Theres a knock at the front door. You wipe your eyes and hug your knees to your chest, not really wanting to see anyone. Nothing worse than being picked on all day.
She tells you how stupid you are, how nobody will love such a stupid, ugly cry-baby. She repeatedly tells you what a baby you are, watching cartoons all day. She just tells you youre a baby and should go home and curl up with your stupid Hello Kitty doll.
Luckily Yao wasnt around to hear that part.
Still, it hurts. Even if its something little, it just gets to you, and you hate it. Apparently youre never too old to be bullied.
The person at the door is persistent, knocking harder. You stand up to go and answer it before the door gets broken down or something.
Opening it gently, you sigh when you see that its only Ivan.
Hey, you say.
________? What is wrong? he asks, frowning when he notices your tear-stained cheeks and red eyes.
nothing, you lie. Ivan was one of the friends you could really open up to, but he creeps the hell out of people a lot of the time. You never really understood why.
Why are you crying, moy tsvetok? he follows you inside, closing the door behind him. You fall back onto your couch and Ivan sits next to you. You look at the one hand he is keeping behind him.
Im not, Im just
allergic, you tell him.
I hope its not to sunflowers
he mumbles, producing them from behind his back. He hands them to you and you cant help smiling. He loves sunflowers and knows you do, too.
Thanks, Ivan, theyre beautiful. What are they for? you ask, lying them down on the table.
Well, theyre to cheer you up.
you didnt even know I was upset.
He grins, Ah, I do now.
You narrow your eyes as you realise you walked right into that one.
Are you going to tell me whats wrong, ________?
You pause. You can tell him anything, of course you can. You turn so that your back is facing him. Taking hold of his long scarf, you bury your face into it as you say, Ivan, do you think Im stupid?
What? Stupid? Of course not! Why would you think-
What about ugly?
N-no! Why do-
What about a cry-baby?
Even though you keep his scarf pressed onto your face, he suddenly takes hold of your shoulders and pulls you onto his lap. He puts his arms around you, saying, ________, stop. Why would you think these things?
I dont, you reply, voice muffled by the fabric. He tries to pull his scarf away from you, but you keep a tight clutch on it, refusing to let it go.
Then who told you that? His voice has an angry tone to it, which doesnt really seem possible for your Russian friend. He usually speaks in a soft tone, especially to you, and youve rarely heard him speak in any other way.
Well, maybe when hes creeping people out he speaks
Dont worry, Ivan. Its not important.
If they have upset you then I want to know about it.
Ivan, stop. Theres nothing you can do, right? And dont go and beat her up, you say with a slight giggle.
He sighs, You know its not true, right? What she says, its not true at all.
You smile gently and look up at him, Ivan-
No, really. Youre a lovely, unique person. People think Im strange, too. Maybe people just dont get us sometimes, he says, grinning, Youre not a baby, youre not stupid, and you most certainly arent ugly. Youre the most beautiful girl Ive ever seen.
really? you whisper.
He nods, still grinning, Absolutely.
You sit in silence for a moment, unsure of what to say next.
So, you never told me, ________, who is it thats actually saying these things to you? he asks.
Natalya, you say.
as in, my sister?
right. Lets go.
Ivan moved you off of his lap and onto the couch so that he could get up. He then walked straight into your bedroom.
Ivan, what are you doing? you ask.
He then calmly says, Helping you pack. Were going to have to leave the country.