Chapter 7 - Spring Awakening

March 1996 

Daegu, South Korea 

"Where's your brother?" Mrs. Lee fixed her gaze on Naeun, who was seated across the table.  

She shrugged her shoulders in response, concentrating on her favorite pancake in her hand.  

Mrs. Lee surveyed the second floor, from the kitchen to the living room in one sweep, with her brown almond-shaped eyes, looking for the suspect.  

Marching in full force, her brown skirt trailing behind her, she unbolted the door to Suho's room, which was surprisingly empty and clean. No trace of a human being existed.  

"Where could he be?" crossing her arms, brows wrinkled.  

Suho, Mrs. Lee noticed, had been acting weird for the last few weeks.  

"Is he possessed? Should I bring him to a shaman?"  

Sprinting towards the antic cabinet in the living room looking for a pamphlet.  

"No. Maybe the gods have heard my plea." Mrs. Lee looked up, spread her arms to the heavens, clasping her hands in sincere gratitude.  

Heaven knows how long she'd prayed for her son to snap out from his depression and be the vibrant and spontaneous young boy that he was.  

Nothing mattered to her anymore.  

As long as Suho was happy, she's all for it.  

At last! She could focus on her daughter Naeun who desperately needed a tutor for her English class. 

Faithful to Mrs. Lee's prayers, Suho transformed into a butterfly out of his cocoon and ready to fly.  

Leaving his turf early morning, equipped with his old gym bag filled with his basketball paraphernalia.  

He put his cap on and dashed outside before he was discovered. It was a secret that he and his friends, Kwang hee and Joo Ho, arranged for him.  

Enlisting for the school's varsity team was a pipe dream that was taking shape.  

He was willing to risk it all, even if it's against his mother's will.  

The sun was out, but the cool breeze of spring splashed is in the air.  

Cherry blossoms were in full bloom.  

Every time the wind blew, thousands of pink petals burst into the air like white and pink butterflies on the loose. The streets were a sea of pastel hues as if walking into a wonderland.  

Flowers and other plants broke from the ground, and the smell of earth tickled the senses.  

Birds and bees sang in harmony, like music to the ears. 

Suho closed his eyes and breathed in all the positive energy in his surroundings," I can do this! "he mumbled. He gave one sweeping glance, and when there was no one, he shouted at the top of his lungs.  

"It's all mine. All mine," spreading his arms, mimicking an eagle flying in between trees and plants. 

Right at the roundabout, he turned directly to the convenience store.  

It was located right in front of the school and has a great view of the entrance where he can see everyone that came by.  

It was a perfect place to hang out and eat breakfast while waiting for someone without looking like a stalker. 

A big cup of noodles, triangle kimbap, and banana milk were on Suho's tray, ready to devour every piece. It was his carbo-loading fix to amp his day.  

Escaping from his mother's morning preposterous speech was indeed a great move, shying away from negative forces.  

And then, he saw her. 

"Hi, I'm Hana," Suho vividly remembered how she introduced herself a month ago in their supplemental class.  

He had no intention to attend the class but was forced to.  

Because he knew he's about to do something against his mother's will.  

No one would even think that it would make a pivotal change in his school life. For no one, not even their school headmaster was able to convince him to hit the books.  

All he cared about was playing basketball. And getting through college as a varsity player.  

For Suho, he doesn't need algebra or chemistry in figuring out how to shoot a ball. Thus, it's a total waste of time.  

But Hana turned the table around.  

As if a fire was lit up in him, he evolved to a different person.  

Leaving his mother flabbergasted and sister sniggering the whole time.  

The first time their eyes met, he was hit a Deja Vu as if they were destined to meet. 

From what he gathered; Hana had to fill some lessons she might have missed after transferring from the Philippines. It didn't take long for them to realize that Hana wasn't just a pretty face.  

Suho found himself drawn at her like never before.  

Girls had never been an issue for him. He was still regarded as the son of the basketball legend that ladies swoon around him. Unfortunately for them, Suho didn't have any interest in girls, especially the "dolled up" ones.  

But Hana was different.  

She was like a magnet that was pulling him in.  

He would sit behind her, staring at her long black hair that goes to the waste, breathing in her Angel's Breath cologne.  

Reality hit him hard on the face.  

They were two worlds apart and somehow standing on a parallel ground.   

Hana was a smart cookie and not a hair out of place.  

While he was a lad with a brain filled with noodles.  

Yet despite all of these, Suho can't stop himself from watching her even from afar.  

It only took him four minutes to know that he likes her. 

Yet none of these seem to manner as he was still the average Joe pretending to be the cool nerdy guy in school. Suho couldn't beat the true-blooded smarty pants in class who were taking advanced lessons.  

To Suho, if it wasn't because of Hana, those classes were a total bummer.  

But there he was, looking like a geek wannabe, pretending to be cool.  

But for Mrs. Lee, it was a miracle beyond comprehension.  

She believed that her countless visits to the temple had struck a jackpot.  

Suho's academic standing, to Mrs. Lee's point of view, was similar to shooting an arrow with eyes blindfolded -- sometimes a hit, most of the time a miss.  

A struggle that he had dealt with through the years but eventually became worse right when Naeun was born.  

That's why he has felt bad for his sister nor being able to meet their father and experience the good life he once had. 

His father's sudden death, his hero, was a hard pill to swallow, changing his life trajectory.  

He'd seen his mother transformed from Daegu's goddess to an average Daegu mother trying to make ends meet. 

Like her mother, their lives have shifted from colorful to dull, forever praying for a revelation to their prayers.  

Somehow, the gods must have heard his plea and sent an angel on earth.  

And that angel was Hana Kim.

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