"Ah Li! Didn't I tell you not to cook for me? Do you know how bad your cooking is? Are you trying to poison me?" Lily did not know whether she wanted to laugh or cry at Li Shanshan's words.
Lily was supposed to buy some food back home for dinner but only after she had reached home that she realized that she had forgotten all about it. She blamed herself for having too many things on her mind. She called Yang Mi immediately, hoping to get her to run an errand but was informed by one of the directors staying with her in the apartment below hers that she was already asleep.
After a long and busy day, Lily was tired and hungry. She would also feel bad if there was nothing to serve her friend when she visits later. So even though Lily seldom cooked, she decided to put her pitiful cooking skills to the test and whip up something for the both of them.
"You know how I hate to order food deliveries," Lily answered, while forcing herself to swallow the soggy handmade noodles in bean paste sauce that she had made. "And I don't eat junk food."
"Cup noodles is not junk food!" Li Shanshan retorted. "Aiya! I could have easily bought some food over before I came ah! If only you had given me a call."
"You are good at many things but cooking is definitely not one of them. Why did you even try to make your own noodles when you don't even know how the basics of making the dough?" Li Shanshan continue to grumble before getting up. "Sorry my friend, but I cannot continue eating this anymore! Thank you for your efforts but I think I might die from food poisoning if I have to finish this bowl of noodles! Let's go out and get some proper food."
Lily only stared at Li Shanshan blankly. "Did you forget something?"
"No?" Li Shanshan answered without batting an eyelid. "Maybe? Okay...what is it?" she asked, giving up.
"I don't have a driver's license and neither do you. Where can we go if neither of us could drive?" Lily uttered before shoving another spoonful of noodles in her mouth.
"Then we will walk!" Li Shanshan exclaimed.
"I'm too lazy for that," said Lily lazily.
"Then I'll go alone!" Li Shanshan declared.
"Ah Shan! Look, it's late, it's almost nine in the evening! It's also not healthy to eat so much at this hour. Why don't we just… eat some crackers? Hmmm?" Lily suggested.
"Are you kidding me?" Li Shanshan widened her eyes. 'Crackers? She, Li Shanshan, the ultimate foodie never eats crackers!'
"As compensation… why don't I buy you some jewelry, anything you like," Lily coaxed.
"No need! It's not like I can't afford to buy my own! Stop trying to bribe me to agree to your plan of staying home and eating crackers! I am not budging!" Li Shanshan crossed her arms around her chest and let out a harrumphed.
"Then… how about a massage?"
"Stop messing around with me, do you even know how to give a massage?" Li Shanshan rebutted. "Besides being a pro at making money and having a beautiful face and body, you don't seem to have any other valuable skills at all!"
"Alright… I will play the violin. One piece," Lily said while putting down her chopsticks.
Lily nodded. After putting the dishes in the sink, she went into her room to fetch her favorite set of violin.
"Do you always bring this with you?" Li Shanshan asked, eyeing the violin case.
"Yes. This is a part of my therapy," she answered as she grabbed the lint free cloth and wiped the violin's strings slowly. When she was young, Lily never had the opportunity to learn music because Tang Lingyun would always find a way to postpone her music lessons. But that was all part of Tang Lingyun's schemes. She didn't want Lily to receive an education that was fitting for a lady in upper class society.
However, after what happened seven years ago, her psychology therapist strongly recommended that she l pick up a skill or two to occupy her mind. She hoped that this would distract Lily from thinking about the events of the past which had led to her depression.
Lily decided to pick up the violin, even though it was not an easy instrument to learn. She also picked up dancing, learning many types of dance. She even picked up Aikido for self defense.
Lily was a fast learner and a good student. In just a few years, she had successfully learned all that she signed herself up for. But she never thought of learning how to cook. She was also averse to learn driving because of an accident seven years ago which greatly traumatised her.
After years of therapy, Lily recovered from her depression and that was also when she decided that she would not marry or depend on a man. She decided that she would spend all her hard-earned money on herself and live a comfortable life of solitude until she dies.
Isn't that a great plan?
Lily was very motivated to grow her money and businesses. She hoped that one day, she could build an underground mansion away from civilization and live there happily all by herself.
"Alright… I want my favorite," Li Shanshan said before making herself comfortable on the couch beside Lily's king sized bed.
Lily nodded while tying her shoulder length hair into a ponytail. She then gently placed the violin on her shoulders and tucked it under her chin. She gave her friend a smile before gently drawing the bow across the strings.
Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Li Shanshan's favorite.
As Lily played the piece, she couldn't help but to reminisce about their friendship. Lily and Li Shanshan met back when they were both still in high school. Back then, the two had already been close friends, but when Li Shanshan went to Europe to continue her studies in film production, the two of them lost communication. They were only reunited after Lily came to London.
Li Shanshan met Lily again at the studio where Lily was learning her violin. Coincidentally, Li Shanshan was there to shoot a scene for one of her films that she was directing. The two friends came together and became even closer than before.
Lily and Li Shanshan were open with each other about their lives and shared their ups and downs. They knew of each other's hardships and had seen each other at their lowest point. They cried together and got drunk together. They knew that it hadn't been easy for them to reach where they are now. Through all these, the two women bonded.
Sisters. That is the only word that could give justice to their friendship.
Lily closed her eyes as she lost herself in the deepest part of the symphony, thinking about her life and what she had been through. Seven years ago, Lily was shunned by the world. Her mother and her were in a car accident. Her mother died while saving her and she miscarried and lost her baby who was already four weeks old.
She was alone and powerless. Vulnerable and broken.
The doctor had told her that she might not have another chance at conception. Her world crumbled. She blamed herself. She blamed the world for being unfair towards her. She started slitting her wrists in anger, wallowing in self-pity. She was a mess.
Lily tightened her hold when the crescendo started. The crescendo in the song was something that Lily loved. It reminded her of the feeling of waking up after a long nightmare. It reminded her of sunshine and that was how she felt when her maternal grandmother suddenly showed up in her room one day. She saved her and pulled her out of the deep abyss.
The music became more dynamic. It was rich and mellow and then strong and aggressive. The change in dynamics instantly reminded the changes she went through when she left the mental facility.
She was beaten down and while it seemed like she couldn't get up any more, a new hope ignited within her. Like a newborn Phoenix, Lily was determined to start a new life, away from those who hurt her and become stronger.
When the melody took and turn and became sad and lonely, Lily was reminded of her maiden journey in the business world. Under her maternal grandmother's guidance, she was trained to be ruthless, domineering and cunning when it came to business. She was groomed to be both sweet and evil. A fox in sheep's clothing.
For the next twenty minutes, Lily's hands continued to dance along the strings of the violin. Her eyes closed, her mind and heart engrossed in the haunting yet melodious tune. She shifted the notes several times, her eyelashes fluttering.
Then the song ended.
Lily opened her eyes, the heaviness in her heart left her just as the music ended. Then she smiled at her friend who was tearing, a knowing look flashed on Lily's face. She slowly put the violin down on her bed and walked towards her friend.
She enveloped Li Shanshan in a hug as tears started to stream down her cheeks as well.
Silence engulfed the room as the two women continued to cry in each other's arms. This was the most haunting thing about that piece of music. The emotions that it could evoke on the one playing the piece and on the listener was not to be underestimated. Both of them would always end up crying at the end.
Somehow the piece would cause them to reflect and reminisce about their past, the happy and sad. These two women who used to be so broken never thought they could one day stand at the pinnacle of their own careers.
Lily let out a long sigh as she patted her friend gently on the back. For them, crying was never a sign of weakness. Instead, they saw it as a sign of victory.
Then a loud boom of thunder echoed inside the room. The boughs of trees outside of Lily's apartment building swayed in the strong wind. And the downpour begins.