I am scary in my own home.

This is something I have learned about myself since Aimée moved in.

It’s nothing I’m doing. I don’t jump out at her. I don’t make crank calls to my own number. I do not own a clown mask. I don’t do much of anything beyond typing into the wee small hours, and occasional dog walking.

What I do that shocks her is… I stand.

We have small dogs. With small bladders. They need to go out to the garden fairly frequently.

If Aimée takes the girls out for a whizz, and with the weather drawing in, it tends to be dark, I take the opportunity and roll a cigarette (I know, but I’m quitting. Obviously).

As she brings the girls back to the front door, empty-bladdered, soft of step, I’m almost certainly tucking the cigarette behind my ear and searching for my lighter.

She opens the door, and I’m only about three feet down the hallway, headed in her direction. And she gasps. She clutches her chest. Occasionally, she staggers back a pace or two.

And every day, I say the same thing:

I live here.

Maybe I should stop punctuating my speech with the cartoon-villain laugh.