By: Joshua Medez
I have a weird roommate. All they do is stay in our room.
“I made some instant noodles again!”
“Here’s your cup. You can always eat if you want to, you know?”
The smell of instant noodles is something that you get used to. At first, it is a vibrant and unique smell– like reading a picture book for the first time. The fifth time, it is a familiar yet unmistakable smell– like finding a picture book you used to read all the time. The thirtieth time, it is just a natural feature of the room– like the untouched picture book sitting on the shelf.
“I wasn’t sure what to do with you at first. I couldn’t believe my eyes, you know? One moment my eyes were closed, and the next there’s something else in my room.”
The sound of instant noodles being slurped filled the space. The only other sound one would hear was the hum of the PC running, but the PC stayed off during mealtime. It didn’t matter if a livestream was happening, or someone made a new Tweet, the PC stayed off.
“You’re weird. It’s like you’re a disgusting lovechild between an octopus and a spider. Or maybe you’re more of an unholy cross between a centipede and a squid?”
The sunlight bled through the windows of the room. It was like dipping your hand into a bag full of glass shards and pulling it out again– the blood of the sun was everywhere. With this blood came the heat. This unforgiving heat that would make anyone complain loudly, yet neither I nor my roommate minded.
“I’m sorry about that, by the way. I shouldn’t have insulted you like that. It’s kind of true though, you look really weird. You just don’t feel human. Sometimes when I look at you for too long, it’s like all the wrinkles in my brain are disappearing. Like a smooth brain, haha!”
“I’m sorry. I’ll go get you a drink.”
The door of the room never opens. It always remains closed. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just decoration at this point. There are facilities in here to take care of oneself. The minifridge is always stacked with bottles of water and soda. There are always shelves of instant noodles. The garbage is always neatly packed into a bag, left in front of the door, and is taken away silently at night. This room is a house all on its own.
“Here, water. You’ve never really made it clear whether you prefer water or soft drinks, so here’s some water.”
“You,” I say.
My roommate flinches, spilling broth onto the table.
“You can talk?!” asks my roommate, flustered as they stand up to look for tissue to wipe the spill.
“I have questions for you.” I respond.
“Well, ask away while I clean up my mess.” replies my roommate, distracted by the tissue they are trying to find. A cacophony of drawers being pulled and pushed; cabinets being opened and closed; items being picked up and put down fill the room like the sounds of human civilization chancing upon an unmolested forest. I watch as some of the broth drips off of the table and onto the floor.
“Why do you not fear me?” I ask. My roommate freezes– the same way they do whenever they are in front of the door. At that moment, they are no longer human. They are an untouched picture book decorating the room. “Well,” begins my roommate, “there’s always a bigger fish, I guess.” My roommate returns to the table, accepting that there is no tissue with which to clean the spill. They pick up their utensils and return to eating the instant noodles. I slam the table with one of my limbs, frustrated at the vague answer. The cup of instant noodles jumps into the air for a brief moment before crashing back down and spilling its contents.
“Answer me properly.” I say, throwing the weight of a celestial body behind my words. My roommate has returned to their picture book-state. They do not care that the broth is dripping onto them, or that the noodles are slowly sliding across the table. “You,” says my roommate, their voice dripping, no, flooding with a broth of fear and desperation, “you’ve never known what it feels like to have everyone and everything you know betray you and throw you away like– like– a useless picture book.”