An unknown girl
|April 10, 2012||Posted by Jane Lu under creative writing|
I used to study in a very prestigious school in Hong Kong, where I sat in a classroom with not only gifted students but also the children of celebrities and other people of importance, such as the governor.
Walking into the classroom for the first time, feeling both shy and timid, I sat next to a girl named Kristy. As we chatted and laughed, and I saw the smile Kristy wore around her soft eyes, I felt the tension in my body ebb away. We spent most of our time together and I enjoyed her company; we soon became best friends. Often she would tell me fascinating stories from her life, and indeed I was gripped by them; the adventurous life she led was in complete juxtaposition to mine. I had spent my entire life in the same building in Hong Kong, except for the occasional travelling around, but Kristy and her parents had emigrated from New Zealand to Hong Kong and now lived in a mansion with six floors!
I was proud to have such a special friend of whom everyone in class was envious, a friend that was popular at school. Hong Kong is a crowded city, where it is common for people to live in flats rather than detached houses. To be able to live in a house meant certain wealth and a better living environment, let alone a six-floored-mansion. We felt as if Kristy had everything that one could possibly dream of: a beautiful home, a personal driver who would drive her to school and home again every day, a father who owned a prestigious watch manufacturing company (though Kristy had forgotten its name), a free lifestyle which enabled her to play and watch the television all day while still achieving good grades.
But there were times when I felt detached from the tales Kristy told me. They sometimes reminded me of the fairytales that my mother used to tell me to put me to sleep, stories that seemed too perfect: adventures that were full of wonder and awe, tales that could only happen in a far-away land once upon a time. In fact, I always felt that Kristy’s experience was so perfect that it could not make sense at all. Perhaps it was that particular feeling that soon raised doubts about what Kristy had told me.
It was the final day of our mid-term, which was the day to which I had looked forward throughout the year because it meant the start of the Christmas holidays; in other words, it meant joy, happiness and the most important thing of all – relaxation. As Kristy and I walked to school, I asked her:
“May I sleepover at your house tomorrow?”
I knew the answer would be no. And it was.
“Why?” I asked, although I again knew the answer.
“I told you, I… I will be leaving Hong Kong for France tomorrow. I won’t be at home,” Kristy stammered.
“I don’t mind visiting you late at night.”
A long pause followed, before the school bell finally broke the silence.
The next day I called Kristy. Her voice echoed in my ear from the telephone headset. I knew she was lying.
After that incident, the feeling of doubt towards Kristy grew inside me. She told me she had a personal driver, yet I saw her walking to school every day; she told me she used to study at a school called British International, a school that I had never heard of, a school that I later found out did not even exist; she told me she had lived in New Zealand for at least nine years, but she could not even tell me where she lived; and she told me a lot of other things – things about her family and friends, about events that happened, about her father’s cars. But I no longer believed any of them. Sometimes, when I think about it now, I suppose I had always felt that something very fundamental was wrong. I did not know what it was, however, and when I tried to search through these labyrinths of reasoning my thoughts just began to slide behind one other into obscurity.
Was it true that she had been lying to me? Perhaps I was just too suspicious – but what if I wasn’t? Driven by curiosity, I decided to secretly follow her home. My heart was racing as I walked slowly behind her, hoping that she would not see me, hoping that a six-floored mansion would soon be standing before me, hoping that what Kristy said was true indeed.
But it wasn’t.
The alley was dark and stank of fish, spoiled cabbage, and rat droppings. The paint on the building was peeling, and the handsome white façades were cracked and blotchy from neglect. In the dark, I watched as the silhouette of my best friend disappeared into the doorway of the building.
I will never forget the expression on Kristy’s face as I told everybody at school her “real identity”. The burst of loud guffaws and the words of mocking, scoff, and belittlement acted as revenge for all the lies that she had told me, for her betrayal of me and the trust I had placed in her. But the hollowness of her eyes, the quivering of her lips, her mixed expression of hate and fear – I could tell I had only made matters far worse.
There were times when a tempest of regret swirled inside me, times when I wanted to apologise for what I had done, yet every time I managed to make up an excuse to run away from my guilt. I never spoke to Kristy again.
After a month, she was reported to have dropped out of school because of serious emotional breakdown.
Looking back, I never knew who Kristy really was, even when we were best friends. There are days when my thoughts somehow find their way back to the first day of school; to her warm and comforting expression as I reached out to her; to her smile; to the silhouette in the alley; to Kristy, the unknown girl, whom I never had the chance to know clearly.