Annika Says No!
What was simply an ordinarily cold rainy evening for most people may very well be the most gut-wrenching moment of my entire life.
All I ever wanted was to love a nice and pretty girl with all my heart.
To go out on dates, treat her to a nice dinner, give her presents and be by her side when she feels down and give her a big hug. Or let myself be hugged.
It was all I ever asked for. I just wanted to give her the love she deserved.
Yet why did they all want to tear that apart?
A heavy force shoved against my chest, and I crashed down into a puddle in the backyard, splashing my clothes into a soaking mess of muddied water.
“Stay away from my daughter and don’t you ever come back, you good-for-nothing brat!”
A man screamed at me from the inside of his warm cozy home and slammed the door shut.
I was left all alone in silence. The only thing keeping me company was the symphony of raindrops falling down from the cloudy gray sky. For some reason, I couldn’t get myself out of the water. My body felt heavier than how it’s normally supposed to be. Perhaps it was because the thickness of the mud stuck to my clothes or maybe I just had a really long day from school, but I didn’t believe that was the case.
It feels more like my whole world crashed down on my shoulders.
Wet black bangs hung down from my head as I looked down on the puddle, but there was nothing to see there.
Nothing, but emptiness.
I gritted the edges of my teeth against each other and splashed my hand on the water.
It’s not like I was hurting anyone….I didn’t even do anything wrong. But why? Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? What does my family history have to do with who I am?
Footsteps echoed in the rain, but I didn’t bother caring about who it could be. I just wanted to be alone….until I heard a familiar voice call out my name.
I looked upwards, and my eyes widened. A girl was running towards me with her bare feet. Her long white hair had slickened from the rain, with her school uniform completely drenched in water. She tripped on her own feet, causing her to fall face flat on the grass. I quickly got up from the puddle and helped her up.
As she lifted her head up, it brought a tinge of warmth on my chest. Bright blue eyes. Strips of grass and mud may have messed up her parts of her face, but she was still as beautiful as ever. Her eyes glistened as she gazed into my own.
“A-Annika! I thought your father locked you up in your room! How did you get out?” I said.
“I snuck out the back window,” Annika said as she wiped her face.
I looked towards the front of the house to check if there was anyone around. It didn’t seem like her father noticed, so I took a deep sigh. But still, the fact that she went all this way just to see me again bothered me. I held her shoulder and brushed her hair.
“Please go back inside, you’re gonna be sick! You don’t have to come all this way for someone like me!” I looked away. “Your parents have already decided! We aren’t supposed to be together anymore!”
I say all those things, yet my heart fully appreciates her company.
“I just want to be with you one last time!” Annika punched my shoulder lightly. “A simple fever is nothing compared to the pain of losing someone I love!”
“A-Annika….” I wrapped my arms around her body and gently rubbed my forehead against her own.
The shared heat between our bodies warmed us from the harsh coldness of the rain, and we stayed in that spot for the next few minutes. That was before the door slammed open again.
“Annika, what are you doing outside?!” her mother yelled from the door. “Let go of that disgusting boy and leave him behind!”
I bit my lip and looked towards Annika’s eyes.
“You can go back now, Annika. I’ll be fine from here.”
Speaking out those words made me lose a part of my soul.
“Shut up! I won’t let it end like this!”
Annika pulled my hand and dragged me away from the house.
“Let’s run away!”
I knew it wasn’t exactly the right thing to do, but I let myself be dragged across the street.
We ran away as far as we could, our footsteps splashing against the puddles of the road. Eventually, we would make our way into the town’s playground, which was a good distance away from Annika’s home. I climbed up first towards the roofed section where the slides would be, and extended my hand to help Annika get up as well. We both sat down next to each other and sighed in unison. The rain continued to pour down, repeatedly firing pellets on the roof above us.
Annika leaned her head over to my shoulder, so I held her hand and smiled at her.
“I wish this moment could last forever,” she said.
I winced at the thought. At first, I thought I could simply just enjoy this moment in silence. However, my skin began to tremble, and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. The moment I allowed a tear to fall down my eye, it was already over. I couldn’t stop myself from crying out all my feelings.
“I’m sorry, Annika! If only I was born in another family, this wouldn’t have ever happened!” I sniffed.
Annika moved my face towards her and wiped my tears.
“Don’t say that. It’s not your fault that our families are against each other. We just got dragged into their mess.”
“E-Even if it’s not my fault, i-it still hurts, A-Annika!”
My lungs had grown too uncontrollable to speak, and I could feel some tightness on my chest.
“Calm down, Kwan. Deep breaths,” Annika spoke close to my ear and caressed my back. Her voice had a gentle soothness to it. Not too high, not too low, just right enough to hit the sweet spot.
My chest started to soften, then I finally calmed down.
“Your voice is as pleasing as ever, Annika.”
Annika’s cheeks went red and she placed her hands on her cheeks.
“What a cutie. You’re such a kind boy, Kwan,” Annika patted my head.
“Please stop doing that, it’s embarrassing,” I moved her hand away. “Stop babying me like that, I’m not your little brother!”
“Pfft, you know I’m taller than you,” Annika giggled. “Why shouldn’t I treat you like this?”
I blushed and looked away. “I-I’ll grow taller than you someday! Just you wait! Then I’ll have my revenge and give you an infinite number of headpats!”
Annika chuckled, then her lips curved down.
I realized what I said and looked down in shame. What am I saying? As if I’ll ever see her again, anyway.
“I won’t allow it.”
Annika stood up and looked down on me. I tilted my head in confusion.
“What are yo-”
“There’s no way I’m letting go of you!” she screamed aloud.
I picked myself up and looked her in the eyes. Bright blue eyes fueled with the power of determination. I didn’t understand why there seemed to be a spark of hope in those eyes of hers, but it started to resonate with me as well. There was something in me that believed in that hope. However, reality is absolute. Is there even anything we can do to change our fates?
“What are you thinking?” I said. “We can’t just run away!”
“No,” Annika shook her head. “We’re not running. We’re going to make a promise.”
“When we become adults, we’ll be free from our parents’ control, right? That means we can do whatever we want!” she smiled.
“That’s not completely true. Our families will still be around to pressure us.”
“But by then, we’ll become independent enough to live by ourselves. We’ll show them that we can live in harmony as a couple!” Annika gave me a thumbs-up.
That does sound plausible….
After hearing those words, I could feel my spirits being lifted again. A newfound hope gave my heart a tinge of excitement.
“Hmm, we’re both fourteen right now,” Annika looked up towards the roof. “So that means we’d just have to wait four more years and we can be together again!”
I wiped the last remaining tears in my eyes and let out a little smile.
“We can do that!” I said.
“All right then,” Annika nodded. “Let’s promise each other to save ourselves for marriage and meet up again when we’re of age! What do you say?”
Annika extended her hand towards me.
“Let’s do it,” I shook her hand.
“All right! Let’s both scream it out!”
“W-What?!” My face heated up. “We don’t need to do that!”
“Come on, Kwan!” Annika pouted and tugged my shirt. “It’ll show how dedicated we are to our promise!”
Annika leaned on the edge of the railings and screamed first.
“I promise to save myself for Kwan!”
She really did it….
I think my cheeks are steaming up!
Annika looked back towards me with a flustered expression. Her blue eyes appeared to be on the verge of tears, staring intently at me as she waited for me to make my move.
“Fine,” I said as I looked away.
I inhaled a great amount of air and yelled out at the top of my lungs.
“I promise to save myself for Annika!”
I broke that promise.