May 15, 2008
By Cynthia Huang, Fremont, CA

Sweet soft music played in her ear, as she caressed her small gold locket, thinking about what went wrong. The pain, the suffering, the hurt, the feeling in her heart that nothing would go right again; all was forgotten for that slight, brief moment. Just serenity and calmness filled the air, and peaceful sleep came over her.

Waking up, she gasped with horror. The nightmare wasn't over, in fact, it was far from over. As she frantically attempted to escape the cold, hard chains, she realized she had fallen into the trap. The trap of believing that it had ended, that everything would be okay—she had fell for it.

Her stringy dry hair sat on her shivering shoulders, and she tried to speak. Opening her mouth, her lips formed the word "help" but nothing came out. Struggling once more, no words seemed to escape her body. Her eyes ceased to open.

A cruel looking man looked in through the steel bars, and glared at her with pitiless eyes, watching her endure these ruthless circumstances. The bright light. She couldn't bear to see.

It was challenging to think about how she had shamed her family, her friends, her society. What was tougher was the fact that they had betrayed her. All of them had deceived her—not caring or loving.

It wasn't her fault. It wasn't her fault, no, it was his fault. Her supposedly best friend. He spoke lies, he walked with treacherous steps. And no one knew. Only she knew, and now, she stood here betrayed over and over.

He said they'd be best friends forever. He said they would never part, and that they could tell each other anything. He said he would always protect her, and he would find a cure to save her. They loved each other, as brothers and sisters love each other.

Nobody else had understood her. Nobody else knew about the cancer. They had gone to such lengths to find a treatment. Yet there was none.

He had tricked her, telling her there was. He worked for the union, those who hated her kind. She was just like them; she had just a different way of expressing herself.

She could speak with her eyes, those immense soulful eyes. They filled with emotion, they told a story. The union wanted to shut those eyes, to close them forever. Using so many methods, they caused the cancer. They were the cause. But he was the main one.

Each word to her, each special smile he gave, she wanted to give back. In her head she ripped up the promises he had made, the promises of hope and trust.

She hadn't meant to hurt anyone. It was all a misunderstanding. He had constructed this ploy to have everyone loathe her. He had led her on; telling her this was the only way. The only way to save her and to save those like her.

Thinking back on these things made her mad. She thrashed around her jail, making the chains clink and groan. Finally, her body tired. She collapsed defeated, with her muscles sore with work. This didn't help the pain, it just made things worse.

She took a life. She did it for herself, so selfish she was. Watching the young boy scream in such horror, her eyes couldn't bare to look away, yet she wanted to with so much desire.

He coaxed her into it—he the betrayer. She the betrayed. She could still hear his faint whisper. He said this is the only way. The single chance you'll ever have. They'll understand. No more worries.

He was all wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They were outraged, and taunted her. Wanted her to die, dreaming of her death.

That innocent boy, whose only mistake was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, didn't deserve his fate. But she had no choice, no other option. At the time, it merely seemed like this was her last alternative. Now she knew it wasn't worth it. She still wasn't cured. She was worsening by the minute.

They kept her in this unpleasant place, with the lights burning her eyes slowly but steadily. They took her voice; there was no way to talk. She couldn't defend herself, despite the deep craving inside that wanted to.
He never returned to visit her here. He was a coward. How could she have trusted him? Her family was quite suspicious, with his mysterious personality. She liked it – she liked mysteries. Just friends? her family said. Just friends, she said.
She and he had so much together. It would take ages to record the memories. How could he just throw it all away? His voice echoed in her ear, and she lashed out at herself to get it away.
Oh God, this place was making her mad. Recollections of all the past events flashed before her closed eyes, and she fought to be relieved of them.

The last sighting of him she saw, wearing the union uniform, making a speech to the people of the society. He said she was the cause of the murders in the city. He had proof even, enough to convince everyone. No one was supposed to know about the boy. It's our secret, he said.

A video played, summoning up the whole thing. Surprised gasps were heard everywhere, until they turned to harsh whispers of hate. The union watched with mischievous smiles, as they nodded to each other in success. Their mission was completed; all was going according to plan.

Her family glanced at her at first in astonishment, and then in disappointment. They believed she could amount to so much, and now she had let them down.

Glancing both ways, she had taken the dangerous chance of running. Her legs pounded with energy, and she rushed away from the scene, not knowing where to go. Run straight, she said to herself. Don't stop, no, don't stop.

She couldn't avoid them forever, but she could try. Breathless, she had slowed down and watched to make sure nobody followed her. Extensive pants could be heard, and her legs tangled themselves up. Falling, she had rested there. One second, she had thought to herself.

One second turned to one whole day. By this time, they had taken her, the union. The family knew she didn't like to turn, so they told the union to keep going straight. Betrayal from them was the worst, and she was shocked.

Chaining her to the stiff ground, pain affected her every few moments. The cancer ate away at her heart, and the brutal chains tightened every hour. What little days of life she had left. It would have been better if they had left her here to rot. But no, they made her undergo extreme anguish practically twenty four seven. The light was the worse.

It was too much to endure. She knew any second it would be over. The man was still there, and he spoke for the first time. You have a visitor, he said.

She couldn't see him. But she knew it was him. Annabelle, he said. Annabelle, let me explain. Please, Annabelle.

She turned away from him. It was hard enough without him. I had to, he said. I know you hate me. You're dying. I can help.

She wanted to scream. She wanted to lash out at him, yell. You told me this last time, she thought. You didn't have to. If I die, it's because of you, she wanted to say.

But the words remained in her head, and both her eyes and mouth remained closed. He was still speaking to her, but her ears blocked out the noise. It wasn't worth it to have hope anymore, all was lost.

Tuning in for a slight second, she heard the words from him. We have a cure, he said. Are you listening to me, Annabelle? No, she wouldn’t believe it. She would never listen to another word again.

With a sudden motion, she collapsed. He ran to catch her, and she lay in his arms, chains connecting her to the jail. Before becoming unconscious, she heard him say I love you Annabelle. Tell the truth, she thought. You don't love me. You betrayed me.

Waking up with a splash of refreshing water over her, she found herself in a dark environment. Her eyes. They were better, they were well again. She could still feel the pressure on her heart, the cancer killing her. And she found herself staring into the face she despised with a passion.
It was her best friend staring at her, not that despicable fake who caused her so much suffering. What was happening? She was confused; she wanted to get away from this uncertainty.

Please, Annabelle, listen to me, he said. I know I've been awful but I can fix it. I can fix it. He started humming their childhood favorite, sweetly and softly. He took out a key. Grasping her hand, he grabbed the locket and inserted the key, twisting it this way and that way until it unfastened.

Inside was their picture. Together, best friends forever. Tears rushed down her face. She wiped them, but they kept coming.

I'm the cure, he said. She looked at him with hesitation, not knowing what to do. He repeated himself. I'm the cure. Then, swiftly, he was gone. Gone from the world.

The heaviness of the cancer was removed, and she felt strangely. Looking down at him though, she felt a different kind of heaviness. The heaviness of an absence.

Good bye, best friend, she said. I forgive you for betraying me. I forgive you.

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