She was fading. Sitting alone under a cloud of opaque dust that hid her identity. Her midnight black hair was pulled back, opening her face to others and ultimately to their scrutiny. Her mocha skin was stained with tears from dark lonely nights spent awake crying over my betrayal. Her eyes were tricky things that held pain and immense sadness all while fooling those looking upon them into thinking that she was happy, neutral even. I watched as a silent ghost in the room while she alleviated her pain almost bringing herself to the brink of Lucretia’s dagger. Her body remained hunched over and shook violently as the tears poured from her soul.
In my eyes, she was smiling. The life of the party as always. Beneath it, she was crumbling. Exploring deeper and deeper into a dark mine that possessed no light, no way of escape or rescue. No one really knew for she never spoke of it, but I should have known. I was there all along just watching, but never really seeing. Sometimes she would look at you, for the briefest of moments that façade would fade, and her deep mahogany eyes would bore through you. I didn’t see her pain except for in those small moments, so I couldn’t address it. I couldn’t help. Every second she was dying inside and every second I went on believing that she was okay.
The thoughts, “This would never happen to me.” and “I never felt as though life was not worth living.” continued to move through my mind. However, it wasn’t happening to me. It was happening to her. Her pain was breaking her and I was just soaring through life. While she fought her way through the mud, I woke up each day with a new outlook and she woke up to hell inside her mind. She was fighting the urge to end her pain with each new coming breath and I didn’t bat an eye.
I wish she saw what happened when I read her words. My humble brown eyes became dark and the words became distorted as tears slid down my neck and into the twisted red braid below. My chest became heavy as though someone was taking their time torturing me, twisting every last hope I had. I reached out to touch the lost words and my hand felt hot, as though I had landed on something I wasn’t meant to. It burned and I retracted, like an injured animal I fled from the scene, watching again when I was at a safe distance.
If only she had seen the tears in my eyes and felt the pain in my heart. Her pain. The pain she desperately tried to hide for so long and keep hidden behind a wall that she had built brick by brick between us. Her smile could melt any ice and soothe even the finickiest of children. Yet, there was all of this agony lurking beneath the surface, hiding like a demon in the night waiting for the chance to pounce on her vulnerable state of mind.
In this desperate frame of mind, she was cold to me. Frigid, because I took away the one secret she had buried down beneath all of her layers. I had only meant to protect her, but in the end, all I managed to do was destroy her. I took away her chance at an explanation and the ability to express her innermost anxieties. Separation was inevitable, and yet, even the distance could not mollify the pain that woke me from my sleep. It was always disguised as a headache or some other simple ailment, but deep down I knew what it truly stemmed from.
We would never be the same as we once were. There would no longer be any trust binding our friendship together; the bond had been broken. Severing the ties only made things worse. When I wanted to reach out, my hand was slapped away as if it was full of venom, and soon I believed that, I too, was no good for her. But how could I rescue her from her dark twisted thoughts when she didn’t want to be saved? She had made it clear that my job was not to protect her or care for her, that I was solely meant to keep secrets. Even if those secrets ate away at me just as much as they did her.
The secrets of her mind, which only I was supposed to know, buried all the good that had ever existed. By blatant words of care I single handedly ripped open a wound which she had been hiding beneath bloody bandages. Her despair had surrounded her forming a black barrier for which I could not breach. I could only watch in silence as the blood dripped from her veins and the crowds surrounded her. This spectacle that she had joked was her real life was the exact thing she put on display.
And then her bandages and my silence could no longer hide her secret.