- a Wonnie short story
“You worthless bitch! Can’t you do anything right?”
Hyori covered her ears as the owner of the sool jib threw a glass against the opposite wall, sending it shattering into little slivers of glass. She trembled with fright. “I’m sorry, Mr. Moon. I was just scared and..”
Heejun grabbed Hyori wrist tightly and looked her straight in the face. “You stupid bitch! You’re supposed to do what the customer asks! You know why? Because you’re a part of this sool jib and this sool jib needs to cater to the customer’s wishes! I SAVED you, Hyori! You get it? You’d be out on the streets if it wasn’t for me!!” he hollered.
Hot tears fell down Hyori’s cheeks and she nodded. “I know.. But I couldn’t sleep with him, Mr. Moon. I just couldn’t! I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.”
Heejun’s rigid face softened a little and he smiled menacingly. His grip on Hyori’s wrist loosened. “Good girl.. Now go up to your room, all right? You need to get rested up for tomorrow..” Hyori stood still, trembling. “Did you not hear me?! Move it!” he roared.
“Sorry Mr. Moon. Sorry.” She ran down the stairs to her closet sized room and shut the door.
Hyori grabbed a wet tissue and slowly began wiping the makeup off her face and took off her short wig. As she stared into the mirror at her reflection, tears formed in her eyes and she slammed the mirror face down on the floor. “You’re so ugly and worthless.. You’ll never be beautiful..” With that, she cried herself to sleep on the cold floor.
“Hyori! You’re wanted in room 7!” barked the manager.
Hyori nodded and walked towards it. She opened the door and refrained from grimacing. The smell of alcohol and smoke was almost unbearable. She forced herself to walk to the couch full of drunk men and sat.
“Hey baby.. You come to kleep us cooompany?” asked the man next to her in slurred words.
Hyori nodded and allowed him to put his arm around her. She felt someone pinch her arm. “Smile and giggle, damn it!” hissed the girl next to her.
Hyori forced a grin and giggled disgustingly. The man held her closer to him and Hyori almost gagged from the strong stench of his BO. “You know, you look really cute when you smile.. Your eyes get all small…” He laughed loosely.
Hyori giggled and rose from the couch. “How about I sing a song for you?” she chirped. He nodded and pushed her to the front of the room where the kareoke machine was. Hyori punched in the number and started to sing a soft ballad. Suddenly, the man walked forward and hugged her tightly.
He whispered in her ear, “How about you and I getting together tonight?” He opened the door and pushed her out of it. “Where’s your room?”
Hyori felt like throwing up. “How about you wait a while and I’ll go freshen up?” she suggested.
“Well, hurry up.” He stood outside Hyori room and waited. Minutes passed and Hyori had not come out. “Hey! Don’t you think you’ve taken enough time?!” he yelled. He banged on the door with his fist. When there was no answer, he charged at the door with his shoulder and burst through. “Hey come on! Let’s go..” But the room was empty except for an open window.
Hyori ran as fast as she could down the street. She threw her wig off into a pile of bushes and kicked her high heels off her feet. She quickly ducked into a small boutique.
“I’m sorry Miss, we’re closing now. You’ll have to come back tomorrow,” said the worker.
Hyori fell to her knees and rubbed her hands together, emphasizing her desperate situation. “Please, please hide me somewhere! Please!” she begged.
He stared at her suspiciously and shook his head. “Listen Miss, I don’t know who you are but I need to close this store. Please leave.”
Hyori burst into tears. “Please! I’m begging you!”
The guy sighed. “Why don’t you change clothes? Do you have anything to change into?” he asked.
She nodded. “Just what I have in this bag.”
He led her towards the back and opened a small dressing room with a key. “You can change in here.”
A few minutes later, Hyori emerged from the dressing room wearing a pair of baggy khaki cargo pants and a loose sweatshirt. The guy grabbed a baseball cap and shoved it on her head. He handed her a pair of sunglasses too. Hyori stuck them on. The guy led her outside and locked the door of the store.
“Where is she?! She couldn’t have gotten far!” Hyori heard Heejun yell. She was frozen with fear. Footsteps could be heard not too far away.
The guy noticed Hyori’s reaction. “Just keep walking,” instructed the guy.
She felt someone run into her. She bit her lip from screaming. It was the manager from the sool jib. Fortunately, he didn’t recognize her and ran the opposite direction. “Maybe she ran this way! Come on!” He waved the other men over and they ran the opposite direction.
There was silence for a minute until the guy said, “follow me.” She obeyed and followed him to a large apartment complex. They walked in silence to the posh elevator. When they reached the floor, he walked to an apartment and opened the door. Hyori stood in the hall, looking at the fancy building in awe. “Aren’t you going in?” he asked.
She snapped back into reality and stepped into the apartment. As the light was flipped on, she gasped with amazement. “Oh wow, you live here?” The place was huge with expensive furniture and equipment. The guy remained silent and pointed to a room.
“You can sleep in there,” he stated simply. He headed towards his room.
“Thank you,” she called out. “Just for your information, my name’s Hyori. Lee Hyori.”
The guy stopped and turned around. “I’m Jiwon.. Eun Jiwon..”
Hyori stretched her arms and yawned. She pulled the warm covers up around her closer, savoring the moment. She had never felt so comfortable in her life. It was like heaven on the springy mattress with the goose down pillows. As comfortable as she was, she knew she needed to get up so she made her bed and walked to the kitchen. Her eyes widened with surprise as she saw the table fully set with food and silverware. There was a small piece of folded paper by the spoon so she picked it up.
“Sorry I couldn’t see you this morning. I had to go to work.” Hyori sat down in a chair, but instead of eating, she just sat.. thinking. Why did this guy even go to the trouble to give her this food? She thought for another moment.. Maybe it was drugged? Just in case it was, she decided not to touch it and left the apartment to buy a bowl of noodles.
Hyori clicked on the television later that night. A music video by Psy was on.
“Chi,” she scoffed. “I can sing and dance better than that.” She stood up and started mimicking Psy’s dance moves.
“Moh dal la goh, uh. Uh jjuh ra go uh!” called out Jiwon.
Hyori turned around to see Jiwon with an amused smile on his face. She turned bright red. “Oh um.. hi Jiwon.” She pressed the power button.
He glanced at the untouched food on the kitchen table. “Why didn’t you eat?” he asked.
Hyori’s cheeks turned a deeper shade of red. “I was just in the mood for noodles,” she replied meekly.
Jiwon shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I guess I’ll just heat it up and eat it for dinner.” Guilt crept up on Hyori. The food had been fine. It hadn’t been drugged at all. She had such a hard time trusting people she was suspicious of everyone and everything.
After Jiwon had zipped everything through the microwave, he motioned Hyori to come over. “Aren’t you going to join me?” he offered. Hyori cautiously walked towards Jiwon and sat down in the chair across from him. Carefully, she examined the chopsticks and spoon. Jiwon let out a chuckle. “Nothing’s poisoned,” reassured Jiwon. “You’re safe.”
If it had been another person, Hyori would have ignored them. But for some reason, she took Jiwon’s word and ate the food without further inspection. She devoured it ravenously, scooping up various ban chans and slurping up the jjigae. “This is good,” she said with a full mouth.
Jiwon laughed. “Glad you like it.”
Hyori cleared her throat. “So um, how long have you been working at that little shop?” she questioned.
“Oh, I don’t work there. I was just doing my friend a favor.”
“So where do you work?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m one of the executives of Samsung. I don’t get as much input since I’m young but you know. Pays the bills.” Hyori nodded. She set her spoon down and started carrying dirty dishes to the sink. Jiwon grabbed her hand. “Oh, you don’t have to do that. You’re the guest.”
Hyori was puzzled, but soon began to understand. “Oh, so that’s the way it is.”
Jiwon arched his eyebrows at her in confusion. “What are you talking about?”
Hyori snorted with contempt. “Like you don’t know.”
Jiwon’s mind drew a blank. He threw his hands up in the air. “Enlighten me.”
“You’re just being nice to me because you want to sleep with me, right? Admit it,” she accused.
Jiwon shook his head vigorously. “No no no! What made you even say that?”
Hyori rolled her eyes. “Oh come on. Get off your act. All you men are alike. Looking out for one thing.”
Jiwon was silent for a while then spoke. “Listen Hyori, I don’t know why you just assume I’m this total dog. But I was raised to be a gentleman and that’s all. There’s no catch.” There was a pause. “What makes you even think that all guys are like that, huh?”
“Because it’s true. I should’ve known. Who would want to be so nice to ME?” she answered. “Every guy I have ever met or known has only wanted one thing from me! I mean EVERY GUY! I’m just so sick and tired of it!” she yelled.
Jiwon’s expression turned into one of disgust. “Who would even think of doing that to you?”
Hyori sat and sighed. “This is going to be a long night…”
“Well,” started Hyori. “It all started with my stepfather. I hated the man. Bastard. He stole my mother from me. She barely even looked at me after she had her first baby with him. But hey, I did my share of getting him pissed off. Everyone has their little period of time in their life when they rebel.” Hyori took a deep breath. “I don’t know.. I don’t know if I remember but I was about maybe fifteen..” Her voice started to shake. “My mom had gone out with my new little brother and all my older siblings were away at college. Only the two of us were at home. I was in my room with the door locked as always. Then I was going to go get a drink because I was thirsty and he was waiting outside my door. And let’s just say he…” Her voice broke and tears burst out. Jiwon pulled a tissue out of the box and gave it to Hyori. “Thanks,” she warbled.
“Did he rape you?!” asked Jiwon incredulously.
Hyori shook her head. “No.. He never did that but.. He didn’t need to do that to make me feel like the most dirtiest person in the world.” Pain and anguish crossed her face.
“What happened? Did you tell your mom or the police?”
Hyori rolled her eyes. “Shit, they didn’t believe me. I was just a bitter fifteen year old punk who hated their stepdad. They were going to put me in one of those ‘mental correctional facilities’ for juveniles, so I ran away before they even had the chance. I stayed with different friends.. Chi.. Friends..” She paused. “So I went from place to place.. doing odd jobs. Cleaning, washing dishes.. There was this one guy though while I was working at this one restaurant. He was so charming.. He was really nice too.. But of course.. There’s always a price. So I ran away again. Guys kept coming in my life but they were all the same.. There were so many guys who had hunted me down and wanted to seriously hurt me.. Who wouldn’t? I had taken their expensive presents and money without giving them what they wanted. So I met this guy Heejun. He talked me into working at his club in exchange for keeping all those guys away. And now.. I’m here, telling you my life story.” She put her hand on her forehead. “I don’t even know why I’m telling you this..” Tears continued dripping from Hyori’s eyes.
Jiwon patted her back comfortingly and reached out to hug her but she flinched and moved to the side. “What’s wrong?” asked Jiwon. She looked at him suspiciously then stayed still, allowing him to put his arms around her in a comforting way. Hyori stayed in Jiwon’s arms, but it was still very awkward and stiff. Sighing, Jiwon pulled away and handed her another tissue. “How about we go out, huh? We could talk some more.”
Hyori smiled and dabbed away her tears. “Yes, I’d like that.”
Time passed and Hyori continued staying at Jiwon’s apartment. Although she is still not very trusting, she gradually grows comfortable with him and becomes more willing to open up. One day, they were sitting in the living room..
“Hey Hyori,” started Jiwon. Hyori turned her eyes to Jiwon. “I was thinking.. Maybe you shouldn’t stay here.”
Fear crossed Hyori’s face. “Jiwon, please! I can’t go out there!”
He patted her hand. “Calm down, I’m not going to put you out on the streets. I just thought you might be more comfortable staying with a girl.. I mean cuz.. I’m a guy and.. Well anyway, I know someone who’s willing to let you stay with them. She’ll be over in a couple minutes.”
“Who is she? Your girlfriend?” For some reason, her stomach started to feel funny at the thought of it.
Jiwon shook his head. “No, no. She’s like my dongseng, really.” DING DONG. “That must be her.” He opened the door. “Hi Jin. Come in.”
Hyori looked up to see a cute girl walk into the apartment. “Hi oppa!” As she hugged Jiwon, that funny feeling in her stomach started happening again. He led Jin over to where Hyori was sitting. “This is Hyori.” He introduced the two of them to each other.
“I’m Lee Jin. Just pack your bags. I have a room ready for you.” She shook Hyori’s hand.
Hyori put on a small smile. “Thanks,” she murmured. “I’ll be there tomorrow.”
“ACHOO!” Hyori threw the feather duster down and grabbed a tissue. “Ewww..” She stared at the soiled kleenex. KNOCK KNOCK. “Jin, is that you?” called out Hyori. “Jin, did you forget your keys?” She ran to the door and opened it. Her eyes widened and she tried shutting the door but the person held it open.
“Hi Hyori.. Missed me?”
Hyori gasped and took a step back. “Heejun, what are you doinig here?”
He laughed. “Heejun? Whatever happened to Mr. Moon, huh?”
Hyori took another step back. “I don’t work for you anymore.. You’re not my boss anymore..”
Heejun swung his arm at her and slapped her across the face, sending her to the ground. He squatted on the ground next to Hyori and stuck his face in front of her’s. “Listen bitch.. I gave all those guys good money to leave you alone and you can’t even hold up your end of the bargain. Hell, you weren’t even a good worker in the first place!” he yelled. He let out an impatient breath. “Now, you come back,” he ordered.
Hyori shook her head. “No. I won’t come back,” she said. Ever.”
Heejun smiled arrogantly and stood back up. “You won’t come back, huh?” His foot went flying into her stomach. Hyori doubled over with pain and coughed violently. “Now Hyori.. What did you say again? I think I heard you wrong.”
Hyori struggled to get up and pushed herself up on her hands. “Heejun, I’ll pay you back. Just give me some time..”
Heejun kicked her again, sending her face flat on the floor. “Don’t say that kind of bull shit to me, Hyori! There’s not any way you could ever pay me back that much money! You know why? Because you’re nothing but a worthless whore!” he shouted.
Hyori winced at his words. “Heejun, please!” she cried. “I promise, I’ll pay you back. Just don’t take me back to that place. Please!” she begged. She pushed herself back up again and knelt on the floor.
Heejun laughed again. “You know, I would usually enjoy a moment like this where I see you begging like the worthless dog you are but I don’t have the time. Get up now, Hyori. NOW!”
“No Heejun. I’m going to do this until you agree,” stated Hyori. “I don’t care how stupid I look.”
“Well, I do.” Hyori looked up at the door to see Jiwon standing in the doorway. “Get up, Hyori.” Hyori just sat there, gaping. Jiwon walked over to Hyori and pulled her up. “What do you think you’re doing?!” he yelled. “Why are you on your knees in front of this guy?! Tell me!” he demanded.
Heejun grabbed Jiwon’s arm. “Who do you think you are, man? Her bodyguard? This girl owes me big time so I suggest you just go on your way.”
“Get off me, damn it!” Jiwon shook Heejun’s hand off his arm. “What does she owe you? I’ll pay it.”
Heejun snorted. “Whatever.”
“Tell me!” thundered Jiwon.
Heejun smiled. “Fifty thousand.”
“You bastard! You told me it was thirty!” screamed Hyori.
“Interest,” replied Heejun. “So, you gonna cough up the dough or not?”
Jiwon clenched his fists but kept them at his sides. “The banks are all closed now. I’ll give you the money tomorrow.”
“How do I know I can trust you?”
Jiwon’s face turned beet red from his anger. “If I said I’ll give you the money, I’ll give it to you! I’m a man of my word.”
Heejun smiled. “Okay. Either have it for me tomorrow by 10 AM or else,” he threatened.
Jiwon glared at Heejun. “Or else what?” he snapped.
“Or else Hyori comes back to me for life.”
felt like his arteries were going to pop. “Damn it! You’d better haul your ass out of here before I call the police! I’ll count to three! 1! 2!” Heejun ran out the door. Jiwon bent over to catch his breath. “Bastard,” he muttered.
“Are you all right?” asked Hyori tentatively.
Jiwon took a deep breath. “No, I’m NOT all right! How the hell could you kneel in front of that bastard like a dog?!” roared Jiwon. “Are you an idiot?!”
Hyori hung her head. “I’m sorry. I just thought..”
“WELL, YOU THOUGHT WRONG!!” boomed Jiwon. “HOW COULD YOU JUST LET HIM TREAT YOU LIKE A WORTHLESS DOG! YOU BABO!!”
Tears welled up in Hyori’s eyes. “Because that’s what I am,” she whispered. “Worthless.”
“Hyori!” protested Jiwon.
“No one has ever thought of me to have any kind of value, Jiwon! They wouldn’t do that for no reason, would they? It’s all because it’s true!!” screeched Hyori.
Jiwon stepped towards her and embraced her tightly. “Hyori, that’s not true. It’s not true at all.. You’re beautiful..”
Hyori pushed him away firmly. “They always start out like this, Jiwon! Always! They pretend like I’m something special and then just treat me like shit. I’m not going to go through this anymore, Jiwon! NO MORE!!” She ran to her room before her tears showed.
Jin opened the door and entered. “Hey, is something going on in here? I heard all this screaming.”
Jiwon sighed. “I’ll see you later, Jin.”
Hyori glanced at the clock. It was 5 AM. “Damn it..” she mumbled. She rolled over and picked up the phone. “Hello?” she croaked.
“Hyori? Meet me at Han kang in half an hour.”
“Jiwon? What’s going on?” asked Hyori, still a bit disoriented.
“See you there.” CLICK.
Hyori blinked several times and reluctantly started getting ready.
Hyori yawned widely and squinted as the sun started to rise over the Han River. The water shimmered a million different colors. Her eyes started to droop. She was so tired but she had to find Jiwon. She shielded her eyes from the sun and spotted Jiwon sitting in front of the river. She slowly walked to him and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hi,” greeted Jiwon. “Sit down.” He spread his coat on the ground next to him and patted it.
“You don’t need to do that,” said Hyori. “You’re coat will get dirty.”
Jiwon smiled. “I’m a gentleman, remember?” Hyori took a seat next to him on his coat.
“What is it, Jiwon? Is something wrong?” asked Hyori.
“How are you doing at Jin’s house?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Fine. She’s nice to me.” She paused. “But I’m guessing that’s not the reason you wanted to see me.”
“Hyori,” he started. “I know it’s been like a month since I’ve met you but.. I think.. I’m falling in love with you.”
“You don’t want to be in love with someone like me,” replied Hyori. “You know my background. You deserve better than me.”
“That’s the point, Hyori. There is no one better than you for me.” Jiwon held her hands in his.
“I’m sorry, Jiwon. I only like you as a good friend. That’s all.” She looked down at her hands and slowly pulled them away from Jiwon’s. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
Jiwon looked across the river. “Are you sure about that?”
Hyori nodded. “Yes.” She rose to leave. “I think I’d better go.” She started walking away.
“I’ll wait,” called out Jiwon. He turned his head and looked towards Hyori. Her back was towards him and she froze. “Until you open your heart to me, I’ll wait.”
Hyori continued walking and hopped on a bus. She had told the truth. She only liked Jiwon as a friend.. So why were there hot tears running down her cheeks?
“Hello?” answered Hyori.
“Consider yourself the luckiest person in the world. That boy of your’s just gave me my money.”
“Heejun? You accepted that money?! I told you I’d pay you..”
Heejun cut her off. “Oh shut up. I’d rather have it now then when I”m dead.” CLICK
“Hello? Hello?” She slammed the phone back on the receiver when she heard the dial tone. She waited a moment then picked it up again, punching the buttons. “Jiwon, this is Hyori. Can we meet today? Where? All right. I’ll be there.”
“So, what’s all this about?” asked Jiwon. He sipped his coffee.
Hyori’s face was serious. “That Heejun.. Did you give him that money?”
He nodded. “Yeah, why?”
“WHY did you do that?” asked Hyori furiously. “You… I haven’t even known you that long and..!!”
“I couldn’t just leave him to take you back to his sool jib! I had to do SOMETHING,” retorted Jiwon. “What’s so wrong with that?!”
Hyori took a deep breath. “What is it, Jiwon? What is it you’re expecting from me?” She awaited his answer.
Jiwon looked at Hyori with frustration. “Nothing,” he answered. “Nada, zip.”
“Then, WHY did you pay that much money for me?!” she shrieked. People in the cafe turned to stare but she didn’t pay any attention to them. “There HAS to be a catch, there always is!”
Jiwon stood up in his seat and pounded the table with his fist, shaking it. “Listen Hyori, there’s NO catch! That’s the point! I did that because I love you and I don’t want to see you get hurt by him again!” he bellowed.
“So you want me to be your girlfriend or something, huh? Is that it?”
Jiwon took a few breaths to calm down. “How can I do that, Hyori? You said so yourself you didn’t like me like that. How can I force you to love me?” He glanced at his watch. “I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll pay the check up front.” With that, he left the cafe.
As time passed, things remained awkward between Hyori and Jiwon. In that time, Hyori got a job at a department store.
Hyori grabbed her cell phone and flipped it open. “Hello?”
“Hyori, this is Jin. Do you want to meet for dinner tonight?”
“Sure.” They discussed details and Hyori hung up before her manager saw her talking on the phone.
“Hyori, over here!” Jin called out. Hyori spotted her and joined her at the table. “So, how’s work?”
“Oh fine,” said Hyori. “But my manager…oh my gosh..” She started babbling. “Aren’t you going to order?” asked Hyori.
“Oh.. I will,” answered Jin. She stretched her neck and scanned the room.
“Is someone else coming?” asked Hyori.
“Oh, um..” started Jin. Her eyes lit up. “Over here!” Hyori looked up too, but there were too many people blocking her view.
Hyori’s mouth dropped. “Hey Jin,” greeted Jiwon. “Oh! Hi Hyori..” he mumbled.
“Hi,” she muttered. Her eyes dropped to the table.
Jin clapped her hands. “Oh, I forgot! I was supposed to meet one of my friends for dinner. I guess I’ll have to leave. But you guys stay and eat.” She rose to leave. Hyori opened her mouth to object, but Jin cut her off. “Bye Hyori, see you tomorrow.” She left the restaurant, leaving a very embarassed and awkward Jiwon and Hyori.
Hyori looked at her palms. What was she supposed to say?
“So… how have you been doing?” asked Jiwon quietly.
Hyori kept her eyes on her hands. “Fine,” she answered shortly. “You?”
Jiwon sighed. “Listen, do we have to be like this? Can’t we just be comfortable with each other?”
“How? I mean..”
“Listen Hyori. I’m okay with everything. Don’t worry about me. But I just don’t want this thing to make stuff all weird between us, all right?”
Hyori nodded slowly. “Yeah, I guess.” She met his eyes.
He smiled. “Good. Now let’s order. I’m starving.”
“Jiwon, stop!” cried Hyori as they were walking.
Jiwon came to a halt. “What? What?” He spun around.
Hyori grabbed his arm and pulled him back to a machine. “Get me one of these stuffed animals.”
“Oh come on Hyori. I was never good at this,” he complained.
“Pleeeeease?” wheedled Hyori. Jiwon took one look at her face and gave in.
“All right,” he agreed.
Hyori beamed. “I want the bunny,” she instructed. Jiwon inserted a coin and pushed the stick towards the direction of the stuffed animal. He pressed the button and the hook descended. He grit his teeth with anticipation as the hook attached to the bunny and…
The bunny slid off and fell. Jiwon smiled sheepishly. “I told you I was never good at this stuff.”
Hyori held his arm again. “Pleeeeease… try again?” she requested. Jiwon inserted another coin. This time the bunny stayed on the hook. He pushed open the flap and pulled it out. “I knew you could do it!” squealed Hyori. She took the fuzzy stuffed animal from him and kissed it.
Jiwon smiled. “Glad you like it. Oof!” He fell to the ground hard.
The person helped Jiwon up. “Sorry,” he apologized.
A look of horror crossed Hyori’s face at the sight of the stranger. Jiwon glanced at her. “Is it someone you know?” he asked.
“Hyori? Is that you?” asked the guy. He grabbed her by the shoulders and stared at her face. “It is you!”
“Get your hands off me!” she screamed.
“Hyori, it’s me!”
Jiwon stared strangely at the middle aged man. Hyori threw his hands off her shoulders. “DON’T TOUCH ME!” she screeched.
“Hyori, I’m going to take you back home. Your mom.. Everyone’s worried about you.” He grabbed her hand.
Hyori shook his hand off with a look of utter disgust. “Why, so you can put me in a ‘mental correctional facility’?”
The man sighed. “Now Hyori, that was all a misunderstanding. Now, come back and we can get you some help..”
Tears filled Hyori’s eyes. “Don’t give me that shit!” she yelled. “How could you do something like that to me and not even say the truth?! Because of you, I lost my mom! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH YOU’VE SCREWED UP MY LIFE?!” She charged at him but Jiwon held her back.
“Hyori, who is this?” asked Jiwon. “Tell me!” he demanded.
“I’m her stepfather,” answered the man. “Now Hyori, stop it. You’re making a scene!”
Jiwon released Hyori and she fell to the ground crying. “YOU’RE her stepfather?” said Jiwon.
The man nodded. “Yeah, who are you? Listen, I don’t know what line she fed you but this girl needs help. She’s seriously troubled..”
Jiwon glowered at the man, his hand still balled in a fist. He looked at the multitude of people gathering around them. “What are you looking at?!” shouted Jiwon. “Go home, there’s nothing to see here! Let’s go.” He pulled Hyori up from the ground and led her away.
Jiwon let out a sigh as Hyori fell on his couch bawling. “Hyori,” he started.
“Jiwon, how could he say that to me? After all these years, he still doesn’t admit it!” She looked up at Jiwon with her tear streaked face.
“I don’t know. Some people are just like that.” He sat next to her on the couch.
“Damn it. Now that I’ve seen him again, I feel all filthy.” She held her arms around herself.
Jiwon touched her cheek and wiped the tears away with his thumb. She flinched slightly and he sighed. “Hyori, it’s me. Jiwon. Not your stepdad.”
Hyori sniffed. “I know.” She tucked her knees under her chin.
Jiwon smiled slightly. “Man, you’re a mess. I’ll get you some tissues and a glass of water.”
He gave her a tissue box and a glass of water. She took a big gulp of the water and blew her nose. “Thanks.”
Hyori sniffed and looked at Jiwon. “Hey Jiwon.. Could you do me a favor?” she asked.
He nodded. “Sure, what is it?”
“C-c-could.. you just hold me?”
He stretched out his arms and held her close to him. She was so comfortable in his arms. He put his hand through her hair and rubbed her back gently. “Anytime,” he said.
Later that night, Hyori and Jiwon went out to a pojangmacha.
“Ahjumma!” called out Jiwon. “One bottle of soju and some ramyun!”
“Yes sir.” The lady set a bottle of soju along with a big bowl of noodles. “Anything else?”
Jiwon shook his head. “Just this for now.” He poured some soju into Hyori’s shot glass and then into his. He looked at Hyori with surprise as she downed the glass down like a pro. He swallowed his soju. “You’re a pretty good drinker,” he commented.
Hyori smirked. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Hyori gulped another shot of soju. “That was goooooodd!”
Jiwon could tell by the glazed look in her eyes that she was drunk. “Uh, Hyori.. Maybe you shouldn’t have any more.” He pulled the bottle of soju away from her reach.
“Oh no! I’m fine.. Not drunk at all..” She let out a small hiccup. “Whoops! Excuse me.”
Jiwon took out his wallet and left a few bills by the bottle. “Ahjumma! The money’s here!” He pulled Hyori up and led her out of the pojangmacha.
“You know what, Jiwon? You’re a gooood guyyy!” She smacked him on the back heartily. “Oops!” She tripped over her own feet. “Damn.. Who left that rock in the middle of the street?”
Jiwon opened his mouth to say something but closed it. “Um yeah.. Stupid rock..” he muttered. He kicked an imaginary pebble.
Hyori laughed loosely. “Hehehe..” She stumbled to the side and fell right into Jiwon. “You should really watch where you’re walking,” she informed Jiwon. She tipped to the other side again.
“Hyori, are you sure you can walk?” he asked.
“Oh sure!” She closed her eyes and fell to the ground.
Jiwon rolled her eyes and pulled her up. “Hyori, wake up.” Her eyes remained closed. He stood in front of her and draped her arms around his neck. Then he tucked his arms under her legs and boosted her up on to his back. He felt her cheek leaning into his shoulder.
“Jiwon.. I love you..” whispered Hyori silently.
“Bleah.” Hyori rolled to her side and groaned. She felt like there were a thousand hammers pounding inside her head. She glanced at her clock and bolted upright in her bed. “Shit, I’m late for work!”
Hyori leaned against the wall and clocked out. Her shift had felt like forever. She glanced at the calendar hung up by the time clock. “Huh.. What do you know.. Today’s my birthday..”
Hyori decided not to tell anyone about her birthday. She didn’t want a big fuss. She shook her head again, trying to clear it up. Then she opened the door to Jin’s apartment. It was pitch black. “Why’s it so dark in here..” She flipped on the lights.
“SURPRISE!!” She heard party horns and party poppers.
Hyori squealed with delight. “How’d you guys know?” she asked.
Jin smiled. “I remember you told me once a few months ago so I circled it on my calendar.” She brought out a cake with candles on it.
“Make a wish,” said Jiwon. Hyori thought for a moment and let out a big breath. “What’d you wish for?” asked Jiwon
Hyori smiled. “If I told you, it wouldn’t come true.”
Jin handed her a gift bag. “Here, this is from me!”
“This is from me.” Jiwon gave her a wrapped box.
Hyori threw out all the white tissue paper from Jin’s present and pulled out a pair of sunglasses and earrings. She gave Jin a hug. “Thanks Jin.” She stuck on the sunglasses, the price tag still dangling. “Let’s see.. Did Jiwon get me anything good..” She tore open the wrapping paper and flipped the lid off the box. She pulled out a pair of baggy jeans. “ACKK!!” she screamed. “These are the ones in the window!” She hugged Jiwon.
Jiwon laughed. “Do you like them that much?”
Hyori nodded. “Thanks you guys for making my birthday so special..”
“Bye Jin! Bye Hyori! See ya guys later.” Jiwon walked towards the door.
“Wait Jiwon!” cried Hyori. “I need to talk to you.”
Jiwon was surprised. “Oh well. Okay.” Hyori followed him out the door and they walked to the small playground by Jin’s apartment building. “What’s up?”
Hyori sat down on a swing and Jiwon sat down on the one next to it. She gripped the chains with her bands and swung back and forth. “Jiwon… You remember that one day at the Han River?” she asked.
Jiwon’s face grew solemn as he was reminded of the rejection. “Yeah.”
Jiwon interrupted her. “Hyori, it’s all right. Really it is. You don’t need to try and explain anything. I understand.”
“I mean I was telling the truth about you finding a better girl than me but I was lying when I said I only liked you as a friend.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” inquired Jiwon.
“Well.. I.. I didn’t think I was good enough for you.”
Jiwon sighed. “Hyori..”
“Wait listen to me.” Jiwon stopped talking. “For the first time in my life, I feel special. When I’m with you, I don’t feel worthless anymore. You’ve made me realize that I have value.” Hyori paused for a moment. “And most of all.. You make me feel beautiful.” She stared into Jiwon’s eyes and smiled. “I love you, Jiwon.”
Jiwon grinned. “Say that again.”
“I love you Jiwon.”
He stood up out of his swing and pulled her out of her’s. “Would you give me the honor of this dance?”
Hyori stared at him strangely. “There’s no music,” she said bluntly.
Jiwon took her hand and pulled her close to him, swaying to the imaginary music. “Sure there is..” He started humming a slow tune then made up words to go with it.
Hyori wrapped her arms around his neck. “Dork.”
Jiwon pulled away slightly and kissed her on the forehead. He wrapped his arms around her again. “Thanks Hyori.. Thanks for choosing me..”
“You know what Jiwon?”
“My wish came true.”
“Jiwon, where are we going?” asked Hyori in the car.
Jiwon smiled. “Oh somewhere fun.”
“Can I please take this stupid blindfold off?”
Jiwon slapped her hand. “No!”
Jiwon parked his car. “Okay, we’re here.” He got out of his jeep and opened Hyori’s door. “You can get out,” he informed.
Hyori let out an impatient breath. “I kind of can’t see, you know.”
Jiwon snapped his fingers. “Whoops, sorry.” He slid his arms under her legs and arms.
“What do you think you’re doing?” asked Hyori.
Jiwon rolled his eyes. “How else do you expect me to get you out of the car?” He scooped her up in his arms and set her feet down on the ground. “Just follow me.”
Hyori laughed dryly. “Haha.”
“Oops.” He laughed and took her hand, leading her to the place. “Okay, we’re here!”
Hyori took off her blindfold and hit Jiwon’s arm. “What the heck.. Lotte World?”
Jiwon hit her back. “Just wait a sec, all right?” Hyori sat down on a chair that was outside.
“I guess there must be some singers coming,” said Hyori, staring at the stage.
Jiwon nodded. Soon, the place filled up and the singers came on to the stage. None of them were very famous but it was still exciting. “Thank you all for coming to watch us!” called out a singer. Everyone cheered. “But before you leave, we have a special treat for you! Eun Jiwon will be coming up to sing a song to his special someone!” Hyori’s eyes grew round and she was dumbfounded. Jiwon took a deep breath and stepped up to the stage.
Soon, soft music floated out of the speakers and Jiwon began to sing Fly to the Sky’s ‘Yak Sok.’ Hyori’s first reaction was to burst out laughing. She wasn’t the type to get all sappy over things like this but as she saw how much Jiwon was putting into the song, she could feel tears coming. She quickly wiped it away. Soon, the song ended and Jiwon joined Hyori back on the ground. He put his arm around her and laughed. “You cried, didn’t you?” he teased.
Hyori frowned and slapped his arm. “No I didn’t..”
“Hey, gimme some!” Jiwon reached over to try to steal some of Hyori’s cotton candy.
Hyori held it out of his reach. “Mine! Muhahaha..” She grabbed a big handful and stuck it in her mouth, leaving a big piece dangling to torture Jiwon. Jiwon quickly leaned forward and bit a big piece out of it. His lips brushed against her’s slightly. She slapped him on the arm. “You idiot!”
Jiwon licked his lips. “Yum.” Hyori had to smile. She tore off a piece and fed it to him.
“So are you having a good time?” he asked. Hyori nodded. He glanced at his watch. “Damn, it’s getting late. I’ll take you home.” The couple walked hand in hand back to his car.
Jiwon opened the door to his apartment and pushed Hyori in. “You know what.. I’m hungry.” Hyori plopped down on the couch while Jiwon raided the refrigerator. “You want some fruit?” he called out.
“Yeah sure.” Hyori turned around and..
The plum bonked off Hyori’s forehead. “Hey!” she protested. She chucked it back at him but he dodged it.
“I didn’t mean to!” Jiwon hid behind the counter.
Hyori ran after him. “Come out and fight like a MAN!!” Jiwon darted left and right, trying to avoid Hyori. Finally, he made a mad dash and ran to his room with Hyori on his tail. Hyori let out a yell and tackled Jiwon on his bed.
Jiwon laughed. “Okay, I give up. Uncle..”
“Ha! That’s what I thought!” She smacked him on his chest and started to get up but Jiwon pulled her back down. “What do you think you’re doing?” she inquired. He rolled over so he was on top of her. “Jiwon, get off me!” She squirmed but he didn’t move.
“It’s okay,” he whispered. “I won’t do anything to hurt you..” He gently brushed some of the hair out of Hyori’s face and stroked her cheek. Slowly, he closed his eyes and leaned closer to her face. Hyori slowly closed her eyes and stopped squirming as his lips touched her’s. It was very sweet and tender. She felt herself growing lost in the kiss and she slowly linked her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her…
Jiwon pulled away slightly to catch his breath. “Jiwon.. I gotta go,” said Hyori.
Jiwon frowned. “How come?”
“I gotta go to the bathroom.”
Jiwon jumped off the bed. “Hurry! Go quick!” Hyori ran to the bathroom and came back. She sat beside him awkwardly and smiled. The moment was ruined, that was for sure. “Man, you sure aren’t a mood maker,” said Jiwon.
Hyori stuck her tongue out at him. “Hey, I had to go. What did you expect me to do?”
Jiwon laughed. “Yeah, yeah. All right. It’s pretty late. I’ll take you home.”
“Jiwon, I’ve got to get back to work soon. Why’d you call me out here?” Hyori smoothed down her navy blue skirt which was part of her uniform.
Jiwon handed her a box. “Here, I got this for you.”
Hyori’s face lit up. “A present? But it isn’t my birthday or anything..” She took out a white dress that stopped just below her knees with a white sweater. “Jiwon, you know I hate dresses,” she stated flatly.
“Wear it at dinner tonight.”
“Dinner? Since when was I meeting you for dinner?”
“Well, since my mom said she wanted to meet you,” answered Jiwon.
“Your MOM?” repeated Hyori. “Since when was I going to meet your mom?”
Jiwon sighed. “Please do this for me,” he begged. “She said she wanted to meet the girl I wanted to marry.”
Hyori’s eyes widened. “Marry?”
Jiwon pushed a small velvet box in front of her. “Would you?”
Hyori took out the diamond ring. “Oh lawd.” Her mouth dropped.
Jiwon took the ring from her hands and slid it on her finger. “Your answer is yes, right? I mean.. well, you don’t have to..”
Hyori rolled her eyes. “What kind of proposal is this?”
“Is your answer yes?” Hyori nodded slowly. Jiwon leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead. “Well, I’d better get back to work. I’ll see you tonight.”
“So Hyori, you say your parents passed away?” asked Mrs. Eun.
Hyori carefully folded her hands in her lap. “Yes.”
Mrs. Eun made a clicking noise with her tongue. “That’s too bad.”
Hyori glanced at her watch. Where was Jiwon. “Sorry I’m late!” Jiwon called out. He sat down next to Hyori.
Mrs. Eun smiled. “That’s all right, son. Anyway, let’s order.” The meal went pretty well. The atmosphere was a bit tense but Mrs. Eun seemed to have approved of Hyori.
“Yes!!” Jiwon pumped his fist in the air while he was walking with Hyori.
Hyori couldn’t help but smile too.
“Eun Jiwon! Did you finish that report I gave you?” barked Jiwon’s superior.
Jiwon quickly gave it to him. “Yes sir.” The man let out an approving grunt and walked away. RING RING Jiwon took out his cell phone and answered it. “Yes hello? Mom? Oh sure. What time? Okay.”
“What is it mom? Is something wrong?” asked Jiwon.
Mrs. Eun let out an impatient breath. “That girl.. Hyori.. Her last name is Lee, right?”
Jiwon nodded slowly. “Why, mom? Is something wrong with that?”
“Jiwon!” shouted Mrs. Eun. “That girl worked in a sool jib, do you know that?”
Jiwon’s eyes widened. “How’d you find that out?”
“You mean, you KNEW?”
“Okay forget about that. Not only did she work in a sool jib, she is a very mentally troubled person! Her background is unbelievable, do you know that?”
“Mom, it’s not what you think. Her stepfather is the one who..”
Mrs. Eun interrupted him. “No, Jiwon. I can’t allow this marriage. I just can’t.”
“Mom, please! You can’t do this to me! Hyori is the most beautiful person I know.”
“Chi. I’ll find you a much more prettier girl.”
“No Mom! Not just in the physical sense! You don’t understand… Anyway, I need her. I can’t give her up.”
Mrs. Eun sighed. “You make a choice, Jiwon. It’s either me or her. You marry her and I won’t have anything to do with you.”
“Mom, you can’t force me to make this decision!” protested Jiwon. “Mom, please..”
His mother glared at him. “So, who’s it going to be?”
“Hello?” Hyori answered. “Right now? Where? Okay.”
Hyori yawned and sat down beside Jiwon in the pojangmacha. “What’s going on Jiwon? It’s 3 AM.”
Jiwon smiled weakly. “I just felt like having a drink.” He poured soju into the two shot glasses. He clinked his glass with Hyori’s and gulped it down.
Hyori didn’t know why but she started feeling uncomfortable. “Is there something wrong, Jiwon?” she asked. Jiwon ignored her and kept drinking the soju.. One shot after another.. “Jiwon, stop! You’re going to kill yourself!” She grabbed the bottle of soju.
Jiwon snatched back the soju and started drinking again. “Ahjumma! Get me one more.. two more bottles of soju!” he shouted. The woman set two bottles of the drink in front of him.
“Jiwon, something’s wrong but you won’t tell me. What is it?” asked Hyori urgently.
Jiwon spoke. “My mom won’t be able to help with the wedding preparations. We’ll need to do it by ourselves.”
Hyori nodded. “That’s all right.. I can do that..” She looked at Jiwon suspiciously. “Is that all?”
Jiwon nodded. “Yup.. And I wanted to see your beautiful face.”
Hyori smiled and rolled her eyes. “Ah, what the heck..” She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. Jiwon grinned and poured himself another shot.
“Are you sure you can get home by yourself?” asked Hyori. She looked at Jiwon in a concerned way as he tipped to the side.
Jiwon waved his hand at her. “Oh sure.”
Hyori nodded. “All right.. Well, I’m going back in..” She reluctantly walked towards the apartment but Jiwon spun her around and pulled her close to him. He put his arms around her and held her tightly. Hyori slowly linked her arms around his neck.
Jiwon pulled away for a moment and held her face, stroking her cheek. “Damn, you’re beautiful.” He held her close again. “I love you, Hyori..”
Hyori still sensed something was wrong but she said, “I love you too Jiwon..”
RING RING RING
“Hello? Oh, hi Mrs. Eun. When? Oh sure. I’ll be there.” Hyori clicked off her phone.
Hyori stumbled out on to the street, tears blinding her eyes.
‘I don’t want you to see my son again…’
‘You’re a bad influence…’
‘I’ve heard of your background..’
‘I have someone in mind who I want Jiwon to marry.. But it isn’t you..’
‘If you don’t leave my son alone, I’ll call your parents…’
‘Don’t you think he could do better?’
‘You.. He chose you over me.. If you marry him, I’ll never see him again..’
Hyori blindly reached into her purse and pulled out her cell phone. Sniffing, she angrily wiped away her tears and called Jiwon. Closing her eyes, she inhaled a deep breath and swallowed. “Jiwon? I need to talk to you..”
Hyori sat patiently at the table, sipping her coffee. She really wasn’t in a rush. She spotted Jiwon coming in and he walked towards her table, wearing a grin.
“Hyori!” She stiffly received the kiss on the cheek and forced a smile. “No coffee for me?”
Hyori shoved her cup and saucer towards him.
“I was just kidding,” said Jiwon.
Hyori shook her head. “No it’s okay. I’m not really thirsty anyway.”
Jiwon shrugged his shoulders and touched his lips to the edge of the cup. “Hehehe.. Hyori’s lips touched the cup..” Hyori usually would have rolled her eyes or slapped him playfully at such a corny remark but she just stayed still with a serious expression on her face. “What’s wrong?” Jiwon finally asked.
Hyori pushed something across the table to Jiwon.
Jiwon picked up the ring box and looked inside to see the ring. “What is it? Is it too big or something?” he questioned, looking confused.
Hyori shook her head. “No, I changed my mind.”
“I don’t want to get married anymore. It’s too sudden.”
Jiwon sighed and silence filled the room for a while. “All right, I understand. I can wait.”
Hyori shook her head. “No, you don’t understand. I don’t want to get married with you. Ever.”
“We just aren’t right for each other. Look at me.. I don’t belong with you.. I’m sorry, Jiwon..”
“Is it my mom? Did she say something to you?” inquired Jiwon. “ANSWER ME!”
“How can I make you betray your mother, Jiwon? I can’t do that to you.. Or to your mom. I’m sorry, I’ve got to go..” She quickly walked out of the coffee shop, holding in tears.
As she was preparing to walk across the street, Jiwon yanked her arm back. “I can’t allow this, Hyori! No! I chose you and that’s that! NOBODY is going to change it!” shouted Jiwon.
Hyori pulled her arm away. “Don’t say this to me, Jiwon! I just want to live my life like I want.”
“And you don’t want to live it with me?!”
“NO! How could I, knowing what you gave up? I can’t do this to you!” she screamed. “Please.. Just leave me alone!” She ran across the street, trying to get away from him.
She turned around and screamed as a sedan came towards her. She felt herself being pushed and the next thing she knew, she was lying face flat on the ground. But no blood..no nothing.. She felt a little sore but not half as sore as she would have been if she had been hit by a car. That was when she realized it. It was like slow motion. She turned around just in time to see Jiwon’s body flying in the air and landing with a thud about fifty feet from the car. She crawled to his side and shook him. “Jiwon!”
Hyori leaned over in her chair and buried her face in her hands. She kept telling herself, ‘It isn’t real.. It’s just a nightmare..’ But it was.. It was real..
Hyori rubbed some tears away and stood to face the doctor. “Yes Doctor Shim?”
“I’m afraid that Mr. Eun is in critical condition.”
Hyori’s eyes fell to the ground.
“We will try our very best, Miss Lee. Don’t give up hope.” With that, he patted her shoulder and walked away.
“WHERE’S MY SON? WHERE IS HE?” Hyori closed her eyes as Mrs. Eun ran to her and started hitting her. She didn’t try to stop Mrs. Eun. She just stood still, accepting it. “DAMN IT, WHERE IS HE?!”
Hyori swayed back and forth as Mrs. Eun continued to shake and hit her. Hyori’s eyes met with Mrs. Eun’s. “He’s in the emergency room right now,” she said softly.
Mrs. Eun fell to the floor in a big heap. “How did this happen?”
“I did as you said and I was running away but I didn’t watch where I was going.. He pushed me out of the way and..” Hyori burst into tears.
Mrs. Eun shakingly stood to her feet. A few moments of silence passed and that’s when it happened. Mrs. Eun swung her arm and slapped Hyori across the cheek. Hyori said nothing. She just stood there, tears streaming down her face. “Go,” ordered Mrs. Eun. “I don’t care where. Just go!”
Hyori dropped to her knees. “Please Mrs. Eun! I need to see that Jiwon will be all right.”
Mrs. Eun pulled Hyori up. “You’re wasting your time, Hyori.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a thick envelope. She slapped it into Hyori’s palm. “Take this and go somewhere. Leave Seoul. I want to make sure my son will never have to see your face again even if he does survive.”
Hyori shoved the envelope back into Mrs. Eun’s purse. “I’ll go, Mrs. Eun. Don’t worry about that.”
ONE YEAR LATER…
“Hyori! Your table wants you!”
Hyori ran out to the table with a menu pad. “Yes sir, what would you like?” The men ordered some fresh seafood and she slapped the order in front of the chef. She sat for a while to rest her legs. She had moved near the seashore and had found a job in a restaurant. She missed Jiwon everyday. Some days she could barely stand it but she had to. ‘Some people can’t be together no matter how hard they try,’ she thought. ‘I guess that we’re one of those..’
Hyori shook her hair out of her long ponytail and prepared to go to sleep. Suddenly something caught her eye. Her eyes were drawn to her small white cell phone. She tried looking away but she couldn’t. She grabbed the phone and clicked it on. After she punched in the number code to her voice mail, she listened intently.
“Hyori? This is Jin. Where are you?! Give me a call when you get my message.” Hyori erased it and listened to the next one.
“Hyori?! Don’t you check your voice mail? How come your phone is always turned off? Call me, would you? I’m worried about you.”
Hyori sighed impatiently, deleting about 7 messages from Jin. She was about to just turn off her phone but a familiar voice stopped her.
“Hyori? This is Jiwon. Please give me a call. I need to talk to you. I’ve done so many things for you, the least you could do is call me. Well, I guess I’ll hang up.” There was a pause. “I love you.”
Hyori peered into her small mirror hanging on the wall and straightened herself up. She quickly fussed with her hair and took a deep breath.
“Hi, how are you.. No.. That’s not right..” She took another deep breath and started again. “Hi, what have you been up to?” She smacked herself on the forehead. She jumped as she heard the door creak open.
Hyori ran up to Jin and hugged her. “Hi Jin.”
Jin looked at where Hyori lived. “Is this where you live?” She examined the small room. The only contents were a small TV and a wardrobe. One small mirror decorated the almost bare wall.
Hyori nodded. “It’s not big but it’s just me. I can get water up on the roof to wash with and do my laundry with. There’s a bathroom right across from me, too.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve got everything I need.”
Jin sat on the floor. “How have you been?” she asked. “I’ve been worried about you.”
Hyori wore a tiny smile. “I’ve been fine. At my job, everyone’s really nice to me. I’ve made a couple new friends. I really like the ocean too..”
Jin nodded with relief. “How about Jiwon oppa? Have you talked to him at all?”
Hyori shook her head. “It’s just better that way. Anyway.. how is he?”
Jin’s face grew grim. “Not good. Not good at all.” Hyori bit her lip. “Ever since he got out of his coma, he’s become a robot except for the fact that he’s become awfully moody. All he does is go to work, eat, and sleep. He doesn’t joke anymore. His eyes are so dull. There’s no sparkle in them anymore. It just seems like.. He doesn’t care about life anymore.” A tear dropped from Jin’s eye.
Hyori felt like her heart was being ripped into shreds but she disguised it with indifference. “I’m sure he’ll snap out of it,” she said nonchalantly.
Jin stared at Hyori with astonishment. “Is that all you can say?!”
“What else do you expect me to say?!” Hyori shot back. “You don’t understand, Jin! I CAN’T go back to him. Do you know how much I would screw up his life? I can’t have that on my conscience.”
Jin glared at her. “You’re right, Hyori. I don’t understand.” She stood to her feet and left Hyori’s room, slamming the door behind her. When Hyori was sure Jin was gone, she pulled her knees up and bawled.
“Good job, Hyori! See you tomorrow.” The manager handed Hyori her pay.
Hyori bowed. “Thank you.” She smiled as she held her hard earned money in her hands and skipped out of the restaurant. Suddenly, she stopped in her tracks and the envelope dropped to the ground. Her first instinct was to turn and run so she did. “ACK! Get away from me!” she screamed hysterically. Anyone passing by would have probably laughed at the spectacle Hyori was making out of herself. She reached into her purse and pulled out various objects, tossing them at the person chasing her.
“OUCH! Damn it!”
Hyori screamed as she tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. She was quite a sight, sprawled out all over the cement. She painfully picked herself up and dusted the dirt off her jeans. “Okay, you’ve got me.”
Jiwon grabbed Hyori’s hand and yanked her towards where Hyori lived. “Ouch, let go! I can walk!” Jiwon ignored her and dragged her to her room. He flung open the door and threw her in there, closing the door behind him. Trembling, Hyori stood to her feet and leaned against the wall. “Jiwon, it’s over. I told you.”
Jiwon’s face turned red with anger. “WOULD YOU SHUT UP?!” he hollered. Hyori was frozen with fear. She had never seen Jiwon so angry. He walked towards her and pushed her shoulders against the wall, blocking any chance of escape. Slowly he inched closer to her face and met his lips with her’s. Hyori struggled against him but it was no use. She was helpless. The kiss grew more demanding and rough as his body pressed into her’s. His lips moved against Hyori’s. She felt his arms slide off her shoulders. Slowly, his fingers started undressing her, button by button…
Hyori balled her fist and smacked him across the jaw. He fell to the floor, moaning in pain. She quickly buttoned herself up again. “What the hell were you thinking?!” she shouted.
Jiwon looked up at Hyori and stuck his leg out. Hyori took one step back and..
She fell to the floor like a ton of bricks. Jiwon swung his arm over and pinned it across her waist. “Now you listen to me, Lee Hyori and you listen good. I, Eun Jiwon, have spent the last year spending practically all my money on rehab, fucking learning how to walk. WALK!” he boomed. Hyori stiffened at the change in his voice. “I find that you’re gone.. No letter.. No call.. No nothing.” His face was centimeters from her’s. “So I call and what do I get? Voice mail. No call back.. No nothing..” He sat up and tilted his head at her. “So I endure hell in rehab with the hope that maybe you’d come back.. Maybe you’d change your mind.. But no. Nothing.”
Hyori started to cry. “Jiwon, you know how much I love you. That’s why I left you. I didn’t want to cause problems with you and your mom!”
“BULL SHIT!” Jiwon thundered. “What the hell? Am I a one year old toddler still depending on their mom for what’s right and what’s wrong? DAMN IT! I’m a grown man! That doesn’t explain shit!”
Hyori started to shake. “Jiwon, stop it! You’re scaring me!” She started sobbing uncontrollably.
Jiwon’s face softened and he pulled Hyori up. He pulled her into his arms and held her close. “Hyori, I’m sorry. Don’t cry. I’m sorry.” He stroked her hair and rubbed her back. “Hyori, I’m sorry. Don’t cry,” he whispered again. “I just missed you so much and I was so angry and hurt.. I just got carried away…”
Hyori held him around his neck and buried her sobs on his shoulder. “Jiwon.. I didn’t know.. I didn’t know how much I hurt you..”
“Hyori, please forgive me,” begged Jiwon. “I wasn’t planning on doing that.. I was just so..”
Hyori pulled away and saw that Jiwon’s eyes were getting all watery. She leaned forward and kissed his mouth lightly. “It’s all right Jiwon. I forgive you.” She came back into his arms. “Would you forgive me too?”
Jiwon kissed her cheek. “Yes.. But only if you promise to stay by my side.”
Hyori held him tighter. “I promise, Jiwon.. This time, nothing will tear us apart.”
“Are you sure about this?” asked Hyori doubtfully.
Jiwon squeezed Hyori’s hand. “Of course. We’re meant to be.” He pushed the doorbell.
“Jiwonie? Is that you?” The door opened and Mrs. Eun gasped. “What are you doing here?” she asked Hyori.
Hyori looked down at the floor. Jiwon smiled. “Mom, let’s talk about this inside.” He started walking in but Mrs. Eun blocked the doorway. “Mom!” cried Jiwon.
“Jiwon, nothing will change my mind! Nothing!” Mrs. Eun stomped her foot down on the ground. “She’s not coming into my house.”
Panic crossed Jiwon’s face. “Umma.. I love her. This is the one I want to spend my life with but I want you to accept it. Please, just give us a chance.”
Mrs. Eun shook her head. “Jiwon, whether you marry her or not, it will be none of my affair.”
Jiwon dropped to his knees. “Please..”
“Stop that, right now! The neighbors will see you!” ordered Mrs. Eun.
Jiwon remained on his knees. “I’ll stay out here all night if that’s what it takes.”
Hyori joined him on the ground. “Me too.”
“Fine! Make fools out of yourselves!” She closed the door and locked it.
Jiwon smiled at Hyori and held her hand. Hyori smiled back. They were in this together.
Jiwon shifted on his knees. The sun was setting and Mrs. Eun had not even looked out the window. Hyori rubbed her legs. “Are you okay?” asked Jiwon. “Why don’t you go home? I’ll stay here until my mom comes out.”
Hyori shook her head. “Remember, we’re in this together.” She smiled. “How about we play a game?”
Jiwon arched an eyebrow. “What game?”
Hyori thought for a moment. “How about.. Hmm.. Did you have any girlfriends before me?”
“:Psh, of course!” he snorted.
“Hmm… how many?” asked Hyori.
Jiwon started counting on his fingers. “Chi.. I dunno.”
Hyori smacked him. “Okay.. Where do you think I’m most pretty?”
Jiwon grinned. “That’s easy. Your smile. I love how your eyes disappear.”
Hyori smiled. “Hmm.. Why do you love me?” She thought ‘Ha! I got him! They say true love has no reason.’
Jiwon scratched the top of his head. “Gee.. I dunno..” He kept thinking. Hyori leaned over and pressed her lips against Jiwon’s slightly. He smiled. “What was that for?” he asked.
Hyori kissed his cheek. “Oh nothing.. Just because I love you.”
Hyori yawned and leaned against Jiwon. “Ack!” She fell over.
Jiwon rubbed his eyes. “Sorry. I think I fell asleep.” He pushed himself back up on his knees and put his arm around Hyori, allowing her to lean on his shoulder.
Hyori closed her eyes and rested against his shoulder, clinging to him. “Will she ever come out?”
Jiwon wrapped his arms around her and sighed. “I don’t know.”
“OMG, are you guys still here?” Mrs. Eun looked at them in shock.
Jiwon nodded. “Yeah. We’ll stay here too until you let us in and talk to us,” he pointed out.
Mrs. Eun sighed. “It is pretty cold. Why don’t you guys come in?”
Hyori took a sip of the fresh coffee and kept the cup in front of her face so the steam warmed her cold skin. She glanced beside her and saw Jiwon’s empty cup. “Mrs. Eun, I know how you feel. I know you don’t want to give your only son to some girl who used to work in a sool jib,” started Hyori. “But Mrs. Eun, I love your son. He means the world to me. If you let me marry him, I’ll do anything for him. I’ll be good to him, Mrs. Eun. I promise.. And to you.”
Mrs. Eun took Hyori’s hand in her’s. “I’m sorry, Hyori. Now I realize how much you mean to my son. When I see what he goes through to be with you, and what you go through for him, I know I can’t be wrong.” She smiled at the two of them. “Let’s start sending out invitations.”
Jiwon pumped his fist in the air with victory. “YAHOO!!” He ran over and hugged his mom. “Mom, I LOVE YOU!!” He hugged her as tightly as he could.
Mrs. Eun slapped his arm. “Stop that, you’re choking me!” Jiwon ignored her and hugged her tighter. Mrs. Eun laughed along with Hyori. After Jiwon finally let go of his mom, he scooped Hyori up in his arms.
“Jiwon, put me down!” she cried.
Jiwon spun her around. “We’re getting married!!”
“Oh lawd, I’m getting married.” Hyori looked at herself in the mirror, smoothing down her wedding dress. She wrung her hands nervously. “Oh lawd..”
Jin gripped Hyori’s shoulders. “It’s all right, Hyori. Breathe!”
Hyori took a deep breath. “Okay.. I’m calmed down..”
Jin smiled. “Good! Cuz it’s time for you to go out!” She pushed Hyori out of the powder room to the wedding hall.
“What?!” Before Hyori knew it, she was standing in the middle of about 150 people. She took another deep breath and started walking down the aisle. When Jiwon took her hand and stood by her, all her nervousness melted away. He squeezed her hand and she relaxed. She had never felt so right about anything in her life.
Jiwon looked at Hyori with frustration. “What?! Don’t tell me that..”
“Sorry Jiwon,” said Hyori. “I wanna have jja jjang myun now.”
Jiwon’s head dropped on to the table. “But we just ordered you a steak!” he protested with his forehead resting on the table.
Hyori knocked on Jiwon’s head. “But I don’t want it anymore,” she whined.
Jiwon scanned the room for the waiter and grabbed Hyori’s hand. “Hurry up before he comes back!” He pulled her up and grunted. “Damn, you weigh a ton.”
Hyori frowned at him. “Thanks, it’s not like I don’t feel like a whale already.” She patted the bulge around her middle area.
“Damn.. Why do you have so many cravings?” He opened the car door for her.
Hyori smiled. “I love you.” She pecked him on the cheek.
Jiwon’s tight expression loosened. “Well.. all right.. On to the Chinese restaurant!”
“Jiwon, that’s what I love about you. You’re so good to me.”
“JIWON, HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!!” shrieked Hyori.
Jiwon grimaced. “Be patient, Hyori.”
Hyori looked at Jiwon with hatred. “AGH!!”
“Congratulations. It’s a healthy baby boy,” said the doctor.
Hyori and Jiwon sighed with relief. Hyori cradled the little baby in her arms. The couple looked at the small infant with affection. “Isn’t he beautiful?” asked Hyori.
Jiwon kissed her. “Yes.. Just like his mom.”
Hyori added something. “And his dad..”