(013) ♡ merry christmas. again.
Jeong Shin High School has always been big on Christmas. And so, by the time that the 25th of December rolls around, a siren goes throughout all cabins, teachers, girls and boys. A faint jingle and heart laugh choruses through the hallways, alerting everyone to get up. I groan, not bothering to change. The rusty clock hanging on the wall tells me that it's roughly 6 a.m. I grab a coat off the top of my luggage, stuff my feet into a pair of sneakers and we all march down the hallway, a flock of undead, sleepy students. Once we reach the campfire area, a man is wearing a fake Santa Clause outfit, though he is much too thin for it. The pants that have been rolled up, fall drastically down past his ankles, his hat slipping off his head. Yet he continues to pile the many presents wrapped neatly on the steps before him.
We are told to line up alphabetically as we recieve the gifts. Mine is a small, flat and rectangular shape, in girlish pink wrapping. The bow is a creamy pink colour, and I unwrap it slowly. As soon as the first layer of wrapping is off, I blink. In my hands is a book. I flip it over to read the title: To Love Someone is Not a Sin - Lee Ryemin.
I head back down the steps, away from the line of grumbling students, and towards those who have already recieved their presents. "What'd you get?" I ask Woohyun, still looking at the strange book. He holds up a pack of childish crayons, cocking his head. "You?"
"A book about love," I say, my voice trailing off.
Since it's officially Christmas, the students in our cabin devour the basket of gingerbread men. It really is quite alot, nice-smelling, freshly baked goodies that fill the basket to the brim. I allow myself to one of the cutely decorated gingerbread man, licking the icing buttons off first. The sweetness explodes on my tongue, along with the green food-colouring. We're sitting inside the hall, along with the other students. It's lunch, and I'm tired already.
It's still early afternoon, but it's as chilly as a winter night. I glance over at the boys around me. Sungyeol's face is barely visible, he's stuffing all the gingerbread men down with the speed of light. I pat his back gently. "You might choke," I mumble.
On my right hand side, Myungsoo looks at me, holding up another cookie. "Eat more." Just as I open my mouth to protest, he shoves a gingerbread man into my mouth, even though it's so big I end up looking like a blow-fish. He wipes the crumbs off my lips, and smiles. Despite my mouth being full, I try to smile back, making him crack up. Hoya and Dongwoo stare at us from across the room, wiggling their eyebrows. "Oooh," they tease, making kissing noises. "We know you guys are dating and all, but can't you save all the lovey-dovey things for when you're alone?" Hoya and Dongwoo proceed to feed each other, repeatedly.
I get my phone out, and open a new note. Making sure that L can see, I type: 68 more days. He looks over, and nods, but only slightly. Sungyeol's next to me, and has pretty much eaten 1/3 of the entire basket. He looks drowsy from eating so much, and leans over to rest his head on my shoulder. "I'm tired," he pouts.
I nudge L's legs from under the table, telling him he's supposed to react in this kind of situation. He glances over at me once, and then pulls me over to his side, so that Sungyeol's head falls to the ground with a large thud. "Oww!" he groans, sitting back up again. "Fine, be like that Kim Myungsoo," he mumbles, leaning on Woohyun instead.
After the day's activities are over, we have a Christmas party until midnight. The students all cheer, happy to get a break from their usual curfew. As they start preparing the fire wood, the food, etc. Mr. Lee looks up at me. "Nana?" he mumbles, pushing his glasses up. "I need you to run down to the nearest market and buy me all the things on this list." He hands me a slip of paper, with a dozen things written in neat, teacher-writing. Along with reasonable money, of course. "Take Myungsoo with you."
We both rise, exiting the resort. The sky is dimming, the stars almost visible. The market isn't that far away, just a short walk down. The further we walk, the more our footsteps disappear in the snow. Another layer of it begins to fall down slowly, so softly and so small. I hold my hand up to catch them, only to see them dissolve on my hands. Myungsoo speeds up ahead of me. The silence is unbearable.
"What, now that no one's watching you suddenly hate me?" I tease, though I try not to let the emotion seep in.
"You know it's not like that."
"Yes, I must never forget that I blackmailed you into this friendship." When I say that, he cracks a smile, but only a tiny bit. It disappears as quickly as it came. "We are friends though, right?" I suddenly say, freezing. I would have thought that what we had last night meant something.
Myungsoo laughs, his head thrown back with ease. "Haven't you ever though that we were more than friends? Aren't we like, I don't know, parent-in-laws?"
At first, I'm puzzled by this. And then, I realise that in this short holiday, I've forgotten about our cats. Our babies. "Can I ask you a question?" I muse, finger on my lip.
He shrugs. "Go ahead."
"Why are you, who rarely cares about anyone's opinion, so afraid of people finding out about your love for cats?"
The question takes him by surprise, and an eery silence hangs between us. Just when I think he won't reply, he stops, and stares right at me. "Love is a weakness," he says, and that's all.
We walk into the market, my hands swinging by my sides. It's truly brilliant, with paper lights that light up a path for tourists. The snow on the ground does not stop the stalls from selling, nor the people from buying. It's crowded, but not extremely so. I have a good view of L if he gets lost, he's probably the tallest person here. From above our heads, a loud speaker plays music, reads announcements. It's almost like a festival.
I open up the sheet of paper with the ingredients on it. "Watermelon, noodles, dukkboki, soft drinks, chips, ice-cream, pepero sticks, chocolate, milk and hot packs," I read out loud. The crowd is getting bigger and bigger, and I'm afraid that I'll lose Myungsoo. As if reading my mind, he grabs onto my hand. He pulls me forward, as if he actually knows where he's going. "It'd be a bother to look for you," he mumbles, as we delve even deeper into the market, into the night.
We walk around aimlessly, entering stores when needed, buying off stalls. Myungsoo does most of the talking, handing the money over. He knows what we're looking for. But as he drags me away from stall to stall, I like it. I like the feeling of being protected, the feeling of his palm against my own. His fingers wrap naturally around my hand, but I feel like I'm the only one who's holding tightly. The night is getting darker, and we're rushing about so much that I doubt L realises how much I'm staring at him. But I only stare from a distance. I can only squeeze his hand tighter.
"You're going to cut off my blood." It's the first he's said in about thirty minutes. I let go of my tight grasp immediately, embarrassed. "I'm sorry."
He shrugs. "Are you afraid of getting lost? I won't lose you, if that's what you're wondering."
He says it with such simplicity, but I cling to his words; it's the only ones that I've got. "It's not that," I mumble, even though I'm not sure what it is.
Next to me, I hear a voice rasp. I stiffen, and shuffle closer to Myungsoo. "Hello," the woman sneers, in a clear-accent. I turn around to see an African woman, her braided hair wrapped in a bandana. She wears nothing but purple, with jeweled crystals all over her skin. L bows politely, and so do I.
"Sit," she commands. Unsure what to do, we sit on the seats behind her front stall, wondering what's going to happen.
She looks at us expectedly. After a minute or so, she laughs. "I'm a fortune-teller for love. You're supposed to give me out your palms."
"Oh, we don't want--" I start, but she shakes her head dismissively. She reaches into my lap and gathers Myungsoo and I's hands.
"No one sits here because they want. But because I say. You, young couple, have been chosen." She stares into our hands, deeply. As if it has hypnotised her. The woman sits perfectly still, and I wonder if she's still breathing. After a very, very long wait, she releases me. I look at my hand and see that she's held my wrist so tightly that there's a bruise. I wince.
She lets go of L a minute after. "You two are dating, no?"
I shake my head. Myungsoo speaks up. "Kind of. It's fake."
I expect her to bombard us with questions, but she doesn't. Instead, she nods, her eyes closed. "But you're wrong, foolish boy. Very wrong. Do not falter. Do not give into temptation when fate decides to play you one more time, do not fall off the same cliff twice."
She turns to me, smiling. "As for you, young lady," she addresses me, "Do not lose hope. You are not doing wrong by showering someone with love, even if the person is blind with their own stupidity."
The woman smiles once again, and tells us to leave. As L is turning away, she places something into my hand. Before I can look at it, she pushes it into the pocket of my coat, and mumbles something into my ear. "Good luck," she whispers, after she's finished talking.
Once we advance further, Myungsoo holds my hand once again. "Let's go back to the camp, they'll be wondering where we are."
We walk away from the market, a place full of magic that I don't understand. We walk further and further, until the paper lights that surround the place are merely dots in the background. L doesn't let go of my hand, even though we're not in the crowd anymore. "You can let go, you know," I tell him, although I don't want him to.
When he doesn't reply, I look up at his face. In the moolight, his skin is a milky colour. His eyes shimmer, and his lips are a perfect cherry red. I blush, thinking of last night. How I wish I had better memory.
He's holding all the groceries and plastic bags in his one hand, and all I'm carrying is the hotpacks. I take one out from the large pack that we bought, and let go of his hand. I place it in between our hands, and we walk with warmth in our fingers.
In a couple of minutes, we arrive back at the camp. Mr. Lee takes the shopping bags out of our hands, eager to get the kids eating (and not talking). But I keep the hotpack and I keep L's fingers wrapped against my own. We enter the camping area, hands intertwined, as everyone stares. The talking stops, but we walk to where our cabin number is, sitting down. Once we are seated, he lets go of my hand. "You have sweaty palms," he mumbles, once the students are talking again.
"Only when I'm nervous," I answer, too honestly.
He leans down to face me. "Do I make you nervous?"
I close my eyes, thinking of what the fortune-teller said. She never told me her name. When I open them again, his face is still near mine, so close that I can feel his breath. Her words repeat like a chant in my head.
"Only when you're pretending to be my boyfriend," I say, turning around to get some dinner.
It's around midnight, and everyone is chatting aimlessly. The end of Christmas is nearing, and I chew on my marshmallow slowly. Just before the clock bell chimes, fireworks light up the sky. Just like the paper lights, I'm captivated at their brightness. For a minute, all I can see are the bright sparklers that students are holding, the stars in the sky, the fireworks overshadowing them.
The moon is what catches my attention the most, though. How even if I can't see anything, I'll always see the moon. Even if there are other bright things in the sky, on the ground, on earth, even if I find something brighter. I'll only see the moon. I look up at the boy next to me, who is also staring at the sky. He bites his lips, staring at the sky. I can see the fireworks reflecting in his eyes. The perfect curve of his nose, his eyebrows as they bunch together, his lips pursing in dissatisfaction. Kim Myungsoo is my moon.
As if he's noticed me staring, he turns around. "Merry Christmas. Again."
He slips a shiny piece of paper into my hands, so quickly that nobody but I notice. I look at it, using the moon's shine as my guide. It's a picture of the new born babies, taken from a Polaroid camera. As soon as they were out of Lupin. I smile to myself. Such a small thing, it's so beautiful.
just realised how long that was ._.
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