#13. Daisy
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It was my last year in high school, one by the name of GardenField. GardenField was a catholic school, chiefly defined by its long archways of brick and stone. Alongside its mosaic tapestries of stained glass, the school was widely acclaimed for its aesthetic. The teachers and students were comparatively average on the other hand. Not too good, but not bad either; that was the general consensus of the residents.

Or at least, that was how it was a couple of years ago. Until one year when one single, tiny girl came along. Learning came easy to her - so did the unit exams, AP classes, and even standardized testing. She took to it like a fish to water, and in turn, attracted the envy of less aquatically inclined individuals. She wasn't seen as a human, but rather as an unemotional, apathetic deity of a being that was as dispassionate as it was smart.

In truth, it wasn't that the girl had no emotions, quite the contrary, she was overflowing with them. But she lacked the means to articulate that fact. There wasn't even ground between the other children and herself, let alone common ground. Thus, that same girl spent the rest of her days rotting away in solitude. Or at least, that was how the story should have gone.

But Daisy... Daisy changed everything.

By now it should be fairly obvious that this gifted child that you're hearing about is, well, me. I won't insult your intelligence by saying otherwise. In any case, Daisy saved me from that life. She was my only friend (love) amid that horrid situation which, quite frankly, was partially my own fault. I didn't realize it at the time, but shoving facts down people's throats and looking pitiful weren't the best strategies.

That's not to say that no part of the blame fell on those children, though.

I can still remember it quite vividly; the hushed whispers of students as they leaned alongside the wooden campus wall. But for all my smarts and wisdom, I could never understand the reason why they were so obsessed. No, that's not quite right either; I understood their reasons. What I couldn't understand was why they were so quick to wish to have the same life as I did, when they didn't even know anything about me beyond the fact that I was smart.

In a typical story, I suppose I would have been the heroine. A fair lady blessed in looks, personality, and intelligence just waiting to be swept away by Prince Charming. Perhaps the heroine would have to go through a few difficulties and tribulations, but all of it would be rewarded in the end. Whether it be through love, power, or wealth. But… My life wasn't a story.

For what is a story without a definite resolution?

I didn't want a Prince Charming either, but rather a Princess, so it may have been a lost cause from the very beginning.

But who knows? My ending hasn't been written yet. As long as my heart still beats, and my lungs can still separate oxygen from carbon monoxide, I shall continue to hold a vestige of hope within me. In truth, it might be the only thing I have left. A fragile, flickering ember of hope amid this torrent of inescapable darkness… Regardless, I digress. The tale I'm about to tell you is primarily about Daisy, and nothing more, nothing less.

My oh so beautiful Daisy.

Her braid was swinging wildly in the wind, as per usual. It almost seemed like wind followed her everywhere, but that couldn't be true. Daisy was a human, and humans didn't have the ability to call forth wind (atmospheric pressure!) at will. I didn't like the wind all that much, to be honest. My mind was always plagued by the most illogical feeling that the wind would just whisk Daisy away from me.

(That... That scared me more than anything else. More than clowns, or spiders, or even ghost peppers.)

My breath got caught within my throat as the golden tresses of her hair caught the sunlight. It didn't feel like it was hair but rather a flowing river of molten gold. The light cerulean blue of her eyes felt just so empty and divine under the light's illumination until you found yourself being drawn into the gentle curve of her eyelashes, and the crinkles of happiness upon her brow. But more than all of that, it was her smile that made heat flush my face, and butterflies emerge in my gut. It was a wide, real, toothy grin filled happiness to see me.

(It sent shivers down my spine.)

"I swear, it's just February, but you're already flushed and dazed. You... aren't sick right? You were like this at lunch too, now that I think about it," Daisy exclaimed, before moving closer to presumably check my temperature before I backpedaled away in panic. "Don't be like that! I just need to check your temperature. You never know what kind of sickness all of that bacteria will give you. So juusstt let me check-"

I hurriedly answered her to prevent her from going into full mother-hen mode. It's not that I didn't like her attention (no matter what kind), but I had no actual temperature. If I let her touch my forehead... My little secret might come out, and then Daisy won't want anything to do with me, and that is bad. Very very bad.

"I-I'm not sick, Daisy. I feel perfectly fine. It's probably just the heat. It's weirdly hot for February."

She looked at me with a gaze of doubt that I almost crumpled under before sighing.

"If you're sure, Ms. Resident Genuis," I whined a bit at the nickname that she purposefully used whenever she thought I was acting stupid, but somehow it felt worth it when a genuine laugh spilled out of her (very kissable) lips. She didn't use makeup, but they were just-...

...Bad me.

"I'll take your word for it, but when you're laying in bed feeling miserable, don't come crying to me. Speaking of beds... Why are you coming to school too? I understand that you somehow think that that grimy old building is something to be celebrated, but even you don't stay in that building 24/7. And you didn't even tell me you were behind me~!"

I definitely couldn't say that I was too busy staring at her, so I knowingly evaded her second accusation.

"I left a textbook in homeroom. I felt like doing a bit of studying, so I decided to go get it."

Daisy suddenly slowed down, sneakers skidding to a stop on the cobblestone pathway. A mess of panic, fear, and worry suddenly circulated itself inside my body as I frantically pondered what I could have done wrong. Outwardly though, my face only showed faint traces of confusion.

Somehow, she managed to melt away all of my worries with an incredibly (loving? no, that's just wishful thinking) gentle smile.

"You know, 'Ryllis, you really are... truly amazing."

I suddenly felt incredibly hot, so much so that my first reaction was to wonder why the sun had gotten hotter all of a sudden. In fact, it reminded me of the time I got a heat stroke in 7th grade. Slowly, my eyes took note of the darker part of the path we were in, and I came to the rather (obvious) conclusion that we were currently in the shade. It wasn't the sun; it was me.

A hot red blushing mess of a human.

I then fell into a state which could only be aptly described as gay panic (and desperate downplay).

"G-Geez, that nickname only takes off three letters of my name. Is there any reason to use it? I-It's a little embarrassing, don't you think?" I hurriedly brought up another topic to distract Daisy further. "A-Anyways, why are you going to school? I told you my reason already."

She expertly chose that moment to jump from her spot and engulf me whole in a hug. A shiver-inducing, heart rate increasing, about-to-be-the-death-of-me, hug. Yet, underneath all of the panic and fear, a part of me felt ecstatic. It was an abrupt and unprompted thought that came to me just then, when I felt her slowly backing away, but it didn't change the validity of it.

'It wouldn't matter if I was destined to die tomorrow, as long as she continued to hold me in her arms.'

"Aww, you're so cute~! You know you like that nickname, just admit it!" Her hand fell down to her bag in an unconscious movement, accentuating the already bulky load. “As for why I’m going to school this late…”

She smiled. For once, it didn’t seem real. Or happy for that matter. Regardless, she continued to talk in a sing-song, happy tone like her happiness wasn’t of consequence.

“It’s a secret~!”

I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the last respite that I would ever have before the start of the end.

Not even an hour later...

Daisy and I went our separate ways as we entered the school since whatever her secret was, it was apparently something that had to be done on the other side of the building. Although I was definitely curious, I managed to fritter away the urge to... observe the situation. It was a short walk to the classroom and an even shorter one to my desk at the front of the room.

My hand fell into the dark abyss of the desk's little pocket and dug around for my textbook. I pulled it out and was about to leave the classroom to wait for Daisy at the entrance, only for my eyes to catch a familiar figure through the glass window. It was Daisy.

"That's... weird," I began speaking out loud unknowingly. "Daisy doesn't have any sports today, so why is she in front of the gym..?"

She didn't even make a move to go into the gym, just waiting outside it. I saw her bag from this morning. For some reason, once I caught sight of it as it floated aimlessly by her side, I couldn't tear my attention away from it. There was something I was forgetting, but what was it?

What was causing this unease swirling endlessly in my gut?  

Not even a moment later, the star soccer player who took the team to the Nationals and won them, that Nathan Brimble stepped out of the gym. But for all of Nathan Brimble's skills, he lacks just as much in personality. No one actually liked Nathan; they just liked his abilities. Daisy didn't like him, either. Why would she call him over here? I pushed my face against the cold, chilled glass in my attempt to take a closer look.

Suddenly, a large gust of wind blew across the courtyard, with such force that even humans, if caught unaware, would be swept off their feet. Daisy's bag fell to the ground as she struggled to hold herself upright, and time slowed.

(In many pieces of literacy, the wind represents freedom and change. In my life, it just represented a force that moved people, forced them to do things whether they wanted to or not. For the wind cared not for what direction it pushed you in, just that you were moving forward. But the wind never realized that just moving straight forward wasn't all there was to it. You needed a direction to move in, a direction that you believed in. Otherwise... Instead of moving with the wind, you would fall prey to it.)

...A box of chocolates spilled out.

'...Ah, it was Valentine's Day, wasn't it?'

I duly noted the harsh thwap that resonated and echoed throughout the room as my textbook slipped through my fingers. Somehow, something that would have sent me into a panic just a day before no longer meant anything to me. I just couldn't bring myself to care. It was like my world was turned at its axis... Like up was down, and down was up. It was incredibly debilitating.

It was in that moment of unprecedented confusion and disbelief that Daisy turned and saw me. A mess of... shame and, and... embarrassment flooded over her features, destroying the neutral mask she had on with a furious flood of emotions. She then turned tail and ran, and I... My very world crumbled right before my eyes, and yet...

I could do nothing but watch.

"She... She never talked to me again, after that. I tried many times to apologize, but before I knew it, it was Graduation Day. I went off to college, not even knowing where she was going. I haven't seen her since then-"

"T-That's so sad!" The customer then began to burst into tears; long rivulets of liquid running down his cheek. "You haven't even seen her?"

I just stood there for a bit, dumbfounded at the sight of a grown man crying literal rivers out of his eyes before an amused sigh sparkled with hints of gratitude escaped my mouth.

"...Why are you crying? There's no need to get yourself so worked up-"

"H-How can I not? It's such a sad story..."

Something in me snapped, just a little tiny bit. My voice came out bitterly cold.

"...I wouldn't call it a story. It doesn't even have a conclusion. Amelia's much better at it."

He broke into tears once more. I was beginning to see a pattern.

"Ah yes, my dear Amelia is sick with a cold! It's a tragedy all on its own! To not be able to hear her spin those wonderous tales... Ah! Why must God be so cruel?"

I heaved another sigh, this one of annoyance.

"Look, you're the one who begged me to do Amelia's job, you know? I'm sorry it's not the quality you're used to, but it's the best I've got."

"But I thought it was quite good? A tragedy, certainly, but a good story nonetheless."

"...Even an incomplete one? You're a little too forgiving. Well, who am I to judge?" I turned my back on him, focusing on the alcohol instead. "You said you wanted a Margarita, right? Before this whole storytelling mess began? I can get you that now-..."

I turned around, and no-one was there.

"Get up here, lassie! We have a new customer on our hands! Or are ye just going to flirt some more?"

"That's not flirting, and you know it! I'll be up there in a moment."

My hand slid over the stool he was just sitting on. It was still warm.

"...What in the world? Wait... Why am I standing here again?"

"Are ye coming or not?!"

A flash of panic slid down my spine and I hurriedly went upstairs.

"I'm coming! I'm coming!"

 

"It really wouldn't be much of a story if you never had a chance, would it? I shall give you a chance, but the outcome is up to you, Miss @#$."

 

"...Daisy?!"

"...'R-Ryllis... You..."

I had a strong urge to rub my eyes, or even slap my cheek for good measure. Except, a part of me knew this wasn't a dream.

It was too real, too sensory, and too nice for it to be anything but reality.

I couldn't help it; I engulfed her whole in a hug, breathing in her scent. She shuttered.

"'Ryllis... I'm-, I'm so sorry..."

"Shh, that doesn't matter now. None of it, none of it matters... You're here now, aren't you?"

I felt warm spots of water through my shirt, and my heart felt like it had been stabbed. I quickly released her, fearful that I had broken some unspoken boundary. Except... She continued to cling to me, not letting me go. Hesitantly, I circled my arms around her waist once more.

Slowly, she looked up at me, eyes shining with tears.

"...I'm sorry, for everything back in high school... I, I just..."

"You don't have to tell me anything."

"No, I will. You... You deserve to know."

The look of stubbornness that was practically a Daisy Trademark shone in her eyes, and I couldn't bear to dissuade her.

"...It was Grandpa's idea; you know, Nathan Brimble."

She didn't need to say anything more. I instantly knew what she was talking about. Daisy was descended from a traditional household, big mansion and everything. Daisy's Grandpa was an infamous stick in the mud. He was very traditional.

"He's pretty rich, apparently. Good pedigree too. But when you caught me I was so ashamed..."

She started to cry again.

"I didn't even t-talk to you again! W-What kind of friend am I?"

I didn't know what to do. How do you comfort a crying girl? In the midst of my flustered state, boss saved the day-

"You sure like flirting, don't ya?"

-Or not.

Actually, that brought an idea to mind...

"Hey, Daisy... Would you mind if I touched you, a bit?" I clenched a lock of her hair in my fingers, figuring even if she said no, this wasn't going too far. (Anything that would stop her from crying. My heart couldn't take that. Even if I got rejected horribly.) She turned a bright shade of pink, not crying anymore, before shyly nodding her head rapidly like a chicken. My eyes widened in surprise, but it didn't last long.

Slowly, delicately, I pressed my lips on hers, no more than a whisper of a touch. It felt like my whole life had just been made.

She smiled, face still red.

"So, is it safe to say that we both liked each other in high school? And now."

I blushed, just a little. My earlier daringness seemed far, far away.

"...Yeah."

And from that day onward, Daisy and Amaryllis lived happily ever after, forging an ending with their own power and love.

(Because every ending needs some cheese to accompany it.)

The End.

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