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Fiction Friendship Drama

Vicky, my roommate, looks at me with wide-eyed horror as I step into our apartment. A package of ramen noodles slips from her perfectly french manicured fingers. “You’re supposed to be at work.” 

“I got fired,” I shrug, while hanging my backpack on the coat hanger. 

“For what?” It’s well into the afternoon but she’s in an oversized t-shirt with bedhead hair.

“Punching this guy, Casey, in the face.” 

She gasps. 

“Relax, I didn’t do it.” 

Confusion twists her slender, spray tanned face. 

“Nick did it, but I said I did cause … ” Nick can’t get in any more trouble. She knows this. 

Vicky shakes her head. “You got to stop protecting that loser.”  

“Yeah, that’s what Leo always says.” 

She bites her cotton-candy-pink lower lip, and her eyes sparkle with moisture like she’s about to cry. Leo, my boyfriend, walks out of her room in only boxer shorts. 

“Hey, Vick–” he stares at me, momentarily frozen, “shit.” 

“So … guess I lost the job, boyfriend, and apartment. What a day, huh?” 

They glance at each other, and then follow me around apologizing and crying. I don’t hear any of it. I pack duffle bags with clothes, toiletries, books, and any smallish thing I can. One day I’ll need to come back for the bigger items, but I can’t think about that now. I cram my small sedan with everything I can fit into it, and pray it doesn’t break down while I escape. It’s been making weird noises lately, but I turn my radio up and ignore them all. Before losing the job, I wasn’t making much. Things will be a real struggle now. I regret trusting Vicky when I always kind of knew I couldn’t. I regret not breaking up with Leo sooner, when deep inside I knew better. I don’t regret helping Nick. Casey deserved a good punch to the face. I kind of wish I was the one to do it. Though, ideally not at my job. I'd have picked somewhere else for sure.

Once I’ve filled the car, I leave Vicky and Leo in my rearview, still not having heard or processed anything they said. It doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse, and I’m not one for forgiveness. I drive to the only place I know I’ll be welcome. 

Nick answers the door, and I realize I should have called first. He still looks defeated, betrayed, and I can relate. 

“So it’s fair to say you owe me big, and I’m cashing in earlier than expected. Need a place to crash,” I say. I have a few bags at my feet, not willing to accept “no” as an answer. 

“I’ve always wanted a roommate,” he smiles and bends down to collect my bags. “You know you’re always welcome, but can I ask what this is all about?” 

“Caught Vicky and Leo together.”

“Whoa? Really?” 

“You’re surprised?” 

“You’re not?” 

“Not really,” I shrug. We unload my car into his small house. “I’ve always had a bad feeling seeing the two of them together.” 

“Why didn’t you break up with him then?” 

“I guess I needed to know he was the bad guy. If I broke up with him, maybe I’d just be an overly jealous idiot.” 

Nick shakes his head. “You don’t seem real upset about this. Are you in shock?” 

“I may have willed this into existence. I’ve spent so many nights wondering if I even like either of them lately.” 

“Jesus.”

All the stuff’s inside, and he offers me a soda. We sit on his couch, waiting for a pizza he ordered. 

“Do you ever wonder if you like me?” He asks. 

“I never have doubts about you,” I say and it’s completely true. 

I never felt secure with Leo. Couldn’t understand what he saw in me. With Vicky, I couldn’t tell if her niceness was real. Nick is all brutal honesty. He couldn’t lie to save his life, and that’s often been an issue for him. 

“I’m glad it has nothing to do with me. I’d feel horrible if I fucked all this up. I do feel horrible about the job, you know.” 

“Yeah I know. I didn’t like that job anyway.” 

“I’m worried about you.” 

“Why?” 

“You’ve gone through a lot today and you don’t seem to give a shit. Maybe it’ll all crash in later.” 

“Maybe.” 

“Well, I’m here if it does.” 

“Thanks.” 

“You want like a hug or something?” 

I laugh, and I can’t stop laughing. It’s not that funny, but maybe I’m laughing to not cry or something like that. “Yeah, actually. I think I do.” 

He puts his arms around me, and the warmth of his body soothes me like a child with a blankie. He smells like patchouli, which I don’t normally like, but I do with him. Maybe due to some sort of memory fragrance association thing. I love the feel of his soft cotton t-shirt against my cheek. 

“It’s been a really bad day,” I whisper.

“It’s okay,” he whispers back. “We’ll eat pizza and watch shitty horror movies and it’ll be fine.” 

I smile. 

While I scroll through movies, I think of how people take something meant to be beautiful and loving, and weaponize it to hurt. Nick punched Casey for getting his little sister pregnant, then leaving her, and telling people she’s a slut. I’m pretty sure she’s only ever been with Casey, so it’s untrue but undeserving even if it was. Leo’ll likely tell people he had no choice but to fall into Vicky’s trap, since I didn’t meet all his needs. Does anyone have artistically beautiful, loving sex? I hope so. All I've seen of it is selfishness, ugliness, and desperation. I know I can’t project my experience onto the world. People must and good for them. 

“Must be the pizza,” Nick says as the doorbell rings. 

I glance at my phone. Twenty missed calls. I shut it off. I know they’re not sorry. They don’t want to be bad guys. They want to alleviate guilt by sharing the blame. I can hear it all without listening. “Look, Hazel, we haven’t been connecting for a while now. You know that. We never meant to hurt you. It just happened. This is real love. We’re both so pretty and you’re really not. We’re meant to be. You never spend time with us. You’re always with Nick. He’s a delinquent. Trouble. Makes us all look bad by association. He’s a bad influence and he’s ruined you. We needed more.” 

Nevermind that I’ve known Nick longer than both of them. They don’t care what he’s been through. Or anything I have. 

She’ll tell him. “Nick punched a guy today. Probably some poor innocent man. Hazel took the blame.” Leo will shake his head, and like this justifies everything they’ll probably makeout and then have sex that doesn’t feel good. They’re feeling guilty now and the thrill of the secret is no longer there. I bet their relationship won’t last long. They don’t really have much in common. Or maybe it will. Maybe they’ll get married and have kids, satisfied to fulfill an ideal image with no substance underneath. I know they won’t be happy, and that actually makes me a little sad. 

Nick says, “I remember when we were like six and that girl at school bullied you. Your dad got us pizza and played us songs on his guitar. Called it a pizza party even though it was just the three of us.” 

“I remember that.” 

“You want me to play songs for you?” 

“I appreciate that you would, but a movie's good.” 

Nick can play the guitar pretty well, but it’s something I want to keep as my dad’s thing.

“Whatever you want.” 

“Are you okay? You’ve had a rough day too. Maybe I should sing.” 

“No, please don’t.” 

We both laugh. Both know I have the worst voice ever. Shouldn’t even sing along with the radio. 

“My sister’s pissed at me. Mad I messed up pretty boy’s face.” 

“She’ll learn she deserves better one day.” 

“I hope you do too.” 

I grab a slice of thin crust pizza with extra cheese stringing along the sides as I pull it free. Perfect circles of crisp pepperoni decorate each slice. I bite into the warm gooey cheese and feel the sorrow melt away. Nick grabs the remote, picking the film. It’s a good choice. The perfect mix of spooky and campy. 

He’s right, I do deserve better than Leo. Better than Vicky. They never saw the real me. I look at the stunning masterpiece that is this pizza. I smile at one of my favorites on screen. I glance at Nick in a red hoodie, black untamed curls spouting wildly in all directions on top of his head. I’m right where I should be. I bask in the warmth and security of knowing I’m so loved. 




September 26, 2022 23:54

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15 comments

Eric D.
16:28 Oct 07, 2022

This was like a small scope intimate story but so much happens in those few paragraphs. I like the line that says how people weaponize something sweet and innocent, and how some people manipulate each other like that. This story seems relatable because everything is unexpected, from the punch to the ending of the story, audience is following just a terrible situation then it turns out to be an unexpected happy ending.

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Annalisa D.
16:52 Oct 07, 2022

Thank you! I'm glad you liked that line and I appreciate all the nice comments!

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Danny G
01:53 Oct 04, 2022

I like how this story began with a sorrowful cynicism and I wondered if that is all it would be, but that glimmer of hope towards at the end really tied it up nicely. Well done.

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Annalisa D.
02:16 Oct 04, 2022

Thank you! I appreciate you reading this. I'm glad the end worked. I had wondered about that.

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L M
03:18 Nov 13, 2022

I really liked this.

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Annalisa D.
04:40 Nov 13, 2022

Thank you!

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Graham Kinross
12:38 Oct 13, 2022

This ended up weirdly cute. It’s interesting that she’s not even feeling vengeful against her ex and flatmate. She’s right about their relationship. The glue was the secrecy. You packed so much world into such a small story. All of the history was really well woven in, never too much at once. I like that they’ve possibly found each other in that accidental ‘oh I should have been with you,’ way like from sit-coms.

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Annalisa D.
14:20 Oct 13, 2022

Thanks! In terms of any vengeful or angry feelings, I think in her future there may come a time for more of that. The way I was thinking about it, there's a mix of shock and maybe feeling a bit beaten down in the moment. I know for me at least, in situations of betrayals, the anger usually came later when I processed how awful it was more. Right now she's in this should have seen it coming, but also never would have seen it coming stage of weirdness. Everyone is different though. Some people definitely react faster. I'm glad it worked for yo...

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Graham Kinross
21:14 Oct 13, 2022

I’m good, I’m a dad now. Not as much time to write but I try to do two or three a week instead of five like before. The more we write, the bette we write. How are your noodle bears?

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Annalisa D.
21:55 Oct 13, 2022

Congrats! That's exciting. Hopefully it's going well so far. It is good you can still write some. They are doing good. They both were sick for a while and we had to go to the pet hospital but they've recovered well and are being spoiled with toys and fun.

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Graham Kinross
22:10 Oct 13, 2022

She sleeps really well so we’ve been lucky. Good to hear they’re doing well. Do you have a big obstacle course for them to play on? I like seeing them running through tubes and hiding on YouTube videos. I always worry someone will sit on them by accident when they hide in sofas though.

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Annalisa D.
15:00 Oct 14, 2022

That is good. Hopefully that will continue. Yes, they have big tunnels and different things I've made out of boxes. They also like the dog toys where there's smaller toys hidden in big ones and it's a little puzzle to get them out. They like the cat toys that have things dangling on strings. They love exploring new places. I only give them access to the living room when being specifically watched because there are too many things they can get into so no worries about the sofa for me but I would think that would be concerning. I wouldn't want...

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