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Sniff

funny short story: sniff


I am sniffing too much in the library.

It’s February, midterm exam time, and the weather in Boston has been cold and brutal and sniff-inducing. My nose, which froze over completely on my slow and sludgy walk across campus, is now de-thawing rapidly and I am sniffing constantly. I can’t get up to get a tissue because that means either a) I leave my laptop and personal belongings to the mercy of hooligans who, on further consideration, probably don’t spend their time loitering around the economics section of the library, but I’m not taking any chances, or B) giving up my much-sought after spot at this table across from Blond Bambina and Pixie Dream Girl, who has cute glasses and a huge pair of –

Bambina looks up at me as I sniff again, and I realize there is no way to sniff quietly. It’s not like coughing; you can’t smother your face in the elbow of the new sweater you got for Christmas and try to silence it so it comes out like a weak and pathetic little ha, ha. Sniffing is always loud and annoying if you’re really trying to do the job right, and I am in real danger of a certifiable and noticeable drainage coming out my right nostril if I don’t keep up this regular sniff, sniff, sniff.

Dream Girl glances at me, and reaches down and rummages through her purse. I think maybe she will offer me a tissue. The only thing worse than her not offering me a tissue right now would be the absolute horror of her offering me a tissue, which I would then have to politely accept and blow my nose into, drawing the attention of every bambina and asshole in this horrifyingly quiet library.

Dream Girl takes out a pen and returns to her work.

I lean down to my laptop. I have a new plan; I will try to surreptitiously try to wipe my snot on the sleeve of my sweater. This is disgusting and beneath me but I sniff and Bambina looks up at me again and I am panicking. When I sat down, I thought maybe this would be a good thing, maybe I’d ask her a question about economic theory to make her feel smart and it would blossom into -- I don’t know -- but now I’m just hoping she won’t remember my face. I wonder why she’s wearing fake eyelashes to the library. I wonder if a person can get banned from the library for excessive sniffing.

I crouch lower over my computer like, wow, economics is so interesting. My hand comes up to my face. I rest my chin in my hand, awkwardly. I pull my sleeve over my knuckles. I wipe, quick and efficient. Oh God.

This story comes from Caitlin Foley. She's a student of creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, and currently based in Galway, Ireland. She works as a freelance writer and editor, with experience developing websites. Click HERE to check out her website! 
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