“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” – Confucius.
A few years ago, Lilly had always been the person who planned ahead and thought only about the future. She had learnt that life wasn’t easy – unless you had a lot of money – from a turbulent childhood. She worked like she was obsessed with it. She was so determined to change that she remained the same in a lot of ways. She was still afraid of the dark and insisted on keeping the lights on even when she went to sleep. She still woke up screaming from her nightmares. She couldn’t confide in anyone, couldn’t make friends. And if it weren’t for Ryan, it would still be that way.
Ryan had forced his way into friendship. Lilly refused to grow closer to anyone until she realized that he was there to stay. He had been very persuasive and she had to give in. And as annoying as he was, she was glad to have him around. Of course, she would never admit it. Ryan was the opposite of everything she stood for. He couldn’t make a plan for anything after 24 hours from the present. He was all about “today” and “now”. He always had a fat cheque deposited in his account by the third day of every month. He couldn’t be bothered to work under anyone – he was used to being the boss. He loved making new friends. He was so good at it that he couldn’t remember the names of most people who greeted him everywhere he went.
The only times Lilly saw Ryan looking thoughtful was when he’d stare at a blue booklet. Whenever she asked him about it, he’d say each page had his goals for that day. She would just shake her head and sigh. One page of the tiny booklet was all his brain could manage? He’d never let her see it. After a while, she stopped asking. Occasionally, she’d see him make marks on it with a pen. She never asked, knowing he would come around some day. As time passed, the two got closer to each other. They met everyday and called each other when they couldn’t meet. They were best friends. They knew each other better than anybody else. Lilly, the perfectionist, soon rose to the top of the law firm she worked in. Ryan was still in between jobs – he could never stick to one thing.
Lilly always wanted Ryan to do better. She knew he had the potential. Ryan just wanted her to get off his back. So it was quite expected for her to be squealing with delight when he called her and announced the date for the opening of his restaurant. He had managed to save for the funds from his monthly allowance. “I’ve decide to call it ‘Lilly’s’ to remind me to keep the place going,” he teased. Lilly giggled and started clearing her schedule for that week to help him get started. This was more important than any new case that came in.
Finally, it was Saturday. Lilly spent an hour getting dressed for the opening. She was so excited! Just as she was about to get into the car, she got a call that wiped the smile on her face. It was bad news. Terrible. A fire had been sparked in the restaurant’s kitchen from a faulty electrical connection. There was no equipment for extinguishing it – they hadn’t made it that far. Ryan had been inspecting the kitchen at the time…
She rushed to the hospital. She wasn’t allowed to see him. Only family, they said. Two hours later, Ryan’s brother informed her that he hadn’t made it. The burns were severe. How could he have been so stupid? He couldn’t plan in case of an accident? Couldn’t he have escaped? How could that place not have a back door? Couldn’t he see it before it got worse? She should’ve stayed back on Friday and checked everything, just in case. But he wouldn’t let her interfere. He wanted it to be done his way. And how did that end?
Why, Ryan? She felt numb, she couldn’t think. She didn’t hear his brother continue talking until he handed her a booklet. The blue one. Ryan’s booklet. “He wanted you to have it. All of them. They’re at his apartment. Here are the keys,” he said. Lilly snatched them from him and left the hospital.
The first thing she noticed as he opened the door was that the place was a complete mess. She could excuse that. He’d been so busy, after all. On his desk, she found neat piles of blue booklets. Under the desk, there were bags full of them. Lilly took the booklet she had and opened it. Then she read all the booklets. Every single one of them. She didn’t cry until she read the very last one in the pile. For years, every page of every booklet had one goal at the top : Get Lill To Keep It Simple
The next morning, Lilly drove over to the restaurant and started assessing the damage. She could get it running again. She would. Four years later, it was the most popular eatery in the area. Lilly had her quit her job at the firm. Accomplishing Ryan’s goals kept her going. As she walked out of the restaurant, her friends greeted her. A lot of friends. She drove home after visiting the park. She could afford a bigger place, but she didn’t want to move. Her dog came running to greet her as it heard the sound of the door being pushed open. Her arms were filled with items for redecorating. She fell asleep watching her favorite show. She didn’t set alarms anymore. No matter when she woke up, she could still get to work on time. The restaurant wasn’t work, it was fun. She was keeping it simple.