We all know what it’s like to have difficult roommates.
Insomniacs. Musicians. Drug Addicts. Botanists.
It’s not like they say on the telly, where fictional flatmates are witty and delightfully quirky. But what if you lived with a modern grip-lit heroine from the likes of Girl On The Train, Gone Girl, or Before I Go To Sleep ?
I don’t think I was the only one who, when reading these books, thought, “Christ on a bike. Who’d live with these people? Nobody with a streak of sanity, that’s who”.
But what if you did? What would happen when you arrived home?
You are at your door.Your key fits perfectly in the lock, but doesn’t turn. The door is opened from the inside. Your unreliable narrator flatmate appears.
Unreliable Narrator: Oh. You’re home.
You: I am indeed. How was your day? And is there something wrong with the door? My key wouldn’t open it –
Unreliable Narrator: I awoke this morning without having slept. Were you there? It doesn’t matter. The important thing was that I couldn’t be late for my doctor’s appointment. He was to tell me why I’ve been getting these headaches. I wanted to know, but I didn’t want to find out. The important thing is that I was about to. Which is all that matters.
You: So what did the doctor say?
Unreliable Narrator: What? I forgot to tell you, someone came to the door earlier. They called your name through the spyhole. They sounded upset. It was a woman. Or perhaps a 12-year-old boy with curly hair and a head cold. I can’t remember. I didn’t open it. I couldn’t. Not after the last time when— never mind. I picked up your dry cleaning. You never told me you were wearing purple again.
You: Eh. Okay. Tell me, have you been out of the house today at all? Or this week?
Unreliable Narrator: At lunch today I remembered being happy. Back when nostalgia was everything. Remember when we ran, laughing, down the beach? You, me, and the child we almost never refer to anymore? Her hair was going through that really long and curly stage – it shone golden in the early evening sun, like her spirit was woven right through it – and you cooked sausages with a disposable lighter and a spray can. We laughed all the time once. Everything glowed. Do you remember?
You: Um. No. I don’t think that was me, actually.
Unreliable Narrator: Your sister stopped me on the street. She wanted to know why they hadn’t seen you in a while. I got so confused. Didn’t you see them just last week? I asked after your father, and she got a funny look in her eyes before she turned away. She said she had to make an emergency stop at the lost property office. But she never got there.
You: My sister? My sister lives in Texas and hasn’t been home in eighteen months. What the hell are you talking about?
Unreliable Narrator: You got a letter this morning. I didn’t open it. It was nothing you need to worry about. I wish you’d talk to me sometimes about what’s on your mind. We never seem to talk any more. Not like before. When everything was sepia-tinged and the moon was full and high as you cooked sausages improbably. Things were much simpler then. No threatening letters to worry about. No trust issues.
You: Listen, I didn’t want to bring this up now, but there’s no other way. I want you to move out.
Unreliable Narrator: Oh! Just listen to me, babbling on. You only asked me how my day went. It was fine. Tell me about yours. Can I make you some coffee? Or something stronger? Did you ever speak to anyone about the knife in the stuffed elephant?
Unreliable Narrator: Why won’t you answer? Why don’t we talk anymore?
Unreliable Narrator: Is it because of… oh, never mind. It doesn’t matter.