I'm looking for a short story about a teenage girl who is with some kind of scientific expedition on a planet inhabited by humanoids, where there is no odor at all except in the vicinity of someone who is about to die. She ends up stranded without her comrades and the inhabitants do not believe that she is from off planet and put her in something like a psych hospital. At the end of the story she says something like, "I think I just lost my ride home." (Yes, I tried googling variations on that.) It was in an anthology of some kind or in a magazine, many decades ago.

Also in the same anthology or magazine, I think, was another short story about a humanoid alien stranded on Earth who is similarly not believed and considered insane, and loses his sight as a result of an eye exam, and therefore can't use the equipment that would gotten him home.

  • Could you possibly narrow down "many decades ago" to two or three decades? Was it more like 30s-40s or 70s-80s?
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 4:08
  • Do you remember the names of the sci-fi magazines you were reading at the time? Astounding/Analog? The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Asimov's? Galaxy? Startling Stories? Planet Stories? Aboriginal Science Fiction? Infinity? If? Worlds of Tomorrow? Omni? Amazing Stories?
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 4:12
  • 2
    The second story sounds like part of The Man Who Fell To Earth by Walter Tevis.
    – Frock
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 11:00
  • Thanks, Frock, but no, it's not The Man Who Fell to Earth. user14111, I read the story in the 1970s but I have a feeling it was older. I didn't regularly read sci-fi magazines--this was either an anthology or a magazine that somebody gave me. I dunno, it could have been Asimov's or Analog, both of those sound plausible to me. But it could have been something else.
    – Sylvia A
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 6:06
  • Hi Sylvia. I think this has been asked before here though it hasn't been answered. The previous question also mentions a short story about a boy with gold eyes and pointy teeth that is merman-like. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


The Sweet Perfume of Goodbye by M.E. Kerr (real name Marijane Meaker), part of a collection of stories titled Edge.

From an Amazon reviewer:

"The Sweet Perfume of Goodbye" is also a beautiful tale and has a science fiction theme to it. Here a teen is doing research on another planet: the only smell on the planet is a unique, exotic odor released from a body when it is approaching death. What an incredible, haunting theme, and of course allows for plenty of reflection in the typical YA manner.

From the Google Books preview:

"Unbelievable! Almost like lilies! It's come upon me suddenly! Caroline? It's so all pervasive! It's on me! My hands, my face—it's the sweetest perfume!" Of course, I cannot get to him in time. I sit down right where I am and make my entry. I write, I think I've lost my ride home. In the interest of accuracy, I cross out "I think."

  • 2
    Is it really not OK to say thanks? That is exactly the story I was looking for. smooshie, you rock.
    – Sylvia A
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 1:38

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