Milk Tea Tears

“You could just tell me,” the boy points out. He’s sitting on the steps to the school library and she stands there in front of him, listening to him trying, and failing to convince her. He’s wearing a black shirt, just like the day when he left. She wore her hair down that day and now she never wears it in any way but up.

“In your dreams,” the girl sneers, tugging at the sleeves of her shirt. They weren’t supposed to be close anymore. Not after he stopped trying to initiate conversation and she stopped replying. “Stop being so nosy.”

“You know,” he calls, as she starts to walk away. “I already know.”

“No, you don’t,” the girl snaps. “You don’t know anything.”

“I know enough. Enough to know that you’re hurting.”

“You left,” she accuses, voice thick. “You can’t just come back and, and -”

“I’m sorry I left,” the boy says quietly. “Maybe all of this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t left.”

“It’s not a game,” she says, her voice climbing higher with each word. “It’s not.”

“I never said it was. I’m being serious.”

“No, no you’re not.” She starts walking away. “Things changed when you were gone.”

“You didn’t,” the boy calls. “I know. I still know. You still love milk tea, don’t you?”

“I-”

“Honey boba. Lightly sweetened. Normal sized tapioca pearls. Size medium.”

“Stop it, that was over five years ago -”

“I know you’re angry. And you have a right to be. But I promise I didn’t forget about you. Because I know you didn’t forget about me. Thirteen years of friendship doesn’t fall apart easily.”

“They closed it,” the girl interrupts, biting her lip. “They closed down that tea shop.”

“Oh.”

“Things changed,” she repeats.

“Everything changes, damn it.” He jumps down from the ledge he was sitting on and walks over to her. “That doesn’t mean,” he says, voice wavering, “that we can’t go back to being friends.”

There’s a pause.

“They closed it down,” she says quietly, rolling up her sleeves, sticking out her wrists to show him the truth. “They closed it down and I felt — I knew that I lost a part of me.”

“Hey,” he says. She’s thankful that his voice is gentle, but not pitiful. “I know another tea shop, down the street. I saw it the other day when I was moving in. And they sell milk tea.”

“It’s not the same.”

“No,” he agrees. “It’s never going to be the same. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t love it just as much.”