In the immediate aftermath of Labs, Aaron remained in bed hungover in his neon-spangled elastic attire, the Sellotape from being attached to Noah repeatedly sticking to the duvet. In his drunk stupor of a sleep, he dreamt of the night he had just had, repeating his favourite moments again and again like his favourite song on constant repeat.

It had been nearly 17 hours since he lost sight of her in real life. He bolted upright, sweat on his forehead and dry mouth gasping. He dragged himself out of bed and began a week of searching.

On Wednesday he spent the day in denial, batting away questions from all mates over what happened with the girl. He only spoke to Noah about what happened but he was still little help, only helping give a codename for her: Ariana. Every time he heard the name he thought of her high ponytail and how it moved in the light, trailing through his fingers.

On Thursday he found himself looking over his shoulder in lectures, walking along the parade and in the SU.

On Friday he went to labs again, alone and completely sober, only lasting an hour before giving up and going home.

Saturday he spent his shift at WelcomeFresh stocking shelves at a snail’s pace, looking over shoulders at people’s phones and always looking at the parade.

Sunday he admits was the worst idea. On the frozen benches outside Fountain Café he set himself up with his laptop and worked for hours, glancing up at every little shuffle of feet and skid on ice. Consequently, Monday was spent in bed with a cough.

It was exactly 6 days, 15 hours and 6 minutes since Aaron had seen her. The girl in the club had disappeared without a trace. The hours spent scouring instagram to try and find her, dusting the cobwebs off of his FaceBook profile to search the Labs club photos had been for nothing. If it wasn’t for the silhouette of her and him in the background of just one photo he’d think he imagined her: the bangles on her wrist as her hands were placed on his face. If he hadn’t spent most of the night making out with her, at least in the moment the picture was taken, he’d have a photo to ask people if they knew who she was.  Aaron was getting ready to give up.

“Make no mistake,” Noah laughed. “You are a simp. That is fine with me but you need to at least find out who she is.”

“Yeah, no shit, thanks” Aaron said. Chicken was spitting at him from the hob. Rice was over-cooking beside it. They were getting ready for a halls party arranged with the sole goal of trying to figure out who the mystery girl was.

“Why did you ask Raf to come to the party?” Noah side-eyed Aaron. Normally kitchen conversation was small-talk but there had been a shift in the last week between the two flatmates that could only be described as trust. Where previously there had been small talk skirting through the issues of the day with as much enthusiasm as a fresher on night 5 of clubbing, the chats had evolved. Aaron had told Noah everything about the night at Labs and he’d helped him set up a tinder profile and asked his own mates if they knew anyone that fit the description of ‘a high ponytail’. It was a mystery and he was glad there was someone that he could talk to about it.

“I felt bad for them. I mean, it was awkward.”

“They’re a second year, right?” Noah asked.

“Yeah. What about it,” Aaron chuckled “are you thinking of…” he looked at Noah.

“No. Never. I just-“ Noah’s looked around from window to chair and back to Aaron thinking of something to say. “We never considered Ariana being a second year?”

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