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January 5, 2023

The Smell of House

I’ve been waiting for the right day to finally abandon this couch, go outside, and rid myself of the smell of house. My tee-shirt and sweatpants give off a heady odor somewhere between musk oil and an egg sandwich forgotten in a lunchbox. Friday’s fried codfish has the place reeking of ammonia, worse than a wall of uncleaned urinals. The chimney’s draw is hopeless with a north-easterly gale. Might as well be crowding around a campfire, smoke blowing in my face, keeping the pesty blackflies away except there are no flies in my living room. 

Up until now, the right day never came. Not with so much rain, drizzle, and fog. The RDF outdoor stench is as bad as indoors. Plug your nose. Waterlogged lawns and gardens stink of decomposing soil. The fog brings a much-adored seaside scent that’s actually a foul cocktail of bacteria digesting plankton, seaweed eggs giving off pheromones and marine worms pooping. When you spend so much time on the couch, nothing more to do than breathe, you get addicted to reading that kind of trivia. 

But it’s sunny now, so no excuse. I armor-up against the elements and open the door. A blast of wind tears through with a tornado’s attitude, into the intimate corners of the house, forcing spiders to grip onto their cobwebs, sloshing the water in the toilet bowl, and blowing dandruff out of my hair. With the force of my entire body leaning against the door, I slam it shut. Once I’ve shed my outdoor clothes, I retire to the couch, the mould of my body visible in its cushions, the familiar smell so comforting.


© the author

by Elizabeth Murphy

Born, raised, and retired in the Newfoundland of Annie Proulx’s Shipping News, Elizabeth now breathes, reads, and writes in Nova Scotia, Canada. Read her at Free Flash Fiction, in the Bright Flash Literary Review, and at Quibble.Lit (January 2023). Find her on the fringes of Twitter and Instagram @ospreysview.

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