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_She looked me in the eye and smiled a weak smile, a smile that could hide the pain away from a shallow eye. I was observant, especially when it was about her, I don’t know why, maybe it was because I felt something for her. The bones on her neck stood out, suggesting that she had been skipping meals. Her once glowing skin was all pale and looked like the blood had been drained from them.

“I am fine,” she whispered for the third time. I knew she wasn’t fine and she knew that I knew.

“You are not fine Eve, this is not you,” I insisted, grabbing her slender hands. She smiled again and her dimples came up weakly from her cheeks. Her big beautiful eyes were a shadow of what they used to be and the bushy brows seemed to have withered like leaves in the dry season.

I had Loved Eve from my childhood, though I never liked to admit it, I never knew why, I had always tried letting her know by the way I treated her but I was so dumb about it all. I led her to a seat under a shade provided by a gmelina tree. I made her sit down and sat close to her. I searched her face with my caring eyes and she tried to hide it away from me, I squeezed her fingers which I still held onto and she turned to me.

“How are you getting along with Michael?” I asked. I could see her eyes well up with tears and the effort she made in trying not to let them drop down her cheek were not unnoticed by me. She tried to talk but stopped when the sadness overwhelmed her, she batted her eyelids many times and shook her head, maybe to shake off the tears.
“I have never given myself to anyone like I gave it to him, maybe that’s why I am feeling the way I am feeling right now,” she managed to say finally after the struggle with her sorrow.
“Has he called you?” I asked and she shook her head in the negative.
“Mike!” I muttered under my breath and projected my gaze into the distance, staring at entirely nothing while trying to recollect how the whole thing started.

I loved Evelyn, heck, I couldn’t even deny it. Each time we were together, everything was always magical with me and I never knew if she felt the same way about me although she had often times admitted to me that she loved my company but it was more than I wanted. I wanted her to love me without my telling it to her, I was prolly too shy to admit it to her.
She had moved into my neighborhood with her family when she was 15 and the first time my bosom friend saw her, he dropped his opinion without my asking.
“Damn it, she is beautiful,” he had exclaimed and I barely nodded. “You should go talk to her,” he said to me as we sat on my reading table, admiring her from the window of my room. He had offered to help me if I was going to be shy about it but I had refused. I dismissed the idea with the excuse that I wasn’t into her, which was a fatal lie for I have loved her since setting my eyes on her. I was so cold about my feelings for her and even when she wanted me to come closer to her, I always ran farther away.

I wasn’t much pleased when my friend, Michael struck it off with her, I was jealous and so much hated seeing another guy around her, I just did my best to look happy for them while within me, I burned with passion. I was in a dilemma of emotions. I was happy that she was happily in love with someone but then, I was unhappy it wasn’t me. Things moved on, they were crazily in love and I watched from outside, she loved me, she had told me once when Michael wasn’t around.

“But I’m with him now, I wish it was you but I’m with him now,” she had said as she stared at me and my heart beat furiously at the sudden realization that I had missed the chance of being with her.
“Do you love me?” she asked, holding me by my hand. It was very hard for me to admit and I just could not realize why.
“No,” I muttered, shaking my head, unable to look her in the face. The disappointment on her face was quite glaring and I wished so much to take back what I said but I was too shy to admit it.
We kept it at just friends while Michael had the fun. My friend wasn’t exactly the faithful boyfriend and had to my knowledge, cheated on her a couple of times. I was always there to cover up for him and regarding me the way she did, Eve believed everything I told her. She loved me so she believes me.

Now, as I thought about it all, I realized how much better It could have been if I had told her how I felt and spent the rest of my life with her, we could have been inseparable, our love could have been atomic but I sacrificed all that and I could never remember all those times we spent together in cherished silence without the water coming to my eyes. She was the best present I could have gotten in a long time but I let an undeserving friend have her.

Taking one more look at her picture and looking deep into her beautiful eyes that haunted me and would haunt me for a long time, I realized how much I have failed her and failed my own heart, I could remember the sorrow in her eyes as she told me everything that faithful day.

“Maybe that’s why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling right now,” she repeated slowly. I held her hands and squeezed them, they were lean, leaner than they used to be.
“Are you starving yourself?” I asked and she smiled weakly through the tears.
“How can I eat when my heart is tearing apart?”

Michael decided he found a new love and was done with her, I talked to him for a long time and swore not to ever speak with him should he ever break up with her, knowing fully well it was going to tear her apart. He decided I wasn’t going to teach him how to run his love life, he told it to her and like I had predicted, it tore away at her heart and when she couldn’t take it anymore, she came to me. My efforts bore no fruits as I watched the girl I had loved from childhood wither and die away slowly.

“You have to survive Eve, there are a lot of people out there who will die just to see you smile,” I sang out to her. She sniffed and wiped the tear off her eyes.
“Who do I run to now? You? You don’t love me,” she said and looked into my eyes, stroking my hands. I could remember vividly the look on her face, I knew the reply she wanted and I wished so hard I had given it to her, the next day when her sister called me up to tell me she was dead, I wished so much within my heart that I had told her how I felt about her. I hated Michael so much for taking her away and pushing her to her death.
I decided I was tired of her haunting picture and the suicide note she left me. A note that had only 4 words. “I Love You Ken,” was all she wrote.
As I set the letter and picture on fire, I only wished one thing, That I had told her how much I loved her. _