The beginning

3406 Words

Alice Pov

As our graduation ceremony ended, I ran to the car while still holding my diploma, I want to get to my best friend's house as soon as possible. It was only a few blocks away from our school. I tried so hard to stay strong and to keep myself together during the graduation ceremony but it was hard to keep on focus when my mind keeps on thinking of her, and of our promise. A promise that no matter what, I'll attend our graduation with or without her.

Arriving at her house I noticed that a lot of people came. They were all wearing black as it symbolizes someone's loss. I am at my best friend's funeral location, where the service would occur. The atmosphere not only looked gloomy but also felt gloomy. Everywhere I look, there were no smiles; it reminded me of my tenth birthday before I met Ashley, my best friend… it was so depressing.

'I hate this. Why did she have to die?' I thought momentarily before I took a seat at the front. I'm still wearing my black toga with me.

'She promised me that she'll fight against her cancer. I waited for her at our graduation ceremony, still hoping that everything was just a dream, and that she's still alive and she'll come barging at the door at the last minute, having a grand entrance, looking smug and yet still proud of what she'd done. I know I was still denying the fact that I had already lost her, and that I was still holding on to her promise that she'll be there when we graduate, and that she wouldn't let her illness stop her from taking her diploma. We also have a lot of things to once she was discharged. This is not what we've planned. Her dying is not a part of it. I miss her.

Minutes later, a hearse and three limos arrived at the house. Ashley's family and relatives filed into the vehicles while the drivers loaded the hearse with numerous roses. Ashley loved roses; they were white and pink. She loved anything white and pink.

Everything was so sudden. I still can't believe that I lost my soul mate. I lost my best friend. We promised each other that we'd be there for each other until we grew old. But now, I was left on my own.

I stoop up and went closer to look at ashley. It was an open casket. I would be able to see Ashley one last time. It hurts to see her lying there, looking peaceful, as if she was just asleep and that she might woke up anytime soon. Though I know it was impossible, because it was an eternal sleep where she won't be able to wake up, and there is no way for me to wake her up.

I noticed on each side of the casket sat two large candles. Both were of course, pink in color. Above the coffin were the roses brought from the house, and in the background, faintly playing was Ashley's favorite song that she used to listen to every Wednesday. It was from our favorite artist, Ed Sheeran. The song that was playing is titled Photograph.

They closed the casket a few minutes later, and pallbearers carried it on their shoulder to the hearse. Friends and family followed. I reluctantly joined them. This is not the ceremony I promised to attend.

As the casket was being lowered into the ground, many tears were shed. Ashley's parents also expected me to deliver my Eulogy before she got completely buried into the ground, but I can't. I told them that I couldn't. It hurts me to think that the only speech I expected to deliver was on our graduation day, where I was given an award as the valedictorian, and not a goodbye speech to someone so special to me, my soulmate, my sister from another mother and father, my best friend, Ashley.

After my babble of my so called eulogy, Ashley's coffin was finally laid on the ground. Her family, relatives and friends alike said their final goodbyes while shovels after shovels of soil keeps on piling up on the top of Ashley's coffin. After the burial was over, Ashley's mother came to me to give me a box.

"What is this, Auntie?" I asked. I called Ashley's mother, Auntie. Since she treats me like her second daughter. She's like a second mother to me too.

"Ashley asked me to give this to you during her last breath. Before she died, she already prepared the things she wanted to give to each one of us. She told me that it was her graduation gift for you," Auntie said.

I refrain myself from crying again. I don't want to show them how drained and sad I was. It still hurts. She even thought of giving me this gift when all i ever wanted to receive is a good news of her getting better, and being alive.

"Thank you," I said

"You know you can still lean on us, right? Even though my daughter is gone, thay doesn't mean that we'll be cutting our connections too," Auntie said.

"Thank you, Auntie," I said. Auntie's eyes were swollen. I know she is hurting her most for losing a loving daughter like Ashley, not to mention she's an only child. They provided Ashley everything she needs, be it things she wants, their presence, time and their love. They even did everything they could to keep her alive.

After the funeral, I went back home.

I was sitting on my bed, still trying to absorb everything that's happened. She's really gone now. She's already in her eternal resting place.

I opened the box that Auntie gave me. Inside was another smaller box. Before I open it box, I read the letter first.

"Happy graduation day, Bestie!

Once you receive this, I know that I didn't make it and I'm already gone. I just want you to know that I was thankful to have met you, and for being the best friend through all those years that we've been together. Thank you for all the memories you shared with me. Please always keep a smile on your face, you look good with it, besides this is my gift for you and I don't want you to look at it with a sad face. Enjoy~"

Stupid. How can I smile if the person that gave me this gift was already gone?

I look at all the things she have given me. There's a used diary, probably hers, then there was also a new diary. Ashley knew that I also write stuffs in my diary. Well, most of the things I write is my plan. It's more like a planner, though it is slightly different because on it, I write the things I wanted to do, things that happens to me everyday, and things that gives me stress or caused me a bad day. It's like my outlet to everything.

She have also given me her personal camera. Ashley loves to take photos. I remember her telling me that the course she wanted to take in college is anything related to photography or filmmaking. She wanted to be a director and/or a photographer.

i decided to read another one of her letters, and it says, "Since I'll be gone forever, I will give you the most treasured item I have, my camera, even though I won't be included anymore in every photos you take, I hope you still capture great things with a new person, a new friend, or maybe… a special someone? my memory card's storage and time has come to an end. It's now the time to insert a new storage card in this camera to capture new memories too." - Ashley.

I turned on the camera, and saw our photos there. There were the one before she got confined in the hospital. Our happy days back in middle school. There were also a photo of her in a hospital gown when she got confined. I set it aside for the meantime and continued to rummage inside the box.

In there i saw a friendship bracelet placed inside a plastic, with a sticky note attached to it, and it read,

"Even though I'm gone, I hope you always remember me and to always keep me in your heart forever. I'm sorry if I can't personally give this gifts to you. This friendship bracelet symbolizes my new promise to you. A promise that I'll always be there for you. To always guide and guard you wherever you go. You might have lost me as your best friend, but at least you've gotten me as your additional guardian angel, right?. I love you, you're the bestest friend ever" – Ashley

After reading all the letters and opening some gifts that Ashley have given me, I remembered the used diary i saw earlier, now lying at the very bottom of the box from all my rummaging. It says there…

'A's Diary'

So it really is Ashley's Diary.

Dear A,

I am here again, lying in this hospital bed. I thought I would get over this sickness, but it turns out that it'll keep on bugging me as the time goes by. This cancer never leaves me. If anything it's makes me feel worse as the days passes by. I hope my sufferings will come to an end soon.

Love, Ashley

Is this what she feels, everytime? Does this means that everything that was written here were of her time and feelings while battling her illness?

--

I flip to random pages of Ashley's diary. Did she really intentionally put her diary inside this box for me to read? But this will just make me sad, and at the same time, curious of what Ashley feels when she started her chemo and medications. I got busy back then because it was our finals. There are a lot of deadlines for projects, not to mention the exams. I need to pass all of those because I was a running honor student. Before Ashley got confined and started her therapy, She was also an honor student like me. She was actually our top 2.

'Dear A,

I've been on the Chemo for five times now. It hurts. Actually, I am thinking of giving up. But for my best friend, Ashley, my parents, and especially Aries, I will fight.

Love, Ashley'

Aries? Who is Aries? Ashley never talks about this person to me. Whenever I visit her in her hospital room, she always talks about the K-pop group named TWICE. That she fell in love with one of its member named Mina. If not that, then she was complaining how much she's hurting whenever she undergoes to her therapy session.

I flip back to the first page of the diary. I'm now curious to know the whole story.

"Dear A,

I was so bored scrolling through my social media account, particularly on my Facebook, so I posted how I feel on a group of photography lover. When someone messaged me directly, It was from a person named Aries Austin.

He said,

'Cheer up, keep fighting, you'll win that battle.'

I suddenly got encouraged to fight and to live. In that simple message that was sent to me, gave me a lot of motivation. In his simple words, he got me.

Love, Ashley'

What? With that simple words, he got you that fast? Come on, Ashley, you're not the type of girl who falls in love with the guy that fast.

"Alice," My mom called.

"Yes, Mom?" I shouted back

"come on down, let's have dinner," She said.

"Coming!" I said.

I am curious about this Aries guy now. Why has Ashley never mentioned his name before? Why did she keep him a secret to me?

Anyway, I think I should introduce myself. My name is Alice Anderson and I just graduated from high school. And the sad thing is, the day of our graduation is also the day of my best friend's funeral. Ashley and I were in the same school since we were a kid. Ashley protected me back then from my bullies, that's how we became friends.

*Flashback*

I am crying on a slide. There was one girl who keeps on bullying me because I'm so fat. Like who cares, there is a lot of food in our house! My mom owns a cake shop. She's a baker, and my dad owned a buffet restaurant. He's also a chef. So what do you expect me to be, a walking stick? If I craved something, my parents would cook it for me.

"You're a pig. Why did you even enroll in this school when you should be at the barn, screaming oink oink" The bully girl said.

I don't know how to defend myself. All I can do is cry. I didn't have the courage to fight because they would only call another student to bully me too, until they become a group of students who'll bully me and I am afraid of that.

"Hey! Why are you bullying her?" The girl with a doe eye said. She's brave to face her.

"Why? Do you want to be my next victim? Are you jealous because my eyes were on her? Do you want to be like her? Do you want to be my next toy?" This brat said.

"Do you want me to call the police?" The doe-eyed said

"Do you think I'm scared? Call the police then. As if they will listen to you. You're just a kid. They will only think that it was a child fight. They won't take you seriously!" The brat answered.

"How do you know? Aren't your parents taking you seriously at your house because you are still a kid?" The doe-eyes rebutted.

"Of course not! My mom and dad loves me. They even give me everything I need." The brat said.

"Oh really? Why does it look like it is not? You're acting like you're lacking of attention. Isn't bullies bullying others to feel superior because they feel inferior inside?" The doe-eyes said.

"Of course not! Look at her. She really looks exactly like the pig in the barn. How did a pig in the barn even get enrolled here? She should be with her pig family screeching oink, oink there."

"Maybe because that pig wanted to have an education so that she wouldn't end up like you. Do you even know exactly the difference between a pig that is an animal and a human who is just fat?" She said. Wait, does she mean that I really look like a pig? A fat human-pig? I thought she's here to save me?

"You have no right to talk to me like that! My father is the co-owner of this school! I'll tell you to him. You should find another school because you're not welcome here!" The brat said.

"Go and do that then! I'm not scared," The doe-eyes said.

Wow, she's fearless.

"Daddy!" The doe-eyed shouted. Then we saw a policeman walking closer to us.

"ready to go home now, princess?" The policeman asked, then the doe-eyed girl kissed his cheeks.

The brat run away suddenly. She's out of our sight in an instant.

"Who are you with, Princess?" The policeman asked.

"Hi, what is your name again?" The doe-eyed asks me.

"I'm Alice," I said.

"Nice to meet you Alice, my name is Ashley. We're actually classmates," She said.

"Really? How come I never saw you before?" I ask.

"I'm at the front row and you're at the back, plus you're too busy eating your cupcake earlier to notice me," She said.

I suddenly felt embarrassed, it's true. My mom puts some cupcakes on my lunch box.

"Sorry"

"It's fine. We're friends now, ok? So that the bully girl will stop teasing you. By the way, he's my father, he's a policeman. Once that brat comes back to bullies us, I'll call my daddy to save us. So don't worry now, OK?" Ashley said.

"Thank you," I said. Then I opened my lunchbox and got the last cupcake in there.

"Here, please accept this as my thank you gift," I said.

"Wow, thank you, I really wanted to try this earlier since I saw you eating some. This cupcake looks delicious," She said.

"It really is. My mom made it," I proudly said.

"Really? Is your mom a baker?" She asks.

"Yes, she actually owned a cake shop. Her cakes were popular. I will bring some cupcakes and cookies again tomorrow for you to have a taste," I said.

After that, Ashley and I were inseparable. But something happened, Ashley stopped going to school suddenly. She never told me why or at least given me notice as to how long she’ll be gone, or where she'll go, but after a couple of years, I met her again. And by that time, she never leaves my side again.

*End of flashback*

Like Ashley, I was once an only child but when I turned 15, my mom got pregnant again. Which surprised us all, because my dad and I thought that she won't be able to get pregnant again because of her age, but God gave us this new blessing, and so Alyssa was born. She's now four years old. She's so cute and sweet and unlike me when I was younger, Alyssa isn't as fat as I used to be. She only has a few baby fats that makes her look more cuter.

"How are you?" My mom asked. We arennow having our dinner.

"I'm fine, mom," I said.

"I know how hard it is to lose a friend, especially a soulmate but I want you to know thay you can always share your pain with us, OK?" Mom said.

"We'll always be here for you. Whenever you miss Ashley and you want to go somewhere, but you're too lazy to drive, just tell me. I'll drive you there, ok?" Dad said.

"Thank you, mom, dad" I am lucky to have parents like them.

--

It was past 10 pm now,

One thing you need to know about me is that I love to write poems.

I opened the notebook Ashley have gifted me and started to write how I felt on it. I always write my emotions through poetry. I just love how it would come out. You can immerse yourself the feeling of the writer in their every piece.

It's ok to miss you and cry.

Please know that I will never forget you.

For this isn't completely a goodbye.

I sit and ponder on occasion.

I'll continue to cherish our memories,

And be treasured like your leavings

I'm going to keep them in my heart.

Until the time i breathed my last.

I know I won't move on to this. I know I won't say my last goodbye, because in my heart, you're always be here. You will always be my best friend, and no one will replace you, no matter what.

I get up and find the book that Ashley have given me when we were still in 6th grade. It was from her favorite collection of poetry.

There is also the piece written there about losing a friend.

I opened the book and looked for the title of the said piece,

There, found it!

She Walks in Beauty

By Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

Before, I refused to think about it. it makes me think of losing Ashley too, and just the thought of it makes me sad. But I can totally relate to this author now, I guess? I can now feel their genuine emotions on every piece they make. It makes me thought of,

"What would I do now without Ashley? How would I start my school year without having her with me? I miss her cheerful smile every first day of school. I don't have a friend now to lean on. I don't have someone whenever I am having a hard time with my school works. I miss her so much."

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