Okay, I have a confession to make. I can’t write a short story. I just can’t! Whenever I write a short story it always ends up being at least (at least!) twenty pages long. And I’m just starting there! But right now I’m taking this course called IEW that helps to develop your writing style. So we’re on the short story section, and let me just tell you: I think I’ve finally found the key to short story writing!
Yeah, Anastasia, I know you’re probably thinking, “Whaaaa? Angelina, a short story writer?” But I did it! It’s the best short story that I’ve ever written! And it’s only three pages! And the third page only has one line on it! It’s a story about a man named Scentus Smellius. Yes… it’s beautiful.
Prepared to be amazed! :O
The Tragedy of Scentus Smellius
Once upon a time, in an unnamed land, there lived a middle-aged man by the name of Scentus Smellius. He was a poor man who made sweet smelling soaps and other scents for his income. Now one day while Scentus Smellius was adding some more vanilla to a new soap mixture he had just made, a group of young women carrying home water saw what he was doing and scoffed at his vanilla scent.
“Vanilla,” they all agreed out loud, putting their hands naïvely on their hips, “is so last year. Why this year the best smelling scent it lavender. Now that would really sell well at the market.”
Scentus Smellius, who was quite a simple-minded fellow, shrugged and went into his house, bringing out a jar full of lavender that he had dried the year before. “Well, they are ladies,” Scentus thought to himself, throwing in the dried lavender. “And I’m sure they know what they’re talking about.”
So Scentus stirred the soap mixture, now a lavender/vanilla fragrance, until a small cluster of older gentlemen came hobbling past, leaning heavily on their bent canes. “I’ll tell you what smell in soap will sell the best,” one of the men rasped, his voice hoarse from old age. “Oatmeal, that’s what. It’ll rub years of dirt off of your feet.” All the other men nodded their shaggy, gray heads in agreement as they shuffled away.
“Oatmeal?” Scentus thought to himself. “Well, they are older gentlemen who would know what sells best.” Into his house Scentus went, grabbing from his shelf oats and some brown sugar. He then poured the right amounts into the mixture and stirred it in with a large, long-handled ladle.
As Scentus sat by his mixture, watching to see when it would be done, a small band of women and very dirty children came walking along. “What you really need to add,” one woman called out to him, holding her child who looked like he had played in the mud, an arm’s length away from her, “is mint. It’s fresh, clean, and tingly when you wash with it. Perfect for cleaning the young uns’ right after they’ve had a mud bath.”
Scentus raised an eyebrow and pondered on this for a while. “Well, I guess she does know what she’s talking about. After all, she does have to bathe dirty children.” So once again Scentus hastily darted around to his little herb garden, gathering some fresh mint from his mint bush. He threw it into the pot of mixture before anything couldn’t be added anymore, and stirred it in with much difficulty. The mixture was almost done, and Scentus finally poured it into a square mold for it to dry and harden.
When market day came, Scentus Smellius’ soap was finally ready to be taken out of the mold and cut into individual squares so he could sell them. All packaged nicely and ready to be sold, the soap bars were carried under Scentus’ arm as he rode into town to sell them. He set his soaps up so that they looked presentable and waited for his first customer. But no one came, for the smell from the soaps was drawing people away. The smell was horrid!
Across from his booth and over the bridge that separated the road from the town, Scentus saw people pointing at him and laughing. “Can you believe that he would even try to sell something that putrid smelling?” One of them asked, laughing hysterically. “Look, even the ever-present-flies are staying away!”
Ashamed and vexed with himself, Scentus packed up his soaps and put them under his arm, riding his donkey home. He didn’t earn anything from his soaps, so now he wouldn’t have enough money to buy food for the oncoming winter. With a strong jerk, Scentus Smellius threw the package of soaps into the river, thinking to himself, “In trying to please everyone, I pleased no one.” And with a heavy sigh Scentus Smellius rode on home.