“Get me two more bottles of the regular,” demanded the apathetic mother of one.
The hazy woman threw an empty bottle of pills at her partner, those lifeless eyes of hers screamed deprivation. Along with the instruction, she also slid him enough cash for the goods. Since Yumi left the house a few days ago, these pills became a coping mechanism for the time being. And although a phone call is easier to make, the difficult conversation that follows could sometime be disheartening. Without a hint of concern, he gladly stuffed the cash in his pocket before heading out to secure the order.
Clutching on to her pulsing headache, she staggered towards the medicine cabinet for another painkiller. The pill did its job for a good hour until the effect wore off once more. By the minute, her withdrawal became more and more unbearable. Yumi’s mother searched frantically for a substitute, anything that could get rid of this aching torment. She spotted a few alcohol bottles in her partner’s sash, which might just do the trick for now.
It burned, she winced. This reminded her of how much she hated that bitter aftertaste. In exchange for the awful experience, enough vodka might just knock her out for the rest of the night, and that was much needed right now. As she poured herself another full shot, a faint message tone momentarily stopped her. The mother dug around for her phone. Speaking of the devil, Yumi’s short message appeared on the screen— in fact, the first since they last saw each other.
‘Did you have lunch yet? Don’t skip your meal…’ Yumi's message read. She peered at the vodka bottle in her hand, deciding that maybe it was better to leave this part out. A small smile worked its way across her face as she hurriedly responded to her daughter’s text.
Yumi scored a seat in the congested cafeteria, simply because she needed to avoid homeroom as much as possible. It was bad enough to be placed right up front across from Baekhyun, but she somehow still managed to dodge him for the past few days.
Pushing aside the half eaten meal, Yumi checked her phone to see if she had received any messages from her mother. Nothing, as expected. Almost a whole week since the incident and not a single word from her. It would be a lie to say that she wasn’t disappointed, but it was already written all over her face for the surrounding students to witness. Still, Yumi decided to swallow her pride once more for the sake of her mother’s well-being. Nearly seconds after sending the text, she immediately flipped her phone over— too much anticipation would simply destroy her. But to her amusement, a reply came through in a flash. What a rare phenomenon, she thought; knowing how long the wait used to be for a simple response.
‘When are you coming home to see your mother?’
Her face immediately softened at the message received. Those dining around her were caught off guard by the girl’s rapid mood swing. They could have sworn that she was sulking just a while ago. Yumi subtly cupped a hand over to hide that ridiculous grin on her face. She was beyond happy over such a trivial thing, but Yumi always had a soft spot for her mother.
“Who are you daydreaming about at this hour?” a voice snuck up from behind.
Yumi turned around to find Jaemin hovering over her shoulders, his presence had her frozen in place. That reminded her, Baekhyun was certainly not the only person she was trying to avoid. Beside school related topics, the two friends maintained nonchalant about the other night.
“Are you still mad?” Jaemin continued as he squeezed next to her.
“Why would I be?” the girl scoffed, hoping to play it off cooly. To be frank, there was nothing to be angry about, she just had way too much on her head to process that night.
“I’m sorry again…” he apologized, stopping half way to open up a milk carton— Yumi’s favorite chocolate flavored milk, to be exact. He then slid the carton towards her before continuing, “But you should still think about it whenever you’re ready.”
Torn between feeling appreciative of his effort and immense guilt for not being able to tell him the truth about her feelings, she ended up nodding along with a heavy heart. It’s not like she could openly admit that she had a crush on her teacher and expect people not to be weirded out by it.
“Anyway, good to have you back partner. Make sure you finish your portion of the project by this week,” he stood up to leave, “…oh and see you at detention later by the way. I’m overlooking for the teacher.” Jaemin added, accompanied by a smug grin.
The look on his friend’s face was to die for, her eyes gawking straight at him over the unnecessary reminder. And before she could give him a piece of her mind, Jaemin had already bolted out of the cafeteria, leaving the girl to recollect her thoughts.
“Crap, I totally forgot…” Yumi cursed under her breath. All of those tardiness finally caught up without her even realizing.
Maybe it was pure bad luck on her end, but they had to pick today out of all days. The poor girl just wanted to see her mother in peace for once, but this damn school apparently thinks detention will miraculously help her wake up earlier for class.
What felt like a lifetime sentence, Yumi was finally released after finishing up her cleaning duty. She made sure to shoot Jaemin one last glare as he signed off her detention slip. Yumi rushed through the empty campus to catch her bus, taking all the shortcuts possible, since detention was held on the opposite end of the campus. At the very last corner she took, Yumi ran straight into a body coming from the other direction. The sudden impact had both individuals stumbling back, but luckily a hand went out just in time to save her from the fall.
“You can’t run aimlessly at corners like this!” Baekhyun’s voice brought her back to reality.
She couldn’t tell for a moment if her heart was racing rapidly by the run-in or him. Unable to contain her feelings, Yumi pulled back her hand in an attempt to stay composed.
“I’m sorry,” she quickly apologized, her eyes averting elsewhere.
There it was again, Baekhyun noted. At least he could confirm that she was avoiding him all along. The girl couldn’t even look straight when talking to him. Did he make her too uncomfortable that day, he wondered. So many thoughts crossed his mind at the moment and before he knew it, Baekhyun’s lip began to move on its own.
“Why are you avoiding me?”
Yumi instinctively hid her trembling hands behind her back. The nerves were starting to set in and it wasn’t his question that made her tensed. Baekhyun wore a weary look on his face as if he had been contemplating about this for some time now. His ears blushed a tinge of scarlet when he failed to hold back his inner dialogue. How could he possibly save himself from sounding like a possessive teen, he mentally cursed. The two stood in silence, neither one of them knew how to act in front of each other.
“Mr. Byun…” Yumi finally spoke up, “I’m actually in a rush right now. I’ll see you tomorrow in class.”
And with that, the girl made a run for it in order to catch her ride home. Fortunately, she got there just in time or else who knows what might go down if she stayed back any longer. Shaking off the unwanted thoughts, Yumi arrived home a little bit before dark. She waited out front for her mother to answer the door as a light breeze blew past her.
“Long time no see,” her mom greeted her in a teasing manner.
The woman led her in, prompting her daughter to wash up while she made dinner. Yumi could smell the delicious aroma of an authentic home cooked meal being prepared in their kitchen. She hardly remembered the last meal her mother cooked for her. The void in her heart felt full again for the first time in so long, Yumi could not hold back her excitement any longer. Sneaking up behind her mother, she gently wrapped her arms around the woman’s waist and snuggled against the fabric of her warm body.
“Aren’t you a bit too old to act like a baby?” she chuckled.
“I’m sorry I ran off the other day,” she muttered, “That man, he—“
“Yumi, let’s talk about that another day…” the troubled mother cut Yumi off abruptly as she pulled away from her daughter’s embrace.
And there it was again, the cold shoulders that she was rather more use