“Then why?” Minjeong says, broken, “why did you still leave me?”
Jimin liked to think of herself as someone who lives with no regrets. And in this life, so far, she’s only ever had one. At the moment it seemed like her only choice. She wasn’t the type of person to make irrational decisions out of impulse. No, Jimin thought it through. Every pro, every con. Every outcome, every side, corner, whatever it may be. She thought it through, and still made that decision to leave because Jimin was desperate to give Minjeong what she wanted. What she worked hard for.
Even if Jimin had to sacrifice giving all of herself to Minjeong in the way Minjeong would have preferred. That was Jimin’s way of giving Minjeong her all.
And till this day, Jimin doesn’t really know if she does regret her decision. Maybe she would have done it differently, but Jimin thinks that every scenario that she played out in her head would have had the same ending.
So, maybe Jimin still lived a life with no regrets.
Or maybe Jimin is just lucky enough to make up for it and remain impenitent.
Minjeong was here.
Jimin could see how much she’s grown, how far she’s come with the dreams she wanted to achieve.
So when Minjeong asks her why?
Why did she leave?
Jimin’s answer is simple.
“Because I love you.”
It’s the truth. No matter how ridiculous and vague it was, everything that has urged Jimin to make her decision was all because she was just a young teenager that was hopelessly and completely in love with Kim Minjeong.
“You have to give me more than that.” Minjeong says once they’re between their apartment doors at the end of the hall. This was where they usually parted once the day ended. Jimin would smile at her and tell Minjeong to sleep well, and she would settle for giving Minjeong a soft kiss on the forehead.
“I’m still confused, Jimin.” Minjeong says with glassy eyes and a trembling bottom lip.
Jimin takes Minjeong’s hand in hers, and softly nods. She raises their hands and places gentle kisses on Minjeong’s knuckles to soothe her.
“Okay, my love.” Jimin whispers, “let’s talk inside.”
She leads Minjeong into her apartment after unlocking it. Jimin takes Minjeong’s bag from her shoulder and places both of their belongings on the couch, before leading the both of them to sit.
“How do you feel?” Jimin asks her first.
“No, Jimin—,” Minjeong’s eyes close in frustration, “I just need to know.”
“I don’t want to overwhelm you.” Jimin tells her, “we’ve just spent the past two hours in therapy, and I know being in that environment isn’t something that’s easy for you—,”
“Just tell me!” Minjeong’s voice rises out of frustration. Weeks ago, Minjeong was wary, tiptoeing around this conversation even though they should’ve had it sooner than now. Minjeong doesn’t understand her own emotions either, but she was trying to figure them out.
Jimin doesn’t seem phased by her outburst. Her eyebrow twitches and she blinks patiently at Minjeong.
“I’m sorry.” Minjeong says, regretful. “I’m a mess.”
“I wanted you to be happy.” Jimin says after a beat. “I wanted you to live lightly. I wanted you to live without such heavy shoulders. Because even if I helped you carry all that pressure you had put on yourself, you still tried to hold everything in your hands. Because that’s the kind of person you are.”
Minjeong’s eyebrows furrow. “What?”
“That’s the best way I can explain it, Minjeong. Everything I did was because I loved you, and because I wanted you to be happy.” Jimin’s eyes were downcast, but she didn’t feel shame or regret.
“I was happy with you.” Minjeong rebuttals.
Jimin sighs, “Minjeong—,”
“You made a decision about our relationship by yourself. You made an assumption.” Jimin can see the disbelief on Minjeong’s face.
“It wasn’t an assumption, Minjeong. It was what’s best for you.”
Minjeong takes her hand away from Jimin, and her heart cracks just a little. “You don’t get to decide what’s best for me. I do that. I decide that for myself. I wouldn’t have ever thought to myself that what’s best for me, is to live a life that didn’t include you in it.”
Jimin’s heart breaks even more.
“I was holding you back from everything that you constantly worked hard for.”
“That’s an assumption!” Minjeong stands from the couch, tears stray from her eyes and down her cheeks.
“No, it wasn’t. It was the truth.” Jimin responds, voice calm. She had to be. If she matched Minjeong’s frustration, this conversation wouldn’t have ended well nor be productive.
“You worked so hard to make your parents proud, but they would have never felt any pride for you because you were in love with someone like me. You were perfect in every sense. Grades, goals, motivation, everything. But they couldn’t feel pride for you because I was next to you for all of your accomplishments. I… wasn’t good enough. I worked hard too. I got the same grades, the same drive, and made goals that I wanted to achieve. But my status, it didn’t live up to what your parents wanted for you. I wasn’t good enough.”
Minjeong’s frown deepens. “Since when did you care about what my parents thought?”
“I didn’t. Not until I saw just how much it mattered to you. I didn’t, until I realized just how much it affected you. It broke me to see how their meaningless opinions took a toll on you.” Jimin’s bottom lip starts to tremble as she looks at a crying Minjeong. “I couldn’t just watch you do that to yourself, my love. I had to do something.”
Minjeong shakes her head. “You’re right. I was desperate to make my parents proud. It hurt me when they would belittle my efforts and my hard work. But… the one thing, the one part of my life that I didn’t allow my parents words to hinder was… you. They said things to my face about you, but I always defended you. Because they didn’t know you. I knew who you were to me, how you were to me, what you meant to me. And not even them, not even they could change how I felt about you.”
Jimin has never doubted Minjeong’s love for her. She’s never second guessed their love for each other. Ever.
“You told me that all you’ve ever wanted was to hear your parents tell you that they were proud of you.” Jimin says quietly, “your dad… asked to meet with me one night.”
Minjeong’s eyes snap up to meet Jimin’s gaze in surprise. “What?”
“He wanted me to leave you.” Jimin’s hand comes up to run over her face, wiping away any stray tears. “He threatened to sabotage my school record, my scholarships, my chances of getting into college, and everything that I wanted to achieve.”
Shock instilled in Minjeong’s body, tensing her up as Jimin continued to speak.
“I was curious. I asked why he despised me so much for you. Why couldn't he be proud of you after everything you’ve accomplished..” Jimin’s sigh is heavy, “and he said it was because you were in love with someone like me.”
Minjeong’s eyes close as she cries harder.
“In any other situation, my love, I would have given everything up for you. I didn’t need to go to Harvard. I didn’t need to keep going to a prestigious high school.” Jimin stands up and takes a few steps to meet Minjeong, “in another life where your heart had been fine, I would have given everything up with no second thought. But in this life, the love of my life was given a heart that needed a little more caring and attention. No one had come up with a solution, so my dream… My goal in life was to come up with a solution to save you. I was desperate too, Minjeong.”
Jimin’s hands rise to cradle Minjeong’s face in her hands.
“You made a decision on your own to give up on us. To hurt us.” Minjeong whispers with hurt, coating her words.
“I didn’t want to share the burden.” Jimin swipes her thumb over the plump of Minjeong’s cheek. “I did it because I loved you. I wanted you to be happy.”
“I was happy.” Minjeong’s hands cover Jimin’s that cradle her face, lowering it and taking a step back.
“No, you weren’t.” Jimin disagrees.
“Those were my emotions, Jimin, and I’m telling you that I was happy.”
“No. You weren’t.” Jimin says again.
“Yes, I was—,”
“No, you weren’t!” Jimin’s voice rises, “You weren’t happy and I had to see it everyday. Your shoulders were