Kris darted into Brandnew Stardom High School. He had been in such a rush to come see Jungah that he had almost forgotten his backpack. Kris raced up the stairs two at a time, and skidded to a stop in front of his homeroom. He caught his breath and shoved open the door.
The students looked up as he burst inside.
Kris ignored all the stares. His gaze automatically fixed on Jungah’s empty desk. His eyes widened. *She’s not here yet?*
There was a cough amongst the students.
Kris realized that all eyes were on him. He cleared his throat as he straightened up. Heart pounding, he slipped one hand into his pocket and casually strode towards his seat. Kris glanced at the vacant desk beside his to make sure his eyes weren’t tricking him. *Where are you, Han Jungah? You’re usually here earlier than I am…* He felt stares probing him.
Kris whipped his head forward.
Automatically, the students looked away.
Yet, the murmurs wouldn’t stop.
Kris furrowed his eyebrow in annoyance. *Is it just me, or are they talking about me more than usual? I thought we were past all the surprise. Jungah and I are nothing new. Don’t students here have something better to be preoccupied with?*
The bell rang. The last of the students filed inside and sat down.
Mr. Kim came in, “Let’s start the day with attendance!”
Kris straightened up and looked around the room. *But Jungah still isn’t here. She better hurry if she doesn’t want to be marked tardy.*
Yet, until the end of roll call, Jungah never came.
Kris slumped in his seat. *Where is she? She didn’t answer my calls or answer my messages. Now, she didn’t even come to school. Is something wrong?*
The day dragged by slowly without Jungah.
During break, Kris went to an empty section of the school and called Jungah again. *Damn it, Han Jungah. Answer your damn phone!* As usual, it was off. Kris snapped his phone shut in anger. *What the hell?! Why won’t she answer?! She better not be avoiding me again.* He headed towards the staircase when he heard a circle of juniors gossiping. He wouldn’t have minded them, except they just had to mention Jungah.
Kris stopped in his tracks and listened.
“Man! I wish I was there on Friday to see Wonsuk bringing that down!”
“He always knows how to put the tramp back in his place!”
The boys broke into laughter.
Kris deeply frowned. He didn’t think it was funny at all, and he didn’t appreciate the way they were calling her unpleasant names. *What happened between Wonsuk and Jungah on Friday?* Kris couldn’t help but wonder.
“Damn. I can’t believe the rumor was true. That transfer kid from China and the cold-hearted Jungah are together.”
“Ooo! Don’t let Wonsuk hear you say that! He’ll kill you!”
“Shut up. He has to admit it’s true anyways. I mean, why else would she risk herself to save him?” One boy snorted.
Kris grew confused. *Jungah risked herself for me? How? When? I don’t understand.*
“I feel bad for her in a way. She’s suspended, AND she broke her arm.” A blonde-haired boy shook his head.
Kris stiffened. *Suspended? Broken arm? What the hell…?*
“Pfft. Save your pity for someone else. She ing deserves getting her arm snapped in two. Remember when she threw that basketball in your face-“ The skinny male suddenly turned pale, “Oh .”
Kris strode towards him. The group of boys began to panic like a flock of hens.
Kris grabbed the skinny boy’s shirt and threw him into the wall. He whimpered in fright. Kris slammed his palm against the wall and gave the boy a deathly glare, “Say it again.”
“I’m sorry- AHH!” He yelled in fright when Kris socked the wall beside him.
“Tell me what happened to Han Jungah on Friday.”
“S-she got into a fight with Wonsuk.” The boy shook like a wet dog.
“Why?” Kris demanded.
“Because he was going to go after you.” The boy revealed.
Kris’s eyes widened. The boy was blubbering now. “Wonsuk and his friends were going to ambush you after school. Jungah heard that and tried to stop him. They got into a fight, and he broke her arm. They were both suspended for a week because of that.”
Kris stared into the distance in disbelief. *Jungah got hurt…trying to protect…me. I’m the last person she needs to protect. What the hell was she thinking?* He dashed down the stairs.
The boy slumped weakly against the wall. “Dude, are you all right?!” His friends asked.
Kris ran out of the school. “Hey, you! Come back in!” One of the teachers called.
Kris couldn’t even hear him. His heart pounded with each step he took. *Han Jungah, you idiot. This is the second time you protected me. This time, I wasn’t there. This time, you broke yourself. No wonder you wouldn’t answer me. Damn.* His heart contorted in pain, and it only made him run faster.
Kris fluidly jumped over the wall. He ran to the back where he had parked his car. Kris darted inside, started his engine, and raced off towards Jungah’s apartment.
In seven minutes, he arrived at the building. Kris hastily parked and went inside. He arrived at her front door and rang the bell several times in a row. Impatiently, he pounded the side of his fist on the door. “Han Jungah, open the door. I know you were suspended. I know everything that happened between you and Wonsuk, goddamit, so OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!”
There was no answer.
Kris began calling her again. It went straight to voicemail.
“!” He hissed.
Kris continued to ring the doorbell. The side of his fist thumped against the door incessantly. *Come on! Answer, damn it!*
The next door neighbor came out. “What’s going on?” He sleepily grumbled.
Kris didn’t answer.
“Are you looking for the girl that lives here? She left.” The neighbor stated.
That got Kris’s attention. “Where?!” He questioned.
The neighbor shrugged, “I don’t know. On a trip, maybe. She had a suitcase with her.”
*Damn!* Kris thought.
The neighbor gave him a curious look and went back inside.
Kris rested his back against the cold, unresponsive door, and his shoulders slumped in deafeat and worry. *Han Jungah, where did you go?*