"Do you.... sometimes wish things ended differently?" Jeongyeon asks, staring down at her cup of coffee
"Sometimes," A pause follows, before some more words are spoken. "Just thinking if there was anything else we could've done differently, you know?"
Across the table, Nayeon sits with her hands in the pockets of her long overcoat, still and unmoving. It must be cold tonight - Jeongyeon observes as a puff of smoke accompanies her soft sigh. Jeongyeon take her cup of coffee into her hands, hoping for warmth, but it doesn't come, it's cold. Jeongyeon moves her gaze to the clock of the convenience store, its moving hands showing it's only a minute before midnight. Her eyes trail back to the girl seated opposite of her as she makes the conclusion that it's been almost an hour since you two had met up.
"The coffee isn't hot anymore," Jeongyeon say, tearing her eyes away from Nayeon.
"Well, you also didn't touch it" Nayeon says in an attempt to lighten the mood, but it only comes off as awkward. She moves her gaze to Jeongyeon's hands, wondering why she holds on to the cold cup.
"Haha, yea" Jeongyeon mirthlessly laughs, she knows how Nayeon hates it when her jokes don't land.
Nayeon takes her hands out lays them both on the table, palm up, each on either side of the coffee cup Jeongyeon hold.
Jeongyeon looks down at her hands. Beautiful. She raise your head and look her in the eyes. Gorgeous. She loosens her hold around the cup, and opts to put her hands on Nayeon's. Nayeon smiles weakly.
Ethereal. Her hands squeeze Jeongyeon's and she feels the warmth she had hoped to receive from the cup. How many years had it been? Two? Three? Neither of them have lost track, they just didn't want to count how much time had passed since the goodbyes that were bid on a cold December night under the annoyingly flashy lights of Christmas decor.
"I never liked coffee. It's hot and bitter," Jeongyeon confesses. "But I loved going with you to cafés."
"I never liked staying in either," Nayeon chuckles, "especially when I could go out and hang with Momo and the others. But I loved being able to see and spend time with you."
"That wasn't the only reason." Jeongyeon eggs on. Because she knew there was something else. The something that also kept them from leaving even though they both knew damn well there wasn't anything worth salvaging anymore in a love that had lost it's flame.
"Yeah it wasn't."
Nayeon is the first to break eye contact.
Jeongyeon feels her heart about to crumble in on itself.
There is a prolonged moment of silence.
The air becomes suffocating.
Nayeon wants to ask if Jeongyeon's been okay. Like she hasn't been keeping in touch with her friends to ask about her, like she hasn't been keeping track on her SNS pages weekly to make sure she's okay.
"I've been well, please believe me. Thank you." Jeongyeon says, tears welling up in her eyes. Even after all these years, they could still read each other like open books.
"She's too beautiful to be crying." Nayeon thinks, letting go of Jeongyeon's hands and places them on her cheek to gently wipe away her tears.
"You make 'thank you's sound like goodbye." Nayeon tries to laugh. Tries. Jeongyeon breaks down even more into fits of sobs, her small hands reaching up to grab Nayeon's and holding them tight.
"Do I?" Jeongyeon manages to choke out. Refusing to let go off Nayeon's hands, the only semblance of familiarity she has felt in a while.
As soon as she had let go of Nayeon's hands, Nayeon doesn't hesitate to stand up. The sudden absence of warmth in their palms and fingers leaves them with a weird feeling.
"I love you, Yoo Jeongyeon. Rest assured I've taken good care of myself too, okay?" Just like that, Nayeon steps out of the store, wind chimes tinkling in her leave.
I've taken good care of myself too Nayeon. All thanks to you. I hope you at least know that.
Jeongyeon leaves too, walk the opposite direction of Nayeon, without a care, even if her apartment was the opposite way.
Finally, she stops. The railings of Mapo Bridge shine bright and there are thoughtful sentences sprawled all across it, along with pictures of happy-looking people—something the Government designed the bridge railing to do whenever someone touches it.
The sky is dark and the stars are sparse and dim. The moon now waning. All Jeongyeon can think about is when the sky seemed so much more abundant, and the moon was full, when did it get like this? Jeongyeon knows, she just won't admit it.
Cars whiz by Jeongyeon as people drive home, however everything just seemed muted to her—like calming background noise. All she hears is the sound of the cold breeze gently caressing her cheek. Almost as if it was one of those times where her and Nayeon laid against each other in a half-painful, half-comforting silence after a long and tiring day, tears streaming down not only hers but also Nayeon's face, comforting words exchanged.
It'll be alright. You'll be okay. I'll always be here for you.
Sometimes it was Nayeon telling Jeongyeon that, sometimes the other way around. Life hadn't been easy for them, and now maybe even less so. Neither of them really knows why their flame died out, maybe it was bad timing, maybe it was something else. She just knows that they still love each other, no matter what. Maybe one day the flame will light again, but until then, they live in this middle space, where they are just friends, but so desperately want to be so much more, just exchanging 'thank you's instead of 'I love you's
Jeongyeon looks down as she sighs, the message on the railing in front of her reads :
라면 먹고 갈래?
Ramen at my place?
Jeongyeon chuckles, it was the phrase Nayeon had used to ask her out on their first date. Just as she had finished reading it, the phone in her pocket buzzes.
let's have coffee again sometime, please.