My New House Hates Me by Jenn Ashworth

(Dedicated to Rob Jones – This story was written for Rob Jones, who bought it as part of the Essentials For Life Project. He paid with instant pancake mix and a mug with a map of the world on it. The project is still going: you can order your story here.)

Moving house is not a situation, but an event. It is unpleasant most of the time, but once the keys have been collected and the boxes unloaded from the van, it is over. It is not something that persists. You don’t move house for weeks or years or months on end. Even if you move house a lot, you move one day, then it’s over. You’ve moved. The rest is opening boxes and connecting electricity, which might be unpleasant too, but it is something different. It is not moving house.

So moving house is not like having the flu, or cancer. It is not like having an affair or being married to a man who hits you. Or doesn’t hit you (which in some ways would be better) but doesn’t look at you that much either. Those are situations, not events. They don’t have start dates, deadlines, or resolutions. They have duration, and once the time for them to endure has passed, you can never be sure if you’re actually out of it, or just in remission.

Once the boxes are unpacked, the screwed up newspaper smoothed and stacked for recycling, the books shelved and the flat-pack furniture assembled, Gemma walks through the new house looking for places to hide her secret things.

She knows tucking the flesh-coloured tube of a dildo behind the spare rolls of toilet paper is unnecessary. She could leave it on the dish drainer, shiny and innocent between plates and spoons. She could tuck it into the salad drawer. Or go crazy, abandon all hopes of getting her damage deposit back, and screw it into the wall at waist-height. It could be a coat-hook, a mug-stand, an exhibit in a glass case. She puts it with the toilet rolls anyway. Continue reading