They were all friends from college; I knew only our host. The week had gone by, games and alcohol, casual boredom. We were, mostly, a noisy lot. The usual rivalries, contests and judgmental remarks that happen when a dozen doctoral candidates live together. We had fun.
It’s only when the lights got dimmed—it had been decided we should throw a party on the last night—that, in some ways, masks fell. That people showed they were hurting and lonely. Not that everything that came before was pretense—rather, that it was a conscious, violent effort at being happy.
Some had dressed up for the occasion. Some wouldn’t even dare dance. Some stayed silent in their rooms for most of the evening. We danced, and we silently shared this sadness.