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Now and Forever

Now and Forever

I sank on the bench near the school field. I let go of my breath and inhaled it deeply. I was trying to enjoy the beautiful scene of the school field, which was covered with light forest green. There were a team of teenager guys playing soccer at the wide field. They were really absorbed into that game that they just ignoring all the things that surrounding them. I looked at them in amazement. Why, they were so good at it until I found out that someone was missing. I leaned my back on the cement chair as I gazed at the blue clear sky. A few birds were flying around freely as they chirped happily around the white fluffy clouds.

Suddenly, the breeze blew faster that made me jerked. I quickly stole a glance at my expensive Elle digital watch. It was finally 5:00 o’clock in the evening. My eyes gazed wildly around the field as if I was trapped in the middle of nowhere or something. I kept on searching for someone who was nowhere to be seen. Where is Aaron? My mind kept racing crazily. Aaron told me this morning at school that he would be here on time but until now, I still couldn’t find him. Did he try to break his promise that he made to me? I guessed. Uh-uh, no, I certainly didn’t think so. It was not sounded like him either. I knew him so well and for so long since we were at the age of thirteen until now, seventeen. It was quite a long time, right? Oh well, I’m sure he’ll be here anytime now, I tried to comfort my own feeling that was filled with suspiciousness.

“ Sarah!” I jerked at the sound of that soft and manly voice. I knew the voice so well. It was none other than my best friend, “ Aaron!” I smiled at the handsome guy who was now standing in front of me.

Yes, he was the guy that I’ve been mentioned before. Aaron Aiman, my long-time best buddy. Aaron threw his gorgeous smile to me. His light brown hair danced as the wind blew softly. I was just sitting there as I stared at his beautiful light brown eyes. Actually, he was a mix blood guy. His father was a Malaysian successful businessman whereas his mother was an American lady and a housewife. She lived in Malaysia since 10 years ago—since she was married to Aaron’s father. So, no wonder Aaron has the look of a Western. He was pretty popular among students especially girls because of his great personality, nice, friendly, very active in sports especially soccer, clever and above all, his handsome and cute face.

“Sarah?” I jerked—again. There was a cute smile plastered on his fair face.

“ Why are you late? See, the others have already started the game!” I pointed with my mouth at the guys who were still minding their own business at the middle of the field—playing soccer.

“ Oh… I’m so sorry. I have something to take care of.” I could see he was feeling really guilty just by looking into his honest light brown eyes. “ Actually I was wondering if I could withdraw from being one of the school soccer team.”

“ Huh? What? Are you serious? But—but why? Aaron, you’re one of the best players in the school soccer team! Did—did Mr. Jacob know about this?” The questions coming so fast and rapidly like a bullet from my mouth. I was extremely shocked with his sudden decision.

Aaron just smiled calmly. “ Don’t worry. Mr. Jacob knew about this. At first he refused to let me but after I tried to console him about a zillion times already, he agreed finally.”

“ But—but Aaron… I don’t understand. Why must you withdraw? Do you have any problems? If you do, just tell me. We’re best friend, aren’t we?” I coaxed as if I was begging.

“ Actually, I was so busy lately and I don’t have much time to come to school for soccer training.” Aaron gave his excuse, very calmly to my surprise. I mean, how can he be so calm in a situation like this? “ Busy, huh? Busy doing what?”

Aaron didn’t reply directly. He gave me this mysterious smile that I couldn’t guess what was the meaning. It was a hard-to-understand kind of smile; very mysterious as if there was a huge secret hiding behind it.

“ Just tell me, Aaron if you still considered me as your best friend.” I said, almost urged.

“ One day you will know.” Aaron gave me the same mysterious smile again.

I wrinkled my forehead. Puzzled.

“ Oh yeah!” Aaron seemed to remember something. “ I can’t go to school tomorrow and maybe the day after tomorrow too.”

“ Huh? Now what?” I asked.

Aaron smiled. He just let my mind filled with thousands of questions that would never seem to be answered. “ I want to give a big surprise for you.” He whispered, secretly.

I just stared at him, looking suspicious. Whatever things he had hidden, I knew that he couldn’t hide it from me forever. I smiled cynically to myself.

****************************************************

The morning sun had just showed itself at the east in between the green hills. The beautiful and shiny glow of the sun washed over the whole nature, heatedly. The wind blew lazily. I walked patiently along the silent road and across a few big luxurious bungalows. It was kind of creepy to walk alone like this but I tried to be bold and calm to reach to Aaron’s house as I inhaled the fresh morning air. It was so cold and refreshing as if I was just swallowed a candy flavoured mint leaf.

Deep from the bottom of my heart, I really hoped that Aaron would change his mind to come to school although he told me yesterday that he couldn’t make it to school today but who cares, right?

A couple of minutes passed by and now here I was—standing right in front of his house door.

“ Hello?” I cried as I knocked at the thick wood door a few times.

My eyes looked wildly around the compound of the white bungalow with the blue roof. There were many flowers such as orchids, hibiscuses, daisies and a few others decorated nicely around the garden. The compound of the house was very clean and tidy. A nice, sweet smell suddenly filled my nose. It was so absorbing.

Suddenly, the front door yanked open. The screeching sound of the door made me jerked.

“ Hello.” A tall slim lady aged that I guessed around forty stood in front of me. Her face was fair and radiant—she was really pretty. Her waist-length blonde hair danced lightly when the wind blew. “ Oh, it’s you, Sarah!” She smiled brightly. Her cute, sweet and beautiful smile really reminded me of her son, Aaron.

“ Yes, Mrs. Maria. Is Aaron home?” I asked politely as I replied her smile.

“ Aaron?” Her left eyebrow shot up.” I thought he had already went to the record studio?”

My jaw almost dropped. My mouth turned wide open. “ Record studio? What for?”

“ Huh? Are you trying to tell me that he didn’t tell you about this?” She asked back. Now it was her turn to be bewildered.

I just shook my head. “ Not a thing.”

The friendly lady just smiled. “ I think he wants to give you a surprise.”

Could it be?

“ Actually, Aaron went there to record his very first album! He will be a famous singer!” She explained, proudly.

I seemed lost in the middle of nowhere. Huh? What? Aaron would be a singer? He would be famous? “ Is—is that true, Mrs. Maria?” I fumbled.

Mrs. Maria nodded as she smiled broadly. “ Let me take you there to see for yourself.” She invited, smilingly.

I had no choice but to nod.

****************************************************

I gasped. I was greatly amazed as I laid my two very own eyes on Aaron as soon as we reached there. “ Actually, Aaron went there to record his very first album! He will be a famous singer!” Mrs. Maria’s words echoed through my ear. It was true. I couldn’t deny it when I heard Aaron singing. His voice was so smooth, so beautiful, and so soft that made my heart melted like an ice cube heated by sunlight. I was quiet surprise. He was talented in singing after all. He sang sweetly like an angel.

Aaron neared me when he was finished singing. There was a broad smile on his face as always. “ So, what do you think of this?”

“ You made me as if I was having a heart attack, you know!” I kidded. We both laughed.

“ I never thought you were very talented in singing.” I commented.

“ Yeah, at first I never thought that I was talented in singing too. Actually, one day, I was singing a Backstreet Boys song to myself at the garden of my house. It was a coincidence when my neighbour who owned this music company overheard my voice. Then, he quickly asked me to be his record artiste. I agreed but my parents would only agreed if I could divide my time between study and my career and get better result in my exam. So all I had to do was convinced them that I could do it and then they agreed finally.” Aaron explained. A satisfied smile was seen on his cheerful face.

I was so proud and happy for him as a best friend. “ Good luck, Mr. Famous Singer, but….” I pressed the ‘but’ word. “ Don’t ever forget about study and school, okay?”

Aaron just nodded. Smiling.

****************************************************

Day by day, week exchanged week, and months passed by, Aaron’s hard work was not wasted after all. His first album was launched successfully and now, he was really famous. His songs were kept being played by many radio station and many people requested his songs at their own favourite radio station. His songs and his name attracted everyone’s attention even though he was a newcomer in this music industry. He seemed to be the teenagers’ idol. He always had full attention from everybody wherever he went to especially school.

Many teenage girls had a giant crush on him. In class, there were many, many love letters from his fans in his desk that the desk couldn’t fit letters or things in there anymore.

However, I was so proud of him for the reason that even though he was a singer and always involved in stage performances, he never ignored his study moreover, he got a very excellent result in each subject in school.

We also still study together to get prepared for our big important exam, which would be coming soon. Though he was very famous, he still was the same old Aaron I knew for almost five years. I was so glad that he hadn’t change a thing.

Sometimes, when his female fans swarmed him or when he was too busy entertaining them, there was this feeling grew so powerful within my heart. It grew for all of a sudden. Was it jealousy?

Oh no! I was filled with jealousy! As fast as lightning, I threw the negative feeling far away from my heart. They are only his loyal fans! So why should I feel that way? Without his fans, he won’t be where he is now! I always tried to comfort myself by reminding that words.

****************************************************

Six months had already gone. I felt like the day that Aaron was still a new singer had happened just yesterday. I felt like the days passed very quickly. Time after time, Aaron was recording his second album with full of courage.

However, Aaron didn’t seem contented when his album was released with a fantastic response from the whole society especially his fans. I was nothing but happy of his success but Aaron—I didn’t know why he kept giving this not-so-cool impression. He always seemed really mournful and pondering when he was alone—and he always liked to be alone from people most recently. I felt very uneasy of his weird behaviour lately. Now he didn’t seem to be the old Aaron I knew for almost five years ago where he was a cheerful and a lively young man. He had changed day by day that made me concerned more about him everyday. He treated his fans nicely and politely but for me, it seemed like there was something not right—some problem that he hidden inside him but sadly I couldn’t guess what was the problem.

In addition of my great surprise, his exam results happened to be so low and down and he always being left behind in any subject at school. I was pretty mixed up whenever I thought about him. I finally decided to find the accurate time to discuss this matter with him—face to face.

“ Aaron.” I called after him so softly that I was almost whispering during the school break that day. Aaron was sitting cross-legged alone under a big old shady tree. He seemed to thinking hard about something.

I lifted my face as I faced the glowing dim of the sun and the dull, boring dark blue sky. It was almost covered with thick, fluffy grey cloud. I bet it was going to rain and that absolutely didn’t sound so good to me. The dull weather seemed to understand what was in Aaron’s heart content.

Far underneath my heart, I truly needed to know the reason why Aaron behaving so weird and changed these days. “Aaron.” I frequented, extra loud this time when he was not giving the reaction that I hoped before.

Aaron turned his gaze to me spontaneously. “ Oh, it’s you, Sarah!” His smile also changed into a boring, and forced smile and so did his light brown eyes. It was not twinkling as always but it looked gloomy instead as if he was just crying a moment ago—wait a minute—could it be he had just cried…?

“ You—you haven’t eaten at the canteen?” I asked as I sat right in front of him. I didn’t want to ask him about his gloomy eyes yet—not yet, it was too early.

Aaron shook his head slowly. “ I’m not hungry. I just want to be alone.” He bent his head low.

“ Aaron, did you cried?” There I went—I just blurted out suddenly as I looked straight into his eyes that were not meeting mine.

Aaron didn’t move nor speak a thing like a statue.

“ What was happening to you, Aaron?” I asked, seriously. “ What was going on with you lately? You looked so dull and liked to be alone. You have changed. You’re not the Aaron that I knew for almost five years. Just look at your test results. It’s obvious that you’ve changed for no reason—and if there is a reason, tell me. Please, just tell me your problems and who knows I might give you a hand if I could. I’m your best friend remember? I have the right to know what is going on with you,” I coaxed, gently. My gaze looked sharply towards his eyes as if it was going to go through his retina.

Aaron released a heavy breath. He sighed softly. “ I’m okay. Don’t worry about me.”

“ Aaron, I know you’re not okay. Please don’t lie to me. You know that you can’t hide anything from me. We’ve been best friends for so long. I knew you very well. Please tell me if you still consider me as your best friend.” I consoled softly although it was obvious I was urging him without a sign of giving up.

Aaron took his breath. “ Ac—actually….” He started with a heavy heart. “ No one can solve my problem—not even you. My problem is only between God and me.”

I felt as if my heart was stopped beating for a second or two. This time I stared at him in a real earnest. “ What—what do you mean, Aaron? Please be outspoken to me.”

“ Actually I was having two holes in my heart.” He blurted out finally.

A giant wave of shock washed over me. Not even a word was spoken from my mouth.

“ It’s true. I’m really sorry for keeping all this to myself from you. I know I shouldn’t do that but I just—I can’t. It’s hard for me to do it. Lately, I was always not feeling well and my chest always hurt. One day, my parents sent me to the clinic nearby and after the doctor checked everything, he finally confirmed that I was having two holes in my heart since I was a baby and I was only realised it on that day. I had the smallest chance to stay alive. My parents and I was shocked when hearing this terrible news. No one knows about this except my parents and now—you. The doctor suggested that I should have a heart surgery to fix my heart even though the doctor couldn’t guarantee hundred-percent that I could live after the surgery because I would struggle with death during the surgery. I know I would die. It was the highest possibility,” Aaron explained, softly and sorrowfully as he patted his chest once in a while. I saw his eyes shining like a glass as he tried to blink back his tears. I too was trying to hold back my tears.

I didn’t know what to say anymore. I was just sitting there as I stared fully at him.

“ Sarah,” He called me, gently. “ The surgery will start tomorrow in the late evening. Tomorrow will be the day. I want you to come to the hospital with my parents to accompany me on the big day.” He asked, hopefully.

I just nodded, slowly.

****************************************************

On tomorrow—that very day on third of November, the whole media including radio stations from outside and inside the country started to spread the news about Aaron’s heart surgery. The news caused a stir to the whole society especially his loyal and fanatic fans as if it was the end of the world just like what I had expected. His die-hard fans had sent him many letters, faxes, as well as e-mails in a short time once his news about his heart surgery was spread widely to the whole country by the media. Lots of the letters, faxes and e-mails from his fans content how much they loved him and they would always prayed to God that the surgery would become successful and they hoped that he would always stay healthy and kept on getting involved in the music industry. Aaron was really touched when he read those letters—again and again and how he loved all his fans very much.

Now it was the time—the moment that determined everything. Aaron was lying on the stretcher as a few nurses and I accompanied and led him to the surgery room.

“ Aaron, I hope you’ll be okay. Be strong and pray to God always, okay?” I whispered softly, near to his ear.

He seemed weak and shaky. His head bobbed a few times, weakly. I was relieved that he could hear me.

Suddenly, his lips trembled and mumbled as if he was trying to say something important to me.

I didn’t understand it at all though I’ve tried.

Then, out of the blue, I felt the tenderness of his bare hand overflowing mine. His hand gently clutched my hand firmly. I was in astonishment of his unpredicted action.

I didn’t have much time to give attention to my bewilderment when he was led by the nurses to enter the surgery room that was a few feet away as fast as lightning. Aaron’s parents and I had no choice but to wait outside of the room with full of patient.

I stared at the signal light of the surgery room lighted suddenly that made me jerked. Mrs. Maria and Mr. Adam seemed to be so quiet sitting on the bench that was not far away from where I was standing.

I walked up and down aimlessly in front of them as if I was having a life and death problem. My heart throbbing like mad as my lips moved in a fast condition. My tongue read all the pray I knew to God smoothly. Oh, God! Please help us! Help Aaron! Only You I can lean of! Please, I’m begging You please help Aaron! I said within my heart sincerely. Aaron, you must be strong! Remember God, remember your parents, remember your fans that will always be loyal to you and—remember me…. We will always support you no matter what happened! Aaron, you can do it! You can definitely do it! I whispered hopefully as if I was trying to send a mental message to him.

Two hours passed by. For the first time, I sensed the time was passing so slowly than I had ever imagined. I was still walking here and there that made Mr. Adam kept advising me to sit still but it was hard for me to be so calm on time like this. My mouth was filled with words that prayed to God non-stop since I was standing here.

Then, all of a sudden, I watched the signal light of the surgery room faded. My foot stopped walking at once. I just stood in front of the door of the surgery room as my heart pounding faster than I had ever imagined. I almost lost my patient.

A middle-aged doctor appeared from the doorway of the surgery room.

My chest quivered strongly. My heart beating so fast like a tornado.

“ Doctor, how’s Aaron?” I asked before Aaron’s parents could ask the same question.

I looked closely at the doctor’s fair face with the hope that I could read what was in his mind.

Our reactions were as if we were drowning in a wide sea of anxiety.

The doctor’s face became solemn suddenly. I jerked. I almost dropped on the white floor of the hospital. Impossible! I cried at the top of my lungs in my heart.

“ I’m sorry. We’ve done what we could,” said the doctor as he put his hand on Mr. Adam’s shoulder. “ I’m really sorry.”

My mouth was locked. I shook my head two or three times. I didn’t want to believe this. This is impossible! My heart cried.

I sat on the bench that was lined with a soft maroon cushion. However, I didn’t feel the tenderness of the cushion at all but I felt the bitter of this horrible reality instead. I hardly heard Mrs. Maria sobbing so badly as Mr. Adam who was also trying to hold back his tears tried everything to calm her wife down.

I covered my face with both my hands. I tried as hard as I could to manage the tears that kept gathering my eyes until my eyes were heavy with tears. I tried to calm myself and pray to God. I felt my eyes were sparkling with tears.

From nowhere, someone offered me a piece of white plain paper.

My face slowly looked up. A young nurse who was staring at me, sympathetically filled my eyesight. “ Are you Sarah, Aaron’s best friend?”

I nodded.

“ Here.” She quickly handed me the piece of plain paper with a friendly smile.

I took it and stared at it for a moment before I gave her a questioning look.

“ The letter is specially written by Aaron to you before the surgery. He asked me to give it to you if he died after the surgery. He really wanted you to read it. Read it.” The nurse said softly. “ I’m sorry for what had happened.” She said as he gently gripped my hand for a moment.

I just nodded without saying a word. Without wasting anytime, I looked at the folded letter and unfold it slowly as I smelt the good smell coming from the letter calmly. My eyes gazed at each of every word that was written with blue ink on the paper in earnest:

To my dearest Sarah,

The moment you start to read this letter is the start for me to leave this world called earth to the world of death. When I was not here on earth anymore starting this day, please don’t be so upset and sad. Please send this message to my parents: Please don’t be too sad because of my death that will affect your career, your future and your life. This was life. A real life. A real life—including death. It was just usual. There will always be an end in every beginning and there will always be death in everything that alive. For sure, I will miss our friends who will always be there when we are in need. A giant thank you to Mama and Papa. Both of you had took good care of me since I was a baby. You would always pushed me from behind to the gateway of success. Thank you—even though words cannot describe how priceless your sacrifices for me that you have done that cannot be exchange with things nor money. Mama, Papa, thanks again. I really love you and pray for your happiness to God everyday. To all my beloved fans, tell them that without them, I’m nothing and I will not be as successful as I am today. I really appreciate their supports to me and I’m really touched for what they have done. To all my fans, I love you forever!

Sarah,

I really appreciate this pillar of friendship that we’ve build. We’ve been best friends for quite a long time and I’m so happy that our friendship still remains until today. Once you’ve told me that best friends shouldn’t keep secret from one another but it seems like I’ve broken the rules. Thousands of sorry, I’m begging from you because I was hiding something from you since we’ve been best friends for almost five years until now. Now, it’s time for me to pour the secret that bottled in my heart for a really long time through this letter…

Sarah,

Do you know that ever since we’ve been best friends, I’ve been keeping an extraordinary feeling towards you—something natural but special that I wish we could be more than just best friends for all this while. My heart was touched because of your personality—loving, kind and really cared for me. All this while I had not experienced such a feeling. I admitted that I was so stupid. I should have told this to you earlier right in front of you but somehow I was so shy and worried if this could ruin our friendship. Besides, we are too young in this love relationship. We as the students have the responsibility to be successful in life. This whole love thing should be left aside, shouldn’t it? I confessed it was really tough for me to do that but we as the students must concentrate on our studies because our main target is to be successful and bring up our country’s name to the international level. Don’t forget to study hard for our big important exam that will be coming soon. Although I’ve “left” too early for the exam, I want you to be a successful girl. That is my last wish. I will pray to God for you and our friends’ success from the other side of the world. Keep on doing the good job.

I guess it seems like that’s all that I want to write for the last time. You will always be in my mind and my heart. Now and forever.

Love,
Aaron

I embraced the letter tightly as if I would not let it go forever. Now I didn’t have the strength to hold back my lake of tears anymore. Slowly, I felt two or three drop of tears began to roll down my cheek. Then, more and more tears kept flowing from my soaked eyes. I was so overcome by sadness I could not stop sobbing.

Aaron, your name would always be carved in my heart. Now and forever.

By,
Me, Myself and I (Farah)