Back in her room Dina gagged as she saw the vomit on her rug. But she felt too weak and too sick to clean it up, so she clumsily rolled the rug into a ball and tied it in a plastic bag. I am just going to throw the whole thing in the big bin outside … later, she thought. She felt bad: her proud mom must never know what happened to that special going-away gift to her daughter who had made it to university.

But her thoughts soon returned to wondering about the party. Why couldn’t she remember anything after the first crazy hour or two on the beach? Had she literally drunk so much that she couldn’t remember? Surely not. That only happened to old alcoholics, didn’t it? It was a scary thought, that a whole stretch of her life could be rubbed out.

Those older guys at the beach seemed to have an endless supply and they were hitting on her and her friends big time. What had happened next? How had she even got home? Then she remembered Zintle leaving early. That must have been at about six – she had classes the next day so she was not going hard on the partying.

Zintle was Dina’s best friend; they had come to varsity together. At this moment there was no one she wanted to see more than her old friend. Oh, I am feeling so, so fragile. Only Zint will understand and help me get out of this mood, she thought. I’ll text her to come visit. And she can stop at the canteen and get me headache pills, thought Dina.

Then she realised that by now, on any given day, her phone would have pinged dozens of times with messages. By now she would usually have had at least five calls, let alone messages. Where is my phone? Oh my God – where is my phone? Not on the bedside cupboard; not on the desk; not in her bag, which she had not taken to the beach anyway.

Dina loved that phone; her whole busy, busy social life was bound up in it. She scrabbled around on the floor, looking under the bed, the table – everywhere, grimacing in pain as her head pounded. Separation anxiety! This was too much: her sore body, her throbbing head, the worrying “lost” hours, the bitchy looks and comments, her missing phone. She began to cry.

When Zintle came bursting in anyway, half an hour later, she sobbed even harder: “Thank God you are here. I am feeling so bad, so babalaas and down. Please, please go get me headache tablets from the canteen.”

“This is unusual, Deens. Just look at you – you look as pale as a ghost. A ghost with a bad hairdo! You’re usually full of fun and stories after a huge bash. Okay, I’ll be back in a second.”

Returning with the bottle of pills, Zintle chastised her: “Hey, girlfriend, shame. But you brought it on yourself, hey – you were totes poezaed by the time I left the party. What time did it all end? Sjoe! You really are looking baaad, girl. How did you get that graze on your chin? And why haven’t you been answering my messages?” She sniffed: “And what is that naaasty smell in here? You didn’t vomit, did you? Sies! And, Deens, you know what Themba just said to me in the canteen? ‘Ja – you better tell your skanky ho friend she has gone too far this time.’”

Dina cried harder. “I feel so bad. I must have passed out. Everyone’s been giving me dirty looks and comments. And my phone is gone, and … I feel sore down, you know. And what is really scary, I can’t remember anything that happened after you left! Zintle, I don’t even know how I got home.”

“What? That is bad. Very bad. Friend, this is a turning point for you. And me. How often have we got drunk this term, hey? But here, take these tablets and don’t worry – short memories. Your hangover will pass and after the next bash everyone will forget how you made a fool of yourself at this one. But let’s admit it: our drinking is getting out of control. It’s lekker to party it up away from our parents, but we have to get through this year. Otherwise, no more bursary.”

“Ja, I swear, that is the last time I get so drunk. I feel so ashamed. Imagine – passing right out and not … Oh my word, maybe I vomited in front of everyone. Eeeew!”

Just then Zintle’s phone buzzed. She opened the message. “Debs says I must look at Facebook. Urgent.”

A second or two later, she paused scrolling, examined the screen, puzzled, then her eyes widened and she turned to Dina, her hand flying to her mouth, stifling a gasp of horror.



Tell us what you think: Do you know anyone who has blacked out and forgotten events because they were drunk?