“Mr. Yoo, excuse me for interrupting your lesson. But may I just add an important detail to help everyone further appreciate this subject?”
My chemistry teacher is silent for a brief moment before finally raising an arm, signalling me to go on. I place my pen on top of my notebook before dropping my hand and standing up. All eyes on me, I clear my throat. “The word theory in Atomic Theory may confuse some people who colloquially define it as a guess. But scientifically, a theory is defined as a well-tested set of ideas that rationalizes incongruent observations. So, yes … atoms are real, Mr. Bang.” I look at my classmate who just attempted to debate with my teacher a few minutes ago—the same reason I decided to take a stand.
Also, our topic is way beyond simple atoms. Mr. Yoo just happens to have mentioned it, and Bang Woosung decided to nitpick such a trivial portion of the lesson and blow it out of proportion.
There was no debate to start with. Bang Woosung questioned the existence of atoms for the sake of being controversial. We’re the top class of senior high for crying out loud. He just wanted to make Mr. Yoo sweat a little because he is a newly hired teacher. He started yesterday.
“Yeah yeah, we get it, Einstein.” Woosung rolled his eyes at me, and his comment only pushed me to resume this stupid conversation.
Everyone, of course, started booing him and trying to stop him from picking a fight with me. It’s too late. He’s not that great with name-calling, not that witty. He just dug his own grave. Seeing as he so conveniently attempted to use that name against me, he’s not as smart as his grades make him look—as expected from his self-proclaimed intellect.
“Funny you mentioned him, did you know that atoms had been guessed by the twentieth century for a very long time but were never proven … until Albert Einstein mathematically proved it and settled this same debate for good? I expected you’d know that and wouldn’t so carelessly use his name in an attempt to mock me as I try to prove the same theory to you. Hm, interesting.” I tilt my head to one side as I wait for him to react.
He didn’t react. It shut him up once and for all.
“Okay, class. Quiet down. Mr. Do, thank you for that. And Mr. Bang, please refrain from any mockery in my class, alright? We are all learning here. Let’s move on with the lesson now, shall we?” Mr. Yoo eventually stops us before it gets worse. I politely give my teacher a bow before sitting on my chair again. My classmate who sat beside me, Taekhyung, pats me on the back. “Pretty cool, man. You saved Mr. Yoo’s from getting bullied for being a newbie.” He whisper-laughs.
Despite that I am surrounded by a decently intelligent group of people, I do not share the same values as some of them who always try to make it hard for the teachers. I don’t know why they have to waste their energy like that. We pay these professional people to relay information to us, we might as well let them do the job they get paid for.
Of course, I sort of understand it when the teacher isn’t as competent as one would want them to be but Mr. Yoo is just fine.
Obviously, Bang Woosung just has a lot of time on his hands.
When Mr. Yoo finished the discussion, he asked us to write a short essay about the new topic he just opened for today’s class. It doesn’t take me too long to write mine since I listened well and read the chapter beforehand, so I had the time to just sit and look out the window. Nothing to see out in the field right now, everyone’s in class. It’s kind of nice to see it empty and quiet. It’s a nice day today, not too bright and not too gloomy.
I like things simple like this.
For an intelligent person like me, it can be hectic to be in my head sometimes. Humans are too easy to read and too easy to influence. And when I do either one of them, I always find myself getting distant. What’s the point of trying things I know the outcome of? What’s the point of getting to know people when they’re too predictable already? So, things as simple as looking out the window can be so relaxing to me. The weather isn’t as predictable as people and scenarios are.
It’s nice when I don’t expect the temperature or the humidity. It’s nice when the field is sometimes greener than usual, or drier than usual. Some days, the sky looks blue while some days, it looks grey. And I wouldn’t know unless I make an effort to look it up on the internet or watch the daily news.
There’s also the option to pursue meteorology which is not my interest at all. And even the said profession requires extensive education, data analysis and observations.
Still less foreseeable than most things and people for me.
My thoughts are cut short by the lunch bell ringing and all the chairs screeching when my classmates all stood up to leave. I realize I haven’t submitted my essay, so I quickly stand up to approach the teacher’s desk. “Here’s my essay, Mr. Yoo.” I politely set it on the desk, stopping Mr. Yoo from collecting his materials into his bag.
“Oh, took you a while there, Mr. Do. Is everything okay?” He asked.
“Oh,” I smile a little. “No, actually, I’ve been done before everyone else was. I just zoned out a little bit while waiting. I apologize, Mr. Yoo.”
The man chuckled and placed a hand on my shoulder. “Oh, don’t worry about it. That happens. You’re a smart kid, Mr. Do.” He nods eagerly before dropping his hand off my shoulder. I can tell that he’s a little bit embarrassed. He probably wants to thank me for saving him from being mocked by Woosung earlier. In his defence, there really was no grounds for mockery at all but since he’s new, he could have been too nervous to be strict and already be disliked by his students.
“Welcome to Sunhwa High School. Mr. Yoo. Looking forward to learning more from you. See you tomorrow.” I bow one last time to formally welcome him for the first time before taking a leave. His embarrassed chuckle and goodbye assure me that he very much appreciated my welcome, including the, according to Taekhyung, -saving that I did.
As I step out of the classroom, a figure on my left catches my attention.
Oh. It’s her. It’s Wang Hanna, standing right there.
I did hear from my mother that they have moved closer again since Hanna’s father disappeared by choice and that she started coming to this school a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t seen them recently since I heard the news, but I guess her presence right now confirms it. It doesn’t interest me in any way, nor does it bother me at all. So, without making any sort of reaction, I just turn to my right and proceed to walk.
Since the field is quite empty today, I am thinking of grabbing my lunch and eating there. It’s the perfect weather to do that anyway. I might as well take it—
Presence. I feel a sheer presence behind me. Footsteps that are approximately two feet away. Too close and consistent to be a mere coincidence. I hesitantly turn my head to the left, just enough to get my peripheral vision working.
It’s her. She’s walking right behind me.
Well, it is lunch break. I am walking to the cafeteria and there’s a chance that she is going there too. No reason to worry at all. No reason to acknowledge her presence either. I can just pick a different route, I might as well go to the restroom first. I make a sharp turn to the right hallway that leads to the restrooms and I—
She’s still following me.
Okay. Perhaps, she’s also going to the restroom. There is no reason to panic. We are all equally entitled to use the restrooms whenever we need to. But perhaps, I don’t need to right now. So, never mind. I walk past the restrooms to keep going until I reach the stairs. I go down, and I notice my feet dragging me faster than I wanted to. I am not panicking, there is no reason to panic. It's just natural to wonder when someone is so in sync with your current destination especially when they're a little bit too close to your liking—
WHY is she’s still there? WHY is she still behind me? WHY is she also taking the stairs?
Same distance. Two feet away.
This is getting a little … unclear to me now. I am not comfortable with it. And I’m not even sure why. I keep going until I reach the end of the stairs. Ground floor. It will be a big detour to the cafeteria, but I could use some steps anyway. I walk across the hall since the cafeteria is at the other end.
Wang Hanna. Still there. Making the same detour as mine.
When I could no longer take it, I eventually make a stop. I feel the two feet distance get smaller for a good three seconds due to my sudden halt and I am certain she almost shrieked in panic, the subtlest sound slipping out of , and finally, I confirm that her presence was, in fact, for me.
Not for the cafeteria.
Not for the restroom.
But for me.
I stay still as I let the crowd avoid the little bubble that I have been unwillingly sharing with her. With a tight jaw, I turn around to face her and despite the careful and slow movement I make, she jumps in fear. I tilt my head to one side as I try to catch her gaze, but she avoids it rather unswervingly. She’s the one creeping and she has the nerve to look nervous and scared right now? I should be the one fearing for my safety here.
“May I help you?” I ask sharply.
I let all the other students look as they pass by. I just want to get this over with. If she needs something from me, most likely relating to our mothers, she better tell me fast because I don’t need people starting up rumours about us.
There is nothing to talk about. We’re not related.
Our families are friends but that doesn’t make us anything. Besides, if she thinks she’ll get me like the rest of her pathetic minions who’d do anything for her incompetent mind just because we go to the same school now … she’s terribly mistaken.
Still, with her head lowered, she slowly revealed her hands that have been hidden behind her all this time. Slowly stretching her arms in my direction, my eyes travel to the yellow floral envelope that is now parallel to my line of vision.
On the envelope, it says ‘To: Do Kyungsoo’ and beside it is a doodle of a heart with a face and a pair of glasses.
When I realize what is happening (or what is about to happen) in front of me, my mind goes blank for an incredible amount of time. I hear whisperings, gasps, and laughter around me but they were slightly muted and all I could hear is the buzzing reaction in my brain.
What the heck is happening right now? I feel like I’m suddenly stuck in a parallel universe where everything spiralling, and timing is in a constant state of chaos.
“Oh my god, is she confessing her love?”
“Isn’t she the new girl from Class F? Oh my god, she has some nerve!”
“She’s obviously new, she doesn’t know she’s about to get turned down real hard.”
“Does Kyungsoo know she’s from Class F? I already feel bad for her.”
“He’s gotten so many confessions but never someone from the stupidest class before. I want to see this unfold!”
Wang Hanna has her eyes closed tightly but she keeps her arms raised to show me the envelope. If she’s waiting for me to take it then she’s gonna have to live here, right on this stop, for the rest of her life. Because that is never going to happen. She should be giving up by now, with all of these people whispering around us.
To my surprise, she finally started talking. “Do Kyungsoo, it took me a very long time to get the courage to tell you that I like you very much. Please accept my feelings … and this love letter.”
It’s been a while since I last heard her voice. I believe the last time I saw her was about a year and a half ago when her mom took her along for my brother’s tenth birthday. In the last five years, as we grew older, our moms stopped taking us along whenever they’d see each other. Except for some rare occasions, including that specific day.
And hearing her voice now and having her in front of me this close made me realize how long ago that was.
I used to have feelings for her, feelings that I ultimately lost in a matter of minutes. I presume they were nothing but a fleeting curiosity because of my raging hormones and a more forgiving judgment as a fourteen-year-old male. But that fleeting curiosity that lasted for about a year quickly died. In fact, it died so quickly, that I didn’t even have to bury it anywhere. It just disintegrated right before my eyes, as she manipulated those losers to benefit her education.
If she thinks she can do her unfair trading business on this campus, she’s very wrong.
I put both hands in my pocket and raise my chin higher. Then, I finally ask her, “What is your cumulative GPA from your previous school?”
The envelope finally left my line of sight when she dropped her arms, her face quickly losing colour as if she wasn’t blushing madly two seconds ago. That was easy. Slowly but surely, I get all of my confidence back. Not that I’ve really lost it in the first place, but I do admit that she had caught me off guard the moment I realize she was following me.
“Uhm,” She makes a shaky sound but does not answer.
“Uhm what?” I mimic her, lowering my gaze more and raising my eyebrow to show her that I am still waiting to get an answer. When more seconds passed, I give up waiting. “I’ll make it easier for you. You’re from Class F, as your nameplate says, Miss Wang. That’s already the answer, isn’t it?”
She finally looks up at me with a defensive expression and opens to say something, but I stop her right away. I lift a hand, my palm facing her. “Don't you have anything better to do with your life? Like studying, for example?” Without waiting for her to answer anymore, I turn around in my original direction and proceed to walk to my destination.
I look at my watch and sigh.
She just wasted seven minutes of my lunch break.
Author's Note: Kyungsoo's savage and cold-hearted as , and unknowingly petty? Cause come the on, he used to like her and he ALMOST confessed to her before too. THIS IS JUST FUN.
Also, whoever advertised myself today, thank you so much! I was so confused because I was sure I DID advertize it myself the other day and then today I saw it advertised again?? HAHAHA Thank youuuuu <3 I really appreciate it!