022

DERANGER
you're not sure what's gotten into you.
 
it's a sunday. you're alone and have not planned anything for the day.
 
yet, somehow, you find yourself back in the memorial chapel where seulgi's dad is--for no solid reason at all.
 
it could be because you woke up feeling lonely and empty again, and this is the only place you think you could find solace in.
 
it feels more like visiting a friend to you--a person whom you've never met, but somehow you feel close to.
 
it could be the knowledge about how you two somewhat shared the same experiences. if seulgi's dad was alive, you know it's him who would have understood you best.
 
besides, this place reminds you a lot of seulgi, of you two together. walking around here gives you that feeling of being close to her again.
 
it's not enough to stop your longing for her. but somehow, it would suffice.
 
---
 
your idea of finding some alone time in the memorial chapel is ruined when you turn to the isle, only to shriek in shock after spotting seulgi sitting on the floor--head resting against the wall, her eyes covered in aviator glasses.
 
seulgi, who flinched at your ear-piercing shriek, immediately stands to her feet and looks at you.
 
"p-professor." she bows.
 
while your hand is still on your chest, you take that short time to appreciate her attire. you wonder why or how she manages to look hot in dark pants, a white shirt, and a leather jacket when she's only visiting her dad.
 
"i... i am here to visit your dad," you say, still beyond embarrassed getting caught.
 
she gazes at you for a moment before she looks away and nods. "i see. i appreciate the kindness."
 
there's something about how she treats you that brings this stinging feeling inside you.
 
"you don't need to be so formal around me outside the university," you say. "you used to hit on me even when we're not close. what happened to that seulgi?"
 
your attempt to lighten up the mood with your smile is not returned. seulgi's face remains stoic. all you can see is your reflection on her glasses.
 
you look down with a sigh. "look. i... uh... i'm sorry if i visited here without telling you first..."
 
"no. it's... it's totally fine. you can visit whenever you want, even without telling me. i'm happy he's got a new friend." she looks at her dad's compartment.
 
there's this familiar feeling rushing inside you. you remember the first time the two of you went here; how you talked and cuddled while you 'talk' to seulgi's dad.
 
it wasn't that long when it happened. but it seems like a distant memory now. you and seulgi seem like different people now.
 
"i should leave you alone." seulgi bends down to pick her bag.
 
"do you really have to go?" you ask, not wanting her to leave yet. "if you still plan to stay here, i'll just visit some other time."
 
"no worries. i really ought to go. i've got a schedule today." she looks around the floor, making sure she's not left anything, before looking back at you. "i'll see you around, professor."
 
you fiddle with your fingers as you watch her turn and walk away. but there's this nagging thought you couldn't stop anymore.
 
"seulgi, why didn't you tell me?"
 
she stops to look at you.
 
"donghae said he saw you at the bar testing centre. why didn't you tell me you were there?"
 
she presses her lips together, a habit you realise you miss seeing up close.
 
"i was considering how tired you were from the tests," she says, casually gesturing at you. "so, i thought, maybe i could surprise you by picking you up."
 
oh. now there's that fluttering feeling again inside you.
 
"but then i... i saw you with him so..." she pauses to look at her feet. "i didn't bother telling you cus i knew you'd be booked for the entire night."
 
you press your lips together and look at your own feet. "i'm sorry. i didn't know dad sent him to pick me up."
 
"it's okay. i should have thought about--"
 
"no, it's not okay. i was planning to spend the night with you after the test."
 
opens.
 
"i wanted to be with you that night, but i..." you shake your head and shrug. "things went out of my control. one mention of your name by my sister over dinner had donghae put two on two together. the next thing i know, he's already accusing you of ruining our relationship."
 
seulgi looks worried for a moment until she lets out a sigh. "i'm sorry for putting you in trouble. i hope he didn't tell your parents about it?"
 
"no. he only speculated. he can't prove it anyway. and i don't think he has the guts to tell something like that to others. it'll crush his ego."
 
"still... i'm sorry."
 
"no. it's not your fault. it has nothing to do with you, don't worry," you assure her. "i'm telling you this because i think you ought to know that. it bothered me how you didn't ask for any explanation. you just stopped, and left, like nothing happened at all."
 
"you don't owe me any explanation."
 
"i know. because it's casual to you, right?"
 
she looks the other way but doesn't answer.
 
"i'm sorry. but i don't function like that. i still feel you deserve an explanation," you say.
 
she scratches her temple with a finger, then nods. "well, thank you. appreciate the kindness."
 
"you seem to be cool with this, aren't you? are you not affected at all, even the slightest?"
 
"who says i'm cool with this?"
 
"well... look at you..." you gesture a hand to her. "the last time i saw you, you were eating another girl's face in the university restroom."
 
she presses her lips together again and fixes the strap of her bag on her shoulder.
 
"i'm sorry. i don't mean to sound like..." you sigh and brushes a hand through your hair. "i just don't understand. it's hard for me to grasp the idea of being intimate with someone for three months and letting go of everything in a snap. that's honestly an admirable trait."
 
she her head to the side. "well, didn't you do the same thing? you're the one who asked to stop it, remember?"
 
"yes, i was the one who wanted us to stop. but i did it because--"
 
"because you don't want your family to know about the little monster living inside of you," she finishes your sentence. "that's it, right?"
 
you couldn't answer.
 
seulgi shifts her weight on her other leg. "don't worry. i understand every bit of it. i don't blame it on you. i knew this is bound to happen the moment it started."
 
"what do you mean you knew?"
 
seulgi takes in a deep breath as if gathering her thoughts. "you know, women like you, the ones with strong religious ties and close family bonds, are the hardest people to be in a relationship with."
 
you are slightly offended, but you let her continue.
 
"you have these strong homoual tendencies that you ignored for a long time because you're taught it's immoral," she continues. "but as time goes by, suppressing that little monster would tire you out. and you'll blow up one day saying, ' it. i want to experience it, and i don't give a damn anymore!'
 
"so, you would give in to your desires but would do everything in secrecy," seulgi adds. "you'll fall in love, be in a relationship, have , etcetera. it would probably last for months or a couple of years before the guilt comes back in full measures. and this time, it's stronger than before. so, you're left with no choice but to leave the person you are with, cus you can't handle the guilt anymore.
 
"and the person would understand. of course," seulgi continues, chuckling a little. "she'd tell you your faith and belief is more important. that if being together brings you unhappiness, then you two should break up." she purses her lips and looks at you. "i know it's not the same scenario. but it's a familiar scene, ain't it?"
 
you hang your head low as you leave the question hanging in the air.
 
"look," seulgi starts after a few more seconds. "i hope you don't blame yourself for anything. what you're going through, it's not easy. no one has the right to force you into doing anything. it's only you who should decide for yourself, to determine what's best for you or the people you love.
 
"but i want to make it clear that whatever happened these past three months, it wasn't a casual thing for me," seulgi adds, and you shot your head up at her. "i'm sure you know that. you would have felt that. i wasn't playing with you. you are not just a pastime."
 
you take in a sharp inhale and hold your breath, unsure of what to feel or react.
 
"but i understand if you don't want to acknowledge it. it will be too complicated." she looks away and fixes her glasses. "but i hope you'd also understand why i'm doing this--acting indifferent around you. this is my way of helping you."
 
you look down and away, clasping your hands together. there is water forming in your eyes, but not enough for seulgi to notice.
 
you badly want to reach out and hold her. you want to lean on her and hear her say sweet things to your ears.
 
but you cannot. you shouldn't. it's wrong.
 
because acknowledging what she just said would mean crossing the line.
 
and if you cross that line, you know there's no turning back.
 
you don't want to imagine the trouble it'll cause you and your family.
 
after several moments of silence, seulgi takes it as a sign to end the conversation. she takes in a deep breath and huffs.
 
"please take care of yourself always, irene."
 
she turns away and leaves. this time, you don't stop her.
Like this story? Give it an Upvote!
Thank you!
No comments yet