Written by Ru Yi

Edited by Eunice Tan

Cars whizzed by trees strung with colourful lights in their branches. It was only four in the afternoon but the sky was already beginning to darken. Pedestrians scuttled to and fro, Christmas shopping the only thing on their minds.

Cynthia peered out of a window from inside a warm and cozy cafe called The Milky Way. She folded her hands in front of her and squeezed them together anxiously, as she waited for what was to come. Observing the hustle and bustle outside, she smiled to herself as she thought about how she should be doing her own Christmas shopping, but instead was here waiting for something- no, she was waiting for someone. 

It had been ages since Cynthia last saw her childhood best friend, Elaine. She could still clearly remember the day she stood in the airport, waving Elaine off as she embarked onto the plane to Germany because she wanted to get away from their small town where nothing exciting ever happened.

Ever since then, Elaine started a new life without Cynthia in it. She studied for a few years and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, found a job and worked her way up to one of the higher ranked positions which paid well, got into a relationship, and recently said “yes” to her boyfriend’s proposal. Well, at least she updated her Facebook and Instagram often so Cynthia didn’t miss out on anything. 

Snapping her out of her daydream, The Milky Way waitress delivered a steaming cup of coffee to her. Cynthia flashed a grateful smile at the waitress and took a sip of the smooth drink. It was bittersweet with a tinge of cinnamon, which reminded her of the time Elaine and her had tried to make cinnamon rolls but ended up making a big mess instead. They had mixed up the flour and sugar measurements and forgot to put in the eggs, so they tried to substitute it with quail eggs. Cynthia chuckled as she recalled Elaine’s grandmother walking into the kitchen and scolding them for using her precious quail eggs. The cinnamon rolls turned out flat and tasted slightly odd due to the type of eggs used. Elaine’s dog had gobbled it up with no issue though.

As she took another gulp of her coffee, Cynthia traveled down memory lane, reminiscing the other times she and Elaine created sweet, little memories together. From attending ball games with each other’s families to sharing secrets early in the morning; complaining to each other about the teachers they had to ice cream and swimming dates during the summer; Fourth of July celebrations with barbeque to applying make-up on Elaine’s dog–Cynthia treasured each and every single thing they had ever done together. 

But all that happened during their childhood. When they hit high school, Elaine found a new group of friends as she fitted in with the popular group well. Cynthia, on the other hand, did not as she was quieter, plainer, and generally less exciting. During her teenage years, she never stayed back for any after school activities besides the time she tried being a librarian’s helper but that didn’t last long as she spent most of her time reading the books instead of arranging them. Thus, she didn’t make any new friends and established a reputation as the “emo loner.” Every now and then, Elaine would talk to her but every conversation between her and Cynthia during those high school years never lasted more than five minutes. She stopped trying to chase after Elaine, and their friendship crumbled away.

However, when Elaine left for Germany, Cynthia had managed to see her one last time because she had coincidentally been at the airport to see off a cousin leaving for the other side of the United States.

Now, after eight years, they were finally meeting up to have a small chat over coffee, completely suggested and initiated by Elaine. But deep down in her gut, Cynthia knew that their little meetup carried a huge weight of unspoken words. She was just hoping that nothing would be awkward and they could comfortably slip back into friendship once again.

The door jingled open, and it was not until someone strutted over to Cynthia’s table that she looked up. A young blonde woman with a face layered with light makeup stood there in a light pink fluffy suede coat. Her feet were encased in black ankle boots, and she wore white slender gloves on long fingers. At once, Cynthia recognized her and stood up. Her trendy style and radiant face hadn’t changed a bit.

“Cynthia!” Elaine squealed a little too loudly as several neighbouring tables turned to look at them. 

Cynthia smiled apologetically at them then turned to hug Elaine, who nearly squeezed the wind out of her. “It’s good to see you too, Elaine.”

“Oh please,” Elaine waved her hand as they sat down and she shrugged off her coat. “Just call me Elly. That’s what everyone calls me.”

Somewhere in her subconscious, Cynthia wondered who ‘everyone’ was. “Alright then, Elly. How have you been? It’s been quite sometime if I may say so myself. How’s Germany? Oh- I got you a little gift for Christmas too.” 

When Elaine had finished thanking her multiple times for the ‘adorable dolphin figurine,’ she turned and brought out a gift of her own. “Here, choose a bracelet! I bought them from Germany.” Cynthia picked a light purple bracelet and slipped it into her pocket while Elaine ordered a cappuccino. 

They exchanged a few more formal words before Elaine finally put an end to the pleasantries and said, “Cynthia, it really is good to see you again. I truly missed you while I was in Germany and wished you were there to witness everything with me. And I know how I was in high school, but I never forgot our time as besties when we were kids. I’m really sorry I abandoned you. Let’s rekindle our old friendship, shall we?”

Cynthia swallowed. Well, Elaine made the move. This was what she wanted, wasn’t it? She wanted them to be friends like old times. But why did she suddenly feel so hostile and… angry? Before she knew what was happening, everything slipped out.

“Wow… I’m sorry… I just… Wow, I didn’t expect you to make the move.” Her tone sounded accusative. “I was always the one holding our friendship together, and all you did was just take from it and… use me. I remember you even teased me in high school about my braces just because you wanted to fit in with the popular gang. Well, it hurt me. You told me after that that you didn’t want to do it and they made you but it still hurt me. And to this day I still can’t get it out of my mind, plus the hundred other things you did to me. I might have forgiven you for everything, but don’t expect me to be the one who always gives in this relationship. It has to be equally two-sided, or else, forget it.” Cynthia folded her arms defensively and fell back into her seat, her chest heaving slightly with the effort it had taken her to get the string of words out.

Elaine blinked a few times. Cynthia supposed that she was so used to being liked by everyone that she never expected someone like her old best friend to speak to her like that. She pursed her lips. A few moments of uncomfortable silence passed, and tension filled the air between them.

Finally, Elaine spoke in the quietest voice Cynthia had ever heard her speak in. “I’m sorry, Cynthia. I had no idea… I mean, I did, but I was so naive and ignorant and well… you’re right. I just wanted to fit in. But little did I know I was losing such a valuable and rare gem for a couple of common diamonds. I promise I will be a better friend from now on and give my all in this friendship. Please, let’s at least try once more.” 

She leaned forward and cupped Cynthia’s hands in her soft ones. Cynthia took a few long, deep breaths to steady herself and used those moments to search her heart. Was it worth it? Do I want to try again? Do I still care enough for Elaine to do this? 

Cars whizzed by trees strung with colourful lights in their branches. It was only four in the afternoon but the sky was already beginning to darken. Pedestrians scuttled to and fro, Christmas shopping the only thing on their minds.

Cynthia peered out of a window from inside a warm and cozy cafe called The Milky Way. She folded her hands in front of her and squeezed them together anxiously, as she waited for what was to come. Observing the hustle and bustle outside, she smiled to herself as she thought about how she should be doing her own Christmas shopping, but instead was here waiting for something- no, she was waiting for someone. 

It had been ages since Cynthia last saw her childhood best friend, Elaine. She could still clearly remember the day she stood in the airport, waving Elaine off as she embarked onto the plane to Germany because she wanted to get away from their small town where nothing exciting ever happened.

Ever since then, Elaine started a new life without Cynthia in it. She studied for a few years and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, found a job and worked her way up to one of the higher ranked positions which paid well, got into a relationship, and recently said “yes” to her boyfriend’s proposal. Well, at least she updated her Facebook and Instagram often so Cynthia didn’t miss out on anything. 

Snapping her out of her daydream, The Milky Way waitress delivered a steaming cup of coffee to her. Cynthia flashed a grateful smile at the waitress and took a sip of the smooth drink. It was bittersweet with a tinge of cinnamon, which reminded her of the time Elaine and her had tried to make cinnamon rolls but ended up making a big mess instead. They had mixed up the flour and sugar measurements and forgot to put in the eggs, so they tried to substitute it with quail eggs. Cynthia chuckled as she recalled Elaine’s grandmother walking into the kitchen and scolding them for using her precious quail eggs. The cinnamon rolls turned out flat and tasted slightly odd due to the type of eggs used. Elaine’s dog had gobbled it up with no issue though.

As she took another gulp of her coffee, Cynthia traveled down memory lane, reminiscing the other times she and Elaine created sweet, little memories together. From attending ball games with each other’s families to sharing secrets early in the morning; complaining to each other about the teachers they had to ice cream and swimming dates during the summer; Fourth of July celebrations with barbeque to applying make-up on Elaine’s dog–Cynthia treasured each and every single thing they had ever done together. 

But all that happened during their childhood. When they hit high school, Elaine found a new group of friends as she fitted in with the popular group well. Cynthia, on the other hand, did not as she was quieter, plainer, and generally less exciting. During her teenage years, she never stayed back for any after school activities besides the time she tried being a librarian’s helper but that didn’t last long as she spent most of her time reading the books instead of arranging them. Thus, she didn’t make any new friends and established a reputation as the “emo loner.” Every now and then, Elaine would talk to her but every conversation between her and Cynthia during those high school years never lasted more than five minutes. She stopped trying to chase after Elaine, and their friendship crumbled away.

However, when Elaine left for Germany, Cynthia had managed to see her one last time because she had coincidentally been at the airport to see off a cousin leaving for the other side of the United States.

Now, after eight years, they were finally meeting up to have a small chat over coffee, completely suggested and initiated by Elaine. But deep down in her gut, Cynthia knew that their little meetup carried a huge weight of unspoken words. She was just hoping that nothing would be awkward and they could comfortably slip back into friendship once again.

The door jingled open, and it was not until someone strutted over to Cynthia’s table that she looked up. A young blonde woman with a face layered with light makeup stood there in a light pink fluffy suede coat. Her feet were encased in black ankle boots, and she wore white slender gloves on long fingers. At once, Cynthia recognized her and stood up. Her trendy style and radiant face hadn’t changed a bit.

“Cynthia!” Elaine squealed a little too loudly as several neighbouring tables turned to look at them. 

Cynthia smiled apologetically at them then turned to hug Elaine, who nearly squeezed the wind out of her. “It’s good to see you too, Elaine.”

“Oh please,” Elaine waved her hand as they sat down and she shrugged off her coat. “Just call me Elly. That’s what everyone calls me.”

Somewhere in her subconscious, Cynthia wondered who ‘everyone’ was. “Alright then, Elly. How have you been? It’s been quite sometime if I may say so myself. How’s Germany? Oh- I got you a little gift for Christmas too.” 

When Elaine had finished thanking her multiple times for the ‘adorable dolphin figurine,’ she turned and brought out a gift of her own. “Here, choose a bracelet! I bought them from Germany.” Cynthia picked a light purple bracelet and slipped it into her pocket while Elaine ordered a cappuccino. 

They exchanged a few more formal words before Elaine finally put an end to the pleasantries and said, “Cynthia, it really is good to see you again. I truly missed you while I was in Germany and wished you were there to witness everything with me. And I know how I was in high school, but I never forgot our time as besties when we were kids. I’m really sorry I abandoned you. Let’s rekindle our old friendship, shall we?”

Cynthia swallowed. Well, Elaine made the move. This was what she wanted, wasn’t it? She wanted them to be friends like old times. But why did she suddenly feel so hostile and… angry? Before she knew what was happening, everything slipped out.

“Wow… I’m sorry… I just… Wow, I didn’t expect you to make the move.” Her tone sounded accusative. “I was always the one holding our friendship together, and all you did was just take from it and… use me. I remember you even teased me in high school about my braces just because you wanted to fit in with the popular gang. Well, it hurt me. You told me after that that you didn’t want to do it and they made you but it still hurt me. And to this day I still can’t get it out of my mind, plus the hundred other things you did to me. I might have forgiven you for everything, but don’t expect me to be the one who always gives in this relationship. It has to be equally two-sided, or else, forget it.” Cynthia folded her arms defensively and fell back into her seat, her chest heaving slightly with the effort it had taken her to get the string of words out.

Elaine blinked a few times. Cynthia supposed that she was so used to being liked by everyone that she never expected someone like her old best friend to speak to her like that. She pursed her lips. A few moments of uncomfortable silence passed, and tension filled the air between them.

Finally, Elaine spoke in the quietest voice Cynthia had ever heard her speak in. “I’m sorry, Cynthia. I had no idea… I mean, I did, but I was so naive and ignorant and well… you’re right. I just wanted to fit in. But little did I know I was losing such a valuable and rare gem for a couple of common diamonds. I promise I will be a better friend from now on and give my all in this friendship. Please, let’s at least try once more.” 

She leaned forward and cupped Cynthia’s hands in her soft ones. Cynthia took a few long, deep breaths to steady herself and used those moments to search her heart. Was it worth it? Do I want to try again? Do I still care enough for Elaine to do this? 

The answer to all that was “Yes.” Somewhere deep in the chambers of her accelerating heart, Cynthia never released their precious friendship and all its memories. She was ready to forget everything that happened in the past. Ready to start over. Ready to forgive. Because even after all these years, she never stopped loving Elaine like a true sister. Their rocky friendship had definitely been bittersweet. But now, both were ready to move on from bitter to sweet for life.

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