Roommate. Short Story.

She kept staring at me with those pale dead eyes. She knew I would break and soon, I dropped my eyes, unable to look at her anymore. She cackled in triumph and went back to what ever it was she was doing while I went to make her lunch.

It had all started out so differently in the beginning. Moving in was stressful, but my roommate was so lovely when I had met her that I was looking forward to getting to know her better. Sure, her eyes weirded me out a bit, but who was I to judge?

We met for coffee all those months ago as I had put out an ad looking for a roommate. I was striking out on my own, literally. All my friends had already moved out and found places with other people and I was the odd one out. Most of the friends I had made in college had already moved for jobs or gone back home. We still chatted and met up of course, but none had any available rooms. I put out feelers with my friends, asking and begging them to let me know if they knew anyone that needed a new roommate. But I started too late. I had recently graduated college and decided to take a few months off life in general. I had money saved up that was burning a hole in my pocket, so I booked time off work and travelled for a bit. When I returned, it was October and I decided to move out. I mostly lived at home to ease college costs, it was close by, I could bike in in twenty minutes, and it meant I didn’t have to pay rent. I contributed to the house, chipping in on bills, but my parents usually found some way to sneak money to me, either through buying me clothes or bringing me out to dinner. At  first I argued against this, but eventually, they wore me down and, lets be honest, it didn’t take much on their part to get me to agree. The coffee went well, at least I thought so, we had so much in common, same tastes in music and movies, we both enjoyed similar TV shows. It seemed like the perfect match, the roommate gods had smiled upon me. I already had a few places in mind and, as stated in my ad, we viewed them together, trying to find the perfect place for us. It was the third place we visited. A small house, but perfect for our needs. It wasn’t particularly close to the main places of the city, but the public transportation was brilliant and so we moved in.

There were little things at first, things I dismissed. It seemed so petty to point it out at the time. I helped her move all her belongings, well, by help I mean I moved most of the stuff while she sat and directed me. I was sympathetic, she had a long journey getting to the house, she had collected her stuff from her parents house and they lived a good four hours drive away. So I didn’t complain too much. We decided we would get take away for dinner, partially to celebrate our moving in and partially to start testing the ones in the local area. Dinner was pleasant enough, we ate and talked and laughed. Afterwards, I cleaned as our arrangement, we’d clean after ourselves, but on shared meals we would alternate who washed up afterwards. It was all so slow, so insidious. After a month, I realised that she hadn’t cleaned once, I was always the one to clear away the dishes, do the hoovering, clean the bathroom. The place would be the exact same way when I returned home from work. While eating dinner she’d claim she was exhausted from cleaning all day.

I don’t now what she did with herself during the day as she didn’t have a job. At first I thought it was strange, but then I figured maybe her parents were giving her money. I expected she was embarrassed and didn’t want to say anything, so I didn’t push it. She had the rent money on time and that was all that really mattered.

I started to become fed up with her around the third month, though I consoled myself that the lease was only for another nine months and then I could move out. She was becoming creepy, staring at me while I was eating dinner or watching TV. Those dull, lifeless eyes, just staring. I don’t think she even blinked. There was something about her eyes, something that would compel me to do what she wanted. It sounds so silly, but I couldn’t help it. Anything to stop her staring at me. I don’t know what was wrong with them, she had perfect vision. She never talked about them and I was always too polite, then too afraid, to ask. They iris’s were discoloured, a milkly, almost shiny, white. In my nightmares I sometimes seem them staring at me from the sockets of a drowned body.

I found myself becoming more like a maid than a roommate. She began to ask for loans, I said no at first, I didn’t want to get into arguments over money, but I relented eventually. A few quid here and there didn’t really make a difference, not at first, but it wasn’t long before she was consuming most of my pay check.

One night, she convinced me that she should take care of the household money, I don’t know how she did it, I really, really don’t, but I agreed. Soon I was asking her for my own money so I could go food shopping. It all seemed like such a brilliant and easy idea when she explained it. I became the one to cook dinner always, she never did any work. She would sit around and watch TV or read books. The few times I tried to put my foot down or argue with her had me feeling guilty and in the wrong.

After a while, I had to ask permission before I did anything, anything at all whether it was go out or go to the bathroom. Anytime I did something without permission, I felt dirty and wrong. I’d see those eyes in everything, patterns on the wall, in pictures, on TV. It was impossible to do anything without seeing them.

I do what she says because I have to, not because I want to. I hate this, but there is no way to escape. I tried, I tried to run from her, but those eyes follow me. I can feel her, in the back of my mind. There is no escape, not until she’s done with me. I know that, I accept it, but I despise it. I’ve thought about killing her, but I know I couldn’t do that either. She knows when I have thoughts like that, I’m convinced of it. I can’t tell people on the outside what it’s really like, not my friends, not my family. Any time I go to say something bad about her, different words come out. I tell them how lovely she is, how I’m really lucky to have her as a roommate. There is no way to stop the words. Her words. I’m stuck in this waking nightmare until she gives me permission to wake up.

I sometimes wonder if it will eventually go too far and I’ll just snap. Become one of those people you hear about on the news, how they went insane and killed someone. I think that she’s too smart for that though. She knows just where the limit is and that’s where she stops.

She won’t release me until she’s done with me and I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold on for that long. No matter what I do, those eyes are always staring.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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