Rise and Shine
Okay, I thought about this because personally, I love ‘crow people’ I don't really know how are they call, I believe they are Kenkus but I’m not sure. Anyways I hope this story goes well with the OkCryptid collab made by @thetravelerwrites. Check out the Masterlist! As always I appreciate the feedback and comments.
Disclaimer: hints of past bullying, racism, discrimination, and anxiety.
This Summer was already in the city and nobody is more excited than I! I remember how wonderful was to wake up in the morning with the sun in your face, ready to greet you with excitement for starting a new day. That was back then when I use to live with my parents in the little town of Reindor, but even though the city is so much different from the countryside, eventually, I’ve learned to adapt myself to the constant noise of the cars or the lack of nature.
Luckily for me, the balcony in my apartment allows me to have enough sunlight to stay alive. I love to drink coffee in the morning and listen to my favorite playlist while enjoying the first sunrays of the day. In the evening I’ll take my time watering and playing some music for my plants, my mother taught me this little secret and my succulents and flowers are tall and strong thanks to it.
I had other ways to make myself less homesick. The most noticeable is that I spend a few dollars a month to have freshly bloomed sunflowers deliver to my door. I normally cut a little the stems and put them in a vase on my table with ice cubes, this trick I also learn it from my mother. What can I say? I’m a sunshine person and I love sunflowers as well. It’s just so amazing the way they move just to follow the sun, I like to think of it as a metaphor for life, like; always look at the bright side or always follow what makes you happy.
Today I had no class so I can spend the day calmly listening music and eating popcorn for lunch, I was trying to think about traveling somewhere for a change of view but it is a little difficult considering most of my time I’m busy with college. Not because I’m bad studying or I have that much work to do, but I have always been obsessed with having the best grades. I know is a lot of stress on my shoulders but I can’t seem to slow down a bit, I can’t even remember the last time I went out with friends.
The sound of a knocking in the door pushes my thoughts away, it must be the flowers I order yesterday.
I open the door and I’m greeted by a stunning bouquet of sunflowers. ‘’Good evening Idalia. I brought your monthly order’’. Linel gives me a gentle smile today, it’s small but is just as bright as the flowers. I feel lucky to see it.
Linel was the delivery guy of my favorite flower shop. He has the head and wings of a crow along with the taloned feet and four-fingered hands with sharp claws. The first time I saw him I was surprised not by his appearances, but by his cold and uninterested attitude towards me, avoiding eye contact and barely saying anything. I wasn’t expecting a hug but maybe he could at least looked at me in the eyes when I gave him the money. I didn’t know why but I tried my best to cheer him up, he always looked so gloomy and sad so I started making small conversations. It took a few more deliveries for him to actually open up a little.
‘’Why did you always order so many? If you mind me asking’’. I was taken by surprise by the fact that he was asking me something, and even more when I notice this was the first time he looked at me instead of his notepad. I gave him my best smile and answered him.
‘’I really love sunflowers! They remind me of a flower field that’s near to my father’s farm’’
‘’Hmm’’ was all he said. He made me firm the paper, took the money and leave without saying nothing else. After that, his attitude change from cold to just a little introvert and even shy. We exchange names and I learned that he has been the delivery guy for the flower shop for years now. He actually apologized to me for acting weird in the past, even when I told him it wasn’t really a big deal.
He began to do eye contact when we talked, most of the times it was just the smallest and simple things and other times we would tell jokes to each other, he was shy but also funny and a great chatter. He knows a lot of things not only about flowers but also about other wild plants, one time he even confessed to me that he enjoys going camping and watching the stars.
I felt a little sorry because we are only able to talk when I order my flowers.
I grab the bouquet and give it a good look. These are definitely fleshly bloomed. ‘’Thanks a lot Linel, you always bring me the prettiest ones’’
‘’I know you love them and I want them to make you smile’’. He scratches the back of his neck.
‘’Aw. You’re being such a charmer today’’ I giggle and his cheeks darken a little. I know he’s shy but it’s so funny to mess a little with him.
Looking at him a little closer he seems more anxious than other times, it may be because he’s in a hurry so I put the bouquet the vase and I handed him the money, I always wait for him to count the money so I didn’t miss anything. He looks at the coins for a few long seconds. ‘’Is everything okay?’’ I ask him.
‘’Uh? Oh! Yeah, I was just spacing out’’
‘’Well, if that’s everything then-‘’
‘’Oh! Actually…’’ he reached in his backpack and pull out a small bag of seeds. ‘’Sibhi thought it would be a good idea to sell some nuts and seeds as well, and since you always order sunflowers… well… Would you like some?’’
I do like sunflower and I do love sunflower seeds. I never expected for the flower shop to start selling this but maybe the owner thought it would be good to sell something else besides flowers and gardening stuff. It didn’t matter the reason, I would have bought it anyway.
‘’Of course, I like them a lot’’ I reach for my wallet, I do have a few dollars more. ‘’How much it cost?’’
‘’It’s on the house! You are a regular by now and it would help us some honest feedback to know if the product its good’’
He handed me the bag so slowly that our hands brushed against each other. His claws are as black as his hand but his feather has a bluish glimmer on it. I’m afraid I stared at him for too long because he suddenly clears his throat and looks around avoiding my gaze.
‘’Hope you like them. See you later’’
He walks away to the elevator before I could say goodbye to him. Sometimes I wish he wasn’t this distance, maybe we could get along really well. I like being with him, even if it’s just talking about the same stuff. I hope we can be at least friends.
I quickly cut the flowers and put return them to the vase. The rest of the day I spend it texting to one of my classmates from college, I’m not so close to Daisy but we always happen to share the same groups and high scores. The thing that shook me most when I first saw her was that she looked super skinny, like a magazine model, and back then I only saw her eating the same fruits and salads in the cafeteria. I picture her as a mean and superficial girl but when we did our first assign project I was proved wrong, she was sweet and caring and she clearly knew more about the subject than the rest of us.
I’ve seen her a few times around and I’m glad she looks happier. She seems to have gained a little bit of weight as well, she looks way healthier than before so she must be doing well. I’m happy for her.
We were discussing our presentation when I decide to ask her about it, just for curiosity. She tells me that she met a girl on the OkCryptid app and since then they have been on countless dates. She doesn’t go into detail but I can see for the heart emojis that she’s excited about it. Must be nice to be in love.
I’ve heard about this app before, a lot of my classmates in college use it. I wasn’t interested in finding someone so I didn’t pay much attention to it and it wouldn’t be a smart decision considering I’m awful at organizing my times. To me, it didn’t matter the species that much, I’ve actually dated a satyr before but it didn’t work out in the end, we’re still friends though but rarely talk to each other.
Overall I find it like a great option for others to get to know each other, after all, they’re still a few misconceptions about human dating other species. Mainly because there has been a lot of catfishing and a bunch of fetishists, so not so many people are okay with the idea of the app.
‘’Maybe…. I could give it a try? Maybe just to see how it is?’’ I say to myself while I click on the icon to download it. My curiosity is too strong to resist it anyway.
The app comes along with a huge and long quiz about you, things like; your preferences, sexual orientation, what type of monsters are you interest on, and another section to input your hobbies, favorite music, books, and movies. There was a point where I was tired of answering questions so I put the phone away and decide to watch what’s good on YouTube. Thirty minutes later and after seeing all the new videos from my subscriptions I continue with the quiz until I finish it.
Finally, I decide to put a selfie I took with the sunflower I got earlier and add an easy description; ‘’I’m a happy and sometimes a silly girl who loves to talk and have fun’’. I wonder for a moment if it’s too cheesy but I can’t think of anything else to write, so whatever. While I’m scrolling through the different profiles I receive a notification from the app.
Apparently, I have a 90% match with someone living nearby. Awesome! I click the icon and let out a loud gasp after seeing the profile picture. It’s Linel! Although in his picture he is holding a basket with different kinds of flowers and wearing the apron of the flower shop. I don’t know why am I this surprised, considering this app was made for cryptids. But deep in my head I had the idea that Linel was already on a relationship, he was actually nice and good looking so this is a little surprising to me.
Should I message him or not? Maybe it would be weird considering we DO know each other and the point of this app was to meet new people. After a good hour and twenty minutes arguing with myself in my head, I give up and decide is best not to message him. I leave my phone charging in my nightstand and go to sleep with my curtains open, waiting for the sun or my alarm to wake me up.
The next day it was my alarm who woke me up, which was normal but I was surprised not to see the sunlight coming from my window. I live on the sunny side of the city so it rather unusual to not see it. I look from my window and I’m shocked to see the day was cover in grey clouds. I didn’t check the weather forecast last night, but there have been no signs for this kind of weather, the sky has been clear and the wind keeps itself calm.
Days like this make me feel really sad. Don’t get me wrong, I like rainy days because I’m one of those people who buys a pair of rain boots just to jump in the water pools. But grey and windy days are just depressive to me. What’s even more annoying for me is that I have classes from sunrise to sunset, along with a group presentation which I already know it will be exhausting.
In the only break I have which is at lunchtime, I try to grab an orange juice and a chicken wrap from the college’s cafeteria and sit in a quiet place with only my thoughts as company. My phone rings with a notification from the OkCryptid app. I open it and, to my surprise, Linel just send me a message.
>Hey! I didn’t think I’ve found you in here.
>although it is funny that we matched
>I know it must be weird that I’m talking to you through the app but… maybe this way we can get to know each other.
>What do you think?
For a split second, I forgot about the stress of the presentation and the gloomy sight of the weather. I feel happy to see that he wants to get along as much as I do but also really nervous.
But before I can answer him my lunch time is over and I need to focus in the next class if I don’t want to fall asleep, that’s my priority right now. I’ll text him later.
The class ended and unluckily for me I end up leaving when it starts raining. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t notice the sudden change of weather and forgot to bring an umbrella. The college’s doors need to be closed so I had no other option but to run away idiotically looking for shelter. Rainy days can be really enjoyable when you’re in your bed watching TV and drinking hot chocolate, but when you’re soaking wet and freezing, the story is another.
I put my coat around my head trying to protect me from the rain I see the flower shop from afar. The lights are on but I can see the tiny sign of CLOSED. It doesn’t matter really, I just need a little bit of roof to cover my head before heading home.
The temperature drops considerably, I’ve just been standing here for a few minutes and I’m already shivering, crossing my arms trying to keep the little warmth I have in my body. Suddenly the door of the shop opens and I’m not greeted by the usual naga girl, but by Linel wearing the apron of the shop and his hands full of dirt.
“What are you doing in this cold?!” he asks me with an accusatory tone.
“I…” I don’t know how to answer, I’m too busy shivering to form any understandable word. He grabbed me by my wrist and pull me so I enter the shop.
“Come on in, you’re going to die of hypothermia standing here!”
It was weird for me to hear him this alarmed, especially when I used to his cool and collective attitude. It was just a little bit of rain, I wasn’t going to melt or something like that. The shop wasn’t as warm as I would like it but was definitely warmer than outside. He sat me on a bench and I remove my coat checking my pockets, even the cash inside my pockets was wet. Lucky me. He asks me for my coat so he could put it close to the heater to dry and gives me a towel.
He goes in the back and after a few minutes later, he sits beside me on the bench, giving me a cup of coffee. His hands are clean of dirt now, maybe he was planting before I came here?
“I’ll take that the rain got you by surprise too?”
“Yeah, I believe it took everyone by surprise. There was no way we could know that it was going to rain this much. The days have been lovely until today, this doesn’t make sense at all”
“Tell me about it. I had to move a lot of pots inside since we keep in the back to catch the sunlight. Some of the plants can drown or wither faster with too much water”
‘’You know a lot about plants. I only have a few flower pots and a few cacti since plants seem to die only by being around me’’ I chuckle.
He laughs a little and silence fills the entire shop, the only thing we can hear is the rain outside and the sound of me sipping my coffee.
After a while, I notice something peculiar. Between sip and sip of my cup, I notice Linel was eyeing me curiously, whenever I try to look at him he would turn and looks away. I believe he wants to ask me something or maybe he needs to do more important things and wants me to leave. The heat coming from the steaming cup was comforting but it didn’t stop me from shivering, even though the doors were closed I could feel a freezing breeze in my back. He must have noticed this because he spread one of his wings and wrap it around me.
“It must be cold without your coat and we can’t keep this place too warm because of the plants so… is this okay?”
His wing is a little bit heavier than I first imagine it, but it isn’t unpleasant. From under his wing, I see a few empty spaces, as if someone had pulled a bunch of feathers. That must have been painful.
“Thank you Linel, for letting me in. You’re very kind” He smiles at me but it fades quickly as he looks away once more. He starts tapping the floor compulsively with his left foot. I do the same when I’m bored but his expression is other like he’s lost in his mind.
“Did my…” he finally speaks. “Did my message upset you?”
“My message, from the app. I thought you may be upset for the message or you may think I’m a weirdo.”
“Oh! No, no, no. Nothing like that, I would never get mad for something like this. I didn’t answer you immediately because I had a very busy day today and I had to put all my focus on my classes because I was super tired. But I was going to answer you in my way home”
He let out a relieved sigh. But then his posture became tense and besides his best efforts, he couldn’t look at me in the eyes, his foot now tapping faster.
“So… what do you think?”
“About getting to know each other you mean? I was actually surprised by it if I’m honest with you”
“Why is that?”
“The first few times you came to deliver my flowers you never looked at me in the eyes. I truly believe that you hated me for some reason”
He shocked his head and move his arms erratically. “I promise, it was nothing like that!” I giggle at his clumsiness.
“I know you didn’t mean it so doesn’t worry. If you really hated me you wouldn’t start a conversation”. I playfully lean a little closer to him and poke his cheek. “Much less invite me inside the shop besides being close and saving me for dying in the cold” I can the feathers around his neck fluff a little so I lean back against the bench, I don’t want to scare him after all. I want to befriend him.
“I… I don’t really feel comfortable around with humans” he finally says. “I use to live in a reclusive area only for cryptids and other monsters. When I move to the city to start high school I suffered a lot of bullying and harassment by them, so I lost most of my trust in humans. Those days were hell, with no exaggeration. I tried to defend myself from the attacks and it worked, but after that, I was excluded from everyone else. They really thought I was the guilty one, the beast, the monster…” My heart was aching. I put my cup aside and grab his hand in mine and squeeze it, he didn’t look at me but I could see a sad smile forming in his beak.
“When I finish high school I grabbed what I had and start working immediately, I get out with great grades and even a recommendation for the same college not far from here but I didn’t take the chance. I run away. The fear of experiencing the same cruel treatment petrified me. I took the job here because of the owner, I’ve been working here since then’’
For a moment I really don’t know what to say. Somehow I feel guilty to think bad of him when we first meet, I don’t really know if he thinks of me as a possible friend or just a terrible creature. Maybe is best if I leave and give him space, but there’s something that tells me to stay here and listen. Not talk. Just listen to what he has to say and support him.
‘’I really am a loser… I have no major achievements in life besides be able to drive my motorcycle and make flower arrangements. I’m scared of humans and can’t even look at others in the eyes… I’m worthless”
“That’s no true!” I yell. Linel looks at me with wide eyes, his eyes already glassy with tears ready to come out. I couldn’t see myself but I was sure I must look angry.
“You’re not giving yourself credit enough! Besides everything, you went through you still move on each day. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t moving at the same pace of other, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t do what others did. You still did your best…” I feel an anger that I haven’t feel in a long time. Not against him but how unfair has been the world with him. ‘’They may say so many things to you but they are all lies. Lies meant to hurt you and make you think less of yourself. Even if everyone is screaming it at your face that doesn’t make it true. That doesn’t make them right and doesn’t make you wrong!’’
I didn’t notice I was yelling until I heard the echo in the walls. Linel is looking at me speechless, shocked, to say the least, and I don’t blame him, I don’t have the right to be angry for it. In the end is not my business and maybe he doesn’t need someone else screaming at him.
“I’m sorry… I don’t know why-“
“Thank you”. He squeezes my hands and put his forehead on them, shivering like a leaf. A few drops fall into my hands and I lift his face to see he is finally crying. “I’ve been told all my life that I wasn’t good enough to keep trying, that it wasn’t worthy of me trying, I was nothing but a coward and I believe it…”
I put my hands on the side of his face making him look at me in the eyes. “Those people are a bunch of assholes”. I kiss the top of his beak and he lets out a tiny gasp. “You’re braver than you think, and I know is hard to believe when everyone is telling you that you’re wrong. So I’ll come to see you or text you or call you and say it again. And again, until you start believing it”
He smiles again, this time with joy in his eyes and in less than three seconds I’m wrapped in his arms and wings. I hug him back of course. I run my hand through his back and I’m surprised to see that his feather are actually smooth and soft and he smells like a mixture of wood and nutmeg. After twenty minutes of happy sobbing a warm hugs, he pulls away and I handed him a paper tissue from my pocket.
“Sorry about that. I acted more excited than I should”
“Don’t be sorry for being happy. Sometimes it’s a good thing to be silly”. We both giggle.
“Yeah, that’s what I liked about you. Every time I give you the flowers with a cold stare you acted funny or tried to make me smile”
“It worked out in the end right?”
“I did actually. And I’m grateful for it”
I started thinking maybe this rain was an act of destiny because out of nowhere the rain stopped and the clouds were dissipating fast. Linel grabs and gives me my coat which was dry except for the end of the sleeves but it doesn’t matter really since I don’t live too far from here. Before I could walk away from the shop Linel stands in the way, scratching the back of his neck and tapping the floor with his foot once again.
“Umm… Would it be okay if we go out some other time? Maybe to go see a movie or something?” I’m so glad he asked it, I didn’t want to leave without him suggesting the idea so I’m glad he’s comfortable enough to do it.
“Of course! I’m sorry but you won’t be able to get rid of me now”
“Don’t be. I’m excited, to be honest. I’ve been wanting to get to know you more but I was too shy to ask before”
“I guess it was a good coincidence that we matched in the app right? Maybe it was meant to be that our paths crossed?”
I was going to say my goodbye but he stops me and run to the back of the counter and grabs a small bag.
‘’Here! A little thank you for your help’’. He hands me a bag of sunflower seeds and I take it. In other situation, I would have rejected them but now I want to accept his gratefulness, although he was the one to help me first.
‘’You never told me if they were any good’’
‘’You’ll have to ask me when we go out next time’’ I winked playfully.
‘’Then I should invite you soon’’ he leans forward and presses a gentle kiss in my check. I swear, if I was cold I can’t remember it because that made my blood boil. ‘’Goodnight Idalia’’
I feel victorious and happy. I jump into a few water pools of rain to celebrate and although my feet are soaking I couldn’t care less! Somehow I know that tomorrow it be brighter than ever.
Thanks for reading, have a nice and sunny day!