A M N E S I A: Chapter 6

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6:

Confusing

     “What? Woah, nope, okay. Didn’t see anything here,” Jessica stuttered the second she caught Jinwon and Stephanie lip-locked in front of the baby grand piano. Her mind suddenly went blank for it felt like she just saw two famous celebrities suddenly dating. The two have known each other for only a month but they were already making out. Oh, what a juicy scandal! Cautiously, she took another peek inside the room and didn’t seem like it would ever end.

      “What are you doing?” Yohan tapped Jessica’s shoulder, making the girl flinch.

      “Oh! You surprised me,” Jessica sighed with her hand on her chest.

      “Aren’t you coming in?” Yohan said as he reached for the door knob.

      “Stop,” Jessica silently slapped Yohan’s hand. “Don’t come in there!”

      “Why?”

      “Just come see,” Jessica said as she bobbed her head to take a peek inside once more, this time with Yohan. The scene did not change at all. Jinwon and Stephanie were still making out and it seemed like it wasn’t going to end anytime soon.

      “Oh, damn!” Yohan gasped.

      Things were slowly heating up as Jinwon caressed Stephanie’s cheek. Everything was just starting to get sweeter and sweeter, but to the two heads hovering at the door, it became too amusingly sensual to them. Jessica couldn’t help herself and shouted, “Hey boy, hey girl, so sweet together!” She giggled and instantly withdrew herself along with Yohan from peeking at the two’s privacy.

      Jinwon and Stephanie suddenly looked at the door at the sound of Jessica’s teasing voice, breaking their make-out session. Even though no one was in sight, they knew Jessica caught them kissing. The thought of having one of their closest friends witnessing their private moment extremely embarrassed them. They’ll be a big target on the teasing board later on that’s for sure!

      Realizing that kiss took way too long for someone to eventually catch them, they distanced themselves from each other. Jinwon stood up and walked to the corner where he laid his guitar, pretending as if he needed something to fix as he tried calming his heart down. Stephanie cleared her throat and patted her cheeks while trying to find ways to restore her madly red face back to its normal state. They exchanged shy glances at each other one last time and prepared to act as normal as possible.

      “What are you guys doing?” Hyungsoo said as Yohan and Jessica were busy giggling like idiots in front of the studio.

      “Oh, hey Soo. Jinwon and Fany are kissing!” Yohan whispered, pointing at the door.

      “What?” Hyungsoo snickered in disbelief.

      “Go see for yourself,” Jessica said. “Take a peek.”

      “Tch… I don’t need to take a peek,” Hyungsoo said as he effortlessly swung the slightly open door. He didn’t believe it was possible for Jinwon and Stephanie to progress in their relationship so quickly. And even if it was true that they were finally making out, he’d rather take front seat of the theater than watch them from a small peep hole.

      “Wait, no!” Yohan and Jessica tried to stop Hyungsoo from bursting inside, but it was too late.

      “Hi guys,” Hyungsoo greeted Jinwon and Stephanie who were far apart from each other. Nothing was happening between them at all. He gave Yohan and Jessica a “you-guys-don’t-make-sense” glance and scoffed at them.

      “Oh, hi,” Jinwon and Stephanie casually greeted back, trying hard to pretend that nothing happened. However, when Jessica entered, they both nervously gulped knowing she witnessed everything.

      “Hi guys,” Yohan greeted. “I hope we didn’t interrupt anything here.”

      Jinwon and Stephanie looked at each other and blushed even more. Jinwon stuttered, “Oh-oh… of-of course not.”

***

      Jinwon slowly opened his eyes after the dream ended. What an amusing memory! How embarrassing it was to be caught by Jessica and Yohan! He even found the lock and key necklaces and kiss so hilarious he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He couldn’t believe he once had this cringe worthy yet romantic side of him. He had to admit, his teenage self was so much smoother and faster at this love game than he is now.

      Jinwon turned to his bedside table to reach for his phone but he only saw his blue journal. Like a sudden winter breeze, the chill of losing Stephanie at the end pierced his heart again. After all the happy memories that kept him company during his peaceful sleep, nothing could ease the pain of knowing that all of those memories would end up being forgotten in the end. Why did the accident have to happen? Why did he have to live again and go through all of these stressful human emotions? Why didn’t he just die fifteen years ago?

      Jinwon picked up his notebook and started write. He had to vent his feelings out quickly for he knew it was not healthy for him to dwell on whatever stressed him.

I remember the one who I truly loved
You were my girl, I remember that at least
Even as time goes by, your breath remains
I cherish you as if you are still in my embrace

Well, this may be a dream
The shallow wounds that I gave you
Might a deep punishment to me
Because I am sorry
I cried for a long time

I’m in an unknown place
As if it is a different world
Did you throw me away from your memories?

Even though I am beside you, it’s as if I’m not there
I can no longer stay at a place where you are not there


What if I hate you if you love someone else?
Do you have another love?
As if you’ll be happy even when I’m not there?
No matter what space we are in
To me, you’re the only one


Even if everything has changed, I go to you
Even without me, can you smile just like now?

Like now, even though I am living, it’s as if I’m not alive
I just don’t know with you

***

      Stephanie honked the car in front of Kibum’s house and soon enough, the invited teenage boy responded quickly. He hopped in the backseat and there Eunji sat happily beside him.

      “Hi guys!” Kibum cheerfully greeted.

      “Hi, Kibum,” Stephanie greeted back. “You ready to go to church today?”

      “Yeah, I am,” Kibum chuckled.

      “Ha, what’s up with your look today?” Eunji snickered at the sight of Kibum’s straightened blonde hair, and buttoned up polo.

      “Wasn’t I supposed to dress like this?” Kibum said as he looked down on his ironed shirt.

      “Well, you don’t really have to, but this neat look is good on you,” Eunji chuckled.

      “Ah really? Should I be this proper more often?”

      “Mmm, it’s not bad, but the hairstyle is really weird to me,” Eunji chortled.

      “About this,” Kibum brushed his hair with his hands. “I just messed with my mom’s straightener.”

      “Aigoo…” Eunji faced him and started ruffling his hair.

      “Hey! Stop! I worked hard on this!” Kibum tried to resist Eunji’s action but couldn’t.  Watching from the rearview mirror, Stephanie secretly giggled, finding them cute together like this.

      “Tcha! This fits you more.” Eunji smiled at the sight of Kibum’s straight blonde hair that has turned back to the same messy hair she was used to.

      Kibum crossed his arms to his chest and cutely pouted, making Eunji smile even more. “Does this messy hair really fit me more?”

      “Yeah, it’s more you,” Eunji chuckled.

      “Alright, I’ll keep it messy,” Kibum giggled.

***

      After a great performance from Jessica, Yohan, Hyungsoo, and YongHwan from the church band and after Pastor Jeongsu’s powerful message, the church service ended and everyone gathered in the courtyard once again. Jessica, who was carrying SooJung, Yohan, who was holding Yoona’s small hands, and Hyungsoo approached Stephanie and Eunji like they always did after every service.

      “You guys were really great today,” Stephanie said. “The set list was so nice.”

      “That’s because I’ve carefully thought about it this time rather than just going through the motions,” Hyungsoo said.

      “I have to admit, I really loved the set list, too,” Yohan chuckled. “From the lyrics to the music, even the order of the songs, Hyungsoo planned it all so well.”

      “Did you guys have deep explanations for every line again?” Stephanie snickered.

      “Oh~,” Hyungsoo laughed. “You’ll be shocked when you see our notes! We seriously discussed it all, alright!”

      “Fany-ah! When are you gonna join us?” Jessica said. “I’ve been asking for ages!”

      “I’m already involved in the children’s ministries, you know that, Jess…”

      Just then, Si-Yoon the missionary, Stephanie’s date from last night, approached the group and said sleekly and politely, “Is it okay if I excused Stephanie?”

      Jessica and Yohan took glances at each other and didn’t know what to say. All morning, all they ever thought about was planning Jinwon and Stephanie’s meeting, but Si-Yoon was making it somewhat hard for them. Even though it was really Yohan’s idea to set up Si-Yoon and Stephanie on a date, he regretted doing so now for Stephanie could actually fall for the clueless missionary. Making things go smooth for Jinwon won’t be easy at all with another man around.

      “Sure,” Hyungsoo smirked, not knowing what was going on in Yohan and Jessica’s minds. Soon, Stephanie was far away from the group laughing with Si-Yoon near the gate of the courtyard.

     Eunji felt quite happy seeing her mother comfortably laugh like that. The date must have gone really well for her to be even agreeing to come with him for a second time. All she wanted was her mother to finally to be happy with someone who can take care of her and this might eventually progress into something more. Si-Yoon was a better guy than half of all the men that Stephanie had dated. He was very spiritual, seriously kind and friendly, and also has great sense of humor. He was perhaps the dream gentleman of any Christian woman, but as much as she tried convincing herself of this, something about him just made Eunji uncomfortable. There was this odd feeling that he would not be the one able to make a Stephanie completely be happy, let alone be the father she had always dreamed of. Oh well, God will direct their lives according to His will. Whether it would be Si-Yoon or not who will join their little family, she should not stress herself over it.

      “Anyway, Soo,” Yohan turned to Hyungsoo. “I have to talk to you about something.” Jessica glanced at Eunji and quickly turned to Hyungsoo and nodded.

      “Why, what is it?” The moment Hyungsoo asked, Jinwon spotted them from the crowd.

      “Hi guys!” Jinwon cheerfully approached them. He smiled widely with his dimple cutely emerging below his chin, showing how overjoyed he was to meet them again.

      “Mr. Kim!” Eunji gave him a high-five. “You came!” Yohan and Jessica’s hearts stopped not because of his charm, but because he was finally before his one and only daughter.

      “Mr. K-Kim?” Hyungsoo mumbled as his jaw unconsciously dropped. He was seeing Jinwon, his high school best friend. He might have looked a little bit older, but his height, his dorky entrance, and his smile were still the same. Jessica and Yohan weren’t lying to him after all.

      “Ji—ow!” Yohan stomped Hyungsoo foot strong enough to shut him up. Yohan didn’t want Hyungsoo to act as if he already knew Jinwon, especially in front of Eunji.

      “Of course I did! Why wouldn’t I? I have no house to arrange today and am perfectly healthy,” Jinwon chuckled with Eunji, confusing Jessica and Yohan even more. How were they already so well acquainted and comfortable with each other?

      “O-Oh, Jinwon!” Jessica stuttered, trying to act as normal as possible.

      “You guys know each other?” Eunji asked, making Jessica and Yohan freeze.

      “They’re JooHyun’s friends,” Jinwon said, baffling Jessica and Yohan. “I just met Jessica and Yohan yesterday.” This was not the answer Jessica, Yohan, and Hyungsoo expected. He had all the reasons to be honest at that moment but why was he hiding his identity from Eunji all of a sudden? And why was he also throwing JooHyun’s name in the mix?

      “O-oh, yeah,” Jessica stuttered once again. “We met at Xiah Dragon Noodles ‘cause I also work there.”

      “Oh, I’m Jinwon,” Jinwon “introduced” himself to Hyungsoo even though he remembers him from his dreams, too. “Nice to meet you.”

      “N-Nice to meet you to,” Hyungsoo timidly bowed his head as he shook Jinwon’s hand.

      “Oh,” Yohan looked at his watch. “Look at the time! I have to prepare some things for the Youth. Eunji, go ahead and find your band mates. Meet you guys in the Youth room,” Yohan said as he yanked Hyungsoo while he carried Yoona on his arms. He had to talk to Hyungsoo about Jinwon before he blurts out anything.

      Eunji nodded and started to look for her friends.

      Jinwon chuckled at the sight of the two boys preparing to leave. Even with the little memory he had of them, they were still exactly the same. And also, seeing that Yohan and Jessica now has two kids made him chuckle even more. Things probably worked out for them.

      As Yohan was about to leave, he gave a soft peck on Jessica’s lips and on SooJung’s cheeks and flew off while dragging Hyungsoo.

      “The man who had a crush on the cold teenager now has two kids with her. Cham!” Jinwon thought and laughed.

However, his vision suddenly blurred and a white flash covered his eyes.

This time, it wasn’t words that came to mind.

      He saw Jessica’s young face close to his. He was sitting beside her. He pecked her lips and instantly moved his face away. He looked away and casually acted like nothing happened with a smile on his face. In a few moments, Jessica gave him a kiss on a cheek.

      Suddenly, Jinwon regained his senses and reached for his right cheek. What just happened? All these times Stephanie had been the one showing up in his visions and dreams so why was it Jessica now all of a sudden? What’s even more confusing is that Jessica looked quite younger than his usual dreams. She didn’t have a blonde, wavy hair, much like the 17 year old version, but had short brown hair instead.

      He stared at Jessica trying to find some kind of answer, but there was nothing. He tried brushing it off convincing himself that his brain was probably getting his memories all confused. It just seemed so weird for both of them to have that kind of relationship at some point in their life.

      As Jessica and Jinwon were left by Yohan, Hyungsoo, and Eunji, they were once again filled with an awkward silence. Jinwon didn’t want it to be awkward this time and spoke, “So, you guys have kids now?”

      “Ah, yeah,” Jessica chuckled as she looked at SooJung who was drowsing off on her shoulder.

      “What are their names?” Jinwon asked.

      “This is SooJung, whom I like to call ‘Krystal,’” Jessica giggled. “The four year old with Yohan is Yoona.”

      “Ohh, such pretty names,” Jinwon wondered. “They look just like the both of you,” Jinwon chuckled. “It’s good to see that…” Jinwon’s smile dropped as his eyes caught Stephanie near the courtyard gate laughing with the same man from last night.

      “Is she…” Jinwon trailed off and Jessica turned her head to see where Jinwon was spacing out.

      “Oh,” Jessica bit her lip. “Stephanie?”

      “Is she finally happy… with someone else?” Jinwon’s voice started to break.

      “Well, that’s, uh…” Jessica stuttered

      “It’s okay,” Jinwon hung his head low. “It’s been fifteen years, I know.”

      “Aaactually that’s…” Jessica raised her shoulders.

      “It’s good to see that she’s happy,” he said even though he was hurting. “I’m glad… she moved on.”

      “Hey!” Jessica gently slapped Jinwon’s arm. “Stop babbling nonsense.”

      “What?” Jinwon became startled.

      “That’s not her boyfriend, you idiot. Stop jumping to conclusions just by looking at them.” Jessica said, actually hoping that Si-Yoon and Stephanie’s relationship won’t progress.

      “He’s not?” Jinwon looked at Stephanie and Si-Yoon once again. Si-Yoon gave Stephanie a friendly hug and that felt like a sword cut through Jinwon’s heart. Watching another guy give their warmth to Stephanie, boyfriend or not, was not a pleasant sight to see. But as Si-Yoon left, leaving Stephanie with her phone in front of the courtyard gate, he felt somewhat relieved.

      “Si-Yoon was just a blind date from yesterday night,” Jessica added. “They just met.”

      “Well in that case, if they really don’t have anything between them, I’m going to talk to her,” Jinwon confidently said as he walked to Stephanie’s direction.

      “H-h-hey!” Jessica stuttered and barley grabbed Jinwon’s wrist with her right arm trying not to wake up the sleeping SooJung on her left arm. “Where do you think you’re going? Didn’t I already say that her heart is not ready for you?”

      Jinwon stopped, still not taking her eyes off of Stephanie and sighed, “How are you so sure that she’s not ready?”

      “Uh, hello? Don’t tell me you don’t remember saying that you’re some kind of Jinwon the Second,” Jessica glared at him. “I still remember her saying that Jinwon the First is dead and that you, Jinwon the Second, is someone else. And I made an oath to you back then before the accident to protect her if you lose your mind. But of course, you don’t remember that, too, don’t you?”

      “Oh…” Jinwon scratched his head. He read about the first part in his diary. It was true that there was a time when he did say he was “Jinwon the Second.”

      “And besides, I’ve known Stephanie since I was 13 years old. I know what goes in that heart and head of hers. So, please, Jinwon-ah, just trust me when I stop you,” Jessica said kindly. “And wait until I say it’s the right time.”

      Jinwon stared at Stephanie once again, and this time, Si-Yoon came back. Stephanie left the church with him.

      “Do you think there will ever be a right time?” Jinwon asked as he watched the two walk away side by side.

      “There will be, trust me,” Jessica softly patted his shoulders. “I’ll make sure. Yohan, Hyungsoo, and I will make sure. We’re all here for the two of you. We’ll make sure you guys work out in the end.”

      “Why do you want us together so badly?” Jinwon asked. “I mean, I get that we were friends and all from the past, but as you said, it’s been fifteen years. I mean I appreciate the effort, but it just seems odd that you sound like you want to try so hard.”

      Jessica turned away from Jinwon’s curious eyes and bit her lip. She can’t say her best reason as to why she’s trying to get them back together as smoothly as possible. Saying that Jinwon has a daughter, specifically Eunji, will cause major complications in their meeting and especially in Jinwon’s feelings.

      “Um…” Jessica wondered for a bit, but her thought was interrupted as Jinwon’s phone rang.

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

      “Hello?” Jinwon answered, making Jessica secretly sigh in relief that she won’t have to answer his question.

      “Jiiiiiinwoooon!” It was the same high, helium-gulped-like voice of Junsu.

      “Oh, boss, hello,” Jinwon greeted.

      “Can you work this afternoon?” Junsu asked.

      Jessica took this as a chance to escape Jinwon’s questions. She made signs in front of Jinwon saying that she had to go upstairs now for Youth Group and Jinwon just let her be. So she left him and sighed in relief that she was able to get away from him. It’s so stressful trying to hold in pieces of information from him.

***

      Meanwhile, Kibum wandered off and found Jinki, MInjae, and So Eun, the only people he actually knew in Church.

      “Oh, hey Kibum!” Jinki greeted.

      “Hi guys, what’s up?” Kibum greeted back.

      “The sky,” Minjae replied, making Jinki and Kibum roll their eyes. Only So Eun laughed.

      “You’re so lame,” Jinki rolled his eyes at Minjae.

      “Aaaaanyway,” Kibum said. “What do we do in the youth group?”

      “We go eat, play games, and listen to the youth leader’s message. That’s how it usually goes for the normal people.”

      “Normal people?”

      “The three of us are not one of those people,” Jinki explained. “We’re from the youth band so we usually skip the lunch and games part.”

      “Isn’t Eunji a part of the youth band too?” Kibum asked.

      “Hi guys,” Eunji joined the conversation. “Yep, I am from the band too.”

      Kibum’s face brightened up as Eunji joined them. He smiled more and laughed more as they talked for a little while. When someone was talking, Kibum would steal glances of Eunji’s face and Minjae noticed it.

      “What’s with him all of a sudden?” Minjae thought. He was familiar with Kibum’s expressions. It was very similar from his own expressions during the days when he had a crush on So Eun. Oh,” Minjae snickered silently. “Does he like Eunji?”

***

      After the Youth Group ended, the Youth band was once again left in the boiler room to hang out. This time, they have Kibum as a new guest. Minjae closely observed him from a distance to see if he really does have feelings for Eunji. Who knows, they might have just became close friends after last week’s accident that almost hit Eunji.

      “But there could be something more here,” Minjae thought. He was not trying to find out because he wanted Kibum and Eunji together; he wanted to find out if Kibum liked her just to tease them. Minjae just wanted revenge after all those times when the two teased him and So Eun.

      “Eunji, play something,” Kibum said, pointing to Jinki’s unoccupied piano keyboards.

      “Sure,” Eunji cheerfully sat in front of the keyboards. “What do you want me to play?”

      “Play the piece you were practicing yesterday,” Kibum smiled.

      “Oh, the Chopin song?” Eunji said, getting ChanYoung and Yue’s attention. “Okay, I’ll play that.”

      Eunji took a deep breath, cracked her knuckles, closed her eyes to picture the music sheet, and softly pressed her fingers on the piano keyboard. She was playing it sweetly and fluently, making ChanYoung, Yue, and Kibum smile and sway at the soft sound of the piece.

      “Wow, Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9 No.2!” Yue exclaimed in amazement. “Those are one of the songs my father uses to wake me up in the morning!”

      “Really? It sounds like I can sleep by listening to it,” Kibum said.

      “Yeah I know, but Chopin songs just wake me up because I like listening to it,” Yue said. “Chopin songs are the best.”

      “I know right?” ChanYoung said as he held up his left hand to give Yue a high five, “Chopin is the best classical artist.”

      “Is there even a difference to classical music? They all sound the same to me,” Jinki said, joining the conversation with Sungyeol following behind him.

      “What?” Yue and ChanYoung angrily glared at the two boys.

      “No they’re not,” Yue growled. “Have you heard some of Beethoven’s music? His compositions are really noisy compared to Chopin’s! And don’t get me started on Vivaldi…”

      “Yeah, I agree,” ChanYoung spoke. “It’s just like saying Girls’ Generation and 2NE1 are the same and Maroon 5 is the same as…”

      “Okay, okay,” Jinki waved his hands to stop them from explaining any further. “I get it now, so stop—”

      “Eish!” Eunji smacked her hands on the piano keyboard, making a horror-sounding blast in the keys, startling the group. “Why can’t I get that right?”

      “What’s wrong?” Yue asked. “You were playing it well.”

      “It’s just that I’m always stuck in the last part. It’s so frustrating,” Eunji huffed.

      “Why, how long have you been practicing that?” ChanYoung asked.

      “Longer than it should take me,” Eunji pouted. “Usually, I’d perfectly play a hard piece in just one week, but this piece is taking me more than a week already and this piece is not even hard.”

      “Maybe it IS hard, that’s why you can’t play it,” Sungyeol said, stating the obvious.

      “I guess,” Eunji sighed. “But it just doesn’t make sense. The first time I played this song, I was really fluent at it, but I couldn’t play the last part just like today. I don’t know if it’s me who has a problem or if it’s Chopin’s problem.”

      “It’s probably just you who has the problem,” Jinki snickered.

      “Yeah, don’t blame the artist,” ChanYoung said, “especially Chopin.”

      “Ugh… It’s just so frustrating,” Eunji pouted.

      “Well I think you can do it,” Kibum said encouragingly. “You’re an amazing pianist so you’ll get it in time.”

      Eunji looked at Kibum and was about to take his statement as a joke, but all she found was a charming smile that was full of sincerity. Somehow, she couldn’t bring herself resist Kibum’s kind, sparkling eyes, and up-lifting words. It just left her speechless and at the same time energized. Minjae, who was secretly watching the whole situation, snickered at Kibum’s remark.

      “Hey Sungyeol, is your job at Xiah Dragon Noodles good?” Jinki suddenly asked.

      “Yeah, it’s awesome,” Sungyeol smiled. “Why do you ask?”

      “Can I apply there too?”

      “Sure, just go ask Mrs. Sica,” Sungyeol said pointing to Jessica.

      “Mrs. Sica?” Jinki became confused. Sungyeol also got Eunji and ChanYoung’s attention.

      “Yeah,” Chanyeol nodded. “She works there as a music manager.”

      “Wow, I didn’t know so many people worked there,” Eunji said.

      “Like who?” Jinwon asked.

      “My music teacher,” Eunji replied.

      “What’s his name?” Sungyeol asked.

      “Jinwon. Kim Jinwon.”

      “Ah, that’s right,” Sungyeol clapped his hands. “Mr. Kim is pretty awesome. His debut stage last night was really nice.”

      “Oh, really?” Kibum said. “He works there?”

      “Yeah,” Sungyeol nodded. “You guys should watch us play in Xiah Dragon Noodles sometimes. It’s really nice.”

***

      It was evening. Jessica, Yohan, and Hyungsoo invited Jinwon in a small coffee shop just a few blocks from Xiah Dragon Noodles restaurant to chat. The three had numerous questions in mind. They wanted to catch up on the things they’ve missed in Jinwon’s life.

     “So, Jinwon, I know you’re probably sick of this question, but who are the people that you remember completely?” Jessica asked, trying to find out if JooHyun was one of those people.

      “Um,” Jinwon wondered for a bit, “Basically just family.”

      Hyungsoo and Yohan nodded, but Jessica slightly squinted her eyes and asked thinking if Eunji was part of the family, “Like who?”

      “My parents, my grandparents, my cousins… just some people from my hometown.” Jinwon said, making Jessica sigh in relief.

      “How about your sister, HaYeon1?” HyungSoo asked.

      “HaYeon?” Jinwon went silent for a moment, but then continued, “I do remember her, too,” he said in a low voice.

      “Really?” Yohan worriedly stared at him.

      Jinwon caught the three staring at him in a concerned manner and that disturbed him. “Okay, here’s the thing.” Jinwon closed his eyes and sighed. “HaYeon is the first memory I ever remembered. The rest of my childhood follows after that. The only things I don’t remember at all are pieces of my teenage life, especially ages 17 to 19 years old. And I guess I’ve forgotten some more recent ones after that one time a few years ago but…”

      “Ohh,” The three nodded their heads. “But you’re starting to remember things now that you’re here, huh?” Jessica asked.

      “Yeah,” Jinwon smiled as his eyes tried not to make eye contact. “Little by little.”

      “That’s good,” Yohan smiled and continued, “Anyway, what have you been up to this past 15 years?”

      “Well, I lost my job recently as a composer in Seoul,” Jinwon said.

      “So you moved here?” Hyungsoo asked.

      “Actually, after I lost my job, I was planning on moving to somewhere to just calm down from the busy life, but I didn’t know exactly where. Then, JooHyun told me about this town.” Jinwon chuckled, “I guess now I know the reason why she suggested this place.”

      The three took glances at each other and took this as a chance to ask him about JooHyun. “You know JooHyun?”

      Jinwon was a bit confused by Jessica’s question. Of course he knew JooHyun. Why wouldn’t he? After a few seconds of thinking, he soon realized what Jessica was trying to find out. “Oh, yeah, HaYeon is really close friends with JooHyun. And uh, YongHwan and I became great friends for quite some time. So yeah, eventually, we became friends through the years.” He explained.

      “But during those years, did JooHyun say she was one of your best friends in the past?” Yohan asked.

      “No,” Jinwon said in a somewhat surprised tone. “She never mentioned anything like that at all. I was actually surprised to see her in my flashback dreams!”

      “Flashback dreams?” Hyungsoo wondered.

      “What have you remembered so far? Maybe we could help you clear some things out,” Yohan asked.

      “I remember when Jessica and Stephanie joined the band, when I bought Stephanie a Mariah Carey album, when we first kissed…”

      “Okay, we get the Stephanie parts, but what about the three of us?” Yohan asked.

      “Oh, you guys?” Jinwon wondered, “I remember the time when Jessica played Pokémon with you guys for the first time.”

      “Oh wow, really?” Yohan chuckled. “I don’t even remember that.”

      “Yeah, me too,” Jessica pouted. “It was so long ago!”

      “Really? You guys don’t remember that?” Jinwon chuckled. “You don’t remember naming the main character ‘John,’ the rival, ‘Soo,’ and the Squirtle, ‘Jingoo’?”

      “No, I really don’t remember!” Yohan and Jessica chuckled. “Did we really name the characters that?”

      “Haha, fools,” Hyungsoo snickered. “Don’t you guys remember beating the Elite Four? Am I really the only one who remembers our first Pokémon game here?”

      “Ah…” Jessica suddenly remembered. “Well you’re the only one who actually understood the game since it was in Japanese.”

      “Yeah, that’s right,” Jinwon laughed. “It was in Japanese.”

      “Wow, Jinwon-ah! I guess your memory is a lot better than I thought!” Hyungsoo said, giving him a high five across the table.

      “Any other memory you remember?” Yohan asked.

      “Stephanie’s 17th birthday,” Jinwon smiled.

      “Ah, yeah that’s a nice one,” Yohan nodded.

      “Oh, that was the time we bought her a puppy?” Jessica wondered.

      “Yeah,” Jinwon nodded. “It was.”

       An awkward silence slowly crept in. Jinwon didn’t like the feeling of it and asked, “Did she take care of Charming well while I was gone?”

      “She gave it to her cousin to take care—ow!” Yohan said as Jessica stomped on his foot under the tables to shut him up. Yohan shouldn’t have said that.

      “Her cousin?” Jinwon’s eyes crumpled.

      “Oh, about that,” Jessica sheepishly smiled and hesitantly continued, “Stephanie…”

      “Well?” Jinwon glared at them anxiously.

      “She gave her dog to her cousin when you left,” Jessica said, feeling bad that Jinwon had to hear that.

      “Why?” Jinwon needed answers as to why Charming was given away.

      “As I told you,” Jessica’s voice became hesitant, “Stephanie… she tried to forget about you.”

      Yohan glanced at Jessica and telepathically ask why she was lying all of a sudden. Stephanie gave her dog to her cousin for a totally different reason than just trying to get over Jinwon. Besides, there was never a time when she tried to forget about him since the thought of him scarred her body, mind, and soul. Any efforts to delete a trace of him would never be effective.

      Unable to relay her reason to Yohan clearly about why she decided to lie to Jinwon, Jessica just stared back at him with her “go-with-it” glare. Jessica knew very well that these words would hurt Jinwon. Although she hated herself a little for making his heart ache even more, this could be a great way to hold him back from getting closer to Stephanie. In other words, this could buy her time to stop whatever Si-Yoon and Stephanie were getting into and ready Stephanie’s heart for Jinwon’s comeback. And it was only fair that Jinwon should suffer in this relationship since her best friend Stephanie obviously had a huge share of the heartache already.

      “Ah… ahahaha….” Yohan awkwardly laughed, “Anyway, you got some other memories that need some answers?”

      Jinwon tried to keep himself together from showing his wounded heart and searched his brain for another memory. The only thing that came to mind was the unusual sudden flashback earlier in the church courtyard.

      “Sica and I… kissed?” Jinwon carelessly said while his eyes squinted in confusion at Jessica, totally forgetting that Yohan was her husband and was just right beside her.

      “What?!” Yohan’s eye-brows instantly wrinkled, Sica’s eyes widened, and Hyungsoo just laughed, finding it amusing that Jinwon remembered that out of all memories.

      “Y-yah!” Jessica’s voice broke in confusion.

      “Why?” Jinwon said, still forgetting that Yohan was already married to Jessica.

      “W-What do you mean ‘why’? You go and explain yourself!” Jessica uncomfortably uttered.

      “Um, did we kiss?” Jinwon asked in a nonchalant way.

      “Um…” Jessica paused and Yohan anxiously waited for the answer. “Ah!” Jessica snapped her fingers. “Yeah, I was your first kiss.”

      “Ahhh,” Yohan’s face brightened up and chuckled. He already knew about this even before they got into a relationship. “Yeah, that’s right.”

      “First kiss?” Jinwon stared at them in disbelief.

      “Yeah,” Jessica nodded. “We were once a thing.”

      “Really?” Jinwon still didn’t believe it. “When?”

      “When we were, hmm, like about 12 or 13, we were in the same school,” Jessica started. “We had a really childish relationship though and didn’t decide anything officially since you had to move and I had to go back to America.”

      “Ahh…” Jinwon finally remembered faintly.

      “Wait, I want to ask a question,” Jessica said as a thought came to mind.

      “What is it?” Jinwon listened.

      “Why didn’t you say that we were your friends from your past in church a while ago?”

      “Huh?” Jinwon didn’t get what she was talking about.

      “You said a while ago that we ‘just met yesterday’ when you knew who we were. You even introduced yourself to Hyungsoo like you’ve never met him before even though you clearly said yesterday that you remember us.”

      “Oh…” Jinwon looked down. “I guess, I just didn’t want anyone to know my past, that’s all.”

      “Why not?” Hyungsoo asked. “It’s one hell-of-a ride.”

      “It’s just that…” Jinwon sighed. “I don’t want to let people think I had so much history in this place.”

      “Why?” Yohan asked.

      “I don’t want to remember myself,” Jinwon firmly said, leaving his friends speechless.

      “In… what way?” Jessica slowly asked.

      Jinwon took a few moments to think and answered, “These days, I’ve been watching my past play like a TV show every night. The only thing is… I watched the last episode first before anything else, and it was not a good ending. Now every time I watch it… I hate the show since I know the main characters won’t end up well in the end together. I’m not a hopeless romantic, but in the story of my life there’s nothing I’d want more than to have a happy ending with… with her.”

      “Maybe,” Jessica softly spoke, “the show hasn’t ended yet. You just think that was the ending, but really, the last episodes are just airing right now—like a sequel.”

      Jinwon understood what Jessica meant by that. Maybe, the separation between Stephanie and him was actually not the ending to their story. Maybe, their story was still continuing right now.

      Just then, Junsu entered the coffee shop. He spotted the four conversing with each other and approached them.

      “Yah, Sica!” Junsu exclaimed. “Why aren’t you coming to work today?”

      “What do you mean? It’s Sunday,” Jessica replied.

      “Didn’t you see my text? I told you to come since there’s a new guy!”

      “Again? Ugh fine,” Jessica got up from the table as she checked her phone to see the text.“We seriously need to set up some serious rules about job applications. The idiots always come during weekends,” Jessica muttered, but Jinwon heard her.

      “Hey, I’m not an idiot!”

      “You are,” Jessica replied as Yohan helped her wear her coat. “You made me work on a Saturday.”

      “You want us to come with you, Sica?” Hyungsoo suggested.

      “Sure, I’d like to have you guys company while I work,” Jessica smiled.

      “But you have to order food!” Junsu added. “You can’t just hang out in my restaurant!”

      “We understand, Mr. Junsu,” Hyungsoo replied. “We’ll eat dinner anyway.”

      “I’ll pick up Yoona and SooJungie,” Yohan said. “We can all eat dinner together.”

      “Good,” Junsu nodded. “Are you coming too, Jinwon?”

      “Um…” Jinwon sighed. “No, I don’t think I’ll come.”

      “Whyyyyy?” Yohan whined.

      “You guys go on ahead. I want to have some time alone for myself.”

      “Eish, this again? Man, you’re really no fun, Jinwon!” Yohan grumbled. “Next time, you better not do this to us again!”

      “I won’t,” Jinwon laughed.

      “We’ll be going then. Take care of yourself, Jinwon. Oh and here,” Jessica handed him an umbrella. “It looks like it’ll rain soon so you’ll probably need this.”

      The four left, leaving Jinwon alone in the coffee shop. While fiddling with his cup handle, he kept sighing as the thought of Stephanie kept coming back to him. Did she really try to let him go? So many logical reasons could confirm this, but it’s just so hard to take it in when he has fallen in-love with her all over again. Since he’s still alive, did Stephanie really try to erase him from her heart? If that was true, he wished he just died instead of getting into a coma, waking up without memories, and rejecting her. If he just died instead, the harsh things he said on their last moments together would never have happened and he will always have a special spot in her heart.

      As the cold breeze started to fill the autumn night, Stephanie rubbed her hands together, breathed warmth to it, and entered the same coffee shop where Jinwon was. The scent of newly baked bread and the coffee shop’s warmth welcomed her. Since there was absolutely nothing to eat at home, she figured she would just order for now. She could’ve called, but the flyer back at home was a little outdated.

      “I’d like to have the dinner special please.”

      “Is it a take-out, Ms. Hwang?” said the worker, knowing her well since she was a frequent customer.

      “Yes.”

      Jinwon’s ears suddenly focused on the counter of the coffee shop which was just a few tables behind him. “Ms. Hwang? Did I hear that right?” Jinwon was facing away from the counter, so he couldn’t see anything. “No, I must be hearing things…” Jinwon tried to brush it off and just stared aimlessly out the window.

      As Stephanie waited for her order, her eyes wandered around the quiet coffee shop and saw the back of Jinwon who was staring out the window. A bit of his side-profile could be seen, but the angle wasn’t enough for her to recognize who it was. Stephanie stared at him intensely as she started to have a feeling that he’s someone she was familiar with, but she was interrupted when the sound of the rumbling sky came. Soon, rain started to fall.

      “Oh, shoot,” Stephanie quickly claimed her order and paid for it as fast as she could. “Thank you,” Stephanie slightly bowed his head and quickly ran outside the pouring rain to get a taxi.

      Jinwon, who was still staring outside the rainy night, caught the panicking Stephanie trying to protect herself from the rain. Time went by slowly as Stephanie’s face clearly came into view. “It’s her. It’s really her. The girl who was just in this empty coffee shop with me, it’s Stephanie.”

      Jinwon’s heart became tight at the sight of Stephanie quickly getting soaked under the rain. “She might get a cold,” Jinwon thought as he just watched her trembling under the cold, rainy night. Suddenly, he jolted up and remembered that he had an umbrella.

        “Forget about what Jessica said and all the stuff about my heart. Meeting her with this kind gesture would be enough… right?” he convinced himself. He reached for the coffee shop’s door but, oh, too late, a taxi already stopped in front of her.

     When Stephanie got in, she looked in Jinwon’s direction by the coffee shop door, but Jinwon managed to hide his face. Out of reflex, he hid himself from Stephanie. Drawing his face back was not what he expected to do in this situation but it definitely made him wonder: was his heart the one that was actually not ready for Stephanie all this time? His anxiety sure had a good hold of him this time. It suddenly reminded him of all the shame, regret, and sadness. It just didn’t seem right to show up to Stephanie’s humble life with all of those ugly things.

      Jinwon went home feeling extremely frustrated and confused. He had a chance to meet Stephanie and converse with her in the coffee shop, yet he lost it. He had an umbrella that could have made it easier for him to be a gentleman, yet he didn’t use it. He had a chance to at least show his face to her, yet he turned away. He had three chances, yet none of them worked out. Were Jessica’s unknown plans right to follow for this kind of situation all this time? Did he really have to wait for her signal? And if so, what was that signal? He wished he could talk all about his feelings with his sister in a round-about way like he usually does with most of his problems, but he didn’t have much energy to talk to anyone right now. Talking to HaYeon will only lead to him talking to his niece, nephew, and brother-in-law.

      Still, he had to let his feelings out. He prepared for bed, took out his small notebook, and started to write.

Even though it only hurts a little, tears form
My heart screams out if I pass in front of you, beside you
You were my whole world, I want only you
But I can’t breathe when I’m in front of you

As if you weren’t my destiny
As if this was just a passing moment
Next to you, who just let me go so easily
I go closer to you step by step
Yet I cannot move at all

You make me restless, you make me cry
Like a fool, like a child
I want to just laugh it off instead

The closer I get to you
I get more scared
But I guess I cannot stop this love

***

      “So, tell us,” Jessica said as Hyungsoo and JooHyun left the studio to buy some snacks for the group. “Are you guys dating?”

      “Um…” Jinwon glanced at Stephanie, whose cheeks were already turning pink.

      “Come on, let it out!” Yohan said. “We saw you making out a while ago!” Jinwon and Stephanie’s cheeks turned red and avoided any eye contact out of embarrassment.

      “Tell us quickly! Hyungsoo and JooHyun might be coming soon,” Jessica said.

      “We can talk about this later,” Jinwon said. “We’re gonna have another band sleepover at your place anyway.”

      “No, this cannot wait,” Jessica desperately said.

      “Come on, just tell us!” Yohan said. “We won’t tease you if you let us know first!”

      “Fine, we are,” Stephanie blurted out, slightly startling Jinwon. “You happy?” Stephanie said, making Jinwon chuckle.

      “Ha, I knew it!” Jessica sassily brushed her blonde hair from her shoulders and crossed her arms on her chest. “You two have been talking about each other like crazy these days.”

      “Yeah,” Yohan agreed. “All you two do these days is babble about each other. It’s so obvious that you guys have something going on.”

      “I guess I’ll have to give you ‘the talk’ then,” Jessica said to Stephanie.

      “What talk?” Stephanie stared at Jessica, and the two boys turned their attention to her too.

      “About Jingoo,” Jessica said.

      “What about me?” Jinwon curiously asked.

      “Me,” Jessica said to Jinwon.

      “What about you?” Jinwon became confused.

      “Idiot. Don’t tell me you haven’t mentioned this to Stephanie,” Jessica snarled at Jinwon.

      “About what?” Jinwon asked.

      “Your first kiss, you idiot. Your first kiss,” Jessica said.

      “First kiss?” Stephanie turned her head to Jinwon, giving him the “wasn’t I your first kiss?” look.

      “Ahh…” Jinwon sheepishly smiled. “That…” Jinwon tried her hardest not to make eye contact.

      “Hey, you’re starting a relationship with MY best friend, and you keep things from her? Idiot,” Jessica frowned in disappointment.

      “Well if she’s your best friend, why don’t you go ahead and tell her yourself?” Jinwon said.

      “Fine.” Jessica looked straight to Stephanie and said, “I’m Jinwon’s first kiss.”

      Yohan and Stephanie were taken aback by Jessica’s revelation. Their eyes bounced back and forth to Jessica and Jinwon in disbelief. Them? First kiss? How?

      “Before Jinwon moved here in this town, we were great friends back in his hometown. Remember, we already mentioned this when I joined the band.”

      “You mean great friends as in ‘in a relationship’?” Stephanie’s tone started to become unpleasant.

      “Hey, don’t give me that look Fany. I’m just saying that I was Jinwon’s first relationship in case you didn’t know,” Jessica said.

      “Childish relationship. Childish,” Jinwon emphasized.

      “Yeah, it was a pretty childish relationship that we ended up becoming friends instead,” Jessica continued.

      “Oh, and you’re saying this why?” Stephanie was still not happy about this news.

      “Don’t be jealous just because I was Jinwon’s first kiss, Stephanie. I’m only saying this because you’re about to date someone that I’ve ‘dated’. Jinwon and I, your two best friends, shared a past, and I just wanted you to know that.” Jessica patted Stephanie’s shoulders to make her feel better, “I’m not gonna steal Jinwon away from you so don’t worry. I know him well enough to know he’s not my type anymore. I’m gonna cheer you guys on. After all, what is better than seeing my two best friends get together when I want them to? I’ve been observing you two and I’ve actually been waiting to see you both just make out already.”

***

      It was again the time of the day. Jinwon waited for Eunji to come to the studio to teach him how to play the piano. Yes, their roles have switched now completely since Jinwon wasn’t much of a music teacher anyway. While he waited, he continued on writing on his small notebook.

Why is it just my love that is late
Why is it just my love that is hard
Even if I’m right in front of you or right beside you

You were my whole world, I see only you
But when I’m in front of you, I always look away

If even from a long distance      
I could look upon you
That’s what you call love

If this waiting, this longing,
When it sounds, when it touches
Please just act like you didn’t know

Jinwon took a deep breath and picked up Key’s guitar. He started composing a melody for the things he wrote on his notebook.

      After a while, Eunji entered the studio, and again, Eunji taught him basics in piano and the Chopin piece little by little.

      “This is the key of C,” Eunji said as she pressed only the white keys. “This is probably the easiest to master…”

      When Jinwon listened closely to the fifteen year old’s teaching, he turned his head to just look at Eunji and not the piano keys. He was getting a bit bored since all Eunji talked about were basics. He didn’t need explanation for the C’s, G’s, and D’s since it the principles were similar to guitar chords. Eunji’s face was more interesting to him than learning the basics right now. It’s not that he’s attracted to the teenager or anything like that, Stephanie just always seemed to radiate through her.

      While observing every expression, every smile, and every beauty in the teenager’s face, he saw something sparkle that hung on Eunji’s neck. It was the same key necklace that he saw from his dreams. It was no doubt once his. It had the same shape and it had the same masculine touch to it.

      “No, that’s impossible,” Jinwon thought. “How could my necklace possibly end up on a random teenager’s neck? No, maybe it just looked the same or maybe the town sells more of those necklaces somewhere. It can’t possibly be mine.”

      “Do you get it?” Eunji said, interrupting Jinwon’s thoughts.

      “A-ah, yeah,” Jinwon instantly turned back his attention to the piano.

***

      After Eunji and Jinwon held their “music lessons,” Jinwon went straight ahead to Xiah Dragon Noodles to rehears his performance for tonight.

      “Oh, Jinwon!” Junsu greeted, “You came!”

      “Hi boss,” Jinwon chuckled. “Is Jessica around?”

      “No, she’ll come a little bit later in the evening.”

      “Oh, so who’s going to guide me in this job today?”

      “I was just about to introduce him to you,” Junsu said as he led Jinwon in the backstage room. “Jinwon, I’d like you to meet my brother, Jaejun.”

      “Oh, helloo!” Jaejun looked quite mysterious and serious at first, but when he turned his head to greet Jinwon, his friendly smile gave away his warm heart.

      “Hi! I’m Kim Jinwon,” Jinwon introduced himself as he shook his hand.

      “He’s actually an adoptive brother, but still, we’re quite close,” Junsu said. “He owns half of this restaurant. In fact, he’s the one who created the mouth-watering Xiah Dragon Noodles recipes for this very restaurant from scratch. He’s also the one who came up with the idea of live performances in the evenings. He’ll be guiding you in your job today.”

      As Junsu talked, a teenager knocked on the door of the backstage room. It was Jinki, shyly trying to apply for a job also as a singer.

      “Oh, kid, I didn’t see you there. Come in,” Junsu grabbed Jinki’s wrist and dragged him in. “Are you here for a job as an evening singer?”

      “U-uhh… yeah,” Jinki shyly nodded his head. “Mrs. Sica said I can just introduce myself in the backstage room.”

      “Ah, Jessica? Well if she knows you, then sure, we’ll give you a shot.” Junsu enthusiastically said.

      “Why have you come to apply here?” Jaejun asked. “Is it for money?”

      “Part of it,” Jinki replied. “But I’m just here to conquer my fear of singing on stage.”

      “Ah,” Jaejun clapped his hands. “Yes, that’s the spirit. What’s your name kid?”

      “I’m Lee Jinki,” Jinki bowed his head.

      “Okay Jinki, have you brought a written sad song for you to perform tonight?” Junsu asked.

      “Written sad song?” Jinki didn’t know he was supposed to do that.

      Jaejun read his expression quite well and said, “It’s alright,” He picked up a small box filled notebooks and took one out. “We have notebooks stored here full of written songs from customers and previous performers. I’ll pick a song a song for you and hire you if you do well.”

      “That’s unfair,” Jinwon scoffed. “They required me to write my own but you could actually sing a stock song?”

      “Junsu and Jessica are pretty strict about that but I’m not,” Jaejun laughed. “It’s just a test for the truly desperate musicians but I focus on talent more.”

      “Wow… it would’ve been nice to have met you on my first day,” Jinwon said.

      Jinwon approached the box full of notebooks and picked up a white notebook with “Jessica’s notebook” written on the front. He opened the notebook and there on the front page, written,

“A notebook filled with songs written by Sica and her friends.”

      As he flipped the pages, he let out a chuckle as he noticed that Jessica wrote only on the first five pages and Yohan’s works were the ones that occupied the whole notebook. Near the ending pages of the book, though, Yohan’s name stopped showing up. This time, the writer wasn’t unknown. It was not written by Hyungsoo. It was not written by JooHyun. It was written by Fany—Stephanie.

Written by Fany:

By Myself
Because it’s You
Missing You Like Crazy
And One
One Like You
The Name I Loved
Lost in Love

He took a peek at one of the songs and quickly closed it as soon as he read,

The name that I once loved
travels further away as I call it,
I write down your name, holding back tears,
I want to hide it within myself.
Please understand the days
when I had no choice but to love you
A love that was never noticed is still love

      It was too painful reading such a line in one of Stephanie’s written works. It was way too clear that she was talking about him, about the time when they separated 15 years ago. He doesn’t want be reminded about that right now.

***

      “So, Jinwon what are you gonna perform today, can I see it?” Jaejun asked.

      “Here,” Jinwon handed him his small notebook. “You can choose which one I should do since I’m okay with any of it.”

      Jaejun read each song carefully and contently nodded his head. “Yes, this; sing this,” Jaejun pointed his finger to “Can You Hear Me”, the song he wrote just yesterday night.

      “Oh, but I’m not completely done with it,” Jinwon said. “Unless… you want to finish composing that for me?”

      “Sure, that’s what we do here. We finish unfinished songs in under a day,” Jaejun said. “Just as long as I get to sing this other one tonight.”

      “What?” Jinwon took a peek of what JaeJoong was referring to, and it was “Living Like a Dream”, the song he had written yesterday morning. “Oh, that song? Sure, you can go ahead and sing it.”

      “How about me?” Jinki said, flipping through pages of one of the notebooks.

      “Okay, for you, sing this one,” Jaejun gave him Jessica’s notebook. “It’s perfect and it goes well with the songs we’ll be playing tonight. See, this is how it works around here. You need to have some kind of same feel or theme for every song that will be played. You can’t just play a happy song and then a sad song next, so choosing the song is really important.”

***

      “Here you go Eunji,” Stephanie said as she came down the stairs with a box full of books to give away. “Just get the books you want to read or save and we’ll give away the ones left,” she said as she laid the box down on the living room coffee table.

      “Oh, I didn’t know we had ‘The Pilgrims Progress,’” Eunji said as she held “The Pilgrims Progress.”

      “Oh no, we’re not keeping that one,” Stephanie snatched “The Pilgrims Progress” from Eunji.

      “Why not?”

      “‘The Pilgrims Progress’ is not your type, I’m pretty sure,” Stephanie chuckled.

      The doorbell rang.

      “I’ll get it,” Eunji skipped her way to the door.

      Stephanie browsed through the about-to-be given away books, and she found her pink striped notebooks in them. “Oh, nope, this is not a give-away,” Stephanie said as she stared at her pink striped notebook. If she hadn’t spotted her notebook hidden among the books, it could’ve been given away.

      “Mom, it’s Choi Si-Yoon ,” Eunji shouted from the door.

      “Oh?” Stephanie put down her notebook on the table and walked to the door.

      “Si-Yoon,” Stephanie said as Eunji went back to the living room to give them privacy to do whatever adult or flirting talk they want.

      “Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” Si-Yoon nervously asked.

      “Sure, what is it?” Stephanie asked.

      “In private…” Si-Yoon said.

      Since the winter air is slowly coming upon them, Stephanie grabbed a coat, went outside, and closed the door of her home. “Why, what’s up?” Stephanie asked.

      Slightly trembling from the cold and also from anxiety, Si-Yoon breathed warmth on his hands and sat on the steps in front of Stephanie’s home. Stephanie sat beside him, still anticipating whatever he wants to talk about.

      “You know…” Si-Yoon heavily sighed as his legs trembled. “I kind of like you.”

      Stephanie didn’t know what to say. Instead, all that came out of her mouth was, “…okay?”

      “Do you like me too?” Si-Yoon asked, looking straight into Stephanie’s eyes.

      Stephanie became startled. She hasn’t exactly sorted out her feelings for Si-Yoon in the meantime. She didn’t know what to say at first, but slowly, an answer flatly escaped her lips, “Yeah.”

      Meanwhile, Eunji had been laughing hysterically while reading parts of The Pilgrims Progress. Her mother was right; this book definitely was not her type since shouldn’t be laughing at a non-comedy book.

      “Aigoo, Christian, you idiot,” Eunji said as she closed the book.

      Bringing every book out of the box, Eunji spotted a pink-striped notebook buried under the pile of books. She picked it up and flipped through the pages and it wasn’t long until she realized it was her mother’s teenage diary. She took a peek outside the window to see if Stephanie was coming in anytime soon and found Si-Yoon still sitting beside her. Seeing that she had time to take a peek at her mother’s secrets, she flopped herself on the couch and started reading few sentences here and there.

      “Who is this ‘Daydream’?” Eunji mumbled every time her mother talked about how charming “Daydream” was. She flipped through the pages and stopped near the last entries.

December 16, 1997, Tuesday
          Here I am, trembling as I write the unexpected events beside his hospital bed. Yes, my “Daydream” got into a car accident two nights ago. The doctors have tried their best to save him and they managed to keep his heart beating. They said not to lose hope for he will wake up again someday. But why do I feel so hopeless? Why do I feel like he’s never coming back? I feel so stressed and sad and lonely. It’s only been two days yet I already miss his embrace. I already miss his sweet lullabies that put me to sleep. He left me at the time when I needed him the most.

          Just a few days ago, I told you, dear diary, that he was willing to never let go of my hand now that we know we are destined to deal with our foolish and daring decision on October 31. He promised to take care of it and love it as much he loves me. He promised to help me raise it into a wonderful blessing instead of throwing it away as a mistake. He promised to never leave me alone to go through this shocking revelation, yet here he is, lying unconsciously, barely breathing, barely living. Oh God, will he really wake up? And even if he does, will he come and help me go through this? No, the real question here is, will he even remember me?

Eunji stopped reading to take a breather. This was about her father. This was about his “death.” Now intrigued by her parents’ past, she flipped the pages and continued reading.

January 9, 1998, Friday
     I’ve been waiting far too long for this day to come. It’s been a month, a month staring at his pale, unmoving face. It felt as if millions of years had already passed by. He has finally woken up from his coma. He’s alive. He’s here. He opened his eyes.

Eunji’s eyes opened wide and her jaw slightly dropped. “He’s… alive?”

      Si-Yoon broke his gaze on Stephanie and looked up on the diamond-filled sky. He continued, “I know it’s all so sudden, but I’m leaving this Wednesday to the mission field. Do you think,” Si-Yoon took a deep breath, “you can wait for me to get back?”

      Stephanie became silent. A waterfall of answers with reasons started crashing down her mind. If long distance was how their relationship will work, she didn’t want in. She’s tired of loving someone that isn’t going to be there anyway. Thus, her answer was obviously a “no,” but she couldn’t bring herself to say it since Si-Yoon would either be offended, hurt, or just not understand her.

      “I… don’t know,” Stephanie sighed.

      “I understand,” Si-Yoon got up from Stephanie’s doorsteps and prepared to leave. “My flight is at 8 pm this Wednesday but I’ll be by the airport grounds probably a few hours earlier. You can give me your answer then.”

      Stephanie didn’t utter a word.

      “If it’s a no, I completely understand. It’s fine,” he said with a bittersweet smile. “I’ve had a nice time with you anyway. But if it’s a yes… then we’ll see what happens,” Si-Yoon said as Stephanie just watched him step farther away from her house. Stephanie took a deep sigh and felt kind of guilty that she didn’t say what she thought right then and there, but not saying anything was probably best.

      The doorknob twisted, and Eunji panicked and sat upright. She hid the pink-striped notebook under the piles of books and quickly picked up “The Pilgrims Progress.”

      “How’s Christian?” Stephanie asked as she sat beside Eunji and saw she was holding “The Pilgrims Progress.”

      “O-oh?” Eunji became still for a moment, but finally let out a chuckle. “Christian? Yeah, this story is totally not my type.”

      Eunji laid the book down and casually got up from the couch. “Wait, I’ll need to get something,” Eunji excused herself. She couldn’t stay close to her mother right now after knowing such a big secret. She needed some time to think about what she just read.

      “He has finally woken up from his coma. He’s alive. He’s here. He opened his eyes.” It echoed again and again on Eunji’s mind. Stephanie can’t possibly lie about her father being dead, right? “No, maybe he’ll get into some accident again, that he dies,” Eunji thought, still not believing what she just read. If there was anything Stephanie would say about her father, it would always be, “He’s dead.”

      “Aish, this is gonna drive me crazy!”

***

      “Okay, give it your best kid,” Jaejun patted Jinki’s back as he was about to go on the stage.

      “I will,” Jinki went up the stage and confidently introduced himself to the people watching. At first he was trembling, but he found the crowd’s warm smile less nerve-racking.

      “What is he going to sing?” Jessica asked.

      “‘The Name I Loved’. The one from your notebook,” Jaejun replied.

      Jessica was taken aback by his reply. Jaejun used one of the songs on her notebook without her permission. “Hey!” Jessica slapped Jaejun’s arm. “Just because you’ve been away for a few months doesn’t mean the rules I’ve set up have changed! You should’ve asked me first.”

      “But it’s a good song. What’s so wrong about it?”

      “I know,” Jessica sighed. “But,” Jessica paused. The reason why she was so against this song is because it was written by Stephanie, and Jinwon will surely hear it. It might put Jinwon in a depressed mood.

      “Fine, it’s nothing,” Jessica knew Jaejun would not understand this. “Just don’t go picking songs from my notebook without my permission again, Oppa.” Jinki started singing as he played piano.

(Song: The Name I Loved – Onew[SHINee] ft. Kim Yeon-Woo)

My hands start to freeze
  When I remember the cold memories of our love
Now it’s getting weirder
I don’t wish to reject you
But I just know that

Jinwon stopped practicing his song for a while backstage and started listen to what Jinki was singing.

No matter how close we are
I know that I can’t love you anymore

        “What’s the title of the song?” Jinwon asked as Jaejun entered the room.

I can’t look at you
Waiting for you makes me really tired

       “Oh, what Jinki is singing? It’s called ‘The Name I Loved.’ It was written by a good friend of ours ages ago who also used to work here.”

I can’t endure it anymore
And I can’t accept it

Jinwon’s heart stopped. He knew Stephanie is the one who wrote it.

The name that I once loved
Travels further away as I call
I write down your name, holding back tears
I want to hide it within myself
Please understand the days
When I had no choice but to love you

A love that was never found is still love

      “Stephanie wrote this song for me,” Jinwon heavily sighed. His heart became heavier and his head started to ache. Knowing Stephanie’s feelings about the time after he woke up in his accident is too much for him.

I can’t handle it alone
When feelings of love draw near
I can’t start this
The craving for this love only grows stronger
And in a corner of my chilled heart
Only your scent remains

      “Oh, Jinwon, I’m here to watch you sing today,” Yohan said as he entered the room with Yoona walking beside him.

The name that I once loved
Travels further away as I call

      “Oh,” Jinwon forced a smile and put up an aegyo face for Yoona. “Hi, Yoona!”

      “Yep, this is good for me,” Jinwon thought. “I need to get mind off of Stephanie right now.”

I write down your name, holding back tears
I want to hide it within myself
Please understand the days
When I had no choice but to love you

A love that was never found is still love

I kept remembering the first time I saw you walking towards me
And stolen an edge of my heart without noticing

Yohan recognized the song that was being sung by Jinki. It’s been a while since he heard it, and the singer was different, but it was still the same lyrics. He looked at Jinwon and worried that he might have heard it all.

I write down your name, holding back tears
I want to hide it within myself
Please understand the days
When I had no choice but to love you

But as always, Jinwon’s emotions were unreadable. Jinwon only made funny faces just to entertain the four year old. It didn’t look like he was disturbed by the song at all even though he was actually hurting inside.

Even a short love is still love

      After Jinki successfully sang the song Jaejun taught him this afternoon, it was time for Jaejun’s comeback. Jaejun is one of the famous singers of the restaurant, mainly because he was the very first one. The numbers of customers usually go up whenever they hear he’s going to be singing in the evening. Everybody loved listening to his voice overflowing with emotions.

      Instead of coming down the stage, Jinki stayed and played piano. Soon, Jaejun went up the stage and everyone in the restaurant became excited. As soon as he started to sing, the applause stopped and they listened.

(Song: Living Like A Dream – JaeJoong)

I remember
The one I truly loved

Jinwon turned his attention to the music and let out a smile. Jaejun was singing the song he just wrote yesterday.

You were my girl
I remember that at least

Yohan caught him smile and also started to listen. It was a sad song so why was he suddenly smiling?

Even as time goes by
Only your breath remains

I cherish you as if you are in my embrace

Jessica, who was conversing with people in the restaurant, suddenly turned her attention to the stage.

This may be a dream
The shallow wounds that I gave you
Might be a deep punishment to me
I cried for a long time because I’m sorry

Seeing that Yoona was fine in Jinwon’s care, Yohan went out the room to watch Jaejun.

I’m in an unknown place

Yohan saw Jessica and stood beside her as they both had their full attention on the stage.

As if it is a different world
Did you throw me away from your memories?
Even though I am beside you, it’s as if I’m not there

Yohan and Jessica looked at each other and worry shone on their faces. After listening to the chorus, they’re sure Jinwon was the one who wrote this. Who else would? Jaejun has never written something like this before.

      “I wish Stephanie was here to hear this,” Jessica sighed.

If you’re no longer there
I can’t stay there anymore
If you love someone else
I might hate you
So I cry for a long time

      “Yeah,” Yohan sighed. “Opening Stephanie’s heart would be a lot easier if she knew how Jinwon felt.”

I’m in an unknown place
As if it is a different world
Do you have another love?
Without me, it seems like you can be happy

No matter what time we’re in, to me, there is only one you
Even if everything has changed…

I go to you

      “Ah!” Jessica clapped her hands.

Even without me

      “I’ve got it!” Jessica exclaimed.

Can you smile just like now?

      “Huh?” Yohan became confused.

Even though I am living, it’s as if I’m not alive, oh

      “It’s perfect!” Jessica said.

I just don’t know
With you

The customers applauded Jaejun as soon as the song ended. Once again, his performance moved people’s hearts. “Thank You,” Jaejun bowed and went down the stage.

      “What is it?” Yohan asked Jessica who had a mischievous smile.

      “I know how things will work out,” Jessica said.

      “How?” Yohan became curious.

Jessica’s thought was interrupted when Jinwon, who was holding Kibum’s guitar, came up on the stage. He fixed the microphone stand, fixed himself on his seat, and started to pluck his guitar. Jinki also started to play the piano.

(Song:Can You Hear Me – Jang Geun Seuk)

Even though it only hurts a little, tears form
My heart screams out if I pass in front of you, beside you
You were my whole world, I want only you
But I can’t breathe when I’m in front of you

As if you weren’t my destiny
As if this was just a passing moment
Next to you, who just let me go so easily
I go closer to you step by step
Yet I can’t move at all

You make me restless, you make me cry
Like a fool, like a child
I want to just laugh it off instead
The closer I get to you

I get more scared
But I guess I cannot stop this love

Why is it just my love that is late
Why is it just my love that is hard
Even if I’m right in front of you or right beside you

You were my whole world
I see only you
But when I’m in front of you, I always look away

As if you were my very last
As if it’s my very last moment
Next to you, who just let me go so easily
I go closer to you again step by step
But I cannot move at all

You make me restless, you make me cry
Like a fool, like a child
I want to just laugh it off instead

The closer I get to you
I get more scared
But I guess I cannot stop this love

If even from a long distance
I could look upon you
That’s what you call love

If this waiting, this longing
When it sounds, when it touches
Please just act like you didn’t know
The closer I get to you
I get more scared
But I guess I cannot stop this love

          A single tear fell in Jinwon’s left eye, but he wiped it as fast as he could. He knew his friends were watching and the least he wanted right now was for them to know that he was hurting. Sure, the song might have given his feelings away, but a tear will make the pain more visible. However, he cannot fool them. Yohan and Jessica saw his tear fall from his eye. That one, clear drop was enough to leave them speechless and paralyzed. They never thought seeing their friend like this would hurt them so much.

***

      Jinwon was busy reading The Pilgrims Progress to put himself to sleep, or really, just to distract himself from Yohan’s questions. They were in a sleepover at Jessica’s house. The three boys, Jinwon, Yohan, and Hyungsoo, will sleep in Jessica’s room, and the three girls, Stephanie, Jessica, and JooHyun, sleep in Stephanie’s.

      “So, Jinwon, tell me,” Yohan went closer to Jinwon as Hyungsoo left the room. “How did you get Stephanie to like you?”

      “Um…” Jinwon didn’t know how to answer that. “Ask Stephanie.”

      “Ei, come on, tell me,” Yohan snatched The Pilgrims Progress away from Jinwon’s reach. “How did you guys know that you both liked each other?”

      “Why are you asking about this?” Jinwon sat up. “You sound like my sister right now, in other words, you sound like a girl.”

      “Hey, I’m just curious,” Yohan’s voice became timid.

      Jinwon found it strange that Yohan’s voice suddenly became low. He carefully examined Yohan’s expressions and smirked. “Ohh… you’re not here to know about me and Fany, huh?”

      “What do you mean?” Yohan’s eyes showed he was caught.

      “Jessica,” Jinwon smirked. “You’re here to find some advice to approach Jessica.”

      “Wh-wha? How did-?” Yohan’s eyes blinked rapidly and turned his head away from Jinwon. He cleared his throat and said, “Maybe.”

      “Look, if you like her, just talk to her. Maybe she likes you back. I mean, that’s how I got Jessica when we were 12.”

      “But what if she just says I’m just a friend? You know how I am with girls,” Yohan whimpered.

      “Yeah, you are too friendly,” Jinwon snickered. “Why don’t you just give it a try though?”

      “I don’t think I can,” Yohan stood up and left the room.

      Hyungsoo soon came in and Jinwon yanked him down the floor.

      “Hyungsoo,” Jinwon whispered. “Let’s set Yohan and Jessica on a blind date.”

      “Jessica? Yohan? Tsh,” Hyungsoo removed Jinwon’s grip on his arm. “No.”

      “Come on Hyungsoo,” Jinwon slightly hit him. “I’ll buy you food after wards.”

      “Hey, don’t try to be funny. I’m not a person who just thinks about food all the time.” Hyungsoo fixed his bed, relaxed himself, and closed his eyes.

      “Okay, I know you also have feelings for Jessica, but-”

      “Who said I had feelings for Jessica?” Hyungsoo retorted.

      “So you don’t?”

      “No,” Hyungsoo closed his eyes once again.

      “Then help me set up a blind date.”

      “Date? What date?” Yohan entered the room and Jinwon became silent. “Are you hiring us to set you up on a fancy date with Stephanie?” Yohan said.

      “Wait, what? You and Stephanie are dating?”


CHAPTER 7: I Miss You


Jessica’s hair evolution: 12 | 17-19 | 34         


  1. HaYeon (하연)
    “HA” as pronounced like “Ha-ha-ha”
    “YEON” is pronounced like “YONder”
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