Home > My Roommate Is a Vampire

My Roommate Is a Vampire
Author: Jenna Levine



        Roommate Wanted to Share Spacious Third-Floor Brownstone Apartment in Lincoln Park

    Hello. I seek a roommate with whom to share my apartment. It is a spacious unit by modern standards with two large bedrooms, an open sitting area, and a semiprofessional eat-in kitchen. Large windows flank the eastern side of the apartment and provide a striking view of the lake. The unit is fully furnished in a tasteful, classical style. I am seldom home after sundown, so if you work a traditional schedule, you will usually have the apartment to yourself.

    Rent: $200 per month. No pets, please. Kindly direct all serious inquiries to [email protected].


“There has to be something wrong with this place.”

   “Cassie, listen, this is a really good deal—”

   “Forget it, Sam.” That last part came out more forcefully than I’d intended—though not by much. Even though I needed his help, my embarrassment over being in this situation in the first place made accepting that help difficult. Sam meant well, but his insistence on involving himself in every part of my current situation was getting on my very last nerve.

   To his credit, Sam—my oldest friend, who’d long ago acclimated to how snippy I sometimes got when I was stressed—said nothing. He simply folded his arms across his chest, waiting for me to be ready to say more.

   I only needed a few moments to pull myself together and start feeling badly for snapping at him. “Sorry,” I muttered under my breath. “I know you’re only trying to help.”

   “It’s all right,” he said, sympathetic. “You have a lot going on. But it’s okay to believe that things can get better.”

   I had no reason to believe that things could get better, but now wasn’t the time to get into it. I simply sighed and turned my attention back to the Craigslist ad on my laptop.

   “Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.”

   Sam peered over my shoulder at my screen. “Not always. And you have to admit this apartment sounds great.”

   It did sound great. He was right about that. But . . .

   “It’s only two hundred a month, Sam.”

   “So? That’s a great price.”

   I stared at him. “Yeah, if this were 1978. If someone’s only asking for two hundred a month today there are probably dead bodies in the basement.”

   “You don’t know that.” Sam dragged a hand through his shaggy, dirty-blond hair. Messing with his hair was Sam’s most obvious I’m-bullshitting-you tell. He’d had it since at least sixth grade, when he’d tried convincing our teacher I hadn’t been the one who’d drawn bright pink flowers all over the wall of the girl’s bathroom. He hadn’t fooled Mrs. Baker then—I had drawn that aggressively neon meadow landscape—and he wasn’t fooling me now.

   How would he ever make it as a lawyer with such a terrible poker face?

   “Maybe this person’s just not home a lot and only wants a roommate for safety reasons, not income,” Sam suggested. “Maybe they’re an idiot and don’t know what they could be charging.”

   I was still skeptical. I’d been scouring Craigslist and Facebook since my landlord taped an eviction notice to my front door two weeks ago for nonpayment of rent. There’d been nothing available this close to the Loop for less than a thousand a month. In Lincoln Park, the going rate was closer to fifteen hundred.

   Two hundred wasn’t just a little below market rate. It wasn’t even in the same universe as market rate.

   “There are also no pictures with this ad,” I pointed out. “That’s another red flag. I should ignore this one and keep looking.” Because yes, my landlord was taking me to court next week if I didn’t move out first, and yes, living in an apartment this cheap would really help me get on top of my shit, and maybe even keep me from ending up in this exact situation again in a few months. But I’d lived in the Chicago area for more than ten years. No deal in Lincoln Park this good came without a huge catch.

   “Cassie.” Sam’s tone was quiet, patient—and more than a little patronizing. I reminded myself he was only trying to help in his very Sam way and bit my tongue. “This apartment is in a great location. You can easily afford it. It’s close enough to the El that you’ll be able to get to your jobs quickly. And if the windows are as big as this ad says they are, I bet there’s tons of natural light.”

   My eyes widened. I hadn’t thought of the lighting in the apartment when I’d read the ad. But if it did have huge, lake-facing windows, Sam was probably right.

   “Maybe I’d be able to create from home again,” I mused. I hadn’t lived somewhere with good enough lighting to work on my projects in almost two years. I missed it more than I liked to admit.

   Sam smiled, looking relieved. “Exactly.”

   “Okay,” I conceded. “I’m at least willing to ask for more information.”

   Sam reached up and put his hand on my shoulder. His warm, steady touch calmed me, just as it had every time I’d needed it to since we were kids. The knot of anxiety that had taken up what felt like permanent residence in the pit of my stomach these past two weeks began to loosen.

   For the first time in ages, it felt like I could breathe again.

   “We’ll see the apartment and meet the roommate first, of course,” he said very quickly. “I can even help you negotiate a month-to-month lease if you want. That way, if it’s really awful, you can leave without breaking another lease.”

   Which would mean I wouldn’t have to worry about getting hauled back into court by yet another angry landlord. Honestly, that would be a decent compromise. If this person turned out to be an axe murderer or a libertarian or some other awful thing, a month-to-month lease would let me leave quickly with no strings attached.

   “You’d do that for me?” I asked. Not for the first time, I felt badly about how short I’d been with him lately.

   “What else am I gonna do with my law degree?”

   “For starters, you could use it to make tons of money at your firm instead of using it to help perennial fuckups like me.”

   “I’m making tons of money at my firm either way,” he said, grinning. “But since you won’t let me loan you any of that money—”

   “I won’t,” I agreed. It had been my choice to get an impractical graduate degree and end up hopelessly in student loan debt with few job prospects for my troubles. I wasn’t about to make that anyone else’s problem.

   Sam sighed. “You won’t. Right. We’ve been over that. Repeatedly.” He shook his head and added, in a more wistful tone, “I wish you could just move in with us, Cassie. Or with Amelia. That would solve everything.”

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