Loosely based on the novel 'Delirium' by Lauren Oliver.
I'd never really given much thought to love.
It wasn't as though I wasn't aware of its existence. I could see it everywhere, in the mothers who brushed the ponytails of their little daughters and the couples who strolled down the streets holding hands. I could see it in my mother's eyes.
But then they decided that love made people do crazy things, and that it was dangerous. Everyone had to get a vaccine upon turning 18. Those who were already infected with it had to undergo surgery, but even then it was hard to tell if love could be erased just like that from their lives. I was 7 when my mum was taken away. She didn't make it. I didn't want to know if it was because the love in her was so strong that it was eating away at her, making her body so weak that it couldn't withstand the pain of the operation.
My dad, ever the fighter, battled for as long as he could. Whether he was fighting love, or fighting them, I wasn't sure, but he succumbed eventually. It was down to my brother and I. Itachi had always shown me affection, but I wasn't sure if it was love. One night, though, he fled, but not before telling me that since I couldn't love, I ought to hate. He left before I could ask who, but I think even then I knew the answer. Them. Or him, for abandoning me and forcing me to grow up in that swift moment.
I'm turning 18 in 3 months, and I'm looking forward to getting cured. There's no one for me to miss, anyway.
I look up from my novel and scowl. "Dobe."
Naruto Uzumaki. He's always been an outcast, because of the infamous story of how his parents died. It's practically a legend in our little town. In fact, some people say, they might have been the reason why love was acknowledged as a deadly disease. Months after Naruto was born, the law was passed, and to escape the operation, both of them made a suicide pact. Lucky for Naruto, our high-school math teacher Iruka was kind enough to take him in – but even then, he couldn't shelter Naruto from the verbal abuse that was constantly hurled at him.
Naruto's staring at me intently now, with those fierce cerulean eyes. He reminds me of a fox sometimes. A little wild, mischievous…and lonely.
"What?" I snap.
"S'nothing." He mumbles, and makes to leave, but then turns to face me again. "I'm getting cured in 6 months."
I smirk. "I'm getting cured in three," I tell him, and I don't know why I sound so smug. Then again, getting cured is something to be proud of, right?
"You scared?" It comes out hesitant, a little broken even. A whisper, just in case nosey people around us overhear and accuse us of plotting to escape the operation.
I shake my head.
"Heh, I…" He pauses to scratch his nose, but I know it's because he's not sure if he should continue, and not because of an itch.
"Why, you're scared, usuratonkachi?" It's like a little game we play, Naruto and I. We've never called each other by our real names. Ever since our first meeting in kindergarten which ended in a sandbox scuffle, we'd called each other 'teme', 'dobe' and 'usuratonkachi'. Basically variations of 'bastard' and 'idiot'.
I don't know what you'd call us, really. We aren't friends. But we're not rivals, either. He's not my match at all. Perhaps we're just two lonely orphans relying on each other to fulfill our basic human need to socialize. Sounds cold and emotionless, but isn't the truth always?
He looks at me with that expression again, the one that promises confessions of pain, frustration and hurt, all of which will remain unspoken. But that expression usually only lasts a second, and just as quickly, it is replaced by a bright grin – almost loony, one would think, happy to the point of deliria.
"Of course not, teme!"
And with that, he's gone, off to bother someone else who might not even have the courtesy to indulge in petty conversation with him. I don't know why I do, really. Maybe it's because I'm the only one who understands that look he has sometimes.
Have I mentioned the matchmaking process yet? No?
We get paired, basically, after we're cured, based on our profiles, which we will fill in at the end of high school. The profiles will cover everything from family background to interests and desires in a partner. They don't really care about what we want, though; I think it's there just to trick us into thinking that we might have a choice. I'm not bothered by it. If anything, I'm glad that I don't have to go through the hassle of making a decision. If love has nothing to do with it, whoever I spend the rest of my life with doesn't matter. Not that I know what love is. I think. I can only recall it vaguely, that feeling of warmth and acceptance. But soon I won't remember anything of it anymore.
I'm surprised to see Naruto curled up outside my apartment, knees drawn to his chest, like it's cold outside when it's a good twenty-five degrees or so.
"What do you want?" It's automatic, this tone I'm taking. Designed to keep people away, out of my life. Keep those walls up. Keep me safe.
He sucks in some air, and then lets it out in a slow breath.
"I've always wanted to visit," he simply says.
And dumbstruck by this response, I unlock my door and let him in.
Oh my, it's been so long since I've written something. I feel really good right now! So please help me feel better by giving me reviews! (: