‘When you want to woo somebody, you give them pretty things.’
That’s what my father used to tell me when he looked affectionately at my mother.
„Give them graceful, fragile things“, he’d huff. “Like roses. They might have thorns, but they are elegant, and have an alluring scent.”
And they fade away, I thought.
Like… love and affection can fade into obscurity.
My feelings for Kuo aren‘t roses. And the thorny, prickly kind of affection he gives me isn’t fragile either. It’s like his stitches and spells – pushing and pulling and demanding. He exhausts me. And I thrive on it.
So, I got him something that does not fade. It’s hard, with hidden thorns, but it’s soft and pure at the same time. It’s… like him. In some ways.
He gives me a wry smile when I push the cotton flower branch into his hand.
Unsure, fiddling with the stem, he says, “… I’m not a maid you have to woo.”
I quirk an eyebrow. “I’m quite aware of that fact.”
Say thanks, I want to say. Say something… anything. Don’t leave me hanging. I have no idea how to do this.
But he just watches me. Carefully, with an unreadable expression.
“I’ll go… and find… Aik,” I stammer. It’s getting awkward and I can’t do awkward anymore. Not this time.
I nod and start to walk away.
“I won’t use it. Last time I picked cotton flower, I bled all over it.”
I look back.
He’s twitching, like he wants to say more but doesn’t know how to make sense of the turmoil inside his head. Emotions keep flitting over his face in rapid succession.
“You don’t have to. It wasn’t meant to be used, Kuo.” I smile wryly.
His ears start to go a pretty shade of pink. I walk away.
Behind me there’s a whispered, “Thanks.”