There was a town house in a suburban street with a beige exterior topped with a bourbon pointy roof guarded by a dull brick fence with an old stale gate. There was nothing special about the house. In each house within a house lived a couple, both couples were unmarried childless heterosexuals living middled class lives and had nine to five jobs. Both seemed reasonably content.
In the first home, 1a lived Elliot and Melody. Elliot at first was hesitant about moving to 1a because of the address “1a”. He thought it sounded arrogant and pretentious because they won’t just be the first house by numerals but also first in the alphabet.
“Look at me I’m number one” Elliot said flailing his arms around, when he tried to explain to Mel his reasoning just after they first inspected the house.
Melody was not impressed by his argument and a month later they moved to 1a. They now have lived there for a year.
The occupants in 1b never had a complaint about the number of their place. Caitlyn however was glad that she was in 1b instead of 1a because like Elliot she prided herself at being modest and earnest, she never liked anything that could make her stand out in anyway. She liked being unnoticeable, it made her feel more comfortable. She hated drama and glad she lived a simple life with Mike. Mike on the other hand didn’t mind standing out and had no preference either way with being different or not. But coincidently he wasn’t a very notable person. Mike and Caitlyn had lived in 1b for almost 2 years.
Both couples never spoke to each other in any length even though they were living side by side under the same roof with only a wall separating them. Neither felt the need to mingle they just gave each other a nod or a simple greeting when they crossed paths. Which was strange because both couples from an outsider’s perspective were very similar. They both ordered from the same Chinese take away, almost every night and they both had the same weed dealer. Both deliverers would occasionally mention that they were ‘on their way’ or ‘just came from’ next door to either couple but neither couple would really care.
Caitlyn/ Mike or Melody/ Elliot usually just replied with an “oh really?” or “cool” take their goods and return back inside, into their warm cozy home.
Both homes were decorated minimalistic. Neither had anything of significance or notice on their walls. Both bins were just piled with take away boxes and both couches had a faint smell of weed engrained into them.
Melody worked as a personal assistant in a small law firm in the Inner West of Sydney. She spent most of her work day organising her boss’s meetings which required a lot of calling, rearranging and sticker notes. Melody spends her lunch breaks with the receptionist, Gemma where they would discuss relationships. Not Melody’s relationships but Gemma’s. Tinder was Gemma’s hobby, swiping left and swiping right most of the day.
“Oh My Gawd this guy last night was so weird, he couldn’t even look at me in the eye. He also said he was 180cm in his profile but was shorter than me. Geez what a liar” Gemma complained while drinking her strawberry smoothie.
“Well you are 180 so you didn’t give him much room to grow” replied Melody jokingly crunching her chicken sandwich that she has been excited about all day, it was the first time ever she had made her own lunch instead of buying it.
“Well you know I should totally leave you and this place and be a model, I got the height and the blonde hair” Gemma scoffed.
“You certainly got the dumb blank model stare going for you” Melody mocked while putting her arms around Gemma reassuringly.
“I don’t know how Elliot puts up with you” Gemma joked.
Melody gave a weak laugh in return.
“How is Elliot putting up with you, anyway?” Gemma said with a friendly seriousness
“We are going, same old same old.”
“Come on? I share all my dating gossip with you, I want to hear the goss with you guys”
“There really isn’t much to tell I go home we order food, we eat and go to bed.”
“Wow excitement much? Sounds boring. Don’t you ever get bored?”
Silence fell. Secretly, Melody had started feeling apathetic about her relationship with Elliot. She thought after they moved in together she would feel more fulfilled but she hadn’t.
“Oh! I need to remind Alex about the meeting she has later with that guy with the peanut head”
Melody excused herself and left lunch 15 minutes early.
Gemma realised she had hit a nerve sat in the staff room feeling guilty for the remainder of her break.
That night Melody laid in bed with Elliot after their weekly act of sex wondering whether this was enough for her. Elliot was on his iPad watching some sports commentary on YouTube.
“Do you think our relationship is boring?” Melody asked
Elliot placed his Ipad on the floor and rolled to face her.
“No, why would you think that?”
“We do the same things every day, it has become more routine than anything” Melody explained.
“We’ve been together for 5 years, this is normal and I like our routine. Don’t you?”
“I guess, I just had a long day. I’m going to sleep.”
Melody turned to her side and pretended to sleep even though she knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night.
Mike from 1b worked in administration for a company he barely understood. When he first started it was just a start-up company that created a toilet rating phone app called “Toilet Rate”. Toilet Rate allowed people to rate public and restaurants toilets. It took off and was brought by the big restaurant rating website, “Yip”. Mike usually would do his work independently, chat with his team mates, and have lunch with his friend Jennifer who worked in an office nearby, return to work then go home for the day.
That day Mike felt adventurous and thought he would ask one of the programmers a question about the company, since he had no idea how they make money or how it survived this long in the first place. Then he thought better of it, he decided he would go home and ask Caitlyn instead. Caitlyn was a computer programmer that worked for a company that gets hired by banks to create or update their banking systems. Mike honestly did not fully understand her work, even though he worked for a tech company all he really knew was her job title and that she spends most her days writing code. This was not a language Mike understood. Caitlyn never spoke about the tech side of her work, when she did speak about work it was to complain about a manager or someone at whatever bank she’s working for at the time. Bitching however was a language Mike understood and he did that himself quite a bit. He however unlike Caitlyn didn’t just talk about his colleagues but every little thing that was wrong with his work. He enjoyed going home to Caitlyn to complain about the disorganisation at his work and how there’s a new manager every few months. Even though Mike secretly knows Caitlyn doesn’t really listen most of the time because he can talk about the same thing for hours, he doesn’t mind. He just likes talking and she likes hearing his voice even though she is mostly tuned out by the 20-minute mark. Caitlyn knew that if it is something he really wanted her to hear he will let her know. Mike however would listen to Caitlyn’s every word but she doesn’t go on and on like he does.
On Mike’s way home from work he was looking at places to go with Caitlyn on Friday night because it would be 2 years since they had moved in together. Neither of them could agree on when their anniversary actually was, so this year they decided to celebrate their 6 years together on the date they moved into 1b together.
Mike messages Caitlyn on messenger:
Did you want to do something fancy in the city? Or just chill at Newtown? We will get cocktails afterwards either way. Love you ♥
There was no reply.
When Mike got to their gate he notice that his neighbour’s door was wide open and that there was broken glass from a wine bottle outside Elliot and Melody’s drive way. He walked into his house and took off his shoes. He heard a male voice coming from the lounge. ‘That’s strange’ he thought. Caitlyn never had friends over she usually met them at the pub or an eatery. It was only Mike that had mates over spontaneously, even though he knew it annoyed Caitlyn.
“Hello?” Mike shouted.
Mike heard Caitlyn mutter something to the male. She meets Mike at their hallway.
“It’s Elliot, from next door”
“Oh okay…Is everything okay?” Mike replied.
“Melody left him”
“And he chucked a bottle at her?” Mike asked tilting his head like a bewildered puppy.
“What?” Caitlyn looks at Mike confused.
“There was glass outside” Mike explained.
“Oh no she wasn’t there when he did that, I just turned into the street when that happened. If anything he chucked that at me” Caitlyn chuckled.
“What! He almost hit you with a bottle and you’re laughing?”
“Well he didn’t see me, it wasn’t intentional. He was clearly upset I invited him to our place for a smoke and dinner.”
Caitlyn grabs Mike’s arm “He’s really a nice guy” she said while she dragged him into the living room.
Elliot was sitting on their couch with red eyes, Mike wasn’t sure if it was from crying or from the weed Elliot was smoking. Caitlyn goes to the kitchen leaving Mike alone with Elliot. Elliot looked like a business man on a three-day bender. He looked completely wrecked.
Elliot couldn’t even muster a Hi, he just nodded towards Mike’s general direction.
“I’m just going to order pizza” Caitlyn’s shouted from the kitchen.
Caitlyn returned to the room with a beer for Mike and one for herself.
“I think I might just go” Elliot said weakly.
“I just ordered pizza for all of us” Caitlyn said disappointed still with her phone in her hands.
“I think I need to go home and crash” explained Elliot.
“Okay well did you want us to bring you over a couple of slices when it arrives?” Caitlyn asked.
Mike always loved how considerate Caitlyn was but at that moment he just wanted Elliot out of his home.
“Na I’m all good, sorry and thanks I really needed that talk”
Elliot got up and gave Caitlyn a giant sloppy hug that Mike thought lingered for too long. Mike wasn’t jealous or angry he was just confused and annoyed, he just wanted to come home and hang out with Caitlyn like he did every night.
When Elliot left and Caitlyn sighed.
“I hate drama” Caitlyn stated in a huff.
“I know you do, what happened?” Mike asked while he gave her his concern and confused look.
His eyebrows drew together and forming creases on his forehead. The look was meant to convey the message of ‘I’m concerned, please explain?’. However, because of his chubby face he just looked like a crying baby.
“Elliot came home early from work today because he thought Melody was sick and he hadn’t heard from her all day. He found a note from Melody on their fridge saying that she was bored of their relationship for a while now. She said she felt like they were just robots falling into a routine. In the note she said she needed time and that she couldn’t bear breaking up with him in person. He suspected something was up because she never calls in sick for work and she did for the first time ever today.” Caitlyn explains.
“Wow that’s rough”
Mike looked down he felt a bit guilty for not being hospitable.
“I hope I wasn’t being too much of a jerk.” Mike said while looking down at his socks.
Caitlyn hugs and kisses him.
“Na.” She whispers to him while still having her arm around him
“Did you want to talk about it more?” Mike asked
“Maybe later? I need to decompress right now. Too much drama for one day.”
“Spoken like a true drama queen” replied Mike
Caitlyn slapped him playfully on the arm.
Mike headed to the couch and turned on the TV while Caitlyn turned on her computer. Mike started talking about work and what his friend Jennifer is up to while browsing on his I-pad. Caitlyn is only vaguely listening to Mike while she played an online turn based game.
“So what do you want to do on Friday?” Mike asked while looking at restaurants on Yip.
Caitlyn doesn’t hear him.
“Sorry what?” Caitlyn responds slightly startled.
“Where do you want to go on Friday?” Mike rephrases.
“I don’t know? Stay at home do our thing? Since when did we celebrate Fridays?”
“You do know it’s our anniversary on Friday, right? I’ve been reminding you all week”
Caitlyn turned around and grinned at him to revealing that she was just messing with him.
Mike sighed and jokingly said “Maybe I should leave you.”
The atmosphere in the room changes. Mike realised that his timing was off and tries to change the subject.
“So the weather has been crazy lately?”
Caitlyn bursts into laughter.
“What are we old people? Pfft weather talk.” Caitlyn responds still chocking on her laughter.
“I was thinking we could go to a nice place” she says after quickly taking her turn on the computer game.
“Well that really narrows it down.” Mike playfully scoffed.
Pizza arrived and they sit in front of the T.V and watched a bad movie as they eat and complain about each poorly scripted character and decision.
“OMG THIS WOULD ALL BE SOLVED IF THEY CALLED THE POLICE” Mike yelled.
“Yup totally realistic that she was able to run that far and kick his ass in those shoes” Caitlyn taunted.
As they were lying in bed that night Caitlyn was thinking about Elliot and Melody.
Mike was still awake on his Ipad.
“I was talking to Elliot for a while today and I realised how similar we were.”
“You’re not leaving me for Elliot are you?” Mike jeered.
Caitlyn wacks him on the chest.
“No, just wondering if you would tell me if you were getting bored of me?” Caitlyn asked
“I’m bored of you already” Mike joked
“I’m serious” Caitlyn turns to her side to look at him but he’s still looking at his Ipad.
Mike eventually realises that Caitlyn wants to have a serious conversation. He turns off his Ipad and turns to look at Caitlyn.
“I won’t ever get bored of you.” Said Mike
“But would you tell me if you do?” Caitlyn said with all seriousness.
“Sure, but I won’t” Mike says dismissively
“So you won’t tell me?” Caitlyn taunted, she knew exactly what he meant.
“I got an important question to ask” Mike said with a serious tone.
Caitlyn looked at him with a serious stern glare.
“How does my company make money?”
Caitlyn playfully hits him all over.
“I’m serious, I seriously don’t know.” Mike said while chuckling and playfully fighting her off.
“What do you mean you don’t know? You work for them.”
“They have no ads on their app and it is free how does it make money?”
“Didn’t it get brought out by Yip?” Caitlyn asks
“Something like that.”
“That’s how it makes money.” Caitlyn was unsure whether she needed to explain further.
“But how did it make money before it got brought by Yip?”
“Investors would invest money into the company for a stake and wait for a big tech company that does make money such as Facebook or Google to buy it. A company can be worth millions and make nothing.”
“Why would a big company like Yip buy something that made no money from users?”
“Toilet Rate would have been taking users away from Yip. Some people may have stopped using Yip to find restaurants and used the Toilet Rate to find a restaurant instead. Yip brought Toilet Rate instead of wasting money fighting it. Why people would choose a restaurant based on its toilet rather than its food is beyond me.”
“People are weird.” Mike states.
“Yes they are”
“I love you Caitlyn”
“I love you too.”