I'm Here For You
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               “…which, of course, meant that I…”

               How was Jimin doing? She hopefully wasn’t making too much trouble for the babysitter.

               “…but when I said that, he acted all self-important…”

               Should I get this boxed? Jimin loves chicken parmesan pasta, she’d probably be delighted to have this for lunch tomorrow. In fact, there’s probably enough for both of us, meaning one less thing to worry about.

               “…but he didn’t know that I was—um, are you ok?”

               “Hm?” I snapped out of my thoughts, smiling at the woman sitting opposite me. “Yeah, of course!”

               “Sorry, was I boring you with my story?”

               “No!” Internally, I smacked myself. Why was I zoning out again? “I was just—um, thinking about something.”

               I offered an apologetic smile, but I could tell the date was already falling apart. “I see.” I internally cursed at myself. Why did I have to make it so hard on my dates? It wasn’t fair to them. “Are you already done with your pasta?”

               “I think so.”

               “Really? But look how skinny you are! You should eat more; I heard the desserts here are to die for.”

               “Oh, really?”

               I really was trying. It wasn’t my intention to reply with a tone so devoid of emotion that she made a face. “But I guess if you can’t finish that, you don’t have room for dessert, do you?”

               “Sorry, I didn’t mean—” I couldn’t just tell her that I was simply full. How could I salvage this? “—I had a bad experience with an Italian restaurant serving dessert to me, and from then on, I don’t really trust them anymore. But, I swear, I usually have a second stomach for desserts.”

               The fake smile, the fake laugh, the fake anecdote, even the fake tidbit about myself … all of it was exhausting. But I had no other choice; the normal me was boring beyond belief and awkward beyond comprehension.  Who would want to associate with someone like the maskless, , vulnerable me?

               It was only after we had begun to go our separate ways that I realized my date was beginning to outstretch her arms for a hug—but wasn’t it too late already? How awkward would it be if I sheepishly turned around, went back, and hugged her? But wouldn’t it be worse if I just ignored her?

               No, I couldn’t end it like this. Not again. She seemed so nice, too. I needed to swallow my pride and anxiety and any semblance of awkwardness. She deserved better.

               “Um.” Watching the woman’s auburn hair whirl around along with the rest of her body caused a sense of dread that diverted my eyes. “I—” what kind of an apology was this, with me staring at the ground like some antisocial loser? “—I’m sorry. For tonight. I, um, really did have a great time, though.”

               Just as quickly as I called out to her, so too did I turn back around and half-walk, half-run off, all the way back to the car I had parked in a nearby parking garage.

               Stupid, dumb Taeyeon. Apologies, sincere apologies, were said while looking into another’s eyes. They were also spoken with an open heart, not with that lie that I, for some reason, found necessary to inject in at the end. Why was I so insincere with everyone? What was wrong with me?

               The entire car ride home, I could think of nothing but that. Another failed date, huh? What was this, five? What would I even tell Kibum?

               Unlocking the door to my apartment and taking my shoes off at the entrance, it wasn’t until I put on my slippers that the babysitter showed up at the door. “Hi Joohyun, how was Jimin?”

               “Oh, she was great! We did some vocab and watched some TV; she even ate all her carrots for dinner today. She went to bed an hour ago, and I checked just a few minutes ago to make sure she was asleep.”

               “Fantastic!” I could feel myself cringing at the enthusiasm I injected my voice with, but showed no signs of it on my face. “Thank you so much for looking after her again today.”

               “No problem! How was the date, if I may ask, Mrs. Kim?”

               “It was superb. I wouldn’t be surprised—” No. How many times have I said almost the exact same things to her? Yet here she was, coming over to babysit my Jimin time after time.

               “Oh, really?” I could tell—it wasn’t that Joohyun was naïve, it was that she was a kind young lady who simply played along, not questioning the reasons behind why I lied to her so often. “Well, I’m glad to hear that, Mrs. Kim!”

               “Thank you, Joohyun. I’ll wire you the babysitting fee tomorrow, ok?”

               She nodded gratefully. “Thank you! Well, I’ll be off for tonight—”

               “It’s so late, do you want me to drive you home?”

               “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly bother you with such a request, Mrs. Kim.”

               “It’s not a problem. It’s dangerous for pretty young girls like you to be walking around so late at night.” I wasn’t sure if she resisted due to a learned politeness or because she didn’t want to be with me for another second. “Take it as part of my apology for taking so long to come home.”

               “Oh. Well, if you’re ok with it, then I’ll take you up on your offer, Mrs. Kim.”

               Other than the occasional questions about her studies, the car ride was silent. When I returned back to the apartment, I pulled out a beer from the refrigerator and plopped down on the sofa in the lightless living room, absent-mindedly staring at the blank TV screen.

               What would she say? How would she scorn me for my rude behavior towards my date today? What of the promise I made to her?

               Not halfway into the can, I stood back up, stealthily peeking into Jimin’s room. Sure enough, her sleeping frame, hidden mostly by a sky-blue blanket, laid atop the twin-sized mattress. A smile sprouted on my face, slowly closing the door behind me and walking to the bedside.

               “I’m sorry angel, you’re going to have to wait before you can meet your other mommy,” I whispered, leaning forward, brushing the bangs away from her forehead and planting a kiss there.

               The action stirred her awake, a light groan coming out of her pursed lips. “Mommy?”

               “I’m sorry angel, did I wake you up?”

               Her eyes opened, face turning towards me, a disgruntled smile spreading across her lips. “How was your date, mommy?”

               Laughter erupted from my lips. “Is Jiminie worried about mommy?” She unabashedly nodded, my laughter growing at the direct nature of my daughter. “The date went well, princess.”

               Almost immediately, her lips curled into a frown. “Mommy is lying.”

               In the second that it took to gather my thoughts, the concerned expression on her little face was ultimately what caused me to sigh and say, “You’re right. I’m sorry, honey; the date didn’t go well. Mommy messed up again.”

               “It’s ok mommy, she just doesn’t understand you. She’s not your soulmate.”

               “Hm? Where did you learn that word?”

               “From ‘Joey and Kim Versus the World’!”

               That must’ve been the TV show Joohyun was talking about—the one that caught Jimin’s attention because ‘it has mommy’s name in it!’ “I’m sorry, Jiminie. Mommy is terrible at dates.”

               “It’s ok, mommy.”

               Feeling her tiny hand patting my head, I felt my heart melting on the spot. A smile formed on my lips, my head turning up to look at her. “Go back to sleep, ok? It’s late.”

               After tucking her back in and watching her fall back asleep, I quietly exited the room, returning to my spot in the living room, grabbing the half-finished can of beer, dumping the rest of the contents into my throat, and leaning against the cushiony back of the sofa.


               “Um—” She was actually here … now what? I didn’t even know what kinds of movies she liked. Why did I even invite her here? “—did you have a movie you wanted to watch?”

               Tiffany plopped down on the sofa next to me, but the proximity at which she did so caused me to jump. Was that intentional, sitting so close to me that her leg was pressing against mine?

               I stared at it with a red face, not realizing Tiffany was scrolling through the options on Netflix until she asked, “What type of movie do you like?”

               “Um, rom-com, that kind of stuff. I know this sounds cheesy, but basically, chick flicks.”

               “Hm…” she mused, going back to the home page and scrolling to that section. However, she stopped short of reaching that section. “You didn’t really strike me as a chick flick type of girl.”

               “Oh.” What did she mean by that? “Um…”

               “If I were to guess, you like action and thrillers more.”

               “Ah—” How did she know?

               “You know how I know?” I turned to see Tiffany’s grinning face. “I saw your face light up when this movie popped up,” she said, hovering over a spy-thriller movie whose trailer caught my attention.

               “Um…” Was I supposed to admit that she was right? But wouldn’t she hate me for lying? “I don’t—”

               “Actually, I think I saw the trailer for this movie. I sorta wanna watch it, how about you?”

               There was something about the smile she directed at me that caused me to nod. Her inviting gaze, her warm facial expression, her unquestioning smile, it felt all but inevitable that my mask slid off.

               She clicked play and leaned back. I followed her lead, jumping again when I felt her arm intertwining with mine.

               “You know,” she said with a giggle, “for someone who asked if I wanted to come watch a movie at her house, you’re awfully jumpy.”

               “What? What do you mean?”

               “I mean, the only thing missing from when you asked me to hang out was saying ‘Netflix and Chill’.”

               Realizing what she meant, I felt my face explode in a fiery burst of red. “Oh, I didn’t—I mean, I wasn’t—It didn’t, I mean, I wasn’t, I didn’t—”

               “I know,” she said, stopping my idiotic stammering dead in its tracks, “that’s the reason why I agreed to come. Although…” Seeing my brain short-circuit caused Tiffany to explode with a fit of giggles. “I’m just kidding, Taeyeon. You’re so precious, what’ll I ever do with you?”


               The next morning, as I was preparing breakfast, my phone rang. Seeing the caller id, I felt all color drain from my face.

               “Mommy, your phone!” Jimin shouted, running out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, only to find me staring at it. “Oh. What’s wrong, mommy?”

               I shook my head. “It’s nothing, angel,” I said, declining the call and turning my eyes back to the refrigerator.

               “Was that grandma and grandpa?”

               She was seriously too smart for her own good. She must’ve gotten it from her biological father. “No, honey—” I was interrupted again by my phone’s ringtone. I swiftly declined the call again and pulled out a carton of milk.


               I sighed. Why was I lying to my own daughter? “I’m sorry honey, I just don’t feel—” again, I was interrupted by my phone’s ringtone.

               This time, I took a bit longer to stare at the caller id: ‘Hyesook Kim’. “Well, I don’t want to talk to grandma and grandpa either,” Jimin huffed, defiantly turning her head away from the phone.

               “Don’t say that, honey. Grandma and grandpa probably really miss you.”

               “But they’re so mean to mommy and Tiffy mommy, so I hate them.”

               In a childish way, hearing that was vindicating, but I didn’t want my issues with my parents to affect the relationship between my child and her grandparents. “Don’t say that, honey. Here, I’ll pick up the call,

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fluffy77 #1
Chapter 1: This is beautifully written. Hoping that you could continue this in the future!
Chapter 1: Dude! I saw my name there!!! 🙈
multistory #3
Chapter 1: Thanks for this.. and yes you should get it all out. Always waiting to read the next chapter or story form you.
Chapter 1: So that explains the foreword.
Taeyeon and Tiffany's love story is beautiful, at the same time heartbreaking.
Maybe now she could be braver to really try now after knowing those things... 😌
Love your inspirations for this!
The epilogue caught my interest!