Hello Bad Girl
** "Can I call it love? I mean is it valid to be able to fall in love with someone I only observed from afar?" **
She was alone under a shed. No umbrella to secure her from the rain nor a raincoat to cover her. Even so, her face doesn't seem to mind at all. She was smiling, satisfied from something I am not aware of. It was different from the last time I saw her. Then I saw her closed her eyes.
I found myself walking towards her until I was able to see her face closer.
"It's been a while..." I wanted to say to her, but I remained silent and stood beside her. Maybe she doesn't remember me anymore or maybe I'm just an extra character to her life not worthy to be noticed. After all, we didn't have a define relationship.
We were never friends. We may have interacted with each other, but it was something like strangers do or maybe far from that. I saw strangers talk to each other and they all seemed comfortable. As for us, there's an unspoken rule, a boundary as if we need to treat each other as non-existent.
Our world was very different from each other. She's on the chaos side, I'm on the peace side. She was the epitome of pride and confidence, I was the epitome of humbleness and humility. She's popular because of her aggressive behavior and I am popular because of my passive behavior. We're always different. There's a variation in everything between us, a distinctive characteristics only us possesses.
Sooyoung Park, it was her name. I bet she didn't even know my name. We've been having these weird encounters with each other ever since I transferred in elementary, leveling up to high school. It was only stopped when I graduated college and started my career as an office worker. I don't know what happened to those gaps. I'm already 29 years old by now, but my memories of her were still fresh like a newly bloomed flower in the first day of spring.
Our first encounter happened when I transferred in a primary school where she was studying. I'm on my 6th grade back then and we cannot hide the fact that there are pupils who still find entertainment in picking somebody else. I was a victim back then and Sooyoung was the one who stopped it.
"Stop or die?" It was her exact words intimidating the bullies aside from her big stature. After that, my life became peaceful. However, my dream to befriend her wasn't fulfilled at all. We never talked and she never looked at me once.
Our second encounter happened when I'm on my secondary education. I never thought she would study with the same school as mine. She became popular for being a troublemaker while maintaining an excellent grades second to me. My classmates considered her as my rival. We were the perfect match as we have different identities. I was a silent type, a model student, and a leader. She, on the other hand was the kid in the back of class who caused various sounds to interrupt class discussions. She's a regular student in the principal's office. There was never a day that she didn't violate any school rules. She would be late. She would dye her hair. She would vandalize. She was almost considered to be delinquent because of some event were she almost beat someone to death. It's lucky on her part that she wasn't expelled. For short, she was a bad girl and I am the good girl.
Then other encounters followed with us being alone together. It was simple. They were moments that were easy to forget. And just like our first encounter, there was no progress in our relationship.
It was raining before just like at the moment, and I forgot to bring my umbrella. I just couldn't run under the rain since I have important files with me. Then she stood beside me. Without looking at me in the face, she handed me her umbrella and then she let her body embraced the rain. I was too surprised to react, but she was gone before I could processed everything. I just thanked her silently and returned her umbrella the next day by putting it on her table with a sticky note thanking her.
Then she would continue her own role and I would continue mine. There was a wall between us. But every time I am alone and need some help, she would always there for me like a hero. She was like Batman, but only that she never talked to me at all. She communicate through her actions and never by words. It was as if she was on top of the wall between us overlooking at me, coming to my territory when I'm in trouble and returning to her original place when everything is settled. She was always like that.
She opened her eyes as I felt my heartbeats racing. Her eyes were nothing like those eyes I last witnessed. They were different. Now that I've mentioned it, she's wearing a very neat white uniform unlike before where she always wear casual clothes that seemed to be out of place wherever she goes. Her always dyed hair before was now on its original colour. She looks innocent now and the image she created herself back then were completely diminished.
I almost forgot to breathe when her head turned to my direction. I immediately looked away, but my peripheral vision caught her staring at me as if she's scrutinizing me. As for me, I'm still me. Someone who let opportunities go and someone who goes with the flow.
And then I heard her voice. For the first time, I heard her talk and it was addressed to me alone and no one else.
"Do you like the rain?" It was a question perfect for her beautiful voice. A very simple question. It's just a yes or no question yet I couldn't find the courage to open my mouth to answer.
You couldn't blame me though. She was talking to me and it was first time. She was finally talking to me and I am feeling mixed emotions. Happiness that my dream came true, sadness that she may not remember me, nervous that I might make our first conversation awkward, and fear that this maybe the last time.
"I like it when it's raining. It's so calming and refreshing." she continued. "Do you feel the same?"
That question brought me my past self. I was the one who asked that question before. Only that it wasn't said to her out loud. It was just voiced out inside my head. An imagination of a scenario I was wishing to experience. I've never thought it would happen someday and that she would be the one asking it.
Do I feel the same?
An unfamiliar feelings sprouted on my dry heart when I was in 9th grade. I knew I was still young back then, but I am aware about teenager's crushes and puppy love. With my extreme curiosity of the so-called bad girl's well-being, I didn't know that I was already enchanted to her. I just realized it when she was rumored to be dating someone in higher years. The twist was that I was closed to that sunbae. And that was before... Ever since they became official, my relationship with that sunbae became cold.
It made me a bit of happy for Sooyoung though. Her actions became controllable and her violations became minimal since she was dating the Student Government President. She was able to find her hobby too and became a member of photography club. She captured good photos, but never captured me staring at her from afar. She was always like that. She never looked back. She was always looking in front and that I wasn't able to reach her.
Even so, her silent habit of saving me from having a bad day continued. Even outside the school premises, she was able to come to me at perfect timing.
It happened when my father was hospitalized. I was so scared back then. I've already lost my mother at young age and I do not want to lose my father. I was in the hospital elevator and as a sensitive individual, I wasn't able to restrain myself from crying. Then here comes Sooyoung with a casted hand. It maybe coincidence, but it was too perfect that she saw me crying. Her expression didn't change at all. She just went inside as if she didn't see anything. I thought it would end like that, but soon as the elevator opened for other people to enter, she went infront of me, close enough to hide me crying and close enough for me to hold her clothes. She didn't mind. She stayed there with me. She never left despite the constant reopening and closing of the elevator. She never left me not until I finally let go of her. I thanked her, but again, I never received a reply.
During my 10th grade, there was a mini event inside our class where we were divided into two groups. I was the representative of the first group and she was the representative of the other group. The facilitator would ask a question and we would write our answer on the board. My classmates may had not noticed, but I was fully aware that Sooyoung intentionally wrote a wrong answer. She let us win or rather, she let me win.
On the same year, our class adviser suggested to have our little school trip a week before our moving up ceremony. The whole class agreed and the Higher Up's also gave us the permission and everyone was happy.
We stayed in a villa owned by our class adviser's family. To cut the story short, we enjoyed our little bonding time. Then here comes the twist on my part that I cannot swim. I remember asking my friends to teach me how to swim, but they asked somebody else to teach me how to swim, particularly Sooyoung. But then, it never happened. However, I happened to caught her talking to some of my friends to teach me how to swim. I pretended not to know, but deep inside I was happy. I've never been so happy to be wrong about something.
Another time at the same location, since the villa have rock formations worthy to be climbed at, we were dared to climb it. Since everyone wanted to take the challenge, I was forced to accept it too. It was my big regret since I almost fell. It was just thanks to somebody else that she was able to grabbed my hand and pulled me to the top. Because of Sooyoung I was able to see the beautiful view. She was also the one who helped me go down. But again, we never talked with each other.
During my senior high school years, I thought I finally moved on from my feelings towards her. Beside from thinking that she wouldn't be my classmate anymore, there was also a sitting arrangement for us and I knew at that moment that I was fully mistaken. It came back soon as I heard my name being called next to her and was stronger. From that moment, I knew it wasn't just an admiration anymore. Her, breaking up with her past relationship didn't help at all. The little feelings I planted grew well and there were already branches of assumptions and ambitions about her.
Nevertheless, we never talked despite being seatmates. Unlike her usual behavior back when we were in junior high school, she became a silent person. Although there were still some similarities remained the same like her being late, violating school rules, and still maintaining an excellent grades.
During vacant hours she would just sleep on her desk. She wouldn't play with her friends unlike before when I'm so annoyed by their noisiness. She never glanced at me even for just a brief moment. The teacher may also have agreed with the treatment, so as we were never partnered with each other nor grouped with each other in every class activities. We were always separated and so we never talked. And I was thankful and disappointed at the same time.
Nevertheless, I just enjoyed the time watching her face closer. She really has those soft feature despite having several ear piercings and dyed hair that radiating a delinquent image. Those times where I am alone with her, I almost wanted to touch her hair, caress it, but I've never done anything.
As a senior high school students, our schedule was a bit free compared to when we were junior high school. Some students would bring their guitar and other musical instruments. They would always huddle in the back of the room and they would have their own mini concert. Sooyoung was one of them. She never played musical instruments, she just sing with them. And whenever she sings, despite not looking at her direction, I would always recognized her voice. The same voice that cheered me up during my darkest hours.
On my 12th grade, my father finally left me. This was the time I almost dropped out. I took many absences, but the teachers and my friends never gave up on me. So, I decided to continue. My classmates were very considerate of me and they helped me cope up with my grief alongside with Sooyoung who was secretly sending someone to give me an ice cream, other sweets, and sometimes books to read to cheer up. I never asked that someone, I just relayed a message of being thankful.
Then we graduated. I entered college and she did too. We studied on the same university. Unlike before, she's on the other department. I maybe thankful, but there was part of me that wanted to see her every day. My wish was fulfilled since our apartment buildings were neighbors and we're always walking together to go to school, only that I was always behind her and never beside her.
Just like before she still dyed her hair, only that time that it was in a shade of brown. She never tied her hair ever since then maybe to hide her ear piercings. Nonetheless, she became more beautiful. Other students admire her despite the issues about her being a playgirl this time.
Rumors about her dating almost every popular girls and guys in school. She was also rumored of dating some professors. As for me, I wouldn't want to believe it, but after I witnessed it myself I concluded that the rumors were all real. And that broke my heart.
We were never friends, cannot even call her my acquaintance too, did she even know my name? But I was smart enough to recognize my feelings towards her. The love I have with her was one-sided. It was also weird like they said that in order for two people to fall inlove there should be communication. How did I fall inlove with her just by watching at her? Just by her small sweet treatment towards me?
I focused myself in studying distracting myself away from her, but fate is naughty. We'd always bumped to each other as if someone have been pushing us together.
There was a day when I got a psychogenic fever. I stayed in the library for our research, but ended up worsening my condition. I fell asleep and when I woke up, a jacket was put on my back to keep me warm and on top of the table were medicine and a bottle of water. There wasn't a note nor anything as a clue. When I asked the librarian who did that, she just described a person whom I known for so long. My heart was also warmed by that.
And there was a night where there was an event to celebrate. Students will find a partner and both will share a sky lantern where each desires and dreams are written on it.
Sooyoung and I didn't become partners, but our location was near to each other. She was beside me by that time and both of our team made the sky lanterns fly at the same time. There, I saw what she wrote as if she's replying to what I wrote.
"I wish to find the right path for myself."— Bae Joohyun
"Just follow your happiness."— Park Sooyoung
Then I saw her smiled. It wasn't directed to me, but I knew it was meant to show me, a reassurance that I would reach my goal.
I was just staring at her at that time as if the surroundings were muted. The students around were gone and she was the only one I saw at that moment. And I found myself taking small steps towards her. I unconsciously held her hand.
"Do you feel the same?" I wanted to ask her, but I never did. I just held her hand and she didn't mind. She let me and that was okay for me.
And again at that moment, I unconsciously held her hand. An electricity ran through my nerves as I felt the warmness radiating on her palm. My heartbeats energy were doubled and I can almost feel myself losing my sense of hearing because of how loud the cheerful festival inside me.
I, then, felt her finger intertwined with mine as she moved closer to me. She tightened her holds as I did the same.
I earned a courage to look at her then our eyes finally met. After many years, our eyes met. She was already looking at me and I was the same to her. I've always wanted to be drowned inside her chocolate brown eyes. I've always wanted to be seen by her. I've always wanted to be looked at her as if I'm an object worthy to be printed on a film called her memory.
I searched myself inside her eyes and then I found that little fire burning. This made me gain confidence to finally speak, to finally break the walls separating us, to finally step forward to her territory.
"Do you feel the same too?" I returned her recent question back to her as if it was our own version of 'I love you'.
Then she smiled. I smiled back.
"Yes." she finally replied.