Submitted into Contest #92 in response to: End your story with a truth coming to light.... view prompt


Funny Urban Fantasy LGBTQ+

The door was propped open with a rubber triangle, Ethan’s mom was hanging up his shirts on metal hangers in the closet, his dad was gaffing ethernet cable to the floor, and Ethan was subtly trying to push them both out the door. 

“Ethan, I think we should go to Target and buy some more hangers.”

“Mom, I have enough space in my drawers - ”

“And some clothesline, with laundry costing two dollars it’s really better to hang - Oh, hello, you must be Jakob.”

Ethan didn’t know how long his roommate had been standing in the doorway listening to him and his mother argue. Mentally cursing his failure to remove his helicopter parents, Ethan pulled his head out of the wardrobe and turned to face his roommate.

The boy was small, with cropped dark hair and pale skin. Actually, he was only a few inches shorter than Ethan, but with slumped shoulders and a posture that seemed to fold in on itself - not surprising he had gone unnoticed. He wore dark, loose-fitting clothing and carried a duffel bag and a suitcase. “Hi, I’m Ethan,” Ethan said, pushing in front of his mom to shake the boy’s hand.

“Jakob,” his roommate replied. Eyes darting around the floor avoiding looking at the three of them,  he walked over to the unclaimed bed and dumped his things there. 

“Are your parents coming with the rest of your stuff?” Ethan’s mom asked.

“This is it,” he said. Jakob pulled out sheets and began making the bed, back turned.

“He’s from out of state,” Ethan said quickly, although he had only found out by looking up the name written on the door in the school directory and then stalking him on facebook. It wasn’t a common spelling. “Mom, let’s get out of here. Jakob’s probably tired from traveling.”

Jakob flashed Ethan a look of gratefulness, and for the first time they made eye contact. His eyes were a light brown, almost amber, ringed with dark circles. “Yeah. Sorry. I don’t mean to be unsocial.”

Luckily Ethan’s mom didn’t press the issue. “We were just going to Target anyway, we’ll get out of your hair. It was nice to meet you, Jakob!”

Ethan returned from the store sweating. When he opened the door and saw Jakob gone, he regretted carrying two bags of “essentials” back alone. He had hoped to be able to talk to his roommate without his mother’s prying. Where’s he from? What’s his major? What do his parents do? Does he wake up early? But he was secretly glad he wouldn’t see him when he was so gross.

He opened the window and finished arranging his things. Posters on the walls, clothing on the new hangers, though he knew in a few weeks he’d be shoving his laundry in the dresser drawers unfolded. He glanced over Jakob’s decorations to try to get a read on him, but his style was pretty minimalistic. Disappointing: with his all-black getup Ethan had half expected to see a My Chemical Romance poster or something. Or something. He had a stack of textbooks on the bookshelf, dishes and other household things, but nothing that screamed personality or even whispered it. Ethan wanted to peek inside the closet to see if all the clothes were black, but he didn’t know when Jakob would be back and he didn’t want him to think Ethan was a snoop. That would be a bad second impression. He decided to send a friend request to the Facebook account he’d found earlier.

It turned out, though, that making a second impression at all was harder than Ethan thought. He didn’t see Jakob again until that evening at the mandatory hall meeting. After the RA’s talked about trash policies and bathroom cleanliness, they forced the roommates to come up with rules together.

“Don’t touch each other’s stuff,” Jakob said.

“Yeah, ok.” Ethan scribbled that down. “No guests after 10?”

“I don’t care. You can have guests whenever. I stay up late.”

“Ok, well turn off lights when the other person is sleeping?”

“Sure.” It was the way Jakob answered every other question - with indifferent acceptance.

Ethan never saw Jakob at any of the orientation activities the first week, and as he got to know other people on his floor better, his roommate remained a mystery. Well, that was fine. A roommate that was always gone - what better? Still, Ethan vowed to keep trying to find something to bond over, something Jakob made extremely difficult.

The thing about Jakob was that he wasn’t hostile; in fact he was accommodating to a doormat degree, almost annoyingly polite. He was just...reserved. If Ethan asked him about his hometown or his high school, he would just say that he didn’t like it very much and that he didn’t want to talk about it. He looked about eighteen, but he claimed to be 25. Ethan had assumed Jakob was a freshman like him, but found out he was a transfer student only when he asked him what classes he was taking, to which he had begrudgingly answered with upper division biology classes. He did eventually decide to accept Ethan’s friend request, but that wasn’t too helpful either: all his Facebook posts were from the last year.

The first breakthrough in Jakob’s personality came after three weeks, when Ethan, in a hurry to grab a forgotten notebook with his astronomy homework, accidentally walked in on him changing. He was shirtless and facing away from the door. 

“Ever heard of knocking?” he snarled.

“Sorry, I -”

“Get the fuck out!”

Ethan swiftly tugged the door closed, irritated. It wasn’t like Jakob was naked, he was wearing pants. Ethan was shirtless around Jakob all the time. He never caught the other boy looking - not that he wanted him to, he was straight - but he still wanted to show off his toned chest at every opportunity. After all, he had worked hard in the gym to look so good. Jakob definitely wasn’t built like Ethan, but to think that after three weeks he still didn’t feel comfortable shirtless around him - Ethan wondered if he had done something wrong. It was probably Jakob’s fault; he seemed like the overly sensitive type. 

“I just wanna grab a notebook, I’m already 5 minutes late and I have to run across campus!” Ethan banged on the door and yelled through it. As he finished the sentence, the door was yanked open, and Jakob glared at him, eyes brimming with fury. “If you ever do that again...!” His knuckles were white, fists clenched hard as if he were ready to fight Ethan right then and there.

Ethan brushed past him and grabbed the notebook from off the desk. “I said I was sorry!”

Jakob grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. His grip was surprisingly strong. “Don’t touch me, and don’t talk to me that way!” he spat, eyes bloodshot and wild. “Just take your precious notebook and go!”

Ethan didn’t waste any time following instructions. He ran out, and started to sprint across campus, focused only on making it to class. It was only later, when he was sitting in class sweating and listening to the professor drone on, did he recount the episode in his head. He hadn’t really done anything wrong, certainly nothing to piss him off that much. Sure, Jakob liked his privacy - that much was absolutely clear - but the anger was so out of character that Ethan got worried. What if something terrible had happened to him to make him so upset?

He saw his roommate later that evening in the dining hall. Jakob kept going back for more and more meatballs, each time passing by Ethan’s table and pointedly looking in another direction. He had never seen Jakob eat so much before; if anything, he seemed to subsist on very little. Ethan wondered if this was somehow connected to his earlier aggression. He couldn’t think of a possible connection, besides that they were both strange. 

He never got the chance to ask that night either. Ethan stayed up late waiting for him to come back, unable to rest with the conflict at the back of his mind. Eventually, he must have dozed off, because when he woke up there was light coming through the blinds and his roommate was there, fast asleep, curled on top of his blankets fully clothed. Ethan stayed in the dorm room until late afternoon, when he had class, but Jakob never woke up. He suspected he might be pretending to sleep to avoid talking to him. When he got back he was gone.

The pattern repeated itself several days in a row: Jakob would stay out, all day and presumably all night, and Ethan would wake up to find him sleeping with his things scattered about as if he had fallen asleep in the middle of something. He would remain asleep until Ethan left in the morning or even afternoon.

On the fifth night Jakob surprised him. Ethan woke up and he was there at his desk, working at his computer.

“Morning,” Ethan said, a little more excited than he liked to admit.

Jakob looked over his shoulder. “Look, man, I’m sorry about the other day. I was stressed out - sometimes I just kinda lose my temper.”

“It’s fine,” Ethan yawned and sat up in bed, pulling on his tshirt. He scrutinized Jakob. He looked a lot better than he had the past couple of days; there was color in his cheeks and his eye bags were not so prominent. “You didn’t have to avoid me like that.”

“I wasn’t!” he said quickly. “I was just busy with, uh, stuff…”

“Oh,” said Ethan, not knowing what else to say, but his roommate seemed satisfied with that response. “I’m going to try to catch the end of breakfast,” he added. “Wanna come?”

To Ethan’s surprise, Jakob nodded.

The next few weeks Ethan slowly but surely made progress in getting to know his roommate. Occasionally Jakob would join him for a meal, though Ethan always had to ask first. Ethan didn’t mind supplying most of the conversation while Jakob picked around his food (when asked about his nonexistent appetitle, he said only that he was thinking of becoming vegetarian). Ethan told him about his struggles in calculus class, which he was hoping the math major would offer to help him with, but he didn’t, and Ethan didn’t ask. 

Ethan didn’t stop trying to help Jakob, though he wasn’t sure in what way the boy needed his help. He never saw him on campus with friends, only talking to them over discord, so he tried to invite him out to different events and activities. One time Ethan invited him along to the gym, hoping to put some meat on those skinny bones - maybe he just needed confidence. He had been prepared to show Jakob the ropes, but Jakob already seemed to know his way around a gym. He said he had been on varsity soccer, which, given his unathletic frame, Ethan found hard to believe, but maybe sports at his high school had been less competitive. He had to keep reminding himself that Jakob had been to community college and that he was actually several years older than Ethan, when he looked and seemed so young.

“Hey, you want to come stargazing with me tonight?” Ethan asked one day in October. “It’s for my astronomy class,” he added, wanting to avoid the romantic implications of such an activity. “The professor opens up the big telescope on the roof of the physics building and you can look at craters on the moon and stuff, it’s really cool.”

“Um, maybe not tonight,” Jakob said. “I feel a little under the weather.” It was true; looking at him, his skin seemed more pallid than usual and his dark circles more pronounced.

“No problem, you can always come next month,” Ethan said. “She does it every time there’s a full moon.”

“Oh,” said Jakob, sounding a little disappointed.

“Hey, before I get back, could you clean up a little bit?” Ethan asked. He wasn’t usually a pushy roommate, but the last couple days Jakob hadn’t been picking up his trash, leaving beef jerky wrappers all over his side of the room. So much for vegetarianism.

The response was immediately hostile. “Oh, so when you make a mess it’s fine, but I leave garbage out for one fucking minute -”

“Hey, I just meant when you get the chance,” Ethan said. He closed the door quietly behind him. He didn’t see his roommate again until the next morning, when he found him sleeping in his clothes, on top of the sheets. The wrappers were gone.

The third time it happened, Ethan began suspecting things. It was the full moon again, and Ethan was heading to his astronomy extra credit when Jakob started yelling at him about taking out the trash. He had developed a sudden craving for meat again, if his trash contents were to be believed. Other things were bothering Ethan about Jakob - his appearance, too. His face was different, more...animalistic? He was hairier than when Ethan first met him; he had hair on his fingers and toes, not to mention the long dark hairs that got everywhere. He was putting on muscle crazy fast, too. He had been going to the gym with Ethan on occasion, but he must have been putting in a lot of hours on his own, or else he was using steroids. His voice had deepened into a growl. Ethan even thought he saw bloodstained clothing in his laundry hamper at one point, but he couldn’t risk looking closer. 

Was it crazy to suspect? Of course. Werewolves were fictional. But, Ethan rationalized, you never know what genre of story you’re a character in. 

There was no way of catching him. Was there? Did he just have to ask him? Follow him one night? No, that was creepy. But there was only one more full moon in the year, right around mid December when they had finals.

The full moon came the fourth time, and sure enough, Jakob had an outburst. “Turn your music down, I’m trying to study!” Ethan was wearing headphones, but he still complied.

Then, he decided to confront him. He couldn’t come right out and say it though; he’d sound crazy.

“Dude, I don’t know what it is with your temper, but I’m getting sick of this pattern.”

Jakob swallowed. “What pattern?”

Ethan couldn’t tell if he was playing dumb or not. “This is the fourth time. You’ve been doing it every month.”

“It’s just - look, I can’t tell you, but promise it’s harder on me than it is on you.”

“Why can’t you tell me?” Ethan said.

“Why can’t you just figure it out for yourself,” Jakob snapped.

“I mean, I think I have, but I don’t want to say anything to offend you,” Ethan said.

“Just say it,” Jakob said.

“You say it with me,” Ethan said petulantly.

“Fine. Three, two, one -”

“You’re a werewolf,” Ethan said.

“I’m on my period,” Jakob said at the same time.

“Wait what?” Ethan said.

What?” Jakob said. “I’m a werewolf?”

“I’m joking,” Ethan said. “You know, that time of the month?” He thought he recovered pretty well. Jakob could never know he was serious.

“Of course,” Jakob said. “Because werewolves aren’t real.”

“How are you on-”

“I’m trans,” he said. 

“I had no idea!” said Ethan. “That’s great. I mean, not great that you’re on your -” He was really glad there was a logical explanation for his weird behavior, he wanted to say. Some of it, at least.

“Yeah, it really sucks, having PMS as a guy,” Jakob said, cutting him off before he could say the word. “I get super sensitive cause of hormones and also angry cause it’s just not fair.”

“That sounds awful,” Ethan said. “I’ll try to, you know, be nice when that happens.”

“The testosterone will get rid of it eventually,” Jakob shrugged. “It’s not supposed to take this long though. Any other questions?”

“You want to come look through the big telescope with me?”

Jakob smiled. “Not tonight. I have other plans.”

He left before sunset. That night, as Ethan watched the stars from the roof, he could swear he heard a wolf howl.

May 07, 2021 21:41

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Moon Lion
02:35 Jul 03, 2021

I loved this one so much too, especially Ethan for being both incredibly dramatic (werewolf conclusion is totally something I would seriously consider too) and so awesome as a person. I've said it before, but I really love the way you write and build up your characters. You really get a feel for each character, and the dynamic between Ethan and Jakob was scary realistic. Belated congrats on another great story!


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Moon Fox
14:04 Sep 23, 2021

hm... I'm no expert on trans, but you do a good job!


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