Fiction: A Night to Remember

Chris Reads
5 min readFeb 2, 2023

Nathaniel and Hasan were sitting in the living room of Hasan’s house a couple of hours after midnight, just catching up. They had missed the pre-game and were waiting for last call at the bars so they could go to afters. They saw each other nearly every other day, outside of class, but it was rare that they spoke long enough to get into the nitty gritty. They had to make it past the gossip, the news items, and the political debates before they could arrive at feelings. Not that they were afraid of feelings, or felt like they couldn’t talk about them. It just took a while for their feelings to get out. They had just arrived at the responsibility of social media platforms to regulate their content when Nathaniel started focusing on his phone.

“What’s up?” asked Hasan

“Celine is in KGH getting her stomach pumped,” said Nathaniel.

“Oh. Are you concerned? Are you supposed to be concerned?”

“Well, I’m not sure. That her roommate texted me is probably indication that she expects me to be.”

Nathaniel looked up at Hasan, whose mouth was turned into a frown of consideration.

“It’s like twelve degrees outside dude,” said Hasan, “you might as well go.”

“Do you want to come with?” asked Nathaniel.

It was the cruelest month of the year, the few days before their final exam season ever. Winter was strangely warm, filled with parties that were the last of what they experienced at college: Halloween, Christmas, Snow week, Après ski, and Saint Patrick’s. Now the cold realization dawned upon them that it was time to say goodbye to Queen’s University forever. Hasan didn’t really care much for exams, he had a job lined up since the summer of second year, advanced investment banking recruitment. Nathaniel didn’t have a job yet, but he wasn’t concerned about exams either. At this point, employers didn’t care so much about grades anymore. They slung on their coats, Nathaniel a black bomber that smelt of yesterday’s keg stand, and Hasan the camel peacoat he had worn since first year.

It seemed like every other week someone they knew was drinking too much and going to the hospital, so there was no real sense of urgency. Kingston General Hospital was on the other side of campus, but the campus was small enough that it only took twenty minutes. It seemed shorter amidst their continued freedom of speech debate. The receptionist let them in without much trouble, and when they arrived at Celine’s bed, she was sleeping peacefully with an IV drip. Nothing much for Nathaniel to do, except take a picture to send to her roommate, and then leave.

“Walk along the water?” suggested Nathaniel.

Hasan assented with a tilt of his head, even though it would take much longer. It wasn’t like they had much to do anyways. Afters wouldn’t start for another hour or so, after the bars closed and all the drunk food was consumed. They walked in silence.

“I didn’t know that things between you and Celine were that serious,” said Hasan finally.

“I didn’t know either, but apparently she thinks so,” responded Nathaniel, “I really do like her, but she’s got that job in L.A. lined up, and that’s just way too far to carry on. Not to mention expensive.”

“So what, you’re just going to let her go?”

“Yeah, I don’t know. We were never really exclusive anyways. There are other girls and there will be other girls.”

They walked on in silence for a while longer.

“When are you moving to New York?” asked Nathaniel, though he already knew the answer.

“At the end of May, for training. You should come visit if you’re not working then!”

“Yeah, maybe. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a job there.”

Nathaniel knew this was unlikely. With the new administration, visas for Canadians to work across the border were challenging to obtain. Loitering around New York until a job was secured was even more impractical. He had been friends with Hasan since elementary school, attending the same middle school, high school, and now college. They even went to Barcelona on exchange together. This would be the first stage of their lives they carried on in separate cities.

“You should actually come,” said Hasan, “It’ll actually be a bit weird not seeing you every day.”

“I’m sure you’ll survive. You’re living with Fraiser, no?

“Yeah, I guess.”

They came to a stop by the pier, a concrete structure jutting out into the lake.

“Remember when you almost drowned here in first year?” said Hasan.

“If your ass wasn’t flailing around so hard in the water, then it would have been fine,” retorted Nathaniel, with a smile.

It was a tradition for undergraduate students to jump into the lake in December, a dangerous ritual passed down through the years that was now technically banned by the university, but every year many students attempted it. In first year, Hasan successfully completed the challenge, though the shock of the cold caused him to splash around dramatically while looking for the ladder. A very drunk Nathaniel thought Hasan was drowning, and jumped in after him. Though normally a strong swimmer while sober, Nathaniel was anything but that night, and it was Hasan who had to hoist him back onto the pier. There, they shared a tight, topless embrace under numerous towels while waiting for a taxi.

They continued onwards, towards the Bader Centre for the Arts, a contemporary structure of glass and wood standing sentry around the lake. This marked the furthest point on campus to the southwest, the end of campus grounds. Strangely, even this place felt more foreign to Nathaniel than downtown Kingston, which was decidedly off-campus with its bars and clubs.

“Fraiser just texted,” said Hasan looking at his phone, “they’re getting food at Mr. Donair right now, and are meeting at Daimien’s.”

“I guess we should start heading back.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

They walked until they arrived at Union Street, and looked down at the long row of stately looking old buildings lit up by electric lights, lonely at night without its usual hustle and bustle. There was a wispy fog drifting between the buildings, whitened by the streetlights.

“Do you really want to go to Daimien’s?” asked Nathaniel.

“Not really,” said Hasan.

“Wanna stay out and see if we can catch the sunrise?”

“Yeah, I think I’d like that.”

The two friends continued their slow walk around campus on the unseasonably warm April day, quiet lulls interrupted occasionally by fond anecdotes. They sat down at lakeside picnic benches near the east end of campus to watch the sun emerge from behind Fort Henry, its rays enveloping them with a warm glow. Of all the silences of the night, this was the longest one. It was Nathaniel who finally broke it.

“Want to call it a night?”

Hasan agreed. They went home to get a little bit of sleep before the busy evening ahead. It was a Friday morning after all.

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