"It has been a long time hasn't it? How have you been, Xiao Meng? Have you talked to class president yet?"
Perhaps when she meets someone he knows, she will smile politely and laugh about the old days. Maybe she will stop in the middle of life and remeniscence about the past when they were still young and so full of passion. Then, at night, when the city noise ceased and only the stars and moon accompanied her to sleep, she will dream about him and whisper the things she couldn't back then when they were still stubborn youths who had yet to taste the bitterness of life.
"Oh? Xiao Meng you have come? Over here! You are the last one to arrive. Everyone else is already here. Old Hu was just telling the class about his job..."
Time was not merciful. The familar faces from the past were no longer the same. The male classmates who used to laugh and joke no longer did so with childish vigour but mature voices laced with the scent of wine and champagne. The female classmates whose childish makeup used to imitate idol trends no longer retained their superficial looks but the flavour of weathered woman and expensive perfume. The old school uniforms had been replaced by lavish suits and gowns, no longer the monotuous blue of their youth.
There were many old friends from the past but today, they had become strangers in each other's lives.
"But who would have thought Class President would really start his own company ah? Back then, we all believed it was just a joke. I still remember, when everyone was studying to get into the local Beichen University, class president was actually aiming for Fangming University! Right, Xiao Meng weren't you also recommended to Fangming University? How come it was Xiao Ming and class president who attended?"
When such a question comes up, she will already know how to answer. For a long time, she has practiced the same replies over and over to stranger after stranger. To one, she will laugh foolishly and make a self-deprecating joke or two, never revealing her heart. To another, she will calmly explain yet never truly answer. The truth...the reason...was very simple...a very simple reason that she would forever keep in her heart.
Back then, if she had attended Fangming University and chased after him, today, they would not be strangers amidst the sea of people. Perhaps she would still be able to list him as an friend in her contacts and call him for a chat every once in a while. But in the end, she did not chase after him, did not allow their futures to align because she knew, Fangming University was his dream and not hers. The her of back then had arrogantly thought, that nothing would ever change even if they went their separate ways. How naive she was.
"Oh right, where is Xiao Mei er? Didn't Old Hu say he saw her at the entrance? Xiao Meng, you and Xiao Mei er rarely come to the class reunions, there are only small opportunities for everyone to get together. Since you are already here, leave your contact information with Teacher Yang. That old fox will be happy to see you guys."
People often say that one's parents are the ones who want the best for their children, yet she is most thankful to the owner of the thundering voice and those wrinkled hands from her youth. Perhaps back then, the 18 year old her had simply seen his constant lectures as meddlesome nagging and his furrowed brows and grimace slightly intimidating. He was not her father, not an uncle, between them, not even a single drop of blood could be considered the same, yet he had given her more warmth than the unfamiliar man she called father. On the day that she was scared to go on stage and give a speech in front of hundreds of students and parents, he had given her a pat on the back and urged her forward. Despite his towering build and harsh looking face, his smile had comforted her, easing her heart as the disappointment of her father's absence subsided. His kindness she would never forget.
"Xiao Meng? You are Xiao Meng? Hahaha, you have grown up. Come here and talk to this old man. Have you greeted Xiao Ming yet? He was just with Xiao Nan over there."
His build was no longer as intimidating, his harsh eyes now softer as they looked upon her with affection. The wrinkles around his eyes had increased and his once black hair had withered, replaced by the white of snow. Every once in a while, his eyes would close as his face relaxed, seeming as if he were peacefully asleep. Fondly smiling, she gently lead him to sit.
"You go join the others. Leave this old man here ah. Today is a festive day. Oh! Xiao Nan is coming over. Go greet your fellow classmate. This old man will be fine alone."
Perhaps somethings will change over time, but other things will always remain the same. The man before her was the same, never changing. His eyes were still as bright and clear as they had been 6 years ago. Despite the height he had gained over the years, the friendly atmosphere around him had never changed as well as his foolish grin. Despite the formal occasion, his hair was messily done and the tie around his neck slightly loose, giving the image of carelessness. It was a pity, the only thing that had changed was their relationship.
As he approached her, a smile blossomed on her face.
"Hello Xiao Meng. How have you been? Did you come with Xiao Mei er? It's a pity you just missed Yu Ming. The class's top two student reuniting, how fun would that have been?"
A genuine smile plastered itself on her face. Perhaps others would see his words as a little childish, careless even but she never did. In the darkest moments of her life, he had been her golden sun, guiding her along. When she was lost in the darkness, he would always extend his hand, and lend her a shoulder, never asking the reason for her tears but silently accompany her.
The hand he held was no longer hers and his smile that was as warm as the sun no longer shined upon her dark world. Over the years, she had treasured each and every single news about him, yet perhaps he had been too busy living life to remember that there was once a girl like her. But too her, that was okay. It was enough that he had remembered her name. At least in the depths of his heart, she still had a place, no matter how small.
That was why, today, she too would silently smile and wish him well on his new journey.
"Congratulations on your marriage, class president."