Having a roommate is so much fun. For years my cousins, my seniors and basically every university graduate always spoke fondly about their days in the dormitories. Secretive parties, secret relationships and secret ways people passed their examinations. Every Friday dinner anecdote has fuelled my expectation of the university dream life, and I’m glad to report that everything is up to, if not beyond expectations. And the person responsible for all my wild university experiences is my roommate Janice. Janice is the complete opposite of who I would want to befriend. I’m a rather introverted person who likes spending time alone, so are my friends back at home are pretty much the same. But Janice? Janice was something else. I remember the first day we met when she burst in through the doors with 5 gold-coated luggage and a giant teddy bear. Before I could react, Janice embraced me in her arms and dragged me all over campus to familiarise myself with everybody. I didn’t know why she knew virtually everyone on campus on the first day. But seeing how loud and social she was, I chalked everything up to her magnetising charms. From that day onwards, we spent every single day in fits. Janice was the exact opposite of me, and I couldn’t be more thankful that she was my roommate.
Except for certain periods.
Janice was basically flawless. Pretty, charming, social, always knowing the right things to say to make people feel comfortable, but she had a little bit of anger issues. When she gets angry, she gets extremely impulsive. I’m talking about screaming at people, throwing things at them, sometimes even physically harming them. I still remember the first time I got her angry. It was when I asked to borrow her jacket. I was mere centimetres away from her closet when she slammed the door shut and pushed me on the floor. I couldn’t really remember what happened next except for us getting ice cream. But after that incident, I always tried to stay on her good side. From time to time, Janice would throw casual reminders at me, telling me to never open her closet. She said something about her privacy issues, but honestly, I wouldn’t go anywhere near her closet even if she paid me. The closet was… strange. There were some nights when I would hear something shifting inside the closet. Some days there seem to be light coming from inside the closet. Sometimes Janice would spend hours in the closet, but I never asked her anything about it. Why would I? The red in her eyes from when she pushed me down are still buried deep in my memory.
And so, for the rest of our university life, we spent it ignoring the closet in the room and doing everything we could possibly do as adults but without adult responsibilities. The four years flew right by and coloured my life with ways I would have never expected going in. When graduation rolled around, we spent the entire ceremony in tears and the night partying. Friends and some teacher assistants piled into our room, and the night was filled with laughter and crying into each other’s glasses because we didn’t want to grow up.
The next day, we woke up in a haze. I could barely remember what happened last night. Neither did Janice, considering she laughed at her reflection for five minutes right after her eyes lazily opened. She then said she was starving and wanted to go next door to see if our neighbours had any leftover pizza. She grabbed a jacket from the closet and haphazardly stumbled out of our room. And for the first time in four years, her closet door was left open. I immediately had flashbacks to the time she shoved me to the floor. I never knew her petite stature held so much strength. Fearing that this might ruin one of our last few days together, I headed over to close the door. While I was trying my hardest to gain my senses back. I glanced down on the floor and saw there were red stains at the foot of the door. I thought it was spilt wine from last night, and without giving it a second thought, I went past Janice’s closet to our messy shelves to grab a cloth to mop it up. The moment I touched the cloth, all I thought was how disgusting it was. Why is it both wet and sticky? With my mind still on the cloth, I turned around and carefully made my way back to the stain. I couldn’t see very clearly ahead of me, thanks to my blurred vision and messy hair. I clumsily moved my hair away from my face, and that was when my thought shifted from the sticky cloth to running away from whatever was inside Janice’s closet.
All of a sudden I knew why she never wanted me to go near her closet.
Because what the fuck is that?
© 2021 Alison Lian