Adric quickened his steps when he saw his ex-classmates by a tree, a sudden gush of excitement washing through him. His wife quickly chased after him, annoyed that he had forgotten that she was wearing heels but also anticipated meeting her old friends as much as he did.
It was 2019. Twenty years since Adric, his wife, Chloe, along with their group of friends, buried a metal tin in the ground, beneath a tree next to their secondary school. They had purposely chose not to remind each other of the occasion, hoping that everyone would remember the significant event, and were pleasantly surprised when their close friend, Tiffany, flew from Japan just for the event. Adric vividly remembered it being a Wednesday afternoon after the group of friends had gone back to collect their ‘O’ Level results. They were headed towards different paths, which prompted Adric’s then best friend, Jimmy, to suggest that they bury something near their school to remember their teenage years. Tiffany and Jacob then suggested that they could write secrets and their fondest memories of their secondary school life onto strips of paper before dropping them into the metal tin Chloe had stolen from her aunt’s biscuit shop.
“I can’t wait to open them! It’s been so many years I don’t even remember what I wrote in there!” Jacob’s enthusiasm was also painted across everyone’s face. Everyone was anticipating to read what their younger selves had written as it had been too long for most of them to remember their immature secrets and memories. The men began looking for tools to start digging, but Jacob, being the overly enthusiastic person he was even at 37, began to move piles of loosened soil with his bare hands. The ladies, Chloe and Tiffany, tried to muffle their snorts of laughter but failed terribly when Jimmy who was dressed in his office attire bent down and joined in Jacob’s idiocy. After what felt like an eternity of searching and digging, the metal tin was finally recovered from the ground, now rusty and accompanied with an unknown stench.
“Let’s start! Alright, the first one is from Tiffany!” Jacob announced as he unfolded a piece of paper he had randomly drew from the tin. “I have a crush on Mr Canterlot!”
As if everyone had rehearsed, the group of old friends broke into fits of laughter at the same time, knowing how everyone knew about Tiffany’s crush on the young principal. The ex-head prefect was the only one oblivious to how others gave her teasing looks whenever the principal discussed school events with her. “Moving on, Adric! ‘Chloe is such a bore and extra’. Adric! What is this?”
Silence fell upon the group and everyone slowly whipped their heads towards Adric, expecting an explanation from the man who was now wedded to the one he found ‘a bore’. Adric turned to Jimmy with a dramatic plea, hoping Jimmy could help him work a way around the awkward situation but instead, Jimmy just waited for Adric’s elucidation, curiosity overriding loyalty.
“So, obviously I was immature, okay? I wouldn’t marry Chloe otherwise! It’s been so long I don’t even remember what I wrote and why!” Adric tried to reason but sealed his lips when met with the malicious glare fueled by a fire of volcanic intensity of his wife. For sure, Adric was going to spend a few nights in the living room.
More secrets and fond memories were shared as time slowly ticked pass, allowing them to drown themselves in the days when some of the least significant things were the world to them, causing their peals of laughter to overflow that particular corner of the neighbourhood.
“Last one! From Chloe! ‘I love’? Has the name faded away?” Tiffany ran her finger across the last portion of the strip of paper. There was no sign that anything was ever written on it. “Chloe, did you leave it blank?”
“I don’t remember, guess that’s going to remain a secret?” Chloe exclaimed, despite knowing fully well that she had left it blank on purpose. What she also knew, or rather, recalled, was the name the blank was intended for. How could she possibly forget? That little crush of hers was the highlight of her secondary school life!
“It’s probably me,” Adric proudly commented, running his fingers over his sideburns as he exaggerated how beautiful his features were, “who else would she love?”
Chloe chuckled and jabbed her husband’s waist, the group of ex-classmates exploded in laughter again. What ran through Chloe’s mind, however, greatly contrasted with what Adric had claimed.
“It’s Jimmy, but that can remain a secret,” Chloe thought as she looked over at where Jimmy sat, no sign of remorse or guilt on her face when she made eye contact with Adric’s then best friend, sending a wink in that direction when the coast was clear. Chloe could have imagined it, but she was so sure that Jimmy’s lips moved along the lines of ‘I love you’. Whether or not it was her imagination, she would find out on Friday night. No one had to know her weekly night outs with her “girlfriends” was with her “boyfriend”.
That, shall forever stay a secret, along with other secrets which will, and must, follow them to the afterlife.
Ang Yen Chi