the smell of cinnamon by ingridf

24 Jan

Margaret narrowed her eyes and stared at the spider on the ceiling. At first she thought about how she could get rid of it herself: a broom maybe or the vacuum cleaner.  And then she remembered Paul, her next door neighbor.

Paul was a young man who’d moved in across the hall only a few weeks ago and who had changed Margaret’s daily life. Every morning she found herself sitting by the kitchen window, watching him as he walked to his car wearing a sharp suit and slick tie and left for work, and then again in the evening when he arrived back, the upper  button of his shirt undone and his tie loose.

It reminded her of her husband Frank and of his clean smell as he left every morning, his weariness as he came home. It reminded her of being held by a man and of the value of companionship even when it was silent and familiar.

Over the days that followed she would walk across the hall in the evening with a loaf of bread, tuna casserole, a crocheted toilet paper cover. He thought Margaret was sweet. A lonely woman who, though he would never admit it, mirrored his own loneliness. As she handed him that day’s gift he would smile gently at her and say, “Thank you so much Mrs. Brown. You sure know how to charm a man. Would you like to come in, maybe share this delicacy with me?”

She would blush and pull her cardigan a little closer.  She would smile up at him, noting the curls grazing his forehead and wanting to touch the side of his face. “Thank you dear, but I really must get back.  You have a great night dear,” and then she would spin around (actually, she would slowly shift around on less than limber legs) and return to her apartment. She resisted the urge to turn around and wave flirtatiously at him, knowing she would seem foolish if she did.

He would watch her close her door and his heart would break a little remembering his own grandmother, gone only a few years from this world. He admired Margaret. She seemed so lively and productive, and she was so welcoming to him when he moved to this new city… this new apartment. Margaret gave him hope for a new beginning. And she made him think of warm kitchens and cinnamon.

That day, the day of the spider, Margaret decided she would invite him over. The decision alone made her giddy and set her heart beating quickly. Since Paul had moved in, she found herself picking out her prettiest sweater set, cleaning her dentures with extra care, going to hair dresser for a weekly wash and set and even getting a blue rinse.

That day, Margaret decided that it was the day. She would ask Paul to get rid of that spider and she feed him apple pie. Her famous award-winning apple pie. The pie she used to make for Frank and that she hadn’t made since Frank died. She smiled to herself as she sifted flour for the crust and sliced apples for the filling. She hadn’t felt this way for years and she liked it. She looked waved at the spider and mouthed, “Thank you.”


14 Responses to “the smell of cinnamon by ingridf”

  1. jadamthwaite January 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    I really like this new lease of life for Margaret. This is a really colourful story and there are some really strong images and little details. And I like how she thanks the spider at the end!

  2. Lydia Jayne January 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    This is so charming and hopeful, but, at the same time, surprising poignant (with Paul associating Margaret with his grandmother while she compares Paul to her husband) . I enjoyed it tremendously.

    • ingridfnl January 24, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

      I was a bit worried it would sound too schmaltzy… but I liked the notion of her gently flirting with a younger man.

  3. juleshg January 24, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    There are so many great details here. I love the crocheted toilet paper cover because it is one of the things I picture in my mind when I think of my grandmother’s old apartment.

    I also love how she recalls the “clean smell” with her husband leaving each morning. I always find smells to be so much more effective in reminding me of the happy times in my life.

    • ingridfnl January 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

      Smell is so evocative. Apparently it is one of the biggest triggers for memory.

  4. typicalquirk January 25, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    This is beautiful, Ingrid. I love her relationship with Paul. I love that she flirts. She is a very lively woman.

    • ingridfnl January 28, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

      She is. It was hard to figure out just how flustered she would be with him but I liked the idea that her ‘attraction’ to him made her feel like her younger self.

  5. Maureen Elizabeth Condell January 25, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    Really looking forward as to how this short story unfolds – empathy in any measurement is a value we must keep alive towards others around us. Lets keep our eyes and hearts all open to the smallest of attentions we can give and receive. Your writing gave me hope.

    • ingridfnl January 28, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

      What a lovely thing to say… I’m glad.

  6. phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm #

    This was lovely. Despite the fact that Margaret is thinking of her husband and Paul is thinking of his grandmother, it still seems like this is going to end well (and not with some horrible, Dr.Phil-worthy drama, lol). They both wind up less lonely and find something they need in the other, and it’s just really touching. I like how she appreciates the spider as a catalyst and is intent upon that apple pie once more. ^_^


  1. Tweets that mention the smell of cinnamon by ingridf « the character project -- - January 26, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ingrid, ingrid. ingrid said: RT @ingridf the smell of cinnamon by ingridf: […]

  2. weather by ingridf « the character project - February 21, 2010

    […] links to stories “coffee” and “the smell of cinnamon“ […]

  3. a spring in her step by ingridfnl | the character project - June 20, 2010

    […] *** We originally met Margaret in “The Smell of Cinnamon”. […]

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