There’s a smell in the house. It’s always been there but it’s strongest when I’ve been away. What is it? Is it a kind of glue that has been used to fix the tiles? Is it cooking odours from the flat downstairs creeping up through our second bathroom, as they do? No, I don’t think so, it stinks of something vaguely chemical, that and a smidgen of decay. It makes me feel nauseous. And I try and often fail not to take it out on him. Have you aired it enough? Did you open the windows? Is it him? Is it a sign of his soon to be demise? Is that what distresses me so?

I’ve cleaned it today and the smell dissipates for a while. I can breathe easy.

I’ve ordered sage bundles. That should do it – if it doesn’t set off the fire alarm first. Sage is an odd smell – dry, almost salty. A purifier and cleanser. I like it.

It’ll be full of big women with bags, she said. And it was. Comforting women in the main with home-knitted hats and scarfs and bad perms. It got too much after awhile – clogged as it was with all those women. But the details were lovely. Rifling around in boxes of threads. It reminds me of something like home. x


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.