Jul. 24th, 2014

Harris lost his ability to read after the accident and, from then on, only appreciated books by smell. He took long lung fulls of Hemingway, Faulkner and Cheever, breathing in the plot, the character development, the emotional shading and symbolism. Sometimes he'd come across a coffee stain on a page and it would bring back the morning he sat in the cafe, the colors vivid, the sounds almost too loud, when he sat there and spent the day reading.

Now there was no language in symbols. He could speak and listen, but all the words and letters on the page looked like the glyphs of a civilization lost to time.

His library took up three walls of his apartment, and he had spent considerable time cultivating and organizing it. One wall was organized by theme, another by color and the third by mood. The mood wall went from nihilism to sugary. The color wall went through the color wheel -- from white, interjected by declining grays, to a final black.

His friends secretly pitied him, that his olfactory method was just a rationalization, a coping mechanism. But unknown to them, and dawning on Harris, he was, through the accident, developing an evolved perception. The words came off the page in perfumed chains: strings, paragraphs, then chapters, and finally whole novels.

Once, he went into a book store and could only stay a few minutes, his head pounded and his nose bled. He nearly fainted and had to rush out. And when he did, he welcomed the silence of the city street. Even though it was thick with exhaust, bodies, restaurants and age, it had no words he could understand. It was, towards the end, only visual, unmoored, without memory, without meaning.



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