– Happy House, 01 –

“I am afraid you will best get a year out as an internal or external students of the university, before you can take your final retake of the exam for Sociological Analysis.” The e-mail was longer than that, but that was the message if I cut out every detail of course.

I was having a “Bell Jar Crisis”, what I mean was the kind of feeling of fear when what you expected or wishes dashed. It wasn’t supposed to be such a big deal as such happened in life numerous times. Yet for me, my hope to progress through to the second year in such state, would mean I might have to leave university if I don’t make it later. Therefore in where I come from people would give no hesitation of despising you for you have no validity with everything you say (unless you got a degree). Another problem was my financial situation would be in absolute hell, I needed the money from student loan. Student loan had made their rules clear that, no money would be given to any students without full attendance of the lectures, they covered only the duration of the course. Anything else outside this, sorry mate can’t help you I could imagine they say.

This as a result would lead to more than just not able to pay my rent, but since I in that moment liable for legal responsibilities with seven other girls from the same hall of residence at the previous year, I would be pretty much breaking the contract if I couldn’t pay – unless I can find someone to replace me. Until then, I would have to find something to generate the cash.

I looked up to the wallpaper that looked like patterns of china – it took me a while to get used to the fact that I had to make a hiatus on my studies, job search seemed the only logical option of all the solution that could be done. What kind of jobs? I thought to myself, what kind of jobs would generate money in big amount quickly. Retail would always need people, maybe some care works like the ones in nursing home…I could always sell my body. I noted down all these options onto a white piece of paper, as a knock on the door echoed. “Who is it?”

“It’s Nancy.” The voice replied from the other side of the door, I opened the door for her right away. Of all the six girls in this house, Nancy and I were the closest – I guess such relationship could be constituted because our background were the only ones that seemed less well-off compared to the rest, beside our father shared the same job in different countries. Nancy’s hair was like a river contaminated with red ink – the kind of red you would see in Dante Rossetti’s paintings (especially the one with Beatrix), a model standard body with everything in the right place. She was everything a woman can possibly envy, yet to my surprise, she only confine things she wouldn’t tell the rest to me. “I am sorry for what happened to you,” she commented, after I told her what happened. “I am not sure what to say, but maybe it would be a good time for you to find the path you want to be?”

“How do you mean?”

“You know to become certain for what you want whether you finish the degree or not, what you want to become doesn’t necessary have to wait until you finished your degree, don’t you?”

“I supposed you are right about knowing what I want.” I replied, yet Vivian’s eyes was caught by something written on the paper. I presume it was the sex work written on the paper, Vivian has been quite experienced on that area, as she has been working as “Belle de Nuit” since before university, I presume her worldly essence was made in the process of sex work. As we both lost in the silence, we heard the voices from downstairs saying “Dinner!”, the voice would be Laura, she always have had this very sharp voice which shown sign of she wasn’t used to shouting loud. Vivian and I went down together, the other girls emerged from the living room next door.

I sat myself between the exit toward the main door and the table as Nancy settled herself next to me at my right, Nancy have had this long red hair tied up into a braid, which shown not just her swan-like neck but also exposed the flesh white as snow. Her appearance shared a kind of holiness.  Next to her was Harriet – a girl with intelligence of a philosopher and sensitivity of Sylvia Plath, her chestnut-colored hair enabled her doll-like eyes to be visible in her features, often her eyes gained her a lot of affections from the opposite sex. Then comes Daphne – a woman whose sweet appearance was extremely different from her commanding nature. Iris who sat next to her was a woman whose appearance (and nature) gave people the trouble of liking, she and Daphne were the only people who came from a background that could afford hobbies that require loads of money to sustain. Then finally Angela, a very mathematical person who seemed to struggle on understanding human emotions, which as a result furthered her detachment toward the society itself. We sat together eating the dinner silently, none of us dared to be the first to speak.

***

15 Buchett Grove would never be my home,

I thought as I opened my laptop, it was a huge and chunky one in black – like a Japanese lunch box. The screen was getting dusty over the years of usage, the keyboards were getting worn out. I spent a morning sorting out my CV, thinking about the jobs that I would like to take while revising for the final chance of resiting for my Sociological Analysis module. I was long woken up by the girls running up and down the stairs for their bags, breakfast and notes for their lectures. At Monday Daphne and Iris would leave the house at ten in the morning for their lectures, Angela would be heading down to the lab for some work while Harriet would not need to be at anywhere until at least one in the afternoon. As for Nancy she would be out of the house before nine, as her law degree was intensive in a level that would drive any sane person mad.

Tuesday Nancy would leave the house at eleven for her lecture on either some law or French, whilst Daphne and Iris would go to the library together like a twin. As for Harriet and Angela, they have a day off often, Harriet would be reading something like Martin Heidegger whilst Angela would blast the house with some cheesy dance music. Wednesday Nancy would only need to be in the lecture at eleven in the morning, while Daphne and Iris would go into the lecture where their “dreamy” lecturer would be giving the teaching. While for Harriet and Angela, god knows where they would be.

As for Thursday and Friday, part from Nancy, Daphne, Iris and Angela, Harriet and I would be the only people in the house for almost all day. This gave me an advantage for not just some peace and quiet to myself – focus on getting my CV sorted out, writing letters to ask employers to hire me and occasionally reading. From time to time I would be in appointment with Teresa Lovecraft, the lady who conducted the function of Sociological Analysis. I have to meet her in set days to show her the writing I have been doing for the preparation of my exam resit, the meeting each time were not very pleasant because I seemed not able to grasp properly what she wanted from me on the answers. I also was sent to take English lessons – there were different types of lessons available in university, I was sent to the ones that focused on writing in English.

Saturday was always a disaster,

Saturday was always a disaster when all of us would have to meet for breakfast, or lunch and dinner. Some of us would’ve gone to the library, some of us would’ve gone to town and some would’ve gone home for the weekend. For Nancy she would be at her part-time, for me because of very little cash – I would have to find job with a huge enthusiasm to keep me going. Yet the worse of all would be the awkwardness I received in the house, especially the tantrums thrown by Daphne in many occasions.    “I think you should take up more housework,” Daphne commented to me in front of everyone as the X Factor was on in a weekend night, I couldn’t remember who was on the screen. Everyone was stunned when she said this to me. “Since you are the only person who’s in the house all the time.”

“But we own this house don’t we?” Nancy retorted with a question, “I mean we signed the contract, we are liable to be responsible for this house aren’t we?” Harriet and Angela tried to keep their eyes on the television, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did so – no one would want to be involved with an argument. I did not say a word about this, in fact I would rather they leave me alone to grief for the situation I was in. You might say that seemed exaggerating to have a year out, but for me it was a great deal to grief upon.

I was from a culture where failure was almost unforgivable, my family hold a strong expectation of what I was to be when I grow up, with elements such as university included. My parents were overjoyed when I got into university, they simply couldn’t imagine a dumb like me would enter university at all. Yet they failed to calculate the possibilities that I would be stopped and have my quality in English writing in question. So my father whilst trying to console himself that the year out would do me good, he couldn’t help questioning whether I should’ve been born at all. My mother was more practical about the matter, at least she told me numerous times to focus on getting the exam and the job hunt done first. For me it was obviously shattering in a way, as I was never expecting year out to happen, or precisely never expected year out exist in my life at all.

“I am not having her rotting around this house,” Daphne complained desperately, she also gave me a look of disgust when she uttered the words: she stinks. I was sure I took a shower everyday, part of something that kept me going, I have a feeling she said it to belittle everything I felt toward the situation. Harriet looked over to me with sympathy, I nodded to say thanks. Daphne left the room with fury and Iris ran after her like a faithful servant, when the rest of us look at each other, not sure what to say.

***

There was a scream from somewhere within the room, I jumped from the bed as if a bug bite me because of the sharpness of the scream. Nancy crashed into my room and looked at me in confusion, we heard more carefully – it was from Harriet! We then ran up to the room, we stumbled along the way as we stupidly forgot to turn on the lights when we ran up to her room. Angela didn’t wake up as she would be the first to be in the scene, she must’ve had some sleeping pills, I thought. “Harriet?” The door was locked, Nancy and I looked to each other, before I crashed the door open – thankfully the door didn’t fall right in front of me.

Under the moonlight Harriet was sweating, her Victorian-like pyjama in white was soggy to the point you could almost see the boobs popping out, Nancy turned on the light as we walked over to her on the bed. She was trembling as if she had epilepsy with her eyes gone white, I was worried as her trembling seemed implying something very demonic was coming out. “Harriet! Harriet!” I instructed Nancy to grab water from the bathroom, as I tried to wake her from whatever zone she was in, while my left hand tried to shield her head from banging to the headstone on the bed.

It felt as if a century just past me by when Harriet was awake, she woke when Nancy spilled some water from her mug, the spill hit right on her face. She looked at us confused, then her face turned into horror when she heard what we saw. She looked to the wall, as if a black cat would jump right out of the wall and kill her, her heart was pounding so loud and fast as if she would die of extreme fear instantly.

 

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