New Short Story: “The Smell of Orange Groves” at Clarkesworld

My latest short story, The Smell of Orange Groves, is now up at Clarkesworld Magazine. This, as it turns out, is my fourth story there! For some reason I thought it was the third. Anyhow…

“The Smell of Orange Groves” is a Central Station story, one of several taking place in or around Tel Aviv’s Central Station neighbourhood sometime in the future. This is the first one to be published – a second one, “Under the Eaves”, will appear in Sean Wallace’s anthology Robots: The Recent A.I next year.

On the roof the solar panels were folded in on themselves, still asleep, yet uneasily stirring, as though they could sense the imminent coming of the sun. Boris stood on the edge of the roof. The roof was flat and the building’s residents, his father’s neighbors, had, over the years, planted and expanded an assortment of plants, in pots of clay and aluminum and wood, across the roof, turning it into a high-rise tropical garden.

It was quiet up there and, for the moment, still cool. He loved the smell of late-blooming jasmine, it crept along the walls of the building, climbing tenaciously high, spreading out all over the old neighborhood that surrounded Central Station. He took a deep breath of night air and released it slowly, haltingly, watching the lights of the space port: it rose out of the sandy ground of Tel Aviv, the shape of an hourglass, and the slow moving sub-orbital flights took off and landed, like moving stars, tracing jeweled flight paths in the skies.

He loved the smell of this place, this city. The smell of the sea to the west, that wild scent of salt and open water, seaweed and tar, of suntan lotion and people. He loved to watch the solar surfers in the early morning, with spread transparent wings gliding on the winds above the Mediterranean. Loved the smell of cold conditioned air leaking out of windows, of basil when you rubbed it between your fingers, loved the smell of shawarma rising from street level with its heady mix of spices, turmeric and cumin dominating, loved the smell of vanished orange groves from far beyond the urban blocks of Tel Aviv or Jaffa.

Once it had all been orange groves. – continue reading.