A/n: Hey, just something random after reading the papers. It's not coherent, doesn't link properly and is pretty boring. Still, reviews are welcome.


She hugged the giraffe to her chest with one arm and held a cup of ice cream with the other. She walked over to a comfortable, weathered old chair and settled herself down. He gave this to me. Then she burst into tears.

Between bites of chocolate, she reflected on the past twelve years and came to the conclusion that perhaps if she had never studied so hard in the first place, none of this would ever have happened, and she wouldn't be reduced to eating chocolate ice cream alone and wallowing in a puddle of her own tears.

Perhaps, back when she was twelve years old, she should never have taken exams so seriously, to develop the desire to do something with her life, rather than waste it away. Perhaps she should never have decided that since you only lived once, you might as well live the best you can.

Right, she should never have.

Swotting all day long –until her parents asked her to stop studying and relax and unwind, something that didn't happen often; didn't happen at all– and giving up doing everything she loved, gave her the free pick of schools around the country, and, feeling that good results shouldn't be wasted by going to a normal high school, chose to go to an elite school instead.

She shouldn't have.

Of course, her parents and relatives had a field day. She didn't see what the big deal was; she didn't even study that hard. She could have done better, oh so much better. The fear of not doing well and eventually being jobless and without hope had spurred her on. Success was paramount; nothing else really mattered as much.

She was streamed into a class, where she made countless acquaintances, forged numerous friendships. She loved her class, enjoyed the companionship.

But maybe, just maybe, if she had kept to herself and stayed quiet and alone in a corner, if this still happened, it wouldn't hurt so much.

Two years later, she was streamed into another class, separated from her friends. Some she held close to her heart, and their friendships were stronger than before. Some she saw occasionally, others she hardly knew what to say to them.

She should have kept within that small inner circle, not drifted out. It wasn't safe, she knew that now.

A little while later, she graduated from high school and entered a prestigious college. Along with her were most of her batch mates and friends. She studied hard, really hard. She had high flying aspirations that she knew would most likely not come true, but hey, it never hurt to try. So, she tried. The high school had developed a diploma, which would be awarded to outstanding students on top of the results of the end of year examinations in the final year of college. This diploma would help in their university applications.

She needed it, she knew. But it was only to be awarded to students who not only excelled in their academic studies, but also had exceptional records in other non-academic activities. Then, she already knew at least one of her friends from her first class back in high school would receive it. Outstanding, brilliant, polite, with high-ranking posts within the student body and in the school choir, she was a teacher's pet. Undoubtedly, she would receive that coveted diploma.

She knew she would never be able to compete with her.

Her prediction was spot-on, her friend did receive the diploma, along with exceptional academic results. She didn't do as well, but still good enough to get into university.

She cinched a scholarship, and overseas, to her surprise, she met her friend, and found that she was going to apply for the same university, the same faculty.

She should have turned tail, run away, or at the very least chosen another course. But she didn't, because it never hurt to try. She was certain, with enough work put in, one day she would do better than that friend. She would.

She thought too highly of herself.

Years passed, and she studied hard, very hard. But she was always, always, at least one step behind her friend. She was starting to be bitter, she knew. Her friend was hardly ever even seen with a textbook and still she could do so much better. So, she studied harder, and in the process lost the modicum of social life she had.

Her hard work paid off, and she was successful, although far less so than her friend, who had long become only an acquaintance. She didn't really have opportunities to mix with people of that intelligence level. Still, for a while, she was close to feeling content, and her social life was reborn. Just a little; not too much; it wouldn't do to neglect her work and studies for play. Success was the only thing that mattered, it would not do to lose it.

Indeed. She should have just swotted some more.

Unexpectedly, she fell in love. She liked to think this is where everything started the steep spiral downwards. He was tall, handsome, beautiful – and he loved her. She never thought it possible.

She was right.

It wasn't too long, just a few years or so, before he gave her the standard 'it isn't you, it's me' statement and said his goodbyes. But it was too late; he had left his mark on almost everything she owned: everything she came into contact with reminded her painfully of the times she had spent with him, the times when she was – happy?

Finally, she learnt that success ought to take a backseat to happiness, it always should have. She should have spent more time with him, instead of with her precious textbooks. She should have given him little surprises, instead of giving herself 'surprise' pop quizzes. She should have, she should have... She shouldn't have. She shouldn't have based her competence, success and life on whether she had upped someone else, she shouldn't have wasted her time and youth competing with

someone so far out of her range, she shouldn't have spent more than half her life trying to better another person, she shouldn't have, she shouldn't have...

But it was too late, too late.

He was going out with that acquaintance now, that tall, beautiful, brilliant, perfect once-friend. Last she heard, they were getting married.

And all she had were the memories.

Clutching at the giraffe, the ice cream long gone, she wept her regrets anew.

She should have.