Flash fiction: The smell of a mother


Outside the library the woman is sitting at one of the tables and flicking through a newspaper. She has her back to me, but I recognise the straight hair and green mackintosh I saw through the café window.

My heart thumps in my chest as if I have been running. ‘Mum,’ I whisper. I step forward, close my eyes and breathe in the smell of her. For a few seconds she is returned to me.

When I look again, the woman is slowly turning around. She is my age, perhaps even younger.

‘Can I help you?’ she says, suspiciously.


A 100-word or so story for Friday Fictioneers inspired by the picture above (supplied by Melanie Greenwood). Click here to join in, or here to read stories from other writers.


This week I’ve written a blog post about the editing process I went through with my agent and the submission of my novel to publishers. Click here to have a read.

60 thoughts on “Flash fiction: The smell of a mother

  1. Interesting that you construed this as a library; our local library is just like this photo. That moment of mistaken but hopeful recognition has been beautifully depicted here Claire. I sensed the let-down.


  2. Dear Claire,

    I feel like I’m repeating everyone but I’m going to anyway. 😉 Many layers to this one and I feel like I’ve read the back story. A sad and embarrassing moment well told.




  3. I came back to read this again today. That sense of smell. Such powerful memory moments. I feel badly for the narrator.
    Then, I thought, maybe the narrator and ‘the woman’ will begin some sort of conversation.
    I enjoyed this, Claire..


  4. Dear Claire, This is so good! I have been through this ‘feeling’ so many times over the years – not only with my Mother, but also with Daddy. Most of the time, I’m following a car that has a person driving that looks like one of them and just for a nano second, I am happy and it’s been over twenty years. Good job and well done! Nan 🙂


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