Chapter 4.19: Finding Yourself

Third person

September 2553

Sera paced outside her older sister’s room, going over the plan in her head.

Just ask her, it’ll be easy. She’ll probably want to go anyway, and she won’t ask questions. Or… well, maybe she will. It’s you, after all, and you never want to do anything like this.

She laid against the wall, listening to her sister’s piano-playing. Classical music. You would never think a girl like Vali would like classical, but she does, and always has since she was young.

Damn it, Sera. You need to know. You know that you won’t stop thinking about it until you know the answer. You know that.

“Ugh,” she whispered to herself, “I’ve just gotta do it.”

She knocked on the door lightly. No response. The music kept playing.

She knocked louder, and she heard the music stop and her sister walking over.

No, what if this isn’t a good idea –

“Yes?” Vali asked, opening the door.

“Oh, um…” Sera paused, “doyoumaybewannagotoaclubtonight?”

Vali stared at her younger sister. “What?”

Sera took a deep breath. “Do you… want to go to a club? Tonight?”

Her older sister blinked. “What?”

“Do you…”

“No, I heard you. I just wouldn’t think you would want to go to a nightclub.”

Sera could feel her heart beating loudly. “Um, well, I do. Can we go?”

Vali shrugged, leaning against the door. “Sure. Right now?”

“Yeah,” Sera nodded.

“Okay,” Vali replied, looking at her sister suspiciously.

Maybe she’s growing up a bit, Vali thought. Maybe she’s taking risks and having some fun now. Why not?

“Are we going?” Sera asked, twisting her hands around.

“I’ve gotta change first,” Vali stared incredulously.

She may be ready to go out and have a bit of fun, but she sure has a lot to learn about it, Vali laughed to herself.

“Oh. Right,” Sera replied. “I guess I will, too, then.”

“Right,” Vali said, still staring. “Alright…”

Forty-five minutes later, Valentina looked in her mirror, nodding in approval at what she’d put together.

Looks pretty good, it’s almost a shame I won’t be able to have any real fun tonight, Vali thought, shaking her head. I have a boyfriend and he’s really great, and I actually don’t want to risk losing him right now. …Damn, Valentina. Are you actually maturing a bit?

Shut up, self.

Vali walked over to Sera’s room, knocking on the door. She hadn’t been in there for… well, a while. It’s not like the sisters were close. “Hey, you ready?”

“I think so,” Sera replied, opening the door.

Vali looked at her sister, blinking. “Did you get that style from a seven year old’s 2010’s YouTube video?”

Sera pulled at her skirt. Vali didn’t even know Seraphina owned a skirt.

“I – I don’t know. I don’t do this, like, ever,” Sera sighed.

“Don’t worry,” Vali replied, pulling her sister over to her room. “I think you’ll fit some of my stuff.”

“I dunno…” Sera trailed off. She didn’t want to look stupid, she knew that, but she was also hesitant to wear her older sister’s clothes. Vali’s style was more… revealing than anything Sera was used to.

“Come on! You wanted to go to a nightclub, so you’ve gotta look like you’re going,” Vali insisted. She was really excited that her little sister wanted to go, actually. They didn’t have much in common, so the two of them almost never did anything together.

“…fine,” Sera relented.

Eighteen minutes later…

“See, it looks good, right?” Vali grinned, looking at Sera in her clothes.

She really could look fashionable if she tried, Vali thought.

“I mean…yes,” Sera replied, staring at herself.

I barely recognize myself, Sera thought to herself. It does look good, Vali’s right, but… damn. I look like her, not me! Maybe that’s what I need tonight, though…

“We good?” Vali asked.

Sera nodded. “Yeah. Let’s go.”

Vali smiled, her green eyes glinting. “Can you climb out a window?”


The club was loud and bright, with the stereo pop music booming so loud it almost sounded like rock.

“This is… Ta Fōta toy Márigkolnt?” Sera asked.

“Yeah, Marigold’s Lights. They made it when Mom was like twenty,” Vali laughed.

“No, really?”

“Yeah,” Vali nodded with a grin. “…ready?”

Sera sighed, twirling her hair. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Do you want me to leave you alone?” Vali asked her sister. She knew that she’d want to be left alone, after all.

Sera sucked in her breath. “Yes.”

Vali shrugged. “Ok, I’ll just chill, then.”

The two sisters went separate ways; Vali towards the bar and hangout area, and Sera went outside where everyone was dancing.

What now? Sera asked herself. I’m here, but…

Deep breath.

Okay. I’m sure Vali’s done it before, just went in and found people to kiss. Damn it, Sera, what the hell are you thinking? Just finding people to kiss! You’re not a hoe!

No, I’m not. I’m still not. It’s just like a science experiment. You do it, see what the results are, and then make a conclusion. That’s it. Right?

Right.

She looked around, weaving back and forth through the crowd, still not entirely sure how to go around with what she was trying to do.

Turns out, she might not have to. A boy, no older than sixteen, was smiling at her from across the floor. He waved.

Sera looked around.

Are you really going to do this?

I have to.

She blinked before making her way over to him, slowly.

“Hey,” he said once she got closer.

She smiled. “Hey.”

He… he does look nice. But do I want to kiss him? Would I want to sleep with him?

Hey, we aren’t going that far! Sera, stop.

Sera had read enough romance novels to know what was supposed to happen next. So, she did. She took his hands, a bit to his surprise, but he quickly got over that, and kissed her. But, while most might be enjoying the moment, Sera was analyzing it. She had a question she needed answered. She felt it happening – his lips on hers, his hands under her hair – but it didn’t make her feel anything but weird. She scrunched her eyes shut, trying to get into the moment, but it evaded her.

It, however, didn’t evade him. He had come to have a good time, but hadn’t expected to find such a pretty girl.

Sera pulled away after another excruciating eight seconds – yes, she’d counted – whispering a sorry goodbye to the guy and moving away into the crowd. She felt bad for him. He had obviously liked her and it certainly wasn’t his fault she somehow couldn’t like him back. She watched him leave after a few more minutes, and went to sit on one of the stools a few meters away. She spent a few minutes simply staring up at the stars, the ones she could see through the glare of the nightclub’s lights, to be precise.

What am I doing here? She asked herself, before the answer came quickly back. Finding yourself. Finding out who you like.

She sighed, twirling a strand of her hair.

Did I have to do it this way?

Yes.

“Hi,” she heard, turning to look up at a teenage girl.

“Um, hi,” Sera replied, letting the strand of her hair fall back down.

“Well, um, this might be weird and all, but I saw you with that boy, and you weren’t enjoying yourself, so I wanted to make sure you were okay,” the girl explained, sitting down next to her.

“Oh,” Sera breathed. “No, he was cool and all, I just – ”

“Don’t like boys?” The girl finished, raising her eyebrow. “I’m Iskra, by the way.”

“Well, I…” Sera trailed off. “Maybe.”

Iskra smiled, placing her hand on Sera’s shoulder. “Do you wanna maybe go upstairs?”

Sera took a deep breath before nodding yes. The two of them went back inside and then upstairs. Sera could swear she saw Vali laughing with the bartender, but she put it out of her mind. She had other things to think about.

“I didn’t read this wrong, right?” Iskra asked. “You are interested in me, at least a little?”

Sera couldn’t say that she was, but that wasn’t the point of the experiment, wasn’t it? Just like the boy, Sera could tell that Iskra was pretty, that she’d make the straight guys in her grade stare, but once again, Sera could also tell that she herself was not compelled to the girl. Nevertheless, she replied yes, and Iskra smiled.

“I’m bi, leaning towards girls, but most gay girls seem to be taken or uninterested,” Iskra said, leaning back on the couch.

“Oh,” Sera nodded.

“What about you?” Iskra asked.

“Well… I’m not exactly sure,” Sera admitted.

Iskra shrugged. “No problem. It’s cool. As long as you like me, right?”

Sera gave the brunette a nod. “Right.”

“Forgive me, I haven’t kissed a girl since ninth grade,” Iskra murmured.

Sera blinked. She was in tenth now. “Wait, how old are you?”

“Seventeen,” Iskra replied. “Why?”

“Oh, no reason.”

Okay, she’s Vali’s age. Only two years older. No problem.

Sera and Iskra made out for what felt like a lifetime to Sera.

It’s the same.

Seraphina had hoped she would feel something with this girl, that she’d finally feel what everyone talks about, but no. And when Iskra’s phone starts playing a ringtone – a Bulgarian song that Sera recognizes from when she was eight as being a popular song – she’s relieved that Iskra has to go. Iskra’s sad to go, but tells Sera she really enjoyed the night and that she’d never forget it. Sera knows that she will never forget it either, but not for the same reasons. After Iskra leaves, Sera is left alone on the top floor of the nightclub with her thoughts.

That did nothing. You shouldn’t have done it. Those were nice people, you shouldn’t have strung them along. What if you meet again?

But I had to know! That’s why I did it. Of course, it didn’t work. I still didn’t feel anything, or at least I don’t think so. If that’s what people are crazy about, I don’t want to try and start understanding them. It’s not even nice, it’s simply happening at best, and feels really weird at worst. But there has to be someone I like, right? I can’t live alone forever! Without romance, won’t my life be missing something? People say it’s the best and most important part of life, but what if I can’t feel it?

Sera stared out the window, her head full of thoughts. She closed her eyes and felt two identical tears fall down her cheeks; tears that she hadn’t realized were there, but that could not longer stop falling.

What if you’re broken, Sera? She questioned herself, feeling her eyes sting.

No, you know the word. Actually, the two of them. Asexual and aromantic.

WELL, WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO BE ASEXUAL?!

She was screaming in her head, but made no sound on the outside.

It doesn’t work like that, and you know it! You don’t get to choose. Nobody does.

“I don’t care,” she whispered to herself slowly, “I want to love.”

She was torn out of her thoughts by a scream from below, and she wiped off the tears dotting her face, peering down the stairs. A girl, with hair colored much like Sera’s own, was sprawled out on the floor. It took Sera a minute to make the connection.

“VALENTINA!” She screamed, running down, “That’s my sister! What – what’s going on?! Someone tell me!”


A/N: Guess I love cliffhangers as much as ever… Anyway, sorry that there are no pictures again, my summer has been pretty busy and I seem to almost never be at home. Hope you guys enjoy the story even without pictures!

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