There was a legend I was once told as a child that had made me avoid every kind of affection. It made me the shy kid that made sure no one would talk to. I made sure I was unlovable.
"They say that when you start to fancy someone a small flower starts to grow within you, whether its your heart or your soul is up for debate. If the crush is mutual and a healthy relationship develops, the flower blooms, if not, you guessed it, it withers and dies, without problems.
In some cases though, the flower grows, even if the love is rejected. It grows and grows, the stem intertwining with organs and slowly, day by day as your unwanted love strives for their touch, for their attention, it almost slithers up your spine and eventually your throat as if the flower itself is yurning for an escape. The flower stops its violent venture at the back of your throat, ready. Waiting, almost. Everytime you think of them, the way they talk, the way they smile, the way they play with their hands as they speak, you feel something catch in your breath, it makes you cough.
A petal. You break out into a non stop coughing fit, it feels like you're being strangled, but not by hands. One final lurch and it comes out, covered in a mixture of blood and saliva, you look down but aren't able see the full thing as half of it is still embedded within your mouth and throat but you know exactly what it is.
It's the flower you never thought would ever bloom and there it is, forcing itself in and out of the deepest part of your throat, naturally bringing tears to your eyes, hope to God their favourite flower isn't a Rose. Most people are able to be-rid of it once admitted to hospital, though it most certainly can kill as the precious flower clogs airways".
They call it the Hanahaki Disease.


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