The first week of school after the holiday was a blurry struggle.  I felt wrung out, hollow.  It hurt to walk up a staircase.  The doctor had said that I shouldn’t exert myself for a month or more, but I hadn’t realized he meant because I’d be as weak as an octogenarian.  I had already informed work that I’d be missing the next few weekends.  I had felt bad when I made the arrangements, but by the end of the week I was glad I’d called.  I’d have died on my feet trying to do my job, the way I felt.

            When Dan found out that I’d actually be free that weekend, he campaigned for another drinking party.

            “No.  It was a onetime thing.”  I told him as we power-bombed Triple H through a table.  I punched buttons on my video-game controller, pinning our opponent.

            Dan watched the screen as we sat on the common room couch, playing Nintendo.

            “Come on!  It was fun.  Admit that you had a good time.”

“I can’t.”  I laughed.  “I don’t remember half of it.”

“If you’re there I won’t do anything stupid.  You’ve been helping me behave.”

“Don’t go and get drunk.  That’s a great way to prevent new stupidity.” I teased.

“You don’t have to drink as much as last time.  That was like an initiation.  Just enough to get dancing and talking.  You had fun!”

I shrugged, grinning.

“I’ll think about it.”

It was a dumb idea.  Chemically induced sociability.  But otherwise I hated people and simultaneously loathed my sense of isolation.  I didn’t fit with everyone else, but didn’t want to become a hermit.  Eventually Dan had to catch up with Teri for dinner, so I wandered over to my room.  I stared at the piece of paper on my desk, wondering if I should call the mystery number.  I’d been wondering all week.  I hated not knowing. 

I was curious, but I didn’t know what to say.

“Hi, this is Ethan.  Remember me?  Because I sure don’t remember you…”

It seemed silly.  Dumb, even.  Childish.  But I kept looking at the piece of paper, like an archaeologist trying to reconstruct events from the shards of broken pottery.

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