Monstrous Femme

“Have you ever smelled a dead body?” The bar was crowded, and my friends thought our words would be drowned out.

Laughter bubbled from within, pouring out like a shaken champagne bottle. What the fuck?” My heart pounded louder than the bass.

How was your trip, Mike?” The others moved on, as Mike recounted his Caribbean adventure. Mike swam with dolphins. Mike snorkeled. Mike camped on the beach. Mike, Mike, Mike. I didnt—no, couldnt—say anything for two hours, and just like that, I was the forgotten drink pushed to the side. When I got up to use the restroom, my space was taken as they all fanned out and relaxed.

Oh, sorry Hannah.” Mike scooted a few inches so that I was half on the booth.


Hey Mike, did you want to go with us to the crematorium escape room?” Dee asked, leaning forward, her head on her hands.

My heart pounded, eyes darting between the four of them.

Yeah, we should! Do you think there will actually be any dead bodies?”

Stopppp-ah,” Dee squealed.

The door called, as did my bed and home. They wouldnt miss me, anyway. I walked out, the bitter chill invading my senses as my breath came out like smoke. I sniffed, but nothing, only the puke and supreme nachos from the bars filtering up to the stars. Nothing clung to me.

The brisk air whipped through my hair as I walked away, the sound of laughter and chatter fading behind me. The question lingered in my mind like a stubborn stain, refusing to be washed away by the alcohol buzzing within me. Whywould they even ask that? Did they suspect something?

My steps quickened as paranoia crept up my spine, urging me to glance over my shoulder to see if they were following me. But the street was empty, save for a stray cat darting across the road. I shook my head, trying to dispel the irrational fear that gripped my chest.

How would they even know?

There wasnt any proof—no, I made sure of it. Because I would always protect them, protect me. Do they know what death smells like? How the sweetly rotting flesh burns your nose, tickles your sinuses? How the body changes as it becomes fertilizer for the indoor garden? How the stench finally turns to molasses the more sugar you heap onto the pile?

But the question lingered, poisoning my thoughts like slow-acting venom. Was it possible that they suspected something, despite my meticulous efforts to conceal the truth?

I was almost there. The rhythmic sound of my footsteps echoed in the empty street. The shadows grew longer as they contorted into grotesque shapes that danced at the edge of my vision. Paranoia gripped me like a vise, compressing my chest, making it harder to breathe.

The jingle of keys brought me back, my hands working on muscle memory as the disinfectant greeted me like an old friend. The wood creaked beneath my feet, the house groaning as it stretched and settled. It came to life once fed, with each sacrifice I added to the pile.

I made my way to the bathroom, the tiled walls reflecting a distorted image back at me. Dread coiled in the pit of my stomach, tightening its grip with each passing second.

I turned on the faucet, the sound of running water a comforting presence in the stillness of the night. As I splashed my face with cold water, I tried to push away the unsettling thoughts that clawed at the edges of my mind. Why had they asked such a question?

The mirror above the sink revealed a pale, drawn face—a face that showed the sleepless nights catching up. I averted my gaze. There was only one thing I could do.


I sank onto the bed, the softness enveloping me like a cocoon. The room’s darkness provided a temporary respite from the chaos in my mind. I closed my eyes, willing myself to drift into the realm of dreams where reality couldn’t reach me.

But sleep remained elusive, slipping through my fingers like grains of sand.

I had to go to his room, just for one more night.

He was safety. He was comfort.

He was perfect.

His bed was firmer than mine. His cooled form that smelled of molasses caressed me. My anxiety melted as I snuggled into him. He was sculpted—albeit like a Picasso painting, but he was everything that I could have wanted. He was my first kiss’s lips, the first inquisitive listener’s ears, and a patchwork of love from all the boys who came before.

But as I lay there, entwined in the sheets with him, his scent clinging to me like a whispered secret, a thought surfaced once more. Did he smell? Did I smell like them?

The forms of the men whispered from my garden. I needed to get out, to clear my head, to drown out the cacophony of doubts that threatened to consume me whole.

I found myself drawn to the basement, where the air was thick with the scent of earth and decay. The flickering lightbulb cast eerie shadows on the walls as I made my way toward the corner where an old chest sat, covered in dust. Was it them that smelled? Not my perfect lover? The ones who betrayed my closest friends?

It had to be them, the ones who were rotten through their bones. Maybe they didn’t deserve a space within my house, safe from the environment. No. They deserved worse, they deserved—

Steadying breath. In . . . out . . . Once my rage ebbed, I needed to let them go so that it could just be me and him. Yes, tomorrow is when I would take care of them.

Just he and I. Molasses and Febreze.