菁在我生命過往當中,都不曾是第一順位的重要朋友。但她很了解我,也很包容我不及多數成年人那樣城府底深的態度和反應。

她是我小學三四年級的同學之ㄧ。當時個子高的她跟永遠坐在第二第三排的我總是像兩條平行線不交叉。很少有機會可交談。直到小學四年級某次去墾丁的遠足,她才真正進入到我的世界。那年我心思掛念著搬家到枋寮的朋友,跟燕和菁坐在一起或是走在一起都沒有心靈契合的感覺。但知道菁很善良,一路上總是她打開話匣子。

小五時,菁時常跟我借筆墨盒、其實我跟她當時真的不熟,但是她總也厚著臉皮跟我借筆墨盒。只是拿回來的筆墨盒很乾淨,有時我總是懷疑她到底有沒有用過。哈。當時就顯示出菁跟我都是某種程度上的怪咖。因為一般人是不會隨便輕易跟不熟的同學借東西的,除非真的很必要。而如果我也像班上其他「正常」小孩,我照理說就會很冷漠。但我從來也不是那樣的人,也不會希望自己跟他們一樣。

國中時菁被欺負、、、只因為她想跟我們班的太妹要回10元。對當時的她而言,錢很重要,即便是10元也是很重要的。國二時菁因為渴望朋友而浪費錢陪岑去上沒用的英文課(菁跟她妹妹兩人一向數學很好,但菁的英文就是不行)。 其實他們家經濟拮据,她實在不應該為了陪朋友而補習的。 那回英文段考菁因成績不理想而被她爸爸毒打一頓。

高一時媽媽跟岑去新加坡玩,爸爸跟哥哥出差,所以我叫菁陪我睡覺。怪的是菁的父母也同意!那晚我對她態度很不好、、、我很自私,硬是要聽古典樂。她要聊天,而我卻覺得太累而不想跟她聊天、、、當時我對她真的好壞喔、、、

高一高二那時候開始流行網路戀情。某年暑假,菁陪她某朋友去見網友。菁跟一個女生代替那女生看那個網友長什麼樣。說是個肥男,還帶個蛋糕,上頭寫著:「你是我的唯一」。至今這件事情回想起來還是個很經典的笑話。

高二時慧菁認識了一個她生命中很重要的朋友芬(忘記她的名字了)。她們一起愛上五月天不做作的唱腔風格,一起喜歡做同樣的事情。芬帶給菁無數的快樂。

菁從高二開始打工,她幾乎都做2-2.5年左右才會換工作。最短的是在內衣店工作,離職原因是因為內衣被偷,全體員工都被懷疑有偷竊行為,他們都被要求繳7000-8000元罰金,菁憤而離職。

菁高職畢業後念的是觀光系。跌破眾人的眼鏡。英文一向不拿手的菁要挑戰英文、日文甚至是西班牙文!但她也是破天荒地拿到畢業證書就是了。至今我都不知道她怎麼辦到的。

大學時期菁曾被我跟岑架著去聽音樂會。想來也覺得好笑,她總是不知道何時要拍手,也跟我說她聽古典樂很想睡覺。

菁後來在書局工作,也就是在那段期間我沒工作,菁又看我髮型ㄙㄨㄥˊ,所以叫我要學會騎機車,多打扮然後趕快找個工作。其實, 菁在這一點幫我很多,只是她當初時間地點選不好,口氣也不好,所以後來我不管有沒有工作都不會跟菁說,因為我想等有穩定工作再跟她說。(不過也諷刺,我還是在失業的時候得知她過世的事情)。但很高興,好家在當菁還在書局工作時我還是時常去看菁。當時只要結束Danny的課我就跑去菁的書店找她聊天。後來她要考夜二技,就離職了。之後她就跟我說她在仁武上班,就是後來那間把她操到過勞死的公司。這樣說聽起來不雅,這卻是鐵的事實。剛開始她很開心,說公司還給便當,然後還說她晚上只要必須上課的話可以提早半小時離開公司。兩年後,也就是我從英國回來的時候,菁時常加班加到很誇張的地步。(在中秋節期間她曾有天從清晨8點工作到隔天凌晨5點,休息兩小時後繼續工作,然後到下班後,又趕著去上夜間部的課。也就是說,為了工作,菁根本就幾乎沒睡覺。後來我聽一個朋友告訴我,在我人還在英國的那年冬天,菁曾經在騎機車時昏迷過一次。我想或許在那之前她就經常加大夜班了。再後來,她就冷冷地睡去再也不曾醒來了。菁跟我不是最要好的朋友,可是她很懂我,也很諒解我。菁這個月要過27歲生日,但她永遠不會再老去了。她的容顏停留在她26歲的美麗了。

Last night, I recalled some things about an old friend of mine Ema.  When we were in grade 3, we didn't talk to each other.  Ema was taller than me, so her seat was always in back of mine.  As a result, I never intended to talk to her.  I usally just chatted with classmates who sat near me.  I think that we first talked to each other in grade 4 on a trip to Kenting.  At that time my best friend called Yaling moved to Fangliao, so during the excursion I basically talked to two girls: Qiuyan and Ema.  I felt somehow lost, and to tell the truth I didn't feel that Ema and I were like-minded.  But one thing that I'm sure is that Ema was kind, as she always was.  Still, Ema wasn't really my friend back then.  I remember that in grade 5 to 6, Ema was in Class 3 (there were 20 classes in grade 5&6).  Ema often asked me to borrow my calligraphy set.  A lot of students often forgot their calligraphy set.  The funny thing is that since Ema and I were not familiar with each other, it was quite bold of Ema to have the courage to ask me to lend her my calligraphy set.  But I was very different from other Taiwanese children.  I lent Ema my calligraphy set without any hesitation whenever she needed.  I think that some Taiwanese students would find it awkward that people like Ema would ask such a request from an acquaintance.

Ema had a hard time at junior high.  She started being bullied just because she had the guts to ask a gangster girl to give her back the NTD$10 Ema lent her.  But strangely Ema could always feel happy.  I still don't know why she could do that.  But anyway, I remember that at that time, Ema longed for friendship.  She once took some English lessons with my twin after school simply because she thought that as a friend, she should try to do something with a "friend".  Ema's family isn't well-off, and since she was never interested in English, it was a waste of money to take such lessons.  She didn't do well on her English mid-term, so her father punished her harshly.

I wasn't very nice to Ema, too.  I remember that at 16, one time my mom and sister travelled to Singapore, and my father and brother were on business trips.  There was only me alone at home.  So I phoned Ema to sleep over at my home.  Surprisingly Ema's parents said okay.  That night, Ema wanted to chat with me because she didn't like the awkwardness of silence.  But I wanted to listen to classical music, which was only broadcasted at midnight.  Then after 2am, Ema stil wanted to chat.  We chatted until 4am.  I was so tired that I pretended to fall asleep so that Ema stopped talking.  But I always remember it, and I know that I was doing something that wasn't very nice to Ema.  Ema was my friend, but I was somewhat cold to her.

At 17, Ema was changed, as she had two friends at her school.  Ema often talked about those girls with us, and she seemed very content.  I believe that those girls, especially the prettier one called Fen, was very important to Ema.  She gave Ema something that my twin and I couldn't give to Ema.  I feel very embarrassed to admit, but both my twin and I never cherished Ema's friendship as much as her friend called Fen did.  I don't really remember her name; I think that her name is either Peifen or Huifen.  Really I always feel glad that Ema had met Fen in her short life.  Fen showed Ema what a genuine friendship was.  Ema started to dress like Fen and her other friends.  They liked to listen to music by a Taiwanese group called "May Day" (五月天).  They liked to do many things together, which was good.

Ema started to have part-time jobs at 17, too.  She worked at a supermarket and a bakery near my home.  So occasionally my twin and I would pop in the surpermarket to say hi to Ema.  She didn't change jobs as frequently as me:P  She usually stayed with the same company for 2 or 2.5 years before she switched jobs.  The only exception was that once Ema started her new job at a bra/underwear shop.  One or two bras was/were stolen.  Since no one caught the thief.  All employees had to pay NTD$7000-8000 for the missing bras.  Ema therefore left the bra shop.  She then studied at Night school and worked in the daytime.  I don't remember where she worked.  I only remember that she studied tourism, and that was when Ema picked up her foreign name.  She told me that it was a Spanish name, but I haven't found out whether it's true or not.  Anyway, to my surprise Ema got her diploma.  Ema was always good at math but bad at English.  However, she still tried her best to get a degree in tourism, which involved some languages courses: English, Japanese and Spanish.  Then, Ema worked at a book shop near the cram school where I tutored Irene and Danny.  I often went to Ema's book shop to chat with her after Danny's class, and now I am happy that I once frequented the book shop where Ema worked.  Afterwards, Ema told me that she wanted to continue her studies.  I think that she was aware that with a higher degree, it would be easier for her to find better jobs.  This time she studied accountancy, which was quite ideal and suitable for people like her.  The same year (2005), Ema started to work for the company which I believe caused her to die from overwork.  I remember that Ema was very happy to work there in the beginning.  She said that she got free lunch boxes, and if she had to go to school, she was allowed to leave half an hour earlier.  When I returned to Taiwan last July, I contacted Ema.  Ema had to put in overtime so often that we didn't really have time to meet each other, and I didn't know that the overwork could be fatal to her.

On 28 December, 2007, Ema fainted on the way home from her uni.  According to the doctors, there were no visible signs of life after less than 5 minites Ema fainted.  What caused her death is still a mystery to me, but I really do not want to phone Ema's sister again to find out what Ema's forensic report is.

There are some anecdotes about Ema.  At 17, cyber space had just begun popular.  One of Ema's friends met a guy on the Internet, and she arranged a date with him.  However, since the girl had no idea what the guy looked like, she wanted Ema and their other friend to go with her.  Ema and her other friend checked out the guy at a chain store selling chips and chickens (not fish and chips).  According to Ema, it was a fat sort of boy who brought with a cake.  On the top of the cake, it said, "You are my only love."  Ema's friend didn't meet the guy in the end.  The whole event sounded hilarious to my twin and me, and the sentence "you are my only love" was the best part.

During college, I once asked Ema to attend a concert with my twin and me.  Ema always had no idea when she should clap, and at times she told me that the classical music made her sleepy.  How cute Ema was.

I do wish that Ema was making a joke or playing "hide-and-seek" with all of her friends.  Her passing is just so real and cruel that I can hardly believe that she has left everyone for good.  But Ema would never grow old, and her hair would never become gray. She's now in heaven with her father.  She has slept coldly ever since 28 December, 2007.  She would turn 27 years old this month.  I really wish that I could tell her in person how nice she had always been, and without her, I might not have been able to persuade my mom into letting me do some things that I should do.  Ema was never my best friend, but she understood me more than most of my other friends.

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