Nguyễn Ngọc Tú Dung
30th March 2023

It was an ordinary day, my dad drove me to school under the cruel heat of Saigon’s summer. Now while staying here in this windy freezing cold weather, I wish I can have a bit of it back. When I walked into class, Tan was crying, really hard. I never saw him like that, he’s someone that can make you laugh out loud with even only his look. But that day was exceptional, his eyes were red and his glasses were steamed. My teacher changed my seat to the one next to Tan a few weeks ago and before that, I was sitting next to K for a semester.

K passed away that day.

That morning when he was preparing for class, he fell off the stairs and his back head hit the staircase’s corner, that compact information came from his parents.

I sat down in my seat, then looked at Tan and the whole class, I knew from now on, even though we might carry on with our usual routine, nothing is the same anymore. I then looked outside to the windows where I could see that the flowers of the flamboyant trees were in their blooming season. They occupied my whole blankness of the day with an eye-burning orange-red color.

I wasn’t able to cry then, even when I walked to see him the last time at his funeral, I could only say, with my dried throat “Hey K, take care”.

Surprisingly years later, as I type these words on this frozen keyboard, I’m able to cry. I’m crying as hard as Tan was on that day. My eyes are red, and yes, my glasses are completely steamed as well.

Again, I look out to the window where I am working now which is covered with these yellow western tree leaves that are more than ready to fall off. I ask K, “How are you doing there, after that very early takeoff?”