Seulgi wakes up to the sound of her ringing phone. Her eyes snap open immediately as she reaches the phone beside her head and answers the call without even looking at the caller ID.
She blurts out the name that has been staying in her head since yesterday.
“Nope, this is Wendy.”
Gaping slightly as if she’s fully awake, Seulgi moves the phone to look at it, staring at the displayed name on the screen. It’s indeed Wendy, not Irene. Why would she expect that Irene would call her in the morning?
“Seulgi? You there?”
She quickly presses the phone back to her ear and replies.
“I’m here. Sorry, I just woke up.”
“Oh—sorry for waking you up.”
“It’s okay.” Seulgi glances over at her clock, showing 9 am as the time. She sure slept long last night. “Why are you calling me at this hour? It’s not break time yet.”
“Teacher didn’t come, free time.”
Seulgi nods to herself, hearing the chattering sound in the background, along with Yeri’s voice of hey Seulgi, Yeri is here.
“So, why are you calling me? Is there something wrong?”
“Oh, Irene doesn’t come to school today. She hasn’t show up since morning and she ignored our calls and also didn’t reply to our messages.” Wendy sighs softly into the phone.
Seulgi feels her heart sink a little at the information. She can’t help but to think if the girl is crying alone in her house right now. Maybe she’ll visit Irene’s house today, if it’s a good idea of course. Does Irene want to see her?
“What about the others…? Are they still talking about yesterday’s thing?”
“Well, some of them, especially Hyuna and the others. I’ve also heard some students talking about the news and gossiping around, but they aren’t as loud as Hyuna of course.” Wendy sighs again into her phone and Seulgi can picture the image of Wendy rolling her eyes in annoyance.
There is a beat of silence before Wendy speaks again. “You—don’t believe that news right?”
“Of course not.” Seulgi answers instantly, finally sitting up from her bed.
“Good, cause you see, we have been trying to gather some information from the students of Irene’s old school.”
“Information?” Seulgi frowns slightly.
“Yeah, we have a small connection with the students of X high school, and they said it was actually the other way around, that the teacher was the one who forced Irene. But we don’t have enough proof since none of them know the details… This way, we still can’t stop the cruel gossip and rumor.”
“Oh…” Seulgi her lips, thinking about her old friends and acquaintances who might have something to do with the school, when a name crosses her mind. “I…I think I know someone from that school…”
“You do? That’s great! Can you help us to collect some information then?” Wendy asks, her voice sounds more cheerful now.
“Of course, I’ll help.” Seulgi nods to herself and curls her lips into a small smile.
“Great! You’re always so dependable!” Wendy laughs shortly into the phone before continuing. “Did Irene respond to your text or call?”
“I—I haven’t called or texted her… I think she needs—some time alone…” Seulgi answers unsurely, wondering if she’s coming off as too cold or ignorant, while the truth is she thinks about Irene a lot.
“Ah, that makes sense. No wonder she ignored us… I hope she’s fine…”
“I hope she is fine too…” She hums weakly into the phone.
The call soon ends when Wendy says that there’s a teacher who checks upon the noisy classroom, leaving Seulgi clutching onto her phone.
She knows someone who’s studying at X high school, it’s her old friend, her ex-close friend to be exact. Why ex? Because she never talked to the girl anymore since her early high school days, which is like 2 years ago.
Seulgi has always been a quiet and passive girl. Even though she did manage to make some friends throughout her school years, but she’s really at keeping them close to her. Once her friends moved to another class or school, or different circle of friends, the air will turn awkward and Seulgi decided that it’s the time for move on from the old friendship.
It’s not like she didn’t want to keep in contact, she just didn’t know the proper way to do it. What if they’re actually fine, or even better without her? What if they didn’t actually want to talk to her anymore? What if they’re too busy with their new friends?
In short, Seulgi is just an insecure and a very socially awkward girl.
She has gained and lost some friends throughout her life, all because she doesn’t put too much effort in keeping them by her side. The same happens to her close friend in middle school, a nice girl called Soojung.
Soojung was a kind and pretty girl. They met on second year of middle school and ended up becoming best friends until they graduated middle school. Soojung told her that she’s going to attend X high school, a prestigious all-girls school in another city. Seulgi was sad to find out that they’re not going to attend the same high school, but Soojung said that they could still keep in contact by phone and messenger.
The first few months went well though, they still talked and chatted a lot. But as time passed by, they got busy with high school stuff and ended up growing distant from each other. Seulgi realized that they’re getting distant, but she thought it was impossible to keep their relationship as close as before.
So in the end, she gave up.
After all, people would always pass her life. Which means they will always leave her life in the end, they’re just passing by, sometimes they left something, such as a beautiful friendship memories from Soojung, but some of them didn’t leave anything in her life. Sometimes they stay for a long while, but sometimes they just stay for a short time.
The question is, how to approach the person who has left her life?
Right now, Seulgi has been staring at her phone for almost 5 minutes, thinking about how to start a conversation with Soojung again after not contacting each other for 2 years.
Hey, what’s up? –too frivolous
Hi Soojung –sounds like a flirt
Do you remember me? –what if she doesn’t?
Seulgi opens her messenger app and taps on Soojung’s profile, popping out an empty chat window.
She can do this, she has to do this for Irene.
Taking a deep breath, she starts to type on her phone.
- Soojung, how have you been?
Right, that’s the best start she can make. Now, she just has to pray for a reply. She wonders if Soojung is still the same kind girl she used to know, because some people change and sometimes, they changed for worse.
Placing her phone of the desk, she starts to do her morning activity, eating breakfast and showering. She has never been suspended before and she never planned to get one, but now it doesn’t feel really bad to stay at home on weekdays, eating some cereals while watching some channels on TV.
Feeling bored with the TV, she decides to take a walk around the house, something she never really did before expect the time when they first moved into this big house. Seulgi personally thinks that the house is too big for their small family, but she doesn’t want to complain too much since she’s supposed to be grateful for having a pretty house. She is indeed grateful, her parents worked hard to safe money and bought this house.
She walks over to a window and looks out to the small garden on the back of the house. She catches the sight of a sack of soil and some empty pots, remembering about her mother’s plan of retiring and to go back to her gardening hobby. So her mother was serious about it.
Seulgi suddenly remembers Irene once said that she really likes pink carnations. Maybe she’ll ask her mother to help her plant some and gave them to Irene.
Thinking about Irene makes her walk back to her room and checks on her phone, wondering if she got any news about Irene, or if the girl actually contacted her.
Seulgi quickly rushes to the gadget when she catches a light notification from her phone.
- Seulgi! When was the last time we talked?? I’m fine! What about you? Sorry for the late reply, I was at class.
Seulgi chuckles slightly at Soojung’s reply. She is still as energetic like she used to be.
- I’m fine too, sorry for bothering you at class.
After a couple of minutes, comes the reply.
- It’s okay! I was bored anyway hahaha anyway what’s wrong? Did you miss me or what lol
- I guess I kinda miss you haha I just want to ask something if you have time
- Sure! Do you want to talk here or we can meet at some café after school’s finished?
Seulgi stares at the reply for a while before tapping her fingers.
- Sure, where should I wait for you, then?
“You’ve become prettier!!”
“Soojung, swallow your food first.”
Seulgi chuckles as she stares at her old friend who is talking excitedly while munching on her waffles.
They ended up meeting in a café few stations away from Seulgi’s home but close by the all-girls school, to make it more convenient for Soojung of course. Seulgi always thought that Soojung has moved faraway, but turns out, it only took 1 and half hour of train to reach her.
When they met, Soojung quickly pulled her into a hug and they laughed before settling on the café and caught up with old times. Honestly, Seulgi is so glad that Soojung didn’t change at all, she’s still the good old Soojung that she used to know.
“So, what did you want to ask me about?”
Seulgi’s smile falters for a moment before she looks down and stirs on her chocolate milkshake, arranging the question inside her head.
“Do you know about—Bae Irene?”
Soojung’s smile also falters once she hears the name. She stares at Seulgi for a couple of seconds before letting out a deep sigh.
“Yeah, I know her.” Soojung nods lightly before looking up at Seulgi again. “What about her?”
“Is it true? The story about her in the old school?” Seulgi mutters under her breath as if she’s speaking to herself, wondering if she’s ready to hear the truth from Soojung, if she knows about it of course.
“Which one? There are always 2 sides of a story for people who have no single clue about the truth.”
Soojung’s voice is a bit stern as she speaks and it surprises Seulgi a little bit. She lifts her head to stare at Soojung before starts to speak.
“I’ve only heard about one side of the story, I want to know the other one.” Seulgi says, her eyes full of determination and Soojung gapes slightly before leaning back against her seat.
“Tell me about the side that you heard.” Soojung says with a soft sigh.
Seulgi nods her head and starts to tell Soojung everything that happened in school a day ago, how they placed the news in notice board and how Seulgi got suspended for starting a fight with Nana. She also says that she doesn’t believe any single thing about the news since the Irene she knows will never do something like that.
Soojung’s expression also changes along the story. At first, she listens attentively, but then frowns as if she’s angry before it changes into a surprised expression and in the end, a smile.
“Okay, first of all, where is the shy and quiet Kang Seulgi that I knew? Where did you hide her?” Soojung asks with wide-eyes and Seulgi snorts in response.
“Soojung, please.” She shakes her head with a smile.
“Alright, alright, I was just surprised.” Soojung laughs before leaning back to her seat again as her smile falters. Seulgi turns quiet immediately too, staring at Soojung and waits patiently until she starts to speak.
“The only thing that’s true about the news is the part where that disgusting teacher laid a hand on Irene.” Soojung huffs out in disgust. “That girl who said that Irene seduced that is probably jealous of Irene, a lot of girls are jealous of Irene after all.”
Seulgi bites her lower lip and drops her head shamefully, recalling the times when she was extremely jealous of the girl.
“I wasn’t that close with Irene, but we did talk once in a while and I’m not blind, Seulgi. It’s so obvious that Irene was innocent in that case. The teacher approached her first.” Soojung shakes her head sadly. “He was actually a good teacher, handsome and young, so there were a lot of students who liked him, but it was obvious that he put a special attention to Irene. Some of the girls were jealous of course, but they couldn’t do anything since, well—Irene obviously had a lot of friends too, you know her personality. Like they said, the more popular you get, the more friends and enemies that you get too.”
Seulgi purses her lips in a small smile before nodding her head, though her fists clench tightly under the table as she thinks about the disgusting teacher who dared to lay a hand on his student, on Bae Irene.
“I heard some girls talked about the teacher trying to flirt with Irene and stuff, but I didn’t really pry further at the matter. And then one day, someone reported the teacher to the school and they took the case to police of course and that man is put on jail or something, which is good. But like I said, there are 2 sides of a story and some of them ended up talking about how Irene actually flirted with the teacher first and stuff… I think Irene couldn’t handle that and she left the school…” Soojung ends her story with a heavy sigh.
Seulgi takes a slow deep breath as she feels her heart sinks slowly to her stomach, imagining herself standing on Irene’s shoes. If it was her, she won’t be able to handle it like Irene.
“How could they convince the school that the teacher was the one at fault? You did say he was a good teacher.” Seulgi asks, trying to get any detailed information since it seems that Soojung knows the truth about this case, and Seulgi trusts her of course.
“Because the student who reported showed the picture that she took with her phone on a night when that disgusting teacher tried to pull Irene inside a hotel. She was about to help Irene once she took the picture, but Irene had managed to run away first. The next day, she immediately reported it to the headmaster.” Soojung explains oddly detailed and Seulgi twitches her brows.
“How do you know so much? Is she a close friend of yours?” Seulgi tilts her head questioningly.
“Simply because the girl who took the picture and reported it to the school was me.” Soojung answers casually before sipping on her lemon tea, ignoring Seulgi who’s gaping at her answer.
“Oh wow… Soojung…” Seulgi blinks and shakes her head in disbelief. “Does Irene know that it was you?”
“Nah, I don’t need her to know too. I just hope she’s doing fine, she’s a nice person after all.” Soojung shrugs as she runs a hand through her long hair. “So, you’re trying to collect some proofs right? I’ll send you the picture if you want, I’m sure I still have it on my phone. Maybe you can stick it up in the notice board.”
“Oh.” Seulgi blinks rapidly before nodding her head. “That will be a good help, really.”
“And to counter the stupid screenshot chat, you can record my voice talking about the truth of the case.” Soojung winks in return.
“That will be a great idea, but how do I—“ Seulgi trails off when a light bulb lights up inside her head. “Nevermind, I know how.”
“Oh, making a mischievous plan with that smart brain of yours? Where is the timid Seulgi that I knew?” Soojung raises her brow at Seulgi and smiles cheekily, in which Seulgi replies by putting her index finger against her lips. Soojung laughs in return and shakes her head.
“Anyway, aside from the fact and everything, I’m personally very positive that Irene will never make a move on the teacher because she—“ Soojung pauses abruptly as if she’s just being hit by a realization.
“Because she…?” Seulgi tilts her head, waiting for the continuation of the speech.
Soojung lifts her head to stare at Seulgi before shaking her head with a smile. “Nevermind, I forgot what I wanted to say.”
Seulgi raises a brow but decides to not pry the matter further since she’s already thankful enough that Soojung is willing to help her.
They end up talking for couple more hours before finally go home since it’s getting late and Seulgi still has to take the train home. Soojung insists on taking her to the station even though Seulgi has refused, so they end up sitting in the station waiting for the train to arrive.
“By the way, Soojung.” Seulgi starts up. “When you took a picture of Irene and the teacher, what were you doing in that kind of area?”
Soojung stares at her in return before taking out her phone from her pocket. “I guess it’s the time to tell you about this.” She mutters under her breath before handing Seulgi the phone.
Seulgi blinks at the phone before taking it in her hand. She stares at Soojung who’s giving her a nod of permission before unlocking the screen, revealing a picture of Soojung and a shorthaired girl smiling widely to the camera as the wallpaper.
“That’s my girlfriend.” Soojung says, pointing at the screen.
“Oh, your girl—What??” Seulgi snaps her head to Soojung, staring at her with wide eyes.
“My girlfriend.” Soojung nods. “We have been dating for almost a year now.”
“Oh…” Seulgi gapes, turning her head back to the phone and stares at the shorthaired girl in the picture. “She’s…She’s cute…” She gulps, not really know how to say or react about this.
Honestly, she’s really surprised. Soojung has always been popular with guys and she remembered that there was one time she dated a guy for a short while. Of course she never expected that Soojung would have a—girlfriend. But then, if it makes Soojung happy, who is she to judge?
“Sorry, I’ve never told you about my uality… I’m afraid you won’t befriend with me anymore…” Soojung says apologetically, dropping her head in shame.
“No! It’s okay, really… You are still Soojung and I—I don’t care what gender do you like or who are you going out with, as long as it makes you happy.” Seulgi blurts out spontaneously, giving the other girl a reassuring look because honestly, she doesn’t care about Soojung’s preference or anything, she is still a good friend and will always be.
Soojung lifts her head up and stares at her for quite a while before breaking out into a laugh. “Thank you, Seulgi. You’re still as kind as I remember.” She says, smiling sweetly at Seulgi.
“There’s no need to thank me about that.” Seulgi smiles back before looking at the picture on the other’s phone again. “What’s her name?”
“Amber, her name is Amber.” Soojung says, leaning over to look at the picture too.
“That’s a beautiful name…” Seulgi hums.
“Yeah, and she’s beautiful too.”
The conversation continues with Soojung telling Seulgi about how she found out her uality around puberty age and how she fell in love with a college student named Amber whom she met when the tomboy almost crashed on her with a bicycle. Seulgi laughs most of the time as she listens to the story, but there are also some moments when she listens attentively at the story.
Seulgi also tells Soojung about how she met Irene and her first impression towards the pretty girl, which Soojung ends up laughing at how hilarious it is when Irene said that she knew the fact that Seulgi disliked her at first meeting.
“You’re totally busted, oh God, you must be so embarrassed. Irene is a really sharp person, isn’t she?” Soojung says between her laugh and Seulgi squints at her in warning.
They end up talking for a little more until the speaker announces that Seulgi’s train is approaching. They stand up from the bench walk over to the side, waiting for the train to arrive.
“You changed a lot Seulgi.” Soojung suddenly says, breaking the silence.
“Did I?” Seulgi blinks in surprise and Soojung nods in return.
“For the better of course. You talk a lot and smile a lot too, you’re becoming much more friendlier compared to before.”
“I guess…I do…” Seulgi says unsurely, she does think that she changes a little bit considering how she starts talking to the students in her class, even gets far enough to get suspended after starting a fight with Nana. But she doesn’t expect that someone will point it out directly. Then again, Soojung is an old friend, of course she’ll notice if she has changed.
The train approaches the station slowly and stops in front of the girls, sliding the door opens to let the passengers get off and on.
“I guess I’ll see you later? Bye Soojung, and thank you very much.” Seulgi waves her hand with a smile before stepping into the train.
“Seulgi.” Soojung suddenly calls out, making the said girl turns her head to her.
“Yes?” Seulgi asks, staring at her friend who is standing outside the train.
“Do you like Irene?”
The absurd question catches Seulgi off guard, but she manages to nod her head. “Yeah, she’s a nice girl and good friend.”
“Not that.” Soojung shakes her head. “Do you like her?”
“Yeah, I like her.” Seulgi frowns, not understanding the point of the other’s question.
“Alright, let’s say it this way.” Soojung sighs. “Do you love her?”
Seulgi’s jaw immediately drops at the question and before she can respond with anything, the door closes and the train starts to move, leaving Seulgi staring at Soojung from the window. Soojung waves her hand with a smile before turning on her heels and walk away from the station.
Seulgi slowly detaches herself from the window and sits down on an empty seat, thinking about Soojung’s words over and over again.
Do you love her?
Does she? Does she love Irene? Love as in lovers and stuff like that?
Irene is a really good friend and Seulgi enjoys hanging around with her, talking with her on the phone at night, holding hands with her, laughing together with her, but love?
Seulgi doesn’t remember if she ever actually fell in love. Song Minho? It’s just a crush.
For Seulgi, there is a big difference between crush and love. Crushing is as simple as admiring someone’s appearance or part of their personality, while love is—something deeper. Love is as complicated as seeing through someone’s flaws and mistakes, but chooses to stay with them. Crush is shallow and on the surface, but love is much more deeper.
Seulgi has seen Irene’s flaws and imperfection, and she still stays with her, because Irene is a friend.
Where is the line between friendship and love? How can someone see if they have crossed the line or not?
Has she crossed the line?
How did Soojung know that she has crossed the line with Amber? She should’ve asked that.
Seulgi is so deep in thought that she almost misses her station, which means she has been thinking about the matter for one and half hour.
She takes the bus to her home for half an hour before finally reaching the house. By the time she arrives though, the sky is already dark, only showing the silvery crescent moon and some stars.
“Seulgi, you’re home already?”
The said girl perks up to see her mother carrying a small suitcase to the front door.
“You’re leaving, mom?” She asks, eyeing at the suitcase on the floor.
“Sorry, sweetie…” Her mother smiles apologetically. “Just 2 days, I need to take care of a lot stuff before resigning completely.”
“It’s okay mom, me and Seulho can take care of the house like usual.” Seulgi smiles.
“Actually,” Mrs. Kang points out. “Seulho just called me and said that he’s spending at night at a friend’s house, so you’ll be alone tonight, is that okay?”
“It’s okay.” Seulgi nods.
“Alright sweetie, I’m sorry, okay?” Mrs. Kang walks over and kisses her daughter on the forehead, earning a small giggle from Seulgi before she makes her way into the living room.
“Oh right, Seulgi.” Her mother calls out just as she’s about to step out of the door.
“Yes, mom?” Seulgi perks up questioningly from the living room.
“Irene came here earlier, she apologized to me about getting you suspended and everything. She’s such a nice girl, really…” Mrs. Kang sighs into her hand and shakes her head sadly. “It’s so cruel that those girls at your school spread that kind of rumor…”
“Irene came here??”
That’s the only thing Seulgi can process from her mother’s words. Irene came here? Why didn’t she call or text her phone? Why didn’t her mother tell her?
“When did she come?” Seulgi asks again.
“Hmm about an hour ago? She didn’t tell you?” Her mother asks, raising her brows in surprise.
“No.” Seulgi shakes her head weakly, wondering why Irene didn’t tell her anything about this. Didn’t Irene want to talk to her at least?
“Well try to contact her tonight then, ask her what she had for dinner and stuff.” Mrs. Kang, catching a sad look from her daughter’s face, quickly gives her a reassuring smile. “When she came here, she asked me if you’re here, but I told her that you’re still not home yet.” She says before carrying her suitcase and steps out of the house, waving a goodbye to Seulgi.
Seulgi waves back lightly with a smile as the door closes with a soft sound. Sighing, she heads upstairs and settles on her bed. One of her hand reaches for the teddy bear that Irene won from the crane arcade weeks ago. Her other hand reaches for the phone in her pocket.
She lifts it up to her face and stares at the familiar contact ID on the screen.
After staring at the name for couple of minutes, Seulgi takes a deep breath and presses the call button, pressing the phone against her ear and prays for Irene to pick up the call.
Oh God, if Irene doesn’t pick up the call, she’s going to run all the way to her house and bangs onto the door until Irene opens up.
Wait, since when did she become so scary like this? Banging the door of someone’s house, really?
Her thought is snapped immediately when Irene picks up the call.
“Irene.” Seulgi sighs in relief.
“Seulgi.” Irene replies, not in a joking tone, more like how the name just rolls out from her tongue so naturally.
“Irene, you—uh, what are you doing right now?” Seulgi almost hits her own face with the teddy bear at the lamest conversation starter.
“Um, I—I am…” Irene stutters and Seulgi frowns worriedly.
“Irene, what’s wrong? What are you doing?” She asks, immediately sitting up from the bed and presses the phone even closer against her ear.
“I am—standing in front of your house.”
Seulgi quickly bolts out of her room and runs downstairs, still clutching the phone in her hand, not even ending the call. She doesn’t even bother to care if she’d slip on the stairs by running down so fast.
She quickly runs to the door and swings it open with a swift motion, revealing an overly familiar girl standing in front of her house gate.
Seulgi feels her heart beats wildly as Irene gives her a small smile, but then again, she had been running down from her room. She quickly makes her way to the front gate and unlocks it so Irene can step inside.
Once Irene steps inside, Seulgi locks the gate again and guides the other inside the house. She closes the door behind them and locks it before turning around to face Irene.
She stares at Irene from head to toe as if hasn’t seen her since forever. Well, it feels like forever though. Seulgi lifts her gaze up again to stares into the other’s beautiful eyes, and Irene does the same. Their eyes grow stuck as they stare into each other as if trying to speak with their minds.
Without any words spoken, they both stride forward and pull each other into a tight hug, chest against chest, hands wrapped around the other’s body, head buried into the other’s shoulder.
Seulgi closes her eyes and inhales Irene’s familiar flowery scent; the scent that makes her relaxes and puts her at ease. She sighs softly in relief before pressing her face against Irene’s hair that’s covering the side of her neck and wraps her arms tighter, smiling when Irene does the same to her.
“I’m sorry, Seulgi… I’m so sorry…” Irene mutters so softly, burying her face more into the other’s black hair.
“It’s okay, Irene…” Seulgi mutters back even though she has no idea what Irene is apologizing about. Irene doesn’t need to apologize for anything, she is not the one at fault.
“Are you okay, now?” Seulgi asks, finally letting out the question that has been staying on her mind the whole time.
“I am okay now.” Irene mumbles softly, closing her eyes as she starts to move her hands up and down against Seulgi’s back so slowly, as if she’s saying that she is okay because Seulgi is here.
She is indeed okay because Seulgi is with her right now.
Hi guys omg I've been so busy lately ughhh and I'm going to leave to another city for a week because of some work stuff and I'm not bringing my laptop with me which means no writing huhu
Am I the only one here who really likes it when hugging someone no matter boy or girl? I guess hugs always feel good in general hhh
Please do know that english is not my first language so you might find a lot of grammatical errors, typos and broken english, I am so sorry!
Comments, subscribes and upvotes are much appreciated, thank you so much!
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the story!