glutton for punishment

the baby trap

When you have a crying baby plus one sleep-deprived monster and add another sleep-deprived monster in the mix, maintaining your appearance is the last concern you have.

I’ve forgone anything and everything that used to be me. A full-face of makeup? Clean hair? The least I can hope for is not being vomited on or smelling like baby .

That also means Jaehyun has seen the worst of me, and frankly, I should be really concerned. My -o-meter is probably dipping even lower as we speak. But, I mean, why should that bother me right? I have a crying infant. shouldn’t be my first priority. Definitely not with him either.

I crack an eye open to see him cradling Ai at the edge of my bed. Yes. My sweet, sweet bed that is now sheet-less because it’s one, been covered by vomit, or two, poop, or worst-case scenario, an appetite-inducing of the two.

I realize that it’s morning, and honestly, it hasn’t felt like morning in a long time. It always manages to feel like no time has passed from the time I’ve closed my eyes to when I’ve opened them. I’ve been on fight or flight for the past few months, and even with an extra person, this still feels like a full-time job with unpaid overtime.

I crawl over to him on fours. Drowsily, I open my arms, prompting for him to hand me Ai who’s awake. Bright eyes and pouty mouth, he’s observing me very carefully.

My eyes fall on Jaehyun who, theoretically, should be half-asleep right now but he looks as y as they come. He greets me with a dimple and coincidentally, no shirt. Not that I’m looking or anything.

“How long’s he been up?” I ask, my voice scratchy from sleep.

“Since five,” he says, the epitome of calm and level-headed.

I groan lowly, trying to pry the hyperactive baby out of his arms. “Here. Let me. You should get some sleep.”

He shrugs. “It’s alright.”

“Please don’t lie to me,” I threaten, half-seriously. I didn’t want him collapsing on me or getting sick from sleep deprivation. Then, I’d have to take care of them both. “It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay. I won’t tell anyone, not even your future girlfriend.”

“Hah, funny,” he mumbles, clearly amused. “I’ve been through worse.”

I observe his expression. He’s not understating and looks pretty genuine. It sparks curiosity in me, and I can’t help but ask. “Worse than raising a baby?”

“Within reason,” he says. “I had a lot going on in high school. In the four years, I maybe had three hours of sleep, give or take. Not a flex. I probably lost like twenty percent of my brain cells.”

“No,” I hiss, pained for him. “Don’t tell me. You were the stereotype.”

He feigns innocence, avoiding eye contact.

“No!” I exclaim, stifling a laugh with my hands. “You were like captain of varsity…basketball? In key club, probably. I’m guessing—president? You played either piano or violin. And you were a swimmer.”

He continues to avoid my eyes.

“No ing way I’m right,” I tease, poking his arm.

“Well, partly?” He rubs his nape, almost sheepishly. “I played piano for our school’s jazz band. I was also the president of ASB my senior year and the Korean club and the gaming club.”

“Overachieving, aren’t we? I don’t know why I didn’t suspect that you’d be any different. You were probably so cute.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think you’d find me cute five years ago.”

Please, my raging hormones found nearly anything that gave me attention cute. I was probably a hazard.”

He snorts out a laugh, following it with a low chuckle. Sweet and syrupy. “Maybe?”

“I’d show up to all of your games and meets with an Elmer science fair board with your name in all caps and a collage of pictures that I secretly stole from your socials.”

“Why the emphasis on an Elmer science fair board?”

“Duh. Because I’d stand out. Who the hell splurges on a cardboard board when you could steal poster paper from the art teacher?”

“In true hazardous fashion,” he adds.

“Of course, you’d probably need a restraining order against me.”

“I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t resist a beau like you.”

I laugh, this time, with my chest and no restraints whatsoever. “You’re such a liar. I promise you that I was super lame in high school. Jia was the one who stood out.” My words, whether I’d meant to or not, were tinged with sadness. It wasn’t jealousy. Maybe wistfulness?

A comfortable silence falls between us, and when I glance down at Ai and back up at him, I realize he’s looking at me. It’s the same sparkly-eyed wonder that Ai has. It’s absolutely adorable, and I’d be lying if I totally wasn’t gobsmacked by that.

“Penny for your thoughts?” I ask.

“I’m afraid it’s a million dollars per thought. I’m expensive.”

I play along, grinning. “Too bad. I’m operating on a broke girl budget. Baby and all.”

“Then, I’ll give you a discount.”

“Uh huh,” I say, “it’s gotta be a hundred percent because I can’t spare my pocket change.”

“Lucky for you,” he says, “I’m quite charmed by you.”

My cheeks heat, and our joke no longer feels like a joke. His words are almost like a confession, and the look on his face makes me shy. Probing, yet surprisingly tender. I cough, averting my eyes from his. “I’m gonna go shower.” My words explode from my mouth at the speed of light as I stand and stumble toward my bathroom.

When I shut the door, I sink down onto the ground, blankly staring off into the distance. What was I doing? Trying to rationalize these feelings? No matter how much I thought about it and dissuaded myself, I’d feel a pang of guilt.

Would I have been better off if I hadn’t slept with him the first day? If I had been more careful rather than selfishly giving into my desires? The truth only became clearer, and I was too afraid to voice it. Because if I did, it became real, and right now, I couldn’t do real.

When I finish drying my hair, I amble back into my bedroom, glancing down on two sleeping angels. Jaehyun was lying on his side with Ai lying center-stage on his back.

My chest burned with something.

Sighing, I gently sit on the corner of the bed, unable to pry my eyes away from the scene unfurling in front of me. I should feel guilty, right? Like I was stealing Jia’s life.

It’s only after I've woken up for the second time that I’ve realized I’d fallen asleep again. This time, I wake to my arms slung around something solid.


I was spooning Jaehyun on the outside, and he was still fast asleep next to Ai. I startle, trying not to wake the two of them. But Ai already had his own agenda. He stirred from sleep, his tiny lips pushing a pout.

I carefully lean over, swooping Ai up into my arms. As I gently pat his thigh, he quiets down, making tiny fart noises. “Come on, cutie. You hungry?”

With my back turned to Jaehyun, all I could think about was trying to deny every cell in my body.

Every cell that begged me to stop lying to myself.






I hopped on discord for what feels like the first time in forever. Jaehyun and I finally figured out a plausible schedule that accommodated both of our lives and Ai’s.

He’d resorted to fashion magazine gigs for a while since they were convenient. In the meantime, I took his off days and planned my work schedule around them.

In the beginning, I was afraid of things being awkward because my online presence was a different Hea than the one he knew. It wasn’t like I was afraid he’d think of me any differently but still, I was hesitant to show that side of myself to him. He’d know everything, and well, I didn’t know how that would play out for me.

But with a baby in the middle of it all, I it up. I didn’t have time to be picky. I still needed to pay rent after all. After posting my new streaming schedule to my subscribers, I watch as the comments began stacking up under the Instagram post I sent out.

I also check up on my OF, and so far, it’s been fine.

I get a DM on Instagram, and when I open up, my stomach drops.

can we talk

He’s resurfaced again. My ex.

I frown, wondering why he was reaching out to me now. It’s been a year since we’d broken up, and it wasn’t amicable, to say the least.

Bitna was the one who introduced us initially, and at first, there was nothing amiss about him. Wong Kunhang. Or Hendery. That’s what he went by in his streams. He was charming and handsome—which was definitely the right word for him. Hendery always had a sort of regality that made him different from others.

We had a good run, but things didn’t end up working. We both wanted different things, yet I didn’t regret our relationship. It was my first adult relationship, which means I now know what I want. Right now? Definitely not a relationship with anyone.

I’d just finished putting on my bustier and setting up my DSLR. The plan was to do several shots for lazy posting. As I was in the middle of posing, I hear a knock on my door.

“Come in,” I bristle.

Interruptions were inevitable when you share a space with two other people. I didn’t have time to find something to throw over, so when the door opens, my shoulders slump in surrender.

Jaehyun peeks his head in, coming to a halt when he realizes what I was in the middle of. His eyes scan me from head to toe, an action that felt sort of personal in this lighting. He stops on my outfit. Some would say that it was skimpy, others like my favorite geriatric neighbor would call it being .

I certainly felt that way when he forcefully pried his eyes away and fixed them on my face.

“Did you need me?” I ask, pushing past the embarrassment. I really needed to get over this. But trying to convince yourself that he was any other guy didn’t work so well when you had a teeny crush on him.

He sends me a tiny smile, mostly shy, but on his face, it was endearing and flattering. “I wanted to ask what diaper size I should buy but I can just figure that out on my own—“

“No worries,” I muster, trying to sound normal. “Um, he’s grown a lot in the past week. Maybe up a size?”

He nods. “Right. Thanks, Hea. I’m just gonna—“ He signals with his head in the direction of Ai in the living room.

I release a pent-up breath, half in relief, half in anxiety. I guess it’s worse that I didn’t have time to unpack any of this. But, oh well, I could only hope that this arrangement was fleeting.

I thought he’d left by now, but when my eyes turn up from the floor to where he’d been standing, I see that he’s still there.

If I was being assumptive, I’d say transfixed, but I wasn’t that much of a narcissist. Maybe he needed something else.

I open my mouth to address him amidst this awkward silence, but he beats me to it.

“Sometimes, I forget how beautiful you are.”

My cheeks heat. “Don’t lie to me.” I try to keep my tone lighthearted, in hopes that he was joking or trying to lighten the situation.

He doesn’t turn away, and the intensity is still there. “ truth.”

It makes me laugh. “Are you teasing me?”

Finally, his expression turns playful, and he says, “just a little bit.”

We hear Ai cry in the distance, and that’s his cue. He turns his head from me, signaling that he was going to leave now.

As the door shuts and I’m left alone to my own company, my heart continues to beat relentlessly, reminding me that I was a silly, foolish girl and that I was a glutton for punishment.

[a/n] i've been in a silly goofy mood lately. my depression's really hittin deep this time. idk what i'm doing anymore. or if anybody cares that i'm here on this platform? i've been contemplating quitting aff because i'm not sure i have the same effect on people anymore. there are much better writers than me, so you guys will probably find your fix elsewhere. i love to write, yes, but i'm just not sure about anything anymore??

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