Much to my dismay, Darren’s idea went down very well with the rest of the flat. Even Eric, when he realised he would have no one to go out with, agreed that staying in could be a good idea.
By eight o’clock, everyone was sitting in the kitchen, bottles of beer in hand and music playing from a set of speakers James had brought with him. I couldn’t imagine that the flat below us would be pleased with us come the following morning, but no one really seemed to care about that; we just wanted to have a good time.
It took quite a bit of persuading by Owen and Darren to get a beer in my hand but once I started drinking it became a lot easier. The evening began to blur in a haze as Darren taught us a drinking game that involved us sitting in a circle, passing a liter bottle of vodka around and naming famous people. If we couldn’t think of a name that matched with the one said before, we had to drink straight from the bottle until we had thought of one. I quickly discovered I was terrible at it and the more I drank the worse I became.
I remembered laughing as my brain grew more fuddled, but the last clear memory I had was of me being helped to bed by Joanne and James and falling asleep in moments.
The moment I woke up the following morning I instantly remembered the reason drinking was bad. My head was thumping and I still felt a little drunk from the night before. Thankfully the room was still dark as I forced myself to sit up in bed, rubbing my eyes and taking deep breaths as I tried to steady myself.
“Morning,” a voice out of the darkness said. I turned and saw the vague outline of Aislinn sitting on her bed. “I got you this, I thought you might need it.” She held out a mug of something hot that smelt distinctly like coffee, which I took gratefully and sipped at it cautiously. “How are you feeling?”
“Rough,” I replied. “How on earth did I manage to drink so much?”
“I don’t think Darren was the best influence you could have had,” Aislinn said, a dash of humour in her voice. “He kept convincing you that the more you drank the better you would feel.”
“I’m sure it was true at the time but right now it definitely doesn’t feel like it.”
“I can assure you that you seemed to be having a ball last night. You were the life and soul. I didn’t realise quite how lively you could be.”
“Neither did I,” I replied, taking another sip of coffee and grimacing as it hit the back of my throat. “How did you manage to stay sober?”
“I have quite a high alcohol tolerance level and I have my ways of pretending to drink when I’m really having orange juice or something like that. It’s quite easy when everyone else is drunk, they don’t even notice.”
“You’ll have to teach me that sometime,” I groaned, making my first attempt to get out of bed. “I must be making such a bad impression. I don’t do this all the time, I promise. I don’t even do this some of the time.”
“Don’t worry,” Aislinn laughed. “I believe you. Have you got any lectures today?”
“Um…I’ll have to check my timetable.” I turned around awkwardly to look at the piece of paper that was pinned to the wall beside my bed that held my lecture times. “Oh crap! I’ve got my first lecture this afternoon. What time is it?”
“Just gone quarter past eleven.”
“I’ve got two hours to sort myself out and get to the lecture hall. What am I going to do? I feel terrible.”
“I’ll fix you up something that should make you feel better in no time. I’ll get you some aspirin as well, just in case that doesn’t work.”
“Thank you, Aislinn. You really don’t have to do this.”
“That’s what friends are for, right?” She smiled at me as she left the room. I sank back down into my pillow, curling up and pulling my duvet up around my ears to block out the rest of the world. I couldn’t believe what I had done. It was so unlike me to let my guard down like that and in front of so many new people. What had gotten into me?
“Here you go,” Aislinn said softly, shutting the door quietly behind her as she re-entered the room. “Drink this, it should make you feel a whole lot better.”
“What’s in it?” I asked as she handed me the glass.
“It’s probably best if you don’t know,” she replied. “I’ll warn you now, it doesn’t taste too good but it’ll definitely clear the headache and some of the nausea.”
“Thanks,” I replied, grimacing before I’d even had the first taste of Aislinn’s magic potion. I discovered, as I choked down the first gulp from the glass, that it tasted far worse than Aislinn had said.
“Once you’ve had that I would suggest that you get up, have a shower and I’ll see if there’s anything to eat.”
“You really don’t have to be this nice. Don’t you have something you should be doing?”
“I don’t have anything today,” Aislinn shrugged. “I had a two hour lecture at nine this morning and came back to look in on you as soon as I got into the flat.”
“Then thank you again for being so wonderful.” I swung my legs off the bed and heaved myself up and onto my feet. I felt a little unsteady but managed to gain my balance enough to walk to the shower and turn on the water. It was freezing cold to begin with but I quite liked it; the cold water cleared my brain and made me feel less confused. I took my time washing my hair, doing to rounds of shampoo before I added the conditioner to the ends.
When I stepped into the kitchen twenty minutes later, washed and dressed and with my hair still dripping, I felt much better than when I had first woken up.
“There wasn’t much in the cupboards,” Aislinn said apologetically, “but I did manage to find this.” She offered me a box of incredibly boring cereal.
“That’ll be perfect,” I lied, taking and beginning to eat straight from the packet. “Whose is this?”
“James’. His parents left it for him along with a load of other stuff. He says you’re welcome to it.”
“I’ll have to thank him sometime.”
“You really need to stop doing that, it’s such a bad habit.”
“Thanking people. Do you not realise people might do things just because they like you?”
“Not really. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it like that.”
“Well, it’s true. We all like you Nessie, you’re our friend and we want to help you out. And this is me, helping you out.”