I was in Hong Kong when I saw her
I hadn't seen her in years - was it really her?
She had been the dux of my high school as well as school captain
She was witty and acerbic in class
The teachers loved her and were frightened of her at the same time
They never knew when she was being serious or sarcastic
She wasn't necessarily well behaved either
She sometimes skipped classes to walk down to the beach and smoke
But she could get away with anything because she topped every class
She wasn't classically beautiful
But her presence was electric and made you see beauty in different forms
She filled a room even with her silence
Sometimes I wondered if I was in love with her
Not that it mattered, I was convinced she didn't know who I was, it was a big cohort
I would remind myself I was into guys and quickly shoo away the feelings
That kind of thing wasn't allowed at my school
When we graduated she gave her captain's speech, I'll admit, it made me cry.
At the same time I resented her
I wished I felt as confident about my future as I did about her's
I went on to uni, did some study, made new friends. Life continued.
One day on campus I bumped into a friend of her's
I was surprised to hear that she'd had health issues
Physical and Mental
I spoke to other friends to learn more
There were rumours she had trouble with her family
But my friends and I never got close to the details
Her friends were fiercely protective of her
I heard she recovered and began studying law. Of course, she cruised through it.
But then she surprised everyone by dropping out with just one year left to go
Apparently she'd met a girl who worked as a masseuse
They were in love
But her girlfriend's Visa expired so they moved to Hong Kong.
That's when she lost contact with everyone
Even her best friends couldn't get onto her
Now here she was, right before my eyes.
I'd only been looking for my cousin's apartment, it was in a bad part of town
She was sitting on a milk crate wearing a floral dress, cigarette dangling from her fingers
She had lost a lot of weight. Her elbows were sharp points and her collarbones protruded
She had dark circles under her eyes, she looked tired
For a moment we stared at each other. Did she recognise me?
"Hey," she chuckled. "Hey," I replied.
"How are you?" I asked
"Great," she smiled but her eyes remained distant and we both knew it wasn't true
"Don't let me hold you up!" She gestured to the apartment buzzer I was about to press
While catching up with my cousin, I couldn't stop thinking about her.
When I got back downstairs I was going to ask her to lunch, find out what she was doing
But when I left my cousin she was gone
Sometimes I wished I'd done more, said more when I saw her, maybe she needed help?
But then I remember the look in her eyes
And I realise she didn't want help
Because she didn't want to be found