“Do you want to go out to Central with me?” Grace asks her friend.
There is rustling on the other line, then she hears a sigh. “Going to Lan Kwai Fong again, Grace?”
Grace is quiet. She purses her lips and looks down at the back of her hand, the previous night’s stamp still lingering on the skin. “No, I was thinking about just going shopping.”
“It’s late, Grace,” her friend replies. “It’s too late to go out to do some shopping.”
“You’re no fun,” says Grace.
“You should sleep early for once,” says her friend. “You’ve been going to sleep at five in the morning these past two days.”
“It’s whatever,” Grace says. “I can handle it. It’s nothing.”
There is another sigh and then her friend says, “Just stay in for tonight, Grace. We can go again tomorrow night.”
Grace smiles. “You promise?”
The friend laughs a humorless laugh. “Sure.”
“Alright, okay,” Grace says. “I’ll see you tomorrow night, then. Okay?”
“Alright,” the friend says. The friend pauses, then adds, “Goodnight, Grace.”
“Goodnight,” Grace replies. She hangs up.
Grace sits in the dark, the white screen of her phone the only source of illumination in her room. She breathes heavily through her nose and locks her phone, shrouding her in darkness.
She stays there for a while, just breathing deeply, then she gets up and heads out into the kitchen. She flicks on the lights and opens one of the tallest cupboards, taking out a bottle of wine. The bow is still wrapped nearly around its neck and a card hangs just below.
“Congratulations! See you next year in England!” the card reads. The ink on the card is beginning to fade.
Grace smiles to herself, then frowns. She grabs the card, yanks it off, and chucks it into the trash. She takes a corkscrew from the drawer. She leaves the kitchen with the corkscrew, the wine bottle, and a wine glass.
She sits down on the couch and sets everything on the table. She pours herself a generous amount and turns on the TV, flicking through the channels until she ends up on some sitcom she has seen replayed a thousand times. She tosses the remote on the table and leans back against the couch, sighing as she swirls the drink in her hand.
Grace stays there like that for a while, pretending she is still at university and she is drinking with her coursemates. The next time she refills her glass, she grumbles when she realizes that it’s completely empty. She puts the glass down and stumbles to the kitchen, opening and closing the cabinets loudly.
Grace grunts when she realizes there is nothing left. She glares at her trash can and rolls her eyes at the two other empty bottles of wine resting by it. Grace makes her way out of the kitchen again, knocks over the wine glass, and lies down on the couch to stop her vision from spinning any more.
She turns over to her side, staring at the moving images on the TV screen. The scene shows a teenager crying on the couch, her parents hugging her from either side and murmuring reassurances. Grace frowns. The longer she stares, the more she thinks the girl on TV looks like her.
Then, as she closes her eyes, tears slide down her cheeks and onto the hardwood floor below.