The Ribbon of Memories, by Atharv Kudchadkar, 12-H

I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a sunny day that looked like nothing special would happen. I was riding my bicycle with no goal set in mind other than to have a lot of fun. However, the sunny day that looked impossibly bright started to look dull, and clouds started swarming in. Soon after, it began to rain like there was no tomorrow. I realized early on that I should head back home because I did not want to get myself drenched. Making my way home, 9-year-old me couldn’t resist acting out some movie scene in this weather. I realized that was a mistake after toppling over, puncturing my bicycle, and hurting my knee by driving myself knee-first into the concrete sidewalk. At that moment, that day felt like the worst day in my life. I wanted to curl up and cry my eyes out until they dried out, feeling like I would never get home.

“Need a hand?” said the person behind me, with a voice I didn’t recognize. I didn’t look up; I did not WANT to look up. I was embarrassed and a mess, and I would rather stay curled up like I was. Regardless, I was going to look up sooner or later. So, I looked up. With the most calming voice with a touch of concern, a boy who looked my age asked me, “Can you get up? That knee doesn’t look great; we ought to take you to someplace nearby to patch you up.” I wondered how someone probably of my age rationally looked at the situation and decided what to do ahead. When I thought I was saved from this disaster, my wound opened up, which felt like the floodgates were opened. I don’t remember anything after that, until I woke up after what felt like an eternity to find myself in a strangers house which looked very worn-down.

I tried to get up, planning to bolt out of that house but felt a sharp pain in my knee. “Careful, you’ll open up the wound again, ” said the boy, who had just entered the room with a bowl of soup. Defeated, I rested against the sofa to listen to what he’d say. We just sat in awkward silence, not trying to make eye contact. I guess he wanted me to start something up, but I’m not much of a

‘talker’ myself. Finally, he said while looking at the rain still beating, “The rain won’t stop. I wanted to buy some ice cream on this hot day, but I ran my way back when it started.”

“Which flavor?”

“Chocolate mint; tastes better than you think.”

“Chocolate mint ice cream? Really?” I snorted.

“You just haven’t tried it; it tastes so good.” said the boy.

I haven’t had a meaningful, amusing, and enjoyable talk like this with any of my friends. My barriers, which had been so firm, seemed to collapse. Then the silence continued. But this time, we started giggling at the awkwardness. He had dark brown hair, deep blue eyes, and a smile which seemed dangerously contagious. After talking a little more and asking him to call my mom, he left the room to go help his mother with some chores, leaving me in the living room. I continued slowly sipping the soup while looking out the window, admiring the rain outside.

After the rain stopped, my mom rushed to his house to pick me. We both thanked them for taking care of me for that time. After that, we were on our way back to the car to go home. Just then, I remembered. I rushed back to the house and knocked on the door that he opened.

“I never asked, what’s your name?”

“I’ll tell you mine after you tell yours.” He said with a grin.

“My name’s Andy; what’s yours?”

“My name’s Noah. Nice to meet you, Andy.”

We used to spend all our time together. Whether it was to play games or roam around the neighborhood, I never did anything without Noah. But problems always arise as time passes.

At the end of middle school, I was shifting across the country. Noah and I knew this beforehand and tried to enjoy our remaining time, but it was hard on us both when the time came. After the final day of middle school ended, I would never see him again. As I was about to leave the classroom, Noah said, “Andy, wait. I want to give you something.”

I asked him dully, “What is it? Don’t joke around with me now.”

He silently handed me a plain red ribbon. Not knowing what to do with it, I looked up, and just as I was about to speak, I saw him tying the ribbon around his wrist. Feeling that I should do the same, I tied the ribbon around my wrist.

“Let’s not forget this friendship, Andy. Even as time passes, let’s not forget this bond we’ve made. This ribbon will keep us connected forever, always reminding us of the good times and comfort we found within each other.”

I turned the other way and ran out of the room. That was the last memory I had of Noah. It may just seem like a meaningless ribbon and a childish thing to do, but this ribbon was, without a doubt, one of the most important things I had. I cried all the way home and couldn’t stop crying the whole day.

It’s been five years since then. Today’s my first day in college, which is halfway across the country. I haven’t forgotten about Noah, who helped me become comfortable with who I am. I still wear the red ribbon representing our time together, even though it’s torn and almost lost its color.

Tonight, the freshman party, which is either dreaded or awaited, was happening. I planned to network and have a great time. So I got ready, with a plain black t-shirt and brown leggings. I made my way to a drab-looking house decorated with lights and banners to hide its age. It was already filled with several people, so I decided to try starting up a conversation with anyone in the house. After countless efforts, I wasn’t able to talk to anyone. People were either invested in a conversation I couldn’t join or didn’t want to talk to a random stranger. I sat down on the stairs with my head in between my knees, feeling like it was a mistake to come here. The noise started becoming numb to my ears, and I once again felt alone like I did years back. Then, I heard a familiar voice.

“Hey man, are you okay? You don’t look like you’re having a great time.”

I instantly knew who it was and looked up. There he was, standing in front of me after five years, Noah. He looked very different, but you couldn’t mistake his contagious smile and deep blue eyes. It seemed he didn’t recognize me; after all, I had also changed dramatically in these five years. I replied, “I’m fine. Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so; I normally remember old acquaintances right away.”

We continued our conversation outside the house. I felt I must’ve gotten the wrong person and was imagining things. Then, I saw his right hand. A worn-and-torn, dull red ribbon was around his wrist. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was Noah.

Showing interest in the ribbon, I asked him, “That’s a rather dull-looking ribbon you’re wearing; why not get another?”

“Oh, this ribbon means a lot to me. I’d never throw it away; it holds all the memories of my amazing childhood and my closest friend.”

Tears slowly started rolling down my eyes. I couldn’t believe he still remembered the childhood we shared together. He instantly got worried and asked if I was all right since I looked like I had randomly started tearing up. I brought my wrist with the worn-out ribbon up, towards him. And right then, the realization hit him like a truck, his eyes opening wide, and immediately ran to give me a hug.

We sat down in the front yard, catching up with one another. It was nothing short of a miracle that we were able to meet once again. It felt as if the ribbon we both had not only held our memories but connected us on an even deeper level.

After talking with one another for what seemed to be forever, Noah said, “Let’s take these ribbons off; we don’t need them anymore. We’ve met once again; the ribbon’s done its job. We’re back together and have a great four years ahead of us. Let’s have the time of our lives once again, Andy.” Like that, Noah and I were reunited, and at the time of writing this, I hope we make new friends together, have even better times, and, most of all, never separate from this unbreakable bond of friendship that we have.

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