Chalk. That is the smell I remember from my childhood. The magic white dust that floated across shafts of light through our little red one-room schoolhouse, where a legendary old gran with stiff hair named Miss Jenkins ruled like a pharoah at the front of the class, scribbling quotations from Huck and Jim or Abe and Ben, or carving algebraic equations onto the black slate—clack, clack, clack as she stabbed the board with the white sticks. And I sat in the back melting in the August heat with my giant ear muffs and knit cap and dark sunglasses and goofy hangdog sneer, tripping on psilocybin or LSD or mescaline, and knowing with absolute certainty that one day I would be that Old Gran riding roughshod over Darkhearted Youth, leading the charge against ignorance, and that her rotting corpse would in some very real sense (real at the time, it doesn’t actually make sense without the drugs) be me. Chalk dust brings me back to my original self–a broken child, confused and alone, ready to accept any suggestion and make a life of it.
Chalk dust is the trigger for the gun in my mind.