Incense | a draft for my writing course

I wrote this piece for the creative writing course that I’m currently taking. Please let me know what you think. Any feedback is appreciated. Thank you!

They must have been on my shopping list for at least a few weeks before I actually found any. I knew that I wasn’t willing to pay grocery store prices for them, especially not where I get my groceries most often these days. I used to shop at a more reasonably priced grocery store. Groceries cost more than they used to.

I’ve started carrying a small notebook. I make notes of all kinds in it. I’ve torn out pages from the back to give to people who needed to write something down. They usually need to borrow a pen, too. There’s a list in the notebook that has incense as an item.

On the Reminders app on my iPhone, I have two main lists: Home and Shopping. On the Home list are things like, “buy incense.” On the shopping list, I write down what I need from the grocery store. The meal planning app I use creates a shopping list for me. When I’m at any grocery store, my first stop is in a corner of the produce section to look through the three lists.

As an adult, I have opinions on grocery stores. I’ll make an effort to shop at certain stores. I can often be found standing underneath an overhanging sign that lists what I can find in the isle it floats above. I was confused when I noticed that the overhanging signs that bookend an isle don’t always have the same items listed on them. Why are the organic foods kept separate from the other foods? Surely, the stipulations for an organic certification don’t contain a setback clause. There was no way that I was going to be able to find incense in the grocery store, even if I were willing to pay their prices.

The only thing that I’ve seen that’s listed for less than a dollar at the dollar store are chocolate bars. After tax, the total price is exactly $1. I have never seen anything on the shelves listed for $1. The highest price I’ve seen an item listed for is $4. The cost for a package of five boxes of aromatic sticks is $1.75 plus tax. There were three different packages to choose from, each with its own selection of scents. I found them at the end of the hardware isle.

I deliberated about which of the three packages I should purchase. The last thing I wanted was to cover up the funky smell in my apartment with the scent of a broken bottle of perfume on linoleum tiles. In the end, I settled on the package that contained one box of each of the following scents: lily, rose, lotus, jasmin, and lavender. The colour of the incense sticks are as follows: lily is green, rose is red, lotus is pink, jasmin is yellow, and lavender is purple. The student population that I teach is less diverse.

I used to hang out with a group of guys when I was in my teens. I was the last member to join their group and I was the first to leave. The leader of the group once declared that his favourite colour was purple. His declaration was my decision. Since then, my favourite colour has always been purple. In practice, I’m not partial to any one colour. I don’t have a discernible colour scheme in any room of my one-bedroom apartment. I decided to try the lavender aromatic sticks first.

I don’t like wearing boxers but I used to keep a couple of pairs of boxers under my stack of boxer briefs. When I was forced to wear those shorts, I knew it was time for me to do laundry and clean the apartment. The only pair of boxers that I enjoyed wearing were the ones I wore to my high school graduation. They were grey with red hearts dotted about and made from silk. My girlfriend at the time laughed when she saw me standing in those shorts in the parking lot outside the Saddledome while I was changing out of my suit and into something more appropriate for an after party at a ranch outside of town. That’s the only reason I liked those boxers. Since then, boxers have become less poignant and more utilitarian. Despite my cleanliness, a waft of something funky would hit me every time I walked into my apartment and I thought burning incense might help.


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