Home > Fake Roommate

Fake Roommate
Author: Rebel Hart







Unlike most students, I was glad the summer was over. I was finally eighteen, I was finally out of high school, and most importantly, I was finally at Presper University. After having the college and its amazing journalism program on my radar for most of my high school career, it was finally move-in day, and I couldn’t be more excited.

“Honey, where do you want this?”

I turned around and looked at Harriet, my step-mom, awkwardly holding a box of my trinkets from home. Despite the beads of sweat dripping down her chocolate skin and dampening the edges of her golden, curly hair, she had a bright smile on her face.

“Anywhere is fine,” I responded. “It looks heavy. Why didn’t you let dad carry it up?”

She set the box down on the dorm room’s provided desk with a dull thud. “Because he said it was too heavy for me.”

I laughed. “Ah.”

Harriet had always been that sort of person. If you tell her she can’t do something, she’ll do it twice to prove you wrong. My dad proposed marriage to her just three short months after he and my mom announced their divorce. They were married within a month of the divorce being finalized. I blamed her for a long time for ruining my parents’ marriage, but life has a funny way of teaching important lessons.

Harriet wrapped her arm around my shoulder. “So, are you excited for your big journalism debut?”

“I don’t think starting college can be considered one’s ‘debut.’ If I land my internship, then I’ll be making my big debut.”

“And you will,” Harriet replied. “With your skills and all of the tools I beat into you, you’re gonna clean house.”

Harriet had also been my high school mentor and the teacher that headed up the school newspaper and yearbook committee. I first met her when I was thirteen and thought she was the most amazing person I’d ever met. Suffice it to say I was shattered when I found out she was having an affair with my dad, one that most likely started when they met because of me. It turned my world upside down, learning that someone I looked up to had willingly participated in something that would go on to divide my family, but after Harriet and my dad were married, I could see that my dad was the happiest he’d ever been. Not in all of the memories that I had of my parents had either of them ever seemed as happy as my dad and Harriet did when they were together. Did I agree with my dad’s method? No, but I eventually made my peace with that and grew to love Harriet again. My dad was happy, and that made me happy.

“I hope so. I can’t apply until next year, so this year is all about stacking the deck,” I explained. “I’m starting with the Dean’s List.”

Harriet gave me a squeeze. “That’s my girl. Always so goal-oriented.”

“She gets that from her dad.” My dad came grunting and groaning his way around the corner with boxes stacked high in his arms.

I got my brown hair and gray eyes from him, and given that he was only a few centimeters taller than I was, he looked like a male me walking through the door, apart from the tips of my hair that were dyed purple. When his hair was pulled back into a bun and he had his glasses on instead of his contacts, I was his spitting image.

“Dad.” I took the top box off and set it on my bed. “Why?”

“Hey, your old man is strong.” He nearly toppled as he tried to set the remaining boxes down on the floor. He stood up with a huff. “See?”

Harriet shook her head. “You’re gonna be complaining about your back for the next three days.”

My dad waved his hand at Harriet and then looked at me. “When’s your mom coming?”

“Tomorrow,” I replied. “She wanted to come today, but…”

An awkward silence fell over the room. In spite of the more horrific way their marriage came to an end, my parents had maintained a very good relationship—further proof that they really just weren’t meant to be married—but when Harriet was involved in something, my mom wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

“Well, we can go so that she can come today,” my dad responded. “I can call her when we leave.”

I shook my head. “It’s okay. Actually, you guys shouldn’t feel the need to stick around. Sydney should be here soon, and I think I’m gonna go pick up my books and stuff from the Student Union. You’ve fed me, and you’ve moved me in. I think I’m good.”

My dad opened his arms, and I left Harriet’s side to walk into them. “You sure?”

“Yeah, Dad, I’m good.” He kissed the top of my forehead. “Thank you for everything.”

He patted my back. “All right, pumpkin. Well, we’re only thirty minutes away, so call if you need anything. You’ve got some money in your account, and don’t waste quarters on laundry. We’ll just do weekly runs.”

I laughed. “Okay, Dad.” I pulled myself from his hold. “Go, go. I’ll be okay.” He looked down at me, and I could see his eyes glistening. I pointed up at him. “Don’t. You’ve already cried so much. Just go.” I made a sweeping motion with his hands. “Go. Go enjoy an empty nest.”

“Fine. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

I gave both my dad and Harriet a final round of hugs and goodbyes and then let out a sigh of relief when they were finally out the door. I checked the time and saw it was half-past one in the afternoon. I spent about an hour unpacking my boxes and getting my computer set up on my desk, then I slung my purse over my shoulder, grabbed my keys, and left the dorm.

Presper University wasn’t a massive school, but it was big enough to feel comfortable with a student population of around four thousand. It was arranged hub style, with the administrative building situated right in the center of the campus and four towers that contained dorms to the north, south, east, and west. The different academic buildings formed a ring between the living towers and the admin building, and there were two student-centric locations in the northeastern and southwestern corners of the campus, the Student Union in the northeast and the Student Gathering hall in the southwest. I lived in the Eastern Tower, which meant I was located particularly close to the Student Union, a good thing, considering about half of my new professors were still relying on physical books for their courses.

The Student Union was a large, white stone building, with tall pillars in front and the school’s color scheme, burgundy and gold, hanging in sashes along the roof and in banners down the front. Students were flowing in and out in a steady stream, and I breathed in the energy of a new chapter of my life as I approached. College was a turning point for me, one I couldn’t wait to get started on. It wasn’t as if I had an overly unlikable high school experience, but as a staunchly undramatic person, I’d somehow become best friends with one of the school’s more dramatic-fueled individuals, earned the disapproval of her former best friend, and managed to develop unrequited feelings for a guy who often said he considered me a sister. The 2.0 of being friend-zoned— sibling-zoned. For someone who tried so severely to avoid attention, I’d found myself at the center of it a lot and was excited about a change.

The only thing I allowed to follow me from high school was Sydney. She was going to be my roommate, and even though she’d spent our entire senior year of high school talking about how she couldn’t wait to leave the small town we lived in, Logan, Utah, she randomly decided after the freshman preview night for Presper University to attend the school with me, as well. I was confused, though excited. I was beyond welcoming of the opportunity to take Sydney out of the environment that fostered her thirst for drama. We could just grow as friends while we lived together at college.

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