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REUNION: Part Six: The Reunion

2021.09.19 18:53 ninjagall15 REUNION: Part Six: The Reunion

The ten year reunion of the class of 2010 was held, unsurprisingly, in the old high school cafeteria. A familiar feeling crept over Ben while he walked back into his old life, half nostalgia, half uncharted fear. That feeling of being in an old place that hasn’t changed all that much even though the person walking through it is completely different. Though Ben suspected he wasn’t the only one dealing with this, even Austin looked nervous as they walked into the main entrance, looking at his phone screen and readjusting his hair every few seconds to the point where Ben mimicked him and got lightly punched in the arm. The volunteer in front tapped the wrist band RIGHT on Ben’s arm hair, and seemingly nothing else, offering a sneer “welcome” as the two walked inside. Ben plucked at the sticky section of the band, hoping to mitigate some of the damage done, but the band was stuck tight. Just from tugging on it, Ben could tell removing it was going to be a relatively painful ordeal later, but decided not to dwell on that. There’s enough going on now, one problem at a time.
“Man, remembering going to chemistry baked?” Austin laughed, walking past the old science classrooms. “I was always sure someone was going to smell it and rat me out.”
“I don’t remember that. You guys never smoked with me back then.” Ben replied, knowing that Austin retook chemistry at least twice, just like he had retaken algebra twice..
Austin laughed, impersonating a baby crying. Ben returned the earlier arm punch, and the two carried on laughing into the cafeteria.
“Okay, so here’s the plan.” Austin turned and announced.
“There’s a plan?” Ben asked.
“Of course there’s a plan, listen up, idiot.”
“Oh this should be great.” Ben muttered sarcastically.
“We’ll separate. We’ll cover more ground that way.”
“What? No, I don’t want to be around any of these people alone!” Ben exclaimed back. Nonononono I can’t handle this alone I should just go whi-
“Just for a little bit. Trust me.” Austin glanced around, noticing and honing in on a small group of people Ben didn’t recognize. “You’ve been gone, I haven’t. Believe me, you’ll want to hear what they’ve been up to, and if you’re near me, well….”
“We’d laugh at them?” Ben asked, unsure where this was going.
Austin, as expected, burst out laughing. “See dude, I’m just thinking about it and I can’t even keep it together. We’ll reconvene every ten minutes, and debate where their lives went wrong.”
Are people gonna do that with me when they see me? Ben almost asked, but stopped himself. He didn’t owe these people anything, not even a story about his life. They could judge and speculate all they wanted, it shouldn’t impact his life!
So why did it feel like it would?
Ben reluctantly sighed. “Fine, it could be fun, why not? But could you, er…”
“Out with it, nerd.”
Ben glared at his friend. “Can you come with me to the first group, at least? I feel like I’m driving blind.”
Austin chuckled, but nodded. “So is this why you made no friends after school?” Before Ben could protest that he had many friends, so many, countless friends, you wouldn’t believe it, Austin raised his hands up defensively. “But sure, if it’ll help you relax a bit. Let’s start with…” Austin made a show of looking around the room, “Nick! This’ll be great, trust me.
After school, Nick had, almost immediately, gone bald. It seemed poetic justice for Ben, as Nick had been quite annoying throughout high school, and although he felt guilty, it was a relief to see someone else doing a little worse than him. Nick was also going through a rough patch in a relationship, although Ben wasn’t familiar with who his girl Mary was.
“Mary...is his sister.” Austin said, once Nick was out of range.
“Wait, he’s fucking his sister?” Ben asked, mortified.
“Not anymore. Don’t worry about it dude, they’re getting a divorce, so it’s fine.”
“They were married?”
“Yeah, but they didn’t quite click, you know?” Austin looked like he was struggling not to laugh, and even though this situation was crazy, Ben found himself fighting laughter too. “Apparently it’s one thing to fuck your sibling, and another to marry them.”
“That's insane.” Well, I’m feeling a lot better about where I’m at, at least.
“Alright, I paid my dues.” Austin said. “You can go find the nerd people you knew in high school, I’m sure they’d love to talk about dragons and wizards and how they haven’t lost their virginity yet.”
“You’re kind of a dick, you know that, right?” Ben joked.
Austin wore a frown that was practically dripping in sarcasm. “Dude, you’re gonna make me cry.” He pretended to wipe tears from his eyes. “I thought we had something special.”
Ben laughed, punched his friend in the arm, and turned around to find an old acquaintance to reconnect with.
“So you keep in contact with Sean?” Ben asked Jared. The two had a couple classes together back on the day, and although Ben never thought of him as a good friend, the two had gotten along. Jared noticed Ben looked uncomfortable, and came over to talk to him. Although surprised, Ben was appreciative, and the two sat down to catch each other up.
“You didn’t hear? Oh yeah, you moved away.” Jared started to answer. “He died, man. A year ago.”
Ben was horrified. “What-what happened?”
“He ate too many undercooked kidney beans.” Jared replied.
Ben was stunned. “He….he what? Is that a thing?”
“Yeah, if you don’t boil kidney beans fully before you eat them, you don’t burn out all the phytohaemagglutinin, which is technically toxic. C'mon man, everyone knows that, that’s common knowledge.”
It most certainly was not. But he let that slide. “I didn’t think kidney beans could kill you, how many did he eat?”
“Technically, even eating like five beans can make you sick, but he ate five pounds of chili in one night, and vomitted to death.” Jared said. Ben would have taken it as a joke, if not for the tone of his voice.
“Jesus.” Ben couldn’t think of what else to say. He hardly knew Sean, but still, to find out someone they knew died, was still tragic.
“His brother had the leftovers. Ended up having severe diarrhea during the eulogy. Super awkward.” Jared said, stoically.
“Please tell me y-”
“Yeah we got it on film. Wanna watch?”
Ben did. Sean’s brother gave a tremendous speech, but Jared skimmed most of it to get to the tail end, where the incident happened.
“This world is filled with so much shit.” Sean's brother said. “Greed, disasters, anger, cruelty, the TSA, But in a world filled with all that, well... you were wonderful.”
Approximately one second later, Sean’s brother’s face turned red, he fell over backwards, picked himself up, and ran off to the bathroom, crying.
Well, Ben thought, at least I haven’t done that.
Yet, Another part of Ben’s brain pointed out, helpfully.
“I buy baby food because it’s cheaper.” Cody explained. She had continued to work at the grocery store after high school, and never got around to doing anything else, it seemed. Ben felt a certain kinship with that, as he hadn’t been up to another, either.
Of course, he didn’t say anything about that. Mostly because he was distracted by her statement.
“Um, baby food? Is that...okay for adults to eat?” Ben asked. He was just so surprised, again, he wasn’t sure if his old classmate was messing with him or not.
“It’s fine, it tastes great once you adjust, actually.” She licked her lips, pulling out a small can of pea and carrot flavored baby food. “Did you bring a can opener?”
Ben pretended to check his pocket. “Sorry, I meant to, I think I left it at home.” Ben, you don’t even own a can opener.
Cody gave him a look of disgust, as if he were an idiot for not bringing a kitchen tool to a high school reunion. “You know, I've saved much money doing this. All of you could be rich, too, if you just lived off baby food.”
That’s a bold statement, but… “You know what? I might look into that.” Ben admitted, only half joking. He did need to save money, after all...
“I got an abortion.” Katie informed Ben, despite the fact that he neither asked, or initiated a conversation.
“Oh-oh my God, Katie, I’m so sorry.” Ben said, shaken to his core. How do normal people respond in these situations? Ben had no idea, and just tried his best to appear normal.
“Don’t be, it wasn’t a sin.” Katie pulled out a crucifix necklace. “I’ll still go to Heaven. Will you?”
Ben, who was probably not going to Heaven, tried to brush past that. “Wait, okay so...I’m missing a lot of religious rules, but...isn’t abortion a sin? Like one of the worst?”
“Normally yes.” Katie said. “But in my case, I had it done a MOMENT before conception, so it’s technically okay.”
Ben was absolutely floored. “Why...why didn;t you just use protection?”
Katie gave him a dirty look that made Sara’s glares look gleeful. “Protection is a sin, Ben. This was easier, and much more pure.”
“So...did you invite an abortionist over? What were the logistics of this?” This conversation was insane, but Ben was hooked.
“You wouldn’t get it, you’re a sinner, after all.” Katie huffed, turned around, and walked away.
“Wait, don’t go!” Ben yelled. “I have questions! So many questions! Thirteen, to be precise!”
Katie gave him a dirty look, and sank into the crowd.
“Should you be smoking two cigarettes at once?” Ben asked Christina. She noticed him standing alone, and asked him to join her outside for a quick smoke. Ben caved, having attempted to quit a couple times. Well, if I’m gonna relapse, it may as well be tonight. He thought, as he took a quick inhale after asking his question. He felt the nicotine rush in his veins, and at once he felt relaxed.
“Don’t worry, I’m not wasting them.” Christina said, patting her stomach. “I’m smoking for two, now.”
Ben started coughing. “You’re- you’re what?” He tried to smack the cigarettes out of her hand, but she slapped his arm away. “You shouldn’t smoke if you’re pregnant-congratulations, by the way, but put those out!”
Christina rolled her eyes. “You sound just like the liberal media. Cigarettes are fine. Healthy, even.”
What episode of the Twilight Zone is this reunion? Ben thought. “You know that science has agreed cigarettes are bad for years right? This isn’t a partisan thing at all, everyone knows you can’t smoke or drink while pregnant!”
Christina looked right at him, took a deep puff of both cigarettes, and rolled her eyes again. “Wow, you’ve been indoctrinated, huh? Stupid cuck.”
“I just remembered, I told Austin I’d meet him inside.” Ben lied. Christina either didn’t notice, or didn’t care, and Ben slipped back inside the cafeteria.
“Was it everything you thought it’d be and more?” Austin asked.
Ben had to admit it, he was having a good time. A weird one, but a good one nonetheless. “Actually, yeah. I’m surprised.” He looked at his friend. “I’m glad you invited me to this, thanks, man.”
“Ahh, don’t sweat it, I figured I should see you before-” Austin froze up, looking scared.
“Before what?” Ben hadn’t said what he was doing after this weekend, but thought Austin had assumed he’d be leaving again. Or maybe Austin was moving this time.
Austin sighed. “You should sit down man, I have something I’d been meaning to tell you.”
The two sat at one of their old lunch tables. Ben noticed his palms were sweaty. “Should I be worried?”
Austin shrugged. “A little, I guess. I'm a sick man. Lung cancer. Stage four. Inoperable. They caught it way too late”
Ben waited for a punchline, or for the story to trail off somewhere. When it didn’t, he tried not to panic. “Why didn’t you tell me you were sick?”
“You left.”
“Oh...I… You could’ve called, at least!”
“I know. You had to figure your shit out. That's a priority for you. I get that, I really do.” Austin wasn’t slipping any jokes in, and Ben knew this was serious. “But you showed me I wasn’t one of your priorities, why would I call you with my problems?”
Ben was at a loss. Not only did he feel like shit, he felt like a bad friend. “I...I’m sorry I made you feel that way, that was never what I meant to do. To anyone.” Ben was quiet for a minute. “Are you still mad at me for leaving?”
“I was for a while.” Austin admitted. “But, then I got the test results, I knew this reunion was coming up...I don’t know how much time I have left, I didn’t want to spend it being mad at anyone over anything.”
The two sat in silence. Ben wasn’t sure what to say, or how to explain himself. He felt like a coward, but couldn’t break the awkward silence.
“Did you have fun tonight, at least?” Austin asked, taking the initiative to change the subject.
“I...I did, yeah. It was kind of nice to see other people fucked up their lives also, you know?” Ben said, although he felt a little guilty saying it. “I kind of feel better about where I’m at.”
“Oh, that shouldn’t be the lesson here.” Austin responded.
“What do you mean?” Ben asked. “Isn’t it good that I’m doing better than some of these guys?” He gestured around the room. “I mean, Evan from the band went outside too, and I quote, ‘scream at the night’ until he passed out. At least we’re not doing that, right?”
“Sure, but you shouldn’t judge yourself based on what your old classmates are doing.” Austin explained. “If you do that, then you have an excuse to not grow or improve. You should focus on yourself, and make sure you’re living up to your own standards, not the ones other people do or don’t reach.” Austin sighed. “What are you doing after this weekend?”
Ben didn’t know, and responded with that. He had no plans, back to square one, really. The relief he felt from seeing his old classmates fail was short lived, because Austin was right. Even though he wasn’t doing as bad as some of the people there, he wasn’t doing anything great, either.
“Well, keep me in the loop.”Austin said, starting to get up. “If you’re gonna leave again, make sure you check in with me first. It was…” he reached out his hand, “Really good to see you again.”
The two shook hands, and each left. Ben was both relieved and a little offended that nobody had really asked about his life, and was quiet as he drove back to the Motel. He stared at the ceiling for what felt like a few hours. There is a time and place to tell your old classmates you probably gave them lice, and that time is never. He scratched his head again, thinking that he had too many thoughts rolling around in there, and wasn’t sure what to do with them.
Maybe that just means you’ve changed.
I’ve moved on with my life, what the fuck have you been doing, anyway?
You showed me I wasn’t one of your priorities, why would I call you with my problems?
Friends are responsible for each other's happiness.
And suddenly he knew what to do.
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2021.09.19 18:53 emmy_e GOLDRUSH FEST AZ 2021! Let’s make a thread of questions, answers, and anything else you wanna share!

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2021.09.19 18:53 Yolozekra8 Hit a Devious Lick 😈

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2021.09.19 18:53 StyleBloggerIndia Red hot 🔥

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2021.09.19 18:53 HyrulesFinalHope You wanna know what I hate?

I hate it when I start to wipe and my body’s just like, nope you got more shit all of a sudden
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2021.09.19 18:53 GlitteringCurrency44 Need some tips people, please.

Well I been suffering for 2-3 weeks with my nose being inflamed. I know I need surgery, I can see my turbinates in the mirror, they have little space in between them and the septum. I would love to have my nose cleared up, no problems. Never suffered from allergies but now all of a sudden my nose is like this. Life is a messed up honestly. I hate it. But to get to the point, how common is ens and what are my chances if I get surgery? I see comments all the time, it gets me anxious, I already have anxiety and depression, I already don’t wanna live, this is just adding on. Please help
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2021.09.19 18:53 TheLoneGreyWolf Is there actually a Gem to scale weapons off different stats?

I’ve been wondering why anybody makes stat based choices for weapon selection if this is the case. Why not have both scale on constitution?
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2021.09.19 18:53 wyndqueen Using a fetal doppler almost everyday?

I bought mine around 10 weeks, didn't really use it until after my 12 week appt because I didn't get an ultrasound and my OB used a doppler of her own.
I only use it at MAXIMUM, 3-4 mins. I've actually listened to the heartbeat for 1-2 mins most times. I tend to use it almost everyday.
I keep hearing about women being told not to use it and now I'm nervous because I only wanted to use it until I could feel the baby move. I'm currently 16 weeks so I guess that's coming up real soon.
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2021.09.19 18:53 liam04253 Lägg till snap: exposarorrar123

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2021.09.19 18:53 riad0077 New artwork i made , hope you love it !

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2021.09.19 18:53 OrangeJuiceJohnson ISO Stubbs night 3 poster

I have cash or a night one poster for trade. Just need night 3 to get complete set.
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2021.09.19 18:53 jmoriarty Looking for ideas on how to improve /r/PHXList

A few years ago we had so many classified ad type posts a user suggested we break them off into their own sub, like Los Angeles was doing in /LAList at the time. While some people hate it (usually the people trying to sell things), overall it was great in helping /Phoenix stay more discussion focused.
But it really hasn't been maintained much beyond basic modding and I think it could use a facelift. Especially around the topic of housing, which gets posted here a LOT with the market the way it is. Right now we let general housing posts in once in a while, but the ones where people are looking for an apartment, roommate, etc., we route to PHXList.
(We are also doing regular megathreads here on Housing to meet that interest as well, I'm just talking about the daily one-off posts we get)
So what could we do to make /PHXList better?
Here's the current topics:

And here are the changes I'm thinking about:
Love to hear any thoughts or ideas anyone has on how we can spruce it up, or add/improve the categories.
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2021.09.19 18:53 anon71999 Does Lidl sell Halo Top ice cream or do they have their own version?

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I haven’t been to a Lidl in years, was wondering if they tend to stock Halo Top ice cream or have their own cheaper version now?
Side question: what’s everyone’s favourite flavours? I’ve only tried birthday cake and chocolate cookie dough. Was well excited for the birthday cake but found it a bit bland!
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2021.09.19 18:53 clinegirl 134 days

Survived my first two sober weddings. They were extremely tough to be honest. Each day I’m sober I realize how depression and anxiety were fueling my alcohol addiction, and vice versa.
Just wanted to say I’m thankful for this subreddit. Reading this daily lets me know I’m not alone.
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Roommate won’t leave the kitchen.
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2021.09.19 18:53 kullre this a revised version of my r 200 run and now that I have a vengeful I can actually be good(sorry for the shitty camera, I couldn't use the screenshots)

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2021.09.19 18:53 SexyHerbert 🥵🥵🥵

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2021.09.19 18:53 enginudes agalar ben bi şey yaptım.

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2021.09.19 18:53 TaciturnLad Terra Branford Stickers!

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