Short Story: The Smell of Home

No matter how far he went, the smell of vellichor was always the smell of home. Growing up as a fourth generation second hand bookshop owner, the woody scent was the backdrop to most of his childhood memories.

After a six month-long trip interstate for work, he stepped through the familiar teal doors of the family shop and took a deep breath.

Was that… coffee?

His eyes finally found what his nose had discovered first. A black coffee machine standing prominently on a table alongside jars of cookies in a café corner that hadn’t existed before he left.

“You’re back!” His family popped out from among the mazes of shelves and drowned him in hugs. He staggered under their combined weight.

“What happened here?” Growing up, they had always been told to keep food well away from books. Now they were inviting coffee stains and sugar streaks into their old pages. What changed?

“Mum took a barista course and the machine was part of the fee. It brought a lot of customers in while she was practicing, so we thought we’d keep it as a permanent feature. What do you think?” his father said.

The immediate knee-jerk reaction was to reject it. Tomes, especially those older than he was, warped so easily in the presence of changes in humidity. But there were people sitting at the couple of tables near the machine, chatting away with bags of books leaning against their chair legs, more than what they wold typically see at this time of day with the popularity of digital media. And he wondered if there might have been an ulterior motive to the lessons his mother had picked up.

He ignored the extra scents that mingled and altered the familiar smell he had grown up with. Change was natural. Even the building he had grown up in had changed over the generations to adapt to the times. Although foreign now, the new dimension would surely become as familiar to him as everything else.

He nodded. “It looks good. Even better if I can get a flat white.”

His mother smiled. “Coming right up.”


Genre: slice of life, family

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