22: Monopoly

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Games We Play

"That was the thing about the world: it wasn't that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn't expect."

― Lev Grossman, The Magician King

22: Monopoly 

When Monday morning arrived, Damien and I were both forced to face reality once again. While I felt uncomfortable sitting opposite Counselor Clara in her office, I couldn't begin to imagine just how agonizing it must've felt for Damien to be confronted about his problems once more.

"You need to make sure Nurse Anna follows up with those reports Damien. The doctor your parents chose wants those files ahead of time since you'll be starting with him as soon as you land back in Canada," Clara said, flipping through a checklist. "Dixie, make sure Damien goes to Anna, okay?" she added, eyeing me.

I chuckled to ease the tension. "Yes, Miss Clara."

"Aside from that, I already forwarded your general school reports to your doctor. We'll be in direct contact with him during the spring break, so please try your best during your sessions, Damien," she said with a soft smile. "Head Xavier will ask me about your progress and if I hear a good response from your doctor, I'll try my best to allow the Head's permission so you can come back to football. Okay?"

"Yeah. Of course," Damien nodded, plastering a quick positive smile. As I turned to look at him, I felt a small inch of fear creep into me. Damien, as much as he wouldn't admit it to me, was becoming increasingly anxious about the thought of returning home for spring break this week. Neither of us had seen nor spoken to our parents in a long time and Damien's worry was only understandable. Even I was worried to see our parents again.

I was worried about what they would say when they saw us. About the state of Damien, about my recent downfall in my school performance, about both our failures in the Victor's Tournament... all of it was slowly coming to confront us. Our problems never felt as real as they did at this moment, knowing that we'd have to explain them to our parents.

But really, most of all, I was worried about being told that I had let my brother down. That I had failed to take care of him. Every time Damien's problems were brought up, I felt plagued by guilt.

"Now, about your flight back," Clara pulled out a new brightly colored folder from her desk drawer. "Your parents have already emailed me the booking and I've gone ahead and printed it. Ideally, leave campus before nine. We'll get one of the staff members to take you the airport," she said, pushing the folder closer to us.

"But these flights are on a Friday," I noted, glancing over the printed flight tickets in the folder. "What about our classes-"

"There are no classes on Friday," she cut me off. "The announcement will be made shortly but since this is our last week of this term, we're going to have the last Victor's Tournament game of the term on Friday," she said. "Dixie, I understand that you're still a participant in the tournament, even if your brother no longer is. Of course, it'd be unfair if you miss it because of your flight so we will find another flight for you-"

"It's fine," I quickly interjected, feeling the words come out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think them over. "Please don't. I don't want to take part in the game," I exhaled. Beside me, Damien's eyes widened and I felt his shoe nudge me gently as a signal as if to ask what the hell I was doing.

"Dixie," Clara laughed uneasily. "If you don't come to this game, you will automatically be cut from the final term's participants."

"I'm okay with that," I nodded.

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