Present day …
I am never getting used to this.
This is just plain stupid. I haven’t had a good sleep since we moved into this shabby apartment, and I’m scared that it’s gonna be like this forever. To make things worse, I’ve never heard from my dad since he abandoned us and ran away with everything—by everything, I meant all the money and the two cars we owned. As if that’s not horrible enough, he pawned every single thing in our home, including the freaking house itself.
Maybe I’m exaggerating but I can’t even remember how it felt to be comfortable anymore.
The only thing that is good about this whole that’s happening … is the fact that I now go to Sunhwa High School because it’s closer to the apartment we found. It only takes me one bus ride to get there. It’s super convenient now that we don’t have a car.
I never thought I could come this close. Close to him.
My old high school wasn’t crazy far, but it wasn’t close enough. When we were in elementary until middle school, it was easier for my mom to see her friend, Aunt Yoojin—until three years ago when my dad had to move us for work. Now that I think about it, I wonder if it really was for work or if he was trying to hide from loan sharks. I don’t know. But my point is, it used to be easy for me … to see him.
My first love. My one and only. The most beautiful thing that’s ever happened to me.
I’ve known him for a very long time. For as long as I could remember, our parents have always been friends. But I guess since I’m a girl and he’s a boy, it was never really easy for us to get close. Also, he’s very quiet and likes to keep to himself. Back when we lived closer, we saw each other almost every weekend and never missed a single special occasion, like Christmas or someone’s birthday.
But we never talked. He never talked to me. Hi and Hello were the only words I’d ever heard him say to me.
Until one day, one weird day five years ago when he finally did. The memory is still clear to me like it was from yesterday. My mom took me to visit them one Saturday. I was on their terrace by their pool, on my phone talking to a friend when suddenly … Do Kyungsoo called me from behind.
Hey, he said.
At first, I was confused. I was like, damn! It was something new and unexpected coming from him. Hey is barely a word, but it was still a word that is neither a Hi nor a Hello. I ended my call, completely ditching my friend who was crying about her boyfriend. Then, my heart started pounding when I stood up to face him.
My feet were wet since I had them dipped in the pool.
And he looked down at them, one eyebrow raised. I felt so self-conscious that I tried to hide them. So, I take a step back, just a little bit until my foot was behind my other foot and then I realize I needed to hide the other foot too, so I did it again and the next thing I know … Do Kyungsoo was holding me on the wrists.
He saved me from falling into the pool.
My saviour. My hero. My prince.
Our eyes met. Gazes held for more than two seconds for the very first time. He had the thickest eyebrows, the prettiest lashes and the brownest eyes. And never once have I ever noticed them before. Maybe it was his glasses that stopped me from observing them in the past, but we were so close to each other that I finally had the chance to see just how handsome he was.
And don’t get me started with his touch. It was warm. Extra warm in that cold autumn night. He was so warm that I’d forgotten how cold my bare feet felt on the grass.
Then he let go of my wrists. Too soon, actually. Too. Soon.
I wasn’t ready yet. I hadn’t regained my balance then since I was so distracted by all of him.
I scream. SPLASH! And there I went. Into the pool.
I remember frantically squirming and splashing water everywhere until my feet touched the tiled bottom. With aggressive hands, I rub my face and push my hair away so I could see him. He stood there, his hands sliding in his pockets. His head tilted on one side, eyebrow still perked up. Then he walked away. Never saying anything else aside from that brief Hey.
Or so I thought.
Because ever since that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. It started with light, subtle feelings in my chest every time he was around. Then it started tickling my tummy whenever he’d walk by. And then my chest started hurting every time I didn’t see him or whenever we had to say goodbye after visiting. All those weird feelings continued growing until I realized … that I had fallen in love.
During those times, before puberty tragically hit me, I had a lot of suitors in school. Guys following me around and doing everything for me—which I’m not gonna lie, the stupider and younger version of me took advantage of because I thought it was the easier way to live—but not one of them had ever made me feel what Kyungsoo makes me feel up to this day.
My feelings only grew more when we had to move farther away three years ago and I saw him less and less because of my family issues. My mom’s visits to his mom gradually became less about having fun and more about crying because of my dad … so she eventually stopped taking me along.
And the more I missed Do Kyungsoo, the more … I liked him. And the feelings have only grown stronger in the last couple of weeks since I started going to Sunhwa High School. He’s been going to this school since elementary, this is his territory, his second home. And now … mine.
These feelings began fluttering when we were only in junior high … and now we’re seniors. That’s five freaking years of secretly liking someone. I’ve wasted so much time hiding what I feel, fearing that it would be impossible and that it wouldn’t work out because of our situation.
But now is my chance. And I am taking it.
This envelope I am holding contained something I’ve hidden in five long years. Today, I have finally mustered up the courage to—
“Hanna! You’re gonna be late for school, your alarms have rung a million times already. How many alarms would it take you to get up, huh?” My mom yells against the door of my bedroom on the other side.
“Yes, Mom! I’m up.” I groan in between words as I quickly hide my love letter in my bag. I get up from my desk chair and stomp my feet to the door. “I promise I’ve been up and ready, I was just trying to finish an assignment.” I make an excuse. I was busy daydreaming but of course, she doesn’t need to know that.
Mom owns a small snack bar near a university called Hanna Ddul Eat. Painfully cheesy name but it’s the only thing that we have now. For some reason, some years ago, she made the smart decision to completely leave my father’s name and participation out of the business. At the time, she said she only wanted it as a hobby instead of being the full-time housewife that she used to be. And she ended up enjoying the work and it’s still up and running now even after everything that happened roughly a month ago.
And I hope it stays that way.
Later on, if I get lucky enough to go to university, maybe I’ll go to that one across from her snack bar. It’ll be convenient for me. I could go to school and then help her with the business too.
“I got a few weird calls the last couple of days. I’m scared that it’s one of the people your dad got into trouble with. So, whatever happens, ignore unknown numbers calling okay? And if some weird strangers talk to you, ignore them and make sure you’re not alone.” My mother lectures me out of nowhere.
Well, good morning to her too.
I roll my eyes before nodding. I’m not a kid anymore, I’m pretty sure I understand the stranger-danger rule well enough.
“Okay, mom. I get it. I promise I won’t be stupider than I already am.” I say.
My mother throws an arm over my shoulders before reaching to pinch my cheek. “Hey, stop putting yourself down. You’re my princess, you’re bright and optimistic and you’ll always be the most—”
“Mom, should I just skip university and go straight to working at your snack bar after I finish high school?”
I initially thought she’d be delighted by my offer but then she gives me the most disgruntled look which tells me that it wasn’t a good idea at all. She suddenly twisted two fingers into my temple, as if trying to key a door open. “Don’t even think about doing that. I’m perfectly fine running the snack bar myself; you go focus on your studies. Understood?” She scolds, widening her eyes at me until I could see the eyeball veins on the corners of her eyes.
Ugh, it’s easier said than done. I used to be pretty, it used to be easy for me to get help from people who liked me. Not that I did that on a daily, but it just sort of happened back in middle school. This one guy started lending me notes and answers to assignments and at first, I thought he was just being nice to a stupid person like me but then he kept doing it, giving me small favours here and there until the exams came. The real game changer. And he said … he was gonna help me with it if I went on a date with him.
And darn it, I passed that exam because I took the bait.
Then the next thing I know, I started accepting the same things from other guys out of desperation. I never really initiated it. I never offered it first. Sure, I wasn’t innocent but … it was just a very embarrassing phase that I never want to remember.
Now that I’m older and recalling those days … it was so pathetic that I went that low just to survive school and not disappoint my already unhappy parents if I had failing grades all the time. I’m stupid, what can I do? To make things worse, every single day, I had to deal with my parents fighting. There was never peace at home, and I remember having to put earphones on at night just to fall asleep. Imagine trying to finish an assignment or study for exams while hearing screams and things being thrown on the walls. It was chaos.
“My goodness, earth to Hanna? You’re gonna miss your bus.” My mother snapped her fingers in front of my face, finally awakening me from yet another daze.
“Oh, right.” I held onto my bag and rush to the front door. Before grabbing the doorknob, I turn to my mother one last time. “Mom, wish me luck!”
“Oh, you have a test today? Good luck, sweetie!”
No. I have a love letter to give … and feelings to offer.
Author's Note 2.0: Oh my god, is it me or is she so ing adorable???? It's so cute when she was imagining the flashback. At first I was just gonna do a regular flashback scene but since it's Wang Hanna who has a large imaginatin and daydreaming abilities (lol like me) it should be still in her POV and I was right, that was so cute and silly!