She had never felt such loneliness before. It was like life had given up on her and God had decided that she was not worth salvaging. Yet she was still standing strong, or hoped she was. The wobbly legs that supported her could crumble at any moment but she would not let them, she could not let them. If they did, it meant that she would have lost faith in herself, but she was confident that she would survive against the odds.
Life isn’t fair.
She understood that phrase more than most people. Life was never fair to her and she was always on the losing end. She lost her parents in a car accident at fourteen. Her relatives shunned her, not wanting to take responsibility of her and she had no siblings. She was alone in this brutal dog eat dog world at a young age. But that was not the worst. Friends whom she thought she could trust disappeared in a flash. Once again, she was alone.
She wound up in an orphanage. Her experience of loss made her shut herself off to everybody else. She was a loner and did not want to experience the pain of loss and sudden goodbyes again. She ignored friendship, thinking of the superficial friends that left her in her time of need. She did not need friends; she was perfectly fine by herself.
Then she entered her life – Anabelle. She was an orphan too, but she was different. She brought laughter to the dull orphanage. Anabelle was unique. Anabelle was one of a kind.
“I’m Anabelle. What’s your name?” she asked as she settled at the foot of the bed.
“Leila,” She said. She was curled in a corner of the bed, book placed on her crossed legs.
Anabelle could feel that she was not welcome in Leila’s life, yet she seemed like an interesting girl and she was determined to be her friend.
“How long have you been here?” she asked. It was a sensitive question in a place like this, but she wanted to know more.
“Does it matter? I’ve been stuck here for eternity. What matters is that I’m never getting out,” Leila answered, trying to get rid of this intruder to her quiet and lonely life.
Anabelle, though, did not seem intimidated at all by Leila’s answer. That surprised her. Most of the new kids around the orphanage avoided her. They even had a rumour that she was a witch thanks to the dark aura she emitted. She did not mind at all. It kept people away from her, like she wished. Anabelle, however, was persistent. Talking to Anabelle was different, it was easy. In no time, Leila had told her almost everything about herself.
Their friendship formed in a spilt second. They were alike in so many ways. They both liked reading, mysteries and mythology. They would study astronomy and go stargazing together at night. The stars fascinated them, and slowly Leila started walking out of the glass box she had trapped herself in.
With Anabelle, there was laughter, there was joy. She was the sun in Leila’s world of darkness. She was an angel and Leila was the one being saved. Leila stepped into the light that Anabelle gave off, into her world of happiness and love. Once again, she felt the importance of friendship. Even better, Anabelle was like a sister, like family. She felt loved again.
But life was never fair to her. For once, after meeting Anabelle, she thought her luck might have changed, but no, she was forever on the losing end. Anabelle died in a car accident months later, just like her parents. Life was so cruel to her that she almost laughed at its brutality. She was over with this nonsense and wanted to join them, to join the ones she loved.
She walked out to the backyard where they had spent many nights gazing at the stars and identifying the constellations together over the seasons. She could spot Sirius shining brightly in the night sky, like how Anabelle lit up her life. It was Anabelle’s favourite, the brightest one in the night sky.
The night breeze was chilly, and Leila shivered in its presence. She looked around the backyard, hearing only the slight rustling of autumn leaves being blown across the yard. Memories of their time together flashed through Leila’s mind, the sound of their laughter reverberated in her ears. She missed the times where they would lie down on the grass together and look at the beautiful night sky. It was dark, yet beautiful in its own unique way that only those who truly understood it could appreciate it fully.
Anabelle’s voice resounded in the darkness of the night. The many things she used to say about life. She never gave up hope, unlike Leila; she found happiness in the worst of times and the courage to carry on.
“Believe you can do it and you’re already halfway there. Find the courage to move on even in the worst of times because the world is always going to be what it is. It won’t change for you but you can change the way you view it,” she used to say. “Don’t let the sadness of the past affect the happiness of the present.”
Leila looked around once more at the crisp orange leaves on the grass. Autumn was Anabelle’s favourite season. It was the season between the warmth of summer and the coldness of winter. Leila smiled slightly at the memories as a lone tear ran down her cheek. She had found a reason to move on with life, let go of the past and find happiness even in the darkest times. She steeled herself against the unrelenting coldness of the night, finding in herself a new perseverance in life.
As she turned to re-enter the orphanage, she realised that she was fighting the court case of Life, where God was the judge and the rest of the world the jury. In her mind, she was determined that she was going to win the case. She was going to prove that she would still be fine even when life had given her the worst, and she was going to do it for Anabelle.