2nd Place 2015 YWA (Grade 8) – Emily Choi from SWIS
Along (tied for 2nd place – Grade 8)
by Emily Choi
In the busy train station of Paris, it is easy to recognize Melissa from the rushing crowd. Melissa’s legs shake from soreness of standing too long and her dark brown orbs that once showed happiness now cloud with tears of anxiety. Melissa refused to sit or even lean on the wall. She wants to show Drew and Anne how strong she has been in the years that they missed. She stares blankly in front of her as she clenches her phone in her hand. Inside the phone, in the background is a picture of Melissa, Drew and Anne. They used to be so happy. She still can’t understand how time and distance could have driven something so strong apart. Once, Drew and Anne were Melissa’s protectors, providing guidance and goals. She misses the old times. Now, words barley pass between them, the only proof that they are still alive is the money they send Melissa every month.
Melissa closed her eyes tightly, thinking back to the sweet past of hers.
“Mummy, look, look I drew a butterfly.” A little girl with brown wavy hair runs into the house towards Anne while Drew stands behind with a grin on his face.
“The drawing is so beautiful my girl.” Anne kneels down and plants a kiss on the little girl’s cheek. Drew also kneels down and put his strong arms around Melissa’s petite waist.
This family moment was captured in a photograph by her grandpa who was sitting on the sofa.
However, as people always say, happy moment never last. Things went downhill ever since Melissa’s 11th birthday, as they were forced to leave for work in Paris.
Anne and Drew left Melissa with a maid – Margo, who she grew closer to over the years. Melissa was told that her parents were busy making money. The first few years went out fine. They called her several times a week and came back once or twice a year. But as their business started to prosper, the more she was left out. Until one year, all the phone calls stopped and the only evidence that they were still alive was when they sent her money on the first day of every month.
The packages burn Melissa’s hands and eyes every time it was delivered to her, and all her fantasies of a happy family was crushed when she sat alone on the table with her birthday cake and only Margo sang happy birthday to her instead of her family.
Today, Melissa finally has the chance to celebrate her 18 birthday with them. She clenches her hand around her phone harder as tears threaten to fall from her eyes.
Melissa called them yesterday, telling them she would visit. They seemed tired, but she couldn’t care less, even though the call was only 30 seconds but it was the first and longest time Melissa had talked to them in years.
Now, on the other side of the railway platform, there stands a middle aged couple. They frequently glance at their watches. Melissa hopes they are her parents, but her hope is shatters when a tall man walked out of the arrived train. The couple rushes towards the young man with open arms embracing him into a warm hug, something Melissa has missed. Melissa’s envious eyes pierce through them as she watches the couple wipe away their happy tears.
Melissa glances at her phone again, not wanting to accept the harsh reality. Her phone vibrates. Signal Melissa that she has received a call from Margo.
“Darling, did your mum and dad pick you up?” An uncontrollable sob erupts from Melissa’s mouth as she hears Margo’s comforting voice echo through her ears once she picks up the phone.
“Melly, what’s wrong? “
Margo’s voice makes Melissa realize that throughout all of her teenage years, Margo had played both her parents’ roles and had also been her best friend and even a sister. Margo was always there while Melissa’s parents were too busy to care. Melissa has always thought that when she turned 18, she would finally travel by herself and celebrate her 18th birthday with her parents. Even a simple “Happy Birthday” from them now seems so unrealistic.
“Margo, can you book the next plane to Paris? I want to spend my 18th birthday with you. Anne and Drew have completely forgotten about me.”
Melissa doesn’t hate Anne and Drew, they helped her after all. Their lack of appearance during her life made Melissa realize that she is more independent than she thought and she has Margo as her emotional supporter and guardian through life. The context that Melissa grew up in made her a strong and independent girl. If Melissa didn’t need Anne and Drew before, she does not need them after she reaches 18.
“Thank you Margo, for everything.”
It’s already night time when Melissa hangs up her phone, she steps into the last train of the day. Melissa has decided to enjoy her 18 birthday by herself in Paris.
Congratulations to Emily Choi who has won a Beats Solo 2 headset sponsored by Baima Photography & Design Co. Ltd.