Chapter 13

Sweet Potassium

            The streetlights felt dimmer with each passing pole but the city feels brighter with each step they take. With their hands intertwine with each other and their breathes pacing dishevelled, they ran and ran but the exhaustion always seem an step further behind them. Garam’s hand feels a little clammy from the sweat and it feels like déjà vu. Seungwan remembers this exact moment and this exact situation before.

 

 

            When Seungwan was 6, she had to move away to Daejeon from Seoul. She remembers an particular sad day. They promised to not cry on departure. They would laugh when they are still together and only cry after she had left. But Seulgi was sobbing from morning till dusk. They had a farewell party in the afternoon but Seulgi was crying. When they had cake, Seulgi was crying. When they played house, Seulgi was still crying. Finally, when the time had come for Seungwan to take the train to her new home, Seulgi stopped. On the horizon of Seungwan leaving, she shouted, ‘Let’s always be friends’. No matter the distance, no matter the place and no matter the years. Seungwan didn’t cry because she always keep her promise. She promised not to cry and she had promised to always be friends with Seulgi.

 

 

            It wasn’t long till Seungwan had settled in. Both of their parents settled to meet at a playground near Cheonan every other day and it was a very tiring 1 hour drive just for Seungwan and Seulgi to meet up. Honestly, it wouldn’t be strange if they just stop meeting one day because which 9 year olds are willing to commute 2 to 3 hours an day just to meet their friend? But both Seulgi and Seungwan never did get tired. They were always excited to see each other twice or more an week. Thankfully, their parents get along very well and were patient enough to take turns to bring their kids along every few days. Most of the time, Seungwan never had much trouble adapting to new places but this time, she had to enter an new kindergarten for a few months before advancing to elementary school.  The new classmates she had were all friends who were graduating soon and there was nobody who knew her. Some of the kids started to see Seungwan as an easy target and began petty tricks on her. One day, a few of the boys started chasing her around with sticks for some weird reason she has forgotten about. In an short scuffle, one of them accidentally pushed Seungwan to the ground, leaving an bruise on her arm. She would later meet Seulgi later that day and Seulgi would fuss over her injury. Seungwan got angry later and told Seulgi to leave it alone after she kept pestering her about her bruise and they parted on less than favourable terms.

           

            The next day come and the kids were at it again, chasing Seungwan around with sticks. Imagine her surprise when Seulgi suddenly showed up out of nowhere. She confronted the ringleader of the bullies and they had a brief stare down. Before Seulgi’s mom can interfere, Seulgi punches the bully and takes Seungwan’s hand and they ran. They ran and ran and ran. Every lamp post they passed over, it feels like an time leap of memories. How many times have they done this before? Just the two of them, running over and over again to a place that only belonged to the both of them. Every few steps, Seungwan sees Seulgi and then the breeze glazes her and she became Garam again. They ran till their lungs burnt and hot air scorches their throat. A drop of sweat glistened on Garam’s neck and her hands held over each other tightly. It is a familiar warmth, like a contained summer within a winter home. Garam and Seulgi’s image overlaps again and Seungwan calls out unconsciously.


SEUNGWAN
Seulgi?

GARAM
Yes?

 

Both of them stopped immediately and their eyes match each other. The exhaustion catches up to them and the both of them starts panting heavily. When her thoughts sync with her body, Seungwan tries to pull her hand away but Garam catches her again and pull her body in closer. Seungwan feels her heart beating quickly and she loses herself in Garam’s eyes as if he has so many untold emotions and feelings inside of him. They move in closer to each other and her stare doesn’t leave Garam’s lips. Closer still… and even closer still. Before they can kiss, a loud voice interrupts them.


YERI
HEY! I’M HERE!

 

The younger girl with her new friend catches up. Chaeyoung is seen at the back panting heavily, almost nauseous from her once in a lifetime run. Yeri reaches over and pulls Seungwan away from Garam. Yeri’s eyes were hawkish and almost angry, she starts inspecting Seungwan all over and she finds only the cut on her elbow.


WENDY
Yerim-ah, I’m fine. Stop fussing.

YERI
What is wrong with you?

WENDY
What? Me?

YERI
No, you!


            Yeri steps over to Seulgi and shoves him with all her strength and she staggers over.


YERI
Why are you fighting thugs when you’re around Wendy-unnie? If you can’t protect her, why would you go around starting ?

SEULGI
I…

CHAEYOUNG
It’s not like that…

YERI
Don’t in, you kid.

CHAEYOUNG
You’re also an kid!

YERI
Shut up. Wendy wouldn’t have gotten hurt if not for you.

WENDY
Yerim-ah, it’s fine. Those kids harassing Chaeyoung is the problem, not her.

YERI
Don’t worry, I’ll get to those bullies later. But right now, I need you to go home with me.

WENDY
Wait-

 

Yeri forcibly takes Wendy’s hand and drags her away from Seulgi and Chaeyoung.


GARAM
Yeri, wait.

YERI
Why? I’ve been waiting my entire life. My whole life is just waiting, why would I want to wait even more? Why is everyone telling me to wait?

GARAM
Huh?

WENDY
You’re not making sense, Yeri.

YERI
I don’t have to make sense. I’m an kid.

CHAEYOUNG
Your friend seems confused.

YERI
I’m the only sober one around. You. You just let some bullies walk all over you and pretend being an doormat is okay? As long as someone else will save you right? And you, (pointing at Seulgi) why do you think it’s okay to just waltz up to Jisoo and then Wendy and pretend to be their only one? As long as you get what you want, you don’t care if you hurt another person, right?

WENDY
What are you talking about, Yeri?

GARAM
Seulgi?

SEULGI
Oppa?

 

The real Garam has suddenly shown up out of nowhere and he’s staring at his doppelganger. Wendy becomes momentarily stunned at the revelation. Even Chaeyoung becomes wide-eyed at the split images.


WENDY
There’s two Garams. What is going on?

GARAM
I would like to know too.

SEULGI
I…

YERI
That one is Seulgi and this one, I assume is the real Garam.

 

It took Wendy awhile but she finally got it. The first date where she felt the world spinning over her and the kind Garam who felt so familiar was her Seulgi. This time too, when they had held hands and ran together. The person who made her feelings bubble over herself was also her Seulgi, not Garam. A strange sickness overcomes Wendy and she feels her legs numbing. Seulgi is feeling the same. She had thought to tell Seungwan her secret today but now, the cat is out of the bag and she never felt more vulnerable.


SEULGI
Seungwan-ah…

WENDY
I’m gonna need a moment.

GARAM
I know I’m kind of out of the loop but sis, you wanna share a cabride home?


            Seulgi stares daggers at her brother and he turns away, whistling. Why would Garam even be here right now? She turns to look at Seungwan but Seungwan is just lost in thoughts and not meeting her gaze. She feels as though a thousand needles are prickling the surface of her skin and a sense of surrealness clouds over her body.


WENDY
Oh man, my head is going to split. Well, first thing first. How are we going to deal with those kids?

CHAEYOUNG
Its fine. I’ll apologize to them tomorrow and tell them not to make trouble for you guys.

YERI
Don’t bother. I recorded the incident on my phone. I left my phone on the window sill before going into the diner.

WENDY
Nice thinking, Yeri.

YERI
Hehe.

SEULGI
Nice thinking, Yeri.

YERI
Shut up.

SEULGI


WENDY
So we can just notify Chaeyoung’s school?

YERI
Why would I do that?

CHAEYOUNG
Huh? Then what are you going to do?

YERI
I’m not going to do anything because I already did it. I already uploaded the clip on social media and tagged their teachers.

CHAEYOUNG
Huh? How did you know what school I’m from?

YERI
Nothing google can’t tell me in 5 minutes. Are you guys all techno dinosaurs or something?

WENDY
Let me see!

YERI
Woah, 20,000 views already.

SEULGI
Look! Someone tagged and commented the bullies.

WENDY
Looks like it’ll be solved by the proper authorities…

GARAM
I do so love a good witch-hunt.


            Seulgi pushes her brother into the background again and tells him to disappear. Wendy has an indescribable expression that anyone would have if they realized they were lied to by their best friend. Yeri notices Wendy touching the area around her wound and flinching from the pain and the anger inside of her flares up again. She grabs her phone and starts texting.


WENDY
What are you doing, Yerim?

YERI
I’m gonna CSI this and link the video to the bullies and their moms and dads.

WENDY
That’s too much, just let the school take care of it.

CHAEYOUNG
Wow, she really is the devil.

SEULGI
What is she doing?

CHAEYOUNG
She’s going through the accounts of the bullies… Uh… I think she’s tagging their pastor and captioning, ‘Yall need more than just Jesus.’

YERI
Aren’t you enjoying it as well?

CHAEYOUNG
Can’t say that I’m not.

SEULGI
Seungwan-ah, can we talk?

 

            The clarity of Seulgi’s voice has an hint of somberness and sadness. It cuts through the hassle and everyone stops for a moment to look at Seulgi. Yeri looked like she had something more to say. Wendy nods and tells the rest to give Seulgi and her some privacy.


CHAEYOUNG
Psst, what’s going on?

YERI
That dude is not a dude. She’s supposed to be this dude.

GARAM
I’m the dude.

CHAEYOUNG
Huh?

YERI
She’s pretending to be this dude to be Wendy’s dude, get it?

CHAEYOUNG
What?

GARAM
I must say Wendy has grown up super well. I mean look at her! I know I’m supposed to be mad at my sis but I respect the hustle.

 

            Yeri elbows Garam in the ribs and he bends over in pain. He tries to kick her but Yeri dodges briefly. Wendy takes a look back at them until they are too far away. Seulgi has her head down like a kid who got caught stealing from the candy jar.


WENDY
So… are you going to say anything?

SEULGI
I’m sorry.

WENDY
That’s it?

SEULGI


WENDY
Why did you do it?

SEULGI
I… I don’t know.

WENDY
Was it a prank?

SEULGI


WENDY
Was it serious?

SEULGI


WENDY
Are you going to say anything at all?

SEULGI
I don’t know what to say.
 

WENDY
Was it fun?

SEULGI
Huh?

WENDY
Knowing that I had feelings for… whatever this is and you are just laughing behind my back.

SEULGI
I didn’t laugh at you. I could never.

WENDY
Yeri seems to know about it too. Who else knew?

SEULGI
I…

WENDY
Who else?!

SEULGI
Everybody…

WENDY
Oh wow... that’s just great. What now? You had your fun. Tell me, what now?

SEULGI
Seungwan, please just listen to me.

WENDY
Why? Why should I? How long have you lied to me?

SEULGI
It was just this… I know I shouldn’t have pretended to be Garam-

WENDY
You think? You know what hurts more? That you are supposed to be my best friend. You are supposed to be someone I can trust. You took all of that and trampled over it. What am I to you?

SEULGI
I didn’t mean to. I just… That day when we had our first date, I just…

WENDY
Just what?

SEULGI
You know what I’m asking. Don’t make me say it.

WENDY
I don’t know what you’re saying.

SEULGI
You do. Seungwan-ah, you can’t tell me you didn’t felt what I felt.

WENDY
So just tell me! What do you want from me?

SEULGI


WENDY
What are you so afraid of?

SEULGI
I’m afraid that this can be the beginning but it can also be the end. I’m afraid of what the world thinks. I’m afraid of what our friends would say. I’m afraid of what our parents would say. Most of all,  I’m afraid of what you would say.

WENDY
Then keep it to yourself.


            Seungwan walks away from her and although she is just a couple steps away, Seulgi feels Seungwan fading away from her. She feels her heart sink and her body moves with its own will. She grabs Seungwan to face her. The cars buzz by the roads and the clouds drift apart in the distant sky. The city lights blink ever so often with life but none of that matters anymore. The world goes on but the two of them stops. Seulgi leans forward and kisses Wendy.

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Mokamoca
Hi guys! I'm back for a bit.
Chapter 12 might feel very different but I just wanted to try out different writing styles.
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