I saw her leaning against the railing, the wind tossing her hair back as she waited for me with her ever present book in hand. I didn’t want to keep her waiting any longer, so I sped up as a silly grin formed on my face.
As I shortened the distance between us, I thought about how close we had grown over the years. There wasn’t much I couldn’t tell her or talk to her about and vice versa. She was and still is my best friend.
She was wearing a pretty blue dress and the DNA friendship band I made for her on her birthday three years ago. She loved biology and was pretty much a nerd about it. We were in the same class and she had breezed through everything, easily scoring top marks in every biology exam. The subject just came naturally to her and it used to annoy me a lot. I was constantly in the bottom half of the class until she decided to tutor me herself.
We were lab partners and I kept messing up the experiments and dissections. She always came to my rescue and fixed as much as she could, chastising me and showing me the right way to do it. I think she saw teaching me as a challenge where the actual subject of biology was not.
She was really bossy but she was my angel. Without her tutelage, I wouldn’t have ascended to the top quarter of our class and I probably would have flunked my finals that year.
I guess that would have been my own fault. I was swamped with other school activities like organizing camps and community service events. I was doing alright in my other subjects, but I just didn’t have the aptitude for biology until she came along.
Because of all the activities I was involved in, I knew almost everyone in my school, at least by face, but I didn’t have a lot of close friends. In fact, I think it was just her. Apart from all the school activities, I didn’t really spend time with anyone except her. Even before I met her, I spent most of my time at home studying, which was how I had gotten by with my fully packed schedule. Once she decided to take me under her wing, we studied together.
We did hang out occasionally during our holidays. One of our favourite places was the Science Center, for obvious reasons. In school, she mostly kept to herself, her nose almost always buried in a storybook. The Science Center was the only place I’ve seen her so carefree and bubbly. Her face would always light up as she animatedly gushed about new exhibits.
I loved it when she did that. I loved the way her eyes brightened with wonder, then with understanding as she watched each exhibit and read the corresponding write ups.
During our school holidays, whenever I wasn’t helping to conduct holiday camps, I’d organize short day outings for our classmates, like cycling and swimming events.
She’d never missed a single outing.
Today was the end of our final exams. In a few months’ time, I’ll be enlisting into the army. We had decided to have a little celebration, just the two of us, and this was where I asked her to meet me.
The closer I got to her, the faster my heart beat. After all the time I spent with her, I know the effects adrenaline pumping through my veins by heart; faster heartbeat, pupils dilated, increased breathing, senses heightened, sensitivity to pain lowered. I mentally checked them off as I noted how I felt.
As I reached out to her to say hi, she sensed my presence and looked up, a big grin forming on her face. Closing her book, she pulled me into a quick embrace that sent jolts of electricity racing throughout my body. I noticed her cheeks took on a pretty pink tinge as she pulled back to keep her book and we set off.
I led her to the bridge. They call it the Helix Bridge because there’s a twisted double helix structure along the length of the bridge. Keeping in theme, there are pairs of lights at fixed intervals on the floor on both sides of the bridge. Each pair of lights has one of two combinations of colours, representing the four amino acid pairs that make up DNA.
I thought it would be pretty apt to walk her across this bridge before I confessed my love for her.
As we approached the bridge, we saw that it was packed with people. In order not to get separated, I suggested that we hold hands and she agreed. I wiped my palms, which were wet with nervous sweat, on my pants as much as I could, then reached out to her and she slipped her hand into mine. The moment we touched, I felt the same jolt of electricity shoot through my arm, although now it was just a pleasant tingle of elation. With our hands clasped together, we turned and headed into the crowd.
As I pulled her along, carving a route through the crowd for her to follow, I was extremely aware of the weight of her hand in mine. It felt so perfect, so right, and I couldn’t help a silly, triumphant grin form on my face.
I was partially thankful for the density of the crowd; it allowed me to go really slow and prolong this wonderful moment as long as possible. I moved with a dreamlike sensation, capturing as much detail as I could and committing everything to memory.
I wanted to be able to relive this moment again and again.
All too soon, we reached the end of the bridge. I turned back to smile at her and reluctantly loosened my grip on her hand. This was my chance. I had to say something now, to tell her exactly how she made me feel, the joy that rushes through me every time we meet.
As I glanced at her, my mind went blank, I froze and the moment passed. I couldn’t say anything. The words just stuck in my throat, so instead I turned away, dropping her hand.
And then the most wonderful thing happened: her hand found mine and she intertwined her fingers around mine.
I looked back at her in surprise and saw a shy smile on her face. She nodded slightly, as if acknowledging the words I had failed to say. She knew that words didn’t come to me as easily as they came to her.
I let her pull me to the railing on the bank of the river where the light show was about to begin. When it did, she linked her arm around mine, rested her head on my shoulder and we both watched the show in total, comfortable silence.