"They're dating. Jennie and Rosé"
It’s old news even though this is a new juicy information that exploded right onto my face. This should hurt me but then, it’s them. There’s a sense of disappointment since I anticipated that Jennie won’t run away and avoid looking at me. Rosé is not here either. Jisoo told me that she on the way to LA with her father intending to meet me. How do they know where I was? Of course, my mother was contacted but she left that part out. My mom likes surprises, and this is the reason why I asked her to not make it a habit.
“Jennie, please open the door. Come on, it’s my first day back.” I said, rattling the doorknob since she locked herself in and it even have a Do Not Disturb sign hanging around it. Lost, I could find myself becoming scared of others, of the world, of becoming vulnerable. “This is a safe place. You care about her” I shoved those words in the mouths of negativity, trusting I can find my way home. I composed my soul and steady my heart, breathing the next words: “If this is about you dating Rosé. Jennie, I’m not mad but I’m happy for you.” Leaning my ear against the wall, I optimistically wanted to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I ended up gritting my teeth because it appears that she won't open.
“Don’t you miss me? I miss you. I really want to catch up before things become hectic. So please open the door. Jennie?” I sighed and let go of the metal knob I’m holding, taking a step back for this might be a lost cause. “Look, if me being here makes it difficult, I can go away. Just say the word and I'm gone.” Being lost is temporary and I must be my own compass. I looked down at my feet and turned around. However, the sound of a creaking door had me in place. The door slightly ajar and a glimpse of her come to view. I took this like as an invitation to face this new challenge together.
The sun won’t shine to someone who has an aching heart and cold breeze just passes by. Heartache is real and it affects one’s health and body. It’s needing the time to recover, and I had that. Returning to this scenario has become the norm. This time, I’d rather give love space and time to figure out its own. I entered the room with an open mind and watched Jennie bite her nails with her eyes closed. She does this when she’s nervous or having a panic attack. I look around the room and much has changed. Maybe the way she decorated her room or the fact that there’s a lot of pictures of her and Rosé together. I grinned killing the green monster from succeeding and put an emphasis that I’m there to work.
“So...” I cautiously think of my next words and since she’s determined to not make an eye contact, there’s only one solution. Jennie gasped and slowly look directly at me, brow knitted anxious that something important is on the line. I had her face between my hands as I caress her soft cheeks. Volume of passion rushed in my head that transcends to me planting a kiss on her forehead. “We’re okay, hmm?”
Her reaction telling me she wanted to say more, or maybe that I do, though in reality it’s both of us. She held my hands that is touching her. Her eyes soft and deeply wanting a connection, not this fiercely threatened that I make it to be.
“Don’t say that I don’t miss you. You know I miss you out of all people.” Her puffy and pouting face had me chuckling because she’s such a baby at times.
“Sorry.” I pat her cheeks before letting go before I overstepped my boundaries. “Let’s eat. I’m starving and craving for jajangmyeon.”
Thrown into 360 degrees turn, Soohyun is here. Uninvited, she comes back totally different from before. She looks healthier, fit and she emits self-assurance – an absolute state of positive beliefs and stability like she managed to chase away her own fear and anxiety. I’m glad she returned to us. I froze when Lisa dragged her in. I am overwhelmed with happiness; I crave to be near her and talk the whole night. But my stomach churned, making me sick and my chest tightened like I’m being crushed. The idea of telling her everything resulted in my sudden paralysis. No one dared give us her contact details despite the urgency that we talk to her. It was said that she’s on a social media fasting. Her cousin politely denied us access as a respect to the family who is grieving and trying to move on. This I understand but Chaeyoung and I have been following people close to her. Call us a stalker but we worry and care about her or anyone in our group. I’m aware Kim Sejeong recently had a holiday in New York based on her story on Instagram. Soohyun might not be in any of her pictures or clips but judging from the abstract painting she posted, the solo/actress visited Mrs. Choi’s private gallery. Auntie Somin knew I’m an art lover and she took me there when I visited two years ago.
At this point, she’s taking my dating news lightly. We ordered jajangmyeon and jokbal adding Jisoo’s tteokbokki on the menu. Soohyun literally guilt me into joining them and I’m sitting here at the breakfast table with them, watching Jisoo cook her specialty. I listened to the conversation and noticed that our leader who used to scarcely open up is now talking a lot. The three of them kept changing the subject that it was hard to keep up. At first, it was a general question if Soohyun is fine, then the couple disclose how Lisa managed to get Jisoo’s yes and then they talked about working without her. I realised that my mind is drifting from time to time because I’m having the same impression I had when we first met Soohyun. She’s ever beautiful with that dimple on her cheeks shining every time she smiles. Her eyes alluring and her lips inviting. Those days she was gone broke my heart. It broke until all that remains are painful fragments. She went away, that hurt. She broke up with Chaeyoung and now I’m dating our main vocalist. But why does it feel like I’m cheating on her? Falling in love with Soohyun was easy; it’s admitting to myself that it’s resurfacing is hard. Having her back, it means the world to me. Is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?
A bell-like sound alerted us that someone is outside our apartment. It turned out it was the food delivery man. Soohyun paid for the meal, and we gathered at the dining area. We sat next to each other while the couple sat opposite us. Lisa and Jisoo was becoming chummy in front of us, I’m somewhat embarrassed or felt like we are third wheeling. They kept giving a spoonful of something to the other, giggling and being all lovey-dovey. I stole a glance at Soohyun but she’s just grinning, maybe trying to ignore these cheesy girls. I asked her how's her mom and she told me in detail that seven months ago they moved to California since most of their relatives are there. She also added that her mom is teaching at UCLA. Soohyun returned the gesture and I told her that my mom is doing great, especially with the family business. Our conversation led to the current situation of the group and about the plan for the future. She'd be working on her solo album and there are songs she'd like to run with us. She'll be staying at her own place and estimating the amount of things she needed to do, we'll have a hard time to talk properly. I really want to drop a hint that we need to discuss more about me dating Chaeyoung. But no sooner have I changed track that our leader is busy fidgeting, and her eyes keep flicking to her phone. I watched her answer call after call, barely touching her meal. I’m curious to know who she’s talking to. Her phone buzzed again. I tried a peek while her phone was left untouched on the table, but she’s quick to pick it up and walked somewhere quiet to talk to whoever it is. I glanced at the couple, and they were unbothered.
"Your passport? Come on, babe. It should be in your bag. I put it there. Have a look again. Yes, there is a round white speaker looking thing near the basin. You use it to adjust the temperature of the water. I’ll come home soon then. Are you sure? Okay. Call me if you’re still having troubles.”
I'm not eavesdropping but I overheard Soohyun say 'babe' and that caught my attention. Is she with someone? It could be anyone. A friend. A child. A relative. A lover? It shouldn’t concern me, but my thoughts and feelings are so compacted I feel like my chest will go super nova. Is that why she’s taking everything lightly? She’s in a relationship with someone new. Is that why she’s not mad at me for dating Chae?
“Sorry about that.” Soohyun came back with that smug smile plastered across her face and continued eating. “Here.”
This time, she’s finally paying attention to me and picked a piece of that braised pig’s trotters using her pair of chopsticks, placing some on my plate. Eyes locked like magnets, she beamed but I demand more information. I prepared myself and cleared my throat, but Jisoo interrupted. “Oh! Didn’t you say you took the entrance exam?”
I rolled my eyes since our leader mentioned it a while ago. Soohyun nodded and doesn’t mind confirming it again. Jisoo had a sip of the green tea in her cup and hummed. “So... did you pass?”
We all looked at her while she glances darting about rather than focusing on any of us. She swallowed and chuckled, like it is a laughing matter. “I passed the entrance exam for medical school. But I chose to be here.”
Focusing after that became difficult for me because my mixed emotions become surreal. Lisa and Jisoo seemed happy and ignored the fact that Soohyun had a thought of going to a completely different direction. She took that entrance exam because it is an option. An option to leave the group, to leave us. It is understandable but I’m both upset and pleased. The night ended well. We played PS4 till Manager Jung drove back to the apartment and reminded Soohyun that she has a busy day tomorrow. It was disclosed that she won’t be able to see us for another week because of her schedule. Before anyone could say anything, I pulled Jisoo and begged her to let me walk Soohyun outside myself. We all missed her and desire to savour each minute, but we must talk now. Manager Jung went down to the basement to get the car ready, so that becomes an opportunity for me to exploit.
When she was ready, we rode in the elevator. It doesn’t take long for it to reach the basement, so. I did not waste time. I held her left hand, looked down and the first thing I noticed was the silver ring on her finger. It was plain in design but there’s something engraved on it which I cannot figure out.
“But anyway...” I took a deep breath and blurted out. “Hyun, about Chae...”
“Jennie” I heard her sigh, clasping my hand as if stopping me from going on. If she wants me to feel bad about trying, then she’s wrong.
“No!” I shushed her and flicked the elevator stop switch and bringing the elevator cab to a halt.
Soohyun shook her head and stared at the ceiling, rubbing her face as if my behaviour is so irrational. “There’s a camera here. Oh god!”
“Hyun, please.” I pleaded, never letting go of her hand. I’m stupid at times but there’s a good reason for my actions. Jisoo lost her because she slept with Lisa. What if I lose her? My will dropped because she’s looking everywhere but me.
“Jennie. Jennie. Jennie.” Soohyun tittered, shaking her head that had me embarrassed. I watched her look at the ground and wondered if she thought bad of me, not only that I’m forcing her to talk – I’m causing a scene. “It’s okay” Her face hardened in concentration as she gazes back at me. Slowly it softens as she touched my face. You both deserve to be happy. I’m okay with that. I came from a long flight, and I’m beat. I must go.”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Los Angeles International Airport. Local time is nine a.m and the temperature is 24 degrees Celsius. 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The flight attendant finally announced after touching down, and the aircraft is turning off the active runway and taxiing to the gate. It was a long 14 hours and 20 minutes flight. Plenty of idle time with only few things that distracted me from the truth that the wind changed directions because my dad finally has come around to accept that I’m biual. One can deny who they are, I, myself, strongly refused to believe yet I flew to the other side of the world to see her. My family went on their way to make this happen. My head is filled with possibilities. The last time I saw Auntie Somin, she was distraught. She remained quiet about the contribution of my family issue to her daughter’s mental state. I visited Soohyun in that hospital bed and her mother did not say anything to me. She simply gave me a hug and left the room.
Gentle hand grabbed and curled around mine, hanging on and caringly caressing my knuckles. Once I stopped cracking my knuckles, Dad locked me in a serious gaze. “Nervous?” He asked, words spill out real slow as if truth can take its time. “Don’t be. It will be alright. Dad will make it so.”
We reached Hotel Bel-Air in an hour’s car drive and was ushered by the hotel porter to our suite. How my dad affords to stay in such expensive hotel? I do not know. His work and family business do pay off, I guess. It was suggested that I settle down for the day since we’re both jetlagged and was invited to have dinner at the Choi’s. But my entire being could not relax and find peace in the serenity of the said room. Tapping into the Wi-fi connection, I received multiple notifications and saw an iMessage from Jennie. I’m lost for words because I’m not sure how to react at the first few sentences that flashed through my eyes.
Park Chaengie, how are you? Can you please call me once you can? I know you’ll be busy, but you’d want to know, Soohyun is back. She’s here in Korea.”
What does she mean by Soohyun is there? How could she be there when we’re meant to see her today? If this is a prank, I don’t appreciate it. The message read yesterday which is 2:00 pm Friday in South Korea. Dad and I were still in flight. Panic switched off my higher brain and reactionary delusions call conspiracy theories. My overdrive pushed me to overthink things and I’m thinking of the worst scenarios in my head. I went through the social media outlets, in search for the truth. As I rummage for information, I saw Soohyun’s accounts that are reactivated. She posted on Instagram a photo of an airplane with the caption “Good to be back” Unsatisfied, I checked our fanclub’s account for any update. You must trust Blinks to be on board to be