Winter’s coldness hit me late this year, its beginning was warmer than sunshine, its middle was relaxing and exciting like a music box, but its end was coldly announcing the beginning of a spring that I felt colder than icy winter.
I was contemplating the green leaves that held some dew drops so delicately. Flowers were blooming one after another announcing to the cold city of Seoul that winter has officially ended. Birds were singing and dancing in the air, I saw them flirting and glared at them.
“You’re jealous … of birds.” I sensed sarcasm in Eun Ji’s tone and I rolled my eyes; she saw my drafting spirit and tried ever since digging what was wrong. “Why should I?” I looked at my desk pretending to be busy.
“Let’s have a drink tonight.” I was about to argue. “Just you and I.” I caught concern in her gaze, I nodded and she left me alone.
“So what was it about?” She made me drink almost a bottle of Soju and started her interrogation. I didn’t care anymore; I just wanted someone to share my burden with.
“You remember the school teacher you thought he was hot?” She hid with her palm. “You didn’t.” I nodded.
“Well, everything was perfect like a fairytale. But I was so stupid to let him down.” I told her my story; she paid attention to everything and kept silent for a few moments after I was done.
“I would have done the same.” My eyes shot open. “He’s a nice guy, and it doesn’t mean you’re not to blame. But you were in a state that blurred your logic.” I nodded feeling somehow better.
“Did he try to contact you after that night?” I nodded looking down. “You rejected his calls!”
We kept silent for more time, drinking another cup of Soju. “I think you should make the first move.” She said. “But how?” She blinked. “You have his number, his address … I don’t know, his friend?”
“It’s easier to just give up.” Her jaw dropped. “Quitter,” she called me. “You’re choosing the easy way.” I looked away, admitting what she said was true.
“Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone how much you love, how much you care.” I turned to her; she was talking so softly, every word held a huge amount of sorrow. “Because when they’re gone, no matter how loud you shout and cry … they won’t hear you anymore.” It hit me; it hit me harder and pierced through my soul, waking me up to the cruel truth.
The next day, I called him. She stood by my side to help me, but with many tries, his number was reported out of service. She urged me to visit his apart the evening and offered to accompany me.
I knocked for a couple of times but nothing. The neighborhood next door opened his door, an old man with a can. “You’re looking for the young man who used to live here?” He asked, I looked at Eun Ji.
“Who used to live here? Did he move?” Eun Ji asked, I was at loss of words. “Two weeks ago he knocked on my door to bid me farewell.”
“Is there a way to contact him? Do you know where he moved? No, is he still working in that school?” Eun Ji put her hands on my arms to calm me down. “I don’t know miss. He is such a nice man; don’t let him split from your hands.”
We went the next day to his school, the supervisor told us he took a break this year, he’ll probably be back the next year.
“Well, you should wait for him if you really care about him.” Eun Ji consoled me by taking me to a bar, this girl seriously wanted to make me an alcoholic!
“I’ll wait, I’m not the problem, but …” She cut me. “What if he falls for another girl?” She rolled her eyes, “well, you’ll have to move on.”
“Chae Won?” I turned and saw Joon Young; I stood right away and smiled faintly to him.
After the introduction, we shared few shots. I didn’t know how to board Seung Gi’s subject though I really wanted to ask. “Is he the guy?” Eun Ji mouthed to me, I blinked as a yes and she immediately asked me to accompany her to the sanitary.
“He likes you and totally made sure to break the two of you apart.” I tried processing what she was rapping.
“Who?” She rolled her eyes. “It’s obvious; he’s the one who made you doubt Seung Gi?” I nodded. “He’s brazenly chatting with you with no care about his friend’s whereabouts!” I shook my head. “No Way ..” “Yes way!!”
“How is Lee Seung Gi-sshi?” I asked as calm as ever, but feeling my veins burning inside. “Seung Gi? He’s fine … I guess.” He said casually. “Jerk.” Eun Ji mouthed making a face. Since his back was facing her –making her remark accurate- she was free to act however she wanted.
“I’m trying to contact him, but he moved out, took a break from teaching and changed his phone number.” I watched his change of expressions. “We actually didn’t keep in touch.”
I couldn’t stand the feeling that spread across my body, like someone is choking me and I was out of breath. Eun Ji noticing my anxious face pulled the drunken card and we finally escaped.
“What will you do?” She asked taking the driver sit. “I don’t know, I’ll take some days off work to change the air.”
I took three weeks; it was the first day of April –the fools days- I had given up looking for him, he may surely had forgotten me already.
I packed a little suitcase, still not knowing where to go. I went to my parents first, it had been quite some time I didn’t visit them.
“How did you know dad is the one?” I was helping my mother; together we were making cubic kimchee. “It’s hard to explain honey, you just feel you belong together no matter how much you bicker, how much you hurt each other.” I thought about what she said, Seung Gi’s arms were like a mobile home which warmness never failed in making me more secured.
“Who is he honey?” I shook my head and my mother gave me a side glare. “Let her be dear, she’ll tell us when she’s ready.” My father’s figure appeared, he smiled proudly. I couldn’t help imagining how Seung Gi will fit my dad's in-law standars, the two most important men in my life.
I didn’t stay much; I only spend the week-end there. My plan was to stay there for a week or some, but my mother gave me an important hint. “Whenever your father and I had a quarrel, I would find him in the places that meant the most to us.”
That’s how I ended up on my way to the mountain. The bus wasn’t empty as I expected, ‘it’s spring’. I had to take a taxi to find the Christmas house –like we called it.
I smiled squealing in my head and jumping. He left the keys in a tiny hole in the oldest oak tree opposite the house. “Heodang” I whispered opening the door.
It was dark; I opened the curtain revealing the state of the house, untouched. It was just like how we left it four months ago. Dust found its way on the furniture, it was clearly he didn’t step a food in here.
It made me sad, maybe he really moved on just like how he forgot Ga In, maybe I was just there to fill the emptiness in his heart. Without realizing, I was crouching on the floor, tears dropping down my cheeks.
I didn’t know how long I’ve stayed there, maybe an hour or two, maybe more. I walked around the house, from the kitchen where we used to eat, to the couch where we used to cuddle, to the bedroom where we spend our really first night.
Walking again to the living room heading to the door, made the Christmas tree’s image flash between my eyes. It was still in the same spot, he didn’t want to take off the accessories –which were origami. "They say if you fold one hundred papers into origami your wish will come true." I heard his voice echoing in my head.
I walked to that freaking tree seeing how it miraculously kept her leaves green and fresh. Looking at it closer made me realize it wasn’t real; I scoffed cursing Seung Gi, “I thought you really brought a real one.”
I noticed a fallen piece of paper, “couldn’t he at least spend some pennies on the décor?” I glared at the paper ignoring it. I turned around to leave but couldn’t, his bright smile as he hung them were way more precious, it softened my heart. “It must be hard to fold origami!”
I took that paper, trying to fold it back. But before that, I noticed something written inside, I hurriedly unfolded it.
‘I have fallen for your laugh, which is utterly contagious.’
I smiled as tears rolled down my face. He’s making it so hard to forget. I doubted the others held something too, and I debated whether to just move on and forget about him, or read them all, one by one.
‘Ever since I met you, no one else has been worth thinking about.’
I took another.
‘I’ve fallen for your smile, which makes me giddy for no reason at all.’
‘It was a million tiny little things that, when you add them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together … and I knew it.”
It’s so cheesy and sweet, gosh I wished I could stop.
‘I’ve fallen for our late night talks, when 1 am arrives far too quickly.’
I seriously questioned whether he knew I’d read them.
‘My heart is perfect, because you are inside.’
I couldn’t stay in the house; I took all the papers and unfolded them. I was on my way home; it was a little cold for a spring day. And I had nothing better to do.
‘I’ve fallen for our jokes, which I’ll remember days later and burst into laughers.’
‘If kisses were snowflakes, I would send you a blizzard.’
‘I’ve fallen for how you make my day better, even if I wanted to cry a minute before.’
‘We are in the last month of the year. I just felt that I should thank god for the gifts he has given me. You are my most precious gift.’
‘I’ve fallen for every second I get to spend with you … even if those seconds will always leave wanting for more.”
The last one, I reread it in my bed. I sobbed in my pillow holding it in my arms and burying my face beneath it. Where did he go? Where are you Lee Seung Gi?
After calming down, I laid down recalling our first meeting. It was summer, and like the hot weather, our hearts beats were fierce and boiling. It was a great experiment.
Our second meet held a breezy air just like autumn, but we all know autumn was warmer than winter, and so was the end of it. Our love found warmness, just like people found their home warm in the cold days of winter, in each other’s embrace.
But winter is the season of white snow, which despite his beautiful white dress, covers every living thing. Its coldness extinguished every moment of sweetness we lived, leaving us blinded by doubts and fears.
“Jeju Island!!!” I shouted spinning out of bed; more like it threw me to the floor. “Of course, it’s where we first met.”
Eun Ji bid me farewell in the airport. It was two days after I decided I should give Jeju a try. She jumped like a kid, and then smiled like a proud parent. “I know you would make the right decision.” She hugged me tightly I almost suffocated. “Now, go get your man.”
I anticipated the events: I’ll find him in the same hotel? I giggled thinking it was way too easy. But a hotel room costs a fortune if he lived there these past three months. Anyway, I would settle there and look elsewhere.
“Thank you.” I retrieved my room keys from the reception. I turned around wanting to check on something.
“Excuse me Ms?” She turned her attention to me. “I’m embarrassed having to ask you this. Have you ever been in love?” She choked on my question. “What?” She bent her head, “yes.’
“I am too and I can’t live without him, but still I made mistakes and he left. My intuition tells me he came here to Jejudo, as far as I know he doesn’t have relatives here. Last time he booked in this hotel.”
“What is his name?” I sighed of relief; I pushed a sensitive string I think. “Lee Seung Gi.” I waited as she checked the list of people staying here. She lifted her face with a sorrowful gaze, my smile disappeared instantly. “He isn’t here.” I looked down, “thank you.” I walked back to my room.
I had two weeks, and a packed schedule. I went to almost all the places Seung Gi took me to last time. Though I paid more attention to people around me than nature, he was nowhere to be found. I was starting to give up.
A week passed by, I ran out of places. I walked in the hotel lobby to regain my room. “Moon Chae Won-sshi,” I heard someone calling my name, I thought it was just fatigue. “Moon Chae Won-sshi,” a hand gripped on my arm. It startled me causing me to jump up. “You scared me.” It was the same desk clerk I asked for her help.
“I think I found your man.” She squealed, it took me some time to process her words. “Lee Seung Gi-sshi, my friend has a cousin who knows him.” She handed me a piece of paper. “This is where you’ll find him, congratulation.” She hugged me without notice, once I faced what she really said, I returned the hug. “Thank you so much, I’ll never forget it.”
I was in panic mode, scrambling through the pile of clothes that I threw on the ground. “Where are you? Where are you?” I muttered looking for that specific red dress. It is a one piece fluffy and just above the knees dress. I put on a beige cardigan and moccasins that matched with my legs.
I was a little bit lost, but I clearly felt the place quite familiar: fishermen returning to mother land, each carrying his earnings, noises spurring from the market place, smell of baked fish and food.
It was evening, and the place was crowded with fishers returning from a long day of work. I asked an ahjumma about the address and she indicated me exactly how to get there.
I recognized the tiny streets, the smell of fish and the coziness of the place. I recalled being there, unanimously, I found myself entering a small restaurant.
I looked around and my eyes fell on his figure, I recognized him despite the darkness that filled the place. My heart heat up, there he was, the man I’ve been longing to see, holding a guitar.
The place must have been renovated, since I remember clearly there was no stage the last time. His fingers the guitar’s strings. I stood there watching him singing. His voice held sadness matching the lyrics, which were of a break up song. I didn’t know what to think, I just hoped –as much as it hurts- that I’m the last person he broke up on.
When it rains, I’ll stop by your house.
Without an umbrella, I’ll let the rain drench me.
Because if I catch a cold, you will worry,
And then I will be able to see your face.
Could it be? It is … unless he stood outside all of his exes’ doors.
I'll do better …
I'll fix everything …
Whatever you want.
So please, don't leave me.
Tears filled my eyes, ‘you did nothing wrong’ I mumbled. ‘It’s my entire fault.’
Do you not like me anymore?
Are you tired of a person like me now?
Does even holding your hand, make you shudder and dislike it?
The two of us, who enjoyed even just looking at one another,
why do we have to have this sort of ending?
Because I keep crying, I can’t stand this any longer.
He lifted his face and everyone there applauded. It was hard to see the surroundings; I just stood there, hoping he would notice me since I didn’t have the guts to address him first.
Light , his smile shone as a girl ran to him hugging him. It didn’t hurt as much as seeing his smile fading the moment his eyes met mine.
I just turned around, running away. I was stopped and spun around, “Chae Won!” He called my name as if not believing his eyes. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m on vacation,” I lied. He nodded. “You can eat, just ignore me.” He walked inside and I followed him. The girl from earlier came to take my order. She walked away but stopped and turned to me. “Do you know oppa?” I nodded, wanting to raise a pity jealousy from her, not realizing I was the jealous one.
“Do you happen to know the girl who dumped him in Seoul?” I blinked my eyes. “He even wrote a song for her, if I happen to meet her I’ll break every bone in her body.” Her eyes glittered with anger. “I don’t know her.” Ignorance is bliss.
“That witchy weather forecaster.” I gasped; she caught my sign and put her palm over . “It’s you!!”
“Now tell me what you’re doing here!” She didn’t even introduce herself. “I’m his little sister.” She could read my thoughts. I told her my side of the story.
“I understand he’s a little … tricky with his actions, but at least he’s nice.” I looked down, being lectured by a little girl acting like my in-law. “What will you do?”
“Where is he?” I answered with a question. “I don’t know! He always spends the evening somewhere and only comes back late at night.” Great! Now I had to look for him.
I first went to the beach, it’s the best place to clear one’s mind, but it was so cold I understood why he wasn’t there. He couldn’t possibly go to museums, it was already night. Many places were scrambled from my list.
Out of all the places he took me the last time, none made sense. I finally decided to wait for him infront of his the house he was staying in.
It was past midnight, I could see my breathing turning to clouds. Though it was spring, it’s still cold, and since it was near the ocean, it was colder.
There I saw him, I sighed of relieve noticing he wasn’t drunk, making me more confuse how he spends his time. When he got closer I stood up, he lifted his eyes and our sight locked. I could see his eyes a little red, “were you crying?” I asked putting my hand on his arm. He looked at my hand than pulled it away. “Why do you care?” I was nervous, but I prepared my speech and practiced, I came all the way here, I couldn’t give up.
“I’m sorry … for being inconsiderate. Young Joo…” He cut me, “has a crush on you, I knew it the day we met at the bar. I felt terrible for not controlling my feelings, and only tried hiding our relation.” He explained making things clearer.
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?” I asked.
“Did you give me a chance to?”
“You left me to assumptions for a week, what was I supposed to think?” I tried defending myself, I looked down. “I’m here for you, to find you and maybe making things work between us.” I reached for his hand, our finger intertwined. “Can’t you come back to Seoul?” I asked, and faced his silence.
I felt like someone was choking me, I didn’t lose faith, I couldn’t. At least, he didn’t retrieve his hand, and I took it as a good sign.
“It was a million tiny little things that, when you add them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together … and I also knew it.” He looked up to me surprised. “How did you know?”
“I looked for you there first, and by chance discovered your pieces of poetry.” I grinned at him; he looked away still trying to play the hard type. But he give in with a smile, it suddenly brightened the darkness of the night and warmed its coldness.
“Let’s go inside first.” He mentioned me to be quiet and we tiptoed upstairs.
I still don’t know how we ended up cuddling in bed; I just enjoyed the sensation of his arms behind my back, making me feel home again. “I miss you.” He whispered, “you really looked everywhere for me?” I nodded tugging on his shirt. “I miss you more, I’m also sorry.” I pulled my face up looking right through his eyes. “For everything, I’m so…” I couldn’t finish, he pecked my lips. “Don’t apologize; let’s just work on making things better between us in the near future.” He said closing his eyes.
By Moon Chae Won.
“Honey,” Seung Gi shouted for Chae Won, it was her press conference she shouldn’t be late. “I’m coming.”
“I still don’t understand how you wrote a book about us.” Seung Gi gave her a side glare, trying to focus on the road. “I explained in the acknowledgement that I was inspired by our relationship, but the events are imaginary.” She looked outside the window, still not believing her book is a best sale.
“But still, how about our friends?” He asked still concerned. “They all read the copy and agreed.” It wasn’t a good time for his nagging; she wanted to bit his arm to make him silent. “We still need to discuss some parts?” She turned to him astonished. “There is nothing to be explained.” She turned her head, annoyed.
“I didn’t read the acknowledgement, yet!” She turned to him in disbelief. “If I didn’t read the book for you, you wouldn’t have read it, right?” She didn’t need his answer, she already knows it. “We’ll discuss this later, after the party.” She threatened him.
The book was a secret project she worked on after he fell asleep every night. After few days, he felt her absence and grew suspicious. He finally snapped over her shoulders, taking a glimpse of her secret. She asked for his patience, and after almost two months, gave him the first copy to read.
“It’ll be published.” He clapped his hands proud of her, unaware of the content. “Won’t you read it?” He shook his head. “You think it’s bad?” He didn’t answer, knowing him it was a yes. “It’ll be published,” he waved his hand from the kitchen door as to express his lack of enthusiasm to her project. They had been living together for four months now.
“It’s about us.” He ran to her, his jaw dropped. “What?” She smirked satisfied she got his full attention.
“You won’t read it, but you want to know its content?” He nodded. “How is this possible?” She asked eyeing him; it was his tenth attempt to making her give up the idea. “I’ll read it for you.” She regretted her choice later. Since she read for him in bed time, everytime she reached a part she praises anything about him, he started teasing her, and they ended up making out.
“It’s a good idea after all, I mean this book.” He confessed, her irritation appeased a little. “I could see you point of view of our relationship, and I shared mine when you were reading it for me. we ended up with a better comprehension of each other.”
He was right, she smiled to him. “I’m nervous.” She stated. “I’m sure you are,” he reached for her hand and squeeze it lightly; “it’s already a best sell.”
“I’m proud of you honey.” Seung Gi kissed her forehead, the stretched his arms to hug her. Their other friends cheered, than each congratulated her. Unaware to Chae Won, Seung Gi had a plan.
“Unnie,” Hyeri ran to Chae Won. “Congratulation, I’m enjoying your book.” Chae Won gave her a doubtful question. “I’ve been reading for her.” Lizzy corrected. “I skipped some parts” She whispered and Chae Won’s face turned to its original color.
Hyeri overcame her important battles with cancer, she gained more strength after Seung Gi and Chae Won gifted her a small puppy. “He’ll be your new friend.” It was Seung Gi’s idea, and Chae Won loved it. “What will you call it?” Chae Won asked. “Seung Gi.” Seung Gi’s eyes widened. “I didn’t have oppa, but I have this Seung Gi.” She whispered to Chae Won. Seung Gi pouted feeling left out. “Look, he’s making a puppy face now!” They both burst in laughter.
“Joon Young,” Seung Gi hugged his friend, they worked on their issues each confessing and apologizing. Both Seung Gi and Chae Won were surprised when Lizzy and Joon Young announced they are together, though Chae Won had this tingling feeling that they looked blindly good together. ‘But not as blindly as me and Seung Gi.’ She thought.
They took a toast together. “For my future wife’s success, cheers.” Seung Gi shouted, they all finished their glasses except for Chae Won. “What did you say?” She asked and everyone looked dumbfounded at them.
Seung Gi bent on his knees, with a confident smile, he looked up to her. “Moon Chae Won, will you be my wife? I promise to love you and only look at you, to tend to all your needs and protect you with all my might.” Silence reigned, Chae Won smiled looking at him like a statue.
“Save his poor soul and say yes!” Eun Ji shouted, everyone cheered. “He doesn’ even have a ring, how am I supposed to marry him?” Chae Won , he scoffed than stood up. “Forget it than, give me back my necklace.” He stretched his arm to her necklace, their friends and families went silent in terror.
“Seung Gi dear,” his mother interrupted, “she’s just joking.” Chae Won was at the verge of crying. “Mother,” he started with a serious tone. “How am I supposed to marry someone who doesn’t even know she’s been holding onto our engagement ring for half a year?”
He didn’t unbuckle the back of the necklace; he opened the heart shaped pendent that was holding into the circle shaped metal: the ring.
“So?” He bent down again, Chae Won hiding her open mouth with her hands. “Yes … thousands of yes you idiot.” She hugged him once he stood up. “What was the idiot for?” He asked soothing her, she was crying in his arms. “You almost caused me a heart attack!”
“I want to show off to the world that you are my wife.” Cuddling became their favorite hobby. “And I want to write an epilogue about how you proposed.” He gave her a side look. “What?”
He lifted himself hovering over her. “I imagined how you described me and your feelings for me, and it’s quite overwhelming.” He said in a husky voice, lowering down and capturing her lips. “Is this our early make-out session? For the first chapter?” He nooded. “I want to do with you what the spring does with the cherry trees.” He crashed his lips over hers, moving slowly and delicately.
“I love you.” He whispered in her ear. “I love you too.” She groaned.