Under the House

I ducked as another pipe began to rattle somewhere above me but, luckily, this one didn’t blow.

‘What’s going on down there?’ my roommate Mia called into the dark hole I’d crawled into. ‘Fixed it yet?’

‘No,’ I growled back at her, ‘not yet. Maybe if you helped?’

‘How could I help?’ she frowned. ‘I’m not a plumber.’

‘Neither am I!’ I yelled back at her.

Giving up, I shimmied my way backwards and dragged myself out of the crawlspace, dirty and sweaty and sitting on my laundry floor.

‘I thought you hadn’t fixed it?’ Mia said.

‘I haven’t.’

‘Oh… what are you doing back here then?’

‘We have to call a professional,’ I glared at her. ‘Someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to house repairs and maintenance.’

‘Can you afford that?’

‘Can I— what do you mean, can I afford that?’

‘Well, it’s your pipe after all.’

I experienced, for the first time in my life, what it was to be truly baffled.

‘How is it my pipe?’ I played with the question, testing out just how stupid it really sounded.

‘It’s under your room!’ Mia explained. ‘That’s the bit of the house your rent covers, so…’

‘Oh, Mia,’ I shook my head. ‘No. No, that’s dumb.’

‘Did you just call me dumb?!’

‘No,’ I said, head still shaking. ‘I said that thought was dumb. But also, yes, yes I think you’re dumb.’

‘How dare you,’ she spat, once she’d finished gaping at me like a goldfish. ‘I’ll have you know my father is friends with some of the best architects on the Mornington Peninsula!’

‘Such a specific brag,’ I frowned. ‘So strange.’

‘He’s very important,’ she stressed.

‘Good,’ I climbed to my feet. ‘He can pay for our structural repairs.’

‘What? No, he won’t do that.’

‘Why not?’

‘He says I have to fight my own battles,’ she said, sadly, thinking of a life she’d lost.

I took a deep breath, finding the inner strength to grasp her shoulder and lean in close.

Call your damned father!