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He Smells Like Citrus | Jaimee Alonso-Lundheim

The internet says smelling citrus means someone you love is near.


Maybe they’re in the kitchen stripping a lemon of its zest. They could be unwrapping an orange, hoping the peel slips off easily. Perhaps they’re lighting a candle, the scent far enough away that it needs time to help it travel to your nose but potent enough to always find you.


Or the final option: they’re no longer there.


There’s a hole in my heart and in the life he and I once lived together. The memories still so fresh that sometimes my mind plays tricks on me, rewinding scenes from his past that, for some reason, still feel like the present. When it happens, for an instant, I feel whole again.


Time cannot be stopped. However, it can be paused, captured in reflections of a life lived.


So that’s what I hold on to, a heart beating transfixed in an image, caught in between the planes of existence. A scrolling visual diary brimming with the mundane, brought to life with the pressure of a fingerprint. But the videos, those instances where his voice calls out, transport me back to a time where our lives intersected. They were the criminals of the greatest heartbreak, but, simultaneously, the deliverers of the greatest healing grace.


His voice echoes now, having exhausted all the avenues to see him again. It’s been almost a year, and I haven’t moved on. And I don’t plan to. Moving on means forgetting and leaving him behind. Moving forward means taking him with me as I continue through life. Not once does moving forward ask me to do what the latter does.


And in a way, it’s like he knew what path I planned to walk when he was gone. In life, he always understood what I needed, and, in death, he quietly prepared me to accept the transition.

The signs were subtle at first, a light scent that tickled the senses. I chalked it up to my mother’s springtime candles or my father’s spritzing of lime in his drink. But eventually, it became more potent, so strong it couldn’t be ignored.


I don’t know what compelled me to look, maybe it was simple curiosity, or maybe it was someone, or something, gently nudging me towards the truth, the way he would with his wet, heart-shaped nose.


It comforts me, knowing my little guy is never too far away. Wandering the halls, occupying spaces he used to. His presence is always momentary. Blink and you miss it. The clues he leaves, only visible to the nose, remind us he’s around, that he once was and will be.


And, like myself, time will move forward, and his memory may fade with each passing year, becoming little more than an outline but never truly gone. That’s how life goes, but there’s always space for him, the good boy he was.


Now there’s an empty space where he used to sleep. And yet, I can still smell the citrus.


Jaimee Alonso-Lundheim is a Filipino-Spanish American teacher and writer. She is currently a kindergarten teacher in the Seattle area and moonlights as a writer in the evenings. Jaimee looks forward to calling herself a published author in a few months when Wingless Dreamer Publisher publishes one of her short stories and poems! You can find Jaimee on Instagram at: jaimee.alonso where she shares her love for life, her dogs, and nerdy things. She plans on eventually reconfiguring her socials to reflect her rekindled love for writing!


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