Ever since my philosophy paper, I had loathed most of my classes even in the rare cases where I liked the professors.  The only class I was remotely interested in was Creative Writing.  For years I had been writing prose, and our professor was convinced that good writers pushed themselves to go places they had never been, so he was pushing me towards poetry.  I don’t think any of mine was any good, but it somehow gave me a different way to look at my feelings, something I couldn’t talk about with my friends. 

            I remembered how amazing my summer with Faith had been, and how much I looked forward to university.  The world had seemed full of opportunity, like there was adventure waiting around every corner.  Now, my life was in ashes, with no Faith, no real friends, and the possibility of losing my school.  So I wrote about how that felt.

The Remnant

I am the one who was left behind

I am the forgotten, the soulless

The pale shadow following a course

 set by an intrepid trailblazer

Only, when I reached the place where

The path ends, I did not find his feet.

I found only the dust in the wind,

Ashes that signified his passing.

“Destiny” is a place you must go,

and when he got there the earth opened

up and swallowed him whole.  Hungry,

The world feeds on the souls of heroes.

Leaving their shadows to remember.

I may be forgotten, the lost one,

But I will remember forever.

I am the remnant.  That is my curse.

Later, several of us gathered in the common room, where others were already gossiping about the strike.  Some people wondered if they should go home for the duration.  Others argued against that, hoping the strike would be resolved within days.  We had already paid our residence fees, so it wasn’t like they’d be kicking us out any time soon.  A large number of people had ‘wait and see’ attitudes.

            I sat in the corner of a couch, barely registering the ongoing debates.  As usual, I was lost in my own disordered thoughts.   I pulled down the sleeves of my black sweater so they covered my hands, a nervous habit from my childhood that was now resurfacing. 

            People filtered in and out of the room at frequent intervals, changing the flow of conversation.  Everyone was gathering news, passing on rumours, and sharing their fears.  The less scholarly of us were treating it like a holiday, planning parties and excursions.

            Teri and her best friend Mandy were excited about something, but I had not been paying attention to what, exactly.

            “So, Ethan, do you want to go too?”  Teri asked.

            I shook my head, trying to focus.  “Sorry?”

            “A bunch of us are going clubbing on Thursday.  Do you want to come?”  Mandy repeated for her, laughing.

            “I guess.  Sure.”  I said.  Anything to do was better than nothing.  Alone, I just worried too much anyway.

            Dan spoke up.  “I frigging hate clubs.  Have fun.”

            “That’s fine.”  Mandy shrugged.  “You can have fun here by yourself.”

            “You’re not coming?” Teri asked, concerned.  “Do you want me to stay?”

            “No, of course not.  Go.  Have a good time.  It’s not like we have to do everything together.”  Dan grinned.  “Don’t worry about it.  I’ll be fine by myself.”

            “Yeah, you two can hang out together after.  Let’s go shopping, pick some new outfits!” Mandy encouraged her friend.

            “I… I guess.”  Teri said, trying to read Dan.  “Okay.” 

            The two girls hurried off while I turned to Dan.

            “You’re seriously not coming?”
            “Oh, I’m coming.”  He grinned.  “I’m just not going to tell her so.  Not until the last moment.”

            “I don’t get it.”

            “This way I’m her hero for doing something I don’t want to.  She’ll be thrilled.  If I agreed all the time, she’d take it for granted.”

            I rubbed my face.  “Why is it that complicated?  Why not just make her happy right away?”

            “I’m not giving up everything I like just because she makes plans.  And this way, I give her what she wants, she might give me something I want.”  He winked.

            I grimaced.  It seemed manipulative.  Maybe I just didn’t understand relationships.  No wonder Faith and I broke up.

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