Luka & Shoe
Falling in love with your best friend is simply not done –that's the oldest rule in the book. So how wrong, how cliché that it should happen now, after all these years.. Rated for sex and language :)
1; In Which It All Goes to Hell.
"I should be at your place in about half an hour," Luka says over the phone.
I twiddle a pen in my fingers. "Okay. I'm dropping by the supermarket. Just let yourself in if I'm not back yet when you get here."
I beep my cell phone off and rise from my chair. The pen I stick into my ponytail. I fold the grocery list I just wrote in two, and in two again and put it in my pocket.
Putting on my headphones, I step out.
The beat of the music coming through my headphones is happy and strong; I adjust my footsteps to it, without even thinking even, at first. I groove all the way to the supermarket, where I will pick up supplies for dinner.
Luka is coming over tonight.
Without warning, the proverbial butterflies are released in my poor sensitive belly, where they flutter about against the soft red walls until I catch my breath again. My face feels hot.
Though Luka is my best friend, I have known for a while now that my feelings for him stretch past friendship. I also know that he does not feel anything for me. More than that, he has a date tomorrow night with a gorgeous blonde girl from school.
I peer past the corned beef to catch my reflection in the polished metal backing of the shelf. Semi-slanted Asian eyes which are grey-brown in the right kind of light, high cheekbones, a round little nose and straight black hair. From my European father I inherited a wide mouth which I like to think of as expressive, but other than that, I know from experience I am a young clone of my Japanese mother ("at least people don't tell you you look like your father, they tell me I look like my father!" I remember my friend Constance complaining back at me once; I decided her situation was worse then, and stopped worrying about mine).
Maybe I'm not quite gorgeous date material, but at least I'm best friend material.
I have been trying to keep my cool by reminding myself of that, lately. That, no matter how badly I want Luka I'll never have him, so at least be happy to be his closest, bestest friend in the whole wide world.
My girlfriends all know, because I didn't want to keep such a big secret from them. At one point or another, friends always ask about your love life. I can't consider dating anyone else right now, not when I want to be with someone this badly.
I don't have a solution for this situation. When my friends say "Tell him you like him!" I say no. I know him too well to be able to expect a positive outcome. All I can think to do is to sit it out; get over him and get on with my life. And in the meantime, stay best friends. Been trying this approach for some months now, but it hasn't been working. It's proving very difficult to get over a boy whom I see every day.
With a sigh I drop a cauliflower into my basket and move on. I pick up a bottle of white wine, even though I know Luka doesn't really like white wine. I enjoy forcing it on him, is all.
On my walk back home I get called by my friend Cash –her real name is Cassidy, and her nickname is the result of a booze binge we had in first year, during which Wolf slurred her name and she took it as a reference to her being a gold-digger – who wants to know what the reading assignment is for the next day's lecture.
Then Cash asks what I am doing for dinner.
"Dinner? Sorry, I've got plans tonight... how about Thursday?"
"Plans on a Monday night? Wwwith?" Cash wants to know, an edge to her voice.
I laugh, growing slightly uncomfortable. "I can tell by your voice that you already know."
"Baby doll... why don't you just talk to him about it?"
"No, there's no way I'll talk to him about it. Cash, you know that."
"You keep saying so, but I think it'd make you feel so much better if you just talk to him, get it off your chest…"
"But once I tell him that I like him I know how he's going to respond, he's just going to say, sorry, not interested," I say, shrugging even though I know she can't see me, "and then we'll only feel uncomfortable around each other for ever after. He's too important to me to lose."
"He must be important if you're willing to make yourself unhappy for his sake." Cash says.
"It's not for his sake, it's my own selfish sake!" I laugh. "If he weren't around, or if he were upset with me, I'd get upset too, see?"
Cash laughs. "Your approach to boys is so different from mine," she says pensively.
"You say it like it's a good thing," I grump, balancing my phone between my neck and my shoulder so I can dig out the keys to my building. Cash has always had her way with boys.
"Maybe I should take you into training, tough you up some," Cash jokes.
"I'd make a good disciple," I say, grinning as I climb the stairs.
"Where to start, there's so much to share…" Cash hums, making me laugh.
"My pride is going to suffer a big blow from this."
"First of all, don't let him get the best of you! Always stay aloof, answer questions ambiguously, and make long, intense eye contact-"
"Cash! This is my best friend we're talking about! Not some guy I'll be meeting in a bar!"
"I know… I just don't know how else to teach you… it always works for me…"
I pause outside my front door. "Yeah, well, you're a tall beautiful busty redhead with fiery eyes and passionate lips–"
"You're making me sound like a porn star," Cash whines.
"–whereas I am a skinny little half-blood with straight black hair and no chest, and eyes only slightly lighter than black though in good light they look brown-grey-" I continue without pause.
"You're a beautiful girl. People who meet you all say so."
"Ah. If only people were a certain boy."
"Hey, of course this certain boy isn't going to say anything, not if he's your-"
"I know, I know", I say, openingmy front door and stepping in, kicking my shoes off. "It's my own fault for falling for my own best friend-"
I stop dead. Of course there is Luka, blank-faced, staring at me from my couch. He is leaning over with his elbows on his knees. His cell phone is in his hand and he is looking up at me and his wide-eyed expression is telling me everything is lost and I almost drop my own cell phone.
(The irony that I still have a spare thought to appreciate his looks and figure in that fatal five-second span, is not lost on me. He is tall and broad-shouldered but otherwise slender; his figure fine from years of basketball playing. Baggy jeans –this pair makes his ass look So Nice– and his signature black turtle neck. Black turtle neck sweaters might make another boy look gay, but not Luka. I want to jump him every time I see him in it and I'm not a boy. Shiny, shaggy longish black hair, pale skin –though he tans in a second if he's in the sun– and lightish eyes to finish the aristocratic European look he does so well. Come to think of it, this might be because he actually is an aristocratic European).
" ...not really something you can help, all things considered. Hello?" Cash's voice is suddenly far away and tinny.
"Um" I try, not breaking eye-contact with Luka. Luka doesn't move. There's no expression on his face. His phone chirps and we both ignore it.
"I gotta go. Call you later? I... we, yeah. We still have to do dinner...okay. Yes master. Mistress. Yeah. Bye."
I click my phone off, my heart roaring and my throat dry.
"I got here early," says Luka from the sofa.
"That was Cash, she says hi," I respond.
"Hi Cash." Luka says. "I brought ice cream for desert."
I grin, trying to hide my nervousness. He didn't hear me? My thoughts are racing back to the moment I said it. No, I decide, sea-sick, he must have heard it. Why isn't he bringing it up? But if he's going to ignore it unless I say something, then I can also ignore it until he says something.
Why did this have to happen? Why didn't I pay more attention?
"I bought white wine," I say listlessly, hopelessly hoping to spark an argument. Arguments always make things go back to normal. Either that or they distract.
"Uh, great, thanks," he says sarcastically, seeming a little angry. What do I do with that? I think hopelessly.
"I'm not giving up. I'm going to get you to like it someday." I say, trying to sound light-hearted and flirty and silly. But my voice wavers a little and it doesn't sound flirty at all.
"I'll have water please," he deadpans, and flips on the TV.
I turn around and silently mouth fuck to the wall. Then I bend down and pick up the groceries I apparently dropped to the floor somewhere in the last three minutes.
"I'm going to start cooking."
He doesn't respond or even look at me –I can tell from the corner of my eye– as I move around the corner, out of sight, to my apartment's tiny kitchen.
What is this? What is this anger? And why is he angry? Why am I angry, anyways? Not at him about the wine… I'm angry because he heard. Because I'll lose him now.
I want to kick something, or scream really loudly, but I hold it in and end up biting down rather hard on my tongue. Tears shoot into my eyes. Sulkily, I start the preparations for dinner. I hope it isn't going to be our last dinner together.
At one point I remember he brought ice cream, and open the freezer door to see what kind. I take the box out and stand staring at it silently. It's my favorite. It's even the most expensive kind. How can I be mad at Luka if he does stuff like this?
"It's the right one, right?" His voice suddenly comes from the doorway. I jump and look up at him speechlessly. "The one you liked?"
"I.. yeah. This is the best!" I give him a big smile. The smile feels like it had to be summoned up from the deepest darkest depths of me. "Thank you."
He shrugs, leaning his tall figure against the doorpost. Without meeting my eyes he says, "you paid for dinner. It's only fair."
"It's nice," I say, more softly, feeling a blush set on, "I appreciate it."
I see him glance up at me with a strange expression, like he is about to ask me something.
Oh shit, I think.
"And I'm going to eat it all alone!" I exclaim quickly, waving the bin of ice cream in front of him.
The serious expression on his face makes way for an affronted look. "No you won't! I got the damn thing, you're going to l-"
"You know, I was told that boys like you didn't even like ice cream," I say, pouting at him.
"You were misinformed," he says flatly and takes the bin away from me, putting it back in the freezer.
I sigh and go back to cutting vegetables. He leans against the fridge now, watching me silently. Luka is always like this; when he doesn't feel like talking, or doesn't feel he has anything worthwhile to say, he remains quiet. I am the opposite; if a silence falls I will automatically fill it up to cover any eventual discomfort. I babble a lot.
Normally I would babble into this silence too, earning nothing but a few ironic comments or amused looks from Luka, but today I feel too tired. I let the silence sit upon both of us, the late afternoon sun filtering in and casting shadows on the blue kitchen floor. There is nothing but the sound of the simmering in the pan on the stove, and the chop chop chop of my knife on the carrots.
"So you like me?" Luka asks out of the blue.
"Augh," I exclaim, holding up a bleeding thumb. "Look what you made me do. Asking stupid questions all of the sudden!"
"What kind of stupid question was it that it made you almost cut your finger off?" He asks, grabbing my hand and sticking it under cold water.
I don't reply, watching my blood mix with the water and run down the drain.
"You didn't cut meat with this knife, did you?" He asks me, finding a clean kitchen towel to wrap around the fresh wound. I think vaguely that I don't want to get the towel dirty because it'll be a hassle to wash the blood out and wouldn't toilet paper be easier, but say nothing about it.
"No," I answer instead, "I was going to do meat next."
"I'll do it," he says, pushing the towel into my good hand. He matter-of-factly rinses the blood off the knife.
I almost want to protest him using the same knife again, but I cannot find a logical argument against it. It feels as if it shouldn't be used again until it's been really washed, that knife, out of my sight and away from my hands for at least the time span of a dinner. Again I say nothing.
Back in silence, switched places. My head feels heavy trying not to think about what he just asked. I slump against the fridge, my face hot. I watch the moving shadow of the leaves from the tree outside the kitchen window, projected blurrily onto my floor.
I unwrap the tea towel from my thumb. It hasn't stopped bleeding yet.
"You should get a band aid for that," he says, not looking up from slicing the meat.
"I will when the bleeding slows."
"Is it deep?"
"No. Should be okay."
"Sorry for making you cut yourself."
"It's my own fault for reacting like that."
"So it's true then?"
"That you like me."
I let out a short laugh. "What do you mean, why? It's not like people decide these things."
And inside I think, because you are who you are, and you are the way you are and I love you for it.
"Yeah," says Luka, "maybe."
We're both quiet again, but I can feel angry tears welling up and starting to spill down my cheeks. My face is hotter than before but I cry silently, and without turning my face away from him, because he won't look up from the meat anyways.
When he has finished cutting it he holds the knife under hot water. He doesn't look my way, not when he is drizzling yellow dish soap onto the round pink dish sponge, not when he is running the sponge up and down the knife carefully; first doing the blade and then holding the blade and soaping the hilt, then taking the hilt and doing the blade again. He keeps his head down.
I ration my breaths, forcing them out evenly, drawing them in so carefully as to make no sound. Around the edge of my vision my eyelashes are clumping together into unfocused black spikes.
He checks the vegetables and then puts on butter to melt in the frying pan. The leaves rustle a little in the wind, outside, and I am still doing my best to cry without making a single sound. I can feel my nose clogging and know I won't last much longer.
"You know I don't feel the same way about you," he says, dropping meat into the pan. It sizzles a little in the melting butter.
"I know that," I say thickly. I decide to turn around after all, embarrassed now he's heard me talk.
"Are you crying?" He asks, his voice sharp.
"No," I sob back.
"Shoe... Shoe, why are you crying?" he sounds nervous. If I had been in his situation, I know sure as hell I'd be nervous. I let out a nasal moany laugh.
Shoe, Shoe, he says. After all these years of him calling me that, his nickname for me almost never catches me off guard or confuses me.
I was born Sayurin Smith, my name the unfortunate combination of my multi-racial background and my parents' love for alliteration. But the nickname Shoe is used with such frequency and by so many people, including even those same alliterating parents, that my own real, full name sounds foreign to me.
Maybe that's because it was Luka who dubbed me Shoe.
Typical girl-next-door setting: Luka lived with his parents in such-and-such neighborhood, I moved into the house next door. The same afternoon we faced off over our garden fences, eyeing each other suspiciously. I was a little taller than he was, though he wasn't as skinny as me.
In my mouth I had a wad of gum the size of my fist, which I laboriously, smackingly chewed. He was eating a great big ice cream sandwich. He was missing both of his front teeth, I could tell every time he took a bite. I remember a crumb falling from his mouth now and then, because he didn't close his mouth to chew, and avidly thinking that boys were gross.
He asked me where I was from and I told him, but he didn't understand me because of the gum. I had to repeat myself twice.
Then he finished the ice cream sandwich and started wiping his hands on his shorts. I could tell they were sticky by how the material came up with his hands, and he had to stretch and bend his fingers to get them unstuck. A trail of ice cream had dripped down his wrist and I saw that he had noticed and was debating whether or not to lick it up in front of me. He glanced at me and then licked his arm. I watched, fascinated, more grossed out by the second, but decided not to say anything.
He said, "What's your name? I'm Luka and I'm eight."
"I'm Sayurin and I'm almost nine," I said.
He narrowed his eyes at me. "When's your birthday?"
Hah. My mother had told me and I had remembered this time. "October eighteenth."
He did not seem impressed. "Mine's the ninth of July. I'm older."
I shrugged indifferently, though I felt my face grow a little hot. It was late spring now, which meant, if I had correctly memorised when July was, that he was more almost nine than me.
"You have a girls' name," I said, "all names that end in an A are girls' names."
Again, he didn't bother to look affected by me. "Not. It's French. Or Russian. I can't remember. It might be both. But in France and Russia boys' names can also end in an A."
I found this amazing knowledge, as if the world had revealed one of its secrets to me by accident. I wondered briefly if it could be played the other way around; did I no longer need to beg my mother to let me change my odd name to 'Sayura' or 'Sayurina' so it would seem more feminine?
Luka must have been more affected than I thought by my attack of his name –it certainly couldn't have been the first time that someone said something like that about it –because suddenly he said, "besides, your name is even weirder."
"It's Japanese," I said with a scowl, my jaw hurting a little from the gum. "It means a hundred small lilies. Sayurin."
"Suh-YOU-ren." He tried. I noticed he made a faint whistling sound when he said 'se' because of the gap in his front teeth.
"SA-yeren?" I still don't know if he was doing this purely to vex me.
"SA. YU. RIN."
He looked at me thoughtfully. "SA-YU-RIN," he started and I nodded enthusiastically.
"Sitting in the dustbin,
Chewing on a hairpin,
Never stops screaming" he rhymed.
My face screwed up in distaste at the same time his face screwed up in glee.
"Don't do that, you're stupid," I said, snorting angrily.
"Sayurin, sayuuuuurin, sa-yoo-hoo-rin... shyoo-hoorn, shoe-horn," he experimented, still gleeful, oblivious of my horror.
"It's Sayurin!" I screamed at him.
"You're a shoe," he said, and I swore I would never speak to him again.
I went inside, fuming, and crying so hard I almost choked in my gum. I cursed my parents for giving me a name in a different language than that of the country I was living in, and for moving to the house next door to Satan's.
Of course when I started school the following week, the little wretch was the first thing I saw when I walked into class.
"It's Shoe!" Luka bellowed. And it has been, ever since.
In retrospect, I think it saved me a lot of problems that he had perfected his sick little nickname for me from 'a shoe' to 'Shoe'.
Also, what a relief indeed that he did not yet know the word 'urine' because, ha-ha, doesn't that sound alike to my full name. If he had come up with a variation like that this wouldn't have been a love story; no. This would be one of those reality crime shows: "'Into the Heart of Darkness'.. this week featuring Sayurin Smith, the sick mastermind behind the ruthless murder of her childhood friend, Luka Tamsin..."
And there'd be me on film, twitching in my straightjacket in one corner, and the reporter whispering to the camera, "never call her anything other than miss Smith; if you address her with her first name she is likely to explode in a psychosis much like the one that killed her unlucky best friend when he..."
You get the picture.
As it was, the other children were very endlessly amused at my nickname and therefore made no attempts whatsoever to remember and use my real name. Nor did the teachers.
(And oh yes, just imagine their faces when they found out my last name was Smith, hmm?)
My parents also call me Shoe, unless sometimes when they expect I have inflicted someone, somewhere, some sort of unforgivable material damage for which they will have to disown me.
Here I am, twelve years later, still called Shoe. I forgave them all, eventually.
"Shoe, Shoe, why are you crying?"
I sigh, wiping an eye with my sleeve. The sleeve smudges grey from my makeup, and I rub mindlessly at it, head bent.
When I catch my breath I say, "because I'm embarrassed. I didn't want you to know and I didn't want you to find out like this."
"How long have you been hiding this?" he asks me now. Like background sounds, I hear the tap running as Luka washes his hands, and I hear the meat hissing. Behind my back, Luka puts a lid on the pan. The hissing sounds tinny now, but softer.
"For a while", I answer reluctantly, and then I lie: "a month, maybe."
"You have to stop that," he says, "can I add the vegetables like this?"
I turn around to look. "Oh, yeah, that should be okay. What?"
"No, stop," he repeats.
"No, on second thought, I'd say you give it another two minutes," I sniff, wiping under my eyes.
"Stop rubbing your eyes, you look like a panda." But he doesn't add the vegetables yet.
"Sorry," I say softly, taking my fingers away from my eyes.
He is quiet, I watch him looking down at the pan, stirring with a wooden spoon. What am I supposed to do with him? I wonder. And then I think; he should add more oil so the chicken won't stick to the pan.
"This is really upsetting you, isn't it?" He asks.
"No, it's fine," I lie again, exhaling in a loud huff, "I just wasn't prepared for this."
We're both quiet again.
"You'll get over it again in no time," he says, taking a cup down from the cupboard. He fills it with cold water and offers it to me. I thank him hoarsely and take it. After finishing a few sips I put the cup down on top of the fridge and say, "I'm going to find a band aid."
How does Luka and Shoe's dinner end? And how did Luka's date with the blonde go? And does Luka really have any right to laugh at all the Disney movies Shoe used to watch?
Next time! On Luka & Shoe. Also: what school do they go to, anyways?
Ho ho ho. I'll need you all to tell me what you think. I'm obviously touching on some subjects you aren't seeing in other stories on Fictionpress. They're not in high school, there is no rich vs. poor contrast, nor popular vs. unpopular. You guys still willing to give me a chance? At least my spelling and grammar are good, and I use periods and commas :D
Aren't I fancy.
Maybe you can tell, but I'm not from the USA. Never lived there, either. But I figure we're not that different, perhaps you lot can appreciate my (crooked and curly) line of thought as well.
Anyways, I hope people respond. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions and write big bold Thank You's to everyone who reviews, in the next chapter.
Tell you what, if this gets any reviews and I decide to post the next chapter (yes, it's already written!) I'll give the first reviewer a cameo appearance as a character of their choice. You'd have to give me a believable name (like your real one, lol) but it'd totally be fun, in my opinion.
Now watch me post this and get zero reviews, haha. That would stink...
Er, anyhow, this chapter is about 15 pages, on my machine. No idea if that excites anyone. The next ones will probably be 10, or so.
Right then, before I forget, disclaimer. None of these characters are based on real people except for a mildly autobiographical touch to most of them. But I can't go around suing myself, hey? Disney is Disney's, and I don't know if I mentioned any other brands in this, to be honest. If it doesn't sound like mine you can guess it isn't. But rest assured that the rest is.