Ben Hsu

Fantasy · Fiction · Flash Fiction · Heavy Handed Parable · Modern Fantasy

House and Housemates

Two housemates occupied a house. It was not a big house, nor a particularly fancy house; but it was the only house they could afford, so they called it home. As is the way of these tales the two housemates were diametrically opposite. Where one was very neat and tidy the other was slovenly. One cared a great deal about other people and the other thought only of himself. One took the time to plan out her actions, carefully considering long term effects. The other lived only in the moment, consequences be damned.

Everyday the studious housemate carefully maintained the house. She cleaned up any messes she made, made note of any damage she found (and scheduled a time to repair it), and generally tried to keep to herself, consciences of the fact that they could only afford this house.

The slovenly housemate had no such qualms. He ate constantly, throwing his mess wherever it would land. He made up and played rambunctious, often violent games when he was bored, which was quite often. He even rejected the most basic hygiene rituals for being, “too boring.”

As expected (though perhaps not as early as expected) the two housemates soon came into conflict. The studious housemate found herself tripping over the other housemate’s messes, and no matter how many repairs she made, there were always more to be made after one of the slovenly roommate’s “games.” When she appealed him he replied, “We are each free to live our own lives. I’m not forcing you to repair the house or clean up the messes you find. What right do you have to force me to change the way I live.” At that he shut his ears and refused to listen to anything she said; instead deciding to see how far he could throw their cutlery.

So she sighed and redoubled her efforts to maintain the house, for she knew it was the only house she could afford. Emboldened by his housemate’s efforts the slovenly, selfish housemate grew all the worse and it wasn’t long before his trash filled the house and his games started to crack the walls and chip the floors. The air became hard to breath from the stench of his trash and the floor grew sticky from the various fluids he left behind.

Once again she tried to reason with her roommate; this time pointing out the damage he was doing, the stench he’d created, and the disturbingly sticky floors. He replied, “It’s only because it’s summertime, the heat makes things smell worse. And all houses suffer wear and tear. There’s no way to prove I’ve done that damage.” At that he closed his ears and refused to listen to anything she said, instead went about picking through the fridge, throwing anything he didn’t like to the floor.

Even with her best efforts she couldn’t keep up. His trash overflowed the house, stacking up in great piles that spilled through the windows and doors. The walls cracked and buckled under the weight, exposing piping and wiring. Both roommates constantly gasped and wheezed trying to breath through the omnipresent stench.

Once more the studious roommate confronted her roommate. This time she pointed out how they could breath without gasping and wheezing in the past; how there was an abundance of rats and cockroaches running amok in the house, and how several of the trash piles were actively on fire due to being near exposed wiring. “Stop telling me how to live my life,” he complained. “You don’t have any proof anyway. It’s wintertime. Have you thought of that? We get sick in the winter, and of course rats and cockroaches are going to come into the warm when it’s cold out. Anyway, the fires were started by faulty wiring. No one could have foreseen faulty wiring.”

With no other options, she fled the house. Homeless, but alive she watched the house burn. As the fires consumed the building she could hear her ex-roommate yelling that this was her fault, she should have cleaned up more, warned him early, dragged him out of the house with her. His screams of indignation finally stopped when the house collapsed. Left alone and homeless, the studious roommate none the less felt an overwhelming sense of joy at the knowledge that she’d never have to deal with the slovenly roommate again.

Fantasy · Fiction · Flash Fiction · Heavy Handed Parable · Modern Fantasy

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