The kitchen had fallen into neglect. Bowls crusted with cereal remnants were stacked in the sink. A mush of shredded wheat and sweet, rotting milk lay heavy in one of the bowls. In fact, Marie had eaten nothing but cereal since being fired from Henri for her failed Smellasizer project. Toonces sat by the kitchen door, tail twitching, as if waiting for someone to arrive. Once again, his bowl was empty.
Marie was propped up in her bed with two pillows, pen in hand, staring at an empty page in her diary. She sighed and closed the book, closed her eyes, and mouthed the word “mother”, then sighed again.
“Mother,” she said aloud. “Why is this happening to me? Nothing has gone right since you left me. Oh dear! What am I going to do? Jim’s machine was my last hope. I’m sure they all hate me now. I’ll bet they’re laughing at me right now.”
She let the diary and pen fall out of her hands onto the comforter and sank her head back into the pillows.
“I need you, Mother. I need a miracle.”
She reached over to her bedside table and grabbed her mother’s green sweater. She buried her face in it and breathed it deeply. Then she made a wish. She wished a silent, wordless wish.
At that moment, she knock came at the kitchen door. Toonces meowed loudly.
“Just wait, Toonces, I’ll get it.”
He meowed again, this time more loudly and with urgency.
“Goodness, what has gotten into you? And who could that be? Do you know, Toonces?,” she asked as she put on her peach, tarry cloth robe and hurried into the kitchen.
The knock came again. She walked to the door and peaked through the curtains.
She quickly opened the door, and there before her stood Jim Bronson holding out a small glass bottle.
“Jim?” she said, perplexed.
“Smell it,” he said, putting the bottle into her hands.
She pulled out the little cork and held it to her nose.
“It’s my mother. I thought you gave me the only one,” she said, sniffing it once again.
“That is correct. I did you give you the only one.”
“Well then the only way you could have made this is with…”
“The Smellasizer,” he said with a slightly less flat tone which could have been interpreted as triumph.