A Complex, Demanding, Little Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Two best friends prone to the word 'friend zone.' Will one of them take risks to develop their relationship into a romantic one or risk losing the other entirely. On this Singles' Day, an answer must be given.

A rabbit is a tame and tender animal, and swift in move. People born in the Year of the Rabbits usually have soft and tender personality traits. They keep a modest attitude and maintain a pleasant relationship with people around them. They will not be irritated easily, and they also avoid quarrels as much as possible.

Rabbits are highly intelligent, social and affectionate. They also can be bratty, willful, destructive and even vengeful. It takes a special type of person to be able to coexist happily with such a complex, demanding little soul.

 

11:11 pm, 11/11/2020

“I hate rabbits. I hate rabbits. Man, do I hate rabbits.”

I gazed up quizzically at my flatmate and long-time best friend, who was moving around restlessly with his keys jingling. Surely, he wasn’t talking about me…?

Bang!

He closed the door deafeningly, braking my train of thoughts.

In response, I threw a cushion at him when he wasn’t looking and resumed working on my report with my laptop, on this sofa with a blanket wrapped around me in my comfortable, little cocoon. How dare he disturbed my peaceful night with this wonderful, lazy weather.

“Hey, what’s that for?!”

“Didn’t do anything,” I said, grabbing a mug of hot chocolate from the coffee table in front of me, hiding a sly smile while sipping. 

I was innocent. I did nothing wrong. 

Let it be known that he could accuse me even if we were the only ones in our apartment.

La—Laine,” he started growling, but stopped immediately and changed his tone when he saw me staring. It wasn’t like I was glaring at him, not really, it was just this I-know-you look I always gave him. The honest kind that always made him came straight to me, bearing his soul and spilling out nothing but the truth.

“You’re mad at me,” I whispered, putting my mug down. I frowned when I saw him slightly flinched, getting caught. “Nile, what’s wrong?”

“Who said anything about you?” He persisted, huffing and making himself more suspicious. "Are you a rabbit?"

I rolled my eyes. Seriously.

“How long have we known each other?” I asked wistfully. “Five? Almost six years?”

“...”

I nodded at his silence. 

“Then, how could I not know what’s really on your mind?” I said with superiority. I returned to my work, typing to avoid dead air and indirectly rushing him to disclose the source of his distress.

“Rabbits suck,” he muttered, plopping down to sit beside me.

I swiftly made room for him. Still, he scooched closer to me. The heck?! There was plenty of room here! But he'd always been a touchy-feely person, especially when he was upset. 

I didn't really mind.

“You were talking about me.” I quirked an eyebrow, grinning when I knew I was never wrong about him.

"Do you know that today is Singles' Day?" Nile said, reaching for my hand. I let him. "November 11."

"…I don't follow," I blinked several times before replying, closing the lid of my laptop. “You never care about love. What, or more specifically who, changed your mind? Did someone convince you about something?”

For Nile, getting himself a lover was absurd. However, considering how he had curly brown hair and light green eyes, a sharp jaw, and prominent cheekbones with a body many people would be jealous of (excluding me. I didn't want to look like him; I really was just content looking at him.), it was not something he'd have to worry about. He was always surrounded by people, regardless of their gender; he could choose anyone, yet he'd chosen no one. Well…not among those who'd confessed to him anyway.

"If you really know me, Laine, you'd know that nobody can convince me to be, do, or believe in anything but myself," Nile said solemnly. "It's just…because of that, lots of singles were at the café trying to cheer up their poor, lonely souls, and there's this…rabbit that keeps getting people's attention. It has a friend, a black dog, that usually keeps people away if things get too intense but, yeah, the dog knows that it can't always do that."

O_o?! 

These were all the questions swimming in my head.

It seemed to make sense, but at the same time not at all.

Nile did work in an animal café for his part-time job. I'd been there a few times and liked it very much because of the variety of animals to be seen like dogs, pigs, rabbits, cats, birds, etc. In other words, the café was basically a miniature zoo. The food was also nice, which was a super plus for me.

If I were to analyze this in a deeper meaning kind of way, a black dog was considered 'bad luck' in many cases. For Greek mythology, though, Hades had a black hound named Cerberus and "they" were protectors of hell, a guard dog.

As for me, I'd wondered if he was talking about me not because I looked like a bunny, but because we often joked about how I acted like one with me having a soft and tender personality, especially when my Chinese Zodiac was that of the rabbit. 

I really didn't know how to reply to Nile… So, I played my signature move: the innocent and indifferent card.

"You really need your logic fixed," I said carefully. "Connections between different things, you know, because I have no idea how that would be related to me."

"Again, I repeat that it has nothing to do with you."

"Oh, yeah. Haha. Right, right…"

I stared at him, letting my voice peter out before averting his eyes. I pulled my hand away from his. I didn't know why—I mean I did know since I'd literally been in love with him for a while now. Who cared about the duration? No big deal. It was just…whatever— but my chest suddenly hurt, as if I'd been stabbed in my heart and the agony was gradually spreading throughout my whole body.

Yeah, I'm a chicken. 

You could mock me all you want about how scared I was of this little thing called the "friend zone." Two short words that could lead to so many possibilities. Too many.

"Okay, let's say that you were really talking about 'actual' rabbits," I said, soon recovered and gave him a big smile, teasing him. "That's supposed to be a valid reason that makes you hate them so much? These cute, little, fluffy creatures?"

"No one wanted the black dog…" he said.

I startled, gazing at him in shock.

What nonsense was he spouting now?

"What? That’s preposterous!" I said, frowning and gaping. I took shallow breaths and licked my lips several times before I could compose myself into a manner adequate to respond. "If the dog steps away from the rabbit for just a second, it—I mean he—would know that there are so many opportunities he's been missing out on!"

I never liked raising my voice. Sometimes, though, it was crucial to get my point across, especially for someone as stubborn and opinionated as Nile. Dude, seriously, there are other perspectives you could observe a situation from!

We glared at each other, both of us breathing heavily.

"Yes, I was talking about you, Laine! Happy, now?" He pursed his lips before his body sagged, as if he was letting go of everything. His shoulders were slumped and he seemed so small, collapsing in on himself. "Dammit, you’re the one that’s preposterous! You’re the popular one!!!"

I watched him with caution, tears pricking my eyes. A gamut of emotions must be swirling in his chest. I could feel that there were so many things he wanted to express but couldn't; he was overwhelmed. He could cry, scream and tear his hair out in frustration, punch the wall to release some of his anger. But the most prominent thing was the pain in his eyes, begging me to set him free from it.

You could say that I was an internet celebrity/influencer, which had started out for fun. Well, sort of, if you considered someone who’d suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD) yapping on that as fun. Anyway, I'd posted a video recounting some of my horrid experiences. I didn’t understand myself either. At that time, I guessed I'd just wanted to vent everything out and find someone who could empathize with me. That was really all I was thinking about. But somehow the video had gone viral. So…yeah.

Perhaps it was because I was 'cute', which made the video get shared so much? People kept calling me that even though it wouldn't be a word I'd like to describe myself. It was weird, but gradually I was used to it. This led to more people following me on my social media accounts. Eventually I landed some gigs for a small modeling company and such. I could now say proudly that I could take care of myself with this income, which was a hundred times better than doing dishes in a restaurant.

Today, I had another photoshoot. I posted some pictures on my accounts to promote a clothing line and got quite a lot of likes, shares, and comments. Some appreciative and impressed at my looks. Others were more…flirty.

"I've been waiting for your answer all day, Laine," Nile muttered softly, avoiding my eyes. "Or have you already forgotten what you promised a year ago?"

“Nile, I...”

How could I?

I couldn't say this many times enough: I was lucky to have Nile Regan in my life.

He came at the right place and time. He was the anchor in my life. We’d known each other for many years. We were best friends, for God's sake, but there was always a factor that shifted a relationship. In our case, it was because of that. One. Incident…

 

One year ago

Major depressive disorder was no joke, I thought as I watched my life seeping out of me, as blood trickled down the length of my arm.

There was a sensation of relief resonating deep within me. I could feel true freedom within my reach.

I’d been released.

Fate was sometimes so cruel; it threw all sorts of obstacles in your way simultaneously until you were all miserable and felt like you’d lost everything...and everyone. Even hope.

Bang!

“Laine, Laine! Where are you? Answer me!!!”

The voice was both familiar and unfamiliar for me at the same time. There was light, a certain brightness that nearly blinded me shining from behind a broad figure that was slowly reducing the distance between us.

"Nile…?"

I only managed to take a glimpse of the visage in front of me, only able to utter his name before my vision was cut. Before there was nothing but darkness.

---

Several months later, you could say things had gone "better." I'd been having regular therapy sessions with a psychiatrist. I'd been in and out of the hospital often. 

All this time, through all these rehabs, Nile had been with me. Stayed with me. Remained by my side.

"…Why are you doing this?" I decided to whimper out the question I'd been dying to ask him. I’d had a meltdown that day and was hitting everything against the wall, almost cutting myself again if Nile hadn’t come back in time. Again. 

Please don't say it's because of pity, I silently wished.

He stopped cleaning up my wounds and looked up at me with a blank expression. Of course, I was grateful to him. It was just… if I'd been emotionally exhausted myself, he must be, too, that was what I was thinking. 

"You can leave me anytime you want; I won't complain about it. I'll understand."

Knock!

always stays by their side,” Nile said, smiling softly while holding my hand with such gentleness I’d never thought a human was this capable. I frowned at him and rubbed at my forehead with my other free hand. “Especially you, who has a complex, demanding, little soul and needs lots of love.”

“I’m too messed up,” I countered, staring at my trembling hands and attempting to keep my tears at bay. “My parents died in a car accident that should never have occurred. Out of billions of people all over the world, it had to be them. I’m getting kicked out of the university because I suck at studying. The more I learn, the more stupid I feel, the more of a loser I feel! My house was ripped away from me because I couldn’t afford enough to pay for the rent! Now, I’m just a leech living off your blood! Because I’m just a fuc...fuc—ahhh!!!" I crumpled onto the floor, sobbing. "I can't even swear! Look at what a failure I am! And it’s just a matter of time before you turn your back on me like others I've associated myself with. Who wouldn’t be sick of me? Even I’m fed up with my—”

“Because I love you, dummy!!!” 

You love me? Someone like me? I mean, surely you meant it in a totally platonic way?”

years now, dammit.”

“Nile, I…”

“Think about it,” he said with fires of determination in his eyes. “Don’t be too hasty in rejecting me.”

“Give me a year,” I negotiated with him. “I’ll give you your answer on November 11. I heard from somewhere that it's Singles' Day? Then, it’d be perfect for you to know whether you’d stay single or not.”

He nodded without another word.

That was the shift. I suddenly became aware of the way he’d been and was treating me. I was aware that I might be special to him even though he was friendly to everyone. But I had to make sure I really like him. Not because of some external aspects like closeness or loneliness. I needed to shake away this confusion…

 

Present

"I'm just…scared." I swallowed. "What we've had has been nothing but good. Incredible, even, that I can't help but think I've been in a dream all this time." I looked out the window, at the street lamps blanketing the city with their soft, yellow light. Nile was my light, illuminating my paths when I hit rock bottom. When I lost all my hopes. "If I accept you, everything will change. There's no doubt about that. If we become a couple, I will change. And I…don't want that. I don't want things to just don't work out between us to the point where we drift and fall apart. I won't be able to handle that. My heart and mindwon't be able to handle anymore of that kind of misery in my life."

“You think I haven’t thought of that?” Nile countered, daring me. “You think relationships are meant to be easy? Especially one that transitions from friends to couples?” He sighed, swallowing hard. “Laine, just reject me if you don’t like me, if our feelings aren’t mutual. But don’t give me all these...excuses to justify your decision and make yourself feel better if things do go wrong in the future. I won’t be able to accept that.”

Drip, drip, drip

I let tears slide down my cheeks. I really didn’t know what to do.

We sat there, Nile waiting and I silently crying while occasionally wiping my tears with my sleeves.

“Okay, I guess you really did make up your mind about us.” Nile snickered, standing up. “I’m sorry. I won’t ever bring this up again.”

The tears suddenly flowed more freely as I saw him leaving. I knew I must do something and be true to myself!

“I do!” I shouted with all my might, willing him to still bear with me. Because if I didn’t, this time him leaving me would be permanent. “I like you...”

In return, he gave me the biggest and happiest smile I’d ever seen.

A/N: 

1) There are two prompts, which I got from the latest Review Chain contest: ‘I hate rabbits. I hate rabbits. Man, do I hate rabbits.’ and ‘No one wanted the black dog.’ I decided not to enter the contest, though, because of some constraints with the word limit and such. But, yeah, this note is like a disclaimer or acts as a reference. I really like the prompts, though, because my Chinese zodiac is rabbit and I just have to post this.

2) Disclaimer: the quotes at the beginning of the story like a prologue are from these two websites, respectively. 

https://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/rabbit/#:~:text=Rabbit%20is%20a%20tame%20and,quarrels%20as%20much%20as%20possible

 http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/firstrabbit.html 

 

3) The narrator of this story, Laine, is aimed to not be gender specific and I hope I achieved this nicely. It is quite interesting, though, that for male, the name means ‘young hero,’ And for female: ‘ray of light.’ Which is ironic, since in this story the character feels that those descriptions don’t match with the character well.

4) Singles’ day just passed by and I’d like to create a story about that with the topic on ‘friend zone.’ To complicate things up, I just made Laine think of getting friendzoned by Nile if any actions are taken, while in reality it was Laine that was friendzoning Nile and that both of them think that the other are out of their leagues.

5) I never meant for the story to go so dark. The topic of MDD just came to my mind, but I think it adds a nice touch because it creates a reason as to why Laine would be uncertain with these feelings about Nile.

P.S.: I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed creating it. I look forward to hearing your feedbacks :)


Submitted: November 19, 2020

© Copyright 2020 UnextraordinaryGirl. All rights reserved.

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