Short Stories

the house mate

I always take a shower and two Panadol before I leave home. I do this because trains make me feel dirty and I don’t want to contribute to the filth by setting my sweaty self down on the seat so many others have used before me. The Panadol are for the headache I’ll inevitably get once boarding the rush-hour carriage on my one-hour trudge to work. I repeat this ritual in reverse when I arrive home: shower, Panadol.

My housemate yells at me for using too much water—‘It’s always cold when I go to shower!’—but I never scold her for the food-crusted dishes in the sink so all in all I think she’s being pretty inconsiderate. She exercises like a fiend, too, so if anything she should be the one using the most water but hygiene doesn’t seem to be high on Madame Burpee’s list of priorities.

Our apartment is small and I don’t like it. Couples aren’t meant to live in studio apartments let alone two strangers so impoverished by the hardships of young adulthood they can’t even afford to pay the rent on a single-roomed flat out of their own pathetic pay cheque. That’s why I moved in with Ashley. I don’t like her. She doesn’t care much for me, either. She once erected a screen crafted from old newspapers and stolen pub pool cues between our beds because she was ‘sick of my face’. She gets like that some days. I don’t know why she’s so angry. I always thought exercise was a natural stress-reliever. My therapist recommended daily activity to help with my anxiety. If anything it made me tenser. All that sweat dribbling down my neck and between my breasts made me take two showers and four Panadol to feel normal again.

Sometimes we argue about who is more unreasonable to live with. Ashley hates that I clean late into the night to the sound of heavy metal pumping from my headphones and I hate that she complains about my cleaning when she returns home from her shift at the sports centre around the corner four hours before I get off the train and I arrive home to find her sitting on the sofa watching The Bachelor drinking a green super-smoothie, which leave hard-to-remove neon splotches all over the tiled splashback in the kitchen.

‘I wish you’d just chill out!’ she tells me, over and over again. Well, I wish you’d put your damn sports socks in the washing machine instead of leaving them on the sofa but I guess neither of us will ever get what we want.

Written from the prompt: “I always take a ______ and ______ before I leave home.”

(c) Jessica A. McMinn 2015
287 words

Comments and critiques are welcomed and encouraged.

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