The Spare Bedroom, Part 7

Becky had grown up as an only child.  As a result, she had come to love the idea of having a big house all to herself.

Sure, here parents lived there, too, but make no mistake about it: Becky was their little princess and she had free reign over that kingdom.

Becky was a huge fan of not having to share her room, clothes, or toys with a sibling.  As the only child, she always got to watch whatever she wanted on TV, holidays were all about her, and she had her parents’ undivided attention.

Why would she ever want to give up such perks?  Becky actually felt sorry for friends and classmates who had brothers and sisters.  She couldn’t wrap her brain around how they had to share things and compromise.

Being on her own was definitely the way to go, and she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

short story, mystery, Modern PhilosopherWhen she started dating Michael in high school, Becky had to flirt with sharing her space for the first time, but even that was no big deal as Michael always let her have her way.  As an added bonus, he had to go back to his house at the end of the day, so she still had her much treasured independence.

The first fight she could ever remember having with Michael was a pretty big one, and directly related to her desire to be on her own.

He had thrown out the idea of their getting a place together after graduation, and Becky had laughed.  In her defense, she really thought it was a joke.  Why would she ever want to do something like that at 18?  They’d never be able to afford anything other than a tiny apartment, and the mere thought of sharing such a cramped space with another 18 year old seemed ludicrous.

Of course, Michael had been totally serious about the idea, and deeply hurt by her reaction.  They eventually got past the incident, but it would come back to rear its ugly head again right after graduation.  And that time, the consequences had been so serious that Becky feared she would never see him again after he ran half a world away to deal with his pain.

During that first fight, when Becky had made it clear that she didn’t want to share a living space with anyone, a hurt Michael had snapped back by asking how the hell she expected to get through college with a roommate then.

Becky hadn’t even considered that going to college would mean suddenly having to share a tiny dorm room with another student.  Back then, she hadn’t exactly been the “big picture” type.  All she’d considered was that college would mean even more independence, and it had never occurred to her that it would actually be the end of her complete freedom.

Luckily, Steffi, the roommate assigned to her by the University, had been like the sister she never realized she had needed.  They quickly became inseparable, and for the first time in Becky’s life, she understood the benefits of having a sidekick.

Now there was always someone there to talk to, help with homework, gossip with about the annoying guys across the hall, and vent to about the professors.  A roommate meant always having a shoulder to cry on, a sidekick when she went to a party, and an extra wardrobe to borrow from when she couldn’t find the right thing to wear.

Becky had roomed with Steffi again sophomore year, and they were still in contact all these years later.  They stayed in touch on social media, sent cards every Christmas, and visited whenever one of them was in the other’s part of the country.

After sophomore year, things had gotten serious with Jake, and Becky had a whole new kind of roommate experience.  One that would last over two decades until the bastard decided to embezzle a large sum of money and run off with his floozy assistant.

So now Becky found herself alone again, and debating the merits of continuing that way.  At first, after Jake’s betrayal, she had relished the return to solitude.  She didn’t need anyone around to witness how much she cried, how she never changed out of her pajamas, and just how much ice cream and wine she had consumed during those dark days.

Lately, however, the big, empty house had been taunting her.  Every room was another reminder of what Jake had done, and how he’d tossed her aside for a newer, perkier model.

She had taken to asking Paige over often.  It was nice to have someone to talk to again, and to hear laughter inside the walls that had become a silent prison.  Best of all, having Paige in the house meant there was someone else to drink the wine. 

But Paige had her own house and family.  She couldn’t always spend time there, although Becky suspected that, if given the choice, Paige would choose to hide out with her best friend and avoid her husband and small army of children.

Becky wished she could conjure up the attitude that had served her so well in her childhood, but no matter how hard she’d tried, she eventually started to feel lonely in the house.  Damn Jake not only for abandoning her, but also for getting her addicted to sharing her space!

She finally made the decision that had been a long time coming.

She placed the ad to rent out the spare bedroom.

serial, crime, Modern PhilosopherJanice seemed like the perfect roommate.  She was slightly younger than Becky, and also going through a divorce.  Perhaps most importantly, she did not hesitate when Becky had offered her a glass of wine when she came to check out the spare room.

“Your house really is beautiful,” Janice had gushed more than once during their tour.

“Thank you,” Becky had replied each time, but the last time, now that she had a little wine in her, she had decided to expand upon that pat answer.

“It’s just too much house for one person,” she admitted solemnly.  “It would be nice to have someone else around.  Especially someone who understands want I’m going though…”

Janice nodded and sipped a little more of her wine.  “I didn’t want to mention it, but this is a small town, so it’s hard not to know what happened with your husband.  I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you,” Becky said as she sat down on the bed.  “I definitely didn’t see that coming, but I’m ready to put it all behind me and move on with my life.”

Janice nodded again and slowly walked across the room, running her hand along the wallpaper as she moved.  “I admire that attitude.  My husband didn’t embezzle any money, or run off with another woman.  He just told me he was bored with me and needed his freedom.”

Becky’s jaw dropped and Janice flashed a self-depreciating smile as she looked around longingly for the bottle of wine.

“What an asshole!” Becky declared as she walked over to refill Janice’s glass.  “I don’t know the guy, and I’m just starting to get to know you, but I’m pretty confident that he’s the one who is going to end up losing out in this scenario.”

Janice smiled.  “You’re so sweet.  You know what?  I love this space, and you are clearly someone I’d like to get to know better.  Did the ad say it was $500 a month?”

Becky smiled.  She hadn’t expected to click with the very first person who’d answered the ad, maybe it was her gut, or perhaps it was the wine, but something was telling her Janice was the one.

“That’s right,” Becky confirmed.  “When can you move in?”

“Well, I’d just have to bring the kids by first to make sure they feel comfortable here…”

Becky raised an eyebrow.  “Kids?”

Janice nodded.  “Don’t worry, there’s only three of them, they’re very quiet, and I only have them Monday through Thursday.  They’re with their idiot father on the weekends.”

Becky took a long gulp of wine, and then considered taking her next sip directly from the bottle.

“How old are they?”

“Eight, nine, and ten,” Janice replied as she eyed the far wall.  “I’m thinking I could set up bunk beds along that wall, and put another bed right next to mine.  It might be a little cramped, but it will work.  So how many bathrooms do you have again?”

fiction, small town, Modern PhilosopherThe next person who replied to the ad was an older gentleman, who was a History professor at the University.  When he’d asked Becky if the spare bedroom was soundproof, her first thought was that he was a light sleeper and wanted to ensure he wouldn’t be bothered by sounds outside of the room.

Her next thought, which had immediately popped into her head, and maybe it was because of the wine, or perhaps because Paige had encouraged her to read a Harlequin romance from her personal collection, was that the professor liked to bring young coeds home for kinky sex.

When he began to take measurements along one of the walls, Becky had demanded to know exactly what the man had in mind.

That was when he proudly told her about his drum kit, and how just an hour of playing a day allowed him to work off all the stress of his day, and make him feel thirty years younger.

The third visitor had been rejected when she’d asked if she could install several padlocks on the door to the spare bedroom.  Becky had not let her curiosity get the better of her, and had simply sent away the woman without inquiring as to why those locks would be necessary.

So when the doorbell rang just as she was about to sit down with a glass of wine and the Harlequin romance that had turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable, Becky seriously considered ignoring it.

She knew Paige had a family thing and Michael was at the diner, so it could only be that creepy scarecrow from Ephrem/Regis looking to hassle her about Jake, or another of the town’s disturbingly large oddball population coming to see the spare room.

Becky sighed, and against her better judgment, got up to answer the door.  To her astonishment and delight, there was a familiar and very handsome face smiling at her from the porch.

“I’m told you have a room for rent,” said John, the attractive stranger from the park with the very unique taste in omelettes.

Becky smiled brightly.  “I do believe that is true.”

She motioned for him to enter.




About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Spare Bedroom, Part 7

  1. kristianw84 says:

    Ahh!!! I was wondering if the handsome stranger would answer her ad! I love this, and I so excited to see where it goes!!

  2. markbialczak says:

    Great descriptions of the renter wannabees, too, Austin. Good sturdy installment my friend.

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