I picked up the photo. It had something written on the back of it which read, "whenever you need me, you know where to find me." I turned the photo; it was a photo of me and my best friend, Dandre, playing in a park when we were small. I could feel a broad smile draw across my face.
I grew up in London with my father and mother as the only child. Dandre was all I had for a brother and a friend. He always found everything I say funny, even the lamest of jokes. But when I was twelve, we moved to Manchester, and Dandre and I grew apart.
It had been two days since we moved back to London, to our old home, and I was unpacking a box when I found this photo. It fell out of a book that was in the box.
"What's that you are smiling at?"
"It's just a photo, mom. But I didn't know I had this."
"Let me see, dear." Mom came near me and looked over my shoulder at the photo I was holding. "Oh! Look how sweet you are."
"I remember that day! If I'm not mistaken, Dandre's mother took that photo. Maybe Dandre must have given it to you. I wonder how he is doing now."
Mom patted my head and headed towards the kitchen. I looked at the photo again, put it back in the book, and continued unpacking the box.
It took us three whole days to finish unpacking all the boxes. On the fourth day, I decided to take a walk around our neighborhood. I decided to use the path that leads to Dandre's house. There was nothing wrong with meeting an old friend of yours. It was a good thing to happen.
Almost everything was different; there were only a few houses on the street we lived in, but now it was packed with them, and also there were too many shops.
When I was small, I was obsessed with the donuts from Anton's pastries and bakery. They were the most delicious donuts in the whole wide world. You may have different opinions about it, but mom and dad searched in every bakery, pastry shop and cafe in Manchester and they couldn't find a donut to satisfy me.
Luckily, Anton's shop was on my way. To my great pleasure, it was still in the place it used to be, standing even grander. I entered, and a sweet smell of freshly baked buns greeted me. The first thing I did was to look around.
The shop was full of unfamiliar faces. I looked at the counter where uncle Anton was usually waiting to greet his customers with a big smile, and as usual, he was there, talking to a small boy. He hadn't changed a bit except for the fact that he looked a little bit older.
That little boy reminded me of the old days; donuts weren't the only reason that made me come here; I loved to have a chat with uncle Anton. Mom always said he had a superpower to make me laugh. I waited till the boy said goodbye.
"Can I have some Anton's special donuts, uncle Anton?"
"Sadie?! Is that you?"
"Who else could this be?"
"Oh, girl! You have grown up."
"But you look just like I remembered."
"When did you come back?"
"Three days ago."
"So... What would you have? There's a whole new range of things to try."
"I'll go with my favorites, uncle Anton."
"Chocolate peanut butter frosting and coconut sprinkled donuts?"
"Why not? You were one of my greatest customers. Do you want to take them home or have them here?"
"I'll take them home."
"Be right here. I'll be back soon."
Uncle Anton vanished behind the counter and came back after a few minutes.
"Here you go."
Even before I could ask him the price, he cut me off.
"That's a small welcome gift to a great friend of mine. Give my regards to your father and mother as well."
"Thank you, uncle Anton. See you soon."
I left the shop heading towards Dandre's while enjoying a donut from the bag of donuts. Dandre's home wasn't far away from the shop. Even though I was determined to meet my old friend, my courage faded away at the doorsteps. You know how it feels to meet a person who once was very close to you, for the first time after a very long time.
But I managed to summon all my courage and rang the bell. A woman answered the door.
"Good evening, ma'am. Is Dandre here?"
"Is that even a real name? I think you have mistaken, young lady."
Then she slapped the door in my face.
I was sure that they had changed their home while we were away. So, I turned back. My childhood memories accompanied me on the walk back. But there was something strange about them; almost all the memories had something similar that I couldn't quite explain.
While I was passing by Anton's pastries and bakery, a small girl and her mother came out from the door. The girl told her mother something that happened in a park which made me think about the photo I found in a book while unpacking the boxes. We were playing at a park. The central park!
That was it! That was what almost all the memories had in similar. We used to play in the central park, and that was where Dandre had meant by, "whenever you need me, you know where to find me."
Without thinking much, I ran to the park. The park had changed, and there was a lot to observe, but I was running late. Since we had come back after a very long time, mom wanted me back at home before it's dark. So, with the hope of coming back some other day to enjoy the beauty, I rushed through the park in search of a familiar face.
With the rush, I bumped into someone around a corner. I said sorry without even looking at his face and hurriedly walked away. I had merely walked two steps when my legs froze from what I heard.
"Are you alright, Dandre?"
I spun around. There was Dandre, standing in front of me, but not alone. There were two other boys and a girl whom I suspected to be his new friends. Before I could say anything, he spoke.
"Watch where you go next time."
It sounded more like a threat, and I could feel my spirits fall apart. Dandre was no longer the kind person he used to be, and above all, he had new friends. I watched them as they walked away.
Since there was nothing else to do, I started walking back home. When I was just about to leave the park, someone touched my shoulder. Half hoping to see Dandre, I spun around to see a girl smiling widely.
"Don't you remember me? I'm Megan. When did you come back?"
"Three days ago."
"Where are you going now?"
"Do you mind if I accompany you on the way?"
"Of course not."
Megan was my archenemy when I was small and this, of course, took me by surprise. But I didn't mind her company. It is surprising how things can change with time.