Short Stories

The Rent House

” You have six hundred people living in my house! When you got it, you said it would be just you and your granny and your aunt and me find out say you mother live there now, her man, you sister, her child and a bag a man.”

“You mean fe tell me say unoo cannot make up and pay me rent. A money me spend fe build me place, a can’t allow people to live in there for free” She spat with repugnance.

The voice message was candid and the clipped tone of my landlord’s voice echoed the tremor I had felt in my heart when I saw a missed call from her.

She let out a slew of expletives.
“You getting on my damn nerves. Where’s my __________rent?”


I coughed and smiled, I ended the voicemail. She was furious. She cursed. And then I thought about the smiling lady, who appeared almost Christian-like on her whatsapp profile picture and attempted to connect her with the voice I heard.

short story JamaicaIt was her nonetheless, I knew from experience that those of us who are from the gutter, from time to time a piece of us will break off and fall back down to the ground from whence it came. I guess this was her ground zero.

She added with a frosty cadance. “Am coming down there very soon and am getting my cousin from Chuckoooo fe come throw unoo out a mi place. I need my ________ rent”
I owed her money. Three months to be exact, this was the price of my independence. I wanted a new life but it was out of the frying pan and into the fire.

“Please remove that garbage heap from the front of my yard! When I left you there, there was no garbage heap. That’s just nasty” She gnarled.

I apologized sheepishly for when your hand inna lion mouth, you cannot just drag it out, you haffi wait until him a sleep before you pull it out.

” What is a garbage heap doing at my yard. I know there was no garbage heap there. The last tenant never have a garbage heap, garbage truck pass by there, that’s nasty” She bellowed in my ear with contempt.

I was frustrated. I knew it would end like this. I had been planning to move to a smaller rent space for two months now since my mother and sister indicated that they had no intentions of helping me with the rent.


I paid the rent for the last three months and I couldn’t afford dinner most afternoons, my little daughter cried for hunger for a fifty dollar juice and my sister had a case of juice hidden under her bed in the room that I paid for. They thought that was fair. I wanted a new life. All I got was disrespect and heartache.

I told my sister about the light bill. She disappeared for three weeks. I got the message. She had no intention of helping me with the utility bills. She would rather leave my place than help me. She left with the key for the room. It was closed too. It’s funny how they run this place like it is their own.

My mother said that I was rude. I told them I felt as if I lived with strangers. I didn’t know family could do this to me. They were moving back to their place and I was homeless. It was okay. It was fair. Never once had they said “Shelly how much you owe the woman, come make we make up and pay it”.

My mother instead walked past me with her head high in the sky, face puffed up with vexation and complete disregard for my current situation.

“Me ago batten up my place and live in deh. Me nah stay here. You need to sort out a place for yourself and left them stinking place. The place stink no wah and more while the sewage comes up”

“This yah rent house yah we bruck you down, where me live, water and light free. Me can’t manage bills cause me want food fe Nyam”

Yet every night their men slept there. I was making provisions for them and their men. She even told me to leave the door open sometimes for these men. I must be running a brothel.

Me a put them up and nobody could ever play this game with my mother. We would each have to find our eight thousand dollars or leave her rent space. She once said.

“Ask Eleasor if me coulda rent it for the one month. Me woulda live here and rent out the other two rooms”.


And yet she now occupied one of those rooms for free and if she was the arch tenant she would rent both rooms. My sister didn’t get the message. It means that albeit I was lenient and had them living there for free, our mother would make us pay rent or leave.

“Me nah use the light so that light bill a theiving bill. So a you and your sister have to pay the light bill” My mother replied once after with vehemence.

Yet I heard her consecutive afternoons running blenders in my kitchen on the said electricity she claimed, she wasn’t using. Her fan was on high speed all day and her nineteen year old man blared music from her sound whenever she wasn’t there. They charged phones, watched DVDs and ironed using my electricity and yet they were telling me that they don’t use my current so I should foot the bill alone.

I was once tempted to run this place like Cuba. Turn the electricity and water off during the days. I paid the bills therefore it was my prerogative. Since they did whatever they pleased, so could I.

I can’t fault my landlord. She has been more than patient with me. I just needed more time. Five days to be exact but right now it is just too little too late.

I’ve decided to move and I don’t have a clue where I will go. I am also indecisive about paying the back rent and paying my child’s school fee but I know that my child has suffered long enough for this rent house situation. So I’ve decided to be homeless and give my three year old a shot at an education.

I basically shut my eyes the last couple weeks and bought my child clothes, a bicycle, books and her weekly groceries. I thought I was spiting my mother and sister, turned out I was only hurting myself in the end. My daughter and I are now homeless.

I picked up cans, burnt residue from plastic, innumerable bottles, wet paper and slimy vestiges from rotting fruits from the small rubbish heap in the back and placed them into two garbage bags. I didn’t create this garbage heap alone. These countless condense milk cans were a testament to that fact and here I am again, left alone to clean up the mess. I cried. I was homeless and no one cared. How could they do this me? I will never forgive them for this.

Where do I go from here? I don’t know.

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Crystal Evans

Crystal Evans was born in Westmoreland Jamaica. She is the author of several books centered on her experiences growing up in rural Jamaica and the Jamaican cultural nucleus. She is a voracious reader.

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