“It’s Seven P.M. Time I wrapped my work and head home”, said Amaya as she sorted out the papers on her desk and stacked them in their file. She looks around and finds no one in office. Pretty usual sight as people usually leave by four or five in the evening. It is not that Amaya is bad at her work, it’s that people tend to rely on her a lot when they can’t get something done on time. Truth be told, it is more of people taking advantage of her. Amaya works hard and really does her job good but, she is not the type to stand out. An average girl to look at and talk to as well. There isn’t anything ‘fun’ she would bring to the table. She does gardening however, I don’t think that is what people wanted to hear. She walked to the elevator, and headed out of office. While taking the metro to reach home she over heard a couple girls talking to each other. They were talking about a new Dating App and how great it is. Amaya did not have boyfriend and she knows that it’s her fault for not trying her best. She wore little to no make-up, she wore plain clothes and her enthusiasm level in a group was fairly low. “It would be nice to know on how to engage in a conversation with people”, she thought. She lied on her bed and she installed the App on her phone, but after pausing for a few minutes she refrained from creating an account. “This is silly. Don’t fall to such level now Amaya.”, she said to herself. She kept the phone on the side stand and went to sleep.

Next day in office during her break to the pantry she bumped into a group of her team members. They were all talking about their recent dinner dates. She tried to dodge the conversion and moved up closer to the coffee machine. “Hey! Amaya, what about you? How is your boyfriend?”, asked a colleague. “Umm.. I don’t have one right now”, Amaya replied. “Oh? How about your previous..”, the others abruptly stopped him from asking further. There was an awkward silence around the pantry room and she headed back to her desk in embarrassment. That night Amaya decided to create her account however, when it came to the point of putting the name and picture she started to hesitate. She decided to go through it and created her profile. However, this was not a regular profile. She kept her name as Bellossom after the Pokemon she adored and used the cartoon picture as a profile. Here exceptions weren’t much but she figured someone might have a similar liking. She was taken to a section called ‘people near by’ and while she scrolled through the list she was hit up with a direct message. “Hi”, it read. She was anxious as this was the first time she is interacting to a complete stranger. Before she could respond she got the next message. “I’m in town for the week. Want to hook up?”. She fell shallow for the kind of message she got. She immediately blocked him off. Few minutes pass by and she gets another one, then another. It looks like all she attracted were creeps. She felt depressed seeing how the only these kind of people reached out to her. She was about to remove the App and forget this experiment when, she found one profile, Quasimodo. This was a cartoon character she know about from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame movie. She had a small smile on my face when she saw there was profile as similar as hers. She sent out a message, “Hi. Didn’t Quasimodo already have Esmeralda? Didn’t know Quasimodo was so bold to double date.”, hoping it would be a good start. Few minutes past by, but no reply. ‘Guess the account is not used anymore, she thought. She kept her phone on the night stand and went to bed.

She wakes up the next day and finds a response in the App while she doing morning ordeal. “Hahahaha! I didn’t know Pokemon were on the App either. But I guess you are referring to the Quasimodo from Disney’s movie. The true story is much darker though. If you don’t mind having your world turned upside down then, I will recommend you try Victor Hugo’s novel. It is a pretty good read.” Curiosity got the better of Amaya and she did a quick search online and found that it indeed was true. On route to work she stopped by the local library and picked up the copy. She read the novel and was immediately hooked on to it. She kept reading even at work and was nearly done by end of the day. What he said was indeed true, the story would flip anyone’s world if they thought the movie was genuine. Let alone Disney’s version. “I actually looked up what you said and borrowed the book. Wow, it’s such a dark and tragic story. Much different than what the movie had shown.”, Amaya replied. “Glad you liked it. Not all movies capture the true story as it written.”, came the response. “Indeed. So Quasimodo, are you looking for your Esmeralda here?”, texted Amaya. “Hahaha. May be yes, may be not. Just trying something out. How about you? Didn’t expect a Pokemon to be on an Dating App. Are all the other pokemon’s caught by the trainers.”. Amaya chuckled at his response. It wasn’t a great joke but someone was playing along rather than be blunt about their intension to get into ones pants. Amaya continued texting him all night. A casual, silly talk where both just wanted to have a decent conversation without a goal. They ended their conversation for the night and bid to catch up again tomorrow. She hit her bed with a smile on her face and cozzed her under her blanket.

As the weeks passed by she texted him a lot more frequently. She works just like she always did however, during her breaks she used to text and so would he. Neither of them have told who they really are and kept their identity confined however, both enjoyed the other’s company. Even if it was just messages over a phone. He was an avid reader and a cook. He has read a ton of books and owns quite a collections. He would recommend novels and Amaya would give it a try. Amaya too let her passion for gardening be know. He was encouraging and stirred up the conversation to know her likes. They would share picture of what they cooked or what they read or what plants they saw. Both enjoyed what they had and their picture collection grew over the weeks. Lines of texts, shapes of leaves, flowers from plants, food on plates and many more. Amaya was seen to be more happy at work and people could see this. Occasionally colleagues would ask what was going on but the idea of sharing to them held her back. She felt bad that she was still not much different on the outside. That night while she talked with him things went a bit awkward for her. “Hey, if it is ok with you, Would you like to grab a cup of coffee at a book cafe located near River St.?” was the text she had got. Amaya was nervous. She didn’t want to ruin how things are between then however, she did not feel confident about herself to meet him yet. She didn’t want to say ‘Yes’ yet but she didn’t have a right reason to tell him ‘No’ either. “I think I will pass. It is not that I don’t want to meet you but I am not comfortable yet to meet you in person. I really hope you would understand.”, she wrote her words down but hesitated to hit send. She took awhile bouncing her mind and heart around and after few minutes, after taking a deep breathe, she hit send. “…”, she saw him type his response and she anxiously waiting for the words to pop-up. She was completely glued to her screen. “Ok. I understand. May be another time I guess. If you do know of a place you want to meet sometime later, I’m, ok with that too.” , his response made her so happy but she felt bad for missing out a chance in known him better.

Few days later during their usual nightly conversations Amaya was brought with one the most oddest ideas she has heard in her life. “Hey, what are your plans for this weekend?”, he asked. “Nothing much. Probably read one of the books you mentioned few days back, why?”, she replied. “Well, I was thinking if we could meet this weekend.”, he said. Amaya felt uncomfortable to say No, however she still felt she was not ready yet. “I know you said you were not comfortable and I guess it is still the same. But I would like to try something out. It is new and probably that I myself would not have done one on my own but I guess it will work out for both of us”, he stated. Amaya felt happy to know he still is considerate about her but she was curious to know what he had planned out. “What do you have in mind?”, she asked. “So, there is a comic-con this weekend at the sports dome. Just to give you an idea, you can dress up as anyone you want and attend it. If you are up for it, we could meet up but all costumed up. I know it sounds silly but, would you want to try it out?”. Amaya was confused with idea but as hysterical and embarrassing as it sounds she felt it could work. “Are you sure? I would feel really embarrassed to go to such a place all dressed up?”, she added. “I know but, the fun part is that we are allowed to be dressed up. So we probably are not gonna stand out much.”, he said. After taking few minutes and running the idea down her head she decided to say ‘Yes’. She knew she could say ‘No’ however, she didn’t want to push him off again. She really did want to know him better and this might be the best chance for her. They both agreed to meet up near the entrance with their costumes. Amaya went to bed wondering how this would go about. She was anxious to meet him and at the same time felt embarrassed about what she is about to do.

It was the day of comic-con and there was a lot of people at the dome. Amaya truly was new to the place and she was too embarrassed to be too visible. So she wore very casual clothes and a hoodie. She had a Guy Fawkes mask that she had from last Halloween. She anxiously waited at the entrance, the place where they both decide to meet up. They planned to meet up and then shared the costume details. Few minutes pass by and Amaya was already amused by the shear number of people attending the comic-con and the costume they had. It was a colorful venue with a lot of happy faces around. While she was looking around she gets a text, “I’m here. Wearing a white-shirt and carrying a duffel”. She quickly looks around and spots him. “Found you! I’m walking towards you. I am wearing a hoodie”, she replied. He starts to look around and as she approached from behind, he turned around. Amaya was shocked with his costume. He wore a horse mask wearing glasses. It was the most silliest thing she has seen till date and she burst out in laughter. “Bellossom? Is that you?”, he asked. “Yes!”, she replied laughing. “Good to know you are enjoying what I am wearing. I didn’t know what to wear even through I proposed the idea. So I picked up the first think I could wear. What are you supposed to be?”, he asked. “Honestly, I would call this Annoymous on vacation”, Amaya replied and they both chuckled for a while. “One of my friend’s recently had traveled to Japan. Since you enjoy gardening I though of getting something for you.”, he pulled out a packet of seeds and gave it to her. “It’s supposed to something called as ‘Bonsai Tree’, tree in a pot. Not sure if you would know.”, he said. “Yes, I know. Thank you so much!. I’m so sorry I came empty handed. Where are my manners”, Amaya frantically responded. “That’s fine. I’m kinda intrigued to see how they grow, let me know how they do”, he replied giving a thumbs up as the mask clearly covered his facial expression. After that they went to watch the comic-con exhibition. They both talked a lot about their personal experiences, the music they listened to, the places they have been to, all but their name and what they did for work. They roamed the exhibition and took lot of pictures with each other and with others people with their costumes. A lot of photo-boming and may fun moments. During lunch they both eat with their mask on. Both looked ridiculous when doing so and laugh at each other but, they were fine with it. The day ended and Amaya felt a lot closer to him but there still a fear in her when he asked if she wants both to remove the mask now. That night Amaya realized that next time she will not mess-up and will take the next step. Not because she felt she was ready but because she knew that he would understand her situation as long as she is honest with him and truly was someone to get connected to.

Days passed and Amaya’s confidence grew just like the planted tree seeds, they still continued using their fake alias but it had reached a point that it did not matter much. They both grew close to each other and faces were the last thing they worried about it. She would send him pictures of the plant almost every day to show how it grew. There was an upcoming weekend late night fair at the beach and he had invited her to join in. He had mentioned there will be a lot of fairs around the beach and if she was still worried about showing here face then, they could still buy a mask and walk around the beach. Amaya liked the idea and was more confident in meeting him this time. She had dressed up for the occassion however, still had a mask on. She waited for him near the cotton candy machine and they, both decided to take a stroll down the fairs. They both played various games, sat in the Ferris whell and walked down the beach. Some distance further down the beach where there was no one, they both decide to lie down on the sand and look at the sky. They let the sea breeze and the clear sky captivate their night. “Hey, tell me something. Why did you name yourself Quasimodo?”, Amaya asked. “You don’t look like him. I have not seen your face but you certainly do not have a hunchback”, she added. “Well Quasimodo was a happy go luckly guy yet the world branded him for what he looked like not for what he was. I want people to know me for what I am and not for how I look”, he said. Amaya understood his words more than anyone would. “What about you? Why the hiding?”, he said. “I guess I am like you. But, I don’t have much to offer. Faces and words can be deceiving but actions won’t. I rather would want people to know me for what I do than, anything else.” she replied. “So when do you think these masks are not needed between us?”, he asked. “Eventually”, Amaya replied. They both spent time on the beach trying to enjoy what the world had to offer before they both headed off for their homes. Amaya felt happy about how close they have become and truly for rooting for things to go well from here.

One day, while taking the metro one day Amaya found that there was a Halloween themed party at a nearby disco joint this Thursday. She quickly texted him hoping to see if he would like to join her and in few minutes she got a confirmation. She decided to show herself to Quasimodo after the party and hoped she could be more open with him. She marked her calendar and went about anxiously waiting for the day in excitement. At home she looked for the best clothes she could wear and went through her wardrobe multiple times. She tried on my many clothes but none made her feel pretty. But she didn’t give up, she left home to the local clothing store and started to look for clothes. She really wanted to make this work and put in all the effort she had. Finally it was the day of the party. Amaya looked at the clock every passing moment for it to struck five so she could leave for the day and meet up with him. “Hey Amaya, how is it going? Can please help in finishing this document by today evening. It is urgent and I won’t be able to do this today. Pretty please?”, said one of her colleagues trying to pursue her to dump off her work. “But this will take the entire night. I kind of have plans today.”, Amaya replied. “Seriously! I ask for your help one time and you are not even considering my situation. I wouldn’t ask you if I couldn’t absolutely avoid this.”, replied her colleague trying to guilt trip Amaya into taking the work. Amaya felt bad that she was not helping her colleague out but this is the first time she had made plans of her own and she didn’t want to step back out of it. “Hey Stephnie, Amaya seems to have plans. Why don’t you reach someone else. I’m sure there are others who might help you out.”, came a voice from behind. Amaya turned around and found Barak walking closer to her desk. Barak is a good looking, fit, smart and overall a genuinely nice person to be around. Amaya barely talked with him other than work as he is an extremely social person around the office and she found it tough to be around with such people. If only her confidence was good as his. “Hey, overheard you have made plans for today. That’s the first time I heard you talk about something other than office work. I guess the rumors about your being very different is true.”, he smiled and wished her luck for the night as he walked away. The day had ended and she headed to powder room to change and head for the venue.

Amaya was at the party and waited for him to arrive. It was 10 minutes past their meet time and still no show. She grew anxious but she had trust in him. 20 mins and still no show. She tried texting him but there was no reply. She didn’t know if he was ok or if she is being stood up. Amaya felt her confidence starting to crack. 40 minutes and she was about to be in tears. She convinced herself it her fault to trust in people and that things would be any different. As she was about to head out the door opened and in-came someone panting. It was kind of dark to figure out who it was but he had a bag with a glow in the dark keychain. Kinda similar to the ones both of them got at the comic-con. “Quasimodo, is that you?”, she asked. “Bellossom, is that you? I’m so sorry for being late. I got mugged on the way from the station and had to go the police. I had no ways to reach you.”, he replied as he was catching his breathe. Amaya felt happy that he was safe and she guide him to the table where the drinks were served. She picked up a glass and turned to give it him and she had the shock of her life. The guy panting was Barak. Of all the people in the world, the one person she felt too far to reach was just an arm’s reach away. The same person she had been so constantly in touch was the same person she stayed away from at office. The confidence she had mustered blew up and she had nothing to keep her cool. “I’m sorry I have something urgent to do, I have to go now.”, said Amaya and started to run away. “Hey! Wait”, he shouted as he tried catch up to her but she was long gone. Amaya was completely confused. As much as she wanted to know the person this ended up being someone from office and someone who she felt was light years away from her reach. “This is not how it is supposed to be. I will be ridiculed for being around him. I don’t deserve someone like him.” such words floated around her head. The reality that Barak was the one she wanted to date will be more painful to bare when it shatters.

Couple of days passed by and Barak had his phone with him again. He texted her however, she did not reply. Even at office she would stay away from him. He would text her asking if things were ok and if there was something he did but she never responded. Few days passed by and Amaya stated to hit a state of depression, her lack of confidence to handle this situation and also seeing Barak being hurt in the process was too much for her to handle. She decided to end it once and for all and decide to reply to Barak. “You don’t look like Quasimodo. You are far too good looking to play his role. Pretty sure you already have a girlfriend if not many. It was nice to know you but I don’t want to be played around. Bye”, text Amaya trying to enrage him and drop off their chats. Barak tried to reason with her but it wasn’t helpful. She would just try to be as harsh as she could be but he wouldn’t back off. She decided to remove the app for good and un-installed it. Trying her best she would keep a fake smiley in office just to have the days pass by but deep inside she needed a change. To her luck and thanks to her tremendous results with her work, their office was opening a branch in another city and they wanted her there to get things moving. As wonderful as the opportunity is she was not sure if she wanted to leave things as it is or wrap it up before going. She took a day to think about it and said yes to the offer. The news spread throughout the office about her new job and everyone were happy. Even Barak, even if he was having his own problems. They wanted Amaya to move in 5 days hence, she was busy in sorting her travel and luggage and this helped her forget his problems for a while. Amaya would still wondered if she was doing the right thing. Leaving thing half way. She decided to install the App again and text Barak one last time. “Hey, I don’t know if you are still there but I wanted to apologize for everything I did or said. I will be leaving town soon so I wanted to apologize to you in person if possible. Let me know if you are still there”. “Ok. If that’s how it is then, fine. We can meet up one last time.” he replied. They decided to have a dinner at a themed restaurant on the day before she had her flight.

The last day of the office and farewell party for Amaya to remember. Just before Amaya left for office she was able to see the Bonsai tree bloom with flowers. It reminded her of many things between her and Barak. She had finally made up her mind on what she wanted to do. Food, drinks and music during lunch was the agenda. It was a wonderful party for everything to remember. She was way more outgoing than usual. She would go and greet people and take pictures with everyone. She looked at Barak and found that he had eyes on his watch every few minutes. He was more anxious about his dinner than what was going around. She quickly drops of a message to Barak stating that the theme for the restaurant doesn’t involve masks and this time it will be face to face. Barak read the message and had a sense of happiness overflow through him. She quietly walks us to him and says, “Hey Barak, what are you doing? Join me for a photo. I might not get someone as helpful as you around there.”. Barak shook his head and smiled for the camera as she took her selfie with him. The day was about to end however, Amaya had some last minute work to sort out before she could leave. She asked for Barak to help and as much as he wanted to leave early he decided to stay back to help her out. It was Six P.M. and it was time for him to leave, luckily all work was wrapped up. Being the only two remaining they decided to walk towards the elevator one last time. As they entered the elevator Barak’s phone buzzes with a notification. It was a message from Bellossom, “I am sorry it took so long for me to confront my emotions. I am sorry I made you wait out for so long just to see me leave. I am not sure if I am still good enough for you. But, I do hope I can make you smile just like you are this picture with me.” The message was followed by picture attachment, A selfie of both of them from today. Barak looks up at Amaya. “So Quasimodo I hope you are still up for the dinner with someone like me?”, she said. The elevator door slowly closed but anyone outside would have got to see Barak smile at Amaya.