Since our birthday was in August, we were going to graduate before turning eighteen. It was strange seeing so many of our friends looking older, discussing the future, making all sorts of plans.
“What do you guys wanna be?” Viola asked at almost the end of school. The three of us were sitting at the picnic table in our backyard, soaking up the sun and filling out applications for jobs. “I mean, I know we all have our dreams but really, what you two planning?”
Zari grinned, waving his pen around. “Acting. I still want to be an actor. A stage actor, but being in movies wouldn’t be so bad… buuuut I’d much prefer being on stage.”
“Like musical theater?” Vi teased.
Zari threw his pen at her. “No! Like Shakespeare! With a name like mine, how could they refuse?” He stood up and flung his arms out while hunching over. “Now! Now is the winter of our discontent…”
“How could who refuse?” I asked with a smirk. “There’s not exactly a Shakespeare company in town.”
“Made glorious summer by this son of York!” Zari continued, ignoring me completely.
I rolled my eyes at Vi who was giggling. “What about you?” she asked, folding her arms at the table and beaming at me. “You never joined anything during school, you never seemed interested in anything.”
I lifted one shoulder in a shrug. I wasn’t particularly ambitious, and I had never been sure of what I wanted in life. Just a job somewhere. I didn’t even care what the job was. A desk job, probably. “That’s why I’m going for a general degree,” I pointed out as Zari stood on top of the table, still going on. “What about you, Vi? Not going to become a pop star?”
She narrowed her eyes and blushed slightly at the reminder of her childhood dream. “No,” she grumbled. “I can’t hold a tune, anyway. Nah, I actually signed up for a business degree.” She tipped her head back, smiling. “Imagine that! Me, a CEO someday.”
“But I,” Zari continued, “that am not shaped for sportive tricks, nor made to court an amorous looking-glass…”
“What you?” I snickered. “In a pinstripe skirt looking all… proper?”
She glowered as I kept snickering. “It’s not funny! You’re such a loser, sometimes. Stop laughing!”
“OH!” Zari finally stopped monologue-ing and jumped down to the ground, then pulled us to our feet. “VI! SEB! Before I forget, I needed-needed-needed to talk to you about something.” He grabbed his backpack and began rummaging around. “About college. Dorms and such. I found… this!” He pulled out a piece of paper, holding it aloft. “Apartments right by campus. Two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a living room/kitchen. All for the same price as two dorms.”
He handed the paper to me and I read the info. “Zari, we’re only getting one dorm,” I said.
“No! I mean, you and I can have one bedroom, and Vi can have the other. Sooooo instead of two dorms…” He waved his hands. “Plus buying food from a store and cooking it there is gonna be tons cheaper than cafeteria food, right? Right?” He began tugging at my arm. “Besides, how are you gonna survive a dorm? Imagine. Sharing a shower with countless strangers! You get physically sick showering at school.”
I cringed back, knowing how true it was. Showers… in public… was disgusting. And the dorms we were looking at didn’t have private bathrooms. “But–this is gonna be expensive.”
“No, I calculated the money,” he said, handing the paper to Vi. “Renting it plus utilities is gonna be… okay, well, plus utilities it will be slightly more than us getting our dorms but it will just be for one or two semesters, until we–you know–get used to things.”
“I thought the point of dorm life was to plop you into an unfamiliar setting,” Vi said, taking the paper and squinting at it. “Won’t we be denying ourselves an important life experience?” She looked past the paper. “Wait a minute. You purposely mentioned no cafeteria food.”
Zari went red then twisted around to me. “C’mon, Seb. You don’t want to live in a disgusting dorm, do you?”
“An apartment by campus is probably going to be just as, if not more, disgusting than a dorm,” I said, knocking his hands off my arms.
“YOU WANT ME TO DO ALL THE COOKING!” Viola roared and the look on Zari’s face confirmed it. She wadded up the paper and throwing it at his face. “YOU JERK!”
“Viiii!” Zari pressed his hands together. “You are an amazing, beautiful, perfect woman and so much better than us wallowing pigs at anything and everything.” He hesitated then smiled. “Especially cooking. Right… Seb? Huh?”
She put her hands on her hips and looked at me. “Sorry, bud,” I said, throwing my hands up. “I’m not digging you out of this one. And I am with Vi. We would be denying ourselves, um, life experience… that… I really don’t want to have…” I trailed off, crinkling my nose up.
“Exactly!” He indicated me, beaming at Viola. “Do you really want to subject our poor baby brother to such a horrifying existence?”
“I’m older than you!” I protested but he put his hand over my mouth.
“Pluuuus, Vi! No dorm, no dorm rules…” Zari breathed out. “Meaning no curfew. You can invite your friends over, you can invite boys over… that I will promptly murder.”
Vi folded her arms but was obviously being seduced by this idea. “And that also means you can invite all the girls you want over,” she pointed out flatly.
Zari was very quiet and I was able to pull away from him. “Maybe,” he mumbled.
“So basically you want to live together so you can eat Vi’s cooking, and have girls sleep over,” I complained, fixing my hair and scowling at him.
He spread his hands out. “I admit it. I’m a pig. Now come on, please! I know you want to do this, Seb. So how about it, Vi? Please? Please? Please?”
She chewed at her bottom lip. “Well… if mom and dad agree then… well, it would be pretty cool not to have any rules.”
“YES!” Zari punched the air. “Let’s talk to them tonight and remember, be convincing.” He grabbed the wadded up piece of paper and began smoothing it out. “This is going to be totally awesome.”
“Wait!” I exclaimed and he looked up. “We will have rules! For instance, if you and I are supposed to be sharing this room then what about when you have these fabled girls staying? Where am I supposed to sleep? I’m not going to–be near that room.”
Zari shrugged and then took off for the house. Vi slapped her hands onto my shoulders, giggling. “Don’t worry, bro. We’ll set up a cot in the living room.”
I rubbed my forehead as she headed into the house. I realized that technically speaking I hadn’t agreed to this. I could easily say no. Except… well, open showers did freak me out. And the thought of being in a building full of strangers overnight was kinda strange. Plus Vi’s cooking was amazing.
“You… want your own place…”
Mom and Dad stared at us, then at each other, then back at us. Mom coughed and leaned forward. “Let me get this straight. Eighteen years of sharing a room, and you think you won’t kill each other for another four?”
“We won’t be sharing for four years,” Zari said. “Just one, or maybe even just half a year.”
“You think you’ll be responsible enough for something like this?” she asked, looking especially at Zari.
He pointed at me. “Seb’s responsible. He’s, like, more responsible than any adult I know. Except you two, of course. Hahaha!” I rolled my eyes and didn’t say anything to that.
Dad rubbed his chin and put in his two cents. “I don’t think it’d be very safe. I’d feel much better if you guys were in a dorm, where you’ll have security and guards and such.”
Vi clasped her hands together. “But Daddy! I’ll be sharing with my brothers and you know that they’d never, ever, ever, let anything happen to me!”
She gave him puppy dog eyes and he caved in. “She has a point,” he said to Mom, and she gave him a look. Dad sat up a bit then turned back to us. “I mean, no. It’d be better if you were on campus, with security available.”
“But Daddy…” Vi whimpered but Dad couldn’t give in again since Mom was glaring even more. I pressed my lips together, and decided to step in.
“Mom, Dad, let me go over a few things,” I said, standing up and pushing my glasses up, going into serious mode. “Crimes at colleges happen on campus and off campus, just because we’re in the dorms does not mean it is any safer than our own place all locked up with alarms and such. We all have phones, we can call the cops if an emergency happens.” I paced a bit as my mind spun. “None of us have any night classes plus we will be together. We will walk together or with friends, and will never go anywhere alone. Besides…”
I stopped in front of them, putting my hands on my hips and trying to sound authoritative. “All three of us are applying for weekend jobs. We will help pay for everything, and while I know Zari doesn’t seem very adult sometimes, we are going to be adults and will be willing to step up to the responsibility of an apartment.”
Dad looked at Mom and Mom pursed her lips, in the same manner I always did. “We will talk about it tonight,” she said softly. “And we will let you know our decision tomorrow.”
Vi and Zari thanked me for my little speech but I just shook my head. I couldn’t explain to them that I didn’t really want to share a place with the two of them–I didn’t even want to share a place with Zari–but I knew I wouldn’t be able to start this part of my life without them. I was too much of a chicken. I was too dependent on them, as much as I didn’t want to be. I was hoping this would help ease me out of that. Somehow.
I needed more independence! I wanted more! But the thought of going out and being on my own just made me ill. It would be something to work on slowly.
And, of course, Mom and Dad said yes, and by the time school let out they had gotten in contact with the owners, and we had the apartment rented for two semesters.