Cuckoos and Candles

Icarus: *cue dramatic music*

Iris: Right. We’d like to introduce you to our other partner in crime, aka the most extra person in existence, Felix.

Icarus: Ah yes. So it was only fair that on his birthday this year, planned or otherwise, something completely cuckoo was on the agenda.

Iris: Not that we have anything against cuckoos…

Icarus: …and other birds that we may or may not have seen in our sorry short lives.

Iris: Right. Starting from the beginning. Take it away, Icarus.

Icarus: Alright then. I was sitting in the car, impatiently fidgeting with my hands, cursing every time the traffic made it impossible to move. I had an exam that day, unlike Felix and Iris, who’d started their summer vacations earlier.

Iris: *sympathetic nod*

Icarus: As luck would definitely not have it, the one day I was in a hurry to get home was the day I got stuck waiting at every traffic signal we crossed.  Hey, you can’t blame me for being a little frustrated, it was my best friend’s birthday and the one day I got to meet his friends. Our plan was for me to pick up Iris and then we’d meet Felix together.

And I was so late.

By the time I reached the turning to my apartment complex, saying I was annoyed was an understatement. Especially since there was a line of cars to the gate which would delay me further. That is how I ended up flinging the car door open and sprinting the distance to Iris’s house, my mother questioning my sanity and shouting at me to return early.

Iris: Ha.
Anyways, I was in my room listening to music. When I heard a loud knock (even through my headphones) I raced to open the door, but my mum beat me to it. I looked over her shoulder and saw Icarus standing there in her school uniform, slightly out of breath.

Icarus: Now, one thing that is very essential to this story is the fact that I don’t have anything that resembles a stamina. I promise you that that’s not an exaggeration of a dramatic teenage girl with self esteem problems. So after 100 metres and two flights of stairs filled with wild running made complete with flailing hands, when I’m standing at Iris’s doorstep, I am exhausted and panting.

Her mother opens the door, voicing her concern at my apparently disturbed face, leaving me very confused as to what was going on. I mutter a puzzled “I’m good” then ask if Iris was at home.
Just as I say this I see her walk out of her room, letting her hair loose from a ponytail. We grin at each other like we usually do when we see each other. When she’s done brushing her hair, telling her mother our destination and halfheartedly saying that she’d be back in a while, we’re out the door and walking to Felix’s house.

Iris: We were also screeching even before we reached the ground floor.

Pretty normal for us, to be honest.

We were laughing as we reached his block and I pressed the up button on the lift.

Now Icarus has this vow according to which she takes the stairs all the time-

Icarus: -no matter how inconvenient it may be for the rest of you, or me.

*shrugs*

Vows are vows, man.

Iris: *rolls eyes*

Soulmate or not, I downright refused to climb four flights of stairs with her.

Icarus: The only exception to not keeping the vow, is any time I have a heavy bag with me. Unfortunately, I was sorely lacking in bags to weigh me down leading to me ignoring Iris and her exclamation of “Icarus, just use the lift!” and proceeded to kill myself running up the stairs so that I’d reach at the same time as her.

I’m a masochist, I know.

I ring the doorbell and lean against the wall, trying to regain my breath. A few minutes later when the door still remained firmly shut, I whip out my phone and call him, cursing everything that was not advancing according to plan. Honestly, I ran to make it somewhat on time, I was going to meet Felix if it was the last thing I did.

I realize that I might be a little extra.

He answers the call and updates us on the situation. They were at a restaurant, Zephyr, a few minutes walk away from the apartment. Now that I think about it, we should have figured that they’d go out for a celebratory lunch. But then again, I’ve never claimed to be smart.

Belting out swear words every other sentence, I tell him we’re showing up at the restaurant.

Iris: I couldn’t stop laughing at how dramatic she was being. I could hear Felix on the other end trying to make her see reason.

“It’s going to be pointless if you come now, Icarus, my friends are staying for longer, so I’ll call you when we’re back. Go home, eat lunch and I’ll see you then.”

She wasn’t having any of it.

Icarus: Duh.
I understood his reasoning very well, of course I did. However going home now would mean that all the sprinting, all the stressing that I wouldn’t make it on time, all the dirty looks I’d got for shouting fuck in front of multiple adults, would be for nothing. Nothing.
Like fuck, I was allowing that to happen.
I may have mentioned this before, but I was going to meet Felix if it was the last thing I did.
“Sorry honey, you’re stuck with us. Iris is with me. And we’re coming. Bye!” I disconnected the call before I could hear any rebuttals.

Iris: I meekly followed her down the stairs again. Storming into a restaurant at this point was hilarious in itself, but I knew that the ten faces staring at us in utter shock would be even better.

I was not disappointed to say the least. But more about that later. 

Icarus was in a mood definitely. We both are known for our anxiety usually when people are involved, but I knew today that wasn’t going to be a problem at all. She was pissed enough to march her uniformed self, Identity card and all, in there with no cares. A small part of me tried to draw strength from her courage, but most of me was dying off laughter at how ridiculous this was. 

We never seem to realize how loud we can be, and today was no exception. We were crazily half walking half running to the restaurant, completely aware that if our parents found out that we left the apartment we were actually dead. When I listed this concern to her, she merely said, “So they don’t find out. Simple.” 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our friendship in a nutshell. 

Icarus: And yes, that’s why it’s a great idea to publicly blog this.

Iris: The entrance to Zephyr loomed up ahead, and my throat clogged up on seeing the security and the door and the men in suits and ties ahead.

“They probably won’t let us in-” 

She didn’t even look at me. 

Icarus barged right in, throwing open the door dramatically, completely ignoring the momentarily stunned guard and my fears. 

And me? I did the most logical thing I could have in that moment. 

I bolted right after her. 

Lucky for us, they were seated right near the door, in the middle of the place. 

And if we naively expected only  ten mouths to drop in shock as we walked in, we were wrong. So very wrong.

As we breathlessly waltzed in, I could see Felix audibly sigh and nine faces look up from their menus.

I froze, and the entire restaurant halted all movement for a terrifying three seconds.

I gulped. 

I’m positive a waiter almost dropped his tray. 

Heck, I’ve never felt more like a deer in the headlights as I did then. 

My partner in crime, on the other hand, did not give a single shit. 

By this time, Felix had gotten to us and was a little speechless, unable to say much to our flair for theatre. 

“Happy birthday!” she said sagely.

I sighed.

Icarus: Ha. Our job here was done.

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Unexpected Consequences

The ball bounced over the wall and the boy ran after it cursing his luck. With every step he took, he came closer to what every teen feared the most – embarrassing themselves in front of their crush. The situation was especially bad for Erin because he was a geek and everybody knows what the popular people think of geeks. Loser. Crazy. Nerd.

He shivered as his brain supplied him with all the ways the encounter could go horribly wrong. Standing in the front of the gate, he cleared away the scenarios running through his mind and forced himself to stay positive. He paused for a minute assuring himself that nothing bad would happen and was feeling almost confident, before he looked down and realized that he was wearing the nerdiest t-shirt he owned, which was saying something because he owned a lot of nerdy t-shirts.

Any confidence that he had managed to capture flew out of his grasp. The anxiety flooded his bloodstream again and he decided that his ball was not worth the clammy palms and racing heart, even though it was limited edition and featured a beautiful rendition of the throne room of Dragonstone.

Just as he was turning to leave, however, the gates opened and standing in front of him in all his crush-worthy glory was Arden.

“Oh hello! This is your ball right? I was just coming to return it,” he said, as if he did not just give Erin a heart attack.

“Meep,” Erin squeaked, internally screaming at himself for being so awkward.

“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” Arden replied with a confused smile and an utterly adorable tilt of his head.

“I, erm, yes. It’s mine. Sorry for bothering you. Thank you for bringing it to me. Or. Well. You know, wanting to, seeing as I’m on your doorstep. Oh. But, it’s not a door. So gate-step? Anyways I’m sorry for rambling. You’re probably busy. I’ll get out of your way. I’m sorry and thank you. Again.”

He started to walk away, blushing furiously but stopped when he felt a hand on his elbow. He turned to see Arden smiling at him hesitantly.

“Do you have to go just yet? I was just about to start watching the season finale of Game Of Thrones. If you’re free, we could maybe watch it together?” Arden questioned, lightly scratching the back of his neck.

Erin’s brain short-circuited.

“You want to what!? I mean, why would you want to do anything with me? Wait, is this a pity thing? I don’t want your pity. Or is it a dare? I refuse to be entertainment for yo–”

“Hey, slow down! This is not a dare or a joke or a pity thing! I promise you that asking you o– uh, that is, wanting to watch the greatest show ever with you is a purely selfish motive as, unfortunately, my friend circle would rather not deal with me screeching at a TV. However, that leaves me to watch it with you, so maybe I’m not so unfortunate after all.” He winks and gestures to his house invitingly.

“Well? What do you say?”

Erin hesitated. His self-esteem would never recover if this turned out to be a ploy to capture his shame. But Arden just asked him to watch a show together! His favorite show at that. He couldn’t not do this.

Which is how he came to the conclusion that he would. Purely out of loyalty to the Starks, of course. Not because he had a crush or because said crush winked at him. No, that would be stupid.

Eh. What was the worst thing that could happen.

Lots. Of. Things. So. Many. Embarrassing. Possibilities.

But-

“Sure.”

-Icarus

Normalcy.

Sometimes when the chemicals in her bloodstream took over and she found herself feeling sad, she wished she was normal. Someone who looked around and saw cars, motorbikes and retail stores, not the greed and gluttony of humanity. Someone who looked up to the stars and saw twinkling dots of beauty, not burning spheres of flame that would incinerate her in minutes. Someone who could make conversation without a side dish of stutters and awkward silences. Someone who was accepted by society and comfortable in their world. Someone, who was the opposite of her.

During these periods of less-than-happy emotions, she hated herself. She hated her figure and her baby features. She hated her chapped lips  and her ugly nail-bitten fingers. She hated her inability to concentrate on her studies and that she had no motivation or will power to take the time to practise her hobbies. But most of all, she hated her conscious mind for allowing this hatred because she knew that others had it worse. While others struggled to earn money and went hungry, she had all she needed to survive and yet she didn’t make use of her resources. And yet, she sat wallowing in self despair wishing she wasn’t born.

However, this mood passed, like it always did, unravelling the shadows strangling her. She could think again. She could have hope again. As she made her way into the sunlight, one slow step at a time, she built a wall  around herself, separating her from her negative thoughts. Pretending they were never there. As the sun rose higher and the wall grew thicker, she began to function again. Her heart beat steadily, her eyes remained dry. She could remind herself that she wasn’t alone; that she had family and friends who would help her. She could look at the cars, motorbikes and retail stores and see a species that was trying its best to keep its little corner habitable. She could laugh and smile and have conversations about the stars, the milky way, the universe, without feeling like she was drowning. She could talk to a stranger without feeling bad about her awkward personality. She felt better.

Even though she knew that the day where the wall would collapse and plunge her back into the deep recesses of her mind was coming, she was happy. With her no longer clouded mind, she realised that nobody was normal. Not her, not her family, not her friends, not the newborn baby on the opposite side of the planet named Javier.

And for the first time since her last breakdown, she knew that this was okay.

-Icarus

Standing alone.

The issue of bullying has plagued school systems for a long time. And in recent years has increased to alarming levels. Many cases leave the students with emotional scars that run deep and never fully heal, and some even have young children thinking that they have no other option but to end their lives.

This needs to stop. How can we just watch as these children get abused in every possible? How can we be idle spectators to their pain, as they distance themselves from the world for fear of running into their tormentors. Or maybe worse, plastering fake smiles and easy grins on their faces and pretending nothing is wrong. How can we ignore the bruises peeking from behind shirt collars and the colorful personalities huddled behind terrified souls? They are fellow human beings, just like us, and yet we let them fend for themselves, making them grow to hate their appearance, gender, sexuality and heritage. Making them grow to hate their very being. All just because they aren’t the definition of “cool”.  Oh, do excuse us for expressing ourselves the way we want to.

It isn’t enough to feel sympathetic and watch. There’s strength in numbers. If you’re worried about yourself getting hurt then it just shows your character more than anything else really. Stand up for what you believe in, even if you stand alone.

-Icarus

Edit by Iris.

Humans Are Idiots

This very simple fact is often forgotten as we exist in our monotonous lives. We wake up, eat, study and work, all the while staring into a blue lit screen. Then we lose ourselves to our reboot system and start all over again. We’re machines, programmed from the time we came into this world to do one thing only. Earn money.
It is drilled into our brains from the moment we can fully comprehend and communicate with our surroundings that we must do whatever we can to earn money or we’ll be useless in the world. We are asked to be happy only if we’re already rich. If not, it’s better to work a desk job than start your own business. We’re asked to follow our hopes and dreams only if it’s a promising career path. If we want to become an artist or an environmentalist or a freelance writer, we’re asked to keep it second priority, and instead get forced into a science or commerce job. You know, just in case we don’t earn much in a job we actually want to do.
We’re asked to learn a bucket load of waste in school, instead of being taught things that would save our lives in the real world. Instead of learning how to do taxes and managing finances. Instead of learning how to make a healthy meal without blowing it up. Instead of learning how to survive as an adult without our family handing everything to us on a finely carved platter.

So yes, humans are idiots.

We have made our lives revolve around money rather than happiness. We value expensive items and societal standings more than we value relationships. We talk about making the world a better place to live in, not realizing that we were the ones who destroyed it to begin with.

I state, once again, that humans are idiots. Because only we would waste our entire lives saving money until it’s too late to spend it.