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Fiction Friendship Teens & Young Adult

very unfinished, trash writing as usual, doesn't really fit the prompt because it was originally written for a different one. go read 'first impressions' instead, please, it's at least slightly better and maybe (as the kids nowadays say) a little bit funny. anyways, enjoy.

xxx

There’s something exhilarating about the dark. 

I’m not supposed to like it. I know. But I can’t help it. 

Some of my friends do things like stay up until nine, or wake before sunset, or be seen on their roof wearing bright yellow at noon. (That was only Harry, though. He’s the only one stupid enough to do that.) Their parents chastise them with “This is not the boy I raised” and “What have you gotten yourself into” and “You need to start behaving better if you want to get yourself out of the slums young man” and other nonsense. And then the next day they go and do it again. 

Funny thing is, the dark has always intrigued me.

Did I introduce myself? No? Sorry, I’ll do that now. My name is Cypress, and I live in a caste system with only two tiers. 

There’s the Daylights. The sunfeelers. The brightseekers. They live and operate in, naturally, daylit hours—the times you’d expect, like noon or late morning or four in the afternoon; but the hazy edges around dusk and dawn seem to be open to interpretation. Only to the government, and them. Not us.

I’m a Night, if you couldn’t tell. So’s everyone I know. You’re not allowed to have contact outside of your placement, although that really only applies to us. Once I was walking home from a party at my friend Josh’s house and it wasn’t even light yet, it was before seven a.m. or something like that. I was just on the sidewalk to my house, the sky was beginning to lighten, and I passed a Day and he spit at me. Actual spit. I wanted to punch him, but then I remembered. How could I forget?

You’re a Night and he’s a Day. He’s worth more than you, okay?

I made it my mantra.

xxx

One night in early summer, I didn’t have work and I’d done all my chores and I didn’t feel like hanging out with any of my friends so I went up onto the roof. This must seem so strange to most—it’s as if a Day spent hours staring at the sun. It would make sense for a Night to do that, or for a Day to examine the dark, but for someone born and bred in that element, to spend hours soaking it in?

I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because, like my dad says, I’m a lazy malingerer. Or maybe I’m just different. 

Anyways, I was on the roof, watching the stars. If I squint, I can make them move. I was stargazing and wondering how if I’d break any bones if I fell off the roof when I heard a noise. 

It was coming from my left, from the house next door. That one was a cheap rental, for the Days who either were low (as Days) in society or just needed a quick, temporary place to live while a more dazzling spot was being scouted for them. The neighborhood we lived in was slightly mixed, with mostly middle-class Night houses but also a few lower-class Days. 

Not that they still didn’t keep their distance, though. They did. 

The noise sounded like a heavy thud. There was a pause of approximately one second, then someone cried out, softly. 

My curiously peaked, I slid down the drainpipe I’d used to get up and padded softly across the dry, packed dirt to where I’d heard the sound. The moon was fairly full that night, so I could make out the muffled shape of something on the ground a few meters in front of me. 

I approached slowly, not knowing what to expect or even what I was doing. “Are you okay?” I called quietly, not even sure I was speaking to a person. 

The lump groaned and shifted, uncurling a bit and lifting its face to mine. “I think I broke my—” they began, then stopped in horror when they looked at me. “You’re a Night,” the person whispered. 

They were right. The contrast between us couldn’t have been greater. The person—it was a girl, my age—had smooth freckled skin and wavy, dirty blonde hair. Her eyes appeared to be a watery green. She had average, pretty features and was wearing a dark grey hoodie and shorts. Her bare feet cradled each other, curled next to her body, practically begging for help.

“I know. I’m sorry,” I replied quietly, aching to help this person, to know more. “You can report me if you’d like. I’ll leave you now.” I paused before I turned to walk away. 

“Wait.” 

It was what I was hoping she’d say. 

I turned back to her. “Yes?”

“I’m the one in the wrong here. I’m a Day, obviously, and it’s clearly not my living hours yet. I shouldn’t be out. And you shouldn’t be talking to me, let alone—“ The girl swallowed a shudder. “...Touching me, but some things must be done, and if my parents find out what I was doing, I’m toast.” She sat up a little more. “Can you help me?”

“What do you…?” I swallowed.

She grimaced. “Is there a way to—to fix my—my ankle, I think, without my parents knowing?”

I could feel my body temperature rising, and I hardly knew why. “I—all the doctors at this hour would be Nights. And…” I don’t even know how to drive.

“Well,” the girl said, anger singeing the edges of her words, “I can’t let my family find out!”

“Why not?”

She sighed and leaned against the house’s dirty white siding. It felt weird to be looming over her, but it might’ve been weirder if I sat. I stayed standing. 

“Because…” She cleared her throat. “Because this is a stain. Sneaking out to—god forbid—lay on the roof and look at the stars. Spraining, or rolling, or breaking my ankle. Talking, exchanging words, an entire conversation with a Night. Ha!” She reached out a singular finger and poked one of my bare toes. “I just touched you. And all this, it adds up…” She squinted at me. “What’s your name?”

“Cy. Cypress.”

“I’m Fio. Anyways, my parents have a ‘reputation to uphold’ and I’m their only daughter and they tried for me for so long and here I finally am and I’ve got to get perfect grades and make perfect friends and have a perfect body and perfect speech and shit.” She yawned. “Oh look, I just swore.

“Anyways, it’s all the stereotypes. I’ve gotta be perfect, but I don’t want to. But I can’t let them know that. So—Cypress, was it?—I’m asking you again, Can you help me?”

Maybe if I’d had more experience with girls my age, I would’ve been less susceptible to weakness. Or if I’d encountered, more often, light-colored eyes. But I’d never seen green eyes that close before, and she was so pretty. 

“Yes,” I stammered. 

And just like that, our acquaintance began.

xxx

Her ankle was the easy part of it. Crouched by the side of her house with a flashlight I’d grabbed, even I could see that nothing was broken. We applied an ice pack I snatched from my freezer, and then snuck her in a back window, to go to her bedroom and say that she was asleep if her parents came to check. 

Before we parted ways, Fio stared at my face. “I’ve never been this near to a Night,” she whispered. “Are you all this dark?”

Maybe, if I’d been less smitten, I would have sensed a problem. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have. What we did, said, the way we acted—it was society, it was culture. Like the sky being big or water being wet or paint being poisonous to eat. Those were all facts. So was, I suppose, everyone’s way of life. There wasn’t an issue with anything, right?

I stared at the edges of her pale fingertips, resting on the windowsill. “I guess,” I murmured, not knowing what else to say. “If someone—if someone’s too fair they’re not allowed to have biological children so the genes that aren’t supposed to belong in their placement die out with them.”

I dared a glance at Fio’s face. In the light of the half-moon, she looked shocked. “That’s horrible.”

I shrugged. “Not really. I’ve never wanted kids, anyways.”

“Oh,” she said quietly. Then: “Funnily enough, neither have I.”

“Which is unusual,” I added, “considering I’m an only child.”

Fio cleared her throat. “Me too.”

We stood there for a moment, her halfway inside the house, me shivering slightly in the midnight breeze, until she leaned out of the window to give me a fistbump. I hesitated, then met her knuckles with mine. Fio grinned and ducked back inside the house. 

“Friends?” I asked, like some kind of elementary schooler, before I even realized what I was doing.

The window was shut by then. But I imagined—or maybe I really heard—a light, soft voice reply “Friends,” as it retreated into the house.

April 24, 2021 02:02

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1 comment

Angelina Jeong
18:10 May 17, 2021

What an amazing story :)

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