Chapter 11

Fallen Leaves

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

 

Areum was thankfully allowed to freely roam the streets again after a few days. She had been lucky to have only sustained minor injuries. But she couldn’t say the same for Jongdae. Areum missed that boy as if her heart was punctured by a needle, despite knowing him for a mere ten days. His presence in this short period of life struck a mark in her, whether she liked to admit or not.

 

Sometimes when her worries over him overwhelmed her senses, she would begin to formulate hypothetical situations or explanations for his disappearance. May be he’s still really injured. Or in a coma. Or dead. The possibilities consistently darkened, exposing parts of her mind that she did not even know existed. No matter how she tried to fight them off and be optimistic, her attempts were met in utter failure.

 

On the Sunday morning following the accident, she truly wanted to pick herself up. She wanted to go back to normal; taking photos, talking to Namjoo and Minseok in the café, or taking long strolls along the shore.

 

But she couldn’t.


“Oh Areum, you can’t go on like this the whole day!” Her aunt tugged on the light blanket encasing the girl in a cocoon. Areum groaned, trying to cover herself once more to be submerged in the warmth.

 

“Your legs aren’t broken, and your brain is working perfectly fine. You need to get up.” This time her aunt’s tone was more stern. “Otherwise it’ll become a habit, and eventually a cycle. This is what happened to your uncle! Remember?”

 

“Oh god, not this story again…” Areum finally grumbled, struggling to upright herself. If it meant not listening to a long-winded tale about her uncle’s depression, she would get up. The older woman smiled in satisfaction as Areum swung her legs over the mattress.

 

“You don’t have to keep staring, you know. At this point, there’s no way I’m going back to sleep.” Areum stated, an eyebrow raised.

 

“Okay, okay! I’ll just be downstairs.” Her aunt chided before turning around and padding down the stairs. Areum made her way to bathroom, only to be personally offended by the reflection in the mirror. The cuts and bruises that were fresh just a few days ago had begun to form inflamed bumps on her skin. Dark circles cast shadows under her eyes, and her overall facial structure seemed to have sunken in. It was amazing how one accident could completely alter someone’s appearance.

 

With the intention of compensating for her lack of facial appeal, Areum dressed herself in a fitted peach tie-up shirt that tucked into a floral miniskirt. She might as well try to look nice, despite the turmoil going on in her head. When she stepped into the kitchen downstairs, her senses were welcomed by the sweet aroma of freshly mixed and flipped pancakes. Her aunt stood at the griddle, boasting her signature red and blue checkered apron around her waist. Just as she flipped one of the golden cakes, the woman turned around to meet Areum with a gentle smile. “Someone looks cute today!”

 

Areum looked at her toes in embarrassment. “I was just trying to be a little more optimistic.”

 

Her aunt cast her a knowing look. “I’m sure he’s fine, Areum. You can’t always expect results or resolutions to problems immediately. Many things have reasons behind them.” She reassured the girl.

 

“Thanks Auntie.” Areum said, ending the conversation. Thankfully, her aunt didn’t push the topic further. Instead, she carried a porcelain plate decorated with a stack of golden-brown pancakes and set it down on the table mat. “There’s chocolate chips, fruits, butter, and syrup on the dining table.” She informed, going back to pour more batter onto the griddle.

 

“Wow, I thought you said we were going to eat only healthy food this summer?” Areum chuckled.

 

“Shhhh…everyone can have a cheat day once in a while! And plus, we’re putting fruits on top, which automatically makes it healthy!”


“Yeah, along with fructose corn syrup covering them.” Areum snorted playfully before sprinkling toppings on the warm food.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay? I’m worried about your injuries, Areum…” He aunt persisted, while blocking Areum from exiting the house after breakfast.

 

“Yes, auntie. I assure you that I’ll be with some very trustworthy friends! They both know about my injuries, so they’ll be careful.” She reassured the older woman.

 

“Okay, but please promise me you won’t get hurt today.” She crossed her arms, moving out of the way despite her concerns.

 

“I promise.” Areum murmured, placing a kiss on her aunt’s cheek for good measure.


Areum made her way down to the side walk, enjoying the warmth from the sun’s rays that caressed her skin. The entire world looked like it was carefree, with kids screaming as they played tag in the front yards, couples taking pictures under the shade of looming trees, and parents relaxing on their porches. It was like Areum was the only left behind in a pool of worry. She needed to let go at some point. Like her aunt said, everything will work out naturally. Stressing out would do no good.

 

Keeping this in mind, Areum relaxed her muscles that were previously held taut, and let down her hair to flow in the breeze. Jongdae was important, but not important enough to let herself spiral down. She leisurely strode into the café within a couple minutes, finding comfort in the familiar aroma of freshly ground coffee beans and cream. It had only been two days, but not coming here had made her day feel off balance. It was good to be back.

 

“Areum!!! You’re walking! And breathing!” A male voice sounded from behind the counter.

 

“Minseok, you saw me alive in the hospital a few days ago.” Areum leaned over the wooden counter, watching as he professionally mixed a shake.

 

“Yeah, but it’s so different seeing you after being released. You didn’t look too good back there.”

 

When Areum looked at him skeptically, he quickly covered up his words. “What I meant was that you were pretty shaken up, which is understandable given the situation.”

 

She shook her head at his words. “I’m glad to see you again, Minseok.”

 

“Me too.” He grinned. “I’m surprised your aunt even let you leave the house so fast, though. How’d you make things work?”

 

“To be frank, I’ve been moping around for two days. She probably thought it was good riddance of my attitude.” She shrugged.

 

“Oh. That makes sense.” Minseok said quietly. “I’m really sorry about not being able to tell you anything about him.”

 

“I understand, Minseok.”

 

“But I promise you, it will be totally okay soon!” He said, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“I hope so.” She muttered, the negative feelings rising in her chest once again, despite her efforts to subdue them. “Do you have any plans today?” She blurted as a final attempt to maintain her cheery facade.

 

“No, I don’t. Why, you want to get some quality time with Minnie?” He winked.

 

“I was about to ask you to hang out, but now I’m regretting the thought.” Areum playfully retorted. When the boy began to pout, she put her hands up. “I was just joking, jeez!”

 

“Of course, who could resist me?” He shrugged. “Where do you want to go?”

 

“Anywhere I can take good pictures.”

 

“I think I know just the place.”


Hello, dearies! If you're reading this, you've probably noticed that the title no longer has "Hiatus" in it! That's right, i'm back to writing. :) Junior year seriously kicked my , but it's finally winding down with finals. Tomorrow is actually the last day, so i'm going to have a LOT more time for AFF. I have intentions of finishing this story with around 25 chapters, which I hope to accomplish within the following year. I hope you guys still support this story, even though it's been quite a while.

On another note, get excited for some drama~

-Vixxy

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