Runner-up: Riëtte Wolting
June 21st, 2013

Read the story of the 2nd place winner of the Guy Vernes x BLEND\ Writing Contest: “Petrichor” by Riëtte Wolting.


The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close. The old window was difficult to open but finally relented; slowly but surely the humid heat vanished, replaced by a soft breeze.

I had returned but the room seemed to have remained the same while I was gone.

The endless amount of scribbled upon papers and books intermingled with issues of BLEND magazine were still scattered throughout the room. His homely sense of disarray gave the place an impression of softness and even the crooked old wooden floor seemed to welcome me back.

Staring at the mantelpiece I discovered a small hairpin, at least a tiny part of me had lingered.
Stretching out on the couch, I attempted to somehow escape the humidity and nerves by imitating feline laziness. Needless to say it didn’t work.

My worries were reflected in the gusts of wind now ruffling the pages throughout the room. The window will be a dead giveaway; he’ll know I’m here.

Know I am here to finally admit.

Admit that all the endless wandering has turned into something like cheap wine: tasteless and with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Admit that the people truly seem mindless in comparison, conversations lackluster and superficial.

Admit that I had run out of places to run to.

The room suddenly seemed stifling, holding its breath for what to come.

– - –

The door creaked and there he stood staring at me.

Words were rushing to the front but none of them were right. What does one say at such a time? Apologies and regrets suddenly seem forlorn and out of place. You feel like an idiot for wanting to ask, “am I still..?” “are we still..?”

It started to pour. The droplets attacked the open window, sprinkling the nearest pieces of paper with dark dots and drenching the windowsill.

The most peculiar smell floated from the garden below.

“It’s called Petrichor” I blurted out, breaking the silence while clenching my hands in the soft Guy Vernes shirt I had stolen from his closet.

“The scent I mean, it’s a combination of ‘petra’ meaning stone and ‘ichor’ the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. You only smell it after a long dry spell, it’s rare…” my voice trailed away as I looked at his face.

His eyes had crinkled in a smile as he looked at the shirt I was wearing. I had not failed to notice the irony of wearing his favorite shirt from the Ulysses collection when I grabbed it from his shelf.

He slowly muttered, “You do know that James Joyce once said that the longest way round is the shortest way home?”

I nodded slowly unclenching my hands from the fabric as I walked into his arms.