Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. What am I truly doing here, in this world all at once full of mystery and magic and malice? Why am I a part of it? Then I remember that I’m here because I have a gift. I have a gift that no one else does; one that will control my destiny and other’s. My gift is confusing for other people, or at least, it would be, if ever told anyone about it. But I haven’t told anyone. Not even my boyfriend. The pretend scenarios in my head with me coming out about my gift never end well. Who would believe me anyways, if I said that I can smell emotion?

I am homicide detective Ellie Hollins. I’m like the opposite of the fictional Shawn Spencer from Psych. Shawn pretends to be a psychic detective while working for the police department, but he relies not on psychic powers but on his own observational skills. At my police department, I work under the guise that I am keenly observant, but no one knows that I rely on my sense of smell. I suppose in some sense we’re both liars. Still, I always say there is a gray area when it comes to lies.

Emotion also leaves a lingering smell in the air, even after the person has left. Thus, by searching the suspect’s apartment or even finding a trace footprint will leave a strong enough whiff to hint to his or her state of mind. My co-worker’s suspect t killer struck out of jealously? His fruity smelling apartment, the odor of contentment, says otherwise. Happy people don’t kill their wives for revenge. My boss once ruled a death a suicide. But at the crime scene, I didn’t smell despair and loneliness as I would have expected. I smelled fear and pain.  I dug deeper and found that some crime scene details matched a string of murders done by a serial killer. The victim had been tortured by the killer, thus the lingering fear in the air.

So I am able to change people’s destiny, in a way. I can protect the dignity of an innocent person, and stop a murderer’s killing spree.

One thing I can’t seem to do is hold on to a steady relationship.

Tyler picked me up from work today. My boyfriend of six months, he’s the longest running relationship I’ve ever had. Usually I catch them in a lie before now. The smell of a lie is too distinct and too painful for me to ignore.

“So I was thinking,” I say as I climb into his car, “that instead of going to our usual place for dinner, we switch it up. Go to something more elaborate. We should celebrate.”

“Celebrate what?” He says, pulling out of the police department parking lot. I can smell anticipation emanating from him.

“Six months,” I say. He knows my tumultuous past about length of relationships. He should understand how big of a deal this is.

But now I smell hesitation in the car. “Six months, huh?”

I watch him squirm, but wait, knowing that there’s more he isn’t saying.

“You know, babe,” he starts, “that’s something we ought to talk about.”

“What’s that?”

“Six months. I just think it’s time to, you know…”

The words “move on” hang in the air. The car reeks of his restlessness and fear. Fear? “You’re scared of where this is going, of commitment, aren’t you?”

He stares at me. “What? How did you know that? I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t need to.” I shake my head. I knew this was coming.  “You can let me off at the corner. It reeks in here.”


“Just let me off here.”

“I still want to be friends…”

I get out of the car and think of all the couples I see everyday.  A woman hanging on a man’s arm, giggling at something he said. Does she know that he smells of insincerity and lies? Does he know that the stench of disloyalty clings to her very clothing? I realize now that I don’t want that. I’ll never know if ignorance is truly bliss; and I want it that way.