Newspaper

A man sitting next to me on the train pulled out a newspaper. Not a smartphone with an app or an e-reader, but actual folds of paper printed with black and colored ink. It was fresh off the press. In such close quarters, not even my lemon lozenge and scarf could block out the aromas entirely. So I leaned back, closed my eyes and inhaled.

I instantly felt a little buzzed, like sniffing glue but not as intense. I breathed in a little deeper to see what else was there. This image flashed to mind: a city street at dusk, cold and wintry, crammed with cars and trucks idling at poorly timed stoplights. A little deeper, and I was in chemistry class, where I burned in the flame of a single Bunsen burner a parade of different chemicals, each releasing its own color and aroma. Many of the odors made my sinuses burn. I scratched and rubbed my nose. I breathed in deeper still and arrived at the last stop on this olfactory journey: a pine forest set ablaze, where charred ash coated my hands and face.

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