“Oh, hi auntie.” Seulgi was surprised to see Joohyun’s mother rang their doorbell that morning. “Mom’s out for a bit—”
“Oh no, it’s fine Seul-yah. I’m here for you.”
Seulgi can’t help but note that smile of Joohyun’s mother, almost smirking, like she’s up to something. She’s sure that Joohyun got that prankster side of her from her mom. “Why, auntie? Is there something wrong?”
“Yeah well Seul-yah, I need you to go to our house today to accompany Hyun-ah with looking after Seohyun. Your uncle and I need to step out for some errands and we’ll be out until tomorrow. I can count on you to look after them right, Seul-yah? Thank you, Seul-yah. We’ll get going now. Go to them immediately okay?? Bye!”
“W-wait auntie—” But that was useless because her auntie was gone even before she has time to refuse or even explain that things are a bit awkward between her and Joohyun. She sighed in defeat.
Joohyun stood from behind the door, hesitating to open it knowing who’s going to be on the other side. She sighed. She had insisted to her parents that she’ll be fine with just her and Seohyun alone, but her parents were adamant on having Seulgi around, saying that they’ll be more at ease leaving them knowing that they have the girl around. This was always the case whenever they had to step out, but Seulgi and her isn’t really on speaking terms just yet.
But as Joohyun run those thoughts inside her head, Seohyun, her five-year-old younger sister had run to the door ahead of her to open it.
Seulgi flinched at the sudden opening of the door and the call and flinched again when she met Joohyun’s eyes which are equally surprised as hers. She looked away then stooped down on Seohyun’s level, receiving her big hug. “Hey, baby Hyun.” She hugged her tight too.
“Seul-unnie, let’s play!”
“Okay.” Seulgi answered as she stood up. Joohyun already went inside, leaving the door open for her to enter. Her hand was dragged inside by Seohyun, excited to play with her.
“Go play with Seohyun. I’ll be in my room if you need anything.”
Seulgi heard Joohyun say as she walked towards her room, not even sparing her a glance. “Are you okay, Hyunnie?” She can’t help but ask.
Joohyun stopped herself from scoffing. “Yeah. I’m just tired.” She lied, a bit, then went inside her room and locked it.
Seulgi stared at the closed door of Joohyun’s room as she felt Seohyun tug on her shirt to start playing with her.
Joohyun slumped herself on her bed face first. She just doesn’t have the energy to face Seulgi yet. Just when she decided to give her the space she kept on creating between them, there’s their circumstance bringing them closer together.
Joohyun even decided to respect Seulgi’s decision on how to deal with her feelings. After hearing Seulgi’s mother, she realized that she has been very unfair to Seulgi—harsh and cruel even.
Joohyun knew Seulgi’s secret—and she used it to her leverage to win on their unspoken teasing dominance, unbeknownst to her that her reaction to it was because she was feeling the same too. It was somehow to force Seulgi out of it, so she can just reciprocate. Though she realized it later on—a little too late maybe—but when she did, she was honest and courageous about it; the problem was she didn’t expect for Seulgi to react like how she did. She failed to see that, right, she had the assurance of Seulgi feeling the same for her, while Seulgi didn’t have that safety net under her feet. And while it still hurts her that Seulgi wasn’t honest with her, that she couldn’t muster the courage to overcome her own fear and just kept on running away; she knew she might’ve underestimated the fear of being rejected and the pain she inflicted just when she’s about to confess.
Stupid, Joohyun thought to herself. She has been too selfish—too greedy—to have Seulgi hers regardless of who she may have hurt; even that exact person she loves. So maybe it’s time to step back and be selfless.
Joohyun blinked as she sighed. She’d give time for everything to cool down first—by everything, she means Seulgi—then she’ll figure out how to approach and deal with Seulgi again—this time, as gently as she can.
Seulgi felt Seohyun tug on her arm this time.
Seulgi flinched and looked at her.
“Are you worried about “Joo-unnie?”
Seulgi pursed her lips. The young girl probably noticed her staring at Joohyun’s room absentmindedly while they play. “Uh well—”
Seohyun pouted as she continued playing with the toy blocks on the floor. “Me too. Joo-unnie is sick and sad.”
“What?” Seulgi had snapped her head from the room back to Seohyun at what she innocently yet worriedly said.
Seohyun bobbed her head up and down in confirmation. “She was sad on her birthday. Maybe because you can’t come Seul-unnie. You were sick too, right? And then she got sick too. She said it was flu. Flu makes your eyes and nose puffy and red, right unnie? Were your eyes red and puffy too when you got flu?”
Then Seulgi remembered how she made a run that night of Joohyun’s birthday because she was afraid to be confronted on why she just disappeared and why she looked like she had the flu, as how Seohyun had described its characteristics—eyes red and puffy—yes, definitely flu. And Joohyun even had it that day. But why?
Now she feels guilty about it. Why can’t she just it all up for a few more hours and spend Joohyun’s birthday as if her heart’s not hurting? But then again, why the hell not? It’s the first time she’d done something selfish and heck, she deserved a bit of that, right?
From the start, all Seulgi has been considering is Joohyun’s feelings. She endured all her teases, which didn’t feel like teases in the first place but romantic insinuations. Did she know how hard it was to stop herself to just be selfish and dive right into the assumption and just throw their friendship away? How hard it was to have your hopes up, only to fall from it?
So what was Joohyun so sad and mad about?
“Fine! Run away, Seulgi-yah, run away! Continue pretending and lying to yourself. Until one day you yourself believe your lie to be your ultimate truth. Damn it!”
What was the truth anyway??
“Hmm, yeah well. I’m in love with someone else.”
Ha! As if Seulgi is going to let herself fall into that again. Honestly, she’s had enough of Joohyun always implying that she’s feeling something more for her, more than being best friends. That Park Bogum stunt was enough. And it’s going to be the last. Nothing else will make her convince otherwise.
“Of course, nothing will.”
Seulgi frowned as she imagined Joohyun’s voice back at the staircase, mocking her.
“That’s what you’re good at, right, Seulgi-yah? Pretending you didn’t hear or saw or feel or hinted on anything? So, sure, Seulgi-yah, nothing will.”
“Seul-unnie, I’m hungry.”
Seulgi snapped out of it at Seohyun’s whining voice.
Joohyun’s eyes jolted open. She thought she heard Seulgi call for her. She realized that she had fallen asleep. Huh, maybe in her dream.
Joohyun flinched at the call and hastily pushed herself up to answer the door, realizing that the call was real.
Seulgi flinched when a disheveled Joohyun opened her door, indicating that she fell asleep. “Hyunnie, I just wanted to ask where’s the sugar and soy sauce again—” She stopped after wandering her eyes around inside Joohyun’s room because she was unable to look into her eyes.
“What?” Joohyun asked, eyes still squinting in post-sleep haziness.
Seulgi looked down as she cleared . “The sugar and soy sauce, Hyunnie.” She mumbled weakly.
“Oh. It’s on the second shelf above the ref.” Joohyun answered shortly.
“Uhm,” Seulgi hesitated. “That’s the thing Hyunnie… Baby Hyun and I are hungry for lunch, but you know I’m scared to cook…” She said in almost a whisper of embarrassment.
Joohyun exasperatedly sighed. She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned on her doorframe with a brow already raising. “Then why don’t you convince yourself that Hyun-ah isn’t hungry because you’re too afraid to cook, Seulgi-yah?”
Seulgi snapped her head up towards Joohyun, her face frowning at the implication. “W-what—”
Oops, so much for being as gentle as she can. Right, enough of being selfish, Joohyun. Guess she’s still frustrated with Seulgi which she should really stop. She sighed in defeat, cutting Seulgi off. “Just kidding. I’ll be out in a sec.”
Seulgi just stared at the closed door on her face. But Joohyun acting cold or her words were not what lingered on Seulgi’s mind as she stood there completely frozen—it was seeing that ever familiar purple tulips flower on her bedside table, beautifully and carefully placed in a vase—alive and thriving. Still alive and thriving even after being disposed of. Still alive and thriving.
Joohyun left after that to go buy sugar and soy sauce as it turned out that they ran out of it. Seulgi volunteered to buy it instead