Rm w/a Vu(10)

By: A. D. Ryan

She doesn’t let me finish. “You still have to keep your grades up, but I don’t want you to have to work even more just because you can’t afford to live. That’s how people wind up quitting their education. We want what’s best for you, and we’re just so proud.”

I rush around the counter and wrap my mom in my arms. “Thanks, Mom. This really means a lot. I’ll try to find a place that’s reasonably priced.”

She laughs, rubbing my back lightly as she embraces me back. “That’s all we ask, dear.”

After dinner, I tell Mom I need to work on my paper, but as soon as I’m on my bed, my laptop open in front of me, I can’t seem to focus on it. So, deciding I need to take a break already, I grab the paper and my phone and start to make a few phone calls.

The first place I call sounded great when I found it earlier, but as soon as I start talking to the woman, I realize it isn’t for me. While the idea of a house with three appliances and access to a personal laundry room sounds great, the fact that the woman was charging close to fifteen hundred dollars a month did not. That is more than my entire month’s salary. There’s no way I can afford that, even with help from my parents.

I call a couple more, and either they’re taken or the person renting it sounds like a total crack addict. Honestly, I don’t fancy taking care of some junkie’s screaming children while they cook meth in the shared basement and blow us all sky-high. Nah, I’m good.

I blow through all the ads on Craigslist and most of the ones in the paper. I’m starting to lose all hope that I’ll find a place and contemplate not calling the one ad I have left for fear of being disappointed, yet again. I look at the ad left in the paper and read it again:

Rm w/ a Vu

Looking for roommate

to share 3 bdrm house in


Must be tidy. No pets.

If this is you, please call (480) 555-1367

I don’t know why I do it—habit at this point, maybe?—but I dial the number and hold the phone to my ear as it rings. The fact that it goes on ringing leads me to believe that no one will answer, but just as I am about to remove the phone from my ear, I hear a light click.

“Hello?” The voice shocks me at first, mostly because it belongs to a guy. So far, all the ads I’ve responded to have been females. I’m not sure how a male/female roommate situation is supposed to work, and I’m also not sure I’m entirely comfortable with the idea either.

“Damn it.” The irritation is clear in his voice, and I realize that I haven’t spoken.

Before he can hang up, I jump off my bed and begin to pace the floor before I speak up. “Wait. Sorry… Hi.” I run the fingers of my free hand through my hair and take a deep breath.

There’s a light chuckle from his end of the phone, and there’s something about it that forces me to sit back down on my bed, the hand in my hair dropping into my lap. “Hello. Sorry, I thought you’d hung up.”

The corners of my lips turn up into a smile, and I exhale a relieved half-sigh-half-laugh. “Oh. No…uh, I’m still here.” I can’t help but let the smooth sound of his voice envelope me like a warm blanket. I find myself feeling kind of dazed.

“Can I help you with something, Miss…?”

“Oh! Yeah, sorry,” I say, slapping my hand to my forehead. “My name is Juliette, and I was calling about your ad? For the room? You know, the one with the view?” He laughs again, this time it’s a much heartier sound, and I imagine him as some blue-eyed man with thick hair, sitting on his couch watching some kind of sporting event while he’s listening to me ramble on like an idiot.

“I’m sorry,” I say again.

“No need to be. The room is still available,” he tells me softly, and I’m pulled right back into the velvety sound of his voice. “Would you like to come take a look at it?”

“Uh huh,” I reply before shaking my head clear of the weird fog that rolls in. “I mean, yes. That would be great. Are you free tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow would be perfect. Do you have a pen? I’ll give you the address and directions, as it’s in one of the newer areas of Phoenix.”