Even Angels Fall

She was an angel. That was what we all thought, even me, who knew her best.

She had silky, black hair that fell to her waist in waves, sparkling brown-black eyes, a willowy figure and a smile that could light up a dark room.

She was pretty, but she was certainly no airhead. She passed every exam with flying colours, and with a casual ease I'd never posses.

A girl once said to me, her voice dripping with envy, "She's so lucky. She was born perfect." Although I would never admit it, I agreed with her.

How wrong we were, as I was soon to find out.

She had kept up the facade for so long, and so well, how could I have known? That was what everyone told me again and again. That was what I told myself again and again. But, deep down, I knew that wasn't the case. That had been so many clues; it was just that I was so blinded by the light of pure perfection I had placed around her, put her on a pedestal so high that I didn't see her falling, till she crashed.

The first and only time she let her faultless mask slip in front of me was on a cold, rainy night, the night after she broke up with her boyfriend.

In the darkness of her room, she had sobbed to me, "I knew he would break up with me! He was so, so angry ever since I did better than him in the mid-term exam. He never even loved me! It was all one big, fat pretence. Sometimes, I wonder if everyone is just pretending, if they actually hate me behind their smiles. It's like my face is plastic, like all their faces are plastic, like we all can't show how we really feel. Friendship is supposed to make you feel special and needed, but all I feel is loneliness. I hate it! I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to feel so…so… alone."

Alarmed, I had tried to comfort her in the only way I could. "I'm not pretending. You really are my friend and I'll always be there for you, no matter what. So, it's okay and you don't have to cry," I had gabbled desperately.

"Really?" She had whispered through her tears.




The next day, she was back to her old, bubbly self and the night's events were successfully pushed to the back of my mind.

Only a month later, I broke my promise. She had called me, just as I was getting ready for a date with the hottest guy in school.

"Shi Tian, you have to come over. I'm really scared and I…I…"

"Just stay put. I'll be there in a minute." I said, looking through my closet for the perfect outfit.

Three hours later, in my perfect outfit, I dithered whether to go on my date first and see her later, or drop everything and go over at once.

In my selfishness, I convinced myself that the hysterical tone in her voice had been my imagination and that whatever she needed was probably nothing important. So, I smiled prettily at Shun Hong when he came to pick me up and had a great time. In the end, I forgot to go over to her house at all.

Later on, she greeted me in her usual friendly tone. So, I reassured myself that it really had been nothing.

Even then, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn't right.

I remember the last time I saw her. School was over for the day and we were walking home together.

Oh, if I had only known what was to happen, I would have memorized every feature of her face to the slightest detail, so that I could etch it forever into my memory. I would have talked to her about her deepest fears, dreams and desires. I would have treasured those few moments in a way I had never treasured any part of our friendship before.

But, no one can know the future and all we discussed that day was the second play in two years we were going to put on and had a good-natured squabble over who would be the director of this one.

It didn't matter. She never got to see or act in the play. On that same day, the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she took her own life.

Now, she has been lowered into her grave and the dirt has been piled over it. The tombstone hasn't been made yet, and only a makeshift table with a large photo of her names her grave among thousands.

The place is deserted. All the others have left, even her family has been led away by sorrowful relatives, wailing and crying, "Why? Why?"

I trace a finger along her smiling face and twinkling eyes, and tears slide down my cheeks, dripping onto the newly overturned dirt, darkening it.

I could have, should have, ought to have been there for her, as I had promised. Maybe she was right. Maybe we weren't ever really friends. Maybe it was just a lie.

But, I think back to those laughter-filled days and I can't bring myself to think that way. Even if she had been suffering silently through those times, I like to feel that at least, I had brought some happiness into her life.

I smile bitterly. Talk about pretending.

I realize now, it had been the loneliness that had killed her. The unexplainable loneliness that neither she, nor I could understand. It had closed in on her, trapping her. But, it was what I did that pushed her over the edge. Not only that, but all the little things, all the broken promises that others don't notice or feel, that had finally done it.





She had been calling out to me, to anyone, to help her, to save her from that endless hole of loneliness and despair that she was drowning in.

But, none of us had noticed. None of us had seen, had realized that one, simple fact that had been so obvious from the start.

She was an angel. But even angels fall.