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Evelyn the Beautiful
Evelyn has always been that beautiful. If anyone would know, I would. We grew up together, shared our bonding hours of girlhood. I remember that even as a young child people would adore her petite, perfect little frame while I looked on from the shadows, hardly given a second glance.
And that’s how it was as we grew older. Everyone around would admire her china doll skin and her deep green eyes. Sunlight bounced off her beautiful tresses of brown tinted with red. She possessed as much grace and elogance as any princess I had ever read of.
When we were together I may as well have been invisible with my simple looks and her elegant grandeur. But I never resented her for that. The attention came to her naturally, by no attempts of her own, and I was never one to crave other’s interest anyway.
As you may imagine, when we came to that age of courtship, there wasn’t a boy who didn’t want her. She was never found lacking a dance partner, her vase always held unwilted roses.
At the time I could never say why I went to so many parties with her, just to be ignored. Only since then have I realized that I went because I knew Matthias would be there. He was the best and worst part of every event.
Of all the people who would be in attendance, only Evelyn and Matthias would speak to me. Or if somebody else spoke to me, it was because they were smart enough to realize I was Evelyn’s friend. They hoped if they said something clever enough to me I might mention it to her later. I almost never did mention it though.
But Matthias, he was sincere. He was one of those who ask how you are and really mean that they want to know how you are. He was tender and sweet, and it was only time before I fell for him, and fell hard.
That was the best part. The worst part was that I knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he had only feelings for Evelyn. Such feelings that were almost as deep and irrevocable as what I felt for him.
At last I could stand the torment no longer. One sunny morning sitting in my front garden, I, for the first time in my life, asked Evelyn for her help. I told her of my predicament, and how much I wanted Matthias. How I could never want anyone else.
For a moment after I finished she just sat there looking at me. “How long have felt like this about him?” she inquired, breaking the silence.
“Three years or so,” I admitted quietly.
Then she giggled that loveable, girlish giggle of hers. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” she said. “Of course I’ll help you.”
I whispered, “He likes you, you know. He really likes you, and not just because you’re beautiful.”
Without responding to my comment, she said, “You shall have him. You’re such a lovely thing, he’ll adore you.”
There was another of the parties that night. As always Evelyn looked astounding. Almost the moment we entered, she disappeared. On some sort of instinct my eyes began wandering the room, subconsciously searching for Matthias.
Nearly ten minutes later I spotted him making his way across the room in my direction. I smiled, or at least tried to, and he smiled back. When he was close enough he asked me if I cared to dance.
Trying to be as scintillating as Evelyn always was, I answered that I would very much love to. I was so naïve that it wasn’t until he asked me to go walking with him that I realized Evelyn must have spoken with him. I accepted regardless, wondering how much she had told him.
I was certain the night had never been more beautiful as he took my hand. Not too deep into our conversation I became certain that Evelyn had not given him any information regarding my feelings for him.
“I must be honest with you,” he said. “When Evelyn first advised me to get to know you better, I thought that it must be because she is aware of my feelings for her. That she hoped to free herself of my affections by aiming them at you. But now I think she must have been sincere, for I truly do love talking to you and should like to become better acquainted.”
“And I should like to know you,” I answered, my cheeks growing ever warmer with my gratitude for Evelyn.
We, Matthias and I, spoke the rest of the evening. I had never been so happy in all my life. When at last we had to say our goodbyes, I returned with Evelyn to her house.
“Thank you, thank you,” I gushed as I embraced Evelyn. “I’ve just had the best night of my life.”
She smiled at me saying with quietness, “You’re the only friend I ever had. And you’ve been such a good friend too, always standing by me even when I knew you didn’t want to. All the other girls wouldn’t speak to me because they were jealous, but you did. And I’ve always hoped there was something I could do for you in return.
So the months went on. I fell ceaselessly more in love with Matthias until that blissful day when he asked me to marry him. Of course, I accepted, and rushed to tell Evelyn the glorious news. Again I thanked her, for it was all her doing.
Quietly she congratulated me. It wasn’t until later that I realized she was upset. Some months later I learned that Matthias had proposed to her first.
The next day I was sitting in my yard, basking in the sunlight when Evelyn came to my door. Her eyes were red, she handed me a note and then turned down the path. I looked at the little envelope she had given me and curiously opened it. There scrawled in her perfect little letters was a note that read:
I felt it imperative that I write to you before leaving, because you are my dearest friend and I could think of nothing but to tell the truth to you. I love Matthias, and have for so long. He’s the only man who has ever wanted me for more than my looks. I’ve thought long and hard about this decision. I don’t regret it, and I don’t want you to either because I finally feel like I can repay you for all your years of friendship. I know you love him too and I want you to have him. Marry him, love him. This is what I want for you.
And this is why I must leave. Please understand, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. But I want you to be happy, because if you aren’t then I could never be. I could never live with myself if I felt I had betrayed you. I will always love you, and some day I hope we meet again. I am going northward, to a new world. There is no looking back for me.
As I read her letter I wept. I wept for what she had lost, and what I felt I had taken from her. I wept, because of my ignorance in not knowing she loved him. I wept because I was so grateful to have the best friend in the world.
Finishing the note, I looked up at Evelyn. She was some way down the road now. Just as she promised, she was not looking back. Her frame was silhouetted against the colors of a falling sun. And as she walked away from me, I thought to myself that I had never seen her look more beautiful.