After learning and remembering everything I took a leave from work. I would often visit Edsel on his church, with constant talk, he help me regained my strength and unclouded my thoughts.
My co-doctor went on a vacation and left one of his patient to my care. He had his elbow fixed from dislocation due to a freak accident. I was summoned to work a day before my vacation supposed to end. I was about to report to see the patient when the sole of my leather shoes broke as I climbed the stairs. I head back to my locker to get my extra pair of sneakers. Something fell at the time I pulled out the shoes, it was an old shoe lace.
Just when I am about to knot my shoe laces, a memory of my childhood crossed my mind.
Monday was my most hated day, not because of the early flag raising ceremony but because I was always forced to wear my leather shoes for the whole day. I never owned a good pair. Most of my stuffs came from my older brother and handed it down to me. The last time I took it for cleaning, I accidentally broke the sole in half. With no options left, I attended the flag-raising wearing my brother’s old sneakers. I was caught.
My class adviser wanted us to wear our complete uniform during the flag-raising ceremony every Monday. Ever since my leather shoe broke, I considered Monday as Hell Day. I always get penalized and soon I ran out of excuses to give.
One Monday morning after the flag ceremony, my adviser ordered a classmate of mine to tie my shoelace on the feet of the chair I am sitting as punishment for not wearing black shoes. I sat there in silence as I felt the knots of my shoes being pulled and tied on the steel feet of my chair. I was told that I may not be able to have lunch and I can only leave at the end of the day.
I know that he doesn’t like what he was doing back then. I saw it in his eyes. At lunch break, he did share his lunch with me. At 5pm as the bell rang, all of my classmates left the classroom. I saw him standing near his chair and slowly approached me. He tried untying my shoelaces out of the chair. Unfortunately He was unsuccessful. He apologized and we laughed together. I pulled my feet out of my old sneaker wearing only my loosed pair of socks against the cold floor.
“You can wear my sneakers for now,” he said. “We’ll untie this tomorrow.”
“Okay,” I agreed.
He pulled his sneakers out of his bag and helped me put it in my both feet, it fitted. I was sitting on my chair. He was the one who tied the knots.
“I am sorry,” he said. “I was forced to..”
“Its okay,” I said. “It was my fault in the first place.”
The following day, I went to school thirty minutes earlier. I found him in front of our classroom and told me a sad news.
“They’re missing,” He said as we rushed towards the room. And I found it missing. We tried asking the maintenance department but unluckily they were unable to help us. Everyday since then, during our lunch break, we ate while searching the whole school for my missing shoes. Then we started talking about ourselves. I have never done that in my whole elementary years. I was such a loner back then.
One Monday afternoon, it rained hard. I worried about his sneakers so I took it off, tied the laces together and put it on my neck, and started walking barefoot on the muddy road.
“Going home?” he asked.
“Yeap,” I replied.
I saw him took his black shoes off, tied their laces together and placed it on his neck.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked him.
“Yup,” he replied. And we ran as we go home.
Everyday, he would always wear his black shoes and I would always wear his sneakers. On PE class, we always take turns on wearing his sneakers during practical exams. For the whole two months since my sneakers got lost, that was our set-up. Until one day, he never went to class. I learned that he dropped and migrated to somewhere far away. Since then I never heard anything from him.
As I entered my patient’s room, I saw him on his bed holding an old pair of kid shoes. He was tying a knot with his left hand while his right arm being casted with support tied on his neck. He was struggling. The guy seems familiar. It was Marl, Isabel’s husband.
“I supposed those aren’t your shoes,” I said.
“Yes,” he replied. “It was my friends shoes from long ago.”
“Keepsake?” I asked.
“Kind of,” he said. “A part of my childhood that I never dared giving up.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Not until I heard something from him about my shoes.” he said
“Need help it tying?” I offered.
“Sure,” he said as he handed it to me.
I took a closer look at it. It was a very familiar pair of shoe. I saw the inner sole marked with a fading text, it was my name, Alex.
“It never went missing,” he said. “I took it.”
“The following school year after you left,” I said. “My mother bought me a new pair of black shoes, But still I prefer wearing your sneakers…”
“I was trying to put you on my shoes,” he uttered. “I’m glad it went well.”
“I became an improved person since then,” I said. “I liked it.”
The morning check-up went well and he was announced to be discharged in the afternoon.
“Going home alone?” I asked.
“Yeap,” he said. “I want to surprise them.”
He was struggling to tie his shoe laces, I moved closer to him and knelt down.
“20 years ago, you used to this for me,” I said. “This time let me do it.”
I pulled the both ends of the laces and started tying a knot on both shoes. I smiled and he smiled back.
Friendship is like a shoe lace, you need both ends to knot a bond, but you only need one end to pull it apart.