Rm w/a Vu(9)By: A. D. Ryan
By the end of my break, I’ve found well over ten between the paper and Craigslist. I feel like it’s a pretty decent start to getting out of my parents’ house.
The rest of my shift is a breeze, and I clock out ten minutes after my shift was supposed to end, having helped Mel with the last few customers before leaving her and Rick for the night.
“Night, guys!” I call after me as I push the door open and walk out into the dry, desert air.
“Good luck on your apartment hunt,” Mel says with a wave.
It’s pretty warm outside for late fall, and I can already feel the heat permeate my clothes and skin. Once I’m inside my car, I roll both of the windows down so I don’t melt. Knowing that my dad’s shift at the department starts in a half hour, I drive slowly; I really don’t want to chance walking in on anything else. I still plan to call, because I’ve definitely learned my lesson.
When I’m a block away, I call the house. With a laugh, my mom assures me that Dad has left, and she deems it safe for me to come in without knocking. I put the car in park and grab my things before trudging up the driveway and through the front door.
“Hey, Mom! I’m home,” I announce before hiking up the stairs and putting my bag in my room. I toss the paper and my laptop onto the bed and am just slipping out of my coffee-stained work shirt and into a light tank and jeans when my mom comes in and flops down on my bed.
“How was work?”
“Did you get your paper done?” she asks, lying on her side as I affix my loose ponytail into a bun to keep the hair off my neck before it sticks, and I turn my fan on the highest setting.
I shake my head. “Nah. I got a good start on it, though, so I should be able to finish it in plenty of time.”
“That’s good.” Behind me, I hear the crinkle of paper and turn around to see her picking up my ads. “What’s this?”
Scrunching my nose, I cross my arms in front of me. “I was looking through the classifieds for a place. Daphne can’t get me into a new dorm room so late in the year, so I figured I would look into renting a place.”
“Sweetheart, you’re more than welcome to stay here for as long as you need.”
I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I have to be honest with her; she knows when I’m not. “Mom, you and Dad are clearly enjoying having the house to yourselves. I really don’t want to intrude on that…and not just because it’s absolutely horrifying.” She gives me the “Mom-look,” and I roll my eyes in response. “Let me put it in a way that you can understand: could you go back to living with Grandma and Grandpa if—”
Mom’s hands quickly fly up to cover her ears, and she clenches her eyes shut. “Okay! I get your point!”
Satisfied, I smile. “Then I rest my case. Come on, I’ll make us some dinner.” I take one of her hands and pull her to her feet. She snatches the paper up and brings it with her.
While I cook dinner for the two of us, Mom sits at the table and looks at all the ads I’ve circled and laughs at the ones I’ve eliminated. “You know, this one guy might not be so bad.”
I shoot a glance at her with an arched brow. “You mean the hot chicks guy?” Mom nods. “Mmm, no thanks. I’ve had my fill of self-righteous assholes to last me a lifetime.”
Bypassing the fact that I just swore—something I don’t do much of at all, let alone in front of my parents—my mother continues. “I bet he’s cute…”
I laugh dryly. “There isn’t a doubt in my mind,” I tell her as I cook the chicken for our salads.
“Juliette?” I turn my head to see she’s now leaning over the counter that separates the dining area from the kitchen. “I know that living off-campus, even with a roommate, can be quite expensive.” She’s not kidding; I’ve already decided to take on more shifts at work so I’ll be able to afford it and food. “Your father and I are going to help. If you find a place, you let us know how much it is and we’ll pay half.”
I shake my head; it’s far too generous an offer. “Mom—”