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It was a little past seven when I walked in the door to the college dive bar a few blocks from my apartment, and my roommate, Angie, was already waiting for me. She saw the look on my face and winced.

“Bad day?”

I didn’t say anything, but my face must have told the story pretty clearly. I watched her look at me with sympathy, and, sighing, I opened my bag and handed her a manila folder.

She probably could have guessed what was inside—we’d been talking for months about my thesis proposal, and I’d just submitted it last week to the professor who’d been assigned as my advisor. A turnaround this quick meant an extreme response… positive or negative.

Angie flipped to the last page and skimmed the words, and then closed the folder and held it, her hands unconsciously squeezing the edges of the paper.

“I’m so sorry, Summer.”

I took a deep breath, squaring my shoulders and trying to keep the look of desperation off my face. “It’s ok,” I sighed, walking over to the bar and gesturing for two beers. “I can get into law school even if I don’t graduate with honors… I’m sure it’s happened before, like, once? Maybe?”

Angie cracked a smile that didn’t make it to her eyes. “If anyone can do it,” she said, trying to be encouraging.

I drank half my beer in one gulp. I wasn’t a big drinker, but this day had warranted it. I scanned the crowd, looking for any of the regular guys I’d sometimes play a game against on an off night. Nobody was here.

“You want to play?” I asked Angie, gesturing to the empty pool table.

“Usually I couldn’t take the humiliation,” Angie smiled. “But tonight I’ll give you a break.” She handed the folder back to me, and I tried to resist the urge to rip it in half. Not that that would change anything—but it might be psychologically satisfying, at least.

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