This week’s 500 Club challenge was a tough one, in part because I refuse to take the easy road and in part because I was in a noticeably dark mood. (When am I not, right?)
Whatever the case, I choose the following prompt: “Can You Taste It? Focus on the sense of taste. In 500 words make my mouth water, pucker or cringe.”
Metallic. You don’t think about blood having a taste, but that’s it in a word. It tastes like licking one of the poles they put stop signs on. Except, of course, for the fact that it’s warm, not cold, and there’s an earthiness mixed in. I suppose we’re all just dust, right? Maybe that’s the earthy taste. The dust.
But it’s the smell, too. With blood, I mean. It’s not just the taste that sticks with you, but the smell. Someone once told me that your sense of smell is a big part of your sense of taste and I believe it. When I get that smell in my nose or that taste in my mouth, it sticks with me, and one seems to stick just as well as the other.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would even recognize the smell of it if I hadn’t tasted so much. Mostly my own, except for that time Joe Nicholson got hit with a bat so hard that his mouth gushed. I’m not kidding. He spun like it was a movie and I was standing there, about four feet away from him with my mouth open waiting for Ned and his friends to notice me and hit me, too. Joe spun and blood flew in an arch, hitting me across the face and catching Toad on the shoulder. He was standing behind me. Ned laughed when he saw me spitting and then he and his goons went away. Joe lost 4 teeth, and some of them weren’t babies.
Truth is, sometimes I think about things and that hit from the bat doesn’t seem so bad.
My dad is a bastard. Everyone knows that. Everyone on the street said that before and now they talk about it openly at block parties and on the fourth of July. They look at me with long faces and shake there heads and then, when they think I’m out of earshot, they say he ought to be shot for what he did to me.
“Can’t hold his liquor,” they say. “Give me 5 minutes alone with him with that crowbar.”
He was drunk a lot and he hit often, but that was the first time he used something for leverage. I tasted a lot of blood.
And that’s what sticks with you, the taste of all that blood. The smell of it. The sticky texture and the iron, the dust, the warmth on your skin and in your mouth. It tastes like berries made from steel or dirt mixed with wine. You don’t forget it. Not when you’ve tasted it like I have.
The doctors say if I stick to my therapy, I might be able to walk without a cane some day. But they say there isn’t anything they can do for my face. The scars are just there. Like the taste of the blood, I’ll have them my whole life.