a/n: ok me @aquariumprincess23
were talking abt rika and we got soft™ and i started writing some random stuff about her and this happened djdjdb lol im not crying my eyes are sweating,,
Rika couldn’t stop her hands from shaking.
She stood in front of the front door with a plant pot in her grip, looking down at the small flower that only bloomed this morning. Rika wasn’t sure what MC’s favourite flower was, but she hoped that the pink tulip growing in the soil of the ceramic pot would suffice. She hadn’t met with MC since just before her recovery, and truly, she wasn’t in the best state. She apologised for everything – for the troubles, for the pain, for the fear, and she knew that it wouldn’t be forgiveable – although she was blubbering and sobbing and sitting at a table at a mental institution. Now, three years later, she was about to see MC again, who now took the surname Kim and lived in a row house with Yoosung.
Lifting up her head, Rika stared directly at the front door, and she was proud of herself because even that seemed too much for her, right then. She felt some leaves swirl around her ankles as a wind brushed by, and she shivered, suddenly regretting not bringing a cardigan. Swallowing, she brought her arm up and knocked twice on the door, toeing the threadbare doormat below her feet. Home, it read, a heart replacing the ‘o’. Rika’s heart swelled, but her nerves were singing. What if she ruins this home they made? What if she’s really crazy like everyone says she is? What if she really is just a monster? She tapped her foot, and stepped back to look at the curtained windows. Why weren’t they answering the door? Maybe they changed their minds, maybe they realised it was a bad idea to invite her, maybe they–
There was a doorbell.
Exhaling, she pressed it, and her trembling fingers made her stutter and ring twice. Swearing under her breath, she clutched the plant pot tighter. She hoped they wouldn’t find her slip up annoying. She really didn’t mean to ring more than once.
If Rika heard the footsteps behind the door, she was sure her heart would’ve stopped. The anticipation was killing her, and she didn’t realise it until the door opened, but a scowl formed on her face as she stared at the bottom of the door. Why does she have to be so jittery all the time? Stop, stop, stop! MC stood in the doorway with a smile, and Rika met her eyes, and her pulse was in her throat. She nearly lost her balance, and she was glad she didn’t, or the plant pot would’ve dropped. Wait, did MC say hi already? Geez, if only she could pay attention for once.
“Oh, Rika!” MC exclaimed, and held the door open wider. “Ah… I hope this isn’t too soon, but is it too much to ask for a hug?”
Surprised, Rika’s first reaction was no. What if she hurt MC? Everything she touched broke, first Sally, then… V… Biting her lip, she looked up, and nodded. Just slightly. It was all it took before MC was tugging her into an embrace. She gasped in surprise, caught mid-hug, looking down at the plant pot in her own hands over MC’s shoulder.
It’d been so long since somebody hugged Rika. She forgot how it felt.
It was comforting. She could feel MC’s heart beat against hers, and smell the hot chocolate clinging to the woollen sweater she wore. MC’s hand rubbed her back, and Rika closed her eyes. She wanted to stay like this. She could live like this. This feeling of affection and the presence of somebody else who wasn’t ready to call her bad names or make her feel crazy. She didn’t want to let go, and she was so glad when MC didn’t pull away. So, so glad. Relaxing, she looked up into the house, and watched Yoosung approach the doorway wearing a pair of mismatched socks and a hoodie. His eyes lit up, and Rika’s heart contracted. Yoosung. Her little baby cousin. He’s so grown up. She only ever saw Yoosung once without brown hair, and now his head was full of blond, clips nowhere to be seen, and his fringe falling over his forehead. He had grown taller, and his face had matured. She saw his graduation photo hung up on the corridor wall, and she couldn’t believe it. Was this her Yoosung? The little boy that would follow her around at the first RFA part because of his shyness? MC let go of her, eventually, and ushered her into the house, saying something about ‘not standing too long at the doorstep.’
“N-noona?” Yoosung stuttered, and Rika swore she’d never felt so relieved to be called something in her life. She was scared to death that she lost him – that after everything, she lost the appreciation that Yoosung had for her. But, she didn’t. Tears fought for room in his eyes, and she could tell he was trying to swallow them back. She stepped foreward, and hugged him, and she felt the feeling again; the one she had when MC embraced her. He held her, and she noticed how much taller than her he was. His chin could rest on her head. She heard him sniff. “I missed you. I missed you so much.
Inhaling, she knotted her fingers into the back of his shirt. This was the only part of her old self she had. She cherished Yoosung. He gave her a reason to recover, because nobody other than Yoosung looked up to her anymore. Nobody other than Yoosung thought she was much more than just a madwoman.
“I… missed you, too.” Pulling away from him, she surveyed his face, trying to mark every one of his changes. No more baby face. The scar over his left eye. The glasses. The maturity. Biting her lip, she suppressed any tears, and shakily brushed his hair above his hairline, before reaching down and gently pinching his cheek. “How’d you grow up so quick, huh? How’d you grow up so much without me to see?”
“I could say the same for you.” Reaching behind her, Yoosung carefully touched the ends of her hair, which now reached her neck. It was cut choppily, and Rika was meaning to get her hair styled at some point. It was only just growing back after she shaved it in her last few months in recovery. “Your hair… it’s so different…”
She caught his hand and stepped away from him. Guiltily, he quickly moved away, muttering an apology, but she stopped him. “No, it’s just… too soon…”
Sensing the change in mood, MC stepped in. “A-ah, Rika, do you want to see our kitten?”
Turning around, her lips parted. She felt Yoosung gently take the plant pot from her hands as she faces MC. Softly, she asked, “Y-you have a kitten?”
“Yeah!” Yoosung smiled. “Her name’s Lisa. She’s still small. Do you wanna meet her?”
Rika bit her lip, and looked down at her beige shoes. Shutting her eyes, she knotted her fingers together. Yoosung and MC were welcoming them into their home with so much love, it was almost too overwhelming for her. After three years of pills, and psychiatrists, and a vacant mind, Rika didn’t think she remembered how it felt to be loved. Now there she stood, fresh from one of the two first hugs she had in over three years, surrounded with soft carpets, and wine red sofas, and a spice perfumed kitchen. She didn’t want to get rid of this feeling.
"Yes,” she said, and followed Yoosung into the living room.
MC walked ahead, and Rika watched as she kneeled down in front of one of the sofas and peered underneath, murmuring softly and running her fingers along the carpet in front of the mouth of the gap beneath the couch. Rika waited with her breath held. She hadn’t been this excited in a long time. MC laughed gently, and waves Rika to sit by her, to which she complied. She gasped when white fur peeked out from beneath the sofa, and when MC reached out to touch it, it darted back in. Rika looked at MC, and saw the mirth dancing in her eyes as she chased for the kitten with her hand again, until it slowly peered out and stretched, sitting just in front of the two girls.
Rika stared. The kitten was still tiny, barely any fatter than the width of her hand. It was white and fluffy, and blue eyes which gazed up at her curiously. They blinked, and she wanted to stroke her so badly, but she was scared. What if she hurt this, too?
MC wrapped her hands around the kitten’s spine and lifted her up, running her thumb along her soft temple as she closed her eyes and nuzzled into her owner. Rika’s heart nearly melted, she barely heard Yoosung sit next to her.
“Would you like to hold her?” MC offered, reaching over to touch Rika’s hand. She froze under the other girl’s touch. Her hands were so warm.
“Y-yes, please,” she responded, but when MC went to hand Lisa to her, she panicked. She didn’t know how to hold a kitten! What if she dropped her? What if she held her too tight? What if something… bad happened… What if Rika–
“Noona?” Yoosung said softly, touching her shoulder. “Do you want me to show you how to hold her?”
Bowing her head, she nodded, keeping her hands in her lap. Yoosung took Lisa from MC and turned Rika to face him, letting the kitten rest against her forearm. Rika looked up at him, hovering her hand over the cat’s fur. He nodded, and she stroked Lisa, scared that she might touch her too harshly in the meantime. She wasn’t breathing. All she could feel was the kitten against her chest, and–
“Oh, my God,” she whispered, feeling Lisa hum against her body. “Is she purring?”
“She likes you,” Yoosung said.
Rika exhaled, rubbing Lisa’s cheek with the tip of her thumb. She was so soft, and so warm. She was alive. The trust that something so vulnerable and so tiny put in her made something clutch her heart. This kitten… Lisa… Lisa trusted her with something as valuable as her own self. Lisa didn’t think Rika was a monster, or crazy, or dangerous. She bit her lip, and didn’t feel the tear run down her cheek. When would she ever feel this much love again? Sniffing, she scratched the cat behind her ear, before Lisa stilled. Rika begun to panic Did she do something wrong? Why wasn’t the kitten moving? Th-this is Sally all over again, how could she–
“Oh,” MC said softly.
Rika couldn’t hold in her sob, and held her hand over her mouth, crying into her palm. They were painful cries, painful and racking her whole body. Yoosung stared at her, alarmed, and so did MC. She cried harder, unable to breathe in properly without hiccuping.
“I-I’m so s-s-sorry… y-you shouldn’t have let m…me touch her.” She touched Lisa’s fur. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt her. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
MC leaned in, and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Ssh, it’s okay…”
“N-no… Lisa isn’t m-moving…”
“Hey, Noona.” Yoosung reached for the kitten in her lap, and nudged Lisa’s nose. She woke up, and sniffed, meowing softly. Rika stared at her lap, the kitten now awake and kneading at the skirt of her dress. Her lungs were worn out. Oh. Yoosung smiled. “See? She just fell asleep.”
She held her hand out for Lisa to sniff, her eyes still spilling tears, and the kitten stuck her tongue out and licked her hand. Rika’s chest contracted.
“I… don’t want to hurt things anymore.” She choked on a sob.
Leaning in, Yoosung let her rest her head on his shoulder. “You won’t, Noona. You’re a wonderful person.”
She paused, inhaling deeply. She listened to the clock tick on the opposite wall, and the cat’s purrs. “Am I a monster?” she asked softly.
“No.” The other two said immediately.
“Then…” she breathed, another tear slipping down her cheek, “why do I feel like one?”
She wept, her tears falling on Lisa’s fur. Her shoulders trembled as Yoosung tried to lull her, and MC reached out to hold one of her hands in both of hers. Rika sniffed, and sobbed, and she was glad Yoosung said nothing about the tear patch she left on his shirt. He stroked her short hair, running his fingers through the choppy strands. She pressed the side of her face against his chest, before sitting up, looking down at the kitten.
“I-I swear on my l-life…” She covered her mouth as she cried, still looking at Lisa. “I swear on my life. I will never h-harm y-you. Ever.”
Rika felt stupid. She felt stupid for crying over a kitten and she felt stupid for walking into her cousin’s home and bringing her messy brain with her. She felt stupid for feeling so much just by embracing Lisa, but she had no room to hate herself, since she could hear Yoosung crying from above her, and MC inclining towards her for an embrace. Other than stupid, all she could feel was how much she loved this family. MC, and Yoosung, and Lisa. And she cried more because she knew this was a love that she’ll only ever know once, and a love that she’ll never have back. She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes, and took in a quaking breath.
So this door has got to be one of my all time favourites. It’s just so regal, so perfect. I look at it as it seems to have been captured in a small village in the UK rather than Balzan.
What’s also peculiar, is that I had already seen this door in photos. And I had consciously looked for this door, simply because when the creeper surrounding the doorway is in bloom, it is a feast of yellow and orange, which is quite uncommon. Generally the pink or reddish bougainvillea are favoured.
I’ve come to the conclusion that some doors will simply have to captured more than once - it’s just like Monet’s Impressionist paintings. Sometimes it’s not about the subject itself, sometimes it’s about the weather, the seasonality, the light - elements which can completely alter an image.
Listen. That thing you love so much—that thing that keeps saving you? You go ahead and love the hell out of that thing. Take up your space and experience that joy without any embarrassment. It’s yours.