024

DERANGER
you are once again at the locksmith bar that night, wanting to drown all your sorrows in a drink.
 
you need that, you think. it's been hard sleeping these days. intoxication somehow helps to put you out quite quickly.
 
you don't mind having hangovers. a few hours of dead sleep is better than not having anything at all.
 
it's been hard breathing lately. it usually occurs whenever you think about seulgi. and as the day goes by, the heavy feeling in your chest becomes more unbearable to the point you don't want to get up from bed and start the day.
 
you've never been in this pain before. you don't know how much longer you still have to endure it--or if there's any cure to it. because it's so painful and unpleasant, you can't find anything enjoyable to do.
 
everything is slow and tedious, and tiresome.
 
nothing makes sense anymore.
 
you wonder how seulgi did that, affect you in such a way you feel like life is not worth living anymore.
 
is this what it feels like to be broken-hearted, to love someone truly?
 
but is it really love?
 
and if it's love, what would you do about it? seulgi's too young to commit herself to you fully. you're sure she'll find a better woman someday, someone younger, hotter, and less boring than you are.
 
someone like krystal. her ex.
 
oh how you envy that kid for being the first person who got seulgi's full attention--and maybe, still has her attention.
 
you spent over an hour stalking the said kid on social media, only to feel insecure to the bones as she's done a lot of things in her short life compared to yours, who have wasted the first half of your existence following orders.
 
why would seulgi want to be with you?
 
you're sure if you choose her now, she'll go and dump you one day for another kid. and you'll be old and wriggly and alone and miserable again.
 
you don't know what to do or feel anymore.
 
you're just happy tiffany thinks you're still down because of the bar exam results. at least she lets you drink yourself to your delight.
 
---
 
you are already halfway drunk when yuri comes in an hour later, looking dejected as she loosens her tie.
 
she tells you and tiffany how she met up with her ex--jessica--that afternoon for a friendly catch-up, and how their seemingly innocent rendezvous turned into a tearful closure with jessica confirming she'll get married once they go back to america.
 
it didn't take long before yuri starts crying. your plans of getting drunk and crying yourself out is replaced with sympathy towards her.
 
you let yuri talk because her occasional mention of seulgi's name makes you feel closer to her. it makes you think, is this what seulgi went through before? or is she still going through something like this now?
 
you drank with yuri and listened to all her stories until she finally surrenders to the alcohol--getting knocked down with her head against the table.
 
"yoona's not in town." tiffany sighs as she puts her phone down. "which means taetae and i will be driving yuri back to her apartment."
 
"but you're busy here, unni," you say. "i could take a cab with her and walk her to her door."
 
"it's not that easy, irene. do you see how tall that woman is?" tiffany gestures her head to the snoring figure in a suit. "you need someone to help you walk her there. that is a deadweight when drunk."
 
"then maybe i could come with one of you so one can stay here to overlook the bar?"
 
"i got a hold of seulgi!" taeyeon appears suddenly, a phone still in hand. "she said she's around the area and is free to drive yuri back to her apartment."
 
"that's perfect." tiffany claps. "irene can help assist."
 
you look at tiffany, eyes wide. you don't think you're emotionally prepared to be alone with seulgi tonight.
 
but that's better than not seeing her at all.
 
"no need," taeyeon says, draining all your energies. "she said she's with krystal."
 
---
 
you've always known yourself not to be the jealous type.
 
to you, it's a sign of insecurity, a tell-tale sign of mistrust.
 
during the course of your relationship with donghae, it never came to a point where you felt jealous of some girl. sure, some did try to snatch him away from you, but you mostly acted cooly about it.
 
it could be because you were confident about his feelings for you and his eagerness to uphold his reputation in your family and church.
 
or, it could be because you don't care at all if someone steals him.
 
it could be the latter, the more you think about it.
 
because right now, there's this twisted feeling in your stomach that you badly want to get rid of. a feeling that's foreign and new to you, yet you know what exactly it is and who's causing it.
 
too bad there's no cure to it. there's nothing you can do to lessen the pain either.
 
whichever road you take, to stay or to leave, it'll just give you the same feeling of uneasiness--and you ing hate feeling like that right now.
 
maybe it's the drinks, or the pain, or the tiredness. you don't know. but you are close to exploding into pieces any minute now.
 
---
 
seulgi came in ten minutes later with that beautiful familiar face following her along.
 
you were introduced by taeyeon. you sure can't forget the kid's name is jung krystal. you acknowledged her. she bows at you, looking a bit shy after tiffany tells her you're seulgi's professor.
 
krystal's unbelievably attractive; you'll give her that. she seems like a nice, respectful, and obedient kid too.
 
and she's taller than you are. dammit.
 
you don't have any reason to hate her. but you do. because seulgi arrived there in her slightly crumpled white dress shirt--the one you bought together--while her coat is draped over krystal's shoulders.
 
you want to take the coat off and ask krystal what's up with her. is it that cold outside? why is she always stealing seulgi's coats?
 
you're just glad you're not that drunk to do something like that.
 
"hey, yul. you still alive?" seulgi bends down and lightly shakes yuri's body.
 
"i take she's still alive cus she's still snoring," taeyeon says. "you sure you're okay with taking her home?"
 
"yeah. krys wants to." seulgi glances in krystal's way. "this is the least she can do after the damage her sister caused this poor human being."
 
you don't like the way seulgi smiles and how she addresses her kid friend.
 
krystal holds the coat tighter around her body. you grit your teeth.
 
"i'm sorry. i didn't think jessica would meet up with her," she says. "i thought she'd spend our two-week stay here touring tyler around and introducing him to our relatives."
 
"hey. it's fine. it's not your fault." taeyeon pats krystal's shoulder. "it seems this sod still means a lot to your sister. she took the tiny chance she had today to meet up. i think yuri needed it too. at least this time, they had their closure."
 
you glance back at yuri's sleeping figure, that sad feeling from earlier coming back again.
 
you genuinely understand now where seulgi is coming from when she said religious women are the hardest ones to be in a relationship with. like yuri and jessica, who still feel something for each other, they chose not to be together to abide by a certain moral rule.
 
you wonder how long this would last. how many hearts would yet be broken because of this?
 
you are too deep in your thoughts, not realising you're already staring lost at seulgi.
 
she probably felt it because she looks up at you. and boy, you are glad she doesn't look away this time like she usually does.
 
worry starts creeping over her face as her eyes linger longer. you take that moment to gaze at her, noticing how she looks tired and stressed.
 
you wonder how she's doing these past few days. you want to ask how she's been.
 
because you've been not, and it's all because of her.
 
but that simple connection is gone the next second when she turns away to stand up.
 
"okay. let's take this giant back to her cave." she pulls yuri up, who groans at first but automatically wraps an arm around seulgi's shoulder. krystal assists her too.
 
"take care, guys. please message us when you arrive," tiffany says.
 
seulgi raises a thumb before she and krystal drag yuri outside the bar.
 
you place a hand over your heart as you watch their retreating figures.
 
there's that familiar pain in your chest. you're having a hard time breathing again.
 
there's too much negativity in your life you don't know what to expect next anymore. you're not looking forward to tonight or tomorrow, or the day after, as it'll be another set of dullness and mundaneness.
 
what does it mean to be alive? what are we here for?
 
if seulgi is with you, she'd probably give you her stoic-related thoughts.
 
or, she'll listen silently and hear you out. then she'll hug you until you calm down--until you fall asleep.
 
sometimes, when you're in bed at night, you imagine her there beside you, hugging you. it helps to get you to sleep, tricking your brain that she's there.
 
so you continue imagining hoping one day it'll come true.
 
tiffany turns to you, and her eyes widen. "oh my gosh! irene, what's wrong?"
 
"huh?" you blink at her. she touches your face and wipes the tears you didn't know are there.
 
"why are you crying?"
 
you didn't realise you are. but after tiffany points it out, you start sobbing.
 
"oh my gosh. taetae!" tiffany calls her wife before she assists you in sitting on the chair.
 
taeyeon bends down in front of you and cups your cheeks. "irene, what's wrong?"
 
you shake your head as you cover your mouth with your hands.
 
"tell unni, please?"
 
"i just miss her, unni..." you say, your voice nasally.
 
"her? who?" tiffany brushes your hair away from your face.
 
you look down, closing your eyes tight as droplets of tears fall on your lap.
 
"it's... it's seulgi... i... i miss her so much..."
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