Jacklyn’s roommate Stephanie was moving out. She was going to B.C. because she loved yoga and hiking and her hair looked great in the humidity. She was leaving Snib with Jacklyn. She made it seem like it was an action of generosity, like she was giving Jacklyn her cat out of the kindness of her heart. But Jacklyn knew it was really because Stephanie couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to get Snib on the plane. She also wasn’t convinced Stephanie had ever really like Snib. That would certainly explain why she’d never seemed bothered that Gord kept trying to steal him.
In any case, Stephanie had found someone to rent her room after she was gone. It was a friend she had met through one of the many brokers she had dated over the years. Jacklyn was slightly concerned. Stephanie didn’t have notoriously good judgement. That was why she dated so many boring men and was moving to B.C. without any job prospects or plans and also why she had bought a cat that had too many toes and not enough ears in the first place. Besides, Stephanie’s only female friend, Alice, was boring beyond all point of reason. By the time the new roommate was due to arrive to move, Jacklyn had managed to convince herself that she was about to spend the foreseeable future living with the most boring woman in the entire world and a hapless cat that technically wasn’t even hers.
But then she met her new roommate and felt significantly better about things. Her name was Jocelyn Inihara-Davidson and she was surprisingly cool. She had black hair that went nearly to her waist. She wore dark lipstick, she dressed really well, and she looked almost as put-together at all times as Jacklyn did. She had great taste in everything; clothes, music, books, TV, decor. When she moved in, she brought a turquoise vintage armchair that Jacklyn immediately fell in love with. She also ate really well and drank impressive amounts of water every day. Jacklyn’s friends liked her, Gord and his roommates liked her, and, above all else, Snib loved her. He stopped trying to flee to Gord’s apartment on a regular basis.
For a while, it was great. She had really lucked out all things considered. But then it got to the point that Jacklyn was a little concerned everybody in her life liked Jocelyn better than her. At first she’d been pleased that Jocelyn was so effectively keeping Snib away from Gord. She had felt so vindicated. But then she started to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good thing since Snib already liked Gord better than her and now he liked Jocelyn even better than Gord and Jacklyn combined. Jacklyn was more than a little worried that Snib was only the first to defect in a long line of others. Even Gord liked Jocelyn better. It started in the hallway outside of their apartments the day after Jocelyn had moved in. Gord asked about the commotion from the day before and Jacklyn explained that she’d gotten a new roommate named Jocelyn.
“Jacklyn and Jocelyn?” He returned. “How am I ever going to tell you two apart?”
“Well, she’s half Japanese and my grandparents were born in Nigeria, so that might help,” Jacklyn returned dryly, rolling her eyes and reaching for her front door.
“Eh, I guess so,” Gord shrugged.
The next day, when Jacklyn came home from work, it was to find Gord and Jocelyn laughing in the hallway with Hot Neighbour/Amare, who apparently wasn’t actually her neighbour at all. Snib was winding around Jocelyn’s ankles, purring like a freight train. Jacklyn glared at Gord for good measure and then went inside, Jocelyn and Snib not far behind. Jocelyn asked her how her day had been, they watched TV together, and everything was generally pleasant.
But then it continued. Gord came over with his roommate Gavin one day just to say hi. Amare stopped by their apartment on his way to the guys’ apartment. The only one Jocelyn wasn’t managing to charm was Finch and Jacklyn got the impression that was due more to the fact that it would’ve been easier to charm an irritable rattlesnake. Jacklyn began to loath Gord for another reason entirely. And if she had been jealous of Snib’s love for Gord, it was nothing compared to the envy she felt when Snib expressed his love for Jocelyn. He loitered outside her bedroom door every morning, purring louder than a freight train in sheer anticipation of seeing her.
The final straw was her boyfriend Aaron, who chatted effusively to Jocelyn every time he came over. Jocelyn was so polite and charming. They’d talk for at least fifteen minutes and he would always mention how nice she was after every conversation. It made Jacklyn dislike Jocelyn just a little bit, even though none of it was technically her fault and there really was no reason to hate her.
“I hate her because I can’t find a reason to hate her,” Jacklyn admitted to Jemima over lunch one day at work.
“You are so complicated,” was Jemima’s unhelpful response. Noel was eating lunch in the break room two tables away from them so Jacklyn really should’ve known better than to expect anything useful from Jemima in his relative presence.
“I also think Aaron might think she’s prettier than me,” Jacklyn continued despite Jemima’s obvious lack of interest. That comment did catch Jemima’s attention, however. She snorted and turned back to fully face Jacklyn.
“I think she’s prettier than you,” Jemima said, being uncharacteristically blunt. “But that’s only because I think she’s the prettiest person I’ve ever seen. I think she’s prettier than Margot Robbie and I think you know how I feel about Margot Robbie.”
Jacklyn had no idea how Jemima felt about Margot Robbie. It wasn’t something that had ever come up before and, frankly, Jacklyn wasn’t sure why it would have. All in all, it wasn’t very helpful and it definitely didn’t make her feel any better about the fact that her boyfriend probably thought her roommate was prettier than her. As far as insecurities went, that was a pretty big one.
By the time she arrived at her building after work later that day, Jacklyn had seriously begun contemplating how she could convince Jocelyn to move out. It would be difficult, especially since she had only just moved and had also expressed several times how tired she was of moving. Jacklyn was more than willing to try, though. If anything, she figured Gord’s incessant presence would be enough to drive her away eventually. He was the most ridiculous person Jacklyn had ever met, and she included Noel in that. Noel had worn a flared jumpsuit a la Abba to work that day.
She walked up to her floor and down the hall to her apartment where she found Gord sitting in the hallway, legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles, with Snib sprawled next to him. Gord had hauled his orange record player into the hallway with him and was listening to Mungo Jerry. He was reading a paperback novel. He appeared to be growing sideburns to go with his mustache. Jacklyn briefly wondered how many of the other tenants complained about him because she had gotten a fair number of complaints about the sound of Snib running and it seemed unfair if he was free to drag his record player around to listen to “In The Summertime”.
“What the hell are you doing?” She demanded, stopping just in front of him.
“Fuck’s sake,” he exhaled, placing his open paperback over his heart and looking up at her. “Why do you do that? I’m going to put a fucking bell on you so I can hear you coming.”
“This is a hallway,” Jacklyn pointed out. “If you don’t want to be startled, maybe read your damn book inside your own apartment.”
“But if I’m inside the apartment, I can’t hang out with the cat,” Gord said plainly, like she was the one being stupid. “We’ve been through this before.”
Jacklyn glared at him.
“You can’t hang out with the cat because he’s not your cat,” she retorted. “And, while we’re at it, stop hitting on my roommate.”
“I am not hitting on your roommate,” Gord scoffed immediately. Jacklyn just stared at him. “Okay, I may be hitting on your roommate.”
“Well stop,” she said firmly. She turned to go into her apartment only to find Jocelyn standing behind her in her workout gear, clearly on her way to the gym. She waved at them both and took off, but not before looking just sad enough for Jacklyn to be sure she had heard her entire conversation with Gord. Jacklyn turned back to Gord to pick up Snib and carry him into her apartment against his will.
“I hate you,” she said to him with narrowed eyes. Gord only laughed at her.
Jacklyn was in the living room when Jocelyn returned from her workout. Jacklyn had been saying good-bye to Jocelyn’s turquoise armchair, fairly convinced Jocelyn would want to move out instead of staying and continue living with a weirdo like Jacklyn. On the one hand, it was exactly what she had wanted. On the other hand, she did feel slightly bad and she really liked the chair.
“I’m sorry if I stepped on some toes,” Jocelyn said, coming over to join Jacklyn by the armchair. “I didn’t know you were interested in Gord.”
“Oh God, I am not interested in Gord,” she said without hesitation before it dawned on her that it might not have been the most important thing to focus on at the moment. “I mean, I was only saying that for your benefit. Mostly. He’s really annoying and he’s spent several months trying to steal the cat. You know how it is.”
Jocelyn did not look like she did in fact know how it was. She mostly just looked confused, which was fair. Jacklyn’s explanation hadn’t made very much sense.
“Also, I have a boyfriend,” Jacklyn continued. “Aaron. You’ve met him. He doesn’t have sideburns so he’s infinitely better.”
“I don’t think Gord’s that bad,” Jocelyn shrugged. It was possible Jacklyn had made it much worse while trying to make it better. As a whole, the conversation could’ve gone much better. She said another mental goodbye to the armchair.
“Oh well, he’s not I suppose,” she backtracked. “If you wanted to date him, I’m sure—”
“Oh God, no,” Jocelyn interrupted. “I’m not going to date Gord. I’m just saying that he’s not totally horrible. I like his roommate better anyway.”
“Amare?” Jacklyn replied. “You know, he’s not actually their roommate. He’s just over a lot so it seems like he is.”
“No, not him. Finch? The hot one who always wears a leather jacket?” Jocelyn replied. Jacklyn just nodded like she understood and Jocelyn smiled before heading to her room. Jacklyn couldn’t tell if anything was better or not. She was still pretty sure Aaron thought Jocelyn was pretty, which she didn’t like, and that she thought Jocelyn was quite nice, which she did like, but now she also knew that Jocelyn had a thing for Finch, which was nearly inexplicable. He was terrifying. But what she figured was most important was that she got to continue living with the turquoise armchair and that was a definite plus.