"For lonely people, rain is a chance to be touched."
- Simon Van Booy
Between tall buildings of various sizes, a yellow light blinking its eye faintly from the edge of a sky rise, overseeing the rows of vehicles washed over by the rain and passersby dispersed to their designated shelter. The evening sun was covered entirely by grey clouds and the entire city was covered in mist.
All but one person.
Pellets of rain seeping into every crevice of her coat that can offer no protection against her drenched, sitting figure on the bench in this desolate public park. Both hands are cuffed into each side of the coat, as if guarding a secret that everyone will know at some point in time. Water flowing along her cheek and dripping continuously from the tip of her nose and chin as the rain lessened its intensity. Her skin feels shivers of cold and everything aches, but she doesn't find it in herself to care. That's not what she's chasing. That's not the answer.
All of a sudden the top of the head was devoid of raindrops. She lifts her stare upward to find a shade of black replacing the rainy sky. Another head turns to the back and it turns out to be an umbrella hung above her head.
The soft voice is stating the obvious, yet she has no intention to reply to the rhetoric, instead turning back to her previous position, staring straight ahead.
"You can use this umbrella."
The woman exhaled but stayed mum.
"You have to leave."
"You have to leave." She replied, giving the statement back to the owner of the umbrella. Might as well come off as a little bit rude, but this woman started it first. "What is your name?" The woman held back a scoff. "Why do I have to answer that?"
"Since it looks like we're going to stuck here for a while." And the umbrella is still held high above. There is no sign for it to go away soon, just like the rain. "Byulyi." She finally answered, almost growling.
"Not going to ask for mine?"
"Please go, you and your umbrella." Byulyi hissed this time, manners between strangers long forgotten. "Why do you approach me anyway? Who are you?" Her jaw tightened.
The same soft voice from behind. "Do you want me to leave?"
"I'll leave you alone and wait over there." The umbrella woman whispered. "The rain is about to end anyway."
The shade goes away and again Byul feels the pellets dropping onto her whole being, reduced to a light shower, soaking her body and soul. Finally she was alone. Almost hoping for some kind of a sign, no matter how faint. The wind breezed with water, but her palms stayed cuffed inside her coat, staying unmoved as a statue.
The light showers reduced but the sky is still left gray, just as someone predicted. The woman was about to stand up and take her leave but stopped upon someone standing in front of the vending machine, the same black umbrella that sheltered her earlier. The sound of gears whirring and black liquid pouring into the cup settled down as the umbrella woman crouched down to take it, bringing attention to a pair of red heels. So it's a she. The umbrella woman strides to Byul who's already standing and gives her a cup of coffee. "You look cold, it's piping hot--"
Byulyi finishes it in one shot, wiping her lips with her thumb in one rough swipe. Without she's realizing it, a handkerchief wipes her face in gentle movement. "You're soaking wet…" Byulyi takes her time observing the woman. Doe eyes, red lips, petite and emanating regal aura, almost to the point of frail. Diamond earrings adorning her ears, and the fabric of fancy dress glimpsed behind her coat. She dried Byulyi's cheek and temple in slow, calculated motion and flinched when Byulyi closed in.
"Tell me what God feels like." Byulyi said quietly. "I'm starting to forget."
The umbrella woman can provide no answer to the cryptic request. It doesn't even sound like a request. It's more like a cry for help. "Do you want another coffee?"
At this point, Byul notices that they are standing under the umbrella, giving Byul a vulnerable position of the woman wiping the corner of her eyes several times. "Why did you keep doing that?"
"Because the tears keep flowing from your right eye." The nonchalant attitude in that statement shook her, almost. Byulyi is unable to speak. "You think it cannot be seen under the rain, but it's obvious." The woman keeps drying the remains of drops, unaware of Byulyi's stupefied look, which soon breaks into a chuckle. "What's your name, missy?"
That earns a cautious look from the other woman. Byulyi tsk-ed. "You're the one who asked for mine first. It's not like we're going to meet again after this."
"Irene." Her voice lingered. "You can call me Irene."
When you have a lover, you will be richly blessed.
No one can blame Irene for starting to doubt the truth in that sentence.
She should have known. That time they encouraged her for a window shopping day, choosing a 'that' dress that is a far cry from what Irene usually wears: red frills along the hem and a slit up to her thighs. She jokingly asked if her boyfriend told them to suggest this and they looked at each other, confused. The confusion was a feign. She should have known.
Oh. And the red heels.
From the first time they were escorted to the balcony of this fine restaurant (the one that provide the best view overlooking the billboards and neon lights swarming beneath the city) nothing stays longer in her mind more than the amount of numbers that need crunching and the task that overdue as soon as she got home later.
That prevented her from noticing how the boyfriend fidgeted every five minutes, reaching into the inside of his tuxedo before pulling out again, an action that kept repeated for another round of vicious cycle to the point of comedy. Small talk of how do you do , how is your day today, is there anything out of the blue that I should have known or what it was about went on for another minute before a waitress came in and put their order down.
Fair eyes, fair appearance, fair everything. He has absolute beauty in front of him and cannot speak proper words. Although the said beauty keeps wandering her attention around. A beauty with a perfect amount of dizziness and he couldn't ask for more. "What are you looking at?"
Irene buried her chin in her fist. "The lights are beautiful. I have to ask for the brand they use before we get home."
It stung in many ways, but the boyfriend is not the type who backs down so easily. The waitress came back with dishes on a trolley. He enjoyed the way Irene eyed every dish, showing that he remembered her fascination with intricate details and sense of beauty. Even after that, the conversation strives on pleasantries, with the boyfriend throwing another set of prepared small talk and Irene answers in moderation. Halfway through the meal, the boyfriend finally gathered his wit.
"I know it's been only four months since our first date." He's getting on one knee. And a tiny, velvety box fished out. "I can't think of a better time than right now, with what we both have."
"Will you marry me?"
Shots were fired. The diamond earring gleamed against light as Irene shifted downward, the shining ring now looking threatening. "Suho-oppa." She chooses her words carefully, treading on eggshells. "It's been only four months."
"Four months of undeniable chemistry." Suho reiterated. "I can't deny the sparks. I'm sure you feel the same, Joohyun-ah." twitched. "You are always complying with my wishes. We did everything together. Nothing can be more perfect than this."
More like she was barely conscious half of the time Suho gave a surprise visit into her apartment, and she did everything he told her to do, anything as long as he got home quicker than he should be but okay. What makes this worse is that Suho is her senior in the firm. Not that she cares. You should accept him and give this a try, Joohyun-ah! If it's not working then just ditch! Yeah, right. When you have a lover, you will be richly blessed. "Suho-oppa." Irene bit her lips, thinking. "We don't know each other that well."
"We have all the time in the world." Suho shot a cavalrious smile. "As long as you accept!"
More like richly annoyed.
"I have to go home now."
Irene stands on the ball of her feet, about to make her way to the mirrored elevator, her palm pulling the slit of her dress with minimal annoyance. "Give me some time to think. Catch you later, Suho-oppa." She walks away without taking another look, not bothering the state of her boyfriend right now, and smiles at the waitress. "That light is nice. Which brand are you using?"
Taking her coat from the concierge, Irene rejects the offer of Suho's rented limousine and instead borrows an umbrella.
Her red heels stepped against the wet asphalt.
Her gloved hands grip the handle of the black umbrella, getting tighter as guilt piled up after what just happened. Not a really decent thi