IX. The ConsequencesOne Sunny Day [REVISED]
"Here’s a simple timeline I made for you. I’ll be using this to keep track of your memories since you won’t be able to tell how much of your memory was blocked." Mina smiled, showing Seungwan what she had prepared.
It’s been two weeks since their last encounter, and they finally got a chance to catch up thanks to the counseling session Seungwan agreed to do. They could’ve started a week ago, but Seungwan insisted she had to help Irene adjust after she got discharged from the hospital.
"Thanks for helping me out. I really don’t know how to deal with things like this."
The blonde woman reaches out for her hand, slightly squeezing it as if trying to comfort her. "During your sessions, I want you to think of it as dating."
"D-dating?" Seungwan flinched at the thought. What’s that supposed to mean?
"Let me finish, will you?" Seungwan’s silliness made Mina giggle. "What I meant was to think of it as dating, instead of marriage. There should be commitment while it remains casual. No pressure, that was what I wanted to say, not literally dating. But sure, we can actually date if you want to."
Seungwan tries her best to excuse herself. Although she’s aware of how mischievous Mina could get, she can’t forget how Irene looked at her for days when Mina tried to hit on her. "L-let’s wrap things up for now. I promised to meet Irene today."
"Irene? Your girlfriend?" Mina asks in a tone that is rather sarcastic.
Seungwan hated the fact that she couldn’t even answer "yes" or nod to the question. They sure have mutual feelings. That’s what she knows at the moment. But referring to Irene as her girlfriend? That’s not really something she gets to decide on her own.
After what happened at the hospital’s roof garden, none of them ever mentioned having feelings and things like that ever again. Irene would be able to explain herself since she’s got reasons to feel jealous, but Seungwan had nothing to defend herself with. She was just timid. That’s all.
"Is she not?" As Seungwan didn’t answer, Mina asked once again.
"She’s not?! Why didn’t you say so? Wahh, I even held myself back throughout the day when I shouldn’t have."
"Drop the act, will you? I could actually get into trouble at this rate."
"Who said it’s an act? I started chasing after you when you—Oh, right. You’re yet to remember."
The conversation turned into a sigh-heaving contest in a second. Mina genuinely felt bad for Seungwan, but she’s feeling worse for herself. For years, she had been going through hoops and loops to get this other person’s attention. But those dedicated years, unfortunately, were among those that Seungwan’s brain chose not to leave traces of.
That would explain why, until now, even if it sounds foolish, Mina believed that Seungwan’s feelings for her might be there. She believes that it’s not completely missing but blocked along with her memories.
"Hey, do you even remember that you used to be a lawyer?"
Seungwan nods lightly in response. "As I told you, I think I remember everything. I remember the... accident, the t-trial. But, there seems to be a gap in between."
"What do you mean?"
"Six years ago, when I agreed to take the case, I clearly remember that day. I remember the post-trial too. But that’s a month apart. I have no idea what happened during those times. Those that happened in between, I can’t remember no matter how hard I try."
Mina takes out her keys from her drawer and makes her way to the door. "Let’s not rush things then. It would be better if you could remember them naturally. We can talk about that in our next session. We should head out for now."
"We? Mina, I’m off to see Irene."
"Woah, you don’t have to say it twice. I just want to drive you there. I know you didn’t bring your car with you." She jokingly rolls her eyes.
Seungwan, on the other hand, couldn’t help but feel disheartened. Mina’s right. She didn’t bring her car with her. And it wasn’t because she didn’t want to. She just couldn’t.
After regaining her memories,she also regained her fears.
The whole drive was silent. Mina, behind the wheels, remained quiet, afraid that she might say something that could remind the other woman of her unpleasant memories. Seungwan, too, was just as mute in her nervousness. Her palms were starting to sweat.
"Are you alright? Ugh, I should’ve insisted on making you sit in the backseat." She pulls over.
Realizing they have stopped, Seungwan snapped back to reality. "Huh? What? Why’d you stop?"
"You’re obviously not fine, Seungwan..."
"What? I’m fine." Who could blame her nervousness? All this time, she kept imagining how Irene would greet her with the fact that she’s with Mina. Yes, that’s what she was nervous about.
Irene is not a shallow person. Seungwan is aware of that. But Mina… she could be a little too bold sometimes. So if Irene chooses to be mad at her, she can’t argue with that.
"Let’s go… I’m fine, really."
The blonde woman stares, remaining unconvinced.
"P-please hurry. I really need to use the bathroom."
Her white lie seemed to work as Mina desperately fought the steering wheel for control. But then, the closer they get, the more anxious she becomes. It felt no different from digging her own grave.
"What are you doing? I thought you desperately needed to go to the bathroom? Isn’t this the right address?"
They arrived. The apartment was right in front of her, yet her body refused to move. Well, she was about to, but it was Irene standing outside that caught her eyes.
"Oh! There’s Irene! Hey, relieving oneself is a normal thing for everyone. Don’t be shy and ask her if you could use her bathroom." Mina quips, unfastening her seatbelt to make her way out of the car.
"H-hey, where are you going?!"
"Where do you think?" She flashes a threatening grin to force Seungwan out.
Seungwan chose to watch from afar. Because, judging from Mina’s grin, she looked like she knew the bathroom thing was a mere excuse. She’s a psychiatrist after all, Seungwan swears at the back of her mind.
Irene’s smile flickered across her face, automatically brightening upon seeing Seungwan in the passenger’s seat. She advanced to approach her, but her face turned grim when a familiar woman came out of the car.
She probably can’t drive, that’s why. She convinces herself.
"How have you been?" Mina politely asks her.
Irene gets jealous easily indeed, but that’s not a reason to be rude, so she flashes a genuine smile before answering. "I’m fine, thankfully. Uhm, sorry I wasn’t able to introduce myself last time. I was kind of—"
"Ohh, no need to explain yourself. I heard your doctor was looking for you, that’s why." Mina offers a hand. "I’m Mina, Seungwan’s… friend."
Irene’s eyes were fixed on Mina’s hand. She’s trying to figure out which side of the other is her true self. She wondered if Mina was currently pretending to be friendly with her or if she overacted during their first encounter because of jealousy.
Irene laughed at her own realizations, creeping Mina out. "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh like that. I mean, I wasn’t laughing at you… I’m Irene, by the way. Seungwan's—" Her pointless laughter and smile disappeared into thin air. She doesn’t really know what to say next. The word friend doesn’t seem to fit the category, but so does girlfriend.
"Seungwan’s?" Mina urges her to answer by initiating the handshake.
Before Irene could withdraw her hand to save her face from blushing out of embarrassment, Mina burst into laughter. "You’re Irene, and you’re Seungwan’s? Alright, alright." She snorts.
Seungwan, who was constantly peeking from the passenger’s seat, caught a glimpse of Mina bursting into laughter. Yes, she still refused to get out of there still.
"Wait, what? Are they getting along?" The current situation unfolding before her was none of those that she had expected. "I guess she’s in a good mood." Seeing Irene smile, it was like the actual relief she needed.
Now that she’s encouraged to get out of the car and meet the person she’s supposed to, she unbuckles to step out.
"Oh, here comes IRENE’S OWNER." Mina emphasizes her words, trying to agitate Irene.
Seungwan just frowned awkwardly, not able to relate. "Did I miss something?"
"Who knows? Maybe you did... miss me."
Summer is yet to come, but Seungwan was already sweating buckets because of Mina’s witty but not so helpful remark. Winter, too, is yet to come but the chill is getting everywhere. Coming from none other than Irene, of course.
Stop putting me in a tight spot! Seungwan mouthed at Mina just when Irene bowed her head in anger. You’re supposed to help me, not kill me with anxiety, you fool!
The blonde woman raised her eyebrows, acting like she had done nothing wrong. "Ahh! Didn’t you say you needed to go to the bathroom? You should go now."
Irene lifted her head to look at Seungwan, who’s now pretending to need urgent help. "Why didn’t you say so? Let’s go!" She grabbed her by the wrist and marched away from Mina.
A day full of romance. That’s how Seungwan imagined it to be. But now she’s stuck in this place with two frightening women, both gritting their teeth and clenching their fists.
"You should accept your defeat! You lost. CLEARLY." Irene howled at Mina, even pointing her index finger at her from the other end of the table.
Mina, from the opposite side, rises from her seat, "That’s because you kept glaring at me! I lost focus."
"Me?! When did I ever do that?"
It was two hours ago when they decided to play Jenga, as suggested by Seungwan. Yes, it was she who suggested playing the game to divert Irene’s attention. And now she’s regretting every decision she made this very day. From letting Mina drive her, to suggesting this silly game... everything. She practically suggested war without thinking of the possible consequences.
Still, who could blame her? Nobody expected two sophisticated women to fight over a game. A game without any bets even.
"Alright, that’s it. Let’s just stop here, okay? Maybe we can do something else… like eat?" Seungwan heads to the kitchen right away. She was about to open the fridge but there was Irene who held her wrist to stop her.
She kept avoiding Seungwan’s gaze but still refused to let Seungwan move. "It’s just that… I— I don’t have anything to offer as of the moment."
"What do you me—" Seungwan paused upon opening the fridge regardless. She was perplexed as to why it was empty. "H-hey, it's been a week... and you said you went to the grocery this morning. Were you not able to go?" She asks in concern that the woman might have not been eating properly for a week now.
Irene looked away. "I’m sorry, —"
"No, don’t apologize. It’s my fault." Seungwan reaches out for her hand.
"It’s my fault that we can’t eat now. I volunteered to help you adjust, and so making sure that you’re eating properly is a part of it. I should’ve checked on that also."
Seungwan sounded so sincere, enough to move her to tears. Yes, tears from guilt. It’s not like she wasn’t able to do it herself because she just got discharged. The truth is, she wasn’t able to do so because she feared staying away from home. She was afraid of bumping into "that" person again as soon as she got out. Not just afraid, but terrified.
And now she’s feeling guilty that she can’t even tell Seungwan about it.
"No, it’s not your fault, Seungwan. It was me who said I could manage on my own."
Pulling Irene closer, "Nope. It’s me who’s responsible this time. You see, even if you bought food today, it’s not like you can learn how to cook overnight." She heaves a sigh. "It must have been sickening not being able to eat home-cooked meals for so long."
Both were forced to skip the hug as Mina walked into the room. "What’s the problem?"
"A-ah, sorry... Mina. But I have nothing to offer you right now. I wasn’t able to go to—"
"I’ll go and get us something. Stop apologizing, alright?" Seungwan interrupts, giving Irene’s hand a gentle squeeze to reassure her that everything’s fine. She prepared to go, but whispered to Mina before actually stepping out of the room. "You better behave yourself this time."
It’s been half an hour and Irene still can’t believe Seungwan left her alone with the blonde woman. She’s been moving around her own apartment, pretending to sort things out just to avoid talking to her. Meanwhile, Mina just sat there with her phone, behaving as Seungwan asked her to.
"What’s taking her so long when there are a lot of convenience stores around? Don’t tell me she actually went to a grocery store."
"Uhm, if you’re hungry, I do have fruit that I can serve." Irene offers.
"Hm? No, I’m fine. I’m just bored, probably."
Bored? Irene hesitated, but it was the least she could do at the moment. "Then, should we play one last round?"
Mina finally shifted her attention from her phone to Irene, but her eyes were somehow suspicious.
"I won’t glare at you anymore." Irene’s states in an almost inaudible whisper, making the blonde girl laugh unconsciously. At some point, she finally got to figure out how Seungwan laid eyes on her. She’s effortlessly adorable, yes. And that’s a fact.
Still, no Seungwan showed up after a round, so they decided to go for another. In the second round, however, both of them focused more on checking their phones than on the game itself. They were simply worried. "Nope, this won’t do. It’s been more than an hour. She should be here by now." Mina picked up her phone to call Seungwan while it was Irene’s turn to play.
After a few rings, the woman on the other line finally picked up. "Hey, are you on your way back? It’s been more than an hour."
"What?!" Mina suddenly exclaimed, startling Irene. Thus, the jenga blocks collided before Irene could let go of the piece she had on hand.