5: First Date

Yooji: Love is War

               We had been driving for almost an hour now and this person next to me wasn’t showing any signs of stopping soon. She was so focused with her left arm propped on the window while the other was on the steering wheel, not even sparing me a single glance, not even acknowledging my presence.

               I supposed it was a good thing since no one would recognize us if she brought me to a place miles away from our school, but being a little suspicious especially since this was the devil incarnate wouldn't be considered unreasonable, right?

               “Where are we going?” I decided to ask, breaking the silence.

               “Someplace.”

               I frowned when her attention remained on the road ahead.

               “Where is that someplace?”

               She probably noticed the slight annoyance in my tone because, for the first time, she took a glance my way as if to check up on me before returning her gaze in front.

               There was now a satisfied grin dangling on her lips for some reason.

               “Are you sulking?”

               My forehead creased at the question.

               “What are you talking about?”

               “You are sulking.”

               I huffed.

               “And why would I sulk?!”

               There was a brief thoughtful expression on her face, then she smirked.

               “Because I haven’t been giving you attention for a while now?”

               A scandalized look plastered itself on my face.

               Because she what?!

               “Get off your high horse, Kim Minjeong.” I scoffed. “I do not care about you.”

               She merely laughed my remark off, irking me somehow. That was not the response that I was expecting.

               This girl found my antagonistic behavior towards her funny.

               What a weirdo.

               We both went back to mind our own businesses after that short exchange, letting the silence engulf us once again.

               I scrolled through my sns account to see if there was something interesting going on. Unfortunately, it was all just the same old I had long already lost interest in.

               “Are you hungry?” Minjeong suddenly asked, the word hungry triggering the tumultuous rumbling in my stomach, making itself heard inside the small moving contraption.

               I cleared my throat, looking out the window to hide my reddening face.

               Great.

               There goes my reputation.

               In my defense, the last meal that I had consumed was the egg pie that I bought during our lunch break. Clearly, that was not enough to last me until dinner.

               “I guess you are.” She let out an amused chuckle. “Well, let’s go eat then.”

               She maneuvered the car with ease, pulling over the drive-thru lane of the first fast-food restaurant that we spotted.

               McDonald’s.

               The crew stationed in the window gave us a polite smile as she greeted us with a good afternoon.

               “What would you like to order?”

               I smiled at her.

               “1 large fries, 1 large caramel sundae, 1 chicken mcnuggets, and 1 order of mcspaghetti,” I enumerated in quick succession. “And water, of course.”

                dropped wide open as she eyed me in disbelief.

               “Is there a problem?” I cocked a brow at her reaction.

               She pursed her lips to stifle a laugh while shaking her head.

               “Are we near our destination yet?” From what I could see inside the car, I reckon we were headed somewhere remote. There were barely any cars passing by, the atmosphere reminding me of my hometown.

               “Thirty minutes max.” I watched as she carefully took our orders from the crew. “Here’s your order. Are you sure you can eat all of these?”

               I immediately grabbed my obsessions from her grip, letting my eyes feast on them for a moment.

               “Of course.”

               “If you say so.” She switched gears, stepping on the gas to continue driving while I busied myself with all the foods in front of me.

               Now, this was what I call heaven. Proper etiquette be damned, I would devour these as if it’s my last.

               “You eat like a child.”

               A shrug.

               “Whatever you say.”

               I briefly peered over her to check what she was eating, only to see a single burger on her free hand, taking small bites now and then.

               That was her order?

               She’s making me feel like a whole glutton with how small her appetite was.

               “I know I am attractive.” My gaze went from her hand to her face when I heard her speak. “And as much as I love having your eyes on me, it is quite distracting.”

               I rolled my eyes. And just as when I was thinking of sharing my precious fries with her. I guess she was not Kim Minjeong if she wasn’t annoying.

               “Delusional.”

               She did not say anything, choosing to focus on driving instead.







               “Is this... a go-kart track?” I queried once I stepped out of the car.

               Basing on our surroundings, the numerous giant trees, deserted roads, the obvious scarcity of human beings, and the cool, unpolluted wind embracing my skin, we were probably outside the city.

               The ball of fire was already beginning to hide behind the line where the earth seemed to meet the sky, painting the world in a fiery glow, bleeding hues of orange and crimson into the expanse of the clouds that encompassed the earth.

               An overrated sight since I prefer the sunrise, it doesn’t mean it was any less breathtaking, however.

               “You got that right, baby.” Minjeong walked up to me, her hand finding its way into mine, intertwining them together.

               I frowned at the sudden skinship but didn’t do anything and let her be.

               We were girlfriends.

               This was normal.

               “But why here?”

               “You see, ever since we were in primary school, you have never beaten me even once in every competition that we have both participated in. Now, I am giving you an opportunity to change that through go-kart racing.”

               I stared at her blankly, giving my brain enough time to process what she had just uttered.

               An opportunity...

               I admit, the thought of finally winning against her sounded so appealing, imagining her face as I handed her her first-ever defeat was more than enough to almost rile me up.

               Almost.

               Because well, the thing was...

               I had absolutely no idea how the go-karts work.

               Would I let her know?

               Nope.

               Never.

               “What?” she said when I remained silent. “Don’t tell me you don’t know how to ride a kart?”

               “Of course, I do!” I tried to put on the most convincing expression to get her to believe me.

               “You have the advantage then.”

               “Huh?”

               “Because this will be the first time I am doing this. I don’t know how that thing works.”

               Oh.

               She doesn’t know...

               Well, damn.

               Why was she so casual about it?

               And here I was, lying my way to appear superior.

               I should’ve just said the truth.

               There were a few people inside, some were the staff monitoring the speeding karts on the long circuit to make sure nobody would get into an accident, while some were just silently watching the race while sitting on the bleachers.

               On the corner were the karts lined up according to their colors. This was my first time seeing one in person and well, they appeared to be easy to handle... hopefully.

               “Good afternoon, ladies.” A young man approached us, bowing as he said his greeting. It seemed like he was the one who was going to assist us this time. “Do you guys have any experience driving a kart?”

               “Nope.” Minjeong then turned to me. “But my girlfriend here does, she said.”

               Ugh.

               I could already picture her face the moment she found out that I was just bullting.

               The guy’s eyes widened a bit at the mention of the word girlfriend, but he immediately recovered, smiling widely as if this girl beside me hadn’t just revealed something unnecessary.

               “If that’s the case, then I will have to teach you the basics first,” said the guy. “Also, receiving safety training is a must.”

               He lead us to the row of karts, pulling two to place in front of us.

               “First, when climbing on, put both feet onto the seat,” he said before doing exactly as he instructed. “Sit while hitting the break with your left leg. Be sure not to hit both the pedals at the same time as the kart might shift to one side.”

               While he was explaining everything we had to know before we race, my gaze unconsciously went to the girl who was still gripping my hand tightly, as if I would disappear if she didn’t hold me properly. She was listening intently to the guy, looking so serious about the race that we would be having.

               This was a rare sight.

               She would always wear a disinterested look whenever she was in the middle of a competition like she couldn’t care less if she wins or not.

               It was endearing and confusing at the same time to know that she prioritized winning something which held no importance more than something that would boost her reputation all the more.

               “And because you can’t hear that well with the helmet on, we will send you signals.” He motioned his hands down. “This means slow down,” and then he proceeded to raise his left arm, hand balled into a fist. “And this means to break. Is that clear?”

               We both nodded.

               “Lastly, while it may be small, this is a machine for racing. So, don’t mess around while driving it.”

               Shivers ran down my spine as the thought of sending myself straight to the hospital because of my petty pride popped into my mind.

               Should I drop the act now and tell her the truth...?

               “Oh, and you can get both the bodysuit and helmet over there.” His index finger pointed at the stall near the entrance. “That would be all.”

               “Ready to lose?” Minjeong spoke in her usual smug voice, eyes teasing.

               I scowled, every remaining doubt in my head flying out of the window.

               “Dream on, .”

               She chuckled.

               “To make it more interesting, why don’t we make a bet?”

               God.

               She really had to make everything a bet.

               Was she actually a compulsive gambler behind the scenes?

               “What kind of bet?”

               “Simple.” She smirked knowingly, the one that made me almost want to retract my words. “If I win, you will reward me with a kiss.”

               I harshly turned my head in her direction, nearly snapping the veins in my neck in the process.

               “No way!”

               She laughed loudly.

               “Why are you making it seem as if you would really lose? Besides, it doesn’t have to be on the lips.”

               That made me stop.

               Now that she mentioned it...

               I took a deep breath.

               Gods, Buddhas, please, do not make me regret this.

               “Fine.” A triumphant smile appeared on her face. “But if I win, you have to buy me lunch for a week."

               Minjeong’s smile was devious.

               “Deal.”

               ....I played right into the palm of her hands for the nth time, didn’t I?

               The guide allowed us to familiarize ourselves with the kart first and foremost; the amount of pressure our feet must put on the accelerator, how much we should steer to execute a perfect turn, and how fast we could go to avoid crashing.

               Thankfully, the obvious inexperience that I tried so hard to hide went unnoticed by Minjeong.

               The universe was on my side, me thinks.

               Before the start of the race, the guide reminded us of the dos and don’ts while we were on the kart once again, but his voice merely faded in the background as the only thing in my mind was to beat Minjeong in every way that I could regardless of my lack of knowledge in operating the machine.       

               There were three laps in total with the circuit length being less than 1,500 meters. It wouldn’t take that long to reach the finish line and hopefully defeat the devil incarnate.

                Would history be made?

                I peeled my gaze from the track to look at her whose eyes were set ahead. Since she was wearing a helmet, I couldn’t make out her face quite well, but I just knew she was wearing her infamous y smirk.

               “I know how badly you want to win.” Then she shot me a pointed look. “But please, drive safely.”

               “Yeah, whatever.”

               My attention went back to the guide when he stood in between our karts.

               “Remember, be sure to drive only on the right side of the course until you get used to it. That way, you won’t get in the way of other karts.”

               He raised the green flag.

               “Now, on to the race.”

               Okay, here we go.

               “Ready,” My hands flew on the steering wheel.

               “Get set,” I placed my foot on the right pedal.

               Win.

               “Go!” We both zoomed past the starting line.







               “If you have had a good time playing the game, you’re a winner even if you lose.”

              This was a quote that I was so used to hearing whether it was directed at me or someone else, saying it would give some kind of comfort amid the brewing frustration from failing to win.

               But not for me.

               Never for me.

               How could it? When all my life, I had never wanted anything more than to win against this ing person who seemed to be ing invincible.

               One would think I would have already gone numb from all the numerous defeats that I had suffered from her hands, but guess what? I would never get used to the hollow feeling in my chest every time I lose.

               I almost threw my helmet once I entered the comfort room, moving quickly toward the sink to splash my face with cold water before looking up to see my reflection on the mirror.

               Wow, I looked pathetic.

               A humorless laugh escaped my lips.

               “Damn it.”

               “Talking to yourself?”

               I squeezed my eyes shut upon hearing that voice, opting to just ignore the owner.

               “I see how it is.” I heard her mumble.

                I thought she took the hint that I don’t want to see her face and left me alone.

               However, the next thing I knew, strong arms wrapped themselves around my waist, eliciting a soft gasp from me followed by a warm body pressing against the entirety of my back sending my brain into a haywire.

                “Minjeong!” I squealed as I tried to remove myself from her hold but it proved to be futile for she didn’t even flinch.

               “Jimin...” The hairs on the back of my neck rose when I felt her hot breath hitting my ears. “You must know that I really hate it when I am being ignored.”

               Oh my god.

               I gulped the lump that had unknowingly formed in my throat.

               “W-What do I care?!”

               “You should care,” she hoarse. “You are my girlfriend in case you have forgotten.”

               Oh, right.

               Girlfriend.

               The challenge.

               I had to pretend to be in love with her.

               “It isn’t real anyway.”

               I heard her drew a sharp intake of breath.

               Oops.

               Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

               I felt her pulled me even closer.

               “I don’t care if your feelings aren’t real.” The change in the tone of her voice didn’t escape my ears, going an octave lower. “As long as I have you, can feel you, can hold you like this, nothing else matters.”

               I pursed my lips, not having an idea what to say in response to what she said.

               Why do I always find it so hard to deal with this devil every time she wasn’t in her usual mode? For some reason, it felt so awkward on my part.

               Her random change of mood whenever we were together never failed to rock me to my core.

               I looked at the mirror to see her face, only to be met by a pair of dark orbs staring back at me sporting an unreadable expression.

               Was she mad?

               “I should have won that race,” I said to try to ease the tension inside the room because it was starting to suffocate me.

               She giggled.

               “You drive like a grandma. There was no way you would win.”

               My eyebrows twitched.

               “What do you mean grandma?!” I glared at her. “It was you who told me to drive safely!”

               “And I am glad you did.” She burrowed her face into the crook of my neck. “I wouldn’t know what to do if you got hurt.”

               I bit my lower lip.

               Minjeong and her way with words...

               “I’m not stupid.”

               “Of course, you are not,” she said, her voice muffled. “You are the most brilliant person I have ever known.”

               I scoffed.

               “I can’t even win against you.”

               “Does it really matter?”

               “It does. It is what keeps me going.”

               She was silent for a moment.

               The only noise that I could hear was her steady breathing.

               I was about to speak again when she suddenly raised her head.

               “Anyway, I need my reward now.”

               Ugh.

               Of course, she would remember.

               Do I really have to do this?

               Was there no way out?

               “Give me your cheek,” I ordered, defeatedly.

               She inclined her head forward, giving me full access to her round cheek that looked so fluffy right now.

               Dumpling...

               Her cheek reminded me of a dumpling.

               “Hurry up.”

               I rolled my eyes.

               This impatient .

               Okay, I could do this.

               It was just a kiss on the cheek.

               It wasn’t a big deal.

               I’ve done this so many times with my parents as a child. 

               This time wouldn’t be any different.

               My face slowly leaned in, intending to merely graze my lips on her awaiting cheek and get this over with.

               But then she suddenly turned, causing my lips to land on hers instead.

               My eyes grew twice their size.

               “Minjeong!” I blurted out in panic before pushing herself off me.

               My breathing went erratic.

               Panic switched off my higher brain, unable to process what had just happened.

               D-Did she just...

               “That was my first kiss...” I said absentmindedly as my hand reached for my lips.

               It was just a smack but my body felt like it was on fire.

               “Oh really?” A wicked grin flashed across her face, eyes brimming in delight. “All the better then.”

               I shook my head in disbelief.

               What did she just say...?

               “You said you would never touch me without my consent!” I spat while pointing an accusing finger at her.

               “I didn’t touch you, Jimin.” Her lips pulled into a smirk. “It was you who kissed me.”

               I had always known this, but Minjeong was so attractive especially when she was smirking like that.

               It was y.

               She was y.

               That was the one thing I would never deny despite my hatred towards her.

               But she was an , a devil who was born to decrease my life span with her cunning behavior.

               “You are going to end up with my sister after this whole deal, anyway. I might as well make full use of my skill in deception to get what I want.”

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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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