Write a story ending with:
'...We had never laughed so much in our lives.'

- by Brian Shu Pui Hong
SMK Sungai Maong,
Kuching, Sarawak

Clutching my belongings, I jostled my way through the milling crowd and seated myself alongside a few members of the audience. There I sat, looking down upon a scene the like of which I had never seen before. The whole hall was suffused with resplendent golden light, and a glossy black piano stood upon a brightly lit stage, right in the centre of numerous pairs of exciting eyes. Mr. Richard, who was known as the greatest pianist worldwide, would be making his long-awaited arrival in a few more minutes.

I glanced around, seeing different faces while whiling away the remaining minutes. But then, a familiar face made my nerves jangle. I stared at him, and my mind wandered off.

Ryan and I were intimate friends. We liked to pull pranks on our classmates, and then giggled at each other whenever we managed to worm our way out of being punished. We even shared the same hobby - playing the piano. Often, we would practise together and guffaw at the wrong tempo. However, everything changed when a piano competition was held at our school. The purpose of it was to select the talented ones to receive better education in a prestigious music school in New York. Both of us were forced to take part in it by our parents. The participation was against our will as we were well aware of the rigorous training and how intimidating the teachers in that school could be. This led to an agreement between Ryan and me, in which we promised not to perform during the competition and get ourselves disqualified.

On that indelible day, Ryan did as promised and was disqualified. He grinned at me when he was marching off the stage, and I returned with one understandably. I clambered upwards to tumultuous applause, and was ready to go as planned when I looked over the sea of crowds and saw my parents rooting for me. They never told me they were coming! I froze at the sight of them, thunderstruck. The next moment, I was on the horns of a dilemma, unable to decide whether or not to perform as I did not want to let both Ryan and my parents down. In the end, I decided to break the promise and performed rather hastily, hoping not to be the lucky one. Halfway through my rendition, I saw Ryan left but I could not see his face and thus had no idea how he felt then.

The outcome was even more astonishing. I was among the few chosen ones to be enrolled in that school. I contacted Ryan to tell him my predicament, but the damage was done. He could no longer see reason and was instead smarting over how I failed to keep a promise. To make matters worse, he launched a bitter diatribe against me. That made me so irritated that I did not bother to reason with him anymore. After a few days, he moved to England with his family due to certain changes. Our friendship plunged into a standstill ever since. I forwent the opportunity and sealed my beloved piano.

A tidal wave of applause jolted me back to reality. Mr. Richard had just walked briskly onto the stage, preparing to engross the audience.

“A year had passed since then,” I thought to myself as I heaved a sigh and wrenched my eyes away from him. Enchanting music began to flood the hall, stealing everyone’s mind and soul. For some reason, the music seemed to speak to my heart, prompting me to do something.

Mr. Richard ended his performance marvellously. I got to my feet and wended my way to the exit alongside the chattering crowd.


A familiar voice called after me over the many heads. I turned, and saw Ryan hurrying towards me.

“Evan,” he said, very seriously. “I reckon you had your reasons for it.”

“Caught on, haven’t you?” I replied in a curt tone. “Took you long enough.”

“I shouldn’t have...” Evan broke off.

“Just joking. I was at fault too,” I said. He grinned nervously at me. I grinned back and we bumped fist.

We strode out of the hall, my heart lighter than air. The sky looked bluer than ever and the sun shone radiantly, now that I had Ryan back to my side. We burst into gales of hysterical laughter as we filled each other in on past happenings, as though we had not been laughing for ages, as though we were back to the good old days, or even better. One thing was certain. We had never laughed so much in our lives.