The Smell

Justin stood at the door, raised his arm, bent his head down, and sniffed.

His armpit had a smell not unpleasant, recently de-odourized, but still, he could smell the body underneath. A sheen of gel could do little to mask that scent, and Justin turned, walked back to his bedroom, and grabbed the deodorant.

After another application, he returned to the door. He lifted, smelled, and nodded. Better. Not perfect, but it never was.

Justin had spent the prior evening – as he did every Tuesday evening – shaving his armpits. He was slow, methodical, careful about it. He didn’t want to cut himself, and get that tangy smell of iron following him everywhere, making people wonder why he smelled so bloody. He shaved every hair off, making his armpits smooth, leaving nowhere for the bacteria to retreat to.

Still, every morning he sniffed his armpits, and every morning he needed a second – sometimes even a third – application of deodorant.

He carried an extra bar around in his messenger bag, ready for when he arrived to work, or to where ever he was meeting a friend. He was ready for the mid-morning break, for lunchtime, for mid-afternoon, and for a quick trip to the bathroom before hopping on the subway home.

Justin lived his life deodorizing, and still it persisted, never gone, never dealt with. Always lingering, ready to make everyone around him wonder, what is that disgusting smell?

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