Emily had always been a messy person. The kind of person who always had a mixture of clean and dirty clothes strewn across their bedroom floor. The kind of person that has a hoard of dirty dishes on every surface, some of them so old the cultures growing in them could class as a science project into new forms of organic life. She had been messy for as long as she could remember, much to the despair of her mother and amused exasperation of all her friends.
Nicole, on the other hand, had always bean a neat person. The kind of person who always has all their clothes hung up in their wardrobe, organised by type and colour, and their shoes lined up neatly on a shoe rack. The kind of person who made their bed with almost military precision every day, and remembered to hoover, dust, and mop at least once a week. Her fastidious neatness often led to many jokes and jibes by her closest friends, but she took it all in good humour most of the time.
Emily and Nicole were the last kind of people you would ever expect to become roommates. However, fate, or more accurately the fact they were both skint university students in desperate need of someone to share the bills with, intervened. Emily had missed out on a flat share with her friends after spending a year studying abroad and had been desperately looking for anyone to flat share with, when she’d stumbled across an advert for a room in a two bedroom flat just outside one of the main student areas.
Emily had been attracted to the fact that the flat boasted two double bedrooms, an open plan kitchen/living room with a breakfast bar separating the two areas, and a good-sized bathroom that even had a bath. She knew she was unlikely to find another flat as nice with as cheap a rent as this one was boasting. It even had the added bonus of being far cleaner than every other student flat she’d seen and didn’t even have the faint smell of mould she’d come to accept as a standard part of private university accommodation.
What she hadn’t been prepared for was how two people with completely opposite personalities would live together. The first few weeks hadn’t been too bad; however, it didn’t take too long before frictions started to set in. The first major incident occurred one day after Emily had returned home from university, to find Nicole huffing around the kitchen, looking in all the cabinets and slamming the doors.
“What are you looking for?” Emily had asked tentatively.
“A mug. I swear we had at least six. They can’t all have grown legs and walked away.” Was the angry retort.
Emily paled slightly. She knew she had a few mugs in her room, from when she’d taken drinks through when she was studying. “One second. I think I know where a couple are.”
She went through to her bedroom to collect the mugs she had been hoarding, slightly surprised to find that somehow, she’d managed to accumulate all six mugs in her bedroom. She carried them sheepishly back into the kitchen, and dumped them all on the side, running some hot water to wash them up with. Nicole wandered over and peered in the cups.
“That is gross.” Nicole stated in disgust. “You know when I said that the cups couldn’t have just walked away? I was joking, but I think this one might actually be able to.” She gestured towards one of the cups that looked like it had once held soup, or possibly hot chocolate, and only been partly drunk, before being left somewhere warm for far too long.
She reached around Emily to get into the cupboard under the sink, and rooted around, clearly looking for something. After a few seconds she pulled about a bottle of bleach, before adding it into the washing up bowl, ignoring Emily’s pointed eye-roll, and slightly annoyed huff.
That wouldn’t be the first argument they had about dishes, or the state of the flat. Emily lost count of the number of times Nicole had been on her case about doing the hoovering, or the mopping, or scrubbing the kitchen after use. On one particular occasion Emily had opened her bedroom door to find her way blocked by the hoover, the mop and mop bucket, and the bucket of cleaning supplies with a pair of yellow marigolds on a top. Attached to all of this was a note that simply stated: “These are cleaning supplies. Please use them.”
After several months, a lot of arguments, and one broken lamp, the two eventually settled into a sort of peaceful routine. Emily started being a bit neater, washed up her dishes after she used them, wiped down the shower after she’d had one, and Nicole even spent an afternoon helping her to sort out her wardrobe. Nicole relaxed a little bit, it was no longer the end of the world if stray socks were occasionally left in the living room, or the occasional packet didn’t quite make it to the bin. It might have been a fractious start, but the two of them ended up being a positive influence on each other.