1: “Revenge is a dish best served cold and you’re about to be hypothermic”

Bill wasn’t moving out. His apartment was nice and his rent was cheap. It was a clean two-bedroom condo in the heart of downtown. It was a prime location. He could get to work in under fifteen minutes by foot. He could get to the grocery store in another fifteen minutes the opposite way by foot. He could take a short ten-minute bus ride to the gym, not that he ever went to the gym. It was perfect. Not to mention that he’d just barely managed to get his couch into the condo in the first place. He’d inherited the couch from his grandparents and it was solidly built. It had endured a good four decades at this point. Bill’s father had had to, quite angrily, take the front door of the condo off its hinges in order to be able to move the couch into the living room and it was staying.

That having been said, he was currently living with his ex-girlfriend. They’d been together for a year before they’d moved in together. It had been a great idea at the time. For one thing, it was the next natural step in the progression of their relationship. For another, Bill’s lease had been up. They’d been living together for four months now and it had come to a somewhat bitter end. As it turned out, he and his now ex-girlfriend, Gillian, were not well-suited to be romantically entangled for very long. Roughly, that translated to him not paying her enough attention and her “falling out of love” in return. They fought a lot, which had inevitably led to a break-up, which in turned likely should’ve led to one of them moving out.

However, Gillian felt as though he should be the one to move, since she was wronged party. Bill pointed out that, since she was the one to dump him, he was in fact the wronged party and that meant that he should get to keep the condo by her logic. They settled it by moving Bill’s belongings into what had previously been their guest bedroom and now Bill was sleeping on a futon like a frat bro.

“This is so stupid,” Bill’s friend Dylan told him three nights after Bill had been moved to his new bedroom. “This is dumber than you two being named Bill and Gill.”

Gillian had gone out for drinks with some of her friends to celebrate her newfound singleness. Bill, not quite sure how to take that or feel about it in equal measures, had invited his friends over to have a celebration of his own. Granted, Gillian had left the condo in a short dress and a pair of staggeringly high heels, looking beyond glamourous and gorgeous, while Bill was drinking cheap beer on his grandparents’ old couch in the living room he now shared with his ex-girlfriend, a hockey game playing in the background. It wasn’t exactly comparable.

“What are you going to do when she starts bringing dudes home?” Bill’s friend Griffin asked, sprawled on the couch to Bill’s left, beer in hand, eyes focussed on the TV. Griffin paid attention to sports with an almost unwavering focus, as if he thought someone might accuse him of not really being a fan if he took even a millisecond to blink. Every time they got together, they had to watch some sort of sporting activity on television. One time, they had watched a bowling championship just so Griffin could maintain his reputation as a lover of sports. As Bill now knew, championship bowling should not be televised. It was possible that most bowling shouldn’t be televised, but championship bowling was a high level and all it meant was that everyone got a strike and it wasn’t interesting at all. Bill found actively participating in bowling boring so watching it had been hellish.

“Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of that,” Bill admitted. It had only been three days since the break-up. The thought of Gillian dating or in fact bringing home other men hadn’t even crossed Bill’s mind. He hadn’t even considered the possibility of himself dating someone else yet.

“We assumed,” his friend Luke returned dryly, rolling his eyes. He was sitting on the floor beside Dylan. Luke and Dylan were roommates, along with their friend Godfrey, but Luke and Dylan also worked together. They were basically inseparable. Luke complained about it a lot. He said that the sight of Dylan’s face caused him physical pain. And yet, as Bill had noticed, Dylan had been the first one to sit down; it had been Luke’s choice to sit next to him.

“You guys share a bedroom wall now,” Dylan pointed out. “That’s bad news, bud. Those walls are thin. I know this because of that time I stayed in what used to be your spare room, but is now your room. I’m scarred for life, bro. Serious emotional trauma.”

“Ah…,” Bill said, blushing. “Sorry.”

“Not as sorry as you’re going to be,” Dylan retorted. “Revenge is a dish best served cold and you’re about to be hypothermic.”

It was a point that held an unfortunate amount of validity. It was possible that Bill hadn’t thought this through all that well. Who would’ve thought that a plan that centred around him sharing a relatively small two-bedroom condo with his ex-girlfriend could potentially end poorly? Everybody but Bill apparently.

In the wee hours of the following morning, Gillian stumbled into the condo drunkenly. She was carrying her shoes, hair messy and eye make-up smudged. She giggled so loudly that it woke Bill from his sleep. Although, he hadn’t quite managed to get to a deep sleep on the lumpy futon he now called a bed. He got up to see what the commotion was and found Gillian sitting on the kitchen floor in her dress, eating cheese directly from the brick. Bill was a little unsettled by that, considering that brick of cheese was partially his. He had been planning on having a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch later. He was rethinking that now.

“I threw up in the cab,” Gillian admitted to him in a stage whisper before erupting into another peel of hysterics. Bill looked down at her.

“I bet the driver loved that,” he said eventually.

“He didn’t notice,” Gillian giggled again. Bill wrinkled his nose, partially in disgust, partially in sympathy for the poor cab driver, who would be in for a terrible surprise in the cold light of the morning.

“Come on,” Bill said, holding out a hand. She took it with the hand that wasn’t holding the brick of cheese and he hoisted her to her feet. Then he made her drink two glasses of water, convinced her to give him the cheese and brush her teeth. Then he helped her struggle into her pyjamas, which took a good twenty minutes, and put her to bed. He then walked over to his own new bedroom and crawled back to bed on his futon. In under ten minutes, he could hear her snoring in the other room. Both of their doors were closed. The walls really were remarkably thin. He was going to live to regret that later. He already kind of regretted it now. If he had thought it was hard to fall asleep on his lumpy futon before, it was nothing compared to the difficulty of trying to sleep on the lumpy futon with the sound of a malfunctioning chainsaw in the room next to his.

“I’m so fucked,” he said into the darkness of his bedroom. Gillian snored particularly aggressively from the other room in response.

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