Let me introduce you to Cara.
She was beautiful. Hazel-brown eyes in a clear face, rounding when she smiled. A fiery light sparkled in each eye when you spoke to her about something she loved. Or hated. She had a temper like a cat, spitting when annoyed, but stroke her belly and all was forgiven at once.
Passionate about everything, she'd never let you down. The attention span of a puppy, and the loyalty, and the bravery. Always ready to forgive, from the tiniest mistake to the greatest injustice. I didn't deserve a friend like her. She was perfect.
She'd never tell you, but she could draw beautifully. Cartoon lions marched across her English essays, Maths homework wasn't complete without snakes and dragons entwining the numbers. A fistful of brightly coloured home-made cards bursts out of my desk drawer, one for each year I've known her.
I flick through the photos, and see for the first time his arm encircling her waist. She tried to hide it in public, but I could see she loved him. Sneaking kisses when I wasn't around, stroking his beard, falling asleep on his chest. I couldn't be jealous of her, she was too happy for that. Too generous, too. She would have shared him gladly, if she thought I'd want it.
But then came the hurt, the pain, stabbing like knives. The soft flesh of her dimples began to recede into harsher lines, stark cheekbones on a white face. She reminded me of our Halloween photo together, where we wandered happy as witch and cat, white faces and black hair. Sharper bones has she now, and a tired look, when smiling her teeth now remind me of her legs, thin and white. She never liked hugs, except from him, but now that is all she wants. No words does she speak now, hot tears spilling over onto my shoulder. She snaps at him, trying to warm her in an embrace, but she is proud. Never has she accepted pity.
I am useless. I don't know what to do, to say; life has not prepared me for this. Such a beautiful girl, body and spirit, wasted to a paper-thin substitute. A tear could wash her away in its tide, the slightest breath of breeze could pick her up and carry her to heaven.
This is Cara. The girl who saved my life.
I'm damned if I'll let her go.