A/N : I want to thank the readers who commented/supported this story even though it's only the first chapter. I was very much worried that it might not be good but seeing your positive feedbacks made me immediately write the next chapter. Again, thank you :) You have no idea how much impact your words have on me haha :D
My heart is a candlelight.
Please close that door.
On shreds of your silken dress trembling,
I shall flare till last in silence, without leaving a single drop.
Quitting something is harder than anyone can ever imagine.
Seulgi realizes that again as she smacks her lips due to spending more than eight hours not smoking.
She had quit smoking about two months ago. But what makes her so unhappy is the fact that she’s back in square one. As if she’s stuck in this endless cycle of quitting and starting again. A toxic hamster wheel.
Seulgi laughs to herself at that thought, imagining herself trying to spin the wheel, frantically running toward nothing but staying where she always was.
At least it’s better than her mundane life in this small town. At least something changes in this toxic hamster wheel, Seulgi used to think but now, it’s different.
She turns around to glance at the closed door before she leaves, feeling a little light-headed for some reason. Maybe it’s because of the weather. The sky had cleared up quickly overnight and now the sunbeam brushes her face as Seulgi ties the manure tub on her bicycle.
As she pedals away, crossing the field of deep green. She even sits up a little from her bicycle saddle and breathes in everything that she’s familiar with. The smell of the afternoon breeze, the red and blue roofs of each small house, the sunflowers still remaining straight and proud, even the sound of her bicycle wheels rolling against the ground, nothing has ever changed.
Then Seulgi thinks of Joohyun who must be still asleep in her room.
She’s the only thing that’s new in her small mundane life.
Seulgi slows down, recalling yesterday night when Joohyun gave her a smile, a giggle, and then her name.
Her deep eyes that seem to still have warmth despite the bruises, the pretty curve of her lips when she smiled. Where everything is old and forgotten, she came and made something new, in such an unexpected moment.
And unexpectedly, oddly, Seulgi found herself wanting to do more than just give her a room to sleep.
The only question is, how?
She can tell by the way Joohyun takes care of her mother that she’s a warm-hearted person. Seulgi just didn’t see it the first time because of her wounds. Like a flame that’s only quenched for a brief moment because of the frigid wind.
So what can she do? Shield the wind or ignite the flame?
Seulgi shakes her head. All this thinking is new to her. Like a flicker of sudden bonfire, Joohyun came into her life. And now Seulgi can’t stop thinking about her.
Maybe that shows how lonely she was before. Seulgi has to admit that.
Living alone with her blind mother for years, it just made her feel less lonely when she had to put another set of chopsticks and a spoon on the table.
Yes, it’s as simple as that.
But yes, Seulgi thinks to herself as she spots a familiar figure walking toward her after working on the field for about an hour,
It still helps her feel less lonely.
“What brings you here?” Seulgi asks, wiping her forehead with her forearm.
And Joohyun, who is wearing her jogging suit with her hair a little wet from the shower, smiles a little in greeting.
“Just thought it would be nice to take a short walk. Is there anything I can do to help?”
But Seulgi shakes her head, still a little out of breath.
“I’m already done. Let’s walk back together.”
So with the bicycle between them, they walk in silence. The sun is still high up and Seulgi walks quietly, not noticing Joohyun who kept glancing at her.
“You can ride your bicycle if you want,” Joohyun speaks up and Seulgi raises an eyebrow.
“Then what about you?”
“I can walk,” Joohyun says, giving her a reassuring nod that it’ll be fine.
“Why won’t you just sit behind me on the bicycle?”
Seulgi figured at first it’s because Joohyun didn’t want to wrap her arms around some stranger’s waist. And honestly, now Seulgi hopes that’s not the reason.
“Because..” Joohyun hesitates, looking unsure as she steals a brief glance at the bicycle rolling along. “I don’t know how to ride one. And the idea of riding something that only has two wheels is just.. Terrifying.”
Seulgi stops walking as soon as she hears the word ‘terrifying’. The bicycle stops too with a screech and Joohyun turns, surprised by the sudden halt.
“It’s not as terrifying as you think.” Seulgi then gestures to the ‘terrifying’ thing next to her. “Why don’t you try first?”
Joohyun shakes her head. “No.”
“Come on, Joohyun!” Seulgi says, not backing down. “You city people ride terrifying four-wheeled machines everywhere so why not this!”
“Because it seems so unsafe!”
“You know people get into more severe accidents because of cars, right?”
“Why are you making me do this?” Joohyun grumbles and Seulgi lets out a small sigh.
“Just.. try. Just once. Please?”
Seulgi doesn’t know why she’s making Joohyun do this either. It just bothers her.
So Joohyun nods in a feeble manner, showing defeat and in the middle of the unfrequented path, Joohyun sits on the bicycle saddle grimly as if she’s about to ride a tank rather than a bicycle.
She can feel the bicycle already wobbling but Joohyun does her best to find comfort in the sound of leaves gently flowing and Seulgi’s hand tightly holding behind.
Joohyun’s grip on the handle tightens and she looks straight ahead nervously.
“Permission for the countdown.” Seulgi says jokingly. “Five.. Four.. Three.. Two.. One!”
And Joohyun starts to pedal, but she easily loses her balance and collapses onto the ground with the bicycle.
“It’s so hard.” Joohyun whines, rubbing her scratched knee. And Seulgi immediately runs over, dusting off her shirt and picking up the bicycle.
“You okay?” She asks and Joohyun can feel a hint of guilt in her voice.
To be honest, Joohyun always hated losing. So whenever she lost, she always had to win after.
Without a word, Joohyun takes the bicycle and sits on the saddle again, this time more determined. And Seulgi tries not to smile at how serious Joohyun looks right now.
“It’s always like that when it’s people’s first time riding a bicycle.” She tries to reassure. “Everyone learns how to ride a bicycle by falling down several times.”
Joohyun nods but this time, she is determined not to fall.
And the bicycle once again reels forward as Joohyun pedals with more force. But again, she collapses. Then again, and then again.
She still wants to ride the bicycle. But she finds herself laughing like a child as she blows her scratched forearm. She got better at finding balance and even Seulgi seemed to get eager to help Joohyun ride the bicycle.
And Joohyun realizes after their seventh attempt that it is getting dark.
One last time, Joohyun thinks to herself as she sits on the bicycle saddle yet again.
Seulgi begins her last countdown, and she pedals forward, focusing on the balance and Seulgi’s hurried footsteps behind her. And this time, the bicycle keeps going forward.
“I’m good at this!” Joohyun exclaims, almost squealing with joy but frowns a little when she hears no response.
Joohyun takes a quick look behind her and just as she thought, Seulgi was quite far away from her, wiping her forehead then waving at her and giving her a thumbs-up.
Joohyun had always liked the idea of leaving everything behind.
Even while riding the bus, she’d watched everything pass by and she wanted everything to be that way. Not giving herself a single chance to stay and keep moving forward, leaving the rest of it behind, getting further and further away from her until it’s completely forgotten and only remembered when mentioned.
But Joohyun finds herself shaking at the thought of Seulgi’s figure getting smaller and smaller. It scares her. It scares her that the girl who held her hand in the dark is no longer there. It’s just as scary as all those nightmares. Maybe even more.
So Joohyun hastily turns the handle sideways, making the bicycle lose its balance and knock her over again. Another scratch is formed on her forearm and knee. And Joohyun feels the lump in .
She just doesn’t want to be alone anymore. Even the idea of being alone all over again leaves her breathless.
The sound of frantic footsteps stop and Seulgi’s voice calling her name makes Joohyun open her eyes.
As Seulgi helps her stand up, she must have noticed her watery eyes because the crease of Seulgi’s brow only deepens.
“Are you okay? Does it hurt a lot?”
Joohyun shakes her head, trying to wipe her eyes while forcing a smile at the same time.
“It doesn’t hurt. I’m okay.” Then she shrugs.
“I guess I’m not that good after all.”
Thank you for not leaving me alone, Joohyun can only say that through her smile without the words being uttered.
“Don’t tell me you’re scared of him.”
Joohyun flinches as Seulgi playfully pulls her closer to the Jindo dog whose tail is wagging in greeting.
“I’m not much of an animal lover, okay?” Joohyun protests but Seulgi shakes her head which makes another dread take over Joohyun.
“What do you want me to do? Wash him?”
“Just pet him,” Seulgi says, gently grabbing her hand. “He doesn’t bite. He actually likes you, see?”
As if on cue, the Jindo dog pants excitedly as they step closer. He stretches then leans toward Joohyun, sniffing up close while Joohyun stands there, frozen as if she’s being inspected.
“Okay, I’m only going to ask you to pet his head and we’ll be done,” Seulgi says slowly.
Joohyun just nods, knowing that asking why won’t change anything. So she closes her eyes instead, her face scrunching up when she feels something rough but soft beneath her palm. And Joohyun is actually surprised her hand is still intact when she opens her eyes.
“See?” Seulgi says with a smug grin. “Told you so.”
“What’s his name?” Joohyun asks, silently marveling how his tail wags even faster.
“That’s his name,” Seulgi says sheepishly.
“I named him post because I wanted a potato harvest,” Seulgi explains, feeling a little embarrassed as she does. “And I don’t know, it just kind of stuck.”
Joohyun can only laugh, her hand not leaving the dog as she even crouches next to ‘post’.
“So post, what’s it like having your own office all around the country?”
Seulgi lets out a huff, feeling offended, and turns on her heels.
“Ha, ha very funny.” She grumbles as she leaves Joohyun and Post behind. “Come in after you’re done making fun of me.”
Joohyun laughs again as Seulgi stomps away.
“Post,” She says quietly, almost like a whisper as Post gives her one of his paws. “I think I like it here. More than I thought.”
Even the smell of dirt, even the old creaking blue door.
And especially the girl’s innocent eyes.
“What are you scared of?”
Seulgi, who is taking off the rubber gloves on the sink after she finishes washing the dishes, gives Joohyun, who is polishing the dishes beside her, a confused look.
“You know what I’m scared of. So I want to know what you’re scared of.”
What an odd turn of events.
“I’m scared of you asking that question.”
“Oh, come on.” Joohyun places the last dish on the cupboard. “I won’t judge.”
“Sure you won’t. Especially after making fun of my dog’s name I’m sure you won’t.”
Seulgi purses her lips, guessing Joohyun will never leave her alone until she gets an answer and she has a gut feeling that she’s right.
Why isn’t it raining today, Seulgi thinks to herself with a scowl then reluctantly answers.
“Water scares me.”
Joohyun blinks as if she didn’t expect that as an answer.
Seulgi fails to meet her eyes and chooses to look down instead.
“I almost drowned once.” She says grimly. “And I don’t know, it’s not like I’m suffering but I prefer staying away from it.”
And Joohyun feels guilty because she underestimated one fact : everyone carries their own weight, no matter how light it seems, and how bright everyone seems.
So she chooses not to ask anything more.
Joohyun seems to be acting weird after that day.
Of course, she still helps Seulgi’s mother wash her face, and even starts to take care of Post’s meals. And yesterday she’d asked if it’s okay for her to cook dinner which turned out surprisingly well.
But still, something was off.
It’s like she’s walking eggshells around her and Seulgi doesn’t like that one bit.
However, it takes Seulgi a while to do something about it, to make up her mind.
After the rainy season was over, that’s when she mustered up her courage on one sunny afternoon. When the distance of the sun got closer and the field grass danced along with the breeze.
With grim determination, Seulgi changes into a sleeveless t-shirt and shorts. marches toward Joohyun’s door after saying good morning to her Jindo dog.
She knocks exactly three times and Joohyun, who seems to have just woken up, sleepy opens the door with a small frown.
“Let’s go to the valley,” Seulgi suggests and Joohyun will have no idea how many times she replayed herself saying that yesterday night.
Because judging from her tone, it seemed like the girl is ready to fight her instead of asking her to join her morning activity.
“Well, the weather is nice today.” Seulgi’s hardened expression softens, suddenly nervous that Joohyun might say no. “And I thought it would be nice to go there.. Today.”
Joohyun can tell by the way Seulgi emphasizes the word ‘today’ that she wants Joohyun to say yes. So Joohyun changes into a sleeveless white shirt Seulgi gave her, along with the shorts that reach her thighs as she thinks of Seulgi’s tanned skin unlike hers.
She can guess how hard it must have been, working at a large field alone, looking up at the sky sometimes and letting out a sigh instead of a sob, trying to ignore the feeling of being alone.
Reminding herself that everyone has their own weight, their own baggage makes Joohyun more concerned. Life is funny that way.