What to Say
Sunken into semi-depression, Leila's eyes had lost their spark. Leila was losing herself completely.
At school, Leila was this girl that a fair amount of people looked up to. She was intelligent and had oriental beauty.
But at home, she was reduced to a puddle of self-pity.
Leila had spent years trying to forget what happened in the past, but every time she returned home from school, she'd remember. She'd remember her parents' death.
For five years, Leila had been living with her grandparents. For five years, Leila had made a mask that she always wore in front of people, including her grandparents.
There wasn't anything brutal about her parents' death. No bloodshed, no knives, no murder. They had died from an illness, but the pain lingered.
Today was their death anniversary. Leila and her grandparents had spent the day at the cemetery, praying and lighting incense.
Now, dressed in black, the three went out to a little pub in town for dinner, having given all their food to the cemetery as sacrifice to the dead.
They ordered and Leila's grandparents talked as though nothing was wrong. Though Leila knew they were both hurting as much as her.
The bells at the door sounded; signifying someone had come in. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, however, when the person who enters shouts your name it might be.
Leila looked at the newcomer and tried to quickly wipe off her tears.
It was her best friend, Chung-cha, and her family.
"Hey," she greeted.
"Hey Chung-cha," Leila responded as happily as she possibly could.
But Chung-cha was not fooled. Both Leila and Chung-cha knew that.
"What's wrong Leila?"
"Nothing," she lied, biting her tongue.
Chung-cha continued to prod.
"Don't worry about it!" Leila insisted.
But Chung-cha would not give way.
Leila's grandparents and Chung-cha's parents smartly excused themselves so the girls could talk in private.
Leila knew that there was no hiding anymore. Chung-cha took the seat next to Leila and waited.
"So, fancy seeing you here?" Leila stalled.
"Out with it," Chung-cha cut in.
"Fine," Leila sighed, "Do you remember that plague five year ago?"
"And how so many people died?"
Again, Chung-cha nodded.
"One day, my mother and father went to work and then my grandparents got a phone call that evening. It was from a doctor, saying my parents were deathly ill and not to come in fear of the disease spreading."
Chung-cha gasped, but didn't say a word.
"They died in their sleep," Leila finished flatly.
Chung-cha hugged Leila tightly and the tears came. Leila hated the feeling of being weak, but she knew Chung-cha wouldn't judge her.
"It's okay," she cooed.
But nothing was.
"Today is their death anniversary," Leila added softly before bursting into tears again.
"Cry, it's okay," said Chung-cha.
The girls just sat there, one crying and the other one holding her.
Eventually, the tears subsided; Leila felt much better.
She smiled though puffy eyes at Chung-cha and asked, "How is it that you know exactly what to say?"
For those who didn't catch that, Chung-cha helped Leila by not saying anything at all.
Dedicated to my friend, who even in my darkest times, always knew what to say to make me feel better.
Our friendship is like a diamond, precious and unbreakable.