“Have a great rest of your day and remember to actually read the syllabus.” My professor lectured at the front of the hall. “I know it seems like a lot, but the information is crucial to passing this class.”
As he finished his short rant about the future of the school year, I gathered my things and left the room hurriedly. I stuffed the oh so important syllabus into my bag haphazardly in the process, knowing I’d almost assuredly forget about it within minutes.
Although I did care about getting good grades and succeeding academically in university, the last thing on my mind right now was a syllabus.
As soon as I returned to my room, I dropped everything I had and quickly changed into my sportswear, making sure to grab an energy bar as I left.
By the time I arrived at the clubroom, I was the last one there. Annoyingly, the MMA meetings begin at 7:30 at night, leaving me only half an hour to get ready and show up due to my class schedule.
“Any news?” I asked the captain as I entered the room, the bleak atmosphere as I arrived already giving me my answer.
“I was waiting for everyone to come before giving all the details, but since you’re here now, we can begin.” The captain addressed the entire room.
“According to the doctor, Cole should be fine for now. Apparently, he only passed out due to fatigue.” He began explaining thoroughly.
“Since I’m not his legal guardian, there was only so much he could say due to confidentiality, but apparently it seemed as though he hadn’t eaten anything for most of the day.” The captain’s fists, which had been tight by his sides as he spoke, loosened as he continued.
“With some rest and sufficient caloric intake, he should make a full recovery.”
I coughed quietly to myself as he finished, realizing that I forgotten to breathe while he spoke. A wave of relief washed over my body as I heard the news; the anxiety and stress I had felt over the last two days since Cole collapsed had been weighing more heavily on my mind than I had realized.
After we called the school medical staff, Sam gave them his number to keep him as updated as possible on the situation. Despite having Cole’s contact information, I had gotten no messages from him directly, which led me to worry greatly.
“I know that this has been less than ideal to say the least.” Began the captain after a few moments of silence passed. “However, I personally think it would be best, for both our mental and physical health, if we try to continue class today and stay positive.”
I guess Cole would probably feel bad if we all stopped for him…
“Last thing we’d want is for the next time we see him, us to all be in the hospital as well.” The captain joked quietly, trying to lighten the mood a bit.
Despite his attempts and the good news, it was obvious that this class would be much lower energy than the previous few. Just the warm-ups alone felt sluggish compared to before.
After ninety minutes of general MMA practice, we all said our awkward goodbyes and headed back to our rooms.
Even with the good news about Cole’s condition, I still couldn’t shake all of the anxiety I had been feeling. Even with the good news, I still had many questions.
Why didn’t he eat? Why did he push himself so hard?
And most importantly: what else is going on with him?
I took a cold shower that night and stared endlessly at my dark ceiling. My body felt dead from the culmination of stress and MMA practice, but my brain wouldn’t calm down.
In a moment of weakness, I turned over and grabbed my phone, well aware that the screen would prevent me from sleeping even longer.
Once again, I was drawn back to my contact list where Cole’s name sat at the top.
After a few minutes of thinking, I sent a single message.
“What?” He replied almost immediately.
“I was looking in my contacts and noticed I didn’t have your last name yet lol”
After sending the message, I hit myself in the head with my phone for being so stupid. I knew what I wanted to ask but my cold feet were beginning to develop frostbite.
“Miles. Like the unit.” His unnecessary clarification of what a mile was made me smile.
“Interesting” I responded quickly, “My last name is Haname btw”
While desperately trying to think of another topic to keep this conversation alive, he messaged back.
“I have a question.”
“I probably have an answer”
“The mma club members called you Kyle before. Why is that?”
Upon reading his message, I perked up in my bed and began typing feverishly.
“Its a long and funny story.”
“Go on.” His simple reply was all the invitation I needed to go full throttle.
Almost an hour had passed before I noticed the clock on the top of my phone screen had changed at all. We had been going back and forth constantly, telling anecdotes about our times in the club and getting to know each other better.
Eventually Cole even told me about his mom and siblings back home, making me really feel like we were true friends.
By one in the morning, I knew that I needed to sleep if I wanted to be awake and alert in time for the open mat in the morning.
“Its getting late so im going to sleep now”
“Enjoy, I’ve had plenty the last couple of days.” Cole joked, seemingly unphased by the gravity of his situation.
After a brief lapse in messages, he sent another.
After another instance of silence, he sent three texts in quick succession.
“For being dumb”
“For joking about it and making everyone worry”
“Your fine” I responded quickly, worried he would disappear again.
“Everyone is fine and just happy your ok” I followed up, not wanting him to get the wrong idea.
After some more deafening silence, he responded once more. This time, only a single word.
I’m gonna strangle him…
“Open mat is tmr if you feel uo to it” I replied as fast as I could, rushing to the point where I made a typo.
“If not that’s fine” I followed up frantically, “theres always jiujitsu on wed”
I blew it, I should’ve been a better friend.
Right as my anxieties were beginning to boil over, he sent two last messages.
“See you Wednesday” followed by “Good night Kyle”
He got me.
After a moment of contemplation, I simply responded “Good night” with a smiling emoji.
Needless to say, I didn’t fall asleep for another hour at least.