My roommate, April, moved into my apartment on a Sunday. She brought the sun with her. I helped her carry boxes up from her Jetta and into the tiny room I once called my library. I’d left the empty shelves where they stood. My books could no longer be displayed, as they ought to have been, but were buried in boxes in the graveyard of my closet.
I had no desire to watch her unpack while she jabbered about her life. But I sat there on the floor where my desk stood stoically only a week before, taking inventory of my losses. I nodded as she spoke, barely maintaining the expected protocol of politeness.
She was all smiles and curly blonde hair. She bounced about in her tiny jean shorts. She thanked me profusely as she strung colorful Christmas lights around the window I hadn’t bothered to wipe clean. The glittering ropes zigzagged across the ceiling and twisted along the shelves. She said she’d never have been able to afford a place in the city on her own. She hung unframed posters without making sure they were parallel with the floor molding. When she pushed tacks into my forest green walls, I had to turn away.
April’s breasts heaved slightly out of her pale pink tank top when she bent over the unlabeled boxes. She told me about her little brother who was some kind of prodigy and her father who had never been happy about the idea of her leaving for the city. She didn’t seem to mind my blatant lack of interest in her life. She was just happy for the sunshine and her new little place in the city. I loathed her tinkling laughter. I detested that she was unloading her belongings in the place that she stole from me.
Later, I pushed the omelet she made me around my plate. She seemed surprised when she found only eggs inhabiting my refrigerator.
“Why don’t you come out with me tonight?” She placed her small hand on my forearm. “You must have the best bar in the city scoped out by now!”
I shook my head and stole my arm away like it had been burned. No, I had not scoped out the local bars. What could possibly interest me in a bar? Simply the smell of alcohol made my stomach roil and people were horrible and would hurt you if given the chance.
She shrugged and disappeared into her new room. I dumped the omelet into the garbage and stalked into the only solace I had left. I stood in the middle of my room, before the bed that was now too big. This was the last space I could unashamedly and possessively call mine, the lone survivor of the war that had waged. Not even I had pulled through. Not really. This would be the last place untouched by April’s sunshine and smiles. These walls were only home to neatly framed pictures and maps that hung faithfully in straight lines.
“I’m heading out now.” April’s smile poked around my doorframe. “Thank you again for everything. Don’t wait up!”
And she was gone.
She’d barely turned the lock behind her before I snatched my tattered copy of Wuthering Heights out of my closet. I slithered out of my room and stood before my library. I just needed one more night inside. One more night to mourn for the bomb crater of my life, the shrapnel of my heart.
April had left the door open. The door to her whole life. What a fool. From where ever did people inherit such trust? I stood in the threshold ready to sit beneath the window, ready to block out the multi-colored lights and crooked posters, ready to cry into the pages of the mangled love story and sniff in the faint remnants lavender. They would be mine in these last few hours before they evaporated into nothingness.
April had finished unpacking. That much was clear. The boxes were empty and broken down. The fluffy, flower print pillows were tossed carelessly across her bed. But the book shelves were empty. Every mahogany panel on every wall was vacant.
Instead, she’d piled her things on the floor. There were stacks of magazines in front of the window. A wobbly tower of pictures and notebooks rose up to my hips. Bags with makeup and jewelry spilling out teetered in a precarious heap at the end of her bed. The stacks were endless and enclosed me. I’d never seen such mess, such disorganization. If a stiff breeze were to blow in, they’d topple to ruins.
Anger ripped through my chest, my fingernails embed themselves into my palms. That stupid girl flouted my sanctuary, ignored my hallowed shelves. She favored the floor. I ran from the room and never dared go inside again.
April would come home come home from time to time with a man. I’d hear her giggling behind my closed door. I’d hear the new indiscernible baritone voice. And I’d hear them disappear into my library to fuck. I’d hear her moans and then I’d hear her things come crashing to the ground. Every time.
April built up those stacks just to knock them down.
more by NOELLE CURRIE
photograph by unsplash.com