Being drunk often helps you be more relieved.
Not having to think too much because you can't, saying anything that comes to mind because well, no one will remember anyway.
But as everything does, it comes with a consequence.
You kick off your shoes as soon as the door closes behind you and stumble toward the bed, almost throwing your body on the mattress. And you reach out as much as you can to open the window.
You have a report to turn in three days later so you keep your eyes open, battling inside whether to wash your face and get started or just fall asleep and hope to wake up early enough tomorrow.
You stay like that for more than half an hour.
It was a shame you couldn't fall asleep.
So with a frustrated grunt, you sit up, rubbing your throbbing head and flop on the chair to turn on your laptop.
You open the file your professor had uploaded today(yes, today. College is always full of challenges.), and enter your name.
But as you were about to enter your major, your stomach churns with the feeling of wanting to throw up but can't.
So you stumble back to bed, almost rolling on the mattress hoping to fall asleep delaying your agonizing hangover for tomorrow.
You left your laptop open which were radiating white, probably enough to blind all ghosts in the apartment where a girl lives alone with only two black words on the screen.
You of course, got drunk again.
"The only good thing about being a legal adult is that you can drink!" Joy had stated after her third glass of beer mixed with little amount of soju. "So I'm gonna drink as much as I want!"
She ended up being the first one drunk.
At the age of 22, you can already feel your body slowly become less.. healthy. Maybe that was because you barely eat two meals a day and drink so often but hey, all the adults told you at your twenties you can even eat steel.
You groggily press the password and as soon as the automatic door slid open, you hang onto your senses because your room was on the third floor.
You had to lean on the wall or grab the handle a couple of times but at least you didn't disturb your neighbors you barely see.
Another password, you grumble to yourself and press the six numbers your brain was forced to remember. And as soon as the door closes behind you kick off your shoes and fling yourself on the mattress.
You try to get comfortable as much as you can but of course everything got uncomfortable.
It did get fun when everyone was drunk. Someone laughed, someone cried but most of all, you felt happy even though you know it’s just the alcohol in disguise.
But you wake up the next day with an excruciating headache and the aching desire to throw up all the alcohol you’ve consumed.
Just like love, you think to yourself unconsciously and scoff at yourself.
But in a way it was true.
Feeling all happy but suddenly hitting the lowest bottom when it ends.
And you honestly had no will enough to find someone.
You see your friends fall in love, in a relationship and you have to admit, you did want to experience those fluttering, innocent feelings they always talked about.
But not enough for you to go on random dates or meetings because you’ve seen too much.
You know too well that everything comes with a consequence. Especially when it comes to relationships.
Of course you have a family. Friends. Even a cat.
But there was always a distance. It wasn’t their fault it was yours.
You took a step back whenever they took one step closer, plastering a smile on your face to assure them that you are just keeping a safe distance.
You chose to walk away from people who took more than just a few steps closer.
It somehow made you uncomfortable. It seemed unnecessary that they cared too much.
Maybe you were just that twisted.
You guide your head down and you can feel blood rushing to your head but it was just the right position for the cool night breeze to linger toward you, giving you a gentle brush which you can barely feel.
And you briefly wonder in your unconsciousness, if you could ever love someone fully.
You laugh to yourself, rubbing your tired eyes. Now you just sounded like an edgy teen with commitment issues.
When it was so much more complicated than that.
Complicated enough even for you to unravel.
So you didn’t expect anyone to unravel your mess.
You just left it there, thinking that hiding the mess is the only option.
It always ended that way and continued on.
You sit up with an agonizingly slow motion, and cover yourself with a blanket as you dive your throbbing head on the pillow.
And as always, your thoughts ended there.
* * *
When you felt good enough to want to do something, you would always go to the old bookstore near campus.
Why not the college library?
Because there were too many people. It’s as simple as that.
You loved spending time at the old bookstore. Not being bothered how some people seem to be chancing a glance at you(for what reason you’ll have no idea) and sitting on the floor at the corner with the book you chose was part of your ‘healing time’.
So as always, you lean on the bookshelf with a contented sigh.
It was your favorite spot. Right beside the window, at the furthest corner from the door with bookshelves filled with all kinds of classics and poems.
You didn’t even realize you were dozing off when someone taps your shoulder.
Thinking it’s the owner, you immediately wake up, startled by the sudden company but you were even more surprised to see that it was just a girl sitting next to you.
A very pretty girl.
You immediately feel the uncomfortableness washing over, suddenly worried she might see all your flaws of your face.
“I guess it is a nice place to take a nap.” She says cheerfully and you can only blink, loss for words.
“Or is your book that boring?” The girl asks, pointing at the book that was placed on your lap.
‘Essays In Love’ by Alain de Botton.
It was ironic for you to pick such a book. You can’t even remember why you choose that book in the first place.
“I guess it is.” You reply with a shrug, closing the orange book.
Why are you so curious? You wanted to ask but she asked you her question first.
“Because I’m not into this kind of.. genre.”
You expect her to nod because surely she will respect your taste in books, right?
But instead, she shows you her book which makes you scrunch up your nose in disgust.
“You might like this.” She says but pouts when she notices your frown. “Why? Have you read it?”
“I don’t like romance novels.” You say, putting the orange book behind you and stand up.
You quickly dust behind you and was ready to walk away because your alone time was ruined. But the girl stood up just as fast, asking you another question from behind.
You let out an exasperated sigh, loud enough for her to hear and to see how your shoulders went up and down in annoyance.
If this girl decided to be rude then you don’t have any reason to be nice either.
“Because it’s a common technique for writers to write sappy, lovey-dovey romance to please needy people.”
You don’t hear her reply for a while and for a moment you thought maybe she lost interest.
“That’s not true.”
But nope. Life was never that easy.
“Why do you think that way?”
You slow your pace.
It’s not like you’re going to see her again. She may be a college student too but even so there’s barely a possibility you’ll see her in campus.
So you decide to be yourself for once.
“Everyone wants to be loved.” You turn around and look straight into her eyes.
“To me, everyone is a helpless damsel inside which is just foolish and needy.”
You never really expressed this much. Not unless you were drunk with your friends.
And you expect her to be offended but instead she smiles as if she found you quite amusing.
“What’s wrong with that?”
You hesitate, glancing at some random books on the bookshelf which makes you scowl a little because the genre is again, romance.
What a perfect section to talk about your perspective of ‘love’.
“Because in the end nobody can care that much.”
Her smile fades a little and you can see a surprised look in her eyes. But again, she asks another question.
“Who made you think that?”
“There’s no who.” You say with a shrug and lock eyes with her. “I just know.”
You figure she will leave you alone now. Their opinions don’t match so no need to get along when they are strangers in the first place anyway.
You adjust your bag hung on your left shoulder and was ready to leave, but as soon as you turn around you feel a tug of your bag.
“I think you’re just scared.”
Your eyes flare up in outrage but she doesn’t even flinch.
“I think you’re scared because you’ve been like those people you call foolish and needy”
You turn around again because you don’t have time for some stranger’s nonsense.
But she stops you, placing her hand on your wrist which you stare down at it.
“I’m not saying that’s wrong.” She says which only annoys you more.
You hated being treated this way.
You were speaking facts. And she constantly wanted to know why.
This wasn’t some words of negativity because of your traumatic experiences or whatever people wanted to call it. Unfortunate happening. Lessons in life. Experience.
It was a fact so why was she acting like it could be wrong?
“Look.” You sigh, not wanting to start a fight because that was just a waste of time and energy judging from that determined glint in her eyes.
“I have my view in life. You have yours. So we just respect that and move on because we’re nothing more than strangers who coincidentally met.”
“You never know.” She answers back. And she sounded confident for some reason.
You didn’t like that one bit.
With her face radiating with confidence, you vaguely shake your head and leave without a word.
And this time, she doesn’t hold you back.
So this was the end.
Cafe is one of your favorite places near campus.
You loved getting fully ready to go out, with a laptop in one hand and a small bag in the other, you would always sit at the corner and mindlessly tap on the keyboard. To write or to search what sparked your interest it can be anything.
“My what a coincidence!”
But of course, worst things happen in life.
You stare at the girl in the counter who was giving you that annoyingly cheerful smile.
“Nice to see you here. I guess this is what people call ‘destiny’ don’t you think?”
You scoff, trying to ignore how pretty she looked even with the cafe’s old green and light yellow uniform.
“May I take your order?” She asks, giving you that knowing smirk which was very irritating.
And it was very much a coincidence(and never a destiny) that you decided to sit near the counter today because you were too lazy to go upstairs.
“Did you blackmail the owner or something?” You ask, the scowl on your face still evident but she only giggles.
“He hired me to work part-time here since yesterday.”
“When does your shift end?” You ask, hoping that you might come back later but she playfully shakes her head.
“Not going to tell you.” She leans a little closer to you so suddenly, making you almost flinch. “And you’re holding the line.”
And she was telling the truth. The girl behind you seemed very annoyed by your conversation with her and you hated being a trouble to someone.
“..I’ll have a vanilla latte.” You say in defeat and the girl smiles in victory.
“Cold or hot?”
“Cold.” You answer through gritted teeth.
“One cold vanilla latte coming up.” She returns your card with the vibrating coaster. “I’ll let you know when it’s ready.”
Your grip on the vibrating coaster tightens as you make your way back to the table.
Even after sitting down you can see glimpse of her busily working on the customers’ drinks. And you ponder if you should go further away or just stay.
You glance at your laptop and the bag next to your seat.
It would be a hassle to move at this point, right? Too much unnecessary work.
She seemed too busy with her work anyway so all you need to do now is minding your own business.
So you start by opening your laptop, deciding you should find the right music first before starting on whatever you have to do.
You go for the playlist with a title that read ‘You came with summer’ only because you felt like listening to summer playlists.
And about five minutes later, your coaster vibrates.
Just as you guessed, the girl was on the counter waiting for you to take your drink.
“Thanks,” You glance at her name tag. “Joohyun.”
She seems a little surprised as if she expected you to just leave with the drink.
“I may seem hostile.” You say, shooting her a look. “But I’m not rude.”
Joohyun’s lips slowly curve up into a smile. Like how a ink with vibrant colors spreads on paper.
“Order a hot one next time.” She says as you take the tray. “I can do latte art for you.”
She tilts her head playfully. “So does that mean you’ll come again?”
You give her a smirk before turning away.
There’s a saying, ‘Three time’s a charm.’.
Who the hell said that’s true.
“Why won’t you tell me your name?” Joohyun whines from behind but you don’t even bother to turn around.
“You shouldn’t talk at a public place.”
“We’re the only ones here.”
“It’s still a public place.” You say, grabbing a random book from the bookshelf hoping to read something interesting today.
“So are you coming to the cafe again?”
You flip the pages of the book but close it in slight disappointment. “Don’t know. Why?”
“No reason.” She says with a shrug, placing her arms behind her back. “Just a genuine wondering.”
You go to the other side of the bookshelf but she stays where she was, looking down at the poetry section.
“When do you work anyway?” You ask as you try to find a book with an intriguing title.
“Are you asking that to never come see me again?” She asks suspiciously. “Because I’ve been waiting for you for almost an hour today.”
You stop walking and you can make out her figure, the bookshelf between you wasn’t able to cover her eyes which are directed at you.
She has pretty eyes.
“Do you wait for random strangers everyday?”
“You’re not a stranger.” She says and you almost jump back in surprise when she pulls out the book right in front of your face. She giggles and you narrow your eyes in distaste.
“I’m not your friend either.”
“Well, that hurt.” Joohyun says but her eyes were still fixated on you. “But point taken.”
“So. Will you leave me alone?”
“No.” She shakes her head which annoys you again. “I’m going to try to be your ‘friend’.”
Friend. You thoughtfully pick up the book with the title ‘I want to eat your pancreas’. But as soon as you realize that it was a romance novel you frown.
She would be a very clingy friend for sure.
“So. What do you say, girl-who-knows-my-name?” Joohyun asks. And when you were just about to answer no, she hands you a thin book by pushing it on the empty space of the bookshelf.
“I love this writer’s poems.” She says. “And the first step of being friends is sharing their interest, right?”
You stare down at the cover. “But I don’t like-”
“Oh wait.” She pretends to be surprised. “I almost forgot. The first step of being friends is knowing each other’s name!”
Scratch that. Not just clingy. She would make a shameless, clingy and-
You don’t know if you are too flabbergasted to say anything or just confused.
Because the girl oddly seemed anxious. Biting her bottom lip with that hopeful but concerned look in her eyes.
She did have pretty eyes though.
So you let out a small sigh, failing to put the poetry book back to its shelf and putting it in your bag instead.
“Seulgi.” You hesitate for a second. “Kang Seulgi.”
You unconsciously but instantly wonder if you made a mistake. But her smile scattered your doubts.
Her smile was pretty too.
“Nice to meet you, Seulgi.”
As you had expected, Joohyun was a very clingy friend.
She talked about a lot of things. From what she liked and disliked to even the simplest things. And you would just silently listen until she decides to ask you questions too.
“I think being perfect is something impossible but at the same time something that we all aim for.” She had said one day. “And I just know I’m not perfect. What do you think?”
Normally you would have been annoyed.
But you did like how the spot right beside the window gave you the perfect lighting for reading and resting. So Joohyun’s chattering became less annoying. Entertaining even.
And if you feel happy enough(for what reason you don’t know. You just feel this odd airy feeling whenever you headed to the bookstore), you would buy a strawberry shake(which she constantly said was her favorite) on your way to the bookstore.
It was a shame you couldn’t meet her at the cafe though.
“What day do you have work?” You ask, reading the poems without much thought.
“I’m not going to tell you, Kang Seulgi.” She folds her arms in determination. And her shoulder brushes against yours which only happened because she sat too close to you.
“Then tell me when it starts.”
“I work almost the whole day.” She says with a shrug. “So if you’re so desperate to not see me then you should find another cafe.”
“Exactly.” You mindlessly flip another page. “I know since you’re not around here on weekends you work part-time on weekends. So tell me when it starts.”
You stop to read one of the poems a bit longer.
You don’t know why but the sentence ‘Be my summer. Even if that means my summer will lose all its colors and turn black and white’ tugged you in some way. Maybe it’s just because that sentence reminded you of the playlist’s title.
You got distracted for a short second but Joohyun was quiet longer than usual. So you glance beside you to realize she was looking at you as if you were a complete stranger.
Okay so how mean does she think you are?
You didn’t mean it that way.
“I’m just asking because you promised to do your ‘latte art’ for me.” You say, awkwardly rubbing your nape feeling somewhat upset at the same time.
She stays silent for another few seconds. And when she finally opens , it was barely even a whisper.
More like..an interjection.
Feeling even more awkward and upset, you stand up, leaving her still letting your words sink in.
“I’ll see you this weekend.” You mumble, failing to meet her eyes.
She tries to say something but you fail to stay composed and you decide not seeing that look on her face is the best you can do while hurrying off, leaving her words unheard.
“Well, you were mean.”
“Shut up,” You mumble, gulping down your glass of beer in one go.
It was Friday night which was the most hectic night of the week. And you can already hear people(mostly college students) cheering and drop some of the glass by mistake.
The bells ringing for more bottle or food and people constantly talking mixed with slangs.
“You do want to be her friend, right?”
You stare at your empty glass, wondering what to drink next but decide to not get too drunk this time. So you pick up your soju glass instead.
“I am her friend.” You slur a little as you pour the soju in your glass. “She made that very clear.”
“But you don’t act like one.”
“What is your problem, Sooyoung?” You snap, almost pushing away the bottle with your arm. “Okay I messed up from our first meeting till now. So what am I supposed to do?”
“Be nice?” Joy says as-a-matter-of-factly. “It is surprising though that you can be mean to someone.”
“.. Because I thought I will never see her again.”
“I doubt that’s the reason.” Joy says as she pours you another glass of beer mixed with a small amount of soju, not forgetting to make the beer’s bubble rise with the spoon. “You hardly ever act like that. And I thought only I can see the mean version of you.”
“She was annoying.” You add with a sniff, ignoring the glass in your hand. “Asking all those dumb questions.”
“But you answered every single one of them?”
You fail to gulp the alcohol down in one go and scrunch up your nose in disgust. “Yeah.”
“And you became her friend?”
Joy shakes her head in disbelief.
“I don’t get it. But that girl sure is something.”
You almost crawl your way up the stairs after catching a cab for Joy.
And as always, you open the window wide and let yourself lifelessly fall on the mattress with your thoughts scattered all over the place.
When you suffer from a hangover at night, you would always open the window because the cool breeze lingering around soothed you.
She was like that.
You cover your face with both hands with a muffled sigh.
No matter how hard you try she always manages to dive into your thoughts.
It was funny in a way.
Because you can’t quite grasp what moment made you hope she will smile back at you.
* * *
It’s also funny how everything else becomes less important when she was around.
You could barely wake up the next day but somehow you manage to shower and look decent enough to go out. With your laptop and your bag, you enter the cafe and there she was.
She doesn’t wave at you like she usually does. And you can tell by her nervous eyes glancing at your puzzled face that she was very tempted to.
You hesitate, trying to awkwardly lift your hand several times but fails to even give her a small wave. So you sigh in defeat and walk toward the furthest corner of the cafe.
You can feel her eyes on you which only makes you more nervous.
And you realize you have to order your drink.
You take a deep breath, counting up to ten. And then ten more.
You finally stand up when you reach thirty but was a little disappointed to find a male worker on the counter.
But what makes you most disappointed was the male customer flirting with Joohyun from the other side.
You can see the slight uncomfortableness in her eyes but what is there you can do?
“May I take your order?”
You manage to tear your eyes away from them.
“One vanilla latte please.”
“Hot or cold?” The worker asks and you pause, chance a glance at them again before answering.
You didn’t even dare shift your gaze toward the counter.
It wasn’t like you were anticipating her to hear your order and make the latte with her latte art skills just for you.
But if you are, is that wrong?
You just stare dimly at the blank white screen in front of you because you had no idea what to write.
One of the reasons you enjoyed going to the cafe so much was writing.
You didn’t write stories or anything. You just liked writing random quotes you thought of or whatever you pleased.
And yet now your head is completely blank.
Until you heard a shrill voice of a woman coming from the counter.
“I told you I wanted exactly two shots of syrup!”
You hear the customers murmuring but you couldn’t care less. Because that woman was glaring at Joohyun who seemed to be terrified even from afar.
“I’m so sorry ma’am. I-”
“It’s too bitter for me to even take a sip!” The woman shouts, stubbornly not backing down and you can’t help but glare at the stranger.
The woman went on and on about what a ty service this was for a regular customer like her. And you were very tempted to push the woman away and take Joohyun’s hand to drag her out of this wretched cafe.
You can’t help but recall what she said before as you watch the woman leave.
“I think being perfect is something impossible but at the same time something that we all aim for. And I just know I’m not perfect. What do you think?”
People make mistakes. But people don’t allow mistakes.
It was brutally ironic.
And many of the reasons why you preferred keeping your distance from them.
The kind male worker pats Joohyun’s back and says something to her which she agrees with a nod. And you see her leave, taking off her apron which makes you abruptly stand up, forgetting your possessions as you hurry out too with the umbrella in your hand.
You just didn’t want her to be soaked by the rain.
You found her sitting on the stairs of the back door, crying.
Time seem to slow down as you walk toward her. And you feel your breath hitch when she looks up, meeting your eyes.
“I told you I’m not perfect.” She says with a sniff, choking as she tried to chuckle that fails to make you smile back.
“That’s the kind of word that shouldn’t even exist.” You say as you crouch down. “It’s impossible to everyone. So it’s normal to not be perfect. It’s a definite, realistic fact.”
You even manage to smile a little. “At least, that’s what I think.”
“So you were listening to me.” She says with a soft laugh. It was barely there but better than the one before.
“I guess I wasn’t a very good friend to you.” You say and you are a little surprised to hear a regret in your tone.
“Well. Honestly it is hard being your friend.” Joohyun smiles. “Because it’s hard to even tell if I’m really your friend.”
“..You are.” You say with a small nod. “A good one even.”
You expected her to be shocked again but instead, she wipes her teary eyes and laugh again.
“I knew you were just a softie.” Joohyun says mustering up a playful smirk and you desperately wish you can do anything for her.
You know some things aren’t needed to be said because it can be expressed even with a glance.
But sometimes they are necessary.
It seemed necessary now.
“Maybe I am.” You reply quietly. Your voice was quiet enough for the raindrops hitting the umbrella to muffle the sound but you know she heard you.
But you decide to say it again because two words seemed necessary too.
“Maybe I am to you.”
You don’t know why you very much wanted her to smile back.
You only wrote two sentences in your document that day after walking her back home. No, three to be exact.
I don't need to look up to see the stars anymore since they are there in your eyes.
And what's the use of the moon when you look more dazzling under the orange streetlight.
...What the hell did I just write?
* * *
With your feelings getting more complicated as much as your thoughts, you again drink with Joy on a Friday evening.
Only this time, there was company.
“I’m gonna drink like there’s no tomorrow!”
Wendy, who was your childhood best friend until now(and also who gets drunk after two glass), raises her glass high obviously in a jolly mood.
But you make a mental note to yourself after clinking your glass that you should probably stay sober to make sure they go home instead of some random place they’ll end up sleeping.
You weren’t feeling much hungry these days anyway.
You were always tired but never got sick. And yet you found yourself suffering from headaches for no specific reason and the strangest thing was you were on cloud nine but suddenly hit rock bottom. Even though you’ve tried so hard all this time to keep your emotions steady.
You were never an expert in taking care of yourself but it somehow got worse.
You can feel that by how your favorite shirt hung loosely on your shoulder.
“What’s making Kang Seulgi so distressed?” Wendy asks to no-one-in-specific. “Is it because she didn’t get the scholarship this year?”
Joy gives you a knowing look which you return with a confused frown.
“Nothing’s going on.” You reply blandly. “What makes you think that?”
“You seem.. gloomier than usual.” Wendy says, squinting her eyes at you as if she was trying to analyze your expression.
“I’m always gloomy.” You say with a shrug. “Nothing fun seems to happen.”
“I doubt it.” Joy say with a mischievous look that always kept you on your toes. “There seems to be someone ‘fun’ in your life these days.”
You glare at her but the words have already been spilled which only makes Wendy more excited.
“Oh! Did Spring finally come for Kang Seulgi?”
The ridiculous duo began to sing springtime has come as they poured another glass and you shrug.
“More like summer.”
Then you stand up before they can tease you more.
“I’m going to wash my hands and you both better not get drunk before I come back.”
“Can’t promise you anything.” Joy replies and you notice that she can’t already keep her eyes open.
So you just shake your head as you make your way toward the toilet.
You mindlessly pass by each table but your eyes hollow with indifference lights up when you spot a familiar face just a few feet away.
You can instantly tell it was a group blind date.
You just stand there like an idiot, watching her not notice you at all as she lets the guy pour the drink in her glass. And you notice how less uncomfortable she seemed compared with the moment when a guy tried to flirt at her at the cafe.
She was more complicated than you thought.
And from that short moment you feel your heartstrings slowly unraveling what you really felt all this time.
Because feeling your stomach churn after catching a glimpse of her smiling at the guy in front her explains everything.
You were surprised to find her in front of the door when you finished washing your hands.
“You’re not really a kind of person who greets your friends when you see them, huh?”
“You seemed busy.” You say with a shrug. “I thought you didn’t see m