Posted in: Brain and Mind, Uncategorized


Joyce, my 11-year-old daughter, wrote the story below. I am touched by her topic of friends’ parting and reunion,  share with her a Chinese poem on this topic, and hope that she can see the bright side of our meeting and our saying goodbye. 


“Alani Mahi’ai! Don’t forget your sunscreen!” My twin brother yelled. We were born on the same day, but he was born an hour earlier, so her treated me like I was 10 years younger than him and that I couldn’t even walk. The worst thing was that our parents, well Dad. Mom was always busy with either a party or one of her million part-time jobs. Mom never finished her college education cause she had us when she was only 22 and Dad was 24. Dad had more than enough to support us. He worked us as a coder for a very good company that sold some electronics to NASA or whatever. But Mom felt that she missed a lot of her younger years because she had to take care of us for 13 years. She basically let us go at age 13. 3 years ago, 13 years old me and my brother went to go surfing. Our favorite thing. 

“Kalino, hurry up. I don’t need sunscreen! Let’s go. We’re gonna be late to Cali, Fei, and Mako!” I yelled back.


“YOU’RE ONLY AN HOUR OLDER. Plus, nobody cares about your soft and ‘lushes’ skin. We all know that you just wanna impress Fei!” Fei was a girl that my brother liked. Personally, I thought she was pretty obnoxious and a people-pleaser. She talks to the principal every single day. You think that might be normal, and yeah, a bunch of people can talk to their principal. But she will go out of her way to talk to the principal like she’s his dad or something. She asks him about his kids, his favorite soccer team, and worst of all, how his wife is doing. She’ll even carry all of his stuff, no matter what. 

It’s not only the principal but also any adult in her radius. She once carried Mr. Cornell’s stuff and had to leave her backpack in the soaking rain so that she could carry all of Mr. Cornell’s books about history or whatever. He didn’t even want her to carry his stuff. He kept mumbling that she could hand it to him. But she said that she would place it on his desk and then started babbling about how her mom wouldn’t get her the headphones she wanted. She’s also an immense tattletale. In 2nd grade, we were playing tag on the field. I was about to get tagged, but then I stepped out of bounds and pretended to tie my shoe. I just untied it then retied it. She told the teacher a second later. Sure, I cheated. But was it really scary? She even asked our homeroom teacher if she was going to call my parents!

But I guess I sorta see why Kalino likes her. She’s pretty smart. Got 5th place in a big math competition the school board hosted. She has long straight black hair and aquamarine blue eyes. She always messed up her bangs a little. But hey, that was middle school. Dad didn’t allow any crushes until highschool. She was also like a mom. Kalino’s cheeks went explosive as he looked down. “Shut up, Alani,” Kalino mumbled. He came rushing down the old creaky wooden stairs of our bright pastel beach house. It sat on a small hill and looked over half of the boardwalk. A 7-minute walk to school, an 8-minute walk to the best cafe in town, and a 3-minute 27-second walk to the beach. Those numbers are completely exact down to the last millisecond, which I, Cali, Fei, Mako, and Kalino all thought was witchcraft. 

Kalino and her were a pretty good match. He wasn’t the smartest, but he was the most loyal and kindest person I’ve ever met. Kalino and I look the same. Except his attributes had an opposite tone as mine. We had the same hazel eyes, but he had a bubbly personality hidden in them. Mine had a piercing stare to them. Same, springy dark brown hair, but mine are always messy or wild. His are always calm. We have the same caramel skin. You get the idea, I’m the wild out of control twin while Kalino is the bubbly, kind, and loyal one. In posture, eyes, hair, even our walking pattern is different. Our friends said that they were sorta intimidated by me and wondered how we could be so alike, yet so different at the same time. You probably hear that everywhere. Yet whenever people see us, they always get so shocked. 

Kalino and I walked down to the beach in the exact 3 minutes and 27 seconds it takes for your feet to hit the soft warm sand that glistened in the sunlight. Cali, Fei, and Mako were already waiting. Fei was also there, which made me roll my eyes. Even though I knew that she was coming. Kalino managed to make pretty good friends with Fei, but he was a chicken and never confessed. “Kalino! Alani! Where were you guys? We were about to start the race 10 minutes ago until Fei brought us all mochi from her mom’s shop.” Mako yelled from our perfect spot for the beach. It had a nice large palm tree that provided the best of the best shade. Only a few feet from the water and only a yard from the snack shop. And nobody went there because they hated the seagulls. But with my tactics, I made sure the seagulls stayed away for as long as we pleased.

Cali came trotting at me. She gave me a small smile. Her real name is Calista, but she says the name sounds too fancy. Even though we pointed out that she would be a city in Columbia. “Here,” She dropped a bouncy, juicy, and beautiful mochi in my hand. “That’s your payment for scaring the seagulls. Now hurry up, we’ve been waiting for 10 minutes!” I ran over to the shady spot and started scaring the seagulls aways as Kalino complained how Cali didn’t get him a mochi. Fei handing him a mochi and giving a small kiss on the cheek as a greeting shut him up. Fei’s the only one who does that, other than the old people that walk around the boardwalk and stare into nothing.

I have my surfboard in one hand and run over to Cali after I’m done with the seagulls. “Hey! Wanna get a few waves? I heard that the waves are going to be crazy this afternoon.” Cali gave a small nod and grabbed her surfboard. She’s had a large iris flower in the middle that she drew herself. Mine had a black and white image of the moon and stars. They were pretty old, but we still road on them like they were our horses.  

“Hey, Alani!” Cali shouted as we were waiting for another wave. “Would you like to-” SHe couldn’t finish her sentence as a wave towered over us. She came up for air and looked a bit scarred from the surprise.

“You good?” I asked. She gave me a thumbs up while she got back on her board. I laughed. “Better watch out! Wouldn’t want you to be eaten by sharks!” She blushed a bit. “Anyways, what were you asking?” She opened her mouth, but then Mako shouted from his sunbathing spot. That guy is obsessed with his looks.

He held up a bag that was clearly from our favorite cafe, Lemon Point. Odd name, but the owner was obsessed with yellow things, specifically lemons. “We got our favorite’s, now come on. Kalino and Alani’s dad is lighting up a campfire! Fei got s’more ingredients. Get over here before I eat them all.”

“He’s not joking,” Fei said from behind him. “He already ate 4 s’mores. And I came back about 6 minutes ago.” that made Cali and I dash to the beach and enjoy the evening with our best and only friend group. 

Fei was talking to Kalino about her next math competition, as he eagerly gave her tips on how to do algebra quicker. Mako was third-wheeling them. Dad was watching us with pure emotion before he had to go and talk to his clients. And Cali and I were talking about the future. “I read that they are a very good college in London. Think we could both get in?” I thought about it for a second.  I was thinking about getting accepted into a good college and getting a well-paying job. I don’t think surfing could be something more than a hobby. I had good grades and was starting to get into extracurricular activities to put on my resume for college. Cali and I were also having the same dreams and smarts. 

But Kalino is a friend and family type of guy. He would probably make a deal with the Devil for us if he had to. He would be devastated if his twin sister and one of his closest friends moved away across the ocean. “I mean if we get in. It would be a great thing for us.” I kept on having second thoughts. But I would come back. And it was IF we got accepted. If Cali and I both got accepted, I decided we were going to our dream college in London. I and Cali talked more about the college. She told me that the smartest people went to the University of Oxford. It provided majors for animation and screenwriting and playwriting. Which was perfect. Cali and I loved stories and art. We always dreamed of making our own story with animation and art. I was okay with art, but Cali really hit the ball. But as we were talking, Kalino stood up and raised his half-eaten s’more.

“Guys, I have a toast to make. This evening has been one of many evenings. We have been best friends since 1st grade.” I gave a small cough, considering Fei and I had a small love-hate relationship. Kalino ignored me. “I never want our relationship to change. WIll you guys promise to stay friends together and to never leave any of us behind?” Kalino had a subconscious way of making people’s hearts soften and making them agree to whatever he wanted them to agree with. Everyone laughed and smiled before raising their s’mores. I paused for a second to look at Cali. She was just like everyone else. I mean, it’s a maybe if we get accepted. I thought before cheerfully raising my s’more and shoving it into my mouth just like everyone else. We all stayed out and watched the stars as they peacefully twinkled in the fresh and cold air. The fires flickered and danced, glowed as bright as the stars. We all started packing up and were wishing everyone a good night. “Hey, Alani?” Kalino asked as we went up the creaky steps to our house.

“Yeah, Kalino?” I said.

Kalino brushed his hands through his calm brown hair. Something he always did when he was stressed, confused, mad, sad, any emotion that you would not want him feeling. “I heard what you and Cali were talking about at the campfire. You’re confusing me now, Alani. You talked to Cali about going an ocean away from home and then you promised with the others that we would stay together.”

So that’s why he did that weird toast thing with the delicious s’mores. “Listen, bro. That’s if both me and Cali get accepted. Even better, you could apply. All of us could apply. Even if only me and Cali applied, there’s a small chance that we’ll get accepted. Don’t get too stressed, pal. It’s a small chance. And hey, we’re only in middle school. Don’t worry! Remember, it’s a small chance.” I gave him a reassuring smile as we entered the house. “Now, buddy. I’m exhausted from all that swimming. Call it a night?” 

Kalino gave a tense nod. “There’s still a small chance.” He mumbled. I was too tired to hear whatever he said.



It’s been 3 years since Alani and I had that talk. It’s been a great life. I have above average grades, more friends in my marvelous buddy group, and even better… Fei and I are dating! Well, we’re more like something bigger than friends, but our friends call us the cutest couple in Waimalu. New friends that are in our buddy group are Asuka, Keaton, and Luan. Asuka has rosy cheeks and dimples and is pretty good at video games. Fei, Mako, her, and I love Mario Kart together. She also plates the guitar at our campfires. Fei likes singing along. Keaton reminds me of Alani. They’re both into surfing, but they like to host competitions that seem a bit too rough. Cali likes joining in too, but she doesn’t like when it gets too competitive. Like when Alani and Keaton tried pushing each other off their boards. The lifeguard got pretty mad at them. Luan loves fashion design. He helped Alani and Cali with their character designs or something. He also loves watching them surfing. He says that he doesn’t like the sport, but everyone knows that he’s just a bit scared. I got him over his fear of swimming, but no luck with surfing.

My friend group is just perfection. We go to the beach every weekend, Friday, Wednesday, and maybe even the whole week! We all get along. I just know it. When people meet our group, they say that they feel like we could turn rabid wolves into cute poodles. I think wolves are pretty cool. I think it’s rude to call them rabid, even if they are. Friend life aside, we’re picking colleges to attend too. We’re juniors and sophomores, so we need to start thinking about college. I just wanna stay in Waimalu. Maybe I could get a job as a florist? I’m pretty into flowers. I’m getting worried about Alani and Cali though. My twin and Cali are pretty big on college. They want to become either famous, rich, or both. I know that they just want to get out of Waimalu. They say they won’t, but I know. Waimalu is just too little for them. I also know that Fei wants to head to California for Stanford, Harvard, or some other big college. I don’t want 3 of the closest people to me to go out of state. “You thinking about something again?” I shoot up. It’s break time. But with the time nearing up into summer, we’ll be writing our college applications soon. Mako is looking at me weird. “You good, bud? Don’t tell me that you’re still concerned about everyone leaving Waimalu. Chillout, I won’t leave you.” HE gives me a sly smile.

“Thanks, Mako.” I say, “But I’m not worried about you.”

“Woah, thanks for hurting my feelings Kalino. Hey, Keaton, you hearing this? Kalino doesn’t care about me anymore! And he’s the nicest guy in this world.”

Keaton pauses his argument with Alani about who is better at swimming, something they’ve been going at each other’s throats since the day they met. He stares me in the eyes with his dusty grey eyes. “I agree with you, Mako really is an idiot.” He goes back to Alani. “How long is your breathing record? Mine’s a full 37 seconds.”

Alani grins. “Mine’s 38! What’s your 100-meter record? Mine’s 2 minutes and 29 seconds.”
“Hah! Mine’s 2 minutes and 15 seconds. See, I’m better.”

Alani grinds her teeth. “You. Me. 6 pm Competition today. Whoever faints from the waves loses. The winner gets to brag until the day the universe is out of existence.” 

Keaton’s eyes narrow as a small grin form on his face. “You are so going down.”

Fei sighs. “Way too ambitious people aside, what’s up, Kalino. You’ve been running your hands through your hair for 10 minutes straight. You haven’t even touched the obviously inedible school cafeteria chocolate cake.” Alani tapes my cake with a clean plastic fork. It sounds as hard as a rock. Fei grabs Alnai’s fork so she won’t poke Keaton’s eyes. “Yep, definitely school cafeteria cake. Now, what is up, Kalino?”

Luan pokes Mako and Keaton’s shoulder. “What a cute couple!” He mouths. Fei shoots him a glare. The guys burst out laughing, Alani and Asuka follow. At least Cali is trying to hide her giggling. “Someone got out the wrong side of the bed.”

Alani lets out one more snort before giving a concerned look at me. “Really, bro. What’s up? Don’t tell me it’s the college thing again. I told you not to worry about it. Even if we go out of state, we’ll come back. We’ll still visit and call each other if that doesn’t work.” She gives me another one of her signature grins to reassure me. She knows I have a small fear of my friends and family leaving me. One summer, Dad took 8-year-old Alani and me to Washinton to visit some landmarks and stuff. There was this guy, about my age, who stayed in the room that was next to ours. I met him in the lounge and we started talking. He said he lived in a small town in California. We then started talking about small-town life. That moved to math. And we were instant friends for about a month. But then he had to fly back home. I never saw the guy again. It was a short term friendship, but I and the guy got really close.

Asuka asks, “You guys made a promise that you wouldn’t separate, right?” Alani, Mako, Fei, Cali, and I nod. “Well, what about us 3?” she points to her, Luan, and Keaton.

“Yeah, what about us 3? Does that mean we-” Luan tries, but I interrupt.

“True, you guys can make that promise this evening at the campfire.”
Keaton shoulders ALani. “That will be a ceremony after I win.” 

Alani raises her eyebrow. “Really, more like a mockery for you. Plus, Kalino, you’re really making them make a promise that we made when we were 13? I thought that was just a childish thing you did.”
Awkward silence enters our atmosphere. Just a childish thing? JUST a childish thing? Fei juts in before I lose my cool. “I thought it was a pretty cool thing. It was nice of him to make sure we stay together.”
“I’m with Alani here. And really, Fei? We all know you want to get out of this small Hawaiian town. That was only a small joke we did. We need to spread our wings, right?” Cali mumbles. Fei’s cheeks light up.

Fei tries to cool the conversation. She’s talking about how we should all just stay cool and that we’re gonna be together no matter what. Alani says that we have to go our separate ways one day. Cali joins in, saying that Alani’s right and we can’t reach our full potential in this tiny town. The talking gets louder. Then it gets tenser. And then everyone is arguing. Mako even joins in, arguing how that wasn’t too long ago and the promise still mattered. A slam comes up from the table. It takes a minute for me to see that I’m standing and everyone’s looking at me. IT takes a second for me to understand that I’m the one who slammed y hands on the table. I’m meaning EVERYONE is looking at me. The whole school in the cafeteria is silent. But I go off. “Just a childish thing? Only a small joke?! We’ve been friends for what – 6 years? And we’ve been friends with Keaton, Luan, and Asuka for 3! You think that this is just a small period in life where you gain friends and then let them go? Do you think this whole friend group is just a small joke? Do you think this is a game? Make friends, gain points!” I say the last sentence sarcastically. “You can’t just leave us. We’ve built our life in this town!”

Another slam on the table rings around the cafeteria. Alani is standing and mad. “YOU THINK YOU CAN KEEP US HERE FOREVER?! Do you think that we will just live our lives here, in this small town? Some of us have plans, dreams, ambitions! And you just want us to what, invest in a gift shop for the 2 tourists that come here every summer? I want to have a well-paying job. I want to get out of here so Cali and I can pursue our life-long dream. We’ll come back when we get our dreams! CAN’T YOU SEE? WE-” 

“That is enough, Mahi’ai twins. Talk about your plans and squabbles out of school.” Principal Gavin said, appearing out of nowhere. “Now, shows over everyone. Lunch is going to be over in-” the bell that excuses everyone from lunch rings. “Ah, there it is. Now, head to your classes, everyone. Some thinking has to be in progress.”

“We might even not leave this country,” Alani whispers to me.
“You promise?” I say.

“No, but-”

“Then I don’t want to hear it.” 


“FINE!” Alani glares at me before she stomps off to class with Cali. I stare into space for a few seconds.

“Soooo, are we still gonna do that ritual promise thing? Oh, wait up, Alani! The competition is still going on, right?” Keaton yells. He runs after Alani before Fei can punch him in the shoulder. 

Fei sighs. “She’ll come back. I have to go right now, see you later!” I gave a blank nod and she goes her way. “Oh, Principal Gavin! Those books look heavy! 

Asuka and Luan run after Keaton, so Alani can’t claw his eyes out. I know that excuse is just so they can get away from the awkwardness. Mako pushes me to my class. I can’t say anything. I’m thinking about what just happened. Can I even think? “Yesh, Principal Gavin almost escaped Fei.” he looks at me in the eye and stops pushing me when I don’t laugh at the joke. “Come on, Kalino! You’re the happy one. The one who fixes every friend’s problem before they’re even made! You can work this out. They won’t leave. They are just scared.”

“Of what, Mako?” I mumble. “I can’t fix this problem.”

“Well, what are you going to do then?”
“Nothing,” I say. “Maybe this friend group isn’t as perfect as I thought it was.”


“Can you believe him?” I yell. Keaton is behind me, still asking about the stupid competition. Asuka and Luan try to comfort me, but they both don’t know who to side with. “He wants me to stay in this tiny town, I want to go somewhere, do something. And this guy is a maniac who wants to control everyone’s lives and dreams!”

Cali touches my shoulder. “You’re right, Alani. But he just wants the best-”

“So you’re siding with him now?” I say. “I thought we were on the same page!”

Cali flinches. “I mean, we might not get into our dream college, maybe we could choose one that’s closer to Waimalu. That way, we get the education and stay close to each other.”

I look down. Maybe that was a better idea. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to apply to our dream college. There are some pretty good colleges near us. Not as good as Oxford, but enough for us to meet in the middle. Luan looks at me. Everyone who knows me knows that I hate being wrong. “C’mon, you know it’s a good decision. We could all be happy.”
“But what about Fei?” Asuka questions. She’s always been the one who gets the questions out of the way. “We all know that she wants to go to the college in California. She’s stubborn and won’t settle for something in the middle.” 

“We’ll focus on her later. You guys can go tell Kalino about our agreement after school. I need to head to math, see you guys after school!” Luan gives a big goofy wave before he dashes around the corner.

“So, are we still doing the competition?” Keaton pops up behind us.


I arrive home, alone. Kalino didn’t wait for me like he usually does. How the heck do you apologize to you’re angry brother. Think, Alani, think. Kalino’s never been this angry. I don’t remember a time where he was angry. He’s the one who resolves social problems, not makes them. I’ve never had to apologize for something this big in my life. I open our door to find no sign of Kalino. Mom’s laying on the couch fast asleep clearly wasted from one of her big parties. She sputters awake right before I can race up the stairs to Kalino. “Hey, what’s up? Your brother seemed pretty upset.”

I give a small sigh. Never had a big fan of Mom. I’m more of a Daddy’s girl I guess. “We fought about-”

“About you leaving the country for your college in Britain? Yeah, I know. Do you think I wouldn’t? You’re brother’s always been a softie. Wanting the best for everyone. I agree with the fact how he wants to control everyone’s lives. He just wants everyone to stay together. Trust me, if I had your little smarts, you wouldn’t see me in this dirty town. Just apply to that Oxford college thing, it wouldn’t hurt. I don’t think you could get in. But hey, that’s my opinion!” She gives me a sly smile before falling asleep again. I stand there, watching this half asleep woman sleep on a couch in a living room littered with coffee spills and newspapers all over the floor. I don’t want to stay here. I want to get a real job. I take the first step on the stairs. I don’t know what to say to Kalino. 

I settle for the most rushed apology ever. “Hey, ya, bro. We decided to stay here, kay bye!” I rush to my room across the hall and shut the door close behind me before I can tell myself that was the most awkward apology in the world. Hope he got my message. I thought. 

2 hours go by and I need to meet Keaton for our little competition. We agreed at meeting at the beach in 30 minutes. I head onto my laptop first. The old thing’s, well, old. There are hundreds of scratches and marks on it. I think I accidentally threw a water balloon at it once. I load up a Doc and make the worst resume for Oxford. I participated in a few extracurricular activities when I was in middle school and the start of high school because I was over the moon for Oxford. I put my GPA, which is a proud 4.2. I put my education, my skills, all that stuff. Of course, it’s not a finished resume. But it’s something. As I close my computer, I wondered what I was going to tell Kalino. I just sent him an apology and then I’m doing this? I first think that it would be a small chance of getting accepted. But what If I do? I struggle to think about this problem as I’m walking to the beach with a board in hand and the most unstable smile plastered on my face. I can see Kalino behind the crowd. I see his smiling face. He looks over to me and gives a small awkward smile and wave before going back to Fei. I don’t want him to find out. Sometimes, I feel like my twin brother thinks in a small world. A place where the worst thing that could happen is that all his friends would leave him. But I know that’s not near the worst thing in the world. Keaton comes 10 minutes late, which is expected. “Ready to go down?” he asks. That guy is so arrogant.
“Shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch,” I yell back while doing my normal stretches. 

“I have no idea what that means, but you are so going down. And everyone will kiss my feet and treat me like a king!” He looks around. “What?”

Luan gives a small snort, “Little too much, bud. A little too much.” We lay on our boards and swim to the waves. Fei is holding a stopwatch in her hand. A wave comes and I easily ride it. Keaton follows me, smiling slyly. We go ride on a lot more waves. I’m a little out of breath, but Keaton still has the stupid smirk on his face. Which only fuels my anger into energy. I’m huffing and Keaton is beginning to lose balance. Just a little longer and that stupid smirk on his face will be gone in a second. I end up losing my rhythm and falling off the board. As I fall into the cold merciless waters, I see Keaton stumbling and falling with me. We’re practically in sync. I can’t think of anything. My pulse is racing as Keaton and I swim back to shore. I really wanna win this.

“So, who won?” Keaton grabs his towel and puts it around his neck. 

Mako begins to go into full maniacal laughter. “You guys-” He gasped for air. And I thought we were supposed to be doing that. “You guys fell at the same time.”

“No way, he fell first!” I say

Fei shows me the timer, which does nothing. “He only fell… About a millisecond after you.”

“So, I won?” I yell and dance as Keaton argues it’s only a millisecond. “Jokes on you, boy. Et ready for the worst summer ever!”
Asuka checks her phone. “Summer really is in a week? That’s crazy.” nobody can hear her though, I’m hooting my victory so that the whole beach can hear me. Of course, they do. “Anyways, what about that ritual thing we haven’t done in 3 years? That thing so we can officially become apart of this cult?” Luan gives him the shoulder as Kalino gives another smile that radiates happiness that moment it forms.

The ritual goes on. We all make the promise and raise our s’mores in the air before shoving them into our mouths. I look around. The fire flickers the same, the stars sparkle the same. And the sound of the waves crashing onto the midnight sand echo throughout my body. “Getting some serious deja vu, aren’t you?” Cali comes up behind me. She’s holding her marshmallow in her hand as she carefully puts it on the chocolate and graham crackers. She somehow always makes her marshmallows a crispy gold and nobody knows how.

Everyone else is laughing and telling stories and jokes. While I have guilt towering me everywhere I go since the start of the competition. I stop teasing Keaton for just a second. “Cali, can I tell you something?” She gives me a questioned look, but then she sees my guilt-ridden face and gives me an approving nod. “I-. I’m applying for Oxford.” The sentence comes out in a whisper, but Cali hears it loud and clear. 

“What- I thought- we made that promise!”
I rush my hands through my hair. Just how Kalino would. “I know, but I want you to apply too. I don’t wanna be alone. And it’s just applying, it’s not gonna be like we’ll get accepted. We can help each other. Just please, I don’t wanna go through this alone. Please?” I pull off my best puppy stare.

 Cali budges. “Well alright, but what about Kalino?” 

I get that feeling where I know that this is gonna end in catesorphy, but I can’t say no. “We don’t tell a soul about this.” Cali is clearly stricken back, but she gives a cautious nod. I get butterflies in my stomach, and it’s not because Mako just shoved 8 s’mores into his mouth and is throwing them up whiling Fei is rushing him to the boy’s bathroom. I see Kalino laugh and all the guilt rushes back to me. The wave of it could drown me. Kalino catches me staring at him and walks over to me.

“Hey, Alani. Look, I’m sorry for overreacting and causing this problem. So as a sibling truce, here you go!” Luan grabs something from behind the log bench and comes over. I gasp. It’s a small wooden surfboard that I can hang up in my room. The image of all of us sitting at the campfire with the stars is engraved over it. The waves look so gentle, yet wild, that it makes my eyes water. It gets me a bit emotional. Everyone comes over to look at what my gift is. They awe at it as they point out which is which. “Luan drew an image while I carved from it. So Luan did the art, but I did all of the leg work.” Luan gives a shy smile. Waterfall begin emerging from my eyes.

“You guys shouldn’t have!” I gasp as tears overrun me. Everyone smirks and says, ‘Get over here!’. I happily comply as we all merge into a group huge. 

Keaton and Fei are returning from the bathroom. “Hey, is this a dog pile?” He runs at us at full speed before we can run away and we all collide into a giant ball of us. 

Fei looks at Keaton. She sighs, “He’s still loopy from all that vomiting, now let me in on this.” We all just look at each other in shock before bursting into giggles and laughter.

“Mako, you got your foot in my mouth!” He spits out Mako’s dirty sock. We run  away from the shooting sight before he can take us down with a sock.

“Ew, now it’s got all of your spit on it.” Mako picks up his semi-wet sock before gagging and throwing it away. We all calm down under the stars as we watch the stars dance. Fei is leaning on Kalino, Asuka is chatting with Makeo and Luan about the new Mario Cart game, and Cali is leaning towards me as we point out all the different constellations. This is the life, I thought as Cali points out the big dipper. All my guilts and worries have been snapped by the Infinity Gauntlet. As long as I have my friends with me, everything’s gonna be alright.


2 months have passed. Cali and I submitted our applications to Oxford a week ago. That had escaped our minds. My friends and I have been having sleepovers, small parties, and of course, the beach ritual is always there. I’m walking to the beach with Kalino, ready for some Keaton teasing, but Cali runs at me at full speed and drags me to a secluded place. I give Kalino a shrug before we can ask. “What’s up Cali? Did you see a ghost?”
Cali looks around before gripping onto my shoulders. “I got in.”

“To what?” I ask

Her hands go up in disbelief. “Oxford! Go check your computer, now!” I jolt as we run to my house a few yards away.

Kalino catches us. “What’s up?”
I step in front of Cali, “We need to go get the sunscreen, oaky thanks! Bye!” This time, I’m dragging Cali to my house. We run up the old wooden stairs and rush into my bedroom. I open up my computer and look at my email. Cali’s pacing back and forth. “Nothing,” I whisper.

Cali stops for a moment, but she rolls her eyes. “Check the mail, you idiot.” We run outside for the mailbox. I pause before opening it. “C’mon, open it, Alani.” Cali’s running in place. There’s a letter inside the mail. The letter’s Oxford sends shivers up my spine. “If you’re not gonna read it, gimme.” she grabs it before I can protest. “YOu’re in,” Cali says. That;’s enough for me to jump around in the street. “We’re getting out of this small town.” Cali breathes.

“We sure are!” I yell, “We sure are.” I begin to run to the boardwalk, but Cali stops me. Her hand on my shoulder feels tense and rigid. I turn around in shock, guilt, and sadness.

“You applied for Oxford.” My brother’s broken voice croaks. “And you got in?”

Fei’s beside him, smiling awkwardly and nervously. She holds up a bottle of sunscreen. “You didn’t need to get sunscreen, I guess.” My brother’s broken voice echoes in my mind. Before I can blink, Kalino’s hand slaps across my face.


My hand slaps Alani before I can think. I’m too mad to apologize. “You really betrayed me! You really did!” I run across the street before they can give their defense. 

“Kalino, wait!” Alani yells coming after me. I thought she wanted to talk to me, but I’m having none of it. I look left. A bright light is coming straight for me. The honking noise pierces my ears. Everything is in slow motion. Is this the end? The truck is an inch away, I feel the hardest push ever and a scream. Maybe more than one scream, I can’t tell. The older brother might be an idiot.

Looks like this perfect friend group is going to broken again.

Mom’s comments: Along our life, friendship is beautiful, so are other relationships. I am happy to see you can use your words to touch people’s hearts and to make them see the beauty and the sadness of it. But just like the moon waxes and wanes, we meet and we say goodbye. No matter where you go and even we are thousands of miles away, we all share the same bright moon.  Then there is nothing to be sad about. Be positive! For your words will be very influential on others someday. 


How rare the moon, so round and clear!

With cup in hand, I ask of the blue sky,

“I do not know in the celestial sphere

What name this festive night goes by?”

I want to fly home, riding the air,

But fear the ethereal cold up there,

The jade and crystal mansions are so high!

Dancing to my shadow,

I feel no longer the mortal tie.

She rounds the vermilion tower,

Stoops to silk-pad doors,

Shines on those who sleepless lie.

Why does she, bearing us no grudge,

Shine upon our parting, reunion deny?

But rare is perfect happiness–

The moon does wax, the moon does wane,

And so men meet and say goodbye.

I only pray our life be long,

And our souls together heavenward fly!


For original Chinese and other versions of translation

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