My ex-wife and I are sitting on the floor of what was once our living room. The room is empty now except for us. This place is the site of our marital decline, and we are performing a ritual cleansing on it. I've been washing the hardwood with a soapy disinfectant solution, using a soft brush and an old mop, working toward the front window, which has a view of the street. My hands smell of soap and bleach. We're trying to freshen the place up for the new owners. The terms of sale do not require this kind of scouring, but somehow we have brought ourselves here to perform it.
We're both battered from the work: Emily fell off a kitchen stool this morning while washing the upstairs windows, and I banged my head against a drainpipe when I was cleaning under the bathroom sink. When I heard her drop to the floor, I yelled upstairs to ask if she was okay, and she yelled back down to say that she was, but I didn't run up there to check.
When my wife and I were in the process of splitting up, the house itself participated. Lamps dismounted from their tables at the slightest touch; pictures plummeted from the wall, the glass in their frames shattering, whenever anyone walked past them. Destruction abounded. You couldn't touch anything in here without breaking it. The air in the living room acquired a poisonous residue from the things we had said to each other. I sometimes thought I could discern a malignant green mist, invisible to everyone else, floating just above the coffee table. We excreted malice, the two of us. The house was haunted with pain. You felt it the minute you walked in the door.