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Helen and Bill studied Fine Arts at college. Despite the fact that Bill was 19 and Helen was 29 and married with two children, they got along extremely well and spent a lot of time together both socially, when Helens busy  family schedule allowed and study-wise.

When they had completed university, Bill was assigned to a far off district school and they lost touch. Over the years Bill found out that Helen had become divorced. By this time Bill was married. He was also developing a serious alcohol problem.

At the age of 30 Bill was transferred back to his home town. His marriage was now on the rocks due to his drinking. His inevitable divorce came six months later. He moved into a single apartment where his drinking only got worse. He was struck off the teachers register and was now on unemployment benefits, drinking the cheapest wine on the market from the time he woke up until the time he passed out.

On one of the rare occasions that he went into town he bumped into Helen. She hadn’t changed a bit but said, “What have you done to yourself, Bill?” Bill was honest and told her about his drinking. Helen didn’t look pleased and came up with an excuse to make a quick exit.

Due to the amount of alcohol that Bill was drinking, he was having trouble deciphering reality from dreams. One day he got the phone book and rang Helen. She told him that she had quit teaching and now had her own sewing shop in a nearby town. Bill invited her over for tea. As he sounded sober, Helen accepted his invitation. A date was set and Bill wrote it on his calendar. He passed out a few hours later and didn’t know if he’d made the phone call or not. He looked in the phone book for Helens sewing shop but saw no sign of it. He couldn’t even find her home number as he didn’t know her maiden name. ‘Maybe I dreamed it,’ he thought.

Irrespective, when the date arrived, Bill decided to cook tea for two anyway. He began cooking and drinking at 3pm. At 6pm Helen arrived. ‘Hah!’ Bill thought. ‘I didn’t dream it.’ Bill served the meal and continued to drink. They reminisced about their university days as Bill continued drinking. He asked Helen, “How’s the sewing business going?” Helen said, “What sewing business?” Bill panicked and said, “Just kidding.” The story behind the sewing business was that Bill did dream it. The dinner was in fact organised on the day that they met in town.

By 8pm Bill was well and truly drunk….and Helen knew it. She was just in the process of looking at her watch and make a  hasty retreat when Bill made a pass at her. She pulled away and left.

The next day Bill awoke thinking that he must have dreamed making a pass at Helen. ‘I would never do that.’ He thought no more of it. He rang Helen quite a few times but got no answer as Helen had caller ID on her phone and knew it was Bill. He saw her in the street a few weeks later. He looked at her and smiled. She looked straight through him with a look as cold as the snow he was standing in. This happened another two times before Bill could accept that he had ruined such a good friendship with a stupid act as quickly as a flick of the wrist.

He still sees Helen on the street from time to time. Every time  he sees her he crosses the road through sheer guilt and embarrassment. He wants to talk to her and apologise but he now realises that the time for that is gone.

 

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