Miss Aida
The last nights are always emotional. And when it comes to the West, the end of a semester is always an excuse for a huge piss-up. I was prepared. To an extent. Hanging out at Clyde watching the date auction with Hugh, Liz, Bec, Mary and James. Just hanging out, watching them, catching up with other people. The music was pumping, people were millling about in that happy, semi-alcoholic state with the general bittersweet feeling that comes at the end of a semester. Talked to Chris and Greg for awhile before James asked me to play some pool.

When he invited me to play, I thought it was me against him. That wasn't too bad. Then again, I found out that the rules of pool were that the people who wanted to join the pool table had to take on the winners of the previous game. Ouch. When it comes to me and pool, it's not a pretty sight. I'm not that good. Scratch that. I suck. And James was very, very drunk. Whilst breaking, hit the white ball straight into the furthermost pocket. Twice. Out opponents were sober and looking very amused. Confident as well, considering they had won the last three games against other people while James was busy psyching me up for our turn. Lady luck must have been on our side, or perhaps James was that good. Our opponents had one ball and we had four. And we still won. I'm amazed.

Clyde got a little boring, so Puggs was the next stop of destination, if only for the live band and the dancefloor. Pub hopping was on the cards. I noticed the same faces. Greg, Chris and Declan made their way there a little after we came. Being drunk seems to loosen the tongue. Hugh was going on about how he wanted to quit smoking. Adrian about his relationship issues. James about his ambitions and how he wanted the world. I was about ready to call it a night, then Hugh invited me to Goo. Apparently, James, Molly, Liz, Declan, Chris and Greg were going. I decided against it, then walked back with Adrian. Not ten minutes later Hugh called.

"Please come. It's our last night."

What can you do against an argument like that? I will miss that boy. In addition, he was dead drunk along with three other equally drunk guys. Liz and James had disappeared. Liz, who usually keeps an eye on Hugh, had disappeared. It wasn't the best of situations.

That night had a surprising outcome. As I walked into the club, the first thing I saw were lots of rockers. Lots of black, piercings, goths and eardrum-breaking loud music. Damn. It was rock night at Metro's. Then I saw them, clustered on the dancefloor. And as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I made out a couple kissing. Two of my friends had hooked up, as it seemed...

She walked up to me, telling me that they were leaving as he was feeling sick. I couldn't quite believe her. I didn't think he was sick. Not in my opinion. He just wanted to get some. I wasn't sure if she was making that excuse or if she really believed him. I sat with his friends for awhile, all three of us equally shocked. Although his friends, boys being boys, were equal parts "We shouldn't let him do this" and "He's the man". Damn right, we couldn't quite let those two do something that they'd regret the next morning!

Liz and James came by, I told Hugh we were leaving. He said he'd stay with Liz and James. I nodded, then joined the others in a huge cab. His room light was on. I protested as the guys, in their well-meaning drunken haze, proposed knocking on his door and interrupting any further activity. Too late. Someone grabbed my hand, and I was dragged headlong into the warmth of the building.

"You're part of this now. You can't back out."

Admonishments and rational protestations seemed to take no effect, they proceeded to knock on his door. No answer. We assumed the worst. Both of them were in too deep. (This was cue for more lewd comments and discussion about how deep was deep, but that's another story). Went up to one of the guy's rooms and tried ringing instead. Answering his mobile, he said, "I can't talk now," and hung up. He wouldn't answer his room phone. Too late indeed.

I made my way back to my own building before realising I didn't have my key. What a night. I had no idea where I could've dropped it, considering we had covered half of town. Freezing cold and I couldn't access my building. My only hope was Hugh. I was lucky he was back, in Liz's room. He was shitfaced, Coherent enough to send Liz to get me, and then I had to guide him back. I had to bunk over in his room. Even drunk, he was a gentleman. Insisted I take his bed and he would take the sleeping bag. Wouldn't have it any other way, and I was too tired to argue. Four o'clock in the morning is not the best time for arguments with a hard-headed drunk.

Waking up the next day in someone else's bed was a bit strange. I decided to try my room before getting hold of a spare key. Walked over, tried the door. The knob turned easily. Unlocked, so I walked in. To my surprise, she was in my bed.

"Hello. Sorry, I had to come here. I had nowhere to go. He's in my room."
"Oh my god. What happened?"

And then the story came out. To my disbelief. About his drunken attempts at sex, despite her unwillingness. About him throwing up, passing out for awhile, then continuing his attempts. Not quite to the extent of force, but unusual persistance. To quote her, "He just kept trying." He may have gotten a different impression due to the events leading up to the situation, but his behaviour was inexcusable.

I never would've pegged him for that. He's a great guy, but alcohol seems to do the strangest things. Decreases inhibitions, makes a person think of invincibility, loss of rationality and coherence. Even so, I'm glad that she was rational enough to leave when she became uncomfortable. I was sent to check if her room had been vacated.

Sidling over and turned the knob quietly. He was still there, sans clothes. Passed out on the bed. Considering how she seemed to have taken over my bed, any thoughts I had of continuing blessed sleep was gone. In any case, it was eleven in the morning. I told her she could stay as long as she wanted. The next moment I checked she was fast asleep. I decided to do my laundry instead.

As I walked out from the laundry room, he had apparently woken up and was wandering about, obviously on his way back to his building. I called, he turned. Walked over to say hi.

"How are you feeling?" I asked. He looked confused. His eyes were glazed over.
"Oh Aida... I woke up in her room and I have no idea how I got there."

Time for a little intervention. Damage control.

"Well, nothing happened between you two. I've just talked to her." His face cleared.

Words needed to be phrased carefully. Diplomatically.
"I've got to warn you though of something." Quirked his eyebrow. I leaned a bit closer.

"When a girl says no, she means no."

I could see a flicker of something like horror in his bloodshot eyes. Then one word. "Thanks."

I know he didn't mean to do it. He didn't remember anything about the events of the previous night. In a way, it was almost as if he had been absolved of the guilt of his actions, to quote her. Still, his actions bordered on sexual harrassment. I still wonder, what would have happened if she had been a bit more smashed? What would have happened if he had decided to use a bit more force, instead of backing off? So many what-ifs about the ugly truths of life.

The timing was good, he was leaving that day, and it was the end of a semester. Rumours would not get around. People would not know. Both their reputations would remain intact. The people who she told were properly indignant on her behalf. He might agonize about his inability to remember, and wonder about what he had done. It must be strange, not knowing what you've done the night before. Perhaps my words made an impact. Perhaps not. And I still wonder.
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