Lately I've noticed the house smells. I tell Jake it stinks and he tells me to throw up the windows, and I tell him I can't, the frames are rotted, and he walks into the kitchen where he looks at the near-full garbage can and pops a beer, and I go into the bathroom and burn my hair with the iron while he stands by the door and says that my hair clogs the drain, tells me his beer tastes skunky, asks me why I am such a shithead letting my hair dam up the pipes like that, I am so full of crap and I know it and the longer he talks the more his voice sounds like it's skidding on stagnant rainwater. I bought three air fresheners shaped like Christmas trees, I tell him. So now it's just pine stink, Jake says. Later on he tells me all about outer space and astronauts and how pee floats around in the air up there and also how radiocarbon testing works and the rates of decay, how you can tell the age of something by how slow it's dying, tells me everything he has learned on the Internet during the day and then we watch the television. He laughs at a joke about your mom's thighs looking like old milk. I don't laugh so he gets pissed and starts to grab, grind, mold my skin into the shape of a fist but it doesn't move, and afterward he tells me he spoils me. Then I change the sheets and take out the trash and wipe down the sink and swipe the toilet, but when I wake up the next morning and take a breath I realize that I have done all I can do, I have tried cleaning washing scouring spraying scrubbing bleaching but I don't think I will ever get the smell out of this house.

Ashley Hutson lives in rural Maryland. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in several journals, including Fiction International, SmokeLong, McSweeney's, The Conium Review, The Forge, and Threadcount. Read more at www.aahutson.com.