movies can’t.

  • from band geek:

    i HATE the smell of hospitals hahaha that’s good but i do not agree with the character