A grunt. A yawn. Seungwan opened her eyes from her sleep. She looked towards her windows where sunlight was coming in. She smiled at the peaceful feeling the morning always brought in. It was a new day.
Seungwan got up from her bed with an extra hop to her step. Today was a Sunday and she would be having brunch with Seulgi and then tonight she had movie plans with Joohyun. Today would be a great day and she was excited.
“There’s the best surgeon in town,” Seungwan greeted as Seulgi flopped on the seat beside her.
“Sorry I’m late, I overslept. My rounds ended very late last night,” Seulgi whined while releasing a yawn.
Seungwan snorted. “I figured. That's why I already ordered our favorite waffles while waiting for you.”
Seulgi clapped in delight as a waiter appeared and dropped two plates of waffles in front of them. Seungwan shook her head in amusement as Seulgi immediately dug in and ate her serving. In contrast, Seungwan took her time in cutting her waffles and spreading butter and maple syrup over them.
Seungwan had already started popping some slices in when the television in the far corner of the diner grabbed her attention. The news channel was on and it seemed like a journalist was interviewing an unkempt man with crazed eyes.
“I’m telling you! I saw a woman spew out petals right in front of my eyes! Real flower petals!” the man yelled as cops cuffed his wrists behind his back. “Let go of me! I’m telling the truth!”
The camera then panned to the news journalist. “Ji Chungho is now under the custody of the authorities after causing chaos in Myeongdong. He will be brought to a psychiatric ward to be interviewed and examined.” The journalist turned towards to the side and an old man in a white coat entered the frame. “What is your take on Chungo’s claim that the Hanahaki disease is indeed real, Dr. Seo?”
“Hanahaki definitely doesn’t exist. This disease has long been debunked by all medical societies in the country. It’s just not biologically and botanically possible,” the doctor stated with an air of finality.
“There you have it and now back to you…”
Thank God Hanahaki isn’t real or else all hell would break loose in this world, Seungwan subconsciously thought.
Seulgi eyed Seungwan as the latter mindlessly scratched the upper part of her chest while still lost in thought. “Is your scar bothering you?”
“Hmm?” Seungwan hummed before coming back to her senses. “Oh! No, not really. It just becomes itchy sometimes.”
Seulgi’s smile tightened. “Okay, that’s good.”
Seungwan went back to cutting her waffles. After biting another piece into , Seungwan said, “Thanks again for doing my surgery after my car accident months ago. I don’t know if I would have trusted any other doctor to cut me open.”
Seulgi’s eyes darkened for a split second before her infamous eye smile took over her features. “Anything for you, Seungwannie. You did say I was the best surgeon in town, right?”
Seungwan laughed. “That you are, Seulgi, that you are.”
Seungwan rang the doorbell of the apartment right below hers. It had always been an inside joke between her and Joohyun. Let’s be neighbors after college, they used to say when they were in high school. And here they were in their early thirties, living in apartments only a floor apart.
Seungwan’s eyebrows furrowed as Joohyun’s door remained closed a few moments later. She rang the doorbell once more only to be met with silence again. Seungwan reached out to her back pocket to grab her phone. I’m ready for that movie treat of yours. You better not be late, slowpoke, read Joohyun’s last message that Seungwan received right before she left her apartment. No new message, no missed calls.
“Unnie?” Seungwan called worriedly as she knocked on the door. When she continued to hear nothing from the other side, Seungwan started to panic. Seungwan tried her luck by turning the doorknob. She gasped when the door unexpectedly opened and without any more second thoughts, Seungwan rushed into the apartment.
“Joohyun-unnie!” Seungwan called out, frightened at the possibility that someone broke into Joohyun’s apartment.
Silence filled the apartment then Seungwan suddenly heard a retching sound coming from the bathroom. She bolted towards its direction and pulled open the door.
Seungwan’s eyes widened at the horrifying sight that greeted her. Joohyun was kneeling before the toilet bowl, surrounded by a pool of blood and blue petals. The older girl was gripping the sides of the toilet so hard it made her knuckles white. Seungwan screamed as she watched Joohyun throw up petals drenched in her blood.
At Seungwan’s shriek, Joohyun looked up and Seungwan couldn’t even recognize that it was her best friend. Joohyun’s hair was a mess, blood was dripping from the corners of , and her eyes were bloodshot red.
“Seungwan-ah…” Joohyun muttered in dread.
“Unnie… you… you’re.. the flowers…” Seungwan stuttered, her hands shaking in fear at her side.
In a flash, Joohyun stood up and rushed out of the bathroom, even harshly pushing Seungwan aside by the door. Seungwan could only stare in shock at the flower petals that trailed Joohyun as the latter frantically ran about in her bedroom. Joohyun kept an arm over as she continued to cough up petals while her other arm reached for something inside her bedside drawer.
“Unnie, what’s going on?!” Seungwan screeched when she finally overcame her surprise. Joohyun turned around to face the younger girl, her eyes filled with remorse and fear. Joohyun brought up her hand and Seungwan saw she was holding a small object that looked like a cigarette lighter.
“I’m sorry, Seungwan-ah,” Joohyun whispered before flicking the lighter towards Seungwan’s direction.
“Wha—” A white flash of light appeared and Joohyun’s tear-streaked face and blood-stained mouth were the last thing Seungwan saw before passing out.
Joohyun rushed towards Seungwan’s unconscious body. She picked up her phone and pressed the first number that came to her mind.
“Seulgi, I didn’t know who else to call,” Joohyun cried, her voice trembling weakly along with her entire body.
“Who did she see?” Seulgi asked, understanding right away the urgency in Joohyun’s tone.
A cough. “Me.”
“I’ll be there in a few.”
“Are you sure about this?” Seulgi asked Seungwan and Joohyun who sat across from her in her clinic.
“Yes, Dr. Kang, for the millionth time, I’m sure,” Seungwan teased with a playful eyeroll.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, Seungwan. You can always opt to have the Antibiotic. The Antibiotic capsules will help you survive. You will have the flowers your whole life, but it will make you survive,” Seulgi pleaded as she tried to change Seungwan’s mind for one more time.
Seungwan shook her head and forced a smile. “Seul, this is my choice.”
Seungwan turned her head to Joohyun and saw the older girl hastily blinking away her tears. She brought up her hand to cup Joohyun’s cheek, her thumb wiping off the drops that escaped down Joohyun’s cheeks.
“This is my choice,” Seungwan gently repeated with a softer smile.
Joohyun let out a hiccup, unable to control her tears further. “I’m sorry, Seungwan-ah, I’m really sorry.”
“Shh, unnie, it was never your fault. We can’t choose who we love and we can’t choose when we love.” Seungwan reached down to grip Joohyun’s hands between her own. “Besides, it’s not like I’m going to totally forget you, right? You’ll still be my best friend. You’ll always be my best friend.”
Seungwan forced out a laugh as she tried to lighten up the mood in the room but it was dampened again immediately when her chuckles turned into coughs.
Seulgi felt her heart clench painfully for her friends. “Yes. You’ll still remember Joohyun-unnie but all romantic feelings towards her will be forgotten. You will never recall that Hanahaki is real after the surgery.”
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