The Memory Lane gang was named after the road on which they all first met. Their encounter certainly wasn’t by any sort of intention, for the five of them couldn’t be more different.
As it were, their fates entwined that sweltering afternoon on Memory Lane, just a ten-minute drive from the university dorm. It might seem like a clichéd way of looking at it, but Luce sometimes wondered what life would be like if it remained just her and her sister Vicky. No Rob or Greg. No Chang.
She didn’t usually take that route to school, but she and Vicky were late for class – later than usual, at least – and Luce could tell Vicky was resenting her for it. Memory Lane was the shortcut very few people knew about or took, so she zipped down that road … only to come to a dead halt, when she saw a beat-up white Toyota and a sleek black Volvo blocking the one-way street.
A boy in a James Dean-esque outfit – white T-shirt, jacket, and tapered jeans – seemed to be having some car trouble. He clasped his pager like it was his lifeline, the other hand propped on the hood of the black Volvo. The owner of the Volvo was Chang, and Rob and Greg, who were on their way back from class, had stopped to help.
And so, eventually, did Luce. Vicky was almost reluctant to stop to help. They had been late for their sociology lecture twice in a row – no thanks to Luce, she would add – and this was not going to be their third strike. But Luce could always implore Vicky’s compassionate streak to offer a hand. They could double up on their readings later anyway.
Later, Luce would find out from Rob and Greg that Chang stayed in their dorm and that his father owned a car dealership, which explained why Chang had access to the cars he frequently drove around.
But right then, Luce only saw the sheepish smile Chang flashed her when she got out of her car, and those eyes like trouble, deep and dark.
Unlike her sister, she believed in Fate. She believed there was a reason for everything. For all of them being on Memory Lane that day. For meeting Rob and Greg. For meeting Chang.
Luce and Vicky were an hour late for class by the time the Volvo was rescued, so Luce suggested skipping it altogether.
“My bad,” Chang said, offering that smile again, and Luce was certain his gaze lingered on her the longest.
He bought them all a beer that night at a beach-side bar as a token of apology and gratitude. By the end of that beer Luce knew she was done for. There was no escaping that deep, dark, impish gaze Chang held her in for the rest of the night.
The five of them had nothing in common, but they somehow managed to talk well into the wee hours.
Chang told Luce how he was set to take over the dealership once he graduated and how much he hated it. “So the plan is to wreck as many cars now as possible,” he said, and Luce couldn’t really tell if he was joking. In turn, she told him she had no idea what she was doing in university, had no idea what she was interested in or what she wanted to do in her life, and was only there because of her sister.
“Funny how twins can be so diametrically opposing sometimes,” Greg said.
“We’re fraternal twins. And two separate individuals,” Luce said.
“Clearly,” Chang said, a smile in his voice. Luce couldn’t recall the last time she blushed, but she did now.
Vicky was tipsy by her second beer, and had to be supported by Luce as they made their way down to the beach.
They started a bonfire. Chang’s idea, even though he didn’t know how to start one. Luce came to love that about him – his spontaneity, spur-of-the-moment decisions, and infectious energy that swept you along with him. For nights, she would dream about the playful glint in his eyes, as though he was letting you in on his secret.
And it was that night at the beach that Luce realised that she was forever bound to the four people around her – her sister, a part of her for life, Rob and Greg, the two voices of reason that anchored her to the ground, and Chang, a force of nature that eventually became her life force.
It wasn’t an earth-shattering realisation, but it glowed as bright as the embers in the fire they had kindled. And it kept her alive long after the fire had died.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joyce lives in the tropical island-city of Singapore, where she spends the perennially sunny days writing YA novels and short stories. She holds a B.A. in English and her YA contemporary novel, LAMBS FOR DINNER, won a nationwide novel-writing competition organised by the National Arts Council and was published by Straits Times Press. She subsists mainly on green tea and toast, and blogs about books, writing, and TV shows at The Writes of Passage in between writing her next novel. You can read all of her short stories here.