by Ann Rushton

We hate everything in our new house, Steve says to our dinner guests. We hate the plumbing that went haywire the minute the house warranty expired. We hate the garage door opener that needs to be replaced and the discounted carpet and the dishwasher we refuse to use anymore, because it sounds like a helicopter about to explode. The previous owners were cheap, he tells our visitors, over triangles of pita bread, a mountain of hummus and slivers of red pepper that remind me of long painted fingernails.

But I hate my nose more, which everyday looks more like my father's and less like mine. I hate the idea of hairs on my chin, and I check myself in the bathroom mirror before we put out the main course, baked chicken with rosemary and steamed broccoli laden with garlic-infused olive oil we purchased at the farmer�s market. I hate how the house stinks, but our guests eat with gusto. The woman is pregnant and glows along with the candles on the table and the husband can�t hide his smugness, something that Steve blazed with during our first pregnancy. We know that soon enough it will disappear for them, with the intensity of matter swirling down a black hole.

Steve takes my hand after we say goodbye to our guests, and kisses it. Standing on the front step we watch them, watch as the future father helps his wife into the car, as they drive off, the tires squeaking atop the fresh packed snow. But I can only stand the cold so long, even with my husband�s arms around me, and we reluctantly return inside, he to check on our children in their beds, and me to wash the dishes, confident that the bucket below will catch the trickle of murky water that seeps though the pipes.

BIO: Ann Rushton lives in Iowa City, IA with her husband and children.  Her works have previously appeared in Literary Mama, Storyglossia, The Oklahoma Review, JMWW, RE:AL, and other publications.  She is the co-editor of Bound Off, a literary audio journal. In her free time she likes to knit, watch the Cubs (yes, she knows), and obsess over weather.  For more, visit her website at annrushton.com.