Any teenager will tell you there is a heady feeling that first time you find yourself home alone without someone looking over your shoulder. It’s a chance to spread your wings and prove to the world you’re all grown up.

Well, maybe not…

One summer during my early teen years, Janet and my mother took a week long trip and left me at the house to fend for myself. My mother made plans for me to stay with some neighbors but I was determined to stay by myself. The first few days went by without a hitch. By the end of the week, I decided one night to celebrate my independence by baking some cookies.


Mistake number one.


The last house I lived in before graduating high school sat next to the mayor’s house. Right across the little alley running behind our two houses was the town’s only police station and fire station housed in one building. And right outside it was a massive emergency siren that would blare over the town every Monday evening at six. It always made me jump because the sound was an ear piercing screech. You need to remember this because that night I didn’t.

I knew the basics of how to cook so when I didn’t have actual cookie dough, I just substituted cake mix instead.


Mistake number two.


I noticed the “cookie dough” was a bit runny but figured once I got it in the oven and it started to cook everything would be all right. I headed to the other end of the house to lay on the floor and watch some TV while my cookies baked. Funny what the mind forgets. Like what was so fascinating on TV that I completely forgot what was happening in the kitchen.


Mistake number three.


Slowly I began to smell something peculiar. It was the smell of something scorched. I glanced toward the kitchen in time to see rolling black smoke heading in my direction just as the acidic stench of dough burnt far beyond any hope of recognition attempted to set the kitchen on fire.

You would think I was sprinting for the gold.

I hit that kitchen in mere seconds…just in time to yank what was left of the dough out of the oven before a coughing fit overtook me. I threw the back door open and frantically tried to dispel the smoke.

I stood on my back porch, adrenaline pumping, as I looked up in horror at the emergency siren and realized if anyone was looking out the back window of the fire station, they would presume my house was on fire and would blast that horn for the whole town to know what an idiot I was!

Luckily, I’ve spent the rest of my life secure in the knowledge that God, in His infinite wisdom, took mercy on one bumbling teenager that fateful night. No siren added to my panic. No mayor rushed over to pull me from a burning house. No questions to answer from my mother when she returned home.

There were many things she found out about over the years but THAT one…I’ll take it to my grave…






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International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.


Donna L

Hybrid award winning author; aspiring sketch artist; and 4th Degree Senior Certified Taekwondo Instructor. Host of BOOK NOOK REVIEWS. Member of SCBWI. Mom to fabulous son and adventurer delving into the tricky world of indie-publishing.

2 thoughts on “TALES FROM THE BAYOU: What Is That Smell?

  • March 25, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    You big dummy. When you told me what happened, I laughed! Ahh…sisterly love.


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