This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 744 words.
Gabby was excited when she came up to me outside the Campus Shop. “I have a viewing set for Saturday morning. A three-bed end of terrace in Colman Road. It is literally behind the uni, so you can fall out of bed into class”. I knew Colman Road was close. It was also a busy main road, so just as well none of owned a car. She waffled a bit.
“Obviously, it’s not very luxurious, and there’s no bath, only a shower room. But even the smallest bedroom is a good size, Ben. We don’t have to worry about gardening either, as it’s just got a patio. It’s set up for students. You know, fire blankets, smoke alarms, all that stuff. Can you be there at ten? Mikki is coming of course”. She handed me a photocopied agent’s sheet, bearing a photo of a rather sad-looking small house on it.
But what the hell, I would be sharing with Gabby. I nodded. “See you there then”.
The agent was a flash-looking guy with a creased suit and gelled hair. Although he was probably only about twenty-five, he tried to act older. According to Gabby, the smallest room with a single bed would be mine. Before Mikki arrived, she whispered conspiratorially to me. “Mikki needs a double bed at her size, and my room, well I found the house, and I’m paying the deposit”. The kitchen was tiny, and the bathroom led off of that, built onto the back of the old house.
By the time Mikki showed up, red-faced and breathless, Gabby had already agreed to the contract.
“Hi Mikki. It’s a great place, so I have taken it. I will pay the guy the deposit in cash. But as I have no credit history in Britain, you will have to sign the agreement, and put someone down as a guarantor”. Mikki looked as if the ground would swallow her up. I stepped in. “How about I sign, use my parents as a guarantor? Mikki can take charge of the key-meters for gas and electric, and sign up for the broadband and wi-fi?”
For that, I got a kiss from Gabby. A real one, right on the lips.
I just had to get my mum or dad to countersign the agreement and send it in, and we could be in within a week. When Gabby gave the guy a bundle of money, I was impressed. Four hundred for the first month’s rent, plus a five hundred security deposit, in case we wrecked the place. He said he would give Mikki the keys for the gas and electric meters once he had the paperwork, and then Gabby kissed us both, before leaving.
“Sorry guys. I am meeting Kim in the city. Staying at hers tonight”.
Mikki looked a bit lost, so I suggested we get a bus for the short trip into the city centre, and have an early lunch. She hesitated, and I had to add, “On me of course”. I was beginning to wonder if Mikki had any spare money at all. And if not, then why had she agreed to share the house?
Over a cheap lunch, sitting outside a cafe, I tried to get to know her better. “I’ll tell you something, Mikki, just between us. I told Gabby my name was Benedict, and she said she would shorten that to Ben. The truth is, my real name is Ben, and I only said Benedict because I though it sounded upper-class”.
That backfired, and she wasn’t amused. “I think you should have been honest from the start. I don’t like deception, and don’t agree with it. I thought you were realy nice, but that worries me”. Gabby had a much stronger hold over her than I had ever imagined. I finished my panini, and kept my mouth shut as we walked back to the campus.
My dad was really irritating on the phone. “Why you? Why couldn’t she sign the agreement?” I reminded him that I had just explained why. She had been living abroad, had no credit history, but had come up with nine hundred in cash for the deposit. Once he had finished moaning, I knew he would cave. “Okay, I wil sign it when it comes, and send it back first class post”.
We had a house, we were second years, and I was going to be living with Gabby.
Life was great, and couldn’t get better.