The smell of the rain on the street outside

When it rained during the summer, when it rained for the first time in weeks, the street outside smelt different, the playground smelt different. Dad said it was the tarmac, something happened when it was hot and dry, and something happened when the rain fell on it, to make that smell. It smelt best when it rained in the afternoon, if it had been hot all day and then there was a shower of rain in the afternoon. It was a smell you only got in the summer and I liked it.

One hot afternoon I thought I smelt it again, in the back garden this time. That was strange. It hadn’t been raining. Usually the smell was in the street and in the playground, not in the garden. I stood up and sniffed, closed my mouth, put my head back and sniffed the air really hard. The smell was gone. It was the usual garden smell. I went out to the front garden, where you got that smell from the street after it had been raining. Nothing, just the usual front garden smell.

Later that day I smelt it again. It hadn’t been raining and I was inside, sat in the living room, watching television. I bent forward and sniffed. The smell got stronger. But it wasn’t quite the same. It was my plimsolls, my black slip-on plimsolls. I didn’t wear socks with them in the summer. They were quite old, but they looked okay on the outside. I took one of them off and the smell got stronger. I didn’t have to put it up to my nose but I did anyway. It smelt a bit like the rain on the streets after it had rained, but not as nice. The grey bit inside was coming away from the rubber bit at the bottom. I put my plimsoll back on. I’d have to ask Mum for new ones.

From “1000 Memories”, available as a Kindle book here (UK) or here (US).