Una Miller checked her watch and her frown deepened into a scowl. She had been standing at the foot of the bed for five minutes in the room where Tyra, her housemate, was sleeping soundly with her guest.
She still had a class to attend, but she thought it could wait. To her, nothing was more pressing than how much she needed to talk to Tyra and how deceived she felt that very moment.
The girl had brought another guy to her house again.
Tyra had broken the house rules Una had implemented when she agreed with her doctor to start opening up to people and begin accepting renters. She had explained to Tyra the importance of following rules, but no, the latter had repeatedly ignored and broken them. And just like her previous lessees, she could throw Tyra out of her house without batting an eye. After all, she owned the house.
Una’s eyes surveyed her housemate’s bare back. After giving her sloppy roommate a few chances to bend the rules a little bit, she had finally decided to throw her out once and for all—out of her life! And she couldn’t care less if Tyra would have to stay in the streets. She didn’t need a companion like her.
Stupid girl never learned.
As the clock continued to tick, her patience was wearing thin, and when the alarm clock on Tyra’s bedside table finally broke the silence in the room, she took a deep breath. Her jaw tightened when she heard a groan.
Tyra slowly eased onto her side before lifting her hand to slam the annoying clock shut. Her eyes popped open as soon as she caught the sight of Una.
“What the fuck, Una!” She grabbed the sheets to cover her breasts.
Rule number three. No swearing.
“I want you to leave my house now,” Una ordered in her authoritative voice.
“Excuse me?” Tyra glanced at the guy next to her, whose hand had moved up to feel her, stroking the side of her breast. She quickly whacked his hand away and glanced up at her furious landlady.
Rule number two. Never bring your boyfriend/s or any random people into the house.
“You violated the rules. You’re out,” Una said. “Pack your bags and leave.”
“Are you insane? I just can’t leave. This has been my home for, like, forever! And we’ve been through a lot,” Tyra protested, outraged by the sudden turn of events.
“Been through a lot? You just moved in a month ago. We barely talk to each other. We’re not even friends,” Una reminded her. “I own this house, and you broke most of the rules you had agreed to before you moved in. I gave you two chances. You have to leave now.”
Tyra jumped out of the bed and yanked the sheets to cover herself up, revealing the guy’s bare buttocks in front of Una as she did so.
Una quickly looked away, appalled by the idea of a completely nude guy in her house.
“You are a nutcase, you know? The only friends you have are your pathetic therapist and that opportunist floozy. You don’t even have a dog or a cat!” Tyra yelled at her. “You will die alone.”
“Whatever you say will not change the fact that I own this house, Tyra. You should have thought twice before bringing a random stranger into my house and breaking my rules. This conversation wouldn’t be happening right now had you controlled your hormones. Now leave or I’ll call the police and have you and your naked friend arrested.” Una clenched her fists at her sides, trying desperately to control the anger that was rapidly building inside her.
Her housemate walked up to her and stood so close that their faces were only an inch away from each other.
“Oh really? Are you going to force me to leave?” With a sleazy smile on her face, it was unmistakable that Tyra was mocking her.
She took one step closer and returned Tyra’s smile with a creepy smirk. “Don’t try me, Tyra. There’s a reason why I still visit Dr. Larson all these years.”
“You are a sick woman,” Tyra hissed.
“So don’t try me. Now leave. I don’t want to see you here when I get back this afternoon,” Una said firmly and immediately walked out of the room, purposely slamming the door behind her.
“Fuck you and fuck this house!” Tyra yelled. At that moment, it was really the only thing she knew she could do.
“How come I’m not hearing Tyra’s foghorn voice? Is she out again?” Liezel rose to her feet and grabbed two plates from the cupboard in Una’s kitchen.
The two had met three years ago when they were both students at a university in Boston. Liezel was about to finish college while Una had just started. Liezel came from a family of engineers and doctors who moved from the Philippines. When she finished college, her parents decided to move back to their country while she opted to stay behind.
Taking Una’s deadpan and solemn personality, which slowly improved after years of talking with her therapist, Dr. Larson, their friendship wasn’t instant, and it certainly didn’t grow overnight. Liezel’s patience had a lot to do with it, although it all actually started with a rumor that had gone around campus—an alleged affair with a professor who happened to be friends with Una’s therapist.
Given that Una had become acquainted with the professor through Dr. Larson, people had assumed she knew a lot and probably the truth. They asked her about this rumor, and she unwittingly cleared Liezel from the campus gossip by telling them that the professor was actually dating her therapist, adding that Liezel couldn’t be the professor’s type.
Liezel learned of this and Una accidentally earned herself a friend. However, Una wouldn’t have it if it were up to her. But since Dr. Larson insisted that a friend could be something good for her, she slightly opened up her life to Liezel.
“I kicked her out this morning,” Una casually replied, setting up their orders on the wooden table.
“Really? Tyra was like your fourth tenant this year!”
It was a reaction she had already anticipated.
“She broke the rules,” she said flatly.
She loudly inhaled the smell of chicken tikka as soon as she opened the lid of the food container.
“Ah, of course. Your rules! So you have to find another tenant again then.”
She shook her head. “No.”
“They just stress me out.”
Liezel made a face. “Una, you told me how Dr. Larson encouraged you to try to talk to people. When you agreed to put your house forward for college students who want to live off campus, you knew that it wasn’t primarily to earn extra, but for you to actually socialize, grow your connection, your friends…”
“People have a hard time following rules.”
“Not everyone,” Liezel argued. “Lighten up. No doubt you will find the perfect housemate soon. Someone who doesn’t like pets; doesn’t swear, smoke, drink, date; and hates music and everything fun. I’m pretty positive you will find someone who checks all the boxes, so don’t close yourself off again. Not yet.”
Since college, Liezel knew that Una was different from everyone else. Early on in their friendship, she had discovered how quick-tempered and impatient her friend was, yet she assured her that she was okay with it.
“I don’t hate music. I just don’t think people should play it at a high volume to actually enjoy it.” Una said, sighing at her seeming lack of comprehension.
“Well, all things considered, we’d have to look for prudes. I think an old maid would be perfect for you. Or maybe a nun,” she kidded dryly.
A brief smile graced on Una’s lips, looking like she should perhaps consider taking Liezel’s joke seriously.
“On second thought,” Liezel added, “Nuns like pets and they sing praises aloud.”
Una started munching on her order of fish pakora in silence. She couldn’t argue since Liezel may have a point.
Liezel opened her food container and grinned at the tomato and coconut soup inside then suddenly said, “Wait, I think I know someone. My friend, Will, is looking—”
“Liezel, I’m really done talking about it,” Una cut in. “It’s time to eat.”
She had a busy day at the university, and she was more than relieved to see that Tyra had already left. She wasn’t up for another confrontation, and she was both hungry and tired when she came home that afternoon, so the quest for the perfect housemate had to wait. All she really cared about now was the delicious food laid on her table.
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