As I have just said, things really are getting better and better, aren’t they? It’s like the gods are deliberately putting me in circumstances that I dislike. With an uncomfortable smile, I watch some tourists try the so-called footwork on the berries in that huge- buckets. Some who are already finished with it are now squeezing the crushed berries in the cloth and were being guided by some old ladies whom I assume are workers. I look over to another side of the whole patio and there was a shelf with different berry products. “Do they pay to bring home the juice?” I lean over to Kyungsoo to ask. “Guests pay for the berry-picking for a very affordable price. If they pick the berries and make the juice themselves, they get it for free already. The ready-made products right there, of course it’s for sale.” Kyungsoo explained to me briefly while pointing at the direction I was just looking at earlier.
“So.” He looked at me again while pulling his sleeves up to his forearms. He’s wearing this red flannel shirt over a plain white shirt inside. “Ready to try it? See it as an experience for you too, technically, you’re like just any other guests since you haven’t tried it before.” He smiled before pushing me gently towards the remaining empty corner. An old lady, probably around her early sixties or something, started preparing a huge bucket just for us and filling them up with a ton of already boiled up berries. “Iseul-ah, this is Kim Eun Ae, we all call her Aunt Euni so feel free to do the same.” Kyungsoo introduced me to the old woman. “Hello, Aunt Euni, I’m Han Iseul.” I politely introduce myself and bow.
“Aigo~ are you the new worker? Such a pretty young lady.” The old lady replied, somewhat with a bit of dialect but I understood it well enough. “Kyung-kyung, she should be working inside~ why are you making this beautiful lady work here outside?” She continued to tease while giving Kyungsoo a side-look. Kyung-kyung? Oh god. The cringe is real. “Ahh—Aunt Euni, don’t call me like that in front of my new worker.” Kyungsoo chuckled in embarrassment while rubbing the tip of his nose. “Eyy~ Iseul-ssi, that’s what I used to call him when he was just a young boy here.” Aunt Euni proudly explained the history of that nickname to which I half-heartedly giggled upon.
“She and her family were one of the first workers when my parents started taking care of the land.” Kyungsoo leaned in and clarified the story – as if I care. Ugh, all this talk. “Anyway, you should clean up your feet real nice right there.” he finally dragged me to one corner of the patio close to the very exit where there was a faucet and a long hose connected to it. “C-can I not do it? Can I just watch you do it, Oppa? Hm?” I ask, trying to pull off an aegyo once again. I really don’t want to feel the sensation of those berries on my feet, I swear to god I’m going to die.
“Han Iseul.” He gently called my name but it was more than enough for me to understand that he’s not taking my aegyo after all. He started taking off his own shoes first. “I. . . Oppa, just this one, I’ll have to decline. I promise I’ll work hard on other thin—ahh!” I yelp when he squatted and grab my foot to remove my shoe himself. I stand on one foot while glaring at him. He removed my sock before putting my foot down. He went next for my other foot making me stumble a little. “I—I can remove them myself.” I try to pull my foot away but he had already pulled down the shoe. “I know you can but I know you wouldn’t.” He briefly answered before letting my sock slide off through his gentle grab.
He put our shoes beside each other on one corner together with our socks before suddenly standing so close to me. “W-what are you doing?” I ask and try to take a step back when the strong water from the hose hit my feet together with his. Oh, he wanted to wash our feet. “Pull up your pants, it’s getting wet.” He gestured me while tapping me on the knee very gently. I fail to respond again making him squat right in front of me and do it himself. “N-no—wait. . .” I try to yank away but he had already grabbed the ends of my pants and started folding them up neatly. “Aigo—someone’s being a baby.” I heard him muffle in his sigh.
I glare down to him even though I could only look at the back of his head. “For an employee on training, you’re very pampered, princess.” He chuckled playfully as he finished folding up my pants. He stood up straight again still with that smile that I have already expected he has just by hearing his tone of voice. I clear my throat as I think of a good counter-attack that isn’t too mean. “Well, who told you to pamper me, oppa?” I tease back while batting my eyelashes as cutely as possible. To my dismay, he didn’t seem to react in a way that I wanted him to and just scrunched his nose at me before bending down to continue washing out feet.
I clear my throat once more while fanning myself.
I could already feel the sun going higher and higher. It’s getting really warm. I adjust my hat as I gaze down to my boss again. I decided to clean my feet more thoroughly and bent down as well making our heads bump into each other and my hat fall to the ground. Ha~ I did that on purpose actually, this is the least I could do to give him a painful revenge for being annoying. “Ahh—you okay?” He asked about me instead while peeking at my face and rubbing his affected head. Can he at least react more?! Not just a dead ahh.
He’s still ing nice.
What if he already has a secret crush on me?
Like a crush at first sight yesterday? Am I completing my plan in just a day? I might be exaggerating things.
“I’m okay.” I timidly answer while I observe his every move with my keen eyes. I bent down completely, carefully this time, and started washing my feet, going in between my toenails as well.
Once we’re done, I carefully tiptoed towards the spot we’re working on as fast as I can before cleaning up my feet once again with the face towels Kyungsoo gave me. I watch him do the same while placing the face towel right on the floor, using it as his own mat instead of stepping right on the wooden floor. I mimic what he did and neatly placed my towel down. “You do it first, Oppa.” I request while pointing at the huge bucket. “No, this is your bucket. I’ll ask them to get me a different bucket, I’ll show you.” He said while gesturing a worker to get him another bucket. “B-but—” I look down to the mountain of berries in my own bucket.
I really don’t want to do this.
I feel like I’m going to freak out. I get really sickened by weird and unfamiliar sensations on my skin. It looks so deep, I think it’s going to go over my ankles and I’m already freaking out inside just by thinking about it. I put my hand on top of it just to feel if it’s hot. “They cooled it down already, don’t worry.” Kyungsoo assured me with a smile, he just stared at me as if he’s waiting for me to begin and see my reaction. Some tourists started watching me as well giving more pressure into my soul. Like seriously, guys?! “She’s my new worker, she hasn’t tried it before. She’s on training today, isn’t this the best training?” Kyungsoo proudly grinned at the guests as if they’re close friends.
“I—I don’t think—Oppa, can I just do it with my hands while I wear gloves? Oppa, I’m not kidding I’m really scared of stuff sticking on my skin, it’s like a phobia. Hands? Gloves? Hm?” I make a very reasonable suggestion. “Do you see how much berries are in there, Iseul? It’s going to make too much time.” Kyungsoo obviously declined while gesturing me to go in. My chest started going up and down as I reject to face my fear. “C’mon, it’s just berries, it’s not going to kill you.” Kyungsoo encourages me once more while nodding.
People may call this exaggeration but I swear to god, I really can’t stand gross stuff on my skin. I can’t even stand hair and fur as well. “You can do it, it’s really fun~” One guest added while clapping her hands. I breathe out heavily as I close my eyes. “Alright alright.” I give in before lifting one leg first. I take another deep breath before quickly hopping onto the bucket.
And as soon as I felt that weird sensation of berries crashing on the bottoms of my feet and juices coming out of it, I freaked out.
As I have expected.
“Ahh-no! It’s uh—no!” I start jumping in fear and attempted to get off the bucket again when I felt a pair of hands grab me by the arms and before I knew it, I felt a presence just inches from me. I slowly opened my eyes and saw Kyungsoo right in the bucket with me while holding my arms. “It’s okay, relax. Slowly step on them, don’t think about how it feels. Think about the outcome, it’s going to be juice later, hm?” He softly spoke, his hot breath hitting my forehead since I’m short as . I look down to the berries, our feet almost touching under them as we made small crashing steps. “Eyy~ too close too close!” Some young tourists begin teasing us making me gulp.
But Kyungsoo didn’t seem to care that much.
It’s like all he cares is helping me get over this fear of mine.
“It’s not comfortable at first, I know. It feels gross and weird, right? But then you get used to it and it starts getting fun especially when you think about how fascinating it is, back in the days, people can only do this because they don’t have machine-operated crushers and strainers. Think