[Population] Ashgate: 920 || ARA: 92]

Welcome to Ashgate
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Thank you to those you enjoyed CHP1! I hope youenjoy CH2 as well!

[Goodmorning Ashgate]

It was good waking up in a small town. That was what Bora thought until she remembered the nightmare she had from reading Nurse Jane’s diary. She rolled off the side of the bed and glanced at her phone, the numbers 7:22 flashing straight into her eyeballs.

Bora was used to having to work in shifts, having to adapt her body to weird timings. However, since the scandal happened, she had been waking up at 7 am every morning to check the news.

“You’re just anxious, noona,” Baekhyun told her once. “I know you’re a thinker, and I know you’re not as emotional as others—or anyone, really. But it’s hard not to be stressed when the world thinks you’ve allowed the death of nine others to happen.”

Bora dragged her thoughts away from Baekhyun to Nurse Jane’s diary. In her dream last night, she was running through the streets of Ashgate barefoot. She had never felt so alone in her head before.

“It’s alright, Bora,” she whispered to herself, her eyes on the ceiling. “There is more to the world we have yet to explore.”

With that, Bora stood up and began to get started on her day.

Ashgate was beginning to come alive, and even if she received a few stares from the locals, she got smiles back from a few friendly ones. She opened up the clinic, wrote a sign with her name on it, and pasted it on the front of the door.

She knew she wouldn’t have any local town patients until ten am, starting from the list provided by Dr. Eldridge. Two pm was when she’d have to start heading off to the academy—Bora made a note to ask someone how to reach there. She sent an email to Dr. Eldridge to tell him that she was awake and to let her know if there would be any changes through out the day.

She stepped out, smiling softly to herself to welcome the new day when she felt an impact of wheels ramming against her leg.

“Woah, woah!” Jisung yelped, struggling to control his bike. “Woah, Nurse Bora!”

Bora grabbed his bike, stabilizing it until he was able to plant his two feet onto the ground. Giving her a guilty smile that disappeared when she reached up to pat his head, Jisung chirped out a morning greeting.

“Your first day at Ashgate, Nurse Bora. I hope you enjoy your stay here.” He huffed. “Jaemin hyung told me that as the town’s designated tour guide who has taken his spot because he’s going to take his entrance exams, I must not disappoint.”

Bora laughed softly. “I can assure you that you did not.”

“I’m glad I didn’t. School starts at eight, but I woke up early to see what you’re up to.”

“You took a risk, Jisung. What if I wasn’t awake yet?”

“My noona said life is a risk and if I want to succeed, risks are what I should take.” Jisung grinned, his cheeks puffing out. “Do you want to come to school with me, Nurse Bora? The first day of work should be all about introductions.” Jisung paused before he added. “My noona said.”

Wondering who his noona was, and why he was quoting her so much, Bora gave a nod. Her response elicited an excited whoop, Bora asking how Jisung usually went to school.

“I ride my bike.” He patted on the seat behind the rider. “Come, Nurse Bora. Get on!”

“Oh, Jisung.” Bora eyed the bicycle warily. She noticed that it was a different bike. This one was bigger and Jisung seemed unaccustomed to the size. “Are you sure? You can just tell me where the school is, and I’ll walk there. I have time.”

An insistent grunt and a firm shake of his head, Jisung told her that his noona bought him a new bike and he wanted to show everyone he could ride it and that it was his. Bora understood what the kid wanted, so she decided to give it a try.

It took three tries of failure at Jisung trying to ride the bike with Bora sitting behind him. Bora the suggested that she should ride the bike and Jisung should sit behind her. Everyone would know that it’s his bike, anyway.

His bike had the name “JISUNG” on the basket. Much to her relief, he agreed. It wasn’t long before she was bringing him through town while people opened their shops and left their houses.

“Hi Wilbur!” Jisung yelled out, Bora turning to see the town drunk wave a small hand at Jisung, smiling brightly. “Start your day off with tea and not whiskey!”

“I’ll try, Jisung,” he said back.

Through the main street of Ashgate, people were waving at Jisung. She noticed a small run down pawn shop right beside the elderly home, the bike bringing them where Jisung was directing them.

“Wow, Nurse Bora. You’re a really good bike rider,” Jisung complimented.

“Thank you, Jisung.”

Arriving to Ashgate middle school, she saw that a few kids had already arrived. Some of them were playing basketball, some were skipping stones in a lake right by the school, and some were huddled beside the basketball court. 

“That group plays marbles,” Jisung told her, pointing at the group that were huddled and kept to themselves. “They are the cool ones.”

“Are they?” Bora asked, both walking towards the school. Jisung took her hand with his right, his left hand going to grab his bagpack strap. “Are you friends with them?”

“No, Nurse Bora.” Jisung looked troubled. “I would never be as cool as them.”

“Why not? I think you’re cool.” Bora watched as Jisung gave her a sweet smile.

“Nurse Jane thought I was cool, too.” Jisung’s head dropped. “They think I’m too nice. They think that to be cool, they should be mean. Also… They have the coolest marbles. Some of them have flowers inside. Some are glittery.”

Bora watched as the kids let out a cheer, indicating that one of them won the marble game.

“I asked my noona for marbles, but she got me the normal uns.” Jisung dug into his pocket to show Bora. They were normal ones, alright. They were the transparent ones with one line down the middle. “I don’t want to show them that I have the normal uns.”

“Why didn’t your noona buy you the cool ones?” Bora asked, Jisung shrugging.

“My noona… My noona doesn’t understand what’s cool. My noona doesn’t care about these things. She’s becoming a lawyer soon. She thinks that worrying about whether people like you or caring about what other people have is….” Jisung squinted is eyes as if he was trying to remember the word. “Super something.”

“Superficial?” Bora asked, Jisung snapping his fingers. But Jisung was a kid, Bora thought. Of course he cared about kid things. “Your noona is correct, Jisung. But sometimes it’s good to enjoy things that kids enjoy, too.”

Jisung looked offended. “I’m not a kid.”

Bora blinked. “I’m not saying you are. But… When I was eleven, I liked to play jump rope. I’m almost thirty now. I don’t enjoy playing jump rope anymore. Sometimes I look back at think that maybe I should have enjoyed those times a little bit more.”

Jisung nodded, looking up at her and smiling. “I like meeting people.”

“Then meet people,” Bora replied. “We only live one age once, kiddo. Something might happen that will make you not want to meet people when you get older. Or maybe you’ll want to meet more people.”

“I like that,” Jisung said, beaming. “I wish I’ll meet more people.”

They walked closer; a woman stood by the front door of the middle school. In her hand, she was holding a book. Her beige skirt was so long, it reached her ankles. Her top was a formal white shirt that had two buttons undone. She pulled off the ‘middle school teacher in a small town’ look  very well.

“Teacher Harin!” Jisung yelled, the female giving him a sweet smile. “Teacher Harin, you look so beautiful today!”

Bora smiled, noticing that Jisung might have a small crush on this teacher. The teacher thanked him, Jisung’s grip leaving Bora as he pounced towards her with shining eyes. After small pep talk, the teacher looked up and gave Bora a small bow.

“Nurse Bora,” she said to show that she knew Bora. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you after seeing your name on the towns board. I’m Harin.”

“You can just call me Bora,” Bora replied, but she shook her head.

“May I ask of your… age?” Harin feared offending Bora but when Bora gave her a reassuring smile paired with an answer, Harin gave her a suggestion. “How about Bora unnie? You’re way older than me—Not saying twenty-nine is old, but….”

“Bora unnie sounds great,” Bora answered. “Is this Jisung’s classroom?”

“Oh yes, uhm. Come in, unnie. I’ll show you the classrooms. Teacher Minseok is the headmaster for Ashgate Middle and Highschool. He is thinking of putting up a lowerschool. Until now, younger kids of Ashgate are homeschool until they’re 9 years old.” Harin lifted up a graceful hand to show Bora which classrooms were Grade 4 to Grade 7.

“Our Jisung here is in Grade 5.”

“I just turned eleven two full moons ago,” Jisung replied. “Teacher Harin said that if I speak like Shakespeare, I may become one.”

“Jisung absorbs information all the time,” Harin lowered her voice to Bora. “But I’m sure he’ll become a diplomat or some sort. Nurse Jane thought so too.”

“I agree,” Bora replied, Harin winking at her. “That being said, Harin…”

Harin nodded, turning to her and anticipating the question.

“How was Nurse Jane? I’m asking to know whose shoes I have to fill in.”

Harin frowned, letting out a hum. “She was great, really. I’m sure you don’t have to worry, unnie. She was good with the kids and did her job and all.”

“Was she like… Uhm, did she show any signs of being depressed or ill or—”

“Oh, not at all.” Harin glanced out at Jisung who was frolicking around the empty classroom and playing with a few puppets that Harin had put on the table. “Uh, if anything she was always very kind. She was a bit worried sometimes about the students who were sent to the reform school.”

“Really? What was she worried about?”

“The same thing I’m worried about, unnie. I think the academy has a top-notch disciplinary curriculum. Can’t blame them… There weren’t many students until Headmaster Siwon changed the curriculum two months ago.”

“So it was only locals until two months ago?”

Harin nodded. “But I guess if you identify as a reform school, you need to be able to give them that tough love. I guess since Nurse Jane was from Shaire she thought ARA’s tough love was too tough.”

Bora thought that maybe that could be the case. It still did not justify what she wrote in her diary. She watched Harin interact with Jisung for a while, smiling at how smitten Jisung was with Harin.

She didn’t blame him. Harin looked like a approachable sweet girl next door. Harin later told her that she’d show Bora around. She was taken to the cafeteria. Harin pointed out the window at one point to tell her that the building a mile away was the Ashgate Highschool.

Bora looked out to see that it was just a building identical to Ashgate Middle School. Students in that building were older and louder.

“Teenagers, am I right?” Harin asked, chuckling.After a full tour of the middle school, Jisung put his bag on his desk. Harin shook her head, Jisung giving her a puppy look.

“Definitely not, Jisung. You are not staying here during assembly.” Harin placed her hands on her lips. “You’ll go out and hang out with the rest of the students.”

“No, but Teacher Harin…” Jisung whined. However, Harin was stern enough to make him hang his head low and comply. When Jisung was out of the earshot, Harin turned to Bora.

“He’s being bullied by some of the students. I told him to stand up for himself.” Harin told Bora how Jisung was bullied by his peers just because everyone loved him in town. “You know how kids are, unnie.”

Bora stayed till assembly was over, noticing a few kids kicking Jisung’s shin as he stood in line. Jisung remained quiet unlike the happy cheerful child she met. When another bell sounded that school was beginning to start, she managed to catch Jisung in time before he slipped through the crowd.

“Jisung,” she said, Jisung giving her a small smile that was filled with a heavy heart. “Mhmm, I might need help in a few days. Can you come see me at the clinic?”

Jisung’s eyes lit up, the male nodding. “Are we going to shave a few dogs?”

Bora blinked. “Uh, yeah. Sure. If that’s what you want.”

“That’s great! I can’t wait, Nurse Bora. Thank you!” With that, he gave her a tight hug before hopping away.

Bora couldn’t help but smile. In a small town of Ashgate, she guessed that there were small things to look forward to.

She couldn’t remember the last time she looked forward to something—so for her to look forward to a day ahead made Bora think that maybe Ashgate was the right decision.

She would realize sooner or later that maybe it wasn’t.

"Ashgate Middle School - Jisung's Bicycle"

 

“What do you mean you want me to buy ‘cool marbles’?” Baekhyun’s voice on the phone asked as Bora walked back towards town. “What even is a ‘cool marble’?”

“Marbles that are cool,” Bora replied, Baekhyun letting out a strangled noise to show how frustrated he was. “Baek, remember when we were younger? You wanted that pricey lego set that all your friends had. We couldn’t buy it, remember? Because we were poor?”

Baekhyun stayed silent and Bora knew she hit a spot.

“Remember how happy it made you when I got a part time job and bought it for you?” She asked, and Baekhyun gave out an ‘ahuh’. “Sometimes we don’t understand why it’s so important until we experience it ourselves.”

“Who is this Jisung and is he stealing you away from me?” Baekhyun demanded.

“Baek… No one is stealing me away from you.” Bora smiled, shoving her hands into the pocket of her jeans.

“Fine.” Baekhyun sighed. “What kind of marbles does he want? And don’t say a ‘cool marble’ because then I’m going to buy every marble that isn’t transparent and has a line down the middle. I remember that being the most generic marble ever.”

“Thank you, Baek,” Bora said. “I’ll buy you the newest updated lego set when I get back—”

The sound of a horn made Bora jump, almost dropping her phone to the ground. She looked to the side to see a black car that did not blend into the town of Ashgate. The window rolled down and when Bora saw who it was, she quickly big Baekhyun goodbye.

“I’m sorry,” the male at the driver’s seat apologized. “I didn’t see that you were on the phone.”

She shook her head, Matthew Lee asking if he could give her a ride.

“I’m going back to center town,” Matthew told her. “I just dropped my little brother off at his high school.”

When Bora climbed into his front seat, she saw that he had a picture of him and his little brother pasted right in front. Matthew must have seen her gaze, the male bringing his eyes back onto the road.

“That’s Mark,” he told her. “He’s thirteen years younger than me.”

“I have a younger brother too. Four years younger.” Bora studied the photo. “He looks a lot like you.”

“I’d like to think I got the brains and he got the looks.”

“I’d disagree, but I’m sure I’ll have to meet Mark first.”

Matthew let out a laugh, the car going down a slope. “Where are you headed? The clinic? I haven’t seen Dr. Eldridge in a while. I want to pay him a visit. It’s been a year since I’ve seen him. Last I talked to him, Mrs. Do at the elderly home had a problem with her dementia.”

“Oh… Dr.Eldridge doesn’t say at the clinic. He stays at the academy.” Bora watched as Matthew took a careful turn.

“Aera told me that. This morning… over a cup of free Ashgate coffee. Weird,” Matthew murmured. “The Dr. Eldridge I know would always go to see his patients. Aera told me that he doesn’t even come by anymore. Strange, since he’s always been such a people person.”

“Mhm…” Bora murmured, thinking of Nurse Jane’s journal. “So you’ve never met Nurse Jane before?”

“No. I left a year ago for Oxford to get my PhD. I think Nurse Jane came two weeks ago when Dr. Eldridge hired her after he came back from his vacation to take care of the towns people and since the academy had an increase of student registrations, he had to get some back up.” Matthew gave the car a small brake. “Aera told me. Also seems like ARA has been stealing all of my patients. Not that I’m complaining.”

“Seems like you are,” Bora teased.

Matthew gave her feigned look that was masked by offense. “Only thing I’m offended by is that rap my brother wrote about me. Apparently, I’m the ‘Older brother on the block. The one who didn’t

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mandalee
Beeen so busy! Had this in drafts for far too long! Don't be a silent reader -- Upvote, Subscribe, and Comment! (Hopefully), see you soon :)

Comments

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Nicole121314 #1
Chapter 11: Baekhyun missing or just went to some adventure of his own haha...
suholeadernim #2
Chapter 11: I wish you continue this ;(
Sharo001
779 streak #3
Chapter 10: I loved the end! Mathew and Bora made a lovely little family with the boys. Now, I am invested in what exactly that marble will turn out to be and how it involves Sehun. I’m hoping you will decide to write it at some point. In the meantime, I am getting ready to start your new story. I am also enjoying ‘I’m Here for You, Always,’ your plots are always so interesting.
Myzurah
#4
Chapter 11: Would this really the last, or there will be another bonus chapter about what happened to Baek?
Lucasfatboy
#5
Chapter 11: Last chapter 🥹🥹
findingalaska #6
Chapter 11: T__T So its discontinued! Really! Thank you for giviing us such a good story but istg, whyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Elderwise sounds like sth i would read! Sending love. xoxox
leetakashi
#7
Chapter 11: I’m mad this is discontinued because LJ is so funny. I like how his issues are about fitting in Aether and battling “complex” emotions regarding Bora. It’s so cute how he calls her “mum”! Matthew being salty is so funny, he now reminds me of The Bracelet Club the more dorky he is. Thank you for such a wonderful story, I hope Baekhyun is safe in Elderwise even if it’s something that we may not get to read.
Myzurah
#8
Chapter 10: For sure, you won't ever disappoint with your fantasy themed stories. I would make all your stories into a movie/series if I'm a producer hahahhha.
silverfixofweed
#9
Chapter 10: I'm so happy that L.J finally got a home! Ashgate was prolly the most traumatic for everyone D:D. Oh Sehun is a new character now? I dint expect anything more, but if there is, count me in! The twins are hilarious NanaxJaemin JenoxL.J. Why is Nana calling L.J babes? XD that is funny. This story was more serious than the rest bt you did the fantasy tag justice <3 feels so unfinished in a way :(
somnambulis #10
Chapter 10: oooooohhhhh oh sehun's name came out