Suho whistled in satisfaction at how he ditched the inquiring look of his classmates.For the first time, he felt a surge of relief after hearing the school bell ring. It was unheard of, and his buddies would make fun of him if they found out.Nothing exciting in their classroom. Same old.But he’s grateful to get a throne next to the window. It gave him space for his mind to wander off from the four corners of their room. Suho can imagine his eomma pinching him or whacking his head to bring his astral body back.“What are you grinning about?” Kwanghee leaned back, turned around, glaring at his best friend. “You’re keeping a lot of things from me lately.”“No. Of course not,” Suho retorted, lips tight, leaning further away from Kwanghee.“Well? So what’s the deal between you and the new girl?” Kwanghee inquired, popping a lollipop in his mouth.&l
Alone in the dark Suho count to three. If he lets them pass, they’ll let him be. “He must be sleeping,” said a male voice whispering behind the door.“I’m sure he’s exhausted,” said another. “Let’s go.”Suho lay dead-tired on the bed in his grandma’s house in Jungang-dong. It was September 27, 1996. His whole body sore from the 5-hour travel to their hometown next to the sea from Daegu. Laying lifeless on the double-decker bed, he closed his eyes, recounting the day that was. Since he’s sharing the room with the rest of his cousins, he might doze off before them. Otherwise, he’d find a large eye bag under his eyes the following morning while one of his cousins snored in sleep like a horn echoing into the night.He closed his eyes, pretending to sleep so his cousins won’t bother him. It might have done the trick because after knocking twice and calling his name, they never returned.Going home for the holiday was something Suho looked forward to every year. First, because of the food.
Level up my game? Suho thought. There’s no competition to start with. He declared to himself positively, chest out and stomach in. He had thoughtfully chosen his outfit for the day, a green polo Lacoste shirt, and blue jeans his aunt gave him on his birthday. Not his usual jersey and baggy jeans get-up he frequently put on. It’s for Hana, he mumbled. From that momentous day in the Winter of 1996, he realized she was the one for him. The bus halted in front of E-world Amusement Park. Not a lot of people were on the site. Although he knew Baekhina could have possibly even reserved the entire park if she wished. That’s how rich and powerful her family was. Without a doubt, they can buy the entire place if she chose to. “Don’t you think it’s odd how Baekhina would waste money on Hana?” Kwanghee asked. “I know. I’ve been pondering about it since the last time we met them. Something’s fishy. Can you smell it?” “You bet. I can.” “That’s why I’m here to make sure Hana doesn’t go through
Suho went straight to a convenience store, grabbing some snacks and noodles before heading off to the animal sanctuary. The minute he opened the gate and switched on the light, the dogs hovered around him, wagging their tails. He roared. “Hey buddies,” Suho came down on his knees, “at least you know how to approach me. Unlike some folks I know,” he continued, gritting his teeth. “Woo... woo... Easy!” He guffawed. “Let me put these down so I could give you something to eat.” Suho raised two black plastic bags from the convenience store and Hana’s present away from the dogs’ reach. “Let’s have our own birthday here without the birthday girl.” Suho slithered his way out of the pups and arranged the food, stuff toy from the amusement park, and his gift on the table. Then, he picked up the dogs’ bowls and gave them their treats, which he acquired from the cash he saved during Chuseok. Stroking their head before relaxing on the chair. On the dinner table, Suho set out the food he pic
Brrrring... Brrrring... The noise of the alarm clock echoed throughout the room, enough to rouse the slumbering dragon in its lair. Passers-by looked around, scanning for the origin of the turbulence, but to no avail.But the owner was as oblivious to the commotion, sleeping like a bear in hibernation. In contradiction to the rest who were already up on their feet, bracing to start the day. It had been a strenuous period in Daegu as the country’s economy collapsed at the turn of 1997. The villagers scurry around, struggling to make ends meet. Shoulders hunched, face distraught, people mooching on the pavement like dead men walking in broad daylight. For this reason, most are stepping on thin ice, becoming easily irritated at the slightest discomfort. Brrrring... Brrrring “Ya! Turn it off already! The entire neighborhood is now awake with your alarm,” an old man shouted, his cane pointing aimlessly in the air. A hand slithered from within the blanket, groping in the dark, reaching
Hana choked at Go-Eun’s question. “Us? Of course not. We’re just buddies.” Hana replied, flabbergasted. She reached out for tissue wiping off her lips, and the rice splattered on the dinner table.“Right… very cliche.” Go-eun picked up a Pomeranian, smoothing its fur.“Really... We’re just friends.” Hana gobbled down a glass of water. Wishing Go-eun would just drop the topic.“How about Kang Jun?”Hana froze. “We’re friends.”“Do you think they feel the same way towards you?” Go-eun glanced at Hana, staring absentmindedly at her plate.“I suppose.” Her eyes fleeting. “I don’t know, to be honest.” Or maybe not. Kang Jun had been more upfront with his affections, even when he knew I’m not buying it.Hana was tongue-tied.&nbs
“That was December 1995,” Hana recalled.It was an ordinary day in Hana’s life back in her hometown in the Philippines,IlocosRegion.Unlike her classmates, she had to take a break from school while preparing for their movement to South Korea. Most of her high school friends were in college and dispersed all over the place. All her classmates who are studying out-of-town came home for a Christmas reunion. It was likewise their send-off party for Hana.Hana and her friends all agreed to meet at The Heritage Village for a mini-reunion.The village was incredibly busy with local and foreign tourists alike marveling at the century-old stone houses with windows made ofcapizshells. It was only accessible by foot or by carriage, like stepping to atime warpback in the Spanish era.The group huddled in a circle next to the oldest resid
(Kang Jun’s POV)“Lovely,” Kang Jun replied.“Huh?!”“I said... this diner is lovely.” He lifted his hands towards the waiter, later shifted to her, “order for us.”It’s the only way she could settle down,he murmured to himself.Kang Jun had seen lots of ladies who’d have shrieked and flipped on the floor after a rattling or unpleasant scene.But she’s extraordinary.She sat there in silence, and her aura just shouted not to mess up with her. Even if she cried inside the church, it was brief. Almost like washing her face from the horror and humiliation. When she looked up, he felt a fire burning inside her.Kang Jun sat quietly across from her, his eyes intently examining her quiet and reserved nature as she placed their order with the waiter.&n