It’s raining when Yongsun finds out Moon Byulyi is back in Korea.
Yongsun is shrugging on her cream cardigan as she closes the window of her classroom, rain thickly sluicing down the glass in rivulets. Although her view of the outside is distorted, she can make out the throngs of students rushing out of the gates, some huddling under umbrellas and others sprinting under the mere cover of notebooks.
She smiles dreamily as she thinks of a time long ago when she’d grabbed another girl’s smaller hand and ran from the eaves of a convenience store with the sound of rain pounding in her ears.
She startles form her reverie when she hears her phone vibrating against her teaching podium. With a curious hum, she strides toward the device but pauses when she sees the caller id.
Yongsun swallows and tentatively reaches out, a single fingertip slowly dragging across the name. Biting her lip, she picks up the phone and accepts the call before she loses her nerve.
“Hello?” she asks, trying to make her voice not waver.
Unnie! Unnie, hi.
Yongsun shifts nervously in her heels, glancing at a student who peeks into the classroom and squeals upon realizing a teacher is still there.
“It’s been awhile,” she murmurs neutrally. She hears a soft sigh in response.
Only a year.
Yongsun hums, biting her tongue. A whole year and barely two phone calls.
“Is everything alright in China, Byulyi-ah? Do you need me to send you some pocket money so you can eat?”
Unnie, you’re not my mom! And I was drunk when I asked you for that.
Yongsun shifts in her shoes as she smiles at the comment, letting herself get lost in their usual banter.
“Your mom told me you ask for money a little more often than you should.”
Unnie, please don’t scold me. I’m back in Korea now. I promise I won’t ask for money anymore.
She pauses at that, palm flat against her podium as she studies her chipped nail polish.
“Oh? You’re back?”
Study abroad can’t be more than a year, Unnie. Otherwise it’s just me running away.
Didn’t you do that too, Yongsun wants to ask. But she holds her tongue and simply laughs.
“No matter where you run to, you can’t run away from me, Moon Byulyi.”
A long silence fills her ears, buffered only by the pounding of rain outside. It’s the wrong thing to say.
… You’re right, Unnie. I can’t escape you, no matter how hard I try.
Yongsun swallows and they both pause, connected by the sound of summer rain, heavy and full.
“I want to see you. Soon. Byulyi-ah, we should talk.”
Yongsun pauses, clenching her teeth. She remembers briefly the haze of alcohol and the press of the other girl’s warm mouth against hers. And then the next day Byulyi had been on a flight to Beijing and Yongsun was helpless to stop her.
“We don’t have to talk about… about that if you don’t want to. I just miss you. I’ve known you since you were born after all.”
I know, Unnie. You were the first person I ever… I ever knew outside of my family.
Yongsun’s breath catches in and she winces at how thick Byulyi’s voice sounds as if she’s having trouble speaking.
“Byulyi-ah, I’ll see you soon okay? Our parents are still neighbors so I’ll be back this weekend. Can we see each other then?”
Of course, Unnie.