I sniff it as I'm cruising down the street in my '89 Mustang; it's a peculiar smell, like dread, regret, and remembrance mixed all up into one.
A smile cracks my face as I realize it's mourning.
It's coming from a little white house a block away with ragged wood siding that looks like it needs paint.
I pull over in a nearby parking lot and step out, sliding on my sunglasses and trenchcoat and grabbing my briefcase.
I meander down the sidewalk, following the scent-- I smell a touch of loathing and denial, as well, adding to the sharpness of the scent.
A lot of the other eaters don't like mourning much-- too acidic or something, those pussies-- but for some of us? Mourning is the best emotion of all.
It's a mix of a lot of the more negative emotions (which taste the best, of course) and there's always plenty of it to go around. A single eater can feed for a year off of that.
I peer through the window and I see her asleep in her room-- while the scent is muddled slightly since she's asleep, I can still smell trauma and remorse from here.
She's probably having a trauma dream. Perfect.
I slide open the window and pull a jar out of the briefcase, the lid coming off with a satisfying click, and quickly, smoke swirls into the jar, dark and stormy,
before condensing into a thick liquid in the glass embrace. Mourning. I take a sip and close my eyes in bliss-- this is exactly the right stuff.
I feed on her until she doesn't give any more.
Confident it's the time, I pull another jar out of my briefcase-- orange smoke, filled with stars-- and release it into her room, traveling straight to her lips. Hope.
She tosses and turns, before a smile settles on her face, and I pack the jars back into the briefcase, taking a look back at her.
Right now, she smells like dreams, but I know the emotions will come back.
I drive my car out the neighborhood, going to the next house and marking this one down on the map. Grief isn't easy, so I alleviate the pain the best I can.
They may never be entirely happy again, I know, as I hear the jars clicking against each other in the back, but it's my duty to make them as happy as they can be.
I am an eater.