No one deserves a customer like Sarah. No one deserves a neighbor like Sarah. No one deserves a co-worker like Sarah. No need to mention friends, because Sarah doesn’t have any.
When Sarah was a child in school, she was called out of class during a math exam. A policeman was waiting. It seems Sarah’s mother had killed the mailman. Sarah gets no additional explanation, but she is sent to live with her grandmother.
No one deserves a grandmother like Sarah’s. We understand why Sarah’s mother did what she did. And we understand why Sarah became the person she did. The grandmother taught Sarah to suppress all of her feelings, trust no one, never cry or show any sign of weakness. And to teach her, she has the cedar box.
The Smell of Cedar, a novella by River Dixon, lures the reader into the story with what seems like a tale about the secrets a cedar box can tell. And it does have secrets, including how it turns children like Sarah into homicidal psychopaths.
Like I said, no one deserves a grandmother like Sarah’s.
Dixon is a poet and short story writer who’s published five books, including Left Waiting and Other Poems, Colder: A Collection of Poetry and Prose, The Stories in Between, and Beyond the Field: An Illustrated Short Story. He’s also contributed stories to two volumes of the anthology Static Dreams: A Dark Anthology from Twisted Minds. He lives with his family in Arizona.
Dixon writes dark stories, and The Smell of Cedar is certainly that. (I’ve read his poetry, and he does not write dark poems about homicidal maniacs.) It’s a mesmerizing tale, with a few graphic scenes, requiring frequent setting aside to catch your breath.