Rm w/a Vu(7)

By: A. D. Ryan

She giggles again, and having heard more than enough for the day, I throw on my work uniform—a pleated black skirt and a green polo shirt—grab my bag, and hit the stairs before I hear things I can’t unhear. I’m moving so fast that I think I might have even jumped from the top step and landed safely on the main floor.

I’m just opening the door when I hear the creak of my parents’ door at the top of the staircase. “Juliette?” my mother calls down. “Are you going somewhere? I was going to make breakfast.”

Oh, right. I forgot to mention that it’s nine o’clock in the morning. They like to get an early start on their day.

“I’m heading into work,” I reply, yanking the door open. “I wanted to get a little studying in before my shift, and the cafe is typically pretty quiet this early.”

Her footsteps are heard as she heads for the stairs. “Are you sure? I was going to make waffles.” She descends the steps barefoot and dressed in her bathrobe, her cheeks lightly flushed, and her lips plump and red.

I clear my throat, trying not to think of why she looks this way. “Yeah,” I tell her as she sits on the bottom step and looks up at me. I know she can read the look on my face; the way my nose is scrunched up because of what I heard is a dead giveaway. “As tempting as it is, I think it’s best I go…study.”

“Juliette…” I know that tone. She’s about to tell me she and Dad are adults—like me—and that adults have sex. I’m no stranger to this talk.

I have to interrupt her before she says the words “your father and I” in the same sentence as “have sex.” “Save me some of those waffles, though. I’ll throw them in the toaster for breakfast tomorrow. Thanks!” And I’m out the door.

The drive to the cafe I work at could be faster, but my poor car is on its last leg. With school and my low pay, I am unable to rectify that, though. The more distance I put between me and the house, the more able I am to focus on anything but the awkwardness I’ve been enduring the last few days.

One would think that they could control themselves with their daughter around. They’re animals, though. Plain and simple. At least they’re keeping it in the bedroom while I’m staying there; I do have that to be thankful for.

“Hey, Juliette!” Katie greets excitedly as I enter the cafe. She’s busy wiping down the counter as I toss my bag onto an empty chair and make my way to her. “I thought you weren’t supposed to work until later?”

Katie and I went to high school together. We weren’t best friends by any means, but we hung out on occasion. She was a sweet girl and fun to work with. She chose to go to Paradise Valley Community College here in Phoenix and still lives with her mom, so unfortunately she isn’t an option to bunk with. I would gladly room with her if I could.

“I had to get out of that house,” I confess, popping behind the counter to pour myself a coffee and grab a muffin.

Katie looks at me with empathy because she’s been listening to me gripe about my parents’ lapin-esque activities. “Still no news on a new dorm, huh?” Thankfully, she’s not one to talk about my reason for escaping my parents almost daily.

I shake my head. “Nah. Daphne tells me that because it’s so late in the year, the chance of something opening up is unlikely. And people in private dorms aren’t usually looking to take on a dorm mate.”

I’m putting cream and sugar into my coffee when Katie turns to me, leaning her hip against the low counter that our espresso machine is on. “Ben stopped by last night.”

“I hope you spit in whatever froufrou drink he ordered.”

“Thought about it,” Katie tells me with an impish smirk. “Instead, I told him you were out on a date.”

I sputter on the sip of coffee I’ve just taken, coughing as the piping hot beverage burns my trachea. “You did what?”

Katie looks pretty damn proud of herself. “He looked pretty pissed too. He kept asking who it was and where you’d gone.”

Wiping at my chin with a napkin, I ask, “And what did you say?”

“That it was just some guy you met. That pissed him off even more.” I didn’t think her smile could get any wider, but it does.