I shouldn’t have come here.
It takes the band forever to set up, and I’m left alone the entire time. I didn’t bring my phone, so I can’t call Mirae. The club is cold and unfriendly. I cleaned the blood off my arm in the bathroom, but it was only a scratch. I’m restless. And I feel stupid. My parents will be enraged, Yoona will still be in my house, and the twins were witness to another foolish act.
The memory of their expressions is almost too much to bear: the scorn of Shin hye, the hurt of Chanyeol, the shock of my parents. I’m in so much trouble. As always, my mind returns again and again to Park Chanyeol. Woods seems like a lifetime ago. I remember what I felt, but I can no longer remember how.
“Miso?” WHAT’S THAT? WHO’S HERE? Who did my parents send? I’m almost surprised they haven’t showed up themselves—
“We thought it was you.” It’s Anna.
“Hard to tell sometimes .” And Baekhyun. They’re holding hands and smiling, and I’m so relieved that I fall back against the club’s brick wall.
“Ohthankgod, it’s you.”
“Are you drunk?” she asks. I straighten and hold up my chin.
“NO. What are you doing here?”
“We’re here to see Minseok’s band,” Baekhyun says slowly.
“Since you invited us? Last week? Remember?” Anna adds at my confusion. I don’t remember. I was so worried about Minseok touring and the day trip with Chanyeol that I could have invited the editor of TeenVogue and forgotten about it.
“Of course. Thanks for coming,” I say distractedly.
They don’t buy it. And I end up spilling another private story to them: the story of my birth parents. Anna grasps the banana on her necklace as if the tiny bead is a talisman.
“I’m sorry, Miso. I had no idea.”
“Not many people do.”
“So Chanyeol was with you when you found her on your porch?” Baekhyun asks. His question snags my full attention. I’d purposefully left Chanyeol out of the story. I narrow my eyes.
“How did you know that?”
Baekhyun shrugs, but he looks self-chastised. Like he said something he shouldn’t have.
“He mentioned something about taking a road trip with you. That’s all.” He knows. Baekhyun knows that Chanyeol likes me. I wonder if they’ve already talked this evening, if he already knew what happened with my mother.
“I don’t believe it,” I say.
“Pardon?” he says.
“Chanyeol told you. He told you about all of this, about my mother.” Anger rises inside of me again. “Is that why you’re here? Did he send you to check up on me?” Baekhyun’s countenance hardens.
“I haven’t spoken with him in two days. You invited Anna and myself here, so we came. You’re welcome.” He’s telling the truth, but my temper is already boiling. Anna grabs my arm and walks me forward.
“Fresh air,” she says. “Fresh air would be good.” I throw her off and feel terrible at the sight of her wounded expression.
“I’m sorry.” I can’t look at either of them. “You’re right. I’ll go alone.”
“Are you sure?” But she sounds relieved.
“Yeah. I’ll be back. Sorry,” I mumble again. I spend a miserable fifteen minutes outside.
When I come back, the club is packed. There’s hardly standing room. Anna has snagged a wooden bar stool, one of the few seats here. Baekhyun stands close to her, facing her, and he smoothes the platinum stripe in her hair. She pulls him even closer by the top of his jeans, one finger tucked inside. It’s an intimate gesture. I’m embarrassed to watch, but I can’t look away. He kisses her slowly and deeply. They don’t care that anyone could watch. Or maybe they’ve forgotten they aren’t alone. When they break apart, Anna says something that makes him fall into silly, boyish laughter.
For some reason, that’s the moment that makes me turn away. Something about their love is painful. I turn toward the bar for a bottle of water, but Anna calls out to me again. I head back, feeling irrationally aggravated that they’re here.
“Better?” Baekhyun asks, but not in a mean way. He looks concerned.
“Yeah. Thanks. Sorry about all that.”
“No problem.” And I think we’re leaving it at that when he adds,
“I understand what it’s like to be ashamed of a parent. My father is not a good man. I don’t talk about him either. Thank you for trusting us.” His serious tone throws me, and I’m touched by this rare glimpse into his life. Anna squeezes his hand and changes the subject.
“I’m looking forward to this.” She nods toward the band onstage. Minseok’s guitar is slung low as he adjusts something on his amplifier. They’re about to start.
“You’ll introduce us to him afterward, right?” Minseok has been too busy to