Last night I didn’t hide from my housemates. I was fairly social considering. While they were running around trying on their various masks for their masquerade party I was in the kitchen having a quiet tipple, and providing all manner of useful input on fashion and mask design (being the youngest brother of three sisters does that do you). When they learned that I hadn’t even tasted the mud cake that I baked the previous day, they got all excited and we ate cake and took photos and drank our respective beverages.

So when their other friend came and picked them up, and after I was watching a movie by myself, still sipping away at what had become a more generous tipple, I thought I had done pretty well. I kind of glossed over what happened the previous night when asked, and although one of them was a little puzzled as to how I stayed at home last night but wasn’t anywhere in the house when she got home it was all good. No awkward moments. The fact that I hadn’t even spoken to one of them since I got back from work on Wednesday night (and since I work away, equates to almost two weeks of not speaking) wasn’t an issue. It all felt very domestic and it wasn’t weird at all that I was stuck at home by myself, with nothing to do and nobody to do it with while they were getting ready for a night out with friends.

Fast forward about two hours.

I’d just got into bed and was contemplating whether I should drink a little more to help me sleep (as I was in that awful “haven’t had enough to knock me out and have had too much for me to be sleepy” stage). I hear the jangle of some keys and the front flyscreen rattling as somebody starts unlocking the door. Ah ha! Housemate A probably felt a little uncomfortable at the party and has come home early while leaving the others behind to kick on, I think to myself. Housemate A is cool so I jump out of bed to find out if she is ok, but only to find all three girls are home. Ah crap! You are wearing really dorky pyjamas, are in bed at 10 o clock on a Saturday night and your housemates and their friend are all looking rather attractive, I think to myself.

However their mood was sullen and I was quick to match their facial expressions. They had come home because Housemate B wasn’t feeling well. I assessed the situation, saw Housemate A consoling Housemate B and decided I should retreat to my room to avoid an awkward moment with Friend 1.0. If it’s just a female issue then they are better off sorting it out themselves – the fewer people the better, much less a pyjama shod man with a beard that desperately needs a trim.

But here is a bit of background information. Housemate B suffers from a particular chronic illness. You wouldn’t think to look at her, as she bounces around the room, but she actually gets tired very easily. She recently started working again, and to be honest I’m a little worried about her doing too much too soon. Combined with the range of medications she is on the whole thing really does scare me a little.

So as I’m in my room, straining to hear what’s going on outside I begin to feel more and more concerned. When I hear her whispering I think, that’s ok – it must be a boy thing because she’s trying to keep the volume down so I don’t hear (aren’t we self absorbed?). When Housemate A starts asking if there is anybody she wants to talk to I start to think the problems are bigger. When these people can’t be contacted the friend calls Triple Zero. Oh crap. When the friend confirms with the telephone operator that she should go straight to the Emergency room I emerge from my hiding place and try to look helpful.

But there’s not much I can do. Housemate B is slumped over on a chair and basically looks drunk. She’s only had one glass of wine and she looks like she’s about to pass out. Initially she refused to go to hospital, but after a lot of uhming and aahing we finally manage to get her in a car and the girls take her to hospital. I ask if they need any help at the hospital, but really there’s nothing I can do. I didn’t feel helpless about it. They had the situation under control and any more people would have made it more complicated than it needed to be.

I prayed a quick prayer for her, and returned to my room. Earlier that night I was asked to choose which perfume Housemate B should wear to the party. The resulting spray test left me smelling her perfume the whole night. My main concern now is how she will recover. I don’t doubt she will pull through, but I’m worried about how this will affect her for the rest of the week. Her perfume reminds me of how lively she is, and how gutted she will feel when she has to deal with the consequences of last night. I think of how she will need to explain to her family and friends what happened, and how she will reflect on what happened when she is alone. Several emotions jump out at me. Embarrassment, shame, helplessness.

But something else also catches my attention. She had two people carry her through it. Two friends which wouldn’t just let her go to sleep. Two friends that carried her into the car – twice. For all the physical pain and emotional distress that her illness has brought her, she hasn’t broken off all ties with the world. I whinge about having no feelings. About bringing pain onto myself just so I can feel something. But this girl’s pain is real. I’ve isolated myself from everybody around me, whereas this girl dealt with more crap than I’ll probably ever know and keeps trying her best to keep it together – and along the way she makes real friends.

This morning I don’t know how things turned out. Both of my housemates bedroom doors and closed, so I presume they are both ok.

Housemate B, even if I never say it to your face, you are a stronger person than I am. If you so much as look at me funny I am going to give you a big hug.

I’m proud of you.

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