He sat in the small room, surrounded by people, but still he felt alone. It seemed every soul in this room ignored or judged him. Each tick of the clock and thump of his heart counted off time passing, but meaning nothing in its passage. The internal loneliness threatened to smother him. Every person to ignore him felt like a steel razor being dragged along his back, every judgment like lemon juice upon these wounds. The pain in those wounds paled in comparision to the gaping hole he felt in his chest. Ragged and bleeding was where his heart had once been. All he had ever wanted was to be happy, yet here he sat, by definition, a tortured soul. No one would know his suffering though, for he wore a mask of a smile, impenetrable from the outside. He took a moment to recollect back to a time when things were not always like this for him. Back to a time when he was with her. Like a drug, the image made his pain momentarily vanish, but also like a drug, the image sent him crashing into a wave of agony. This beautiful image, a small girl, staring at him with intense, loving eyes was an impossibility. She was gone. This thought left him breathless and anguished. Had he not been in public, he would have collapsed. It took every bit of strength he had left to retain the mask that was painted to hide this pain. The same mask that was constantly upheld, that hadn't budged since the accident. The horrible accident that had sent his life into a spinning turmoil. The only person he felt he couldn't live without was dead. It was true that he was breathing, but was he living? Perhaps in the literal sense, but not in a way that even briefly resembled happiness. He was the tortured soul, hidden behind the mask. Even if the mask were gone, he doubted anyone would notice. Others scarcely looked at him, so who was he wearing the mask for? He suddenly realized he had been trying to hide from himself, thinking that if the world saw him as happy, maybe he could go on another day. At this sudden realization, he burst from the room, barely making to a small bathroom before breaking down. He cried as he had never cried before, his thoughts raced in an jumbled flow. Why? Why her? Why, why, why? What do I do? How do I go on? He had ripped away the mask, revealing his true self. The tears that clouded his vision brought about a strange sense of clarity unknown to him before. It seemed as though his self imposed mask had covered and blinded his eyes. Before her, the small things had seemed so important, mountains of molehills, but when she had been around, his world lit up. She had been his sun, the highest thing in his sky. But, eventually, the sun must set. She had shown him the true meaning of life. She had made him stronger. Though it seemed strange as he looked within himself, mangled up inside, he knew without her, the emptiness would have been worse. Why should he grieve when his miracle had come to an end? He shouldn't. Everything fell into place. He realized the answers to his own questions. It was her purpose to light his path, until he could see where he was headed. He was stronger now, he had dealt with the worst thing he could, and still lived. He could not let her effort to guide him go wasted. He knew his path. He looked forward as he left the room, chin held high, leaving the mask in shreds behind him, taking with him the new man he had become.