Author's Note: (10-24-07) Okay, I haven't posted any stories in AGES. It's mainly because I haven't had time, I've had nothing to write, or I'm just rewriting old material. But I'm sure most of you have noticed that I've had the habit of posting something then deleting it shortly after. That's because I've been producing CRAP and this is the first time in a while that I'm actually satisfied with I just wrote. Anyway, I won't delete this entry... But I want readers to be alert that updates can probably take a while since I'm vulnerable to writer's block. As for now, enjoy the first chapter and I hope you like it. :)
Chapter 1: So-Called Friendship
"And that's how Rainbow Monkeys are made!" Kuki giggled as she concluded her story.
There was an awkward silence in the table after that. All that could be heard was the clattering of silver ware onto plates and mindless chattering from the people around the Cheezaria. Within the confines of that restaurant booth, where the whole gang sat, there was only silence.
On the very end of the chair, Kuki sat smiling as she waited for a response from anyone. Next to her, Abby was nodding slowly, badly suppressing her lack of interest. After her was Nigel, who merely shifted uncomfortably in his seat, with a sorry smile on his face that seemed to say, "That's great but I really don't care."
Kuki smiled sweetly at the two of them, quietly thankful that they were nice enough to keep their boredom to themselves. Beyond Nigel, however, where the long cushioned bench curved inwards, there was no hope for any positive responses.
Right in front of her, two boys sat sniggering to themselves. Wally and Hoagie didn't listen to her story at all. It wasn't much of a surprise though. Out of everyone in the group, they possessed the least amount of sensitivity. Most of the time, they shamelessly express their lack of interest in Kuki's stories. Well, that applies to Wally at least. Hoagie was definitely nicer. It's even fair to say that he's as sweet as Nigel. It's just that he usually prefers Wally's antics over Kuki's tales. Therefore, she became completely invisible whenever Wally is there and ready to blurt out some crude remark.
"What are y'all laughin' at?" Abby said to them in her usual demanding tone.
"Nothing," Hoagie responded immediately.
"It doesn't look like nothin'."
"Yeah you're right," Wally grinned, "There's definitely something in there, a lot in fact."
Hoagie roared in laughter and was instantly joined by Wally. Nigel, Abby and Kuki could only look at each other in curiosity.
This went on for a couple of minutes. By the time Wally and Hoagie had resulted to gasps between small chuckles, Kuki felt like she was the only one left who didn't know anything because even Nigel and Abby seemed to have figured out what was going on. For some reason, Nigel was shifting uncomfortably again but this time he seemed to be trying to contain a broad grin. Abby, on the other hand, kept rolling her eyes and shaking her head disapprovingly.
Kuki thought for a moment and wondered what everyone was thinking. She didn't want to ask them. She knew that it wouldn't go anywhere. Wally and Hoagie would just keep secrets like they always do, Nigel would merely smile and say that she doesn't need to know, and Abby would just dismiss the topic. All she could do was try to figure it out on her own.
At that moment, she noticed that everyone's eyes seemed to be focusing in the same direction. Abby would turn her head periodically to look, Nigel kept taking quick glances, Hoagie was badly attempting not to stare, and Wally was shamelessly gawking with a big grin still plastered onto his face. Kuki followed the direction of their eyes. When she realized what they were looking at, she was half-horrified.
In the corner of the restaurant where the bar stood, there sat a girl in one of the high chairs. She was wearing a tank top that could barely contain her well-endowed chest and a skirt cut so short that it seemed like only an eight of her long legs were covered. She turned back to Wally and Hoagie.
"You guys are so immature!" She scolded.
"What?" Wally defended with an impish grin, "We're just looking. We're not hurting anyone."
"It's not a laughing matter! She's giving people an excuse to objectify her! It's bad enough that girls are pressured by boys to dress like that, but what you're doing isn't helping any girl to develop a healthy self-image!"
"What are you babbling about? She doesn't need any help with her self-image. With a body like that, she can pretty much do whatever she wants."
"Well what if some pervert starts going after her, huh? What if they try to take advantage? Imagine someone pretending to be nice to her and when all they want is…you know…"
"Well, I'll tell you one thing. With a look like that, even I would be nice to her."
Hoagie smacked his hand over his mouth in an attempt to suppress his laughter. Nigel, whom Abby and Kuki expected to do better, was unfortunately putting all his effort into concealing his smile. It only took one glare from Abby to make them stop. As for Wally and Kuki, they stared at each other intensely as a cold silence fell over them. His eyes were fierce and steady, while hers had changed from simple disappointment to burning fury. Everyone else in the table coiled helplessly for they knew it was coming: another argument between their untamable sexist and their beloved feminist.
"Don't you ever get tired of being such a PIG?" Kuki scowled at Wally.
"Don't you ever get tired of sticking your nose into other people's business?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"It's her choice if she wants to dress like that. She has a right to dress like that. It's not gonna affect you."
" It does affect me! I'm a girl too! What she does will reflect upon me!"
"Yeah, but she's the one I'm looking at! Not you!"
"It doesn't matter! What you're thinking is inappropriate and disrespectful!"
"How do you know what I'm thinking? Are you a mind-reader?"
"No but I recognize a pervert when I see one!"
"Look, she's the one who chose to wear that outfit! Not me! And speaking of which, why don't you try to wear one every once in a while?!"
"What's that supposed to mean?!"
"It means you're an over-dressed, uptight little prat!"
"I dress like what a real lady should!"
"You're not bad-looking, you know! Why don't you dress like it?! Wear a tank top or something, instead of that stupid sweater of yours."
"I'M NOT GOING TO PUT ON SOME SKIMPY LITTLE OUTFIT JUST SO THAT I COULD BE YOUR EYE CANDY!"
"GOOD! I'D RATHER KEEP IT THAT WAY!"
"ALRIGHT THAT'S ENOUGH!" A strong, fierce voice boomed out of Nigel, "You two are making a scene! Stop it before we get thrown out!"
Kuki and Wally were still glowering at each other and fuming heavily, but did as they were told. After all, it takes a lot to make Nigel raise his voice. That was enough to show how annoying their arguments could be to the whole group.
Wally and Kuki made quite an adorable couple, as most people would agree. Despite the clashing personalities and the constant bickering, there was no denying that they had chemistry. Only one thing comes in the way of their perfect relationship: They're not a couple.
They live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school and even bond with the same people. But despite their equal presence all the time, they could never define themselves as being together.
They hang out at Nigel's house everyday, but they always sit in opposite corners of the room. They eat at the Cheezaria every weekend, but they sit in opposite ends of the booth. They're always part of the group conversation, but never within the same topic. To put it in simplest terms, they are friends who simply don't get along.
Of course, it was unavoidable to avoid contact completely so occasionally they'd speak to each other. Unfortunately, those conversations never went well. They usually result to an argument. After all, they are quite the opposites.
Wally is known as the town rebel, a strong but silent type of guy. Kuki is more like the town princess, widely adored and irresistibly sweet. Even their interests and philosophies contradict. He's a sexist, she's a feminist. He's a realist, she's a dreamer. He's a fighter, she's a lover. It's no surprise that they often find themselves arguing whenever they end up within ten feet of each other.
It was obvious that Wally and Kuki had no trouble showing that they don't get along. However, they aren't as good as they believe themselves to be. Deep within the constant bickering and the numerous cold shoulders that so often occurs between them, their friendship laid upon a hidden connection. Everybody can sense it. Their clashing personalities were like Yin and Yang, two contradictions that balanced each other out. Though they believed that the idea of them together was as odd as a military man marrying a hippie, they can't keep that chemistry from emanating from them. In fact, their connection was as obvious as the North and South ends of a magnet: they are opposites that are attracted to each other.
Later on the same day that Kuki had her argument with Wally, she came home in a surprisingly lighter mood. To her it was just another ordinary day spent giving Wally the silent treatment, which he gladly returned to her. It was no big deal. It happens all the time.
When she came into her room, she plopped down sideways onto her bed and rested her eyes, allowing the comfort to sink in. After moments of silence, she opened her eyes again. The first thing she saw was a seven-year-old photo on her bedside table. It was a picture of her and the gang from when they were ten years old. There she stood on the very left, a bright smile on her face and arm-to-arm with the young Abby. Right in the middle was Nigel, who even then wore the charming smile that he does now. Next to him is Hoagie, who used to be plump but similarly jolly-looking. When Kuki's eyes finally reached the right side of the photo, an irritating feeling swept upon her. There he was standing separately from the group, with arms crossed and a frown on his face.
Wally was already grumpy and hot-tempered even back then. Kuki used to think that his reason was the fact that he was shortest in the group. But nowadays, he towers over everyone yet he still has the same attitude. In fact, she could only define his present personality as a rebellious heretic who seems to find an oddly perverse pleasure in criticizing almost everything around him. He always has something rude to say, especially when it comes to girls, romance movies and anything else that he would normally dismiss as "unmanly". Sure it was fair to say that he had his own philosophies and viewpoints but the way he expresses them makes him sound as if he enjoys being…
"…A jerk," Kuki said out loud. She followed her statement with a sigh.
She looked at the picture once again and noticed another detail about it: everything about her and Wally in it was opposite. She stood to the very left, while he stood to the very right. She was arm in arm with Abby, while he separated himself from the group. She had a big bright smile on her face, while he had nothing but a childish pout.
That detail means more than it seems. They were indeed opposites from the very beginning of their so-called friendship. Even after all these years, they're still opposites and they still serve as they two ends of the group. Everyone else was neutral. Nigel, being the 'leader' of the group, was like a brother to both of them. Complementary to that was Abby who was like a sister. And of course, Hoagie had two roles: he was Kuki's favorite joker and Wally's partner in crime. When it comes to everyone, they had a loving and well-bonded friendship. When it comes to each other, they were simply awkward.
Kuki finally took her eyes off the photo and looked around her room instead. For the first time in a while, she noticed the little details that she so-often ignores. On one wall was a big, white glass window with white curtains hanging over it. Opposite that was a wall full of unicorn posters and brightly-colored decors. In one corner, there was a pile of stuffed animals. In the other, there was a vanity table of grooming materials. In the center of the north wall was her four-poster bed, with a pink canopy over it. She smiled in admiration of the femininity and neatness of her room.
For some reason, right after looking around, another bedroom popped into her head. She's only been to Wally's room a few times, and only when she had to be in there for some reason that even he didn't approve of, like a science project or a favor from Hoagie to pick something up. As she recalls, it was the same order of furniture except it was like the complete opposite of her room. A quarter of his glass window was broken due to a baseball incident from the past. His walls comprised of posters of action movies, torn wallpaper, and what is apparently the results of him practicing his paintball skills. In one corner, he had a shelf of old action figures (which for some reason, he managed to avoid damaging) and old comic books. He didn't have a single stuffed animal in the room, except for a teddy bear that his little brother often leaves there after playing. All over the hardly-visible floor, there were clothes, sports materials, guitars, drum sticks and other random things. As for his bed, it was a sad little piece of barely-recognizable furniture; the headboard was smashed as a result of him treating his bed like wrestling ring and his blankets and covers had morphed into a big bundle of cloth.
Kuki laughed at the thought of his room and how it was possible for him to live in such an atmosphere. As she thought more about him, she recalled the argument from that afternoon. Suddenly, the lightness that she had just obtained drained out of her and was replaced by the frustration that had victimized her earlier that day.
She thought of Wally and his rude remarks, not to mention that girl that he was feeding his perversions on. It made her give out a long, shaky sight. Why do I always let him get to me? She thought. She hated having those fights with him. Regardless of who wins, she always ends up angry and that only makes their friendship even more awkward than it already is.
The image of Wally appeared in her head. In her mind's eye, she could see him sitting across her boastfully cracking his knuckles, lazily leaning back, sniggering with his wide, devilish grin, his messy blonde hair and his insensitive green eyes.
Kuki dug her fingers into her head and grunted. She wanted to stop her thoughts immediately but they had already switched to what she feared.
Wally's knuckle-cracking was annoying, but it was impressive. His posture was grubby, but cool and relaxed. His sniggering was a sign of incoming offensiveness, but the sound it makes her want to laugh with him. His wide grin was not only devilishly mischievous, it's also devilishly good-looking. His long, messy blonde hair was rebellious, but it was attractive. His green eyes, which Kuki dreaded most of all, were piercingly intense and fiercely charming.
Kuki shifted slightly on her bed, hoping that it would eliminate the discomfort that she just bestowed upon herself. Staring up at the ceiling, she quietly scolded herself for thinking such things. But there was nothing she could do. All her thoughts were undeniable. Wally may be terribly mean, but there's something about him that she just couldn't help but adore. Perhaps it's the boyishness: though at times he tends to be sexist, it was also fair to say that his manly ways make him a gentleman. Perhaps it's the charisma: he was confident and unafraid of being honest. Perhaps it's the energy: his jokes were crude but they really are funny.
Kuki turned to lie on her side. She felt pathetic. As far as everyone can see, she only argues with Wally. What would they say if they found out that she has these thoughts about him? What would they say if they found out that she actually likes it when people say they're compatible? Even more to consider: what would Wally think? He'd laugh at her face. And even if he didn't, he definitely would think she's weird. They could barely get along as friends, let alone become a couple. Kuki's eyes led to the photo beside her table again, noticing the same detail that she did before.
"That's exactly what it is," she told herself, "We're meant to be in different sides…"