Hello Room-mate

The address on the slip of paper was confusing, so I went around asking people about the place but they looked at me as if I were an idiot. I did get there eventually and liked it, I just hoped that the room-mate would be nice.

When I rang the bell, the door opened and a tall girl in her late-twenties ushered me in with a smile. She asked my name and for my share of the rent so I handed her the cash. She was smart, very smart.

I soon found out her fixed routine and could always tell the exact time she woke up, had her all-organic breakfast, exercised, left for work, got home, watched T.V., had dinner and went to sleep. However, we hardly had a conversation of more than fifty words in two weeks. She talked to other people in our building, had lengthy conversations on the phone, Facebooked for hours, but never interacted with me. It was fine with me because that meant she did not interfere with my business so I stayed out of her way.

However, I found her acting strangely after some time: she tried catching me unaware and every time I turned to look at her, she would walk away in another direction. She started talking to me too much and stared at me continuously, sometimes breaking off conversations without any explanation. Her activities gradually became more suspicious and one day I caught her scribbling in a small black diary, which she immediately thrust into her pocket when she saw me. I started wondering if her job as a psychiatrist was getting too much for her, but soon I realised that she was keeping a secret from me and I decided to uncover it.

I found my chance when I saw her diary stuffed in her coat, lying unattended on the sofa as she came in from work and went for a shower. What I saw in it caught my breath:

‘Talking/arguing to self’

Umm…

‘Constantly looking at the ceiling with a blank expression’

How…?

‘Suicidal notes hidden in places’

This is not good…

‘Cutting arms with razors and mumbling incomprehensibly’

…not good at all…

‘Inference: subject suffering from schizophrenia’

…uh-oh.

*****

No one had ever been able to catch me; I was smart, very smart. Previous room-mates never had any inkling of what I was, but I needed a challenge. This one, being a psychiatrist, gave me that challenge. I did have to spend a week in an institution but Jackie, my old friend, helped me get out of there.

My love for writing freed me because the people at the institution had to take me out of my cell to clean the walls, which sadly were my manuscript for my book, but Jackie says ink is better than blood; I have already become anaemic from writing so much.

Click…click…click…

My new room-mate is nice because she lets me use her old typewriter; I intend to publish a book on my adventures. The old room-mate would definitely be a part of it because we caught each other. It is funny how things go in a circle; I knew she had a secret but her secret was that she knew my secret: I am schizophrenic.

When I’m done writing, I will have to sew back Jackie’s button eye which came off when I ran. I even have to fix the stuffing that is coming out of him, poor thing. But he won’t complain; he’s smart, very smart.

[Note: This short story was written as part of an English Composition course during my 4-year degree program.]

There is no fault in her stars

She sat hunched in the cubicle, silent tears making their way down her pretty face, dripping from her chin on the bathroom floor. She could hear heels clicking on the tiles as girls made their way in and out of the ladies room, unaware of her misery in the corner stall. She tried to drown out the sounds, scrunching her eyes shut, rocking silently, hoping to ease the pain of disappointment, the slap of failure. This isn’t how she wanted to start her new life, scared of being left behind, thrown out of this life like a used tissue paper. This isn’t what she wanted but it certainly felt like the culmination of all her fears, condensed into this one moment and suddenly all she saw was darkness ahead of her.

How had it come to this? The teenage girl with the world at her feet was now a woman lost in the great big maze that is life, trying to find her footing. She had everything she ever wanted or needed, but a spate of unfortunate events had brought her to this point in her life where she did not know how or what to live for anymore. She was not weak; not when she lost her loved ones at an age where she needed them the most, not when she had to be the responsible adult taking care of the house when other girls were picking out prom dresses, not when she found herself surrounded by strangers away from everything she held near and dear. No, she had never been weak. But now she had reached the end of her tether and suddenly she wanted to let go, tired of holding on for so long she felt herself freefalling to her doom.

She didn’t know how much time had passed since she locked herself away in the bathroom stall. Not that anyone would notice, she thought. I am nothing; unimportant, unnecessary, irrelevant and a misfit. That is all I am to anybody who knows me, she rued as she choked on sobs that threatened to drown her. As weak as she had become, parched lips a sign of her dehydration, there was nothing left in her empty shell of a body to even squeeze out more tears. I wouldn’t be surprised to find my soul floating away aimlessly because the vessel that is my body has rejected it as well, she thought to herself.

She slowly got up and wiped her face with her hands, sniffling silently she rearranged her clothes and tiptoed out of her bathroom stall. Splashing cold water on her face she composed herself, smoothing out the creases of pain that were etched in her face a few moments ago. The office was deserted; nobody stayed in for lunch on Fridays especially when you had the food street across from work. She saw the two texts from her teammates, new recruits themselves, asking about lunch. Touching up on her makeup, she quickly checked her wallet for the crumpled note that would cover her small meal with her equally broke and nervous coworkers and headed for the elevator. After an awkward lunch of iced tea and stilted words of comfort offered to her for the boss’ early morning verbal thrashing, she headed back to her desk and hunched over the routine report she had been called too stupid to complete.

Despite her numbed senses she heard his voice, clear and confident, over the din of the bustling workplace. She was so attuned to his presence that it was hard to breathe every time he passed by her desk, enveloping her in his scent that evoked suppressed memories now too painful to recall. He was still the same person who had been the center of her universe, but someone else had become the center of his. She had been orbiting him, latching onto his warmth, but to him she was like Pluto, a small cute blip on his radar now no longer worthy of being even called a planet. She was his “good friend” who he cared about, but she was being “silly” that he hadn’t cared enough to want more. Why she had even allowed herself to become so attached when she had already been hurting from the rejection by one who she thought had been her soulmate. This short-lived office romance that had taken her mind off a failed relationship had only made old wounds bleed fresh again. Like everything else she touched, this part of her life too had turned to dust, and now she was being chased by the sandstorms of her own failures.