In a cluttered corner of my computer, nestled between a literature essay and my geometry assignment, lies an innocuous document, simply titled: Gifts.
Inside, however, is a short paragraph, revised endlessly over and over again. Every word chosen carefully, grammatical and punctuation errors fussed over. Yet, I sense something in the text is horribly wrong. The hollow sense of satisfaction is eclipsed by gloom, and I wince as I reread the paragraph.
People can predict the future. I’m just preparing for it.
Even this first word has difficulty- it sets the tone of the entire thing. Should I be ridiculously informal, or awkwardly formal?
I’d rather you tear out my awful letter from Primary school and stick this in instead, because the memory of me when we (split ways back then) is not a pretty picture.
Put simply, I want to thank you. (For everything you’ve done for me and for everything you’ve been for me.)
Thank you for being the first. (The first person I’ve ever admired and the first person to feel the same.) Our friendship was certainly never serious, but it was precious. My school years were special because of you (and the rest) in school.
(Thank you for our relationship)Thank you for being a friend. I enjoyed our Whatsapp chats, and (gaze staring) awkward shipping moments (me shipping others and you rolling your eyes), and I’m truly grateful we stayed friends- anything else could have ruined where we are today. What is most remarkable is how we weathered the middle and high school adolescent years while learning not to get on each other’s nerves as much. When it comes down to it, we were good friends. (When we have more serious relationships in future.) I’ll look back and marvel at how fragile and awesome everything really was.
Finally, thank you for the fun. I still remember that crazy laughter that creeped out everyone (seriously a miracle I was never pissed at your laugh) How you could render the stubborn, bossy and violent me into a tongue tied girl sometimes. How you never failed to (give me the feels) cheer me up when I complained about stupid curriculum over whatsapp. And how you supported me with your actions, your words and your humour.
And there my initials lie.
My head tilts slightly and my eyes dart to a little glass jar, filled with trinkets to the brim. There’s a tiny piece of unchewed gum and little paper stars, glitter all around. But at the top of all the shells and my collection of stones, there rests a small keychain ring. Slender and tiny, it's fragility is accentuated by the roughed and worn-out objects all around it.
It had been a present from him, when we were deskmates back in our final year of middle school. He had noticed my disappointment when my keychain broke.
“Don’t tell anyone,” he had muttered, embarrassed.
“They’ll tease and say it's an engagement ring.”
The single band spoke volumes of my youth, where love was a simple gesture and its simplicity an unspoken promise.
I reach in, and touch the smooth, cold metal. Memories flash - walking together through the school corridors, comfortable silence lingering; murmured secrets and confessions in my ear; bated breath as we awaited our results; the cool breeze when he walked me home for the last time; our distance.
Time slows; friendship ages. We still speak to each other, and not in jilted, sarcastic speech. He lends me his math notes; I give him literature tips. The longing for more has been replaced with contentment for the plateau we have reached. We both know we have reached a stage not many will achieve.
Someday, somehow, I’ll put pen to paper once more, and return the gift. But even then, I know, we’ll still be looking out for each other.
We always have, and we always will.