14: This Heart

Yooji: Love is War

               It had been years since I last went to a beach resort.

               If I was remembering it correctly,it was when I was in middle school when my section held a class outing that required all of us to join.

               I didn’t have any recollection of that particular event, though, and it was probably because it didn’t leave a strong impression on me.

               However, a family outing?

               Never.

               Unlike those families who spend their summer vacation enjoying the sea breeze, the feeling of the fine white sand beneath their feet, and immerse their bodies in the water, my own family would only remain holed up in the hospital doing what they do best: forgetting that they had another daughter at home who could only let the days pass by alone in her room.

               I was fortunate enough to have a sister like Jisoo who would visit me once every week as if to remind me that I had a family.

              Though, that still wasn’t enough to make my childhood memorable.

               That must be why I was kind of excited about this training camp. Especially since I was going to spend these two days with the people I grew accustomed to for two years by sharing the same love for music.

               I wouldn’t call them ‘friends’ since I didn’t know them personally nor did I ever try to bond with them, but the music club was one of the highlights of my high school life.

               Yeji was even more enthusiastic about it.

               She brought two medium travel bags as if she was planning to stay there for good. She reasoned out that she needed to change clothes after every schedule and three swimsuits for when we were finally available to enjoy the beach to our heart’s content.

               “It’s too bad that you didn’t bring Minjeong Kim with you,” she whispered to me.

              We were seated side by side inside the minibus with me occupying the spot next to the window as usual. I wouldn’t trade having to witness different scenics while this vehicle accelerated along the road for the world.

               My eyebrows furrowed as I shot her a confused look, wondering what prompted her to say such a thing.

               Sure, she would probably enjoy this kind of trip since she was also a musician. However, why would she want me to bring someone she wasn’t close with in the first place and even be disappointed that she wasn’t coming?

               Was I getting dumb or she wasn’t making any sense?

               “What’s that supposed to mean?”

               “Oh, nothing much.” She cast me a certain look that was implying she was hiding something. “I am just bummed out.”

               I could probe further for a clearer answer to satiate my confusion, but I decided against it. This was Yeji who I was comfortable being around because she never pried into my personal life and vice versa. Besides, if she wanted to tell me, she would even without being asked.

               But now that her name was mentioned, I couldn’t help myself to think about her as I returned my attention outside the window, a song from her playlist playing on my earphones.

               The moment I held the miniature replica in my hands, pangs of guilt immediately swallowed me whole. After uttering things that were very disrespectful, after—after I behaved awfully, she still proceeded to give me the gift she worked so hard on creating for a week with a bashful smile on her face. She wasn’t even mad at all that I basically stepped on her feelings. She was—she was just proud that she made something so amazing.

               I remembered how my lips wavered as thoughts of being undeserving of her kindness crossed my mind and the bafflement that slapped me in the face after was mind-blowing. I never would’ve imagined that the day that I would call the devil incarnate kind would ever come. The universe really had a hobby of pulling some strings to surprise us with the unexpected.

               I knew I didn’t hate her anymore.

               It was only the possibility of being misunderstood by the person I really like that made me act the way I did.

               I wasn’t thinking straight.

               I should apologize or something.

               If making me feel like I was the worst person ever was included in her plan, then it was damn working pretty well.

               She hadn’t even sent me a single message yet ever since I woke up until at this very moment.

               No good morning.

               No take care of yourself.

               No I love you.

               No nothing.

               I shouldn’t be bothered, but I was.

               This was the first time that this happened since she was so consistent in that department.

               A sigh escaped from my lips before I closed my eyes, turning the volume of the music all the way up to try to drown the annoying sound of my thoughts.

               The drive turned out to be longer than I expected and I found myself dozing off the whole ride. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep last night since it took me a while to pack essential stuff for the trip. After some time, I felt someone gently shaking me awake.

               “Wake up, cupcake.” Another shake of my shoulder. “We’re here.”

               Slowly opening my eyes, I found Yeji staring down at me, a thrilled smile etched on her lips. I let out a yawn as I pressed my back against the backrest, gathering strength to stretch my limbs as far as I could to soothe the muscles that had gotten sore from sleeping in a cramped space.

               “What time is it?” I asked groggily.

               “Fifteen minutes past eight.” She grabbed her bags from the luggage rack above. “Come on. Everyone else is already outside.”

               As soon as I stepped outside the bus, the warm air of the place immediately caressed my skin. Men and women wearing their swimsuits went in and out of the resort where we would be staying for the rest of the camp.

               “You guys can take a rest for a while,” said Chaewon once she was sure we were already gathered in the same area. “Lunch will be exactly at noon so please make sure to return here at least ten minutes before. After that, we will proceed to discuss the schedule.”

               So, we had more than three hours to do whatever we wanted to do. I wonder if I should just sleep or explore the beach and find a spot that was far from the crowd to hang around whenever we had no schedule.

               There were a few staff who helped us carry our luggage and instruments to our assigned rooms. I, Yeji and a member whose name was unknown to me would be sharing the one on the third floor at the end of the hallway.

               Our room was big enough for us three. There were three single beds and one bathroom. There was a small television on top of the stand cabinet and a round table on the corner.

               “Which bed do you want to sleep on, Yoo?” said Yeji who was busy unpacking her things. Our other roommate was just standing near the door awkwardly, probably was feeling shy to socialize with us.

               “What’s your name?” I asked, hoping my tone was friendly enough in order to not scare her away. “You play the electric guitar, right?”.

                She looked up, her eyes were growing big as she pointed at herself. “Me? Are you talking to me?”

               Oh, was she so cute.

               “Yes, I am.”

               “Um, my name’s Chaeryeong and yes, I play the electric guitar.”

               Bingo!

               My memory was still as sharp as ever.

               “Chaeryeong, is it?” I smiled when she shyly nodded her head in confirmation. “I’m Jimin Yoo and this is Yeji Hwang, one of our bassists. Don’t be a stranger, okay? Feel free to approach us anytime.”

               “She’s right,” Yeji chimed in. “Most of the members of the music club are lame and boring, but you play a string instrument just like me so it’s impossible that you are one of them.”

               She ducked her head, a small smile slowly spreading across her chubby face. My god, she looked like a baby that was begging to be showered with tender care and love. I was aware we had someone like her in our club, but I didn’t know she was this adorable.

               “T-Thank you.”

               I only smiled in response before I turned around and slid the glass door leading to the veranda. From here, I could see the expanse of the sea that stretched to a further extent than my eyes could see. My favorite color was blue and seeing this view before me was enough to take my breath away.

               Below were the beachgoers who were enjoying the beach by engaging in a variety of fun water activities. There were also those who were already contented with just lying in the sun to either bask in its warmth or to tan their skin.

               Once I was satisfied with admiring the place, I immediately went back inside and threw myself on the middle bed. I decided to just sleep away the remaining hours before lunch since our schedule today was a little hectic so I’d need a lot of energy.







               As discussed earlier, we all came together in front of the entrance of the resort. We noticeably grew larger in number than before because some of the nonmembers were also here. All of them were rooming on the fifth floor of the same building. They were free to do whatever as long as they wouldn’t be a disturbance when it was time for us to practice and wouldn’t do something against the rules.

               I think the only reason why our president limited the number of people we could bring was to avoid any form of chaos that would certainly ensue if we were too many for her to handle.

               All of the people here were already wearing their own chosen beach clothes.

               Summer dresses, straw hats, shades, cropped cardigans, etcetera were everything that I could see which had me thinking whether or not they came here to train.

               I frowned when I noticed something.

               “Where are your friends?”

               I hadn't seen them as yet.

                They were also not on the bus because it was only for the members.

               “They are sleeping in their room and would be skipping lunch.”

               Oh.

               I see.

               That would give me time to prepare myself before I face her then.

               “Everyone, please listen.” Everyone focused their attention on Chaewon. “Before we go grab our lunch, I want you all to meet these people first and foremost.”

               Series of gasps and whispers of disbelief suddenly surrounded us as two people walked slowly to the front as if they were in the middle of a fashion show.

               My eyes almost fell out of their sockets as soon as I recognized the face of the other person.

               What in the actual hell was going on in here, oh my god.

               She was smiling—smirking when she took her place beside Chaewon which had gotten even wider the moment our gazes met.

               She had the audacity to look surprised that she saw me here as if she didn’t know I was a member of the music club.

               So, this was the reason why she hadn’t messaged me all morning.

               I honestly thought she had lost her interest in me after what happened last night.

               Goodness gracious.

               “Oh, so she’s here, after all,” I heard Yeji muttered in my ears, but I was too shocked to pay her any attention.

               I must be dreaming.

               Or hallucinating.

               Or both.

               “Here are Miss Minjeong Kim and Miss Lia Choi. They are the ones who will be supervising us for this training camp.”







               My mind was flying all throughout lunch.

               The food that I would normally enjoy appeared unappetizing to me at the moment.

               I couldn’t appreciate the scenery outside this seaside restaurant and the obvious jubilee of my clubmates due to the fact that we were sharing meals for the first time.

               Whatever they were talking about was just gibberish in my ears.

               The only thing I could think of was to snatch the person who was sitting across me away from everybody else and speak with her alone.

               I had so many questions.

               Why didn’t you tell me that you’d be here?

               Why were you acting as if we didn’t know each other?

               Why were you flirting with that girl?

               Why wouldn’t you spare me a glance?

               Were you mad at me?

               “Are you okay, Yoo?” I felt a nudge on my arm. “Is the food not to your liking?”

               I blinked.

               “Ah, no. I’m just thinking about something.”

               I sliced the tonkatsu with my knife and brought it to my mouth.

               This was one of my favorite foods, but it tasted so bad now for some reason that I had to guzzle back a huge amount of water to refresh my taste bud.

               “Thinking about Minjeong Kim?”

               I almost spit the water on her face.

               “W-What?” I spluttered out.

               “You’ve been staring at her for quite a while now,” she observed, eyes squinting in suspicion. “Are you killing her in your mind or something?”

               My cheeks flushed hot with blood.

               , had I been too obvious?

               “W-Well...”

               I hesitated.

               I knew I couldn’t tell her my predicament with Minjeong especially since she had already given me a warning.

               However, it was also hard to lie to her.

               “You don’t have to tell me.” She shrugged. “I just noticed, is all.”

               I was about to answer her when I heard Minjeong excusing herself before standing up to make her way to the comfort room.

               I caught myself doing the same thing and followed her with hurried steps.

               Taking a deep breath, I slowly reached for the doorknob but the door suddenly swung open and the next thing I knew, I was being pulled inside.

               “Hi, babe.” She gently pushed me against the wall. “Do you want to be alone with me so much that you followed me here?”

                I was stunned for a moment due to our sudden proximity,  but even before I had gotten lost in her gaze, I quickly composed myself.

               “What are you doing here?” I asked instead of answering her question.

               “I believe your club president has already explained the reason for my appearance here.” She smirked, her arms going on either side of my body. “Now, answer my question.”

               I tilted my head to the side, somewhat embarrassed of what I was about to say.

               “You were ignoring me.”

               She laughed slightly at what she heard.

               “I thought you don’t want the students of our school to see us together?” There was a hint of amusement in her tone. “I’m just doing what you want, babe.”

               I bit my bottom lip.

               Of course.

               That was one of my conditions.

               But...

               “I hate it.”

               Her eyebrows rose.

               “You hate what?”

               “When you are ignoring me.”

               There was a moment of silence between us.

               She was just staring intently at me with a blank expression on her face.

               I could have melted into a puddle right then and there, but she suddenly grinned.

               “Let’s pretend that we’ve called a truce in front of those people then,” she proposed out of the blue. “That way, they won’t question us if we are suddenly talking with each other without you yelling at me or rolling your eyes like what you usually do.”

               I thought about it for a while.

               I don’t think there was anything wrong with what she was proposing.

               They would just probably find it hard to believe since they knew how much I hate her, but then again, I could explain that I was only doing this because our families were acquainted.

               “Alright.”

               A smirk flashed on her lips as she came even closer to me.

               I couldn’t help but be nervous as thoughts of that happening again flooded my brain.

               “Can I ask you something?” she said softly.

               My heartbeat quickened.

               “What?”

               ”Did you miss me?”

               I slapped her hard on her arm.

               I thought—ugh!

               “Delusional!”

               She just laughed before she gently dragged me outside.







               When we returned to the resort, we immediately went straight to a room that we rented specifically for our training.

               There was nothing inside aside from the table where the water bottles and snacks were placed.

               It was also bigger compared to normal rooms so we could all fit in.

               We decided to learn at least three songs to play at the school festival.

               Chaewon presented five music sheets and the ones with the most votes would win.

               We didn’t have a hard time choosing because almost all of us wanted to play the same songs. I guess, being with one another for two years resulted in us having some sort of telepathic ability.

               After that, we each find our own spot to study the songs by ourselves.

               I hadn’t a difficult time since I was already familiar with them.

               That lead me to think that the real purpose of this camp was for us to improve even more and probably to have a real bond before we part ways next year.

               Only the sounds of various instruments could be heard as time passed by.

               I felt like I suddenly went to heaven and I was surrounded by angels with how good my clubmates were in playing their instruments.

               It was a nice atmosphere I wished would last longer.

               I didn’t know if I would get to experience something like this again.

               It was already dark when we called it a day.

               Tired and very much starving, we hurried downstairs for dinner.

               We chose to just eat inside so that we could somehow rest our bodies. Besides, the food here was said to be delicious according to the reviews I read online.

               There, a familiar face greeted me.

               “Jimin, hey.”

               “Minju.”

               She was wearing a simple tank top paired with maong shorts, and was looking at me with a small smile on her lips.

               I may not be fond of her, but she really looked attractive in her attire.

               “Where’s Yeji?”

               “She’s still upstairs.”

               “I see.” She nodded. “Then, wanna go eat dinner with me? Yuna’s still in our room, you see.”

               I could not answer immediately.

               I wanted to refuse but I was embarrassed to do so.

               I usually had no care of what people would think of me, but this person wasn’t just any other person as she was a friend of Yeji who was also a friend of mine.

               “Sure.”

               She smiled widely upon hearing my answer.

               “Great!”

               Whatever.

               I’d just eat as fast as possible.

               “So, what would you like to order?” she said once we found a table to occupy.

               “Steak’s fine.”

               She immediately told the server our orders and now, on to the waiting game.

               Quite a lot of people were dining here inside, but it was not that noisy.

               It was just enough not to irritate my ears.

               Most of them were families, something that I used to envy a lot as a child since that never happened to me even once.

               Happy family with doting parents, these were all unfamiliar to me.

               If I was sad about it before, now that I was a young adult, I didn’t care anymore. I had long accepted the fact that I would never have what others have.

               “Jimin?” Minju called out, catching my attention.

               Right, I was here to relax, not to reminisce about the past.

               “Hm?”

               “How are you finding the beach so far?”

               “Oh, I haven’t explored yet so I don’t know.” I pursed my lips. “But I’m sure it is amazing.”

               “I’ve been here before and I’m telling you, it is amazing.” She looked proud and confident. I guess, she must be telling the truth then.

               As much as I wanted to ask more, I didn’t want to give her a reason for us to keep conversing. 

               I was hoping she would get the hint this time.

               Soon, our order arrived.

               I immediately moved and devoured my food without a care if I would come off as someone who had no table manners, only stopping when I needed to drink water.

               I wanted to get out of here right away.

               I don’t want to be rude, but I was not really comfortable being around her especially since she kept on staring openly at me now and then.

               “You are really pretty.”

               “Uh, thanks.”

                I immediately stood up as soon as I chomped the last piece of my food, startling her in the process.

               “I need to go now, Minju.” I tried to give her a polite smile. “Thank you for accompanying me tonight.”

               “Wait.” She held my forearm. “Don’t you want to enjoy the beach at night with me? The night is still young.”

               I wanted to scream in annoyance.

               Just why couldn’t she just take the hint!

               “Sorry, but she’s coming with me.” I quickly turned to see the owner of the voice who just saved me from my distress. “Right, Karina?”

               It was Minjeong.

               God, I had never been glad to see her sickeningly pretty face.

               “Sorry, Minju.” No, I wasn’t sorry at all.

               “Oh...” The disappointment was apparent in her voice. “Next time then.”

               I was not given the time to say anything in response because Minjeong was already pulling me outside the building.

               Although I wanted to protest, I couldn’t.

               What if she suddenly left me here because I was being annoying and Minju would come after me?

               That was something I wouldn’t want to happen.

               ...I also would like to have alone time with her.

               A gust of wind immediately blew my hair along with the dress that I was wearing.

               Since it was already night, different types of lights decorated the whole area.

               There were a lot of tourists and locals walking along the beach, enjoying the scenery they could only witness at this point of the day.

               Some were having a fun time in a nearby bar while the others were just contented admiring the sea.

               “That girl likes you.”

               She plopped herself near a towering palm tree, her knee folding against her front.

               “Huh?” I gave her a confused look as I settled beside her. ”How did you know that?”

               “I just know.”

               Though I was still confused, I didn’t ask any more questions.

               I figured she didn’t want to talk about it any longer.

               No one spoke again so I took it as a chance to feel the atmosphere only the sea at night could give.

               The cool wind that was gently kissing my skin, the sound of the waves that was so tender in the ears.

               In the distance, I could see the moon in its full glory, hanging marvelously upon the night sky—it was such an amazing sight I caught myself holding my breath.

               The place is very peaceful despite the little noises that were coming from nearby beachgoers.

               I would sacrifice everything just so I could have a life like this.

               Free from stress.

               Free from the cruelty of the world.

               Free from the pressure.

               Free from everyday struggles in general.

               Then again, I knew it was impossible.

               I glanced at the person next to me.

               She was just silently watching the calm sea.

               Her face was serene; devoid of the usual expressions she would always wear.

               Her dark eyes were glowing along the stars above us.

               For some reason, she seemed to belong in here.

               The air around her right now resembled what this place was giving.

               She looked so tranquil.

               Who would have thought she had it in her?

               To my surprise, Minjeong suddenly stood up and went to a throng of tourists chilling not far away from us.

               She seemed to be engaging in a conversation with them. When she walked back up to me, she was already carrying a guitar.

               My eyebrows furrowed.

               She knew how to play that instrument as well?

               She began to pluck some strings as if to check if it was on tune before she full-on strummed to a certain song while her eyes locked themselves in on mine.

 

               Have I ever told you
               I want you to the bone?
               Have I ever called you
               When you are all alone?

 

               I see.

               This song was included in her playlist.

 

               And if I ever forget
               To tell you how I feel
               Listen to me now, babe
               I want you to the bone

 

               I found myself swallowing thickly.

               My chest throbbed in the most pleasant way.

               Every word that she was singing felt like it came directly from her heart as if she was singing it to me.

               And her voice.

               God, her voice.

               She sounded so, so, so damn good I refuse to believe she was real.

               I doubt I would ever get tired of listening to her sing.

 

               I want you to the bone, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
               I want you to the bone, oh, oh, oh, oh

               Maybe if you can see
               What I feel through my bone
               Every corner in me
               There's your presence that grown

 

               I stared at her dark eyes as I attempted to see what was going on in her mind right at this very moment as she sang this particular romantic song.

               But she was really good at hiding herself.

               Aside from adoration, there was nothing else in there.

               I wasn’t disappointed, however.

               She adored me.

               Someone who was adored by many was staring at me as if I was the best thing to ever exist in this world.

               And that was enough.

 

               Maybe I nurture it more
               By saying how I feel
               But I did mean it before
               I want you to the bone
               I want you to-

               Take me home, I'm fallin'
               Love me long, I'm rollin'
               Losing control, body and soul
               Mind too for sure, I'm already yours

 

               “Jimin Yoo,” she suddenly spoke when the music died down. There was a pause as if she was contemplating what exactly she would say. Then, her eyes found mine again. “Do you still hate me?”

               My breathing stopped.

               “W-Why are you asking?”

               “I’m just curious.”

               Despite appearing nonchalant about it, the slight quiver in her voice didn’t escape my ears.

               She was nervous about what my answer was going to be.

               She was so silly.

               There was nothing to be nervous about, Minjeong.

               You had already proven several times that you weren’t what I thought you were.

               “No. I don’t hate you anymore.”

               A wide smile that reached her eyes broke out of her face when she heard my answer.

               Even her small dimple was on display for me to see.

               She looked so adorable.

               ....like a puppy.

               “Now, isn’t that a character development?”

               “I’m sorry,” I said under my breath, barely audible. “About what I said last night.

               “It’s fine.” She waved her hand in a dismissive manner. “You are right, anyway.”

               “But it was uncalled for.”

               “I said, it’s fine.”

               “I probably hurt you, didn’t I?”

               Duh.

               The answer was obvious.

               I didn’t know why I still asked.

               She drew in a deep breath.

               “Jimin, that happens to everybody. When we love, we are also giving the person the right to hurt us.” She reached for my hand and placed my palm on her chest. “This heart is yours to break.”

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taglamig
Won't be able to update for a while. PH election is draining tf out of me. Not really in the right state of mind to write anything. Thank you :)
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