The sky was very cloudy; a dull, lifeless grey, as if it would rain anytime. John woke up in his dimly lit room. He put on his white shirt, grey suit and pants, attempted to fix his long, hazel hair, and lastly put on his black tie, making himself look as neat as he possibly can.
John then walked down the same old roads, went past the same old stores and restaurants, to the same old destination. He had walked down this path for more than he can count, and there’s no more novelty in this experience. Every morning was just the same, and today seemed just like any other. Finally, John reached his workplace: a colossal building, made of grey bricks, and slightly stained glass panels for windows. He sighed deeply, and muttered “Another day, another load of paperwork to handle.” and walked in the front door.
Things were not always like this. At one point, the sky was light blue with a golden sun, radiating warm, bright rays that lit the path forward, which John would walk down carrying no burdens, but wonders and curious thoughts instead. “What will happen today? What fun activity should I do?” he often thought, as he trotted down the road, happily and cheerfully, observing the beautiful landscape, filled with trees, bushes, and flowers of all colours.
“Hey John!!” yelled a young girl’s voice.
“Abby!!” John replied, sprinting to her.
The two would do all sorts of activities together. Whether it be finding insects in the grass fields, playing on the playground, going home to play video games, or simply getting ice cream at the convenience store. Whatever they did, it always resulted in the two kids having fun with each other.
And she was John’s best friend, Abigail. Ever since they first said hello to each other in kindergarten, they started to spend time with each other. In recess, they’d chat and play together on the playground; during class, they’d discuss schoolwork together, and always pair up with each other for group activities; and after school they’d go somewhere that they both considered fun to extend their shared time. This continued for many years, yet neither got tired of being around each other.
As time passed, those times grew few and far between. And now, without even realizing, those days had become nothing more than distant memories. A lost time that could never be accessed ever again.
And John had no idea where Abigail had gone.
It was as if all of that happened in a past lifetime. And now John was stuck in his current one. One that was much less fun, and he didn’t have a fun-loving companion who was almost always by his side.
John was rushing back to his cubicle so he could submit a document before the deadline. After hastily finishing that, he took a deep, exhausted breath and began packing his things.
“Well, another day’s work completed,” he thought to himself, “Finally I get to go home and relax. It’s probably going to be another typical weekend, like usual. But at least I get a longer rest before Monday.”
He packed up his things and left the office.
While walking to the door, he was deep in his thoughts when he accidentally bumped into somebody.
“Oww! I’m sorry!” said John.
“It’s alright, the fault is mine,” replied the woman he bumped into.
John tried to say something, but was stopped in his tracks, and began carefully observing her. She had long black hair and hazel eyes, and was moderately tall, with a slender figure. Even her face looked familiar, but John just couldn’t pin down who she reminded him of. The woman was also taking a good inspection at John. She noticed his hazel hair, dark eyes, and that popped pimple on the right of his cheekbone.
“A-abigail?” John finally said.
“J-johnny? Is it actually you?” the woman asked.
Without another word, they jumped into each other’s embrace.
“Oh my goodness!” John exclaimed loudly, “where have you been?”
“Where have I been? Where have YOU been? I’ve been trying to find you ever since grade 10!”
“Oh man… I’m awfully sorry, Abby. See, my computer broke down, and so I lost all the ways of contacting you!”
“Wow...That’s just awful…”
“Well, luckily, I bumped into you!” John laughed, cheerfully, “wait a minute, since when have you been working here?”
“Um, I’ve been an advertising specialist for half a year now.”
“Really? I’ve been a data analyst for the marketing department for 3 months.”
“Oh wow, that sounds difficult.”
“Yeah, a lot of statistics and calculations. Quite tedious and tiring. Advertising sounds like much more fun!”
“Oh, no, John! I need to do a lot of analysis as well. And sometimes I hit a creativity block, which is always extremely infuriating!”
“Wait, so our departments are not that far. How have we not seen each other before?”
“Who knows? I guess today was just fateful?” Abigail chuckled after making that comment.
“What do you mean?”
“You see, usually, I go home from the back exit, but the door is badly broken, so I need to take the front door. Little did I know, I bumped into you!”
They both laughed.
“Speaking of which, do you want to go somewhere to eat?
“Oh my goodness, John! I was about to ask you the same thing!”
John suddenly started giggling.
“What?” Abigail asked with a confused look on her face.
“We used to talk like this when we were little. One of us would suggest something and the other would go, ‘Hey I was thinking of that!’ Glad to see some parts of you didn’t change.”
“Oh my gosh, can we just get going, please?”
The two adults joyfully walked out of the building, chatting with each other on their way. Sooner than they realised, they arrived at their destination. They sat down, and resumed their chat in the middle of the busy restaurant.
“So, have you been to this place before?” Abigail asked.
“More than I remember,” John replied, “I often go eat at restaurants around these blocks, so I’m quite familiar with this place.”
“Huh. Then, considering you brought me here, I’m guessing you’re confident that I’ll like the food?”
“Or maybe I wanted you to eat something wacky and see your reaction. Ha ha!”
Abigail slapped John gently as they both laughed.
“Gosh, you’re still kind of a meanie,” Abigail said, still giggling.
“Hey, it’s not like you weren’t a giant prankster back in middle school, either,” John refuted, “remember that time when you gave me a sour head and told me it was a sugar coated candy? You knew I hated sour stuff!”
“You still remember that? I’ve apologized to you 10 times for that already! Plus, you can’t deny that the face you made was hilarious!” Abigail said.
“Keep this up, and I might order posashio ice cream and make you eat it all.”
“Okay, that is flat out evil. You just lost all rights to complain about that sour head incident from now on!”
Just on the topic of conversation, a waitress came to their table and gave them the menus. The two took a short break from their banter and placed their orders. Once the waitress left, they went back to chatting.
“So, Abby, do you eat here often?”
“Oh, no. I always leave the company building from the back door, so I don’t come here often. There’s a giant supermarket nearby. I always buy some food and cook . But knowing that you live here, that’s definitely going to change!”
“Oh yeah. You said you’re an advertising specialist… Now that I think of it, I think the advertising department is on the west end on the 5th floor, whereas the data center is on the east side of the 7th floor. I think that explains why we never see each other.”
“Well, considering now we know, I think that’s about to change.”
They both laughed.
“So, Abby, I take it that life has been treating you fairly well?”
“Yeah, you could say that. Being an advertising specialist can be a lot of fun when things go right. You get to be creative and come up with any sorts of ideas, and compose advertisements however you wish without a lot of restrictions. That honestly is one of the biggest perks about this job.”
“Wow.” John commented, sounding slightly jealous.
“But the job certainly is hard work as well. You constantly need to pay attention to the marketing environment and analyze things. You also need to be very careful with decision making. One mistake, and the customers might walk away from us, and we’ve wasted all the time and resources, only for that advertising campaign to worsen things. So this job comes with a lot of pressure.” After finishing her words, she grabbed her glass of water and took a big gulp, and she cleared her throat.
“Oh my,” John exclaimed, “well, considering how things are, it seems like you’ve not made any mistakes yet.”
“Oh, stop it with the flattery,” Abigail said, grinning.
“Then again, it might be because your teammates are cleaning up after you.” John said, snickering.
Abigail chuckled sarcastically. “So what about you?”
John’s smile instantly disappeared as he took a sigh.
“Look, Abby, I hate to be that guy, but...it’s very tiring. And I know what they all say, ‘all jobs are tiring’, but this one certainly takes the cake. There’s so many complex calculations, so many steps you need to take, and if you make a single mistake, you need to start the whole thing all over again. And I need to do this all day. Thank god I have data management software. Otherwise I’d go insane trying to organize all the numbers! At least there’s something you genuinely found fun in your job.”
“So, you’ve lost interest in mathematics? I thought you loved it, especially calculus and algebra,” Abigail said in a half-teasing, half-concerned tone.
“Well, that was me at first. But when things get more and more complicated and time-consuming, it just ends up being tedious. I still enjoy math and calculating things, but the calculations at work are not what I would consider ‘fun’ at all,” John replied.
“But your job is so important, John! Every department about sales and marketing relies on analysts like you! You people are the only ones that can turn the colossal amounts of data into something helpful for all of us!”
“Thanks, Abby. Obviously, I’m not going to quit, since the pay is good. I just hope things will improve a little, if you get what I’m saying,” John said, looking slightly happier.
“Well, now that we work together, things certainly will!” Abigail said, cheerfully.
“Are you just saying that because you’re going to pull pranks on me?”
Abigail scoffed. “No, dummy. I obviously mean it. You definitely could use some cheering up. I mean, when I bumped into you, you pretty much looked like a sleepy teenager who stays up playing video games every night. If I didn’t have a keen eye, I’d never recognize you!”
“Very funny, Abby,” John said grumpily, as his smile was resurfacing.
“Your orders are here!” The waiter unintentionally interrupted. He placed John and Abigail’s food down on their table and swiftly went to another table for their orders.
“In all seriousness,” Abby said, “I admire you. I always have been.”
“Huh?” John’s eyes widened in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“You know, you’ve always been this calculating, analytical kid, quietly doing your own things in your little corner, calmly and peacefully,” Abigail recollected, almost like she was daydreaming.
“Ha ha, yeah. That was me,” John said, averting his eyes away from Abigail out of embarrassment, “I wish I was a little more social.”
“You know, many people said they didn’t want to be friends with you because you were so shy and quiet, so it was difficult to maintain conversations with you, because you rarely talked to anyone. I honestly didn’t think that. You were very friendly, and quite interesting. You still are, to be honest. You just seemed like some kid who didn’t really enjoy talking, except whenever you’re with me. Then you’d become much chattier, as if I flicked on a switch or something. “
John chuckled sheepishly. “Yeah. To be honest, you were the only person I felt truly comfortable being with. You were just so nice and friendly, and you were always eager to talk to others. Honestly, I think you have a keen eye in noticing what interests people, and that’s why you’re so good at conversing.”
“Aww, geez, “Abigail giggled.
“Yeah. I had no trouble talking to you, unlike with the other school mates. You just seemed so different from the others in an unexplainable way. Besides, we’ve been interacting with each other since kindergarten. As time went on, hanging out with you just became a natural part of my life.”
“Ha ha, wow. I had no idea I was so influential to you.”
“Yeah. When I lost contact with you, I still tried making friends, and I tried to imitate how you approached others.”
“Really? How did it go?” Abigail probed.
“I was able to make a few friends, but I never got too close with anyone. Nonetheless, we still maintained contact and had fun times. However, I focused more on my studies, which were getting notably more difficult, so I didn’t feel too lonely. I stuck with mathematics throughout university, and eventually got hired by the company,” John replied.
“Aww, that’s good to hear. I’m glad to know you had some social success, even without me.” Abigail said with a gratified smile, “back in middle school, whenever you went to a party you had to have me tag along, or else you refused to go!”
“Ha. Yeah. Glad those days are over. So, what about you? How was life like when I wasn’t around?”
“Oh, um, it was alright, I guess. I continued with my studies like normal, which were getting more difficult, just like your case. Eventually, I graduated high school, and majored in literature. Initially I wanted to be a novel author, but the income was too unstable for me, and it was too competitive. So, in my upper years, I took some business classes and eventually got a job as a copywriter, all leading up to my current position.”
“Wow, Abby. What a ride.”
“Yeah,” Abby said, still smiling.
“How has your social life been?”
“You know, like, friends. What are your social circles looking like?”
“Oh, I’ve met lots of people, and we’ve had our fun throughout the days. But people come and go as time goes on. And, if I’m brutally honest, I was never as close with someone as I was with you. No one’s company was as enjoyable as yours.”
“Really?” John said, beaming.
“I mean, for instance, who else could help me with my math homework as much as you did?” Abby immediately laughed after saying that.
“Wow, really?” John asked as his smile flattened.
Abigail continued laughing. “Hey, I helped you a lot with literature and history back then, too!”
“I wasn’t that bad…”John muttered.
“Anyways, to be honest with you, I’m still extremely glad that we happened to bump into each other. Obviously, you’ve changed a lot, but I love how there’s also many parts that stayed constant throughout all these years.”
“You’ve changed a lot, too. Yet I can still recognize you with no difficulty. And I still see that same, good old friend of mine.”
“And, well,” Abigail started to stutter.
“Yes?” John looked at her curiously.
“I really missed you, John.”
“I missed you a lot, too, Abby,” John said, after a slight pause.
The two continued eating their food, wordlessly. After a moment of silence, Abigail looked at John again, and asked, “Hey, John. This might be a little sudden, but do you want to come to my place and hang out?”
John instantly raised his head as his eyes lit up. “Right now?!”
“Yes! Well, I mean, after we finish eating.”
John shoved the remaining food into his mouth, and quickly devoured it. Abigail laughed, then signaled a waiter for the bill, and asked for take out containers for her leftovers. The two adults then walked out of the restaurant, with John smiling the widest ever since he graduated university, and Abigail was still giggling at him.
After trotting for a while, John and Abby finally arrived at her home. John looked around the interior, like a curious puppy.
“Hey, is it just me, or does this place look familiar?”
“Ha ha, yes, John. It looks a lot like that house I lived in when we were little. I actually noticed that when I was looking for a place near the company, and I bought it because it looked similar. Well, and it was close to work.”
”I’m also noticing some familiar gadgets and items. Like that vase. And that pillow. Hey! There’s the rubik's cube I gave you on your 11th birthday!”
“Yeah, I brought those with me, as well. I couldn’t bear throwing them away. So, what do you want to do? Do you want to jump straight into the games or is there something else you want to get done before we start?” Abigail asked, smiling.
“Wait, do you still have those games we used to play?”
“Of course. These are the games I grew up with. Or should I say, the games that both of us grew up with.”
“Yeah, that’s true. We used to play these for hours. It’s funny how all of that time we spent is now nothing more than a memory that only exists in our heads.”
They both glared at the stack of games with a bittersweet expression on their faces.
“So, Abby, should we start?“ John said, attempting to bring the cheerful mood back.
“Alright, let’s see how rusty you’ve gotten! Prepare to get your butt kicked!”
And just like that, a night of video games began, completely oblivious to the outside world surrounding them. Cars and people would rush across the streets outside, trying to get from one destination to another, and the street lights would illuminate the path of their busy . Yet none of that concerned the two. All they cared about was having fun, and besting each other, as they remained in their little bubble of child-like fun. Until, suddenly, John glazed at the clock.
“Oh, my goodness, it’s half past 11 already!” John called out, as if he suddenly woke up.
“Oh, do you need to head back?” Abigail asked.
“Yes. It’s way too late,” John said, as he put on his suit and looked outside the window. It had gotten very dark and quiet outside, after who knows how many hours they’ve been playing. There were some road lights that could offer John vision, but lots of tree leaves obscured them, making their guidance less effective. The road ahead looked like a tunnel, extending to a dark, seemingly endless abyss. John could not find a single person outside.
“John? Are you okay?” Abigail walked up to him, and looked outside of the window, too.
“Yes, I’m fine. I’ll be going now,” John said, stuttering a little, as he left the window and began making his way to the door.
Realizing what John was looking at, Abigail called him back, and asked, “Say, John, would you be okay with...staying here for the night?”
John’s eyes widened. “Seriously? You’re okay with that? Didn’t you tell me you have a boyfriend? Would he be okay with it?”
Abigail snickered. “Oh, please. We’re friends and he understands it. I guarantee he’s not going to have a quarrel with you about this. And I, for one, am more than okay with you staying the night. It’s too late anyways, so why not?”
“Oh my goodness! Thank you so much!” John cheered. He walked up to Abigail and embraced her tightly.
“So, do you want to go back to gaming?”
“Not going to lie, I’m really tired, and I’d prefer something more relaxing.”
“Oh! How about we watch a movie together?”
“That sounds perfect. What should we watch?”
“Hmmm. Well, I’m not sure how much your taste for movies has changed,” Abigail said, “Oh! Do you remember that romance drama we watched a lot when we were younger? We even roleplayed a scene!”
John’s eyes instantly lit up. “Oh, yeah! That one sounds perfect!”
Abigail skipped to the TV to set up the movie. Once it started, she went to the couch, sitting right next to John. As the movie ran on, the two would share comments with each other, either reminiscing about the past, or talking about how different something feels. As they chatted, the two didn’t realize that they were practically leaning on each other. About half way into the movie, John suddenly sighed deeply.
Abigail looked at him with a worried glare. “What’s wrong?”
“You know, Abby, just this morning, when I woke up, I was thinking about how all the time we spent when we were kids was gone forever. And yet, here we are, spending time with each other, playing with each other, watching movies with each other… It’s as if we’re continuing where we left off, except it’s an even better version now, since we are better versions of ourselves after all those years of growth.”
Hearing this, Abigail sighed, too. “Yeah, you can definitely say that. You know, I’m so glad that we still want to be great friends with each other, despite all these years being away from each other, and how much we’ve changed during that time.”
“Although, John. Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t ever lose me again, okay?”
“Yes, Abby. You’ll always be my friend. I promise you that.”
“Good. I promise you the same.”
John did not know when he closed his eyes, as his consciousness faded into the dream realm. Nor did he know how long had passed. John slowly opened his eyes. He noticed that the TV screen was off, and he was still laying on the sofa. But there was something warm wrapped around him, and something was gently poking his cheek.
“Hey, John. Good morning,” said a woman’s voice.
John instantly woke up, and realized that he and Abigail were hugging each other.
“What the,” John stuttered, still trying to process what happened, “Did I fall asleep? Why am I hugging you?”
“Hey, slow down,” Abigail said calmly, “Remember that we were watching a movie last night? Well, you dozed off, and your head was on my shoulder. I didn’t want to wake you, but I didn’t want you sleeping like that either, or else you’ll get neck pain the next day. So, I fixed your posture, but then you rolled over, onto your side, with one arm around my waist.”
“Oh my goodness, I really did that? I’m so sorry,” John said, frantically. His face was very red due to the embarrassment.
“Hey, don’t feel bad,” Abigail said, smiling, “I really didn’t mind at all. Plus, you were so warm and cozy, so I gently hugged you back, and began drifting off to sleep as well.”
John looked even more confused. “Wait, but I thought you had a boyfriend. Would he be okay with this?”
Abigail laughed. “Why wouldn’t he be? I’m hugging him right now!”
John’s face became red again. He opened his mouth, but no words could come out. All he could do was stutter incomprehensibly, and stare at Abigail’s warm smile.
“Are you serious, Abby?!” John finally blurted out.
“So, last night we said we were going to be friends forever, but I was thinking, why not develop on that, and become more than friends? Besides, in middle school, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to ask you out on a date, but I never entertained that thought enough to make it actually happen. But now, I have changed my mind. So, consider this as me asking you out.”
“Am, am I still dreaming? Is this real?”
“Do you want me to pinch you? Here!” Abigail pinched John’s cheek.
John froze in place, still staring at Abigail’s smile in disbelief. It wasn’t long before his lips touched Abigail’s.
“Ha ha, that went better than I thought.” Abigail was blushing, too.
“You know, Abby, if someone told me that I’d not only meet you again, after not seeing you for about 10 years, but also start a relationship with you, I would never believe it one bit.” John said, smiling warmly.
“So, what do you want for breakfast?”
“I think you already know that, love.”
© 2021 James Guo