It was Saturday evening. Your parents had left to go to a friend’s birthday party and they weren’t back yet. You wedged your pencil between the pages and shut the textbook. You yawned and stretched. *What time is it?* You checked the time.
It was almost 8 p.m.
*When are mom and dad coming back?* You called them.
“Hello?” Mrs. Lee answered.
“Mom, are you and dad almost here?”
“I’m afraid not. The trains are shut down temporarily while they fix them. Why? Is something wrong?” She asked, her voice rising with alarm.
“No, of course not.” You assured her, “I just wanted to know if we had to eat dinner alone or not.”
“Oh, yes.” Mrs. Lee sighed in relief, “I believe so. Mianhae. There are some pork cutlets in the freezer. You know how to cook them, right?”
“Yes, mom. Have a safe trip back.” You hung up. You stopped in front of L. Joe’s door, took a deep breath, and knocked.
No answer, as usual.
You opened the door and peeked inside. L. Joe was lying on his bed with his eyes closed. *Is he asleep already?* You treaded carefully towards him and waved your hand in front of his face. L. Joe’s eyes snapped open and he stared at you. You were so surprised that you stumbled back and crashed against the drawer.
“Ow!” You bit your bottom lip and rubbed your sore side.
L. Joe sat up and looked at you, “What are you doing in my room? Again? Without permission?”
“Mianhae. I just wanted to tell you that mom and dad won’t be home for dinner so we have to eat by ourselves. Mmm…is pork cutlet okay? But if you don’t like my cooking we can just order pizza.” You said.
“I’m not hungry.” L. Joe lay back down. “But you should eat something. Even a slice of toast? Ice cream?” You offered but he didn’t reply. You puffed air into your cheeks and watched him for a while. *Hopeless. At this rate, he’ll be skinnier than me.*
You left his room and went downstairs to cook yourself something. You took the cutlets out and popped them in the microwave to defrost. In the midst of bringing out the cabbage, carrots, and olives for a salad, the power shut down. Your eyes widened and you looked up at the lights.
They were all out. It was a power outage.
The vegetables dropped from your hands. Your hands started to shake uncontrollably.
You forgot to breathe momentarily and when you finally remembered to do so, you started hyperventilating.
All sorts of memories flooded into your mind.
“Saerom, where are you?!”
“Oppa, it’s dark! I can’t see anything! Where did you go?!”
“I’m here, you stupid girl. I’ll always be here for you.”
You clamped your hands over your head as painful screams erupted in your flashbacks.
“OPPA! OPPA! OH GOD!”
“GET HIM OUT OF THERE!”
You opened your eyes again and your breathing only came out faster. You didn’t think twice and ran upstairs. You tripped and fell. You ignored the painful bruises and just ran. You twisted open the doorknob and darted inside.
L. Joe turned around. You saw his face in the moonlight and exhaled in relief. “What the hell-!” He yelped as you threw your arms around his neck.
You clung onto him tightly and squeezed your eyes shut.
“What the fuck. Get off of me.” L. Joe tried to pry you off but you just tightened your hold on him.
“Please, oppa. I’m scared…I’m so scared, oppa.” You cried.
L. Joe stopped and let you go. His eyes widened and he stood there, speechless. *Is she…crying?* Slowly and gently, he pulled you back. His eyes widened even more at the glistening tears on your cheek.
“Oppa.” You whispered tearfully.
L. Joe softened. He reached out and wiped your tear away.
You flung your arms around him again.
This time, L. Joe didn’t stop you.
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