A M N E S I A: Chapter 5

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5:

Are You Listening?

      “Ugh!” Sarang slammed her fist on the lunch table startling Eunji, Bomyi, and Kibum, who were eating their lunch peacefully. “Where are those two? They should know by now that I can’t eat without all of us in this table.”

      “Calm down, Sarang. They’re coming, see,” Kibum said, pointing to the two best friends walking towards them.

      “Hi guys!” As So Eun and Minjae greeted them, Minjae pulled a seat for So Eun like a gentleman would.

      “Wow Minjae, you’re being a gentleman,” teased Eunji.

      “That’s new,” Kibum added. “I didn’t know you were a natural.”

      “Gentleman my butt,” Sarang scoffed with her somewhat natural rough, baby voice, making it sound like she’s not pissed at all. “Come a little early next time, you idiot lovers.”

      “Why, what’s wrong?” Minjae asked the group as he sat between Eunji and So Eun.

      “Sarang has chicken feet for lunch,” Bomyi said. “You should know by now that it’s dangerous to keep her waiting when she has her favorite dish waiting for her.”

      “Oh… sorry Sarang,” Minjae sheepishly smiled at the glaring Sarang.

      “Anyway, so when are you guys gonna be all kissy-kissy all up on each other?” Bomyi blurted out, making Sarang and Eunji laugh.

      “What?” Minjae blinked. “We’re not even boyfriend and girlfriend… are we?” Minjae turned to So Eun.

     “A-Are we?” So Eun stuttered as she met Jinwon’s eyes. At that moment, they both became paralyzed, mesmerized by each other’s eyes. Eunji slowly pushed Minjae’s head closer to So-Eun to try to make them kiss, making Minjae snap out of his senses.

      “Eunji! What is your problem?!” Minjae’s blushing face instantly went a foot away from So-Eun’s. The four bursts out into laughter.

      “Sorry, won’t happen again,” Eunji smirked and continued eating her lunch.

      While the six were happily conversing in their lunch time, Eunji caught an oppa pass by. Eunji excused herself from the group and approached the kind-faced boy, “Baekho1 Oppa!”

      “Oh, Eunji,” Baekho cheerfully smiled back. “What is it?”

      “You got jobs with SungYeol Oppa in Xiah Dragon Noodles right?”

      “Yeah,” he nodded. “With Junmyun and Kyungsoo, too”

      “Ah really? Are you guys singing there?”

      “Yeah,” Baekho nodded again with a bright smile. “We’re actually working tomorrow. Why do you ask?”

      “Is it a nice job?” Eunji asked. “Like, for musicians?”

      “You bet!” He replied cheerfully. “It’s definitely a cool job.”

      “Can you give me the number of the restaurant? I might need to call them later.”

      “Yeah, sure.”

***

      While waiting for Eunji in the studio, Jinwon took a deep breath and started to write his song once again. He still didn’t know how the song exactly goes, but he wrote the lyrics anyway.

Can’t you see my tears? I long for you all day.
My heart beat when we kissed but now it’s all a memory.
Every day, I long for you.
That’s how my days go by.
Where are you?
I’m sorry that I can’t forget you.
Come back to me. Please don’t leave my side.

      All day he had been thinking of Stephanie. He didn’t want his brain to be crowded with the thought of her, but his dream last night—the dream where he confessed his feelings for Stephanie for the first time—made him think of her anyway. At one point, he would smile thinking of how adorable Stephanie was in his dreams, but his energy would suddenly turn upside down remembering how their relationship ended.

      With nothing but her flooding his mind, he picked up his old, blue journal and started to read where he last left off.

Wednesday, March 18, 1998

Today is the last day. It’s finally time to leave. I’ve waited for a day like this to come, but now that it’s here, it doesn’t feel right…

Last night I couldn’t sleep again. I’ve already said how so many different things take over my mind every night, but last night, it was all just about Stephanie. Just why was she given a chance to let my family stay? Why did she not let my family stay? I understand that she’s not selfish enough to do so just for her own sake, but this once, I wished she was. Just this once, be selfish for me.

I’m sure, once I fall asleep tonight, I will dream about her. or maybe I might not be able to fall asleep at all.

Because when were about to leave, my parents gave me a chance to meet her again. And there on her doorstep, I saw her for the last time. There wasn’t even a hi or hello. not even a goodbye. We stood in silence, but her swollen face said millions of heartbreaking things.

Jinwon flipped the next page.

I pleaded with her to let me stay.
She said she couldn’t do that.
I held her hand and said “I love you.”
But in her reply, I lost everything:
“I loved you, too. I loved, but you’re not the same to me anymore.”
She closed the door and closed our story.

I lost my will to live. I lost her.

      “I lost my will to live. I lost her.”

Tears flooded his eyes, deeply grieved by the simple words he has written. He remembered how hard his life was when he woke up from his coma and just how much Stephanie had cared for him. She was his only source of happiness. Losing her felt like life did not matter anymore. Although life eventually got better without her, trying to cope without her after that day his family left was truly a painful and depressing time of his life.

       When heard the door knob twisting, he sniffed up his tears and tried to compose himself as fast as he could. In a panic, he threw his old diary on top of the baby grand without closing it and scattered the Chopin piece’s pages above it to cover it. He opened up the piano and played a simple major chords to mask his minor-tuned emotions.

      “Hello, Mr. Kim!” Eunji greeted as she entered with a guitar case hanging on her back.

      “Oh, Eunji, you’re here,” Jinwon casually replied, though it still sounded unusually higher and shaky than his normal pitch.

      “Kibum couldn’t come but he lent his guitar to you anyway,” Eunji said, laying the guitar on the corner.

      “Oh, that’s good,” Jinwon said. “Now, teach me.”

      “Are you ready to learn the Chopin song?” Eunji asked, sitting beside him in front of the baby grand piano.

      “You bet I am.”

      After Jinwon mastered the basics in learning piano notes, Eunji finally started teaching him the first part of the Chopin song. For a beginner pianist, it was supposed to be hard to learn such a song but Jinwon didn’t have a hard time. Sure he would make mistakes here and there, but after a few tries, he started getting the hang of it.

      During a small break, while Jinwon unpacked Kibum’s guitar from its case, Eunji’s eyes caught the open notebook hidden under the piano sheets laid on the baby grand piano. Without knowing what was written in it, she read,

I pleaded with her to let me stay.
She said she couldn’t do that.
I held her hand and said “I love you.”
But in her reply, I lost everything:
“I loved you, too. I loved, but you’re not the same to me anymore.”
She closed the door and closed our story.

I lost my will to live. I lost her.

      “What’s this, Mr. Kim?” Eunji asked.

      Jinwon jolted up and panicked for a little bit. His past was written on that notebook. He didn’t want anyone reading that. “Oh this,” he casually snatched it away as Eunji was about to look at the previous pages. “Just a journal.”

      “Wait, shouldn’t have said that,” Jinwon grimaced.

      “Journal?” Eunji’s eyebrows went up. “Was that a break-up story?”

      “Something like that,” Jinwon sighed.

      “Something like that? What happened?” Eunji asked.

      “It’s with a girl whom I loved yeeaars ago.” Jinwon replied.

      “Really?”

      “Yeah,” Jinwon smiled as if it’s not a big deal to him. “A girl whom I loved in this town when I was young….”

      “Ohhh…” Eunji asked, “Is she the reason why you came back to this place?”

      Jinwon shrugged, “Maybe.”

      “Are you trying to find her?”

      “There’s no hope for that,” he sneered. “For all I know, she might have moved to another place already. She might even be with someone else and have her own family. We were just teenagers then, anyway, and the last time I saw her was probably before you were even born. It’s really been so long.”

     “But it seems like you still love her, don’t you?” Eunji said. Jinwon’s eyes jolted to her startled that she was figuring out more than she needed to know. He laughed and turned his head away, but Eunji seemed utterly concerned that he immediately gave in.

       “I guess…,” he nodded somberly and sighed.

      “Life is full of surprises, Mr. Kim. Who knows, maybe she’s still single like you are!” Eunji said, trying to cheer him up.

       “Even if she was, she is still better off with someone else,” he said dejectedly. “She probably doesn’t even love me anymore.”

      “I may not know the full story, and you don’t have to tell me, but Mr. Kim,” Eunji said, “Don’t bring yourself down like that. If you love her, look for her—know what her life is now. If she already has a man and she’s happy, then let her go. If she already has a family and she’s happy, then let her go. But if it’s the opposite, then you can talk to her and tell her how you feel. If she doesn’t share the same feeling, then let her go. If she does, then that’s great. All I’m saying is, it’s important to have a closure. Don’t just give up without doing anything about it.”

       After thinking over her words carefully, he chuckled, “You’re a pretty direct kid, aren’t you?”

       “I try to be,” Eunji shrugged and smiled.

       “Then…,” Jinwon took a deep breath. “Do you think I can find her?”

      “Of course!” Eunji cheerfully. “For example, you can start with a job.”

      “A job?” Jinwon looked at her in disbelief. “What does that have to do with me finding a woman?”

      “There’s this restaurant called ‘Xiah Dragon Noodles.’ This is one of the most visited places in town. A lot of people come here for the food but also for the music. They hire musicians who have enough talent to perform for their restaurant. For all you know, you could be heard by that woman.”

      “Oh,” Jinwon nodded.

      “Shall we call them now? I have their number.”

      “Now? You’re booking me a job now?”

      “Why, don’t you want it?” Eunji said. “I mean you’re not doing anything with your life. Don’t think I didn’t know.”

      “Okay fine… go ahead and call them.”

      Eunji dialed the restaurant’s number on her phone and put it on loud speaker.

      “Hello, this is Xiah Dragon Noodles Restaurant, how may I help you?”

      “Ah, yes, can I talk with the manager of the place?” Jinwon said.

      “Why sir?”

      “I’m a musician and I’d like to apply for a job there.”

      “Ah, okay, wait a minute,” the lady said.

      Soon, a man with a somewhat high pitched voice answered. “Hello, this is Junsu, the owner of the restaurant. Are you calling because you want to perform here?”

      “Ah, yes sir.”

      “What’s your name?”

      “Kim Jinwon.”

      “Oh, nice name. I’m also a Kim,” the man chuckled.

       “That’s cool, I guess…” Jinwon said. There are millions of people across Korea with the surname. That’s not a surprise for him.

      “Okay Mr. Kim Jinwon, bring yourself here tomorrow at 10 am in the morning with a sad song.”

      “Sad song?”

      “Every hour has a theme for what music we play which I’ll explain to you when you get here. The sad theme determines how well you do so bring a WRITTEN sad song.”

      “Written?” Jinwon asked.

      “Yes, written.”

      “Is that all I have to do?”

      “Yes, goodbye now, Mr. Kim Jinwon. I’ll be looking forward to hear and see you here tomorrow.”

      Before Jinwon could say goodbye back, the call ended.

      “Wow, that was simple,” Jinwon chuckled.

      “Yeah, I didn’t know it was that simple,” Eunji chuckled.

      “Well, now I gotta write a sad song,” Jinwon said, picking up the notebook where he was writing his song just a while ago.

      “Have you written a sad song before?” Eunji asked.

      “I usually write consolation and happy songs, and I guess other topics too, but this one’s kind of my first sad song so it’s still a bit rough,” Jinwon said, showing Eunji what he has written.

Did it pass by, our love
Is it just a heart-breaking memory?
It’s turning around, your heart. Can’t I catch it with my tears?

Can you see my tears. I long for you all day.
My heart beat when we kissed but now it’s all a memory.

Every day I long for you. That’s how my day goes by. Where are you?
I’m sorry that I can’t forget you.
Come back to me. Don’t leave my side, please.

      “Woah, are these lyrics about that girlfriend of yours? It’s pretty good.” Eunji asked as she read the lyrics.

      “Well you’re one to catch on to things,” Jinwon laughed. “There’s no chorus yet to it though. No tone or sound to it either.”

      “Then how about I help you write it?” Eunji smiled. “I know how to channel my inner angst.”

      “Tch, your inner what?” Jinwon laughed at her. “If that’s the case then go ahead and help me write this song.”

      And so they wrote the song together. Eunji was in charge of writing the chorus and Jinwon was in charge of trying to find the perfect tone for the song on Kibum’s guitar.

      “You need to find out if she’s still out there right?” Eunji asked while pointing the pen to Jinwon.

      “Yeah,” he simply replied.

      “Then I have the perfect lyrics for this.”

***

      It was 10 am; Jinwon was waking up late again on a Saturday morning. After finishing the song written by him and Eunji, he has been practicing it till midnight until he drowsed off. With his hair messy, his polo half unbuttoned, music sheets spread all over his bed, and his hands clasped on the neck of Kibum’s guitar lying beside him like some kind of one-night-stand, his phone rang.

“’Oetoriya, oetoriya, Dara diri dara du~ Oetoriya, oetoriya, Dara diri dara du-u…”

      “Hello?” Jinwon answered drowsily with his eyes still closed.

      “Mr. Kim?” He barely recognized the fifteen-year old’s voice with half of his body still asleep.

      “Oh?” Jinwon groaned hoarsely.

      “YAH MR. KIM!” Eunji shouted at the end of the line. “Are you seriously still sleeping right now?” Eunji angrily asked.

      “Oh, shoot!” Jinwon’s eyes instantly opened. “What time is it?”

      “It’s 10 am, Mr. Kim! Have you seriously forgotten about your job today?”

      “Oh, thanks for waking me up Eunji.” Jinwon jumped off of his bed and ran to the bathroom to get ready. “I’ll call you later!”

      As fast as he could, he took a shower, dressed himself up, and packed up Kibum’s guitar and all the paper that he could see lying on his bed. Successfully, he got ready to leave neatly. However, it took him as long as thirty minutes to get ready since half of the time he just scuttled around his house panicking.

***

      Taking a deep breath, Jinwon combed his hair, fixed the hanging guitar on his shoulders, and took a step inside Xiah Dragon Noodles. He’s late; forty minutes late. That might not be a good thing for first expressions.

      Entering the place, the first thing he noticed: there were no customers. There were only two waitresses cleaning, wiping off tables, and arranging the place. It seemed like the restaurant just opened.

    As his eyes wandered around the red, Chinese-themed furniture, and the small stage on the middle of the restaurant, a hand suddenly fell on his right shoulder.

      “Mr. Kim Jinwon, is that right?” greeted a man older than him that sounded like he gulped helium.

      “Um,” Jinwon turned to see who it was. “Yeah.”

      “Helloo! I’m Xiah Junsu, the owner of this exquisite restaurant.” He shook Jinwon’s hands cheerfully.

      “Oh, hi!” Jinwon greeted back while bowing a few times.

      “I can see you brought your guitar.” He smiled, patting the guitar on Jinwon’s back.

      “Am I late?” Jinwon asked.

      “No, no, it’s alright,” Junsu replied. “The one who’s going to to evaluate your talents isn’t here yet so you can come with me in the small room backstage.”

      “Oh…,” Jinwon scratched his head.

       As Junsu led him back stage, he asked what Jinwon’s profession was.

      “Oh, I’m actually a composer back in Seoul, but the company ran into some problems. Lots of people lost their jobs, including me. Now I’m here,” he said.

      “Ah, you were a composer?” Junsu’s eyes sparkled. “Then you might not have a hard time getting this job!”

      Junsu then shouted, “Junmyun!” Soon, the seventeen-year old wearing a camouflage jacket emerged from the small room.

      “Show this man what you and your guys can do, will you?” Junsu said and walked away to do something else.

      “Oh!” Junmyun’s eye’s widened. “It’s Mr. Kim!”

      Jinwon turned his head as Junmyun offered to shake his hands. “I’m one of Eunji’s friends that witnessed your accident last week.”

      “Oh, really?”

      “Yeah, are you okay now?” Suho asked.

      “Yeah,” Jinwon nodded. “I’m fine. There were no serious injuries so I’m okay.”

      “That’s a relief,” Suho smiled. “Anyway, shall my boys play for you?”

      “Sure.”

      Junmyun called three boys from the small backstage room. As their leader, the three immediately followed him. The first one to come out of the room was Kyungsoo, a boy with red hair and similar camouflage rolled-up sleeve polo like Junmyun’s jacket. The second was Baekho with his blonde hair, and his cheerful exterior. Following behind them was the tall boy, Sungyeol, who was carrying an acoustic guitar with a big grin on his face. He seemed to be the most excited out of all of them.

      They went up the small stage and positioned themselves. Sungyeol sat on a foldable chair with his guitar, Kyungsoo stood beside him, Junmyun stood beside Kyungsoo, and Baekho sat in front of the upright piano.

      “Baekho, start,” Junmyun commanded and Baekho started playing the piano.

(Song: Baby Don’t Cry – EXO-K)

Baekho sang first.

Don’t hesitate anymore
Please take my heart away
Yes, the sharper the better
Even the moon shut its eyes tonight

Kyungsoo started singing and so did Sungyeol while he played his guitar.

If only it was any other man
If only it was a line from a comedy
I will burn all of the scars in exchange for your love

The four of them harmonized—Sungyeol as a low voice, Kyungsoo and Baekho as main vocals, and Junmyun as the high background. They were harmonizing perfectly and Jinwon could tell that they were very talented teenagers.

Baby don’t cry tonight
After the darkness passes
Baby don’t cry tonight
It’ll pass as if it never happened
You’re not the one to disappear into foam
It’s something you never should’ve known
So Baby don’t cry, cry
My love will protect you

With Junmyun’s eyes closed, he sang.

We exchanged our fates that were headed toward each other
As inevitable as it seemed that we’d miss
I know we loved just as much

Oh when you smile, sun shines
The brilliance can’t be expressed with words
The waves crash in my heart
And it crumbles down, oh

Baby don’t cry tonight
A night plagued by violent storms (Ohh as if the sky will fall)
Baby don’t cry tonight
It slightly fits this night
To let you go at that moment
That shines more brilliantly than tears like this
So Baby don’t cry, cry
My love will be remembered

Sungyeol started rapping.

On top of the dark shadow of pain
On the threshold of farewell
Even if I take a brutal fall
Even that will be for you so I will handle it, uh
Instead, I will give myself to you, who doesn’t even know me
Don’t cry – instead of hot tears show me cold laughter baby

Say no more (baby) no more
Please don’t hesitate at the moment you’ll become foam
Say no more (baby) no more
So you can remain as a shining person
Just burn me with that dagger instead

Kyungsoo started singing, sounding as if he was actually going to cry.

The moonlight fills your eyes
This night passes silently in pain

Baby don’t cry tonight
After the darkness passes
Baby don’t cry tonight
It’ll pass as if it never happened
You’re not the one to disappear into foam
It’s something you never should’ve known
So Baby don’t cry, cry
My love will protect you

cry, cry

The early sunlight melts down
The brightness that resembles you falls down
My eyes that were once lost

Finally, cry, cry, cry

      “Thank you, thank you!” The four bowed in front of Jinwon—their only audience. Impressed by what he just saw, Jinwon stood up and clapped his hands and stared in amazement, making the small dimple on his right chin appear.

      “Yaaah~!2 that deserves a record!” Jinwon clapped. “Did you guys write that song?”

      “Yeah,” Junmyun smiled. “That’s usually how things kind of work around here but there are also some stock songs at the back.”

      “You write and compose your own songs,” Baekho added. “Even the stock songs are written by past musicians here.”

      “Yeah, Junsu made that rule himself,” Sungyeol added.

      “That’s cool,” Jinwon stood there in amazement. “That’s very record deal material, you guys.”

      Just then, Junsu was heard shouting at someone near the entrance of the restaurant. It was somewhat unusual to see the man exploding since he had been a very sweet guy, or at least, he sounded like that.

      “Why are you so late, huh?” Junsu shouted.

      “Well, what do you expect?” a woman replied. “You’re making me work on a Saturday!”

      “Fine,” Junsu’s voice turned back to its natural baby-voice. “I understand. But please, just see if the new guy is good or not and hire him according to the rules.”

      “Ugh!” the woman snarled. “What idiot applies a job on a Saturday anyway?”

      As the woman approached the stage, Junmyun greeted, “Hello, Mrs. Sica!”

      “Sica?” Jinwon’s eyebrows went up. He turned his head to see who it was.

      It was Jessica. She was about to greet the new guy and Junmyun, but she stopped on her steps. Her eyes met Jinwon’s gaze and they both froze.

      “Jinwon? Is that Jinwon? No, he can’t be. No. Yes. Yes? What is happening here?” Jessica thought with her mouth slightly open from shock.

      “Jessica? Is that Jessica, Stephanie’s blonde friend? No. She has brown hair right now. That can’t be her. Or could she be? It’s been 15 years, Jinwon. How are you supposed to know?” Jinwon thought.

      “Mrs. Sica?” Junmyun approached her with a confused look on his face.

      “Oh,” Jessica snapped back to her senses. “Hi, Noodle boy.”

      “Now Music Manager Jung Jeshka,” Junsu said. “That is Kim Jinwon, the new guy.”

      “OH. MY. GOSH! KIM JINWON? THAT’S REALLY HIM? HOW HAS HE NOT CHANGED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS??? H-H-HE’S THE NEW GUY???” Jessica’s eyes blinked rapidly, followed by a huge gulp. She wanted to spaz about at the sudden meeting, but because she’s usually sedated and professional, if she did freak-out, she’d only look like a crazy woman. She was not that young anymore to freely express herself in the way she used to back in her youthful years.

      As Jinwon went closer to the three, Jessica took hold of her emotions, cleared her throat and shyly introduced herself, “Hello… I’m… Jessica.”

      “Hi,” Jinwon awkwardly bowed back. “I’m Jinwon.” Jinwon didn’t expect to meet one of the friends from his dreams this soon.

      No one dared to speak, making Junmyun and Junsu look at Jessica and Jinwon suspiciously. Jessica was never like this. Usually she would greet the new musicians cordially and discuss the job straight away, but right now, she was just standing awkwardly, trying not to meet Jinwon’s calm eyes.

      “Well, I’m gonna leave the both of you now,” Junsu said worriedly walked away with Junmyun. “Good luck.”

      They exchanged a few awkward glances until Jinwon finally spoke, “Hi…”

      “Jinwon,” Jessica cleared her throat and coldly looked away from him. “Let’s get started then.”

      As Jinwon was following behind Jessica, he softly laid his hand on her shoulder and stopped her from taking another step. He was too bothered about his memories that he just couldn’t take it.

      “Do you remember me?” Jinwon asked causing Jessica’s eyes open wide and her mouth slowly drop without Jinwon noticing.

      Jessica bit her lip, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “I should be the one asking you that,” Jessica replied, trying not to lose control of many mixed emotions crashing down on her.

      “Look, I remember,” Jinwon forcefully made Jessica face him.

      “Remember what?” Jessica’s eyebrow went up. There are a lot of things Jinwon could possibly remember. She could write a whole list completed with details.

      Jinwon wondered for a moment. Exactly what does he remember? He remembers only Stephanie and not much of anything else. Intimidated by Jessica’s cold piercing stare, Jinwon’s voice trembled, “S-Stephanie. I remember Stephanie.”

      Jinwon expected a frown from Jessica, but he only saw her cold stare turn to worry. “What about Stephanie?”

      Jinwon sighed and shook his head. In a low voice, he replied, “Just the beginning.”

      “What do you mean?” Jessica was desperate to know what he knew. If Jinwon still had no clue that he has a daughter then that means she won’t do anything rash like blurting that kind information out.

      “Just up to the first birthday I spent with her,” Jinwon replied, making Jessica blank for a while but then suddenly sigh in relief.

      “Well, I’m glad you’re starting to remember,” Jessica ruffled the not-so-tall man’s hair. “It’s nice to have you back, Jinwon-ah. I won’t rush you in trying to remember your past so try not to ask anything about it from me. You go and figure it all out for yourself.” She wanted this intro to be over with. She feared whatever he would say too much.

      “Why not?” Jinwon asked.

      “Because the last time I tried to tell you about your past, you wouldn’t even try to make an effort to remember it yourself.”

      “Ahh… I’m sorry about that,” Jinwon sheepishly smiled.

      “Now,” Jessica clapped her hands—a habit she acquired from Yohan. “Let’s see what you’ve got for this job.”

      “But wait,” Jinwon stopped Jessica from walking once more. “Can’t you tell me what happened to you and the guys through the years after I left, especially Stephanie?”

      “You can ask about me, Yohan, and Hyungsoo all you want,” Jessica said, “but not Stephanie. Go and find it out yourself. What story do you expect to hear after fifteen years? Ask yourself that first.”

***

      Eunji watched her mother scuttle back and forth as she got ready for her date. Never has Stephanie been this nervous for a date before. For the past two years, she watched her mother effortlessly get ready for blind dates, but this time, she was trying too much.

      “You’re different today,” Eunji said.

      “My date is different this time, that’s why,” Stephanie said, putting on pink diamond earrings.

      “Why, what’s so different about Mr. Si-Yoon?” Eunji asked.

      “He’s a missionary. I’ve never dated a missionary before,” Stephanie replied as she wore some sandals.

      “And that makes him different?” Eunji laughed.

      “Look, if this date fails, my love life is done,” Stephanie answered. “It’s not like I don’t mind it ending though. I’ve been by myself for so long. I don’t need a man.”

      “Says the woman who’s trying so hard for this last date,” Eunji laughed. “You know you’re pretty even when you don’t even try.”

      “Hey now, don’t act like you are my boyfriend,” Stephanie chuckled. “You’re only allowed to do that whenever you want after this date fails.”

      “Whatever,” Eunji snickered.

      The doorbell rang. As soon as Stephanie opened it, there were two men standing in front of her. One was Yohan, with a bright and jubilant face, but was out-shined by a more muscular Si-Yoon with his sleek, captivating smile and his sweet masculine scent. His black formal jacket with his pointy hair that was slightly combed made Yohan, who was wearing just a blue sweater, jeans and a cap, look like he was a cheap man.

      “Hello,” Stephanie greeted with her eye-smile and pitch slowly going higher.

      “Hi,” Si-Yoon greeted back confidently.

      “You guys can come in,” Stephanie shyly suggested. “I’m not quite ready yet.”

      “Eish, since when are y—” Yohan sneered knowing Stephanie was always ready for a date, but was stopped by Stephanie’s glare. “I understand… we’ll wait.”

      The two men entered and Eunji sprang up from the couch to greet them. Stephanie went up to her room to prepare, leaving the three in the living room.

      “Uncle Yohan!” Eunji greeted cheerfully, side-hugging Yohan.

      “Oh? Eunji!” Si-Yoon asked, “What are you doing here?” Since Si-Yoon once became a speaker guest for her youth group, Si-Yoon already knew her.

      “What do you mean? I live here,” Eunji said, making Si-Yoon confused.

      “You live here?” Si-Yoon asked, making Eunji turn her head to Yohan, thinking Yohan already talked about this with Si-Yoon .

      “Ah,” Yohan sheepishly smiled at Eunji, apologizing that she forgot to mention this one fact about Stephanie. “She’s Stephanie’s daughter.”

      “Daughter?” Si-Yoon’s eyebrows went up instantly. He didn’t expect to hear such a revelation. He was shocked and confused just like every other man that her mother blind dated, which made Eunji secretly glare at him. She has seen this kind of reaction so many times before that it annoyed her for the past few months. Si-Yoon did not impress her no matter how handsome, manly, and spiritual he was.

      “I’m ready,” Stephanie said as she came down from the stairs.

      “Good,” Yohan clapped. “Let’s get going.”

      “Are you going with us?” Stephanie asked Yohan.

      “Jessica’s orders. I’m your Mr. Taxi,” Yohan replied.

      During the ride to Xiah Dragon Noodles Restaurant, the two didn’t talk directly to each other too much since it was still somewhat awkward. To loosen the two up a bit, Yohan started talking.

      “You know, Stephanie has been lonely for a long time now.”

      “Yah3, I’m not lonely,” Stephanie hit Yohan from the backseat.

      “Yes you are,” Yohan replied.

      “No I’m not,” Stephanie denied.

      “You are. You just don’t want to admit it.”

      “That’s funny,” Si-Yoon chuckled. “People say similar things to me.”

      “Ah, really?” The two turned their heads to Si-Yoon .

      “Yeah,” He chuckled again. “I always say I’m not lonely. But I think sometimes and ask myself, ‘am I lonely?’ And the chances are my answer would be yes. I’m hoping to change that soon.” He said, making Stephanie slightly snicker.

      “I guess that goes the same for me too…,” Stephanie said timidly.

***

      As they entered Xiah Dragon Noodles Restaurant, they were greeted none other than Junsu, the owner of the restaurant.

      “Stephanie!” Junsu cheerfully greeted. “Would you like me to show you to your table for tonight?”

      “Ah, yes, thank you Junsu Oppa,” Stephanie bowed.

      As they were being led to their table, Stephanie couldn’t help but notice the Junmyun’s band in stage singing their written song, “Baby Don’t Cry.” She’s been here in this lively restaurant a couple of times before, but the performers always change.

      “I’m sorry that you can’t get the view of the band tonight,” Junsu said, leading them to the corner tables of the restaurant. “We have a lot of customers today as you can see.”

      “Oh, that’s alright,” Stephanie and Si-Yoon replied. “We can still hear them clearly so it doesn’t matter.”

      “Well, enjoy yourselves,” Junsu said as a waitress came to their table and gave them the menu. “Just call me if you have any problems okay?”

      “We will,” They both replied and Junsu walked away.

      After ordering the food that they wanted to eat, Si-Yoon took the courage to ask Stephanie as they waited, “What’s the story behind Eunji?”

      There it was again, the question that she hated answering the most. “Do you have to know?”

      “Is it uncomfortable?” Si-Yoon asked. “It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me.”

      Silence fell between them for a moment, but Si-Yoon didn’t want to feel awkward, so he continued, “Yohan said you’ve been alone for some time.”

      Applause was suddenly heard around the small stage, distracting Stephanie from Si-Yoon.

      “How long have you been single?” Si-Yoon asked.

      “Oh,” Stephanie turned her attention back to Si-Yoon. “I’ve been single for a long time.”

      Stephanie’s attention jumped back to the small restaurant stage. She could see a glimpse of Baekho playing the upright piano, but not the man who started to sing. The heads off people were blocking her view.

(Song: I Love You – TaeYeon)

Did it pass by, our love
Is it just a heart-breaking memory?

      “That voice…” Stephanie thought “Is that…”

      “I’ve also been single for a long time,” Si-Yoon said.

It’s turning around, your heart
Can’t I catch it with my tears?

      “Ah really?” Tiffany replied with half of her attention still on the voice that was filling the restaurant.

My love,

      “Why?” She asked Si-Yoon, trying not to sound like she doesn’t care about the conversation.

I love you, I love you
Are you listening?

      “Since I became a missionary, I didn’t have much time for dates and all that.”

      “Ohh…” Stephanie nodded.

My love, don’t forget
Don’t erase, our love

      Stephanie’s memory may be a little bit rusty, but she could never forget the soothing sound of Jinwon’s voice. “Is that Jinwon?” was the question that constantly echoed as she tried to take a glance at the man on stage. She tried to take glances, but the heads of people covered her view. She also shouldn’t move too much and put her full attention to the stage as if she doesn’t care about Si-Yoon at all right now because that would be quite disrespectful.

Can you see my tears?
I long for you all day

      “Oh! Tiff! Stephie!” Jessica spotted the two dating and approached them.

My heart beat when we kissed
But now it’s all just a memory

      “Oh, Sica,” Stephanie’s head turned to Jessica.

My love, I love you,

      “Are you guys enjoying yourselves?” Jessica asked.

I love you. Are you listening?

      “Sica, who’s singing?” Stephanie asked Jessica bluntly.

      Jessica became speechless for a moment. “It’s Jinwon.” No, she can’t bring herself to answer that. She doesn’t want Jinwon and Tiffany’s meeting to be like this—when Stephanie is on a date with someone else, especially with a respectable man like Si-Yoon.

My love, don’t forget
Don’t erase

      “Um…” was all Jessica that could utter.

Our love…

Every day I long for you.

      “Well?” Stephanie stared at Jessica.

That’s how my day goes by.
Where are you?

      Jessica smiled and was followed by an awkward laugh. “He’s one of Junmyun’s band members, K-Kyungsoo,” she stuttered.

      “Really?” Stephanie eyed Jessica suspiciously and took another glance at the stage.

I’m sorry

      “Why do you ask?” Jessica asked trying to hide the nervousness in her tone as she casually tried to block Stephanie’s view of the stage even more.

I’m sorry…

      “Nothing,” Stephanie said, breaking her glare at Jessica.

That I can’t forget you

      Si-Yoon tried to read Stephanie’s expressions but it was unreadable. He turned his head to read Jessica’s slightly nervous expressions which made him confused even more. He’s sure Jessica was hiding something from the both of them, but he brushed it off.

My love, come back to me.
Don’t leave my side, please.

      “Well, I have to get back to work,” Jessica excused. “Enjoy yourselves, okay?” For the first time, saying Stephanie to enjoy her date felt horrible. She used to mean it heartily but now that Jinwon was in town, it was the biggest lie that she has ever said after a long time. All she wanted was for Jinwon to meet Stephanie again after a long time in good terms. But right now, she needed to make sure that the two won’t see each other for now, especially when Si-Yoon, the clueless, innocent missionary date is around.

***

      Meanwhile, back at the residence of the mother and daughter, the doorbell rang. Eunji answered the door and there stood Kibum, brightly smiling at her.

      “Oh, Kibum, what are you doing here?” Eunji asked.

      “I’m just bored,” Kibum said as he entered the home with his hands on his pockets.

      “Nothing to do?” Eunji asked.

      “Well that is the definition of bored, isn’t it?” Kibum chuckled. “Anyway, what are you doing?”

      “Just practicing a piano piece”

      “Cool,” Kibum smiled. “Have you eaten dinner yet?”

      “No, not really.” Eunji went to the kitchen with Kibum following behind.

      “Hey, just play piano,” Kibum perkily insisted. “I’ll cook up dinner for you.”

      Eunji weirdly looked at Kibum but was followed by a snicker. Kibum has been really sweet to her this past week and she can’t help but just find him ridiculously silly.

***

      Fortunately, or unfortunately, Si-Yoon and Stephanie’s date went better than expected. Even if Stephanie didn’t make an effort to be a nice date after hearing Jinwon’s voice, Si-Yoon still tried to be a gentleman and that impressed Stephanie. Si-Yoon was an understanding man to her, making Stephanie’s heart slightly flutter even though she didn’t show it because she was distracted by the familiar voice in the restaurant.

      After a successful one-song performance by Jinwon, Junsu, Junmyun and his friends, and the rest of the employees were extremely impressed by him. Junsu was happy to have found a musician like Jinwon, a man full of emotion in songwriting and voice. Once again, Jessica hired the perfect musician for his restaurant.

      “Good job today, Mr. Jinwon,” Junsu praised Jinwon who was preparing to leave.

      “Ah, thanks, Sir. I had fun,” Jinwon smiled.

      “I’ll be looking forward to your performances for the next few days,” Junsu patted Jinwon’s back. Soon, Jessica entered the small backstage room.

      “Wow, I’ve almost forgotten how good you were,” Jessica chuckled. “You were awesome today, Jinwon.”

      “Thank you Jessica,” Jinwon smiled.

      “Just call me Sica,” Jessica insisted. “And drop the honorifics… it sounds weird coming from you.”

      “Okay, Sica,” Jinwon chuckled. “Well, I’m going now. I’ll see you guys tomorrow, okay?”

      Jinwon went out the small backstage room and headed for the door. Before stepping out of the restaurant, he took out his phone and dialed Eunji’s number.

***

      “Tcha! Dinner’s ready,” Kibum declared as Eunji sat on the dinner table.

      “Wah! Samgyeopsal!” Eunji drooled at the fatty slices of the well-cooked pork belly meat along with lettuces, onions, and garlic.

      “These are all the ingredients that I can prepare,” Kibum said. “Your fridge is just really empty.”

      “That’s alright. I think I’ll be really full with this. Thanks!” Eunji warmly eye-smiled

      “Here,” Kibum wrapped the grilled pork, red bean paste, onion, and garlic with lettuce and fed Eunji. “Eat.”

      Eunji was a bit startled by Kibum’s sudden gesture, but went along with it and ate the samgyeopsal heartily.

      “Do you want to come to church tomorrow?” Eunji asked. “It will be really fun.”

      “Sure,” Kibum agreed, making Eunji happy.

(Eunji’s new ringtone: Bubibu – Apink)

“Dear boy, you’re my angel. Let me show you a better day…”

      Eunji picked up her phone.

      “Eunji,” Jinwon greeted.

      “Oh, Mr. Kim!” she said as she chewed her food.

      “I did well on my job today,” he happily declared.

      “Oh, really? Was it fun?” Eunji enthusiastically asked.

      “Of course it was!” he chuckled. “Oh, and thank you for writing the chorus for my song. It was perfect.”

      “Hmm, did you see your long-time-ago girlfriend?” Kibum’s ears suddenly listened.

      “Not really,” Jinwon chuckled. “But it doesn’t matter. It’s still a nice song.”

      Jinwon looked at his watch and it was 8:30 pm already. “Anyway, I’ll see you whenever okay?”

      Jessica went out of the small backstage room to catch up with Jinwon. Her job in the restaurant was done for the day and it would be nice to walk with Jinwon as she waits for Yohan to come pick her up. She thought Jinwon would already be outside of the restaurant but he was still near the entrance talking to Eunji on the phone. As she approached him, she froze when Stephanie passed by him.

      “Wait,” Eunji said before Jinwon ended the call. “Since your apartment is already fixed and you can walk properly now, why not come to church tomorrow?”

      “Sure, I’d love to,” Jinwon chuckled.

      “Nice! I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

      “Yeah,” Jinwon smiled. “Bye Eunji.”

      “Bye!” The call ended.

      “What was the long-time-ago girlfriend about?” Kibum asked Eunji.

      “Oh that,” Eunji swallowed her food. “Mr. Kim actually came here for some girl from his past.”

      “Oh really?” Kibum snickered. “I knew it.”

      Jinwon pressed end call and lifted his head up. His view suddenly went in slow motion as a figure of a woman passed by. The same long, wavy brown hair, the same bangs hanging on her forehead, and the same eye-smile entered his eyes and stunned him. It was Stephanie. It was definitely Stephanie. There was no doubt. That was her. Right in front of him.

      Everything was happening too fast that Jinwon still stood frozen when Stephanie was finally out of sight. His body couldn’t move as his brain tried to process what just happened.

      Jinwon suddenly snapped back to his senses and tried to quickly catch up with Stephanie but Jessica, who witnessed the whole thing, was fast enough to stop him.

      “I have to protect Stephanie…,” Jessica thought.

      “Don’t,” Jessica tightly gripped Jinwon’s wrist.

      “Let go,” Jinwon breathed heavily without breaking his gaze at the back of Si-Yoon and Stephanie walking on the sidewalk together.

      “Jinwon,” Jessica pulled him back.

      “Let go of me!” Jinwon angrily shouted as he escaped Jessica’s grasp and walked towards Stephanie. However, desperate as she was, Jessica turned Jinwon around and slapped him harshly on the face.

      “Are you stupid? Get a hold of yourself!” Jessica shouted back, making Jinwon shut up. “Look,” Jessica sighed. “Now’s not the time!”

      “Sica, now’s not the time,” Jinwon scoffed at her and continued walking.

      “It’s been fifteen years, Jinwon; fifteen years for goodness sake!” Jessica emphasized. “Gosh, can’t you see that I’m trying to protect the both of you? Things have changed up a bit around here. You can’t just expect to have her heart ready for you any time.”

      Jessica was right. He was not thinking straight. He could clearly see Stephanie walking with another man but still he tried to approach her carelessly. So finally, he calmed down and gave up for now.

      Soon, Yohan’s car parked in front of the restaurant and he ran towards Jessica. He saw Jessica slap Jinwon and argue with him so by now, he was quite confused. Who was this man his wife was scolding?

      “Hey, what’s going on here? I can see you shouting from the car,” Yohan worriedly said. “Who’s this guy?”

      “Oh, Yohan…,” Jessica turned around to face him and so did Jinwon.

      “J-Jinwon?” Yohan slightly jolted backwards. “What… Wh-what’s going on here?”

      “Yohan?” Jinwon’s eyes widened.

      “Jingoo!!!!!” Yohan instantly bear-hugged Jinwon who was startled at first but finally patted the taller man’s back.

      “Is it really you?” Yohan looked at Jinwon from top to bottom. “A-and you remember me?”

      “Yeah, Yohan,” Jinwon chuckled. “It’s me. I’m back.”

      Yohan squealed and became hyper like a five year old, but instantly stopped when he remembered, “Were you guys fighting?”

      Jinwon and Jessica exchanged awkward glances and suddenly looked away. “No, nothing like that,” Jinwon said.

      “Really?” Yohan looked at the both of them.

      “I’ll tell you about it later,” Jessica said to Yohan.

      “Alright,” Yohan wryly smiled. “Anyway, while you’re here… ah… do you want to eat dinner with us or something, Jinwon?”

      “Ah, no, that’s okay. I’m fine. I want to have some time for myself.”

      “Why? But we just m-“ Yohan was interrupted by Jessica’s nudge.

      “If you say so,” Jessica said. “We’ll be leaving first then.”

      “You guys are no fun,” Yohan grumbled.

***

      “So what happened between you and Jinwon a while ago?” Yohan asked his wife as he kept his eyes on the road.

      “He saw Stephanie,” Jessica bluntly said.

      “What?! How?”

      “He just saw, not meet,” Jessica added. “He wanted to approach her, but I stopped her from doing so since Stephanie was on a date with Si-Yoon.”

      “Oh, that’s good,” Yohan sighed in relief. “But seeing him suddenly here… and after fifteen years? Why do you think he came here? Was it only to come back for Stephanie?”

      “He said that he’s regaining bits of his memories back. Not entirely; just parts. At least I hope I heard correctly ‘cause…,” Jessica trailed off and sighed.

      “Does he remember that he has a daughter?”

      “No, I don’t think so. If he did then he probably already started asking about it.”

      Yohan nodded and said, “Call Hyungsoo.”

      “Hyungsoo? Why?”

      “So that he knows what he’s supposed to or not supposed to blurt out in case Jinwon shows up in front of him.”

      “Alright,” Jessica picked up her phone, dialed Hyungsoo’s number, and put it on speakers

      “Hyungsoo!”

      “Oh, Sica,” Hyungsoo answered. “What’s up?”

      “Jinwon’s in town.”

      “What?”

      “Jinwon is in town.”

      “You mean our Jingoo? Do you expect me to believe that?”

      “It’s true, Hyungsoo,” Yohan spoke.

      “Look guys, I have no time for this. See you tomorrow.” He hung up.

      “Aish! Why does he never listen through phone calls?” Jessica sneered. “How are we supposed to tell him now?”

      “I guess we’ll have to just talk with him about this tomorrow.”

***

      “We’re quite early today,” Jinwon said as he entered the small studio with Stephanie.

      “I suppose so,” Stephanie nodded.

      “Hey,” Jinwon said while he laid down his guitar on the corner. “How about I play piano for you?”

      “Piano? Do you know how?” Stephanie asked.

      “No,” Jinwon chuckled, “but I’ll play for you anyway.”

      Stephanie smiled at the cheerful teenager who frothily sat in front of the mini grand piano.

      “I don’t know how to play the whole song,” Jinwon positioned his fingers on the black and white keys. “But I’m sure you know what this is.”

      “Alright,” Stephanie sat beside him. “Go and play.”

      Stephanie relaxed himself and started lightly pressing the piano keys. He was playing the first few seconds of Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9 No.2 slightly a bit rough, but good enough.

      “Wow,” Stephanie’s eye’s started to smile as she softly clapped her hands. “This is so nice.”

***

      It was already 1:00 am at midnight, and the sound of the TV’s static from the living room woke Eunji up. Wondering if it was her mother, she groggily went down stairs to take a peek. Stephanie didn’t come home early after her date hours ago so she assumed something happened. She wanted to hear her stories as soon as possible. Scratching her eyes, she found her mother sitting alone in the couch with her dress still on, watching TV in a low volume and the lamp only turned on the side table this late night.

      “Mom?” Eunji called out as her eyes slowly regained its energy.

      “Oh, Eunji,” Stephanie patted the couch, “come sit beside me.”

      Eunji did what she was told and leaned her head on her mother’s shoulders with her eyes closed. “What happened to your date?” she asked even though she was still sleepy.

      “It was alright,” Stephanie said, stroking her daughter’s hair.

      “You came home late,” Eunji snickered. “Why?”

      “We strolled on parks for a while after dinner… ate some street food.”

      “Do you like him this time?” Eunji asked.

      “I’m not sure,” Stephanie replied. “A part of me likes him, but a part of me is scared.”

      “Scared?” Eunji opened her eyes and sat upright. “To what? Fall in love?”

      Stephanie gave out a wry smile, “Something like that.” Eunji nodded and understood her mother. She hasn’t seen her mother in a serious relationship at all so it must’ve been a long time ago since she last truly fell in love.

      As the two sat silently that midnight, Stephanie turned off the TV and reached for her bag.

      “Close your eyes,” Stephanie said to Eunji.

      “Why?” Eunji’s eyes turned to Stephanie’s bag.

      “Just do it.” And so, Eunji obeyed her mother. Soon, she felt a cold, thin, metal chain fall down on her hand. She opened her eyes and looked down. It was a unique key necklace that looked fitted more for a man.

      “What’s this?” Eunji examined the necklace.

      “Look.” Stephanie lowered her collar, showing a lock necklace that hung around her neck.

      “Oh!” Eunji went closer to look at the lock necklace. “Is this like a key to your heart or something?” Eunji snickered.

      “You could put it that way,” Stephanie chuckled. “I’ve actually been waiting for the right man to show up in my life so that I could give that key necklace to him.”

      “So are you telling me you’ve already found that man?” Eunji wasn’t as happy as she thought she would after saying that.

      “No,” Stephanie smiled. “I’m just going to give it to you.”

      “Am I your man now?” Eunji snickered.

      Stephanie chuckled and said, “I just figured it’d better if you keep it. Even if Si-Yoon could be possibly my man, or anyone else, I don’t think I have enough will-power to give that necklace to them.”

      “Why?” Eunji softly asked. “Is this…”

      “It’s your father’s necklace,” Stephanie said, startling Eunji. The fifteen year old instantly looked at the key necklace and back to her mother. Eunji’s compassionate expressions naturally started to show at the view of her mother’s bittersweet smile. Her mother must’ve loved her “dead” father very much that he just couldn’t be replaced so easily. It’s been a long time, but whatever happened to her father fifteen years ago must’ve left a huge scar on her mother.

          After a silence, Eunji nodded, “I’ll keep it well.”

***

      Jinwon stopped playing the piano after a short performance for Stephanie, “Oh, I still don’t know the whole song, so…”

      “That’s alright,” Stephanie patted his back. “It was still nice.”

      “You know the song right?”

      “Yeah,” Stephanie’s shoulders started to rise as she felt her cheeks slightly turn pink.

      Jinwon reached for his pockets and took something out.

      “Tcha-jan!4” Jinwon smiled as he held a lock necklace in front of Stephanie.

      “What’s that?” Stephanie became startled.

      “It’s a lock necklace.” Jinwon said and showed a key necklace that was hanging on his neck. “I have the key to it.”

      Stephanie blushed even more as her eye-smile and shoulders went up again.

      “I’ll put it on you,” Jinwon said, as he brushed Stephanie’s hair from her shoulders and surrounded her with his arms to put the necklace on her. Jinwon’s face naturally got closer to hers making Stephanie mentally panic. Her heart started beating faster than ever before.

      “So, when did you hear the song?” Stephanie asked referring to the Chopin song he played as he was still putting on the lock necklace on Stephanie’s neck.

      “I, um, the night… that night,” Stephanie stuttered long enough for Jinwon to finish what he was doing.

      “When?” Jinwon stared at her with his amused face almost as close as the night when they first kissed.

      “When we kissed,” Stephanie said as her voice was already starting to sound like aegyo.

      Jinwon snickered, “I’m glad you remember.” He closed his eyes and slightly bent his head. Gently, he went closer and softly kissed Stephanie’s heart-shaped lips. Instead of feeling startled, Stephanie’s eyes unconsciously closed and kissed him back with a sweet smile on her face. They were both a bit taken away as their kiss started to taste so sweet that they didn’t notice the door opening.

      “Hey boy, hey girl, so sweet together!”


CHAPTER 6: Confusing


  1. Baek-Ho
    “BAEK” is pronounced like “BECK”
  2. “Yaaah~!” a Korean exclamation for “wow!!!!”
  3. “Yah, I’m not lonely.”
    In this context, “Yah” means “Hey”
  4. “Tcha-Jan!” means “Ta-da!”

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