No matter how hard Kona tried to stay awake, it always waited until he was asleep.
Shhhhhh, shhhhhhh, not settling, moving. A dry sound, like snakes, like sand, like crisp, dried leaves against a window screen.
The bed’s dust ruffle ballooned, then lifted.
“What’s that?” croaked a voice dry like sawdust cookies, followed by a snuffling, sniffling sound, the sound of a hound on a trail or pigs tracking truffles.
“What’s that,” sniff, snuff, snort—now not dry, but slobbery, hot, greedy—“What is it? Smells,” sniff, “sweet, like flowers, like,” snuff, drool, drip, “like clean.”
Kona held his breath and jammed his hands deeper into his armpits.
Closer, hotter, heat against his cheek.
Kona puffed out his cheeks and blew with all his might.
“Ugh! Onion! Rotten, stinking!” rasped the voice.
Snort, wheeze, gasp.
“Rancid! Not flowers! Where flowers? Want flowers! Where’s that smell?”
Hissing, chaffing, breathing deep.
“Under? Is it under?” scratched the voice.
Snuffle, sniffle, puff, truffles beneath a tree.
The edge of the bed dipped. The covers pulled away from Kona’s neck.
It was now or never. Kona clenched his stomach muscles and let one rip.
“Phew! Oh, oh, stinky, rotten, smelly, horrible, horrible, little boy!” The bed bounced back. “Oh, woe, woe is me.” The voice a child’s whimper, the sound of a birthday present taken back, a rotted piece of maggot cake, no candles left to light.
In the dark and through his terror, Kona grinned.
A sound like sea wash kissing sand, a moving sound, shifting away from the bed, low toward the floor.
Snuff, puff, gasp.
“Smells like sugar and mangos and sunlight. Mine!”
Kona heard the mango cobbler pan thud on the floor, then a terrible licking sound, a greedy slurping sound, a sound made by a too long tongue.
As the pan disappeared under the bed, Kona let a last one rip, just to be sure.
There was only a little bit of mango cobbler left, he thought, but enough in the pan for tonight.
Kona glanced at his bedroom door to make sure it was still shut tight, and, tucking the covers snug around his neck, he drifted back to sleep.
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Excerpted from Sniff by Lehua Parker. Copyright © 2013 by Lehua Parker. Excerpted by permission of Lehua Parker, LLC and Lauele Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher or author.
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