Oh…How I Miss That Smell

Below is a story I wrote using nothing but dialogue. There are only three characters, and I couldn’t use them to describe their surroundings in any way. This was a fun exercise that made me think of creative ways to convey setting.

“Hey Nate. I didn’t think I’d see you here today.”

“Oh, hi Dick! Yeah, didn’t think I’d be here either, but no dust storms were in the forecast, so I finally decided to get the hell out of my pod. Goin’ nuts.”

“Totally understand that. That’s why I’m a regular. After three years of pod living, I’d go crazy without getting out at least a couple times a week.”

“Wow. This place smells amazing! And it looks EXACTLY like the ones back home. I’d always joked about them putting one of these here, but I never thought they’d actually do it.”

“So this is your first time here? You know they’ve been open for three months?”

“Yes, I know. But never been. I’m not as courageous as you leaving my pod all the time. Oh how I miss that smell—the instant stuff the government sends us smells like shit and tastes like crap.”

“It sure does. That’s why I keep coming back here—I can’t stomach that bagged brown dust anymore.”

“Have you ever eaten food here before? I might be brave and try something.”

“I’ve eaten here once, tried the sausage breakfast sandwich. It was terrible and not very fresh—God knows how long ago it was made. It’s in a plastic bag and they hydrate it in some fancy oven. For 100 credits, I’d expect the barista to prepare a homemade thanksgiving feast.”

“One-hundred credits? Jeesh. I think I’ll just get a coffee then.”

“Hi Dick! Hi Nate! I didn’t see you standing there. I have a couple of seats open at my table if you want to join me. I’m right over by the coffee station.”

“Hi Debbie, I didn’t see you there either! I was wondering where I was going to sit. We’ll be over in a minute. Thanks!”

“Okay, see you guys in a bit!”

“I don’t like her, Nate. Why did you say we’d join her?”

“Welcome sir. What can I get you today?”

“Oh, hi. Can I just get a medium coffee?”

“You mean a grande coffee? Is that all?”

“Yes, sorry. Grande. That’s all.”

“And your name, sir?”

“Nate. Come on, Dick. She’s not that annoying.”

“Yes, she is. She talks too much and smells like a musty closet. When I finally get the chance to take of my damn helmet, the last thing I want to smell is some chick’s B.O.. I’ll sit with you guys for a few minutes, but I’m not staying long. I’ve got to get back to my pod and finish my monthly atmosphere readings.”

“ONE GRANDE COFFEE FOR NATE!”

“Thanks. Oh…that smells soo good. Okay, well, I don’t mind hanging out with her, for a bit. She needs friends right now. I feel sorry for her.”

“Hi Dick, welcome back! You getting a venti Chai Tea Latte today?”

“Yes.”

“Getting anything else?”

“No thanks. Debbie brings it on herself. She needs friends because she doesn’t wear deodorizer and she clings to people like a staticky sock!”

“Not so loud, Dick. She might be able to hear you. It can get pretty lonely out here, and she just wants people to talk to. Don’t you feel terrible about what happened to her sister? She’s probably going through some very hard times.”

“Yes, I guess so. But that was two years ago. We knew the risks when we signed up to come here. She should probably move on and stop talking about her sob story all the time. Maybe if she took a shower, it might help her wash away her guilt and sadness.”

“ONE VENTI CHAI TEA LATTE FOR DICK!”

“That’s just plain mean, Dick. All set with your drink?

“Yep.”

Okay, let’s go over there.”

“Wait…where is she? Looks like she left.”

“I don’t know. She was sitting right here, but her suit’s gone. Want to grab the table before someone takes it?”

“Sure, Nate. I got time. I don’t need to be anywhere.”

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