"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Wheezing harshly in a hurried attempt to release the smog clutching at her chest and reintroduce oxygen into her lungs proved to be an uncomfortable, but ultimately fruitful endeavour. Hazel’s hand rubbed against her throat, soothing it as the other ran across her eyes to clear her vision; now blurred from the dashing of tears that’d arisen during her hacking fit. As she inhaled deeply and offered Jae a weak smile, she realised she could at least take comfort in the fact that she’d chosen to forgo contacts today; making the situation just that tiniest bit easier to manage.

“I’m fine,” she managed, voice still roughened from her cough. “Looks like I won’t be playing any moody, cigarette smokers standing on abandoned street corners anytime soon, though.”

Not wanting his attention to be too preoccupied by her disruptive fit, Hazel’s mind raced as she tried to conjure up another topic to distract from her maladies. She preferred to keep the whole ‘damsel’ thing to the stage – she’d played enough of them in her time, and was in no mood to have life reflect art right now.

As she remained in thought, Hazel noticed Jae’s hand, still half-hovering by her shoulder, and her smile widened just a bit more. It was one of those cute little quirks, that awkwardness that made him so undeniably human that she liked about Jae. Too long she’d been chasing flawless, undeniable perfection – both in boys and in herself, and she was just beginning to realise that it was one’s flaws, their moments where everything was genuine and true, were what made them perfect.

It was then that the idea struck her – not too deeply, not enough for her to really consider where it might lead the conversation to – but for now, she knew it’d have to do.

“Are you excited for the dance? Sadie Hawkins, I mean.”
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