Saturday, July 12

The Death of a Friend

Dear Readers,

Last week, I received terrible news about a friend's passing. It was unexpected, and I was a little taken back when I first heard it. Juliana was quite the healthy woman five years ago when I last saw her. Due to our respective busy lives, we have not communicated very much since our last meeting. I must admit, now that I have some time to ponder on everything that had transpired, it was I who should be blamed for our lack of correspondence. You see, Juliana was one of the most beautiful human being I've ever known, both in spirit and body. In many ways, she was the sister I never had.

When I was much younger, I found myself without money and a job, trying to make my way through university sans scholarship and such financial assistance. My parents were poor blue-collar workers just going through the days, struggling to stay afloat in a rather dim economy. Being the eldest daughter, I did all I could to be accepted to an institution of higher learning. The university I attended was not the greatest, but it was everything I could have hoped for. I was going to be a scholar, a professor, and earn my prestige and wealth, so my parents would be proud. But the reality of university life was unexpectedly sad. I'd spent almost all of my savings on tuition, books, and lodging, leaving very little to survive. There were times when I was so hungry, concentrating in class was impossible. That was when Juliana entered my life, and everything changed.

Juliana was a few years older than I, a senior in university, and was incredibly smart. She tutored me in philosophy as the professor's assistant, and we became instant friends. Juliana was kind, sweet, and almost unbearably helpful in every aspect of my life during that time. She would bring me my meals, help me in my homework, and buy me simple gifts to cheer me up every now and then when I was depressed. But like so many young girls my age, I did not think too much of her kindness. I appreciated everything she did for me, but I did not make any effort to get to know her. Come to think of it, I was like a sponge, taking, not giving. And it was quite all right for me, because I did not know better.

Years after we first met, after my graduation, she'd still write me; she would call me every Christmas to wish me the best of the season, and she had never missed my birthday; every year she'd send me a card with the same three sentences: "Miss you. Love you. And a happy birthday!" No more, no less.

I never kept any of her cards, never saved a single photograph, never thought too much of anything. I was focused on my life, myself, and everything I had wanted to achieve.

Five years ago, she'd asked me to meet her at a coffee shop just to catch up—she was passing through on her way to a conference. I did go. I did sit down with her for a coffee. But it was only for no more than a half hour. I had made plans with my colleagues—we were to catch the latest matinee that day—and I had quickly made my excuses and left in a hurry.

Now, looking back, I would've done everything differently. Juliana was my dearest friend, and I never really saw it until the day she passed away.

I did not attend her funeral—I could, but I chose not to. But what difference would that have made? The dead does not see, and I, the living, can only hope to learn from my past.

Juliana once told me in passing that sometimes in life, we should aim to be the best friend anyone could ever have, instead of constantly looking too hard for the best friend who never exists. And she was right. She had always been right.

Dear friends, please think kindly of me, for tonight I sleep not.

Ms. Lilly Brightbottom
July 12, 2014

Tuesday, July 8

The Flower Shop

Dear Readers,

When my colleague and most esteemed peer, Mr. Christopher Yolanda Cornelius Loke, had decided to retire from blogging for an undetermined amount of time a few months ago, I was since recruited to fill his shoes during the interim. Mr. Loke is well, thank you very much, for those who are curious; but of course, to those who know him intimately and personally, Mr. Loke is full of surprises. You never know when he will pop right in and make me redundant—I do love this new position of mine, writing on his behalf, yet staying true to myself. So, I sincerely hope he won't be back anytime soon. Obviously, I mean him no harm, but since writing is my most passionate pastime, I only hope to be blogging for him for a good amount of time. After all, a girl can only hope. Opportunities like this don't come to me freely all the time. So I say, carpe diem, carpe noctum, and carpe coffum (I can only guess this means coffee, and if does not, please pardon me; mistakes are prone to happen when you have a giddy school girl write on behalf of one of the greatest man alive—in my books, at least).

So, as new as I am, I thought I'd start with a little bit of an observation I did a couple of days ago from my little room up in the attic somewhere only dreams were made. It was a Monday when everyone in the city seemed to have lost his mind over the rambunctious weekend littered with fireworks. Working folks walked like zombies in the streets from the lack of sleep, and children were left unattended, running around like sheep without their shepherd. Heaven forbid that one of them would get hit by an automobile if no parents came to claim these lawless changelings. But did I care? Not the very least; I don't care for children, not too much. I do not hate them, but I don't really think I'd like to be surrounded by them. Oh, the chaos they would cause.

Back to the subject at hand, my focus, still from my window, went directly to a young man, most probably in his early twenties, with short-cropped hair and sharp features, standing quietly on the side of the street staring straight ahead at the flower shop right across. Without any pre-knowledge of this young man, he looked a bit gaunt, slim, but not devoid of a good diet. I shall call him T. Why? Because T is a consonant that possesses a sharp treble of sorts—my opinion, of course—and it fit what I saw perfectly. To the T (no pun intended).

In his hands was a bouquet of white flowers. Not roses, but chrysanthemums. About a dozen of them. Him in his crisply ironed trousers and bow tie around his collar, T looked ready to impress. But what with the white flowers, I thought. White is neither a romantic color, nor is it feminine. As a woman who knows her colors and flowers more than anything, I for one was a bit curious as to how the events surrounding T would turn out that day.

Working at the flower shop was an old lady, pruning the flowers and spraying them with water mists. In a corner close to the entrance behind the clear display window sat the bespectacled accounting clerk, a young man with dark hair and a pale complexion. On first impression, this man appeared tired but his fatigue did not interfere with his face, which was clean, alert, and in the most unusual way, sad. He looked lonely, like he was the only man left on Earth. That eyes of his dreamed of things beyond what he saw, beyond the walls before him, beyond the people in the streets, beyond everything in his vicinity. The clerk had a sense of longing in him I could detect. But from up here, behind my bedroom window, all I could do was observe with my keen eyes. I might be wrong about many things, but today I was quite sure of what my heart told me. From the way the clerk hunched over his work, to the intermittent glances he shot at the street with his careful eyes, I sensed something I couldn't put my finger on. It was a feeling of anticipation I sensed. And as soon as the clerk stood, hands in his pockets, turning abruptly to face the busy street from behind the display window, I knew right away what he was all about.

His eyes—dark, handsome—penetrated the recipient of their stare: T, who was still there directly opposite the clerk looking quite as surprised, mystified perhaps. T dropped the white chrysanthemums from his hands, took a step backward and heaved a sigh. The clerk did not move but twitched a smile, a rusty smile, as if he had not smiled for centuries. And T bent down, picked up the bouquet he'd dropped, turned, and walked silently away from the flower shop. There was no joy in his face as he paced himself past the oncoming pedestrians who were unaware of all that was in his heart. A tear glistened from his cheek. My heart hurt for him, and I did not know why. I guess what they say about a woman's heart is true; it holds the darkest secrets of every man who cannot bear to hide them himself.

Behind the display widow of the flower shop, the store clerk removed his glasses and closed his eyes. I saw no tear but the reflection of the passersby who had suddenly come from nowhere, obscuring him from my view. And when I could again have a clear view of the flower shop, the store clerk had returned back to his desk where he would work for another five hours before the shop closed, before everyone decided it was time to hurry back to their wives, families, husbands, and lovers.

There was a story there at the flower shop that day I would write in the near future; it would make a remarkable tale. It would make an author out of me. Maybe one of these days, I'd brave myself to approach the clerk and start a conversation with him. What a day it would be, won't you agree?

That night I dreamed of beautiful things, and among them, white chrysanthemums.

Most excitingly yours,
Ms. Lilly Brightbottom
July 8, 2014