15: In Love

Yooji: Love is War

               I woke up the next day due to the incessant noise coming from my phone.

               It was still dark and everyone with me in this room was still fast asleep.

               The floor was cluttered with junk foods and canned drinks, reminding me of what we did before we went to sleep last night.

               Since this kind of opportunity wouldn’t come again any sooner, Yeji had suggested that we hang out with only just us three.

               In my case; to strengthen the blooming friendship that we had just recently acknowledged and in Chaeryeong’s; to form some kind of bond before we returned to the city.

               The latter was reluctant at first, embarrassed to socialize with new people, but Yeji was insistent and eventually managed to get her to agree.

               There was a mini convenience store near the resort we were staying in and Yeji basically purchased everything her hands laid on without a care of how much money she would have to spend.

               “This could be the last time we would get to do this kind of stuff. ” I recalled her saying while the cashier on the counter was punching the mountains of items she bought. “Might as well, go all out.”

               We had stayed up until midnight with us talking about the most random things.

               “Why did you choose the piano, Jimin?”

               “My parents chose it for me.”

               “Oh!”

               “Though, I have grown to love playing it over time.”

               “How about you, Yeji? Why bass?”

               “I read online that bassists are cool.”

               “That’s so inspiring...”

               “And you?”

               “Unlike you guys, it’s the electric guitar itself that chose me.”

               “Inanimate objects have a will of their own?”

               “U-Uh...”

               “Yeji, just shut up.”

               Even though that was the first time Chaeryeong had been with us, she didn’t have a hard time adjusting to our differing personalities.

               Apart from being extremely kind, she was also the type of person you would want to take care of because she was like a baby with the way she acted and spoke.

               It was a shame it took us this long to know each other on a personal level.

               My thoughts were interrupted when my phone rang for the nth time.

               A grunt involuntarily flew out of my mouth before I rolled lazily on my bed to pick up the source of the noise.

               My eyebrows met in the middle when I saw the name on the screen.

               Cruella de Vil is calling...

               What was she calling for so early in the freaking morning?

               “This better be important or say goodbye to your life, you devil!”

               Good morning to you too, babe,” she greeted with faux enthusiasm. “Why so grumpy?”

               “Of course, I am grumpy! You just disturbed my sleep!” If only I was alone here, I would’ve screamed those words for her to know how infuriated I was. One thing I hated the most was getting my sleep cut short.

               “Chill.” There was a light chuckle. “I just need you to open the door of your room.”

               “And why would I do that?”

               “Wear something decent.”

               She didn’t bother to wait for my response if I was even available and abruptly dropped the call.

               The audacity of this !

               Grumbling under my breath, I dragged myself out of the bed, stomping my feet a little harder than usual, and pulled the door open to reveal the devil smiling a little too wide for my liking.

               “Hey, babe.” The sing-song tone of her voice irked my ears to no end. “It appears there is no need to change your clothes, after all. You look hot in your pajamas.”

               “What do you want?” I whispered loudly, careful not to wake my roommates up.

               “Let’s go explore the beach.”

               I stared dumbly at her for a while, letting her words sunk fully in me and when it finally did, I couldn’t stop the fumes that rushed out of my nose and ears.

               “You woke me up before the sun could even rise for something that could be done later this day?!”

               She shrugged her shoulders, not even the least bit guilty of what she did.

               “So, are you coming?”

               Jesus.

               I’d really die early because of her.

               I grabbed the hoodie that hung on the headboard of my bed before putting it on me as quickly as possible. The devil was just waiting outside with a grin on her lips, causing me to roll my eyes at her.

               With leaving the building came the cool wind that wanted nothing more than to announce its arrival.

               There were barely people around so the waves of the sea were very audible.

               The sky was still a little dark because the sun had not yet risen and our surroundings were so quiet I felt as if a serial killer or some cannibals would suddenly appear to kill us brutally like what I had seen in movies.

               We were just quiet as we trudged along the sea. Her hand was holding mine, a small smile dangling off her lips as she looked straight ahead. A strong wind was blowing her hair, messing it up a little.

               Similar to how she was last night, she looked really calm, as if she was contented.

               She wasn’t speaking but I could seem to hear what she was thinking.

               “I love it here.”

               “So, what made you want to do whatever this is that we are doing so early in the morning?” I could no longer restrain myself from speaking.

               She seemed to be hesitating whether or not she would answer my question honestly, causing me to assume it was probably something personal.

               Of course.

               She was not used to opening up to people because she was often by herself.

               The notion of having someone she could confide in was probably foreign to her.

               “I’m your girlfriend, Minjeong,” I reminded her. “Even if it is just a deal, I want you to know that you can tell me things.”

               She arched her brow.

               “It is amusing to hear those words coming from you,” she said, teasing. “You are really following Zuko’s steps now, I see. Shall I call it ‘Jimin Yoo redemption arc’?”

               I fought the urge to punch her face for ruining the moment. I was being a good girlfriend here, hello!

               “You really are insufferable!”

               She didn’t give me a reply, only laughing lightheartedly.

               I gave her time to think.

               It was completely fine even if she chose not to say anything. It was just that I would be left wondering about her reason until I lose my mind and I wouldn’t want that to happen.

               “My older sister used to bring me and Ryujin to a beach before sunrise as children every weekend.” I was surprised when she finally began talking, especially so because her tone sounded so somber. “It was our thing, some kind of a special bond between us three.”

               At the mention of her older sister, I found myself paying close attention more. Ever since she first mentioned her, it never left my mind. Not even once.

               “We would watch the sunrise together, play in the water, slurp a freezing coconut juice, and just about everything you can only enjoy when you can smell the saltiness of the sea in the air.” She took in a long, deep breath. “She said her reason for it was so I could relax and just be a child who didn’t have to worry about anything; including the judging eyes of the public who were expecting a lot of great things from me.”

               I noticed how her lips trembled a little as she talked, her breathing becoming heavier the more she shared things about her sister.

               She looked so vulnerable.

               I unconsciously squeezed her hand in hopes that the action would comfort her somehow.

               “She was the reason why I had a happy childhood,” she continued. “Why I had never felt pressure despite being born a ‘gifted’ child; because she was always there to assure me that I was already the best, that I was her pride and joy. She—she was the greatest older sister a person could ever ask for.”

               Was?

               Don’t tell me...

               “Where is she now?”

               Her body visibly flinched at my question.

               .

               “I-I mean—”

               “She passed away when I was in fifth grade.”

               I bit my tongue.

               And the most insensitive person ever award goes to none other than.

               “S-Sorry.”

               “Don’t worry about it.” She shook her head, rewarding me a tight-lipped smile. “It happened a long time ago.”

               I didn't open my mouth anymore after that because I might just say something stupid again and quietly trailed behind her.

               God, I never would have thought that she had experienced something so sorrowful such as losing a loved one at a very young age.

               I mean, she always looked so indifferent and unbothered so it was hard to imagine.

               I guess you could never really judge a book by its cover. And she said it happened when she was in fifth grade which meant the same year when we first met each other.

               I wonder if her sister had already passed away then.

               Because if she had and  Minjeong was like that when she talked to me, then she was already too good at concealing her feelings even as a child.

               She really kept on surprising me every day.

               What more would I find out about you, Minjeong...?

               I couldn’t help but be exhilarated at the thought.

               She was like threads of mystery that I was slowly unraveling the more days I spend with her.

               We were already at a rocky part of the beach by the time I glanced up. It was a bit far from the resort and also was situated on the far corner so it would be hard for us to be seen in case someone came looking for us.

               She sat down on a large rock and looked at a distance. I followed, standing close to her.

               The sun was already beginning to rise on the horizon, golden rays stretching outwards into the rich blue skies, igniting the birds into a chorus of melodies.

               A new day.

               “I wish memories fade away just as easy as the writings in the sand.” I looked at her when she suddenly spoke.

               “What? You’d rather lose all the memories you have made growing up?”

               “Not all the memories,” she corrected. “I just believe I am better off not remembering certain events that have transpired in my life.”

               That silenced me.

               I stared at her face as I briefly wondered just what was going on inside her head.

               She had the most expressive pair of eyes, but I could never read her no matter how hard I tried and that intrigued me greatly.

               “Are you finally falling for me?”

               I scowled.

               This girl really had some sort of a split personality.

               One second, she was being soft and vulnerable, and then the next, she was being an annoying .

               “I only said, I don’t hate you.” I gave her the stink eye. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is because I already learned to like you."

               She blinked, opening to say something in response but I beat her to it.

               “I couldn’t hate you any longer after seeing the side of you that you don’t normally show to others. I’m not that cruel, Minjeong.”

               A slow nod before she turned away.

               “I see how it is.”

               “We can be friends though.”

               That was better, right?

               I knew she needed to be out of my life after the deal, but after knowing her on a much deeper level, it would be such a shame to let her go.

               “Friends.” She laughed dryly, an obvious forced smile on her face. “And you said you are not cruel.”

               What?

               I was about to ask her for clarification when she spoke again.

               “I don’t need friends, Jimin.” She stood up and dusted off the back of her shorts. “Anyway, let’s go back. They are probably looking for us already.”

               I unconsciously nodded my head, her words replaying on my mind on loop. But even then, I still couldn’t seem to digest it fully.

               Did she just reject me?







               We haven’t had the chance to talk again when we got back to the resort since I was immediately mobbed by the two who were waiting for me by the entrance while she went straight to the woman who she was supervising us with.

               What was her name again?

               Lisa?

               Lili?

               Lima?

               Ugh, whatever.

               Let’s just call her Leech.

               As we ate breakfast, I kept on glancing her way. Next to her at the table was Leech who she was laughing with for whatever reason I had no interest in finding out.

               Leech was slapping her arm in a flirty manner every time the devil would say something and would occasionally lean her head on her shoulder as if it was a pillow.

               She was actually living up to the name I came up for her!

               The nerve!

               Wasn’t she aware that the girlfriend of the girl she was being all lovey-dovey with was here?!

               That I was the one who she was in love with?!

               What’s even more infuriating was that the devil didn’t seem bothered with the unnecessary skinship at all and even appeared to be happy about what she was receiving.

               I see.

               So, she didn’t need a friend because what she needed was someone to play around with?

               Was that it?

               More women to add to her collections?

               Such a womanizer!

               “Yoo, you would break that glass if you continue gripping it like that.”

               I immediately let go of the said object upon hearing that before looking up to see Yeji giving me a gaze as if she was asking if I was fine while Chaeryeong seemed worried.

               Oh my god.

               This was the second time this happened with Yeji around.

               “I’m sorry.” I rubbed my nape sheepishly. “I didn’t notice.”

               “What’s going on with you?” Yeji queried, eyes sharper than ever. “You seem really out of it.”

               “Result of lack of sleep, I guess.”

               That wasn’t entirely a lie.

               I was sleep-deprived.

               I just wasn’t about to say that it was actually because of those two who seemed so engrossed in their own world.

               “Speaking of.” It was Chaeryeong who voiced out her thoughts this time. “Why did you wake up so early just to go to the beach when you could sleep longer?”

               Okay.

               This was the inevitable question that I prepared a believable answer for.

               “Minjeong invited me to explore the beach with her.”

               They were still a little surprised by what I had said even though I had already told them what Minjeong and I had agreed on.

               “And you accepted?”

               “Yes.”

               Yeji’s eyes narrowed, looking as if she wanted to ask more. I was all ready to deflect whatever questions she would throw, but then, she settled with a simple and short, “I see.”

               That was it?

               “But that’s so cool!” Chaeryeong gushed. “The top students of Seoul High watching the sunrise together. Isn’t that so romantic?”

               I almost dropped my spoon and fork on the ground.

               “And you two are oozing with chemistry! Minjeong and you have the beauty and brain which makes you guys the perfect couple!”

               Oh my god.

               We ended up finishing our food with Chaeryeong continuously fantasizing about me and Minjeong.

               My face was flushed red due to extreme embarrassment because her voice was a bit loud and other people around us could probably hear her.

               Even if I wanted to stop her, I don’t have the heart to because she seemed genuinely excited and what she was saying was actually just a harmless blabber.S

               She was just like a child who was excited about the thought of romance.

               She only stopped when we finally entered the practice room.

               Minjeong was here to watch over us, but she still wouldn’t pay me any attention. She was just fiddling with her phone all the time. Every noise I would make to try to get her to look up and catch her gaze would just be ignored. I couldn’t focus on the task at hand because I was so bothered.

               I thought we had an agreement?

               An agreement she herself proposed.

               Why was she acting as she forgot about that?

               What was her problem?

               Until the practice ended, she didn’t spare me even a single glance.

               This unusual treatment from her had me losing my appetite so instead of going downstairs to grab dinner, I chose to just lock myself in my room to sleep the rest of the afternoon away.







               Later that evening, we all gathered by the sea to welcome our last night with a bonfire. They had beers and liquors laid out along with roasted meat. I was surprised at first because I thought bringing alcoholic beverages was forbidden, but it looked like the two supervisors gave them permission so here we were, enjoying our time together.

               Yeji was next to me while Chaeryeong was on her left. To my right was Minju and then Yuna. I should have expected something like this to happen, but it was still annoying that I had to act friendly with one of Yeji’s friends again.

               Yuna was actually pretty decent, she was quiet most of the time, only talking if she was asked so I had no problem with her.

               It was just really Minju.

               Minjeong and Leech were not here. I didn’t know where they were and I didn’t bother to find out. They were probably in a secluded part of this beach, off each other’s faces.

               I rolled my eyes at the thought.

               “Now that we’re complete, let us get the party started!” Chaewon cheered enthusiastically to which the others followed suit. They have already started removing the cap of their bottles and swarmed the meat led by Yeji as if she wasn’t being fed in their house.

               I took one bottle for myself.

               I promptly removed the cap using the bottle opener and guzzled back a quick swig.

               I felt myself wincing at the oddly familiar sensation burning my throat.

               I let them fill the silence of the night.

               It wasn’t that I don’t feel like socializing. It wasn’t. If there were people I would feel comfortable with, it was the people in the music club. It was just that If I showed that I was okay, this person next to me would take the opportunity to bother me again. I’d rather them assume I wasn’t in the mood than to have to deal with that.

               “Yoo, you know I am not the type to pry into someone else’s personal life, but I’m curious as to what made you join the music club?” Yeji asked while stuffing some meat inside . Her eyes were already half-closed which made me believe that it was the alcohol doing the talking. “There is really no need for you to do that since you are a well-known pianist.”

               Everyone’s attention fell upon me, their faces etched with curiosity.

               Welp.

               I guess, there was no way my plan would sail smoothly.

               “Well, because I am a musician and a high school student who should be enjoying the high school life.” I shrugged then gulped another mouth full.

               Ah, right off the bat.

               This beer is my kind of beer.

               A little bit bitter but sweet.

               “How old are you when you began to play the piano?” Another question for me courtesy of Chaeryeong. We had already talked about this last night, but I guess alcohol in her system was making her lose some of her memories momentarily. “Do you have a mentor or are you self-taught?”

               “When I was five years old,” I said, chugging another swig of my beer. “I have a mentor.”

               “How does it feel to have a mentor?” asked one of the many unknown members curiously.

               Vivid memories came flooding in my mind, reminding me of certain events I had been trying hard to put in the back of my mind but funny, all it took was a simple question to get them resurfaced. It felt like all the years I spent forgetting was all for naught.

               “That is not how you do it.”

               “It’s just a simple chord, why can’t you do it?”

               “You are so incompetent.”

               “Every single thing needs to be perfect.”

               “There is no room for mistakes.”

               “Be a human metronome.”

               “Maybe piano is not for you.”

               “Jimin? You alright?” It was Minju who pulled me out of my thoughts. I reverted my gaze to them who were all looking at me, concerned. “You look pale.”

               “I’m okay,” I said, almost instantly. A preset answer. “Do not mind me.”

               That seemed to have convinced them because they went back to what they were doing. The one who asked the last question seemed to have forgotten about it, much to my relief.

               I sighed exasperatedly, swinging the bottle side to side in pondering thought.

               How did it feel to have a mentor, eh?

               It was hellish.

               Something I would surely change if I was given the opportunity to go back in the past.

               They were a little better now, but it didn’t mean that would erase the horrible things they had done to my younger self. I would always be wishing their goldfish was a piranha in disguise.

               Taking one last sip of my beer, I excused myself and made my way toward the resort while trying not to trip on my feet. I needed to take a breath of fresh air and the veranda of our room would be the perfect place to do that. But before I could get far away, someone suddenly grabbed my arm.

               “Hey, where are you going?”

                It was Minju.

               God, she wouldn’t just leave me alone.

               “In my room.”

               “Would you like me to accompany you?” she asked, carefully. “I noticed you are having a hard time walking straight. You must be not good with alcohol.”

               “I’m fine.”

               “Are you sure?”

               “She doesn’t need you.” A familiar fragrance invaded my senses along with a strong grip on my shoulder. It was like déjà vu. “I am here to take care of her.”

               Now, she was here?

               After ignoring me for almost half a day?

               She really had some nerves.

               “Why are you always getting in the way?” Minju snapped, her voice was higher than normal. “Are you her girlfriend or something?”

               Minjeong appeared unbothered by the rather aggressive display of behavior. She was even yawning as if to insult the girl.

               I was a little nervous about her answer.

               Even though I didn’t like Minju, I wouldn’t want her to know about my relationship with Minjeong.

               “No, I’m not.”

               I released the breath that I was holding.

               Thank goodness.

               “Then stop being an and buzz—.”

               “But I am in love with her,” she professed out of the blue, interrupting what Minju was going to say. “And I will make her my girl soon.”

                What...

               “Wha—”

               “So, off and find yourself another girl.” She pressed her teeth together tightly, eyes darkening along with the tone of her voice. “Not my Jimin Yoo.”

               She didn’t bother to wait for Minju to answer and immediately pulled me into the resort towards her room.

               This was too much déjà vu.

               We were just quiet in the elevator. I also didn't know what to say after what she boldly did. I wanted to be angry at her for ignoring me for almost half a day, but it was quite impossible because she was the reason why the possibility of Minju not pestering me anymore was high.

               When we entered her room, I let out the words that I had been wanting to say.

               “Was it really necessary for you to do that?”

               She held both my shoulders and pressed me against the door. Her body inched closer, pitch dark eyes boring into mine.

               “It was.”

               Her voice was lower than the lowest key in the piano.

               “And why is that?”

               “Because she needs to know her place,” she whispered throatily. “I don’t share what’s mine.”

               I snorted. “That’s rich coming from someone who is a womanizer.”

               She observed my face for a good one minute before her lips slowly formed into a smirk.

               “Are you jealous?”

               “I’m not jealous.” I was fast to defend myself, not wanting her to get the wrong idea because I was not jealous. “You guys are just an eyesore.”

               “You are jealous.” Her stare was playful. “I like it when you are jealous. It makes me feel wanted.”

               I took a gulp of air to steady my heart that was beginning to drum wildly against my rib cage.

               “The fact that you were bothered that I was ignoring you is making me feel euphoric. You wouldn’t feel that way if you don’t care about me.”

               My eyes looked the other way to avoid her gaze that seemed to intoxicate my whole being.

               “D-Do you love me that much?” The words were out of my lips before I could stop myself.

               “I do.” She leaned her face forward, her lips ghosting over mine. “And I will be in love with you until hell freezes over.”

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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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