Walking on the most crowded commercial street in my city, scanning over the face of people walking on the street, I feel nothing has changed since 3 years ago. Listening to the song that my old friend recommended to me in my headphones, I suddenly recognize the most familiar stranger in the flooding crowd by a glimpse.
“Hey! Is that you, Li?” I look at him with a little bit of surprise.
“Indeed, that is me, Cui.” He smiled back with a calm face, as if it feels he knows we are going to meet at this place.
“I never thought we would meet here again.” I look at the ground and walk a few steps towards him while I’m speaking with a sentimental smile.
“Yeah, no one knows. What a surprise.” He doesn’t look at me neither, but instead he is staring at the coffee shop. “Do you want to go have a coffee at our old meeting place?” I nod my head, and we walk into the coffee shop where we usually met. The moment we step into the coffee shop, it feels like I’m back to 3 years ago.
His name was Li who was one of my best friends. We met on the first day of our high school years when I was a freshman, and he was a sophomore. With only a few sentences, we quickly became friends with each other at this rural place. Because our school’s location was isolated, we didn’t have much to do but hang out with each other all the time. Everyday in the morning he would come to my room and told me to hurry up so we could go to breakfast. During the freezing winter, when we walked to the dining hall, I always said, “ OMG, you see how cold it is outside. I will never go to breakfast again.” However, on the very next day, he would come to my room, and we would have the same conversation again.
That was when our friendship grew, and we became closer. I still remember the time when I truly believed he was my best friend and brother. During a Saturday night in my freshman year, Li’s roommate asked me if I could switch roommates with him just for that night because it was my roommate’s birthday so he wanted to celebrate with him. I agreed because I could also hang out with Li that night. We played video games and danced to music in his room. It was one of the most enjoyable weekends I had in my life. After we were both tired and it was almost 2 A.M. so we decided to go to bed. As we turned off the light and laid on the beds, he showed me his talent of talking all night.
“What is your dream, buddy?” He spoke with vigor and seemed like he was not yet tired from gaming and dancing.
“I want to become a doctor or some kind of rich person so I will be able to donate a lot of money to poor people in the villages. A lot of them don’t have money and access to education and other things.” I told him.
“That would be so nice if you could make it happen. I want to become a fashion designer and establish my own brand. I love designing clothes and fashion. I will name my brand TH, the abbreviation of my first name. And by the time I establish my brand and you donate your money to those poor people, I will also give them the clothes of my brand,” he said with determination.
“Oh yes, we will definitely fulfill our dreams.” Even though it was too dark to see his face, I knew the kind of expression that was on his face right at that moment. He opened his eyes widely and locked his face with that confident smile. For me, I gave the biggest and happiest smile that I had as if we were already successful and had achieved our dreams.
Time flew, and it was the graduation day for Li. Everyone tried to use a smile to cover up the sadness inside of them. For me and Li, it was like a normal day. We didn’t say much but joked around with each other because we thought we knew that we would still be best friends. On that day, before he left, he told me, “There is no need to say much between us. Take care, and stay in touch.” I looked at him and gave him a sentimental smile. Maybe, at that time, I already knew our friendship wouldn’t last that long. We still chatted and joked with each other on the phone but, during the chat, we started to have times when we both didn’t know what we should talk about. As time passed by, we began to chat less and less. In his social media, he posted people I didn’t know and places I had never been to. For me, it was the same thing. I felt the bond between us became invisible. No one actually said anything, but we knew things were over.
At the coffee shop, we sit down and offer greetings to each other, asking if things are alright. Most of the conversation remains in silence. Whenever there is silence in the conversation, I bring myself back into my memories, and I believe he is doing the same thing too. Finally, he says he has to go to meet some friends, so we go out. Before he leaves, we don’t say much but from our eyes I can see the time when we were studying in high school and the time when we were walking on this commercial street. We both believe that it was a wonderful time when we were best friends, and had someone who had one’s back. However, we know there is no way to repeat the past.
“Take care and let’s stay in touch.” I say.
“Sure.” he speaks with a sentimental smile.