A New Friend
There was one day where Minah went to school and everyone was buzzing with excitement. They seemed frantic as they twittered on about a new student.
*A new student? Maybe they'll want to be my friend.*
Minah followed the crowd of ecstatic fourth graders to the main office. They peered through the window, shoving to get a better look. Minah was pushed around like a rag doll, squeezing through the pulsing wave of children.
She made it to the front of the crowd and pressed her hands against the glass to keep from getting crushed. She could see a woman in her late twenties or early thirties speaking to the secretary. A little boy with dark brown hair was beside her.
The principal came out and shooed the kids away. But, before Minah left, the boy turned around and their eyes met.
The boy had dark eyes that seemed to pull you in. The more Minah stared, the deeper she got sucked into them. His pink lips curled up into a small smile and he lifted his hand to wave at her. Minah was shocked that he did not seem repulsed by her scarred face.
In fact, the boy reminded her of Joon. They dressed similarly. The boy was wearing loose, baggy jeans that looked to be like hand-me-downs. He had a red Pokemon T-shirt on that seemed to be the only new thing he was wearing. His sneakers were worn out, definitely showing signs that his feet were not the only ones that had worn them.
Before Minah could wave back, a teacher came by and gently prodded her towards her classroom. Minah's heart sank in disappointment.
*What if he thinks I'm a mean person because I didn't wave back? I guess he won't want to be my friend.*
Minah took her seat in the back corner of the classroom. All the chairs around her were empty, no one wanted to sit by the freak.
"Attention class. Today is a very special day. We have a new student!" Ms. Kim, their teacher, happily chirped. Immediately, the classroom was in a buzz, kids anticipating the new friend.
Then, the boy from the main office walked in, shuffling to the front shyly. "Class, this is Moon Jongup. He moved here from Seoul, so do your best to make him feel welcome." Ms. Kim said.
Jongup bowed to the class and greeted them politely. "Hello, my name is Jongup. It's nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too." The class chorused.
"You can take any open seat." Ms. Kim said. Jongup's eyes scanned the clasroom. Lots of kids, mostly girls, waved to him and motioned for him to sit with them. His eyes skipped over them and fell on the back corner of the room, farthest from the door.
Jongup's expression brightened when he saw Minah sitting there. He walked past the other students and sat down on the chair right beside Minah. Every single kid in the class stared at him, jaws hanging open. They whispered amonst one another.
"Did she trick him into sitting with her? Why would the new boy want to sit with the freak?"
Minah heard and she looked down at her hands, pretending that she hadn't heard. Jongup furrowed his eyebrows and frowned a little. He gave an icy glare to the other students.
Then, he turned to Minah. "Hi, my name is Jongup. What's yours?" He asked, smiling brightly.
"M-Minah. Bang Minah." She answered quietly. Jongup gave her another angelic smile. Minah was amazed by how much he reminded her of Joon, but also of someone else.
The orphanage had given her a picture album that was in her house. She had flipped through them and found one picture she couldn't remember taking before. It was one of her and a boy that looked about six years older than her. They had the same eyes and nose but their lips were different.
The boy was smiling widely, his gums showing. Minah was about two years old and she was clinging tightly to the boys neck as he held her.
Minah thought that Jongup's gentleness resembled the boy's in the picture. Before Minah or Jongup could say anything else, the teacher began class.
Throughout the entire class, the children would glance back at the odd pair in the back of the room.
Minah couldn't help but feel completely aware of the boy beside her. His presence set her on alert, each time he moved even the slightest bit, Minah stiffened in her seat. She couldn't understand why.
After what felt like years, it was finally lunch time. The kids bolted out of the classroom, chatting as they made their way to the cafeteria.
Minah pulled out a brown paper bag with her lunch in it. The orphanage owner always packed lunch for her and she was the only one who treated her nicely. For Minah, the orphanage owner was like a parent.
"You're not going to the cafeteria?" Jongup's voice broke Minah out of her thoughts. She looked at him, eyes wide.
*I thought he left already.*
Jongup had a teasing grin on his face. "What's wrong? Cat got your tongue?" He said playfully. Minah blushed bright red and shook her head.
"Why are you still here?" She asked, not daring to look him in the eye.
"Because I wanna eat lunch with you." Jongup chirped. He pulled out a Pokemon lunch box and set it on his desk. "What do you have for lunch?" He asked curiously.
Uncertaintly, Minah dumped out the contents of her lunch bag onto her desk. There was a PB&J sandwich, a juice box, and an orange.
"Woah! That looks yummy!" Jongup exclaimed. He opened his lunch box and took out his food. He had some kimbap, a bottle of chocolate milk, and a small tub of rice. He glanced between the two lunches and his eyes lit up.
"I know! To make lunch even better, we should share our lunches." He suggested. Minah stared at him, bewildered. Jongup didn't notice and began to open the tub of rice and place it in the middle. "Go ahead, eat." He prodded gently. He held out his spoon to her.
Minah timidly grabbed the spoon and picked up a small spoonful of rice. She put it in her mouth and chewed slowly, glancing at Jongup to see his reaction. Jongup had a smile on his face and he nodded encouragingly.
"It's yummy, right?" He asked. Minah nodded. From there, things got more comfortable. The pair shared their lunch in a peaceful silence. Although Jongup would often ask Minah small questions to which she would respond with a nod or one-worded answers.
"Doesn't sharing food with a friend make the food taste even yummier?" Jongup asked. Minah's eyes grew wide and she slowly turned to look at him. He was tilting his head curiously, waiting for her answer.
"F-friend?" Minah stammered. Jongup nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, friends! You and I are friends now, right?" He asked. Minah was speechless for a moment.
*Friends? He wants to be friends with me? Even though I have this ugly scar on my face?*
Jongup's face fell for a second when Minah didn't respond. "D-do you not want to be friends?" He asked uncertaintly. Minah frantically shook her head.
"N-no! Of course I want to be friends!" She blurted quickly. Jongup chuckled and gave her a bright smile. "Good, I want to be your friend too."
Minah's heart felt warmer at the thought of making a new friend. *I hope that you'll always be my friend. I hope that you don't leave me like everyone else I loved did.*
"We should share our lunches everyday. It'll make things interesting." Jongup said. Minah felt her lips twitch up into an amused smile as Jongup chugged down his chocolate milk. "Wah, so yummy!" He exclaimed.
"How's your juice box? Is it yummy too?" Jongup asked. Minah nodded. Jongup grabbed her wrist and brought the juice box's straw to his lips. He took a sip. "Mmm, this is yummy too!" He said, holding his thumb up.
Minah felt her cheeks heat up. She popped some of the kimbap into her mouth. "I-I like the kimbap." She said. Jongup grinned and replied, "I helped my mom make it this morning. It was fun!"
"Do you wanna come over to my house and play today? Maybe we can make kimbap together too." Jongup suggested. Minah thought about it for a second before eagerly nodding her head. "Yeah, that sounds like fun." She replied.
Jongup had now become a light in Minah's dark life. He managed to break through the first mask she had put on herself.
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