“Turkey for you and Turkey for meee…” Ben’s fraternity brothers were singing along to Adam Sandler’s Thanksgiving song which had been playing on a loop for the past hour.
I decided to just go to the house instead of texting Ben back; these are not the kinds of conversations that I feel should be had via text.
“Where’s Ben?” I shouted to one of the guys over the singing.
“He’s stuffing the turkey!!” Explosions of laughter.
The mood was jovial, everyone was about to head home for Thanksgiving and the thought process was to drink as much as possible before heading out. I on the other hand could not afford to indulge in this debauchery, I had a flight home early tomorrow. I really wanted to talk to Ben before I left to clear up this whole Andrew thing. I walked through the house and finally found Ben in the backyard playing cornhhole with a few of the other guys and a crowd of girls. I was surprised to see Lauren there as well. I had not spoken to her very much since meeting her at the bar that day – the hearing had consumed so much of my time this past week.
“Zach!” Lauren’s cheeks were flushed as she came over and gave me a big hug. I think she’s had a couple of beers already.
“Hi Lauren. It’s good to see you. I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch, I had a lot going on this week.”
“It’s ok, I understand. Are you going home for the break?”
“I am. My flight is tomorrow. How about you?”
“No, I got an opportunity to go to Maine to participate in a wildlife study that is examining the rate of extinction for certain species. My parents are bummed but this is a good thing for me. “
“Yeah, it sounds awesome. Good for you! So…do you want to maybe try again and have dinner when we come back from break?” I asked.
“Yes!! I mean, yeah I’d like that.” Her face flushed again as she spoke and she looked down shyly.
She really is sweet, I thought to myself.
“Yo!” Ben’s loud voice broke my thoughts and I drifted back to reality.
“Hey Ben. We should talk.”
“Have a beer bro.” He insisted while shoving a Bud Light into my hands.
I put the beer down and looked at Ben intently.
“Fine, lets go inside.” He grumbled.
I couldn’t help but wonder why he was giving me such a hard time, he didn’t even know the full story. We walked upstairs to his room and he plopped down at his desk.
“So Andrew told me that you went to this hearing and basically accused him of stealing your paper.”
“Ben –“ I started.
“I’m just saying, that’s a pretty douchebag move on your part bro.” He cut in.
“Look Ben, I trusted Andrew when I gave him my notes and my paper to help him with his work. Instead of using my paper as guidance he simply put his name on it and submitted it as his own. I had no idea he was going to do that. Do you realize that I was going to get kicked out of school? This could have ruined my life.”
Ben rolled his eyes, “You’re being dramatic.”
I stared at Ben in shock. This didn’t seem like the friend I knew. Ben and I have been best friends since freshman year and he knows how important school and my future is to me. Getting kicked out would be devastating to me. Why doesn’t he see that?
“Listen Ben, I don’t really understand where you’re coming from with this. You know how much my future means to me. I work so hard, getting kicked out would ruin my chances for medical school!”
“You need to get off your high horse Zach. You think you’re so much better than everyone else.”
“Ben, I don’t know what’s going on with you, but I thought you as my best friend would understand.”
“Well, maybe things are changing. My brothers are my best friends and now we lost one because of your selfish actions.”
“What was I supposed to do?? Tell them that I wanted him to submit my paper? We would have BOTH been kicked out. Come on man, think about this!” I rarely raise my voice but I was getting so frustrated with his reaction. What on earth was going on???
“Oh now you’re calling me stupid?” Ben jumped out the chair and started gesturing wildly.“Fine man, do what you need to, I’m going downstairs to be with my real friends.”
He slammed the door behind him, leaving me in disbelief. I sat down and tried to gather my thoughts. This past week has been full of so much turmoil, and now one of my closest friends has completely turned on me. I couldn’t believe that he would react this way. I know my dad said college was a learning experience but I didn’t anticipate these learning experiences to be so painful. What am I supposed to do now? Just let it go?
I walked back to my apartment slowly to pack for my flight, my heart heavy. I looked at my phone and scrolled through the contacts. My fingers hovered over Aleah’s name; I wanted to call her so desperately. I put my phone back down and put my hands in my head. She probably won’t answer I just didn’t want to deal with that disappointment too. I’m hoping a few days at home will make this all better.