This short story was inspired by a story I read on Reddit. I hope you feel as much emotional satisfaction at the ending as I did.
“What do you mean, it’s five hundred dollars more!?”
My landlord leered at me smugly from behind his desk. “You can afford it.”
“That’s not the point! Raising the rent this much is outrageous!”
He shrugged. “Take it or leave it. Either pay the rent or find somewhere else to go for the next month.”
Damn him. He knew full well I didn’t have anywhere else to go right now. The old couple I bought my house from decided to delay moving out by a month when their grandchild came early, so here I was, stuck renewing a lease for one month with a landlord who believed someone my age shouldn’t be making what I do. Seething, I wrote out the check, slammed it down on his desk, and stomped out of his office. Ridiculous!
I stormed into work, still fuming over how I’d been cheated. “Hey, Katie!” Darren called from his cubicle, bouncing up to me with all the enthusiasm of a small child at an amusement park. “Morning Darren,” I replied, calming down. It was impossible to stay angry around Darren. The man radiated goodwill like a portable sun.
He lurched to a stop directly in front of me and practically danced from one foot to the other. “I think I’ve found it, Katie. The one I went and looked at yesterday is the one, I can feel it!”
“Oh, is it the one with the bay windows you were talking about? Raised beds in the back, nice view of downtown?”
“No, this is a different one. The one you were talking about was the one I really had my heart set on, but my realtor insists this is the best option. It’s a little more than what I wanted to pay for a house though…”
I smiled at him, pushing my own problems aside for the moment. “Well, buying a house is a big decision. Just make sure it’s what you want.” I patted him on the shoulder. “I’m really happy for you, Darren. This is exciting!”
“Thanks!” he gushed before going back to his cubicle and finishing the monthly report. His mood was infectious. He hummed and whistled for the rest of the day, and by the end of our shift I was feeling slightly less furious at the cheapskate owner of my apartment building. At least this whole thing would be over a month from now…
One month later, I joyously unpacked the stacks of boxes clustered on my new living room floor. This place was everything I wanted. Simple, practical, but close to work, right next to a beautiful park and, most important of all, it was mine. All mine. I was queen of my castle and had eight rooms and a yard all to myself. After several hours I finished unpacking my things and surveyed my furnished home. It was a little sparse; I only owned enough furniture to fill the small apartment I had been living in.
I clasped my hands together in anticipation. Well, no matter. Once I got my security deposit back I could go shopping and get some lovely home goods to fill the empty rooms with. Speaking of my security deposit, it should have gotten here already. I called my landlord. Former landlord, ha ha! The phone rang six, seven, eight times. For a moment I thought he was going to ignore me and I would have to go to his office myself and hound him for what was mine, but finally he picked up. “H. H. Land, Henry speaking.”
“Hi, it’s Katie,” I started. “I thought I was supposed to get my security deposit back by now. Do you have any idea when it’s coming?”
“You won’t be getting a security deposit.”
I paused, not sure I heard him correctly. Taking in a breath to steady myself, I asked, “Why am I not getting my security deposit?”
“Cleaning your apartment cost the amount of the security deposit.”
Bull. Crap. I cleaned that place thoroughly before leaving. I had no pets, no children. Heck, with all the overtime I worked even I was barely home to mess the place up. There was no way cleaning that apartment cost a thousand dollars. A hundred, maybe, but not a thousand. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I practically screamed over the phone. “There is no way cleaning cost that much! This is absurd!”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Henry replied coldly, not sounding sorry at all. “But it is what it is, and now I suggest you stop calling me before I file for harassment.”
The phone clicked, letting me know he’d hung up, and for a while I just stood there, stunned. A loud growl erupted from me, and I just managed to set the phone down on the coffee table instead of throwing it across the room. How could the man live with himself? The worst part of this whole thing was that there was nothing I could legally do to him. It was like being an angry rabbit; I could squeal and stamp my feet but that was about all.
I shuffled into work the next day, tired from barely sleeping the night before. The injustice of it all filled my belly with acid and kept me awake until the sky lightened and my alarm clock sounded. Walking past the break room, I spied Darren sitting at one of the lunch tables in front of a stack of papers, talking to someone around the corner who I couldn’t see. They looked like legal papers; I guessed they were his closing documents. Darren looked ecstatic, thanking whoever it was profusely for all their help.
I decided to go in and congratulate Darren. He deserved this, and I wanted to be there to see him close on his first home. Turning the corner into the break room, who do I find but freaking Henry. Our eyes met and he looked instantly uncomfortable. My heart fluttered and my mouth curled into a smile. “Say, Darren,” I asked casually, never taking my eyes off Henry. “Yeah, Katie?”
“Your house, you ended up buying it for two hundred thousand, right?”
“Actually, it was two hundred forty thousand,” Darren corrected me.
“And the realtor you hired to find your house, he gets a ten percent commission on the sale, right?”
Confusion clear in his voice, Darren replied, “Yeah, why?”
Henry’s face turned ashen. He quickly turned to Darren and said, “Well, everything is in order. You can just drop the papers off after work at my office, alright?”
Darren smiled at him. “Sure thing, thanks!”
Henry turned and hurried toward the door, and just as he was about to step through I said loudly, “Just a second, Darren, before you sign anything…”