Woman turns from brutal past to reclaim life she threw away

A nagging smell wakes Aquarnetta Porter from shallow sleep.

She inhales, imagining filth somewhere outside her apartment's walls. The scent must have crept under the crack in the door, she thinks, or through the air vent overnight.

Scratching her skin, she mumbles to herself about the neighborhood, this building, the dodgy characters she often sees skulking in the hallways or lazily smoking outside on the front steps.

Whatever they track in, she won't have it near her now. She works hard to stay clean, takes two showers a day, sometimes three. She straightens and sponges and scrubs her small apartment on Market Street every morning until it shines.

"That riffraff, I don't allow it around me. I don't allow it in my house," she says. "There gonna be some demons out there. I say, 'Go on.