“It took a miracle, something almost incredible, for us to become best friends,” explained Michael to a group of inquisitive listeners. “Before that, we were mere acquaintances who had never spoken to each other on a one-to-one basis.” He gave Zoey a warm smile. She was standing at the back of the room, watching him give a talk about kindness and friendship to their classmates. Michael had a heart of gold and, as a fellow schoolmate, he had wanted to help Zoey.
At that time, Zoey was struggling with her academics. In fact, as a result of that, she suffered from low self-esteem. She was completely unable to engage in any form of conversation with the people around her due to the crippling failures she had endured. Despite efforts made by her teachers and peers to reach out to her, Zoey adamantly refused to communicate. The class was at a loss and did not attempt to help Zoey anymore. Worried that she would be further ostracised, her form teacher asked Michael, the class monitor, for help.
One afternoon, Michael approached Zoey with his handphone to encourage her to communicate with him via text messages. Zoey was reluctant at first, but she knew that Michael was trying to reach out to her. She appreciated his help. Since then, they worked well together. Michael knew Zoey needed time to warm up to him and Zoey was grateful for his persistence.
His decision to help tutor her baffled everyone because it required such a sacrifice of his time and effort. A couple of his friends did not mince their words and brazenly told him that they were against his decision. Michael’s other friends simply did not understand why he was so accommodating of Zoey’s needs. Yet, Michael and Zoey would revise their work daily at his place for two hours after school.
Zoey realised Michael was making a great effort to help her in her academics and come out of her shell. Slowly but surely, Zoey opened up to him. At first, she would reply him with simple sentences or ask a few questions. Eventually, they would have a full conversation together. Michael was pleased by the progress she had made. It seemed she had transformed into a new, confident individual before his very eyes.
The End-of-Year examinations loomed. Michael and Zoey were well-prepared for their written papers. They gave each other encouraging looks from their tables and a thumbs-up sign to boost each other’s morale. Zoey found the paper manageable and was relieved when she left the examination hall.
A few days later, the marked examination scripts were returned to the pupils for checking and corrections. Zoey had improved tremendously, and she was awarded the “Most Improved Student” award. Oblivious to the stares he was getting from the people around him, Michael reacted effusively while Zoey’s demeanour remained largely unchanged. Michael was proud of her achievement. In fact, both Zoey and Michael had topped the class. It was an unbelievable feat and Michael continued to hug her in triumph. That day, everyone commended them on their hard work.
Michael was also praised for being a caring friend to Zoey. He had set an example of exemplary behaviour for many and both Zoey and him would continue to share the story of their friendship to others.