A M N E S I A: Chapter 3

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3:

Daydreaming Heartbeat

      It was Monday afternoon. Eunji and her best friends were walking home from school. With merry conversations, laughter, and jokes, they walked slowly to Bomyi, Sarang, and Minjae’s street, which was their first stop. The quiet and shy girl So Eun also decided to walk home with them from now on since her house was actually just blocks away from Minjae’s house.

     At last, just after yesterday’s Kibum-and-Eunji-ditched double date, So Eun and Minjae broke the shy wall that had been separating them since they laid their eyes on each other. After all this time, they never thought they had so much in common and that even though it was totally awkward at first, they quickly became comfortable with each other. There was one problem, though. Kibum, Sarang, and Bomyi won’t stop teasing them since they basically wouldn’t stop saying that they were the ones who created and sailed this ship. Oh, if only Minjae or So Eun took the courage to make the first move on each other sooner, then their friends wouldn’t tease and embarrass them so much all day.

      Hanging his arm around Minjae’s neck, Kibum said, “So, Minjae, when will you take her out next?”

      “Yeaah, will it be romantic?” Sarang teased.

      “What?” Minjae’s shoulders suddenly went up, embarrassed that his friends were asking about this when So Eun was just beside him. “I don’t know.” So Eun, who was silently smiling while listening intently to their conversation, was also slightly embarrassed, but she found him cute being teased by his friends.

      “He’ll probably take her to a haunted house,” Bomyi joked.

      “Yeah, and Minjae will hold on to So Eun out of fear and not the other way around,” Sarang chuckled.

      “I actually have something in mind,” So Eun replied seriously, trying to ignore his friends who were making fun of him.

      “Really? What?” Kibum’s curiosity rose. So Eun also became curious and anticipated his answer.

      Minjae turned to his right, to So Eun, and asked, “Do you like extreme sports?”

Extreme sports? Would that be something girls would be interested in, especially So Eun? So Eun looked like the kind of girl who would want to spend time in a library or something. Kibum rolled his eyes 180 degrees in disappointment, Sarang’s mouth dropped, and Bomyi face-palmed herself. Sports, especially extreme sports, are not something girls usually like to do or even talk about.

      “Yes, I do,” So Eun’s eyes sparkled in excitement and so did Minjae’s.

      “Really?!” The three blurted as their heads instantly turned to So Eun. Never in a million years would the three have thought that the silent, shy, lady-like, skirt-wearing teenager would love extreme sports. Looks like Minjae wasn’t a total idiot to have thought of that after all.

      “Yeah,” So Eun chuckled and nodded. “I like extreme sports.”

      “Then I guess we’re gonna get along well in the future!” Minjae smile grew bigger after finding another common ground between them. The two girls started laughing at how perfect they were for each other. It felt like they were ajummas who were finally marrying off their thirty-year old son to the perfect woman.

      As Kibum laughed along with them, he couldn’t help but feel something was not right with the atmosphere. Something was missing. He turned his head to his left and his hunch was right. Eunji, who was following behind the group, hung her head low with her hands buried in her sweater’s pockets. All this time, she was silent and was not paying much attention to the conversation. She was not as dorky and fun like she usually was.

      “It must be because of last night, Kibum thought, remembering the stressful accident. He, too, was a bit shaken up by witnessing such an event last night, but he knew Eunji could’ve felt much worse.

***

      “See you guys tomorrow!” Minjae waved at Kibum and Eunji as he walked So Eun to her home.

      “Bye!” Kibum warmly waved back.

      Since Kibum and Eunji lived on the same street, they were the last to head home. Of course, Kibum liked the fact that he could give her a walk back home every day after school. It was always a time when they would entertain each other like they’ve known each other for a long time. Since both of them usually talk like crazy, both would not fall into awkward silences or anything like that. But today was a completely different atmosphere. Eunji has not spoken a word since they left the school. To be more precise, Eunji didn’t utter a single word the whole day unless she was directly spoken to. Was the accident that shocking to her? Sooner or later, he has to talk to her or comfort her but never before has he done that to anyone. He was always a joking and nagging kind of person, so caring all of a sudden would probably feel weird.

      It became so silent between them that Kibum could feel the cold autumn-winter breeze brushing through his messy fringe, and see the blue skies were empty of clouds, and the night already about to introduce itself in a few hours. He could even hear dogs barking from streets away. His not-so-heavy breathing could be clearly heard, too.

      “It’s quiet today…” Kibum sighed, trying to break the silence between them.

      “Yeah…” Eunji tried to chuckle to give Kibum the message that she was fine and that she didn’t want to be asked why she wasn’t so cheerful, but all that came out of her was also a sigh.

      “You okay?” Kibum asked her anyway. He also tried to refrain from doing so, but seeing Eunji like this just makes him feel so down.

      “I guess.” Still, her tone didn’t have much energy.

      “Is it about yesterday’s accident?” Kibum said, clearly remembering the unexpected event from last night.

      “Yeah,” Eunji nodded. “I’m just worried.”

      “Why do you say that?”

      “We were sent home without even knowing if he will be fine,” Eunji whimpered.

      “Why don’t we go to the hospital and check how he’s doing?” It was clear to Kibum that she will continue to be like this if he didn’t do anything about it.

      “Would that really be okay with you?” Eunji looked back at him. “You may not know him, but I do.”

      “It’s alright with me,” Kibum compassionately smiled. “I don’t want you to go alone.”

      “Thanks…” Eunji felt grateful that Kibum understood how she felt. She wanted to see how Jinwon was doing, but she also didn’t want to come there on that chilly, disinfected place alone.

      “Wait, I’ll call my mom.”

***

      Being a mom at a young age, Stephanie always tried to find easier ways to stay financially stable and still stay close to her daughter. Having discovered multiple internet jobs just a few years ago were definitely helpful to let her achieve those goals. This was why her schedule never got packed anymore, resulting to her having time for blind dates that her daughter and friend Jessica set up for the past two to three years.

      Every day, her work time would vary. Sometimes the whole day she would work, and sometimes, only half of the day. Today she worked from morning until afternoon, making her have time to tidy up the house before Eunji comes back from school.

“Sekaijuu de koi seyo Girls! Ima Lingua Franca, Lingua Franca .. narihibiku kod—”

      As she was cleaning through the book shelves in her bedroom, her phone rang. It was Eunji.

      “Oh, Eunji, what’s up?” Stephanie greeted as if Eunji was her friend.

      “Hi Mom, is it okay if I visit the hospital?” Eunji asked.

      “For Mr. Kim?”

      “Yeah…”

      “Is anyone coming with you?”

      “Yeah. Kibum’s coming with me.”

      “Oh, then sure you can go,” Stephanie agreed. “Just be back before dinner, okay?”

      “Yeah, I will.”

      “Okay, bye.”

      “Bye, Mom. See you.” Eunji ended the call.

      Last night at the jamming session, Eunji, Junmyun, and Kibum made it but they weren’t as excited as before the accident. Seeing a man being hit and rushed to the emergency room was enough to upset their stomachs and their spirit until the end of the night. Fortunately, Junmyun and Kibum recovered from it the next day. Eunji however, still didn’t. Eunji was already silent even during the morning breakfast with her mother. This worried Stephanie very much, but she understood the situation Eunji was in for she also had been to something similar before in her life. Compared to her personal situation, it was definitely much worse than Eunji’s so she knew her strong daughter will heal from it in time.

      While tidying up in her room, Stephanie took out her old stereo and inserted Mariah Carey’s album Daydream. As Stephanie placed her books down one by one from the book shelf, one particular old notebook caught her eye. It was a diary written by none other than herself. Even though she had not come across this pink-striped covered notebook after such a long time, she still remembered its contents. She leaned her back against the wall, completely forgetting the piles of books and dust surrounding her and flipped through the pages of the notebook.

July 27, 1996, Saturday.

     Today, my band members hung out in Jessica’s home, or should I say, my home for now. With their boyish charms, Hyungsoo, Yohan, and my generous ‘Daydream’ entered the room along with our sweet and innocent dongsaeng1, Seobaby. I giggled and blushed as my eyes got in contact with my “daydream” who was brightly smiling back at me. Ohh, he was extremely shining that day for some reason. Oh, and since the song ‘Fantasy’ was playing from the home stereo in the background, it felt like I was in a movie with the album of Mariah Carey as the soundtrack.

      “Heol~!2,” Stephanie laughed noticing that Mariah Carey’s song “Fantasy” was actually playing right now. She hit her head with her notebook, “I can’t believe I was this cheesy.”

***

      Entering his friend’s home, Jinwon took off his slippers and bowed at Jessica’s parents who let him in. Following behind him was Hyungsoo, Yohan, and JooHyun.

      “Guys, welcome!” Jessica greeted with Stephanie behind her.

      Yohan was about to greet her back with a hug, but Hyungsoo had his arms open wide and bear hugged her first, making Yohan feel displeased. He had a crush Jessica for quite a while now. He wanted to be the first to approach her, but too many guys, who were much better looking than him, have been hitting on her lately. Because of this, his chance of trying to get closer to her seemed impossible. And even though Yohan was frustrated that Hyungsoo was naturally friendlier and comfortable to Jessica, he couldn’t blame him since that’s just how Hyungsoo is. Jinwon, on the other hand, just chuckled and patted the back of the pouting Yohan. He was the only one who completely understood Yohan’s feelings. Well, Hyungsoo did have a hunch that Yohan likes Jessica, too. But instead of helping Yohan approach the girl, Hyungsoo teased him more by hitting on Jessica himself. After all, Jessica was quite a beauty. Hyungsoo had been falling for her more and more even though he always denied it in his head.

      “Don’t worry Yohan, it’s not the end of the world,” Jinwon whispered, making Yohan feel slightly better.

      “Jinwon, hi!” There she was again, Stephanie and her eye-smile, warmly melting his heart in a fluffy way that he couldn’t understand.

      “Fany-ah! You’re here!” Jinwon gave her a friendly hug.

      “Yeah, I kind of live here… So…” Stephanie said, trying to see how Jinwon would react. Usually, people would ask her why she lived in Jessica’s home, but Jinwon didn’t do such a thing. Jinwon got distracted by the Mariah Carey song playing in the living room.

      “Is that the album I bought for you?” Jinwon smiled.

      “Yeah,” Stephanie shyly replied.

      “It sounds nice.”

      “Of course, it’s Mariah Carey,” Stephanie chuckled.

***

      The six played a bunch of random games such as Pictionary and Scrabble, and other board games. They dared not to turn on the TV as a challenge that day since pretty much all they do during hang outs were watch TV. In a while, Jessica took out her white Gameboy and gathered her friends to the living room.

      “My dad bought this new game called Poketto Monsutā Aka while he was in Japan.”

      “Oh I’ve heard of that. It’s called Pokémon Red.” Yohan was about to take a peek of the small, rectangular device with a small screen, but Jessica suddenly got up and approached Hyungsoo, who was eating whatever he could find in Jessica’s fridge.

      “Here’s the problem though, I don’t understand Japanese,” Jessica said, handing the Gameboy to Hyungsoo since he knew how to speak Japanese. Hyungsoo went to the living room and sat as he started a new game with Yohan and Jessica beside him.

      After JooHyun inserted her newly bought Best of Chopin tape in the stereo, she handed Stephanie back her “Daydream” album and joined the three to see what the game was all about. Jinwon and Stephanie just sat in front of them awkwardly. They didn’t have enough room for two people to possibly see what’s going on in the small screen.

      “What’s his name?” Hyungsoo asked Jessica.

      “Jessica, of course,” Jessica replied.

      “His name Jessica, ‘his’ name,” Hyungsoo repeated.

      “Why, is the character not a girl?”

      “I don’t think so,” JooHyun said, looking at the small Gameboy screen.

      “Fine, then name it ‘Yohanie’,” Jessica named, startling Yohan a bit. Why was she naming Red after him all of a sudden? “—oh wait no… name him ‘John’.”

      “Okay…” Hyungsoo followed the owner’s orders and asked once more. “How about the name of this rival guy?”

      “Soo,” Jessica chuckled.

      “Are you naming this after us?” Hyungsoo laughed.

      “Yeah, since we’re all playing this together,” Jessica replied.

      “Alright then…,” Hyungsoo continued and soon “John” started his new Pokémon adventure. You know the drill: the character walks into tall grass and Dr. Yukinari Okido (Prof. Oak) shows up and gives him a choice to pick one of the starter Pokémon.

      “So basically, there are these creatures called Pokémon,” Hyungsoo explained while showing them the three Kanto starters, since the three didn’t understand a thing. “You have to pick either the fire type named Hitokage (Charmander), the water type, Zenigame (Squirtle), or the grass type, Fushigidane (Bulbasaur).”

      “Go ahead and pick Zenigame,” Jessica said, since it was her game.

      “Name?”

      “Hmm… ‘Chingu (friend)’? Yeah, that’s right, but with a ‘j’ instead of ‘ch’. ‘Jin-goo,” she giggled.

      “Haha, what’s gonna be next? Seobaby?” Hyungsoo chuckled since Jessica used up their names for the game.

~~~

      Kibum and Eunji were led by a doctor inside Jinwon’s hospital room. Eunji’s heart skipped a beat the moment she entered. There was nothing more heartbreaking than seeing someone you knew lying on a white hospital bed, unconscious with wires connected to his palm and small bandages wrapped around various parts of his body.

      “How is he?” Eunji asked the doctor.

      “He didn’t break bones or any part of his body, but he did hit his head from the fall which caused a minor injury. For now, we have sedated his heart rate and patched up some small cuts, but he has a record of multiple brain damages in the past. Something as minor as this can become very dangerous for him, thus making his survival very unpredictable. So if lucky, he will wake up by tomorrow, but if not, he could die today.”

      “Oh…” The two teenagers nodded.

     The doctor nodded his head and said, “I’ll be going now.” The two bowed as the doctor left.

      “He could die today” echoed loudly on Eunji’s mind. She was not ready to say goodbye to someone she just met. More importantly, she was not ready to see the man who saved her, die.

      Eunji grabbed a chair and sat beside the hospital bed where Jinwon had his eyes deeply closed. There were no thoughts or words coming to mind at all. She just stared worriedly at him as she rested her chin on her hand. Kibum stood beside her and also stared at the unconscious man without much thought. By this time, he had already forgotten the anger that boiled up for a second when Jinwon harshly pushed Eunji last night. He was thankful and grateful. If Eunji had been the one who was hit, he wouldn’t know how he would live his life.

      “Do you think he’ll wake up?” Kibum asked her as if he was also asking that to himself.

      “I hope so.”

***

      “Oh, I have something to give you.” Stephanie suddenly turned to Jinwon.

      “What?”

      “Come with me.” Stephanie stood up and dragged Jinwon to her room.

      “Here.” Stephanie handed him money to repay him back from buying the Mariah Carey album.

      “What’s this?” Jinwon became confused.

      “For the Mariah Carey album,” Stephanie replied.

      “Heeeey,” Jinwon scoffed. “I told you it was my treat. Just think of it as me buying it for you, since that’s what I actually did,” Jinwon said, handing back her money.

      “Well, in that case, thank you,” Stephanie blushed. “I just wasn’t used to people buying me stuff.”

      As the four were busy playing Pokémon in the living room, Jinwon and Stephanie continued to chat in her room at the end of her bed while flipping through magazines and books since there was nothing else much to do.

      “So which college are you planning on going to?” Jinwon asked.

      “I don’t know. I’m not quite sure yet. I have nothing in mind,” Stephanie replied.

      “Nothing?”

      “Yeah, nothing.”

      “Don’t your parents help you in picking at least one?” There was no answer from Stephanie. She just continued flipping through the magazines, ignoring Jinwon’s question. Parents were such a sensitive topic to her she couldn’t even find an answer for him.

      “Alright, don’t want to talk about it, huh?” Jinwon thought to himself.

      Before he could turn to another topic, Stephanie sighed tiredly feeling as if it was rude not to answer him. “I’m kind of parent-less right now.”

      Jinwon sat silently since he didn’t know how to reply to that. He wanted to say sorry for her but he was afraid that Stephanie already grew sick of hearing that. He also wanted to ask why, but the conversation could lead to some uncomfortable topic.

       “Is that why you’re living here in Jessica’s home?” Jinwon asked.

      “Yeah…” Stephanie’s voice was getting lower and Jinwon didn’t like the sound of that.

      “My mom died…” Stephanie admitted. She didn’t know why she was letting her guard down all of a sudden. She knew once she started talking about these things, she might never stop. The only people that knew about her situation were Jessica’s family and Yohan.

      That phrase made Jinwon cringe and made him feel uncomfortable. What answer should he give? How should he react? It was indeed a sad thing to hear from someone who always had such a bright smile. But just how should he console her?

      “And my father is distant from me…” Stephanie’s voice broke as she tried to hold back her tears. “And my brother, my sister…”

      “You don’t have to tell me,” Jinwon laid his hand on her wrist.

She had always shown Jinwon such a cheerful side of her. She cursed herself for not trying to hold up her guard a little longer. How could she just let him see her like this?

      “I’m sorry,” Stephanie tried to laugh it off even though tears were already about to fall. “I just feel…,” she paused, making Jinwon worried. Soon, Stephanie couldn’t hold it in. Tears started to trickle down her face. “…lonely”

      The eye-smiling princess that always laughed like a carefree child was finally crying before him. Seeing this made his heart stop and break. It was too painful to watch her cry like this.

[—^v—^v—^v^—–v^——-^———————–]

      The heartbeat monitor started beeping like a wake up alarm. Jinwon’s heartbeat was stopping. Jinwon was dying.

      “What’s happening?” Eunji knew exactly what was going on, but those were the only words she could find out of panic.

      “Oh, nonono!” Kibum rushed out of the room to get the doctors.

***

      “Hey, hey, you’re not going to be alone.”

      Even though Jinwon thought he didn’t know what to do in a situation like this, he automatically pulled Stephanie in his arms and let her cry on his shoulders. It took him a few seconds to realize what he was doing. Why was he suddenly pulling her in his warmth? Why was he suddenly acting like a caring big brother or father to her?

~~~

      Jinwon’s hospital room erupted into chaos. Doctors and nurses were scuttling around the room and Kibum and Eunji could do nothing but stand and tremble at the corner. The doctor tried CPR on the unconscious patient, but it wasn’t working.

      “Get the heart defibrillator, now!”

***

      Jinwon slowly withdrew from their embrace, and as tears kept flowing down, he wiped them off lovingly with both his hands. Compassionately smiling at the girl who was trying her hardest to stop from crying, he cooed, “You’re not going to be alone, okay? We’re all gonna be here for you.” Still, Stephanie wouldn’t stop crying. The longer she cried the more Jinwon’s heart ached.

~~~

      “1-2-3, clear!”

      As the doctors tried to shock his heart, to try to make it beat again, Eunji looked away while holding on to Kibum’s shoulder. Kibum, on the other hand, thought he was quite strong to try to watch, but his head also turned away as soon as the heart defibrillator touched Jinwon’s chest. It was too hard to watch for the both of them.

***

      With his thumbs, Jinwon wiped Stephanie’s tears once more. “I’m gonna be here for you…” His compassionate and caring words slightly calmed Stephanie down. Looking up, she met Jinwon’s gaze and it paralyzed her. It was at that moment that she realized what she had done. She just cried on her crush’s shoulders.

      “Jessica, Yohan, JooHyun, Hyungsoo, and I can be your family from now on if you let us,” he said.

      “Now, you’re going to be fine right?” Jinwon said, still not removing his warm hands from her face. Stephanie tried to find words, but she was just too surprised to be cared for so compassionately and to see Jinwon’s kind and handsome face so up close.

~~~

      Again and again, stronger and stronger, the doctors tried to revive him with the heart defibrillator. But it was no use at all. His heart didn’t beat again. It was time for the doctors to give up.

      “Time of death,” the doctor said, trying to catch his breath, “6:23 pm.”

      The two teenagers in the room were speechless. They just witnessed a person die right before their eyes.

      The doctor wiped the sweat dripping on his forehead and prepared to leave the room. He paused in front of the door and stared at the two teenagers with a sad look in his face. He knew he didn’t have to explain what just happened here. They saw it all clearly.

      The two teenagers couldn’t blame him for not saving Jinwon, for they were already warned about this earlier. For all they know, this might be Jinwon’s destiny or so people would say, like he was not meant to be alive tomorrow—a situation that was definitely out of their control.

      Eunji stared at the cold body lying on the hospital bed. If only she was the one who died instead of him, she thought. She just met him a few days ago, but still, her heart ached seeing him pass away like this. Knowing she’s the cause of his death made it even worse for her.

      “God… don’t let it end like this,” Eunji breathed and closed her eyes in sorrow.

***

      “You’re going to be fine right?” Jinwon repeated.

      “Y-yeah,” Stephanie slowly formed a smile.

      “You sure?” Jinwon stared at her.

      “I’ll be fine.” Finally, Stephanie chuckled as her tears stopped falling.

      “You need to show me that you will be, okay?” Jinwon smiled as Stephanie’s eye-smile started to show. Stephanie, who was somewhat trapped between Jinwon’s hands, didn’t exactly know how to show him that she will be fine. But a tempting idea came to mind. Closing her eyes, she leaned forward and pecked Jinwon’s lips.

      “I will.”

     Realizing what she just did, Stephanie giggled and madly blushed, making her cover her cheeks in embarrassment. She quickly got up and left Jinwon who was completely stunned in the room all alone.

      “What…?” Jinwon blinked continuously, running his fingers on his lips, trying to soak everything in. “Did she just… kiss me?”

[—————————-^v^——v^—-v^v—-^—^v—^v—^v—^v]

      There it was again, the same beeping sound.

      “He’s alive!” exclaimed one of the nurses. To everyone’s shock, Jinwon’s heart started beating again. It was beating normally, like nothing ever happened.

      The doctor who was halfway out the door, suddenly turned his head to see if what he heard was true. He checked the heart beat monitor and chuckled in relief. It was too rare to see patients coming back to life like that.

***

Stephanie continued flipping through her old diary. She knew how sad the entries were halfway, but still, she started reading.

December 16, 1997, Tuesday
     Here I am, trembling as I write the unexpected events beside his hospital bed. Yes, my ‘Daydr—

      The doorbell rang, making Stephanie realize that she hasn’t been cleaning all this time. She closed her pink-striped diary and left it on the ground along with the other books.

      As she swung the door open, Eunji sprang to her mother and suddenly hugged her with her eyes closed shut. This startled Stephanie but soon hugged her daughter back. Kibum bowed as his eyes got in contact with Stephanie’s and prepared to head to his own home. Silently, Stephanie thanked him for coming with Eunji and he received the message.

      Stephanie softly patted her daughter’s back as Eunji still longed for her mother’s embrace. She didn’t know what exactly happened in the hospital, but she knew Eunji was affected by whatever it was.

      “What happened, huh?” Stephanie asked as she let her daughter’s head rest on her shoulders.

      “He almost died…,” Eunji replied, slowly opening her eyes, “but he’s alive now.”

      “That’s good news,” Stephanie said, slowly withdrawing from their embrace.

      “If only I had been the one hit, then he wouldn’t have to go through such a horrible state.” Stephanie was not surprised to hear this at all. She knew quite well how Eunji felt.

      “Ssh, ssh, it’s not your fault.” Stephanie kissed her daughter’s forehead and silenced her. Eunji took a deep breath and continued to rest her head on her mother’s shoulder. After all the nerve-racking events, her mother was the only one who could comfort her completely.

***

      The next day, Kibum and Eunji went to the hospital again to check his condition. After yesterday’s dramatic scene, Kibum was deeply affected by it and started to find ideas of how to repay Jinwon back for saving Eunji when he wakes up. However, he had no idea how because Eunji knew little information about him. When Jinwon wakes up, he will try to treat him as a good friend would.

      Eunji felt guilty seeing Jinwon lying there. A part of her wanted to at least feel the pain that he was in. After all, she was the one who was supposed to be hit by the car that night. But she tried her hardest not to feel guilty since her mother told her not to think that way. Feeling guilt will only lead to unnecessary pain. The least she could do was to at least be happy that he’s still here to live another day.

***

      Chopin. Chopin was playing. Yes it was Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9 No.2. It was all Jinwon could hear after being frozen by Stephanie’s unexpected kiss. It was like time had stopped instantly with his heart beating so wildly.

      Yes, it was finally clear to him. This was when and where he heard the beautiful piece by Chopin. Now it made sense to him why his whole world stopped so suddenly when he heard Eunji playing it on the other side of the door.

      Slowly going back to his senses after the kiss, Jinwon went out the room and found the five still playing with their Pokémon game. Stephanie took a quick glance at the boy she just kissed and immediately blushed at the sight of him. Jinwon smirked at her as his cheeks turned pink, too. Good thing the four were too focused on the game to notice what was going on between them.

      “Aish, did you just purposely made John lose for Soo to win?” Jessica snatched the Gameboy from Hyungsoo’s hands. “Let me play from now on. You’re not very good at this game.”

      When the four were still noisy as they played Pokémon Red, Jinwon took this a chance to whisper to Stephanie.

      “Are you sure you’re going to be fine?” he asked once more, but this time with a playful tone.

      “Of course I will be fine. Not fine, but happy, finally,” Stephanie giggled.

      “You need to show me,” Jinwon smirked, as if he was asking for another kiss.

      “Aigoo. Don’t be flirty with me now,” Stephanie flicked his head.

      Slowly, Jinwon’s eyes started to open. He felt a sharp pain on his head, as if Stephanie really did flick his head at that moment. With his vision still quite blurry, he could see someone, a girl specifically with the same bangs from his dreams. Still not realizing that he’s coming back to the real world, he whispered huskily, making it sound like he was only mumbling, “Fa… ny… ah?”

      “Oh!” Eunji jolted up in excitement seeing her substitute music teacher finally awake. It felt like she waited for years, when really, she waited for only two days. “Call the doctors, Kibum.” Kibum was also exited and ran as fast as he could to get the doctor.

      “Oh, it’s just Eunji…” Jinwon thought when regained his vision back. He wanted her to be Stephanie, but apparently, that wish seemed impossible. He wasn’t even quite sure if the girl in his dreams were actually just dreams or memories of his forgotten past—the past he chose not to remember.

      The only thing he was sure of was that he could clearly feel his heart beating every time he sees Stephanie in his dreams. He felt his heart ache seeing her cry for the first time. He felt his heart stop when her tears continued to flow. He also felt his heart come back to life when she flashed him an eye-smile and gave him a kiss. All the things that he felt in his dream felt like reality to him. There was no doubt that he was falling in love to some kind of fantasy his brain could only be making up. However, he tried to deny that fact for falling in love with someone from his dreams sounded too ridiculous and cheesy for a grown man like him.

      After a chat with the doctor about what happened to him and what condition he was in and where his things were, Jinwon asked him a question.

      “So when can I go home?”

      “You can go home tomorrow, but your body will be a little bit sore. It will be a bit hard to move, but if you think you’re strong enough, I think you can manage.”

      “That’s good to hear,” Eunji sighed.

      “Here, if you can stand up right now, I’m certain you can be discharged by morning tomorrow.” The doctor helped Jinwon stand up. Unfortunately, his small body was still too weak to do so. It was too painful to stand for just a few seconds, so he lay back on his hospital bed.

      “By tomorrow afternoon or evening, you can go home if you’re really desperate, but someone will have to help you.”

      “I’ll help him,” Eunji volunteered confidently.

      “I will, too,” Kibum also volunteered.

      “Thanks, kids…” Jinwon smiled, feeling thankful of the sudden company.

      “Well, then I guess tomorrow won’t be much of a problem for you.”

       “But wait, how about the hospital bills?” Jinwon asked the doctor.

      “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. Your friend Mr. Jung YongHwan already had that covered,” The doctor smiled and left the room.

      “Oh, it’s getting late,” Eunji looked at her watch. “We should be heading home now. We’ll let you rest Mr. Kim. Tomorrow, we’ll surely come help you.”

      “Yeah, thanks kids,” Jinwon smiled, feeling quite touched that these two teenagers are willing to help a stranger.

      “Rest well, Mr. Kim!” They both waved at him.

      “I will!” Jinwon waved back and the two went home.

      It wasn’t long before Jinwon began to feel bored. There was nothing he could do but just stare at the hospital ceiling and the heartbeat monitor that was starting to annoy him. He reached for his phone sitting on his side table and started randomly browsing through its contents.

      “Agh… on a hospital bed again,” he sighed. He couldn’t count anymore the times he had spent always crawling back to a hospital bed. He’s been on way too many accidents and didn’t really fear anything that could harm his life again.

      “My guitar!” His eyes opened wide, almost dropping the phone to his face. He clearly remembered mercilessly dropping his guitar to the ground that night. It felt like he just dropped a baby and accidentally left it alone on a cold alley somewhere. Now that was what he feared! The thought of it was painful, but remembering the sacrifice was for Eunji’s safety, he felt relieved.

      This led to his next thought, which was Stephanie, the girl from his dreams. Eunji did look somewhat similar to her, but of course they weren’t the same person since Stephanie would probably be his age right now. Well now that he thought about it, the name Stephanie did sound quite familiar…

      “Could she be…?” Trying to remember as far back as he could, the name Stephanie finally clicked in his mind. His first ever memory after the accident from 15 years ago was waking up on a similar hospital bed like this, with a girl, about 19 years old named Stephanie, staring intensely at him. It was no doubt. That was her, the girl from his dreams.


CHAPTER 4: Closer


  1. dong-saeng (동생)
    “SAENG” can simply be read as “SENG”
    A “dongsaeng” is a sibling or close friend who is YOUNGER
  2. “Heol~!” a Korean exclamation of shock or disbelief
    Pronounced like the word “HALL”
    Korean version of “What the…!”

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