So this was for my English Literature coursework and I loved it so much I wanted to post it here. Enjoy!

Fallen Angel

'One sees qualities at a distance and defects at close range.' – Victor Hugo

Soft chestnut hair. Bright expressive eyes. Flawless alabaster skin. The perfect willowy figure. Since he first saw Her, Martin had been entranced, caught in the golden glow of Her radiance. No sound or movement came from him though, his rapturous praises caught in his throat, bright, hot colour flooding his cheeks.

"If she's that interesting go and talk to her." The voice was a dark voice, a voice that told a story of rough liquor and cigarettes, a young voice aged by hardship and pain.

"How could I appropriately address such an angel?" he murmured, unable to take his eyes off Her as she threw back her head to release a silvery, delicate giggle.

The bartender snorted, the sound harsh and abrasive to his ears, flinging her stringy blonde hair over her shoulder. "She's as human as you or me. Now, grow a pair and go and talk to her. I'm sure she'd enjoy your company."

Irritation prickled under his skin at her careless dismissal, but her statement intrigued him none-the-less. "Do you know her?"

Her eyes lit up at being directly addressed, and Martin sensed the loneliness that clung to her like a second skin. "I've been serving the two of you drinks for nearly a year now. Normally she comes in on a Tuesday, but she told me her uni schedule changed a few weeks ago, so she comes in tonight instead." She continued to serve drinks as she spoke to him, her movements quick and practised. "My name's Miranda, just so you know." She flashed him what she probably thought was a flirtatious smile, but all it did was reveal crooked, nicotine stained teeth.

"I'm Martin." He provided the formality impatiently, wanting to know more. "You talked to her? Do you know her name? Does she live in the student accommodation or in the town?" He paused, flushing to the roots of his hair. "That sounds a lot creepier than I meant it to be."

"Well, as Austen said, 'we are all fools in love'." The harsh growl of her voice scraped his nerves, twisting the romantic quote into a harsh wheeze of syllables.

He turned away to survey the room, desperately hoping for another glimpse of Her; an addict needing his next hit. His spirits plummeted upon discovering that during his brief exchange with the bartender – Marie? Melanie? Miranda! - the captivating stranger had departed, leaving his heart aching at Her absence.

"She comes in here every week, you know." Miranda's face was strangely blank, her eyes piercing. He was momentarily stunned by the intensity of that grey gaze, but quickly looked away, feeling uncomfortable.

The silence between them stretched, broken only when Martin murmured, "It feels darker in here now she's left. Duller."

When he looked up, Miranda gave him a tight, unflattering smile as she placed a freshly pulled beer before him. "'To love beauty is to see light' , is it not?"

Surprised at her knowledge, he raised the drink in thanks, giddy at the thought that he could see Her again. "And like a moth I am drawn to it." Swiftly, he downed the drink, unwilling to continue this strange conversation with the unappealing scrap of a woman on the other side of the bar. Laying the correct amount of money on the counter-top, he muttered a perfunctory farewell and left, his mind recalling goddess like beauty, imagining a hundred variations of their first meeting.

Distant memories of blissful ignorance filled his mind as he grappled with a group of drunken thugs in the bar in which he had met Her. Now, however, his illusions of her perfection were shattered, his innocence soiled by her shallow betrayal.

The glint of a knife caught his attention. A sadistic part of him wanted to feel the blade, wanted his inner hurt to manifest itself in bloody wounds. But the cold, unfeeling metal never reached him, instead piercing a tiny, bony body that had flung itself into the knife's path. The scent of cheap shampoo and cigarettes assaulted his senses as the martyr collapsed against him.

Intense grey eyes peered up at him, searching for a hint of recognition, weary disappointment appearing a moment later a demonstration of his ignorance as to her identity. Her lips moved and he bent to hear the words, only catching 'fools in love'. Realization struck him like a fist, followed by confusion. He remained speechless as Miranda's eyes drifted shut. They never reopened.

Dirty blond hair. Invasive grey eyes. Sallow skin littered with scars. Bones prominent in all the wrong places. This was the woman he saw in his dreams, not the false angel with her painted smiles and cheap promises. This was the woman he mourned.

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