21. from bad to worse.

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Text Message, 8:32pm
Hunter: Hey, Ryan. How are things?
Ryan: Pretty good, you?
Hunter: Can't complain.
Hunter: Listen, are you into art at all?
Ryan: I mean, I guess I like it. But I don't know anything about it, really.
Hunter: One of my good friends is an art major and he has a show this Friday. Want to be my date? We could grab dinner first, too.
Ryan: That would be fun. But I think Isabelle and I might have plans. Let me check with her and I'll get back to you.

Ethan wasn't home when I returned from a 12-hour shift at the hospital

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Ethan wasn't home when I returned from a 12-hour shift at the hospital. His absence had become the norm again; just like before Christmas.

The condo was silent as I walked in. Too silent. All I could hear was the low, quiet buzz of the refrigerator. Depressing.

I'd been keeping busy with school, clinicals, and teaching yoga. But still, I was lonely. And I didn't understand— what was the point in having a roommate that you never even saw?

Bigger feelings aside, I missed having him around, even as just a friend. It broke my heart that he was avoiding me, especially since I still didn't know why. I tried to push it to the corner of my mind, but it was always there.

I wanted to confront him— to ask him what was going on or what I'd done. But he was so closed-off lately that I knew it would be no use. I would get no answers from a brick wall.

The emptiness emptiness weighed on me as I sat down at the island to eat. I needed company.

I quickly texted Iz to see if she wanted to come by after her evening broadcasting class. She agreed, and came over shortly after nine with all of the the best snacks in hand: salt and vinegar chips, Twizzlers, and dark chocolate. Call it best friend's intuition-- I think she knew that I was feeling down.

The weather was decent- for January, anyway- so we decided to take advantage of the hot tub out on the deck. Might as well, I figured, because at the rate things were going I might not be living here much longer.

The air was crisp and cool, and the view, second-to-none — the whole river valley sprawled before us in its quiet, frozen beauty. Hoar frost covered the trees below and made for a an eerily pretty scene.

The serenity outside was a stark contrast to the chaos inside my head. I was going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, like some kind of emotional tennis match.

"Iz, what should I do?" I lamented. We had to nearly yell over the sound of the jets bubbling— I hoped Ethan didn't come home and overhear. "I told him I might have plans with you to buy myself some time."

Eventually, I was going to have to make a decision.

"Well, he's not Ethan. But if that isn't going to happen, maybe you do need to try to move on." She shrugged, "Only you know what you want."

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