A M N E S I A: Chapter 7

Chapter 1: First Love Nocturne

Chapter 2: Date?

Chapter 3: Daydreaming Heartbeat

Chapter 4: Closer

Chapter 5: Are You Listening?

Chapter 6: Confusing

Chapter 7:

I Miss You

      “Well, not exactly,” Jinwon said.

      “So you’re not dating?”

      “We haven’t dated.”

      “Want us to help you with that?” Yohan said.

      “What?”

      “You know, help you with your first date with Stephanie,” Yohan said. “Even though we’re guys, we have some pretty cheesy ideas up on our sleeves you know!”

      “Like what?” Jinwon scoffed.

      “Your polo half unbuttoned as you lay on a bed full of rose petals and candles with the scent of chocolates around the room,” Hyungsoo said rather gaily while caressing his own cheeks.

      “What?” Jinwon was taken aback for a second but burst into laughter anyway.

      “Ew, what’s that?” Yohan pouted. “That’s too provocative for a first date.”

      “It’s a good idea though,” Jinwon smirked as he gave Hyungsoo a high five.

      “Pervert!” Yohan exclaimed. “You guys are gross. Nobody does that on a first date.”

      “Calm down,” Jinwon held in his laughter. “We were just joking.”

      “In all seriousness, we can be quite useful, you know.” Hyungsoo asked, “But do you really even need our help?”

      “Maybe…,” Jinwon got up and said, “We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

      Jinwon left Yohan and Hyungsoo in the room and headed to the kitchen to drink a glass of water. There he found Stephanie in front of the fridge also about to do the same thing.

      “Oh hi,” Stephanie took out two glasses. “You up for a glass of water?”

      “Yeah,” Jinwon leaned on the sink.

      “So what boy stuff do you guys talk about in there?” Stephanie asked as she poured water on the two glasses.

      “Nothing boyish actually,” Jinwon replied. “Or I guess maybe it is a dude thing… I don’t know, hahaha,” he laughed.

      “Really? What is it about?”

      “Dating you and Jessica,” Jinwon said, making Stephanie withdraw from giving Jinwon his glass of water. “Hey, give me my water,” Jinwon chuckled.

      “No,” Stephanie stubbornly pouted. “Not as long as you tell me what exactly you guys were talking about.”

      Jinwon saw a hint of jealousy in Stephanie’s eyes. He just chuckled since he found her cute. “Look, it has nothing to do with me and Jessica dating, okay? Yohan and I were just talking about Jessica since he has problems with asking her out. I mean, you know how Yohan is and you know how Jessica is.”

      “What?” Stephanie’s pout turned into a hefty chortle. Stephanie finally handed him his glass of water. “Yohan likes Jessica?”

      “Yeah,” Jinwon nodded, drinking from his glass of water.

      “That’s funny because Jessica was just talking to us about how she likes Yohan!”

      “Ah really?” Jinwon snorted, almost choking from drinking.

      “Yeah, Jessica likes Yohan,” Stephanie chuckled. “Or it seemed like that…”

      “Wow, out of all the guys that hit on her, Yohan is the guy huh?” Jinwon chuckled.

      Jinwon looked around to see if anyone was around and scooted closer to Stephanie. He whispered, “How about we set those two up on a date? We’ll say we’re going on a double date, but we actually won’t go.”

      Stephanie’s eye-smile grew bigger and she clapped her hands, “Oh, that sounds fun!”

      “We’ll talk about this tomorrow,” Jinwon patted Stephanie’s head and went back to the room.

***

      While eating lunch, the doorbell’s ring echoed in the peaceful residence of the YongHwan and JooHyun. They don’t recall having any guests today. They haven’t been inviting people over for a long while now. YongHwan opened the door and there stood Yohan, Jessica, and Hyungsoo, along with the two kids.

      “Oh, hi,” YongHwan let them in. “What are you guys doing here?”

      “Oh, we just came to stop by,” Jessica said as she removed her sandals and helped Yoona take off her shoes.

      “Sica Unnie!” JooHyun wiped her mouth with tissue and slowly got up from her seat.

      “Hey, no, no, no,” Jessica stopped JooHyun, understanding that the pregnant woman on her 9th month has quite a hard time to moving around. “You just sit still. I’ll come to you.”

      “Aunty Seo~!” Yoona cheerfully skipped her way to JooHyun and hugged her.

      “Yoona! How are you?” JooHyun patted Yoona’s head.

      “Wow, your belly’s so big!” Yoona said with her eyes filled with amazement.

      “Yeah, it is, isn’t it?” JooHyun said as she looked down on her stomach.

      Yohan, Jessica, and Hyungsoo positioned themselves comfortable on the living room. Even though they haven’t been there in the couple’s small home, they have already seated themselves like they were the ones who owned the place.

      “So when’s that baby gonna pop out of you?” Hyungsoo asked JooHyun.

      “Well, Yong and I already know the due date, but we’re not exactly sure, so I’m taking time off from my jobs.”

      “Oh, so is that why you stopped teaching Eunji?” Yohan asked.

      “Yeah,” SeoHyun nodded.

      “What is Jinwon doing here?” Jessica impatiently and bluntly asked as she relaxed herself on a white bean chair. YongHwan, who was preparing snacks for the unexpected guests, suddenly turned his attention to the conversation.

      “O-oh, Jinwon Oppa?” JooHyun stuttered. “You’ve met him?”

      “Yes we have,” Yohan said.

      “Yeah, why is Jinwon back here all of a sudden?” Hyungsoo asked. “He said he lived at Seoul just fine.”

      “Well uh… I kind of hired him to be Eunji’s music teacher while I’m gone,” JooHyun said, slowly backing away knowing that the three will probably scold her any second now.

      The three became silent for a moment as they tried to process the words that came out of JooHyun’s mouth. Soon, they exploded all at once, “Why did you do that?!”

      “Are you crazy?” Jessica retorted. “Argh, JooHyun-ah!!” Yohan whined.  “Oh, Seobaby!” Hyungsoo looked at his dongsaeng in disappointment.

      “Hey, calm down,” YongHwan came to the rescue as he laid a plate of hot sweet potatoes on the coffee table. “Let her explain herself.”

      “Fine,” Jessica crossed her arms to her chest as she relaxed herself again on the white bean chair.

      “I’ve been close with Eunji and Jinwon for so long, but it just hurts me to see that both don’t have any idea of their existence. I mean, I can’t imagine Yong not knowing he has a child. That’s why I let Jinwon and Eunji know each other’s names at least.”

      “But still,” Jessica sighed. “You should’ve given us a heads up that’s he’s coming in town!”

      “Yeah,” Yohan nodded. “What if Stephanie finds out that he’s in town? Did you not consider that fact at least?”

      “You’re lucky we’ve kept Jinwon under our control for now,” Hyungsoo said.

      “Sorry… I know the consequences of the decisions I’ve made. Don’t think I haven’t thought this through. I didn’t really need your guys permission for this,” JooHyun said, making Jessica and Yohan’s eyebrows furrow. “I got permission from Jinwon Oppa’s sister, HaYeon Unnie.”

      Jessica and Yohan’s glares were replaced with understanding. It made sense to them that JooHyun would talk about this to HaYeon first. I mean after all, HaYeon is Jinwon’s sister and is also JooHyun’s closest friend.

      “You should’ve at least talked about this to us so that we could’ve prepared things beforehand,” Yohan pouted. “You know we also think about this a lot.”

      “Fine,” Jessica clapped her hands. “Since this is your fault JooHyun, help us in our plan.”

      “What plan?” JooHyun asked.

      “Since Jinwon works at Xiah Dragon Noodles now, he’s going to sing. We’re gonna set our song lists perfectly to open up Fany’s heart. You have to sing with us since your voice is one of the best,” Jessica insisted. “You got me crying once…”

      “Oh I’d love to but it’s hard for me to go anywhere!” JooHyun pouted.

      “I’ll go for you,” YongHwan volunteered himself. There was something deep inside JooHyun’s heart that only YongHwan and HaYeon knew. It’s because of that reason that made JooHyun tell Jinwon stories about Eunji even before Jinwon came to town. YongHwan knew how badly JooHyun wanted to help reconcile the small family, but since JooHyun cannot do much of anything in her state, it was his duty to do what JooHyun wanted.

      “Great,” Yohan stood up and patted YongHwan’s back. “Here,” Yohan took out a small paper from his pocket and showed it to YongHwan. “These are the main points the song should have. Prepare a song by tomorrow and work at Xiah Dragon Noodles just this once.”

      “We’re bringing back Stephanie and Jinwon together tomorrow?” Hyungsoo asked.

      “Yeah, so prepare yourselves,” Yohan nodded

      “Ah fun,” Hyungsoo chuckled.

***

      Meanwhile, there was also a guest in the home of the mother and daughter. It was Sunny, Stephanie’s cousin and Hyungsoo’s girlfriend. Sunny had a week off from her job in Seoul, and to save Hyungsoo from driving to her apartment every night, she figured she’d spend the week in her cousin’s home to save some distance. However, she arrived at their home when Stephanie was busy with her internet job and Eunji was out with her friends. The two didn’t have time for her today. The two knew she was coming, but she didn’t want to be a bother in their everyday life. She could just use a bit of days doing just nothing.

      “Aren’t you gonna unpack your things?” Stephanie asked Sunny, not taking off her stare at the computer.

      “I’ll unpack them tomorrow,” Sunny said as she flopped herself on the couch. “I just wanna be lazy all week and do nothing.”

       Stephanie chuckled and said, “Okay, suit yourself.”

      Stephanie’s schedule today in the internet was completely packed. Sunny just stared at her cousin trying to wait for at least a split moment with her eyes off the screen. Soon, she sighed, “Ugh, I’m bored.”

      “Isn’t that what you wanted—to be bored?” Stephanie laughed.

      “I guess it’s really not as exciting as I thought,” Sunny sighed.

      “Then why don’t you go to Hyungsoo?”

      “Oh right,” Sunny chuckled. “I’ll call him.”

***

      “So, what are you guys doing?” Jinwon asked while he watched Yohan, YongHwan, Hyungsoo, and Jessica set up instruments in Hyungsoo’s home.

      “Every day we gather here to decide on which song we’re going to play for Sunday,” Yohan said.

       “Oh, so what, I’m here to…?” Jinwon asked.

      “You’re here to babysit our kids,” Jessica said in a straightforward and serious manner.

      “What?” Jinwon thought he would also be playing music with them, but apparently he was just invited as a babysitter. When he turned his head to the two adorable kids playing with themselves on Hyungsoo’s large couch, it didn’t seem like such a burden. “Oh okay,” Jinwon chuckled. “I guess that’s fine.”

      “If you get bored,” YongHwan said as he approached Jinwon. “Here,” he said, handing Jinwon a piece of paper with lyrics written on it. “Why don’t you go and finish this song for me?” Jinwon didn’t think this was anything out of the ordinary for he and YongHwan passed unwritten songs to each other many times before. Jinwon looked at the paper and there written:

Always under exactly the same sky
Always exactly the same day
Other than you not being here
There’s nothing different at all

I’m longing for you
Because I really miss you

Every day, all by myself,

I keep on calling and calling you
I want to see you
Because I really want to see you

Now it’s like I have this habit
I keep calling out your name

It’s the same today

I thought I’d let go
Not leaving anything behind

No, now I still can’t let you go

Day by day, it feels like I’m gonna die
What should I do?

      In one look, Jinwon started to write the rest of the song and the four could not help but feel excited. They knew Jinwon had a talent in writing songs. And since he knew YongHwan’s writing style well, he was able to greatly add to it. Surely, this one would be a perfect song to use for tomorrow’s performance in Xiah Dragon Noodles.

      After finishing up the song, and after listening to his friends bicker about what they should play for Sunday, Jinwon decided to play with the kids. Yoona, who was unable to sit still as she slowly became more hyper every minute, said to Jinwon, “Tell me a story!”

      Jinwon, who had SooJung sitting quietly but happily on his lap, wondered for a bit and then gave a playful pout, “If I tell you a story, will you stop running around the place?”

      “Yeah,” Yoona nodded, climbed on the couch, and sat beside him. “I like stories!” This got Yohan and Jessica’s attention.

      “Okay,” Jinwon chuckled. “Let’s see… Once, there was a girl named Yoona!” He giggled and so did Yoona. “She was a normal kid until one day, for Christmas; there was this present for her under the Christmas tree. It was a blue box, and in it were a snow globe that had a castle in it, a note sealed with red wax, a red book titled ‘Magic Castle’, and some kind of pink device. No one knew where the present had come from. It was not from her parents. It wasn’t even from Santa!”

      “That’s because Santa doesn’t exist!” Yoona angrily exclaimed, startling Jinwon and made him burst into laughter.

      “Anyway,” he tried to keep himself together from laughing and continued with the story, “She didn’t know what all of these gifts meant. Before reading the letter that was sealed with red wax, she turned to the book first and opened it. There it was written, ‘The Christmas gift from…’” Jinwon trailed off, making Yoona curious. “She couldn’t understand what was written so she still didn’t know who it was from,” Jinwon continued. “Still, she read the book until she fell asleep.”

      “What kind of story is that?” Yohan sneered. “She just fell asleep?”

      “I’m not done yet, sheesh,” Jinwon snarled.

       “Then, she found herself standing on the castle, same as the one on the snow globe,” Jinwon continued. “In that place, she had powers, such as levitating and controlling snowflakes. She could do whatever she wanted and it was like paradise. But after a few minutes of roaming around the magic castle, she found herself back in her home, as if she had woken up from a dream. Now, do you think the magic castle was real or was it just a dream?” Jinwon asked.

      Yoona pondered for a moment, and giggled, “Real?”

       “If you say so,” Jinwon chuckled. “Then it’s real!”

      Jessica laughed after hearing Jinwon’s story and said, “What’s the lesson in all that?”

      “Why, do stories have to have lessons?” Jinwon snarled.

      “I’m just saying… I mean, all she did was read a book, sleep, and wake up.”

      “What happened after that?” Yohan asked approaching Jinwon, and carrying SooJung on his arms.

      Jinwon tried to think about the answer but was interrupted when the doorbell rang. Hyungsoo and Jessica rushed to the door. Jessica opened it and there stood a cheerful Sunny smiling at them.

      “Ahhh, Sunny!” Jessica squealed in excitement as she greeted her friend. “It’s good to have you around again!”

      “It’s good to be back for a while,” Sunny chuckled. “I see nothing much has changed in you.”

      “Aigoo, Sunny-ah,” Hyungsoo ruffled her hair and kissed her head while giving her a side hug. “We’re preparing dinner right now.”

      “Sounds good,” Sunny smiled.

      “Sunny!” Yohan also squealed as he was carrying baby SooJung on his arms.

      “Aww, SooJungie has grown a lot since the last time I saw her,” Sunny said as Yohan handed SooJung over to Sunny. “She’s grown a lot prettier too,”

      She walked to the living room but immediately stopped in front of the door as her eyes caught Jinwon who was still playing with Yoona.

      “That…” Sunny became frozen and Jessica caught on pretty quickly. Jessica handed her daughter over to Hyungsoo and with her hand covering Sunny’s mouth she yanked her out of sight before Jinwon could look up.

      “Isn’t that Fany’s…,” “Shh!” Jessica silenced her with her finger pressed on Sunny’s lips. “You probably know him as Eunji’s father, but please act like you don’t know. He doesn’t know.”

      “How am I-”

     “Please play like you have no clue,” Jessica interrupted her. “He may look fine and happy right now, but if you bring up Stephanie, he’ll become more depressed than he already is.”

      Sunny knew who Jinwon was. Aside from him being the reason of Stephanie’s heartbreak, and aside from being Eunji’s father, she knew he was once in an accident causing him to lose his memory. He knew all about him because Stephanie would tell her stories and show her photographs of them together.

      Seeing how Jessica is giving her an intense stare, she nodded her head and zipped her lips. “Oh, and don’t mention him to Stephanie AT ALL.” Jessica added.

      Jessica then introduced her to Jinwon, “This is Sunny.”

      “Oh, hi, I’m Kim Jinwon,” Jinwon shook her hands.

      “Hi Jinwon, nice to meet you,” Sunny went along with Jessica’s rules and acted as if she didn’t know anything.

***

      “Yes!” Jinwon made a fist pump as he and Stephanie secretly watched Yohan and Jessica converse in the restaurant from a distance. “They better start some kind of relationship other than friendship or our efforts taking them here would be a complete waste.”

      Having nothing to do while they wait for the two to end their date, Jinwon walked Stephanie home. Jinwon’s smile grew bigger and bigger just thinking about Yohan and Jessica, but it changed quickly when he noticed that Stephanie had not been speaking to him for a few minutes. Even her face showed that she was not interested in uttering a single word. It was a little strange for Stephanie had always been a talkative person.

      “Hey, what’s wrong?” Jinwon asked, hanging his arms around Stephanie’s shoulders.

      “Nothing,” Stephanie gave a wry smile and crossed her arms on her chest.

      “I know what you’re thinking,” Jinwon giggled.

      “What?” Stephanie faced Jinwon and pouted.

      “You’re jealous again,” Jinwon said, softly poking Stephanie’s nose.

      “What?” Stephanie snickered. “What makes you say that?”

      “Because I haven’t taken you on a date,” Jinwon said, making Stephanie turn her face away feeling slightly embarrassed. He was right, she was kind of jealous just because of that.

      “How about I say I take you on a date today?” Jinwon chuckled and Stephanie looked at him puzzled.

***

      “Why are we at home?” Stephanie said, looking at where she’s been living for the past few months now.

      “It’s not much but, go inside,” Jinwon said, opening the door for her.

      Stephanie entered her home and she immediately felt her cheeks bun up. There wasn’t anything different in the cozy home. Everything was exactly where they were as they left it this morning, but the dining table was not the same. A large bouquet of pink, lovely roses greeted them on the middle of the dining table, and a whole dining set was before them with dishes already prepared.

      “Woah, when did you get all the time to make this?” Stephanie asked in amazement.

      “Oh…” Jinwon approached his chair and found a paper from Hyungsoo. “I had help.”

      Jinwon read the small piece of paper quietly and chuckled, “Jingoo-yah, don’t waste any of the food I have prepared or I will kill you. Anyway, have fun. – Hyungsoo.”

***

      “So, are we boyfriend and girlfriend now?” Jinwon asked Stephanie before leaving the place that evening.

      “Are we going public?” Stephanie chuckled.

      “Are we?” Jinwon laughed.

      The telephone suddenly rang in the living room and Stephanie quickly answered, “Hello?”

      Jinwon stared at her anxiously as he still anticipated her answer. He was excited to officially declare themselves as a pair after a few weeks of trying to figure out what relationship they were actually in.

      “What?” Stephanie gasped in shock. “I-I understand…,” her voice trembled. “I will… I promise,” her face flushed with worry. Jinwon did not like the sound of this.

      Stephanie said bye and she stood in silence with her hands slightly trembling. Jinwon could not help but feel hurt seeing her like this. “What’s wrong? Who was that?” Jinwon asked, taking a hold of Stephanie’s arms.

      “It was my cousin,” Stephanie’s voice trembled. “She said my dad… he had a stroke.”

      Jinwon’s heart broke. He already knew about the death of Stephanie’s mother so hearing about losing Stephanie’s only parent seemed so tragic. In an instant, he gently wrapped his arms around her. This was all he could do for he knew he was not good at producing sympathetic words.

      “I’ll come back to Seoul for my family tomorrow,” Stephanie said, holding in tears. Even though it may sound like she will only be gone for a short while, she knew there was no knowing how long she will be gone.

      Jinwon’s stomach churned hearing that he won’t see Stephanie for a period of time, but it was not a time to be selfish, so he stayed silent, giving Stephanie all the warmth that she needed.

      “Jinwon…,” Stephanie relaxed her head on his shoulders and closed her eyes as sorrow filled her face. “Wait for me?”

      “I will.”

***

      As Jinwon was writing a song and plucking the guitar here and there, Jessica snapped her fingers.

      “How about we do a duet?” Jessica said to Jinwon as they were deciding on what to play for tonight.

      “Duet? What song?”

      “This,” Jessica said, pointing to one of the songs in her white notebook. “This song was originally written for a duet. It’s going to be perfect.”

      Jinwon nodded. “If you say so, boss.”

      “Okay then, let’s start practicing.”

***

      As Sunny finally decided to unpack her things, Stephanie just sat watching her.

      Stephanie spoke, “So there’s this guy…”

      “And?” Sunny listened while folding some clothes.

      “And he’s an okay guy.”

      “And?”

      “I don’t know what to do.”

      “So what?”

      “He likes me,” Stephanie shyly said.

      “Why, do you like him too?” Sunny asked.

      “See, here’s the problem,” Stephanie brushed her bangs away from her eyes. “I don’t know.”

      “Does he make your heart flutter?” Sunny asked.

      “Well, kind of,” Stephanie said. “I’m really not sure.”

      “Do you want him in your life?”

      “Mmm… maybe? I don’t know.”

      “Then what am I supposed to say here, huh?” Sunny chuckled.

      Stephanie wondered for a moment. “I guess it’s just the fact that I’ve been single for so long that I kind of just don’t want to grow old without anyone around.”

      “Oh, trust me, you won’t grow old alone,” Sunny said. After a second, she realized what she just said instantly slightly regretted saying such a thing. She had Jinwon in mind during the whole conversation. She just couldn’t help but blur a hint out.

      “I know that I’ll always have Eunji,” Stephanie said, thinking that is what Sunny meant. “But someday she’ll start to have her own family in the future. I mean do you realize, when I’m in my late 40’s, I might already have a grandchild? Where does that leave me, though?”

      “So do you want the guy or not?” Sunny asked, making Stephanie ponder.

      “I don’t,” Stephanie said. “He seems nice but…”

      “Then it’s settled then,” Sunny wanted the conversation to end there.

      Stephanie became silent for a moment. Suddenly, she got up from the couch and said, “But I can’t leave him unanswered either.”

      “Ooo…kay?” Sunny’s eyes followed Stephanie get her coat and car keys. “Where are you going?”

      “To the airport,” Stephanie said and left.

***

      Seeing that Sunny was doing nothing downstairs and that her mother was taking off to somewhere, Eunji carefully tiptoed her way upstairs and into her mother’s room. That pink-striped notebook has been bothering her the whole day. If she doesn’t read more, she might go crazy from being curious.

      It wasn’t long before she found the notebook lying neatly on the side table. She snatched it away and ran to her room to read. She flipped to the page where she last left off and read,

January 9, 1998, Friday
     Ive been waiting far too long for this day to come. Its 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. Hes alive. Hes here. He opened his eyes. I know I should be happy. I know I should be rejoicing. But right now

I feel empty.

     Hes not exactly here. Hes not exactly alive. Hes not exactly himself. He doesnt remember me at all! The doctors already warned me about this, but why am I so surprised? Should I just consider him dead at this point? No, I shouldnt give up on him like this. I need him to remember who he is. I need him. Oh, please come back to me, Mr. Daydream!

      Eunji felt sad as she read it, but scoffed when her mother still referred to her father as “Mr. Daydream.” She tried to find the name of this “Mr. Daydream” in the notebook, but there was no luck. She then flipped to an earlier entry, hoping that things wouldn’t be so sad this time around.

August 8, 1996, Thursday

     Aaah~! What do I do~~~!? Im so embarrassed right now. My Daydream played the Chopin song that was playing when I kissed him the other day. Even though he was bad at playing it, hes still so cute trying to impress me like that. Hes trying so hard, I wonder why he wants to learn it so badly.

     After he played piano, he gave me this lock necklace today. It doesnt look all that special, but since he has the key to it, it sparkles like crazy. Oh~ he has the key to my heart!

      “Tch,” Eunji sneered. “They’re so cheesy.”

While putting the lock necklace on me, he wrapped his arms around me Oh, Im blushing just by thinking about it right now~! He wrapped his arms around me and kissed me! Not just a peck kiss, but a reeeaally long, sweet kiss! I thought kisses like these would be uncomfortable and wet, but it was really nice. I guess its just because its the fact that we like each other makes it all the more pleasant.

Eunji rolled her eyes and snickered. She’s not used to seeing her mother act all love-stricken at all. Reading about her mother’s teenage years like this was so weird.

      Eunji flipped to the first pages of the notebook and decided to read about their beginning. She read about how her “Daydream” bought her the Mariah Carey album. She also read about their first kiss, the night when Stephanie opened up. She also read about Stephanie’s birthday when Mr. Daydream confessed his feelings for her. Feeling like she has read enough of her mother’s private life for the day, she put the notebook back to its place and pretended she didn’t know anything and got ready for band practice.

***

      “Where are you going?” Sunny asked as Eunji put on her coat that 5 pm.

      “Oh, I have band practice for youth, remember?” Eunji said, grabbing a notebook full of lyrics.

      “Oh right,” Sunny nodded. “Have fun then.”

      “You have fun, too!” Eunji chuckled, waved goodbye, and left the home.

      “Aigoo, I have the place for myself then,” Sunny said, slouching herself more on the couch while watching TV. Suddenly, her phone vibrated, and she swiped her thumb on her phone lazily, not even looking at the one who’s calling.

      “Hello?”

      “YAH SUNNY!” Jessica shouted from the other end of the line, making Sunny move her phone away from her ears.

      “Ugh, what was that for?” Sunny grumbled. “You just blasted my ears.”

      “Sorry. Is Stephanie there?” Jessica anxiously asked.

      “No, why?”

      “Then where is she?” Jessica asked. “She’s not answering any of our calls.”

      “She’s at Gimpo airport,” Sunny said.

      “WHAT? THE AIRPORT?” Jessica exploded once more as Sunny moved her phone away from her ears. “WHAT THE HEEELLL IS SHE DOING THERE?”

      “How should I know? She mentioned something about a guy…”

      “OH NOO00ooo, she is not leaving with that man!”

      “Hey, no, she’s not leaving the country,” Sunny said, picking up the fact that Jessica was misunderstanding a few things.

      “Argh! We don’t have time to fetch her!” Jessica said, talking to someone else other than Sunny.

      “Hey, what’s the problem anyway?” Sunny asked.

      “Sunny!” The phone was passed to Hyungsoo. “Can you bring Fany here in Xiah Dragon Noodles before 7pm?”

      “Why? What’s the matter?”

      “It’s about Jinwon,” Hyungsoo said.

      “Oh?” Sunny sprang up from her seat and grabbed her coat. “Okay, I’ll bring Fany there.”

***

      “Hey,” Minjae whispered to Eunji before Yohan comes in the room to manage their youth band. “Do you have something going on with Kibum?”

      “What?” Eunji glared at Minjae. “’Have something going on’? If you mean by friends then yeah, we’re friends.”

      “Or maybe…” “Shut up,” Eunji flicked Minjae’s head. “Just because we became closer doesn’t mean we are already on a lovey-dovey relationship.”

      “Well,” Minjae said, rubbing the part where Eunji hit him. “Prove yourselves. If you guys really have nothing going on, how about another double date?”

      “Fine,” Eunji accepted it with no hesitation. She had nothing going on with Kibum so what’s there to be afraid of?

      “Then tomorrow after school?” Minjae said.

      “Sure. Whatever.”

***

      Stephanie trembled from the cold as her eyes fleet from left to right trying to find the right terminal. She’s been trying to find Si-Yoon in the airport for almost thirty minutes now. She thought trying to find someone in an airport would be easy, but it was no simple task. Walking for what seemed like hours, Stephanie finally found him drinking coffee on a small snack bar outside the airport all alone with his bags.

      “Mind if I take a seat?” Stephanie asked, slowly showing herself to Si-Yoon.

      “Oh,” Si-Yoon’s face suddenly brightened up. “Stephanie, you came.”

      Stephanie sat across him on a small round table and her throat became tight. For a minute, they sat silently, not releasing a single sound at all. They even had a hard time looking at each other. The answer was clear to Si-Yoon because of this.

      Stephanie gathered up courage and deeply sighed, “You’ve been great.”

      Si-Yoon bit his lip and looked away from Stephanie. Deep inside him, he already knew where this conversation is going.

      “It’s just that…” Stephanie took a deep breath. “I don’t think I can… wait for you.”

      Si-Yoon met her gaze and he gave a sympathetic nod. He just respected her decision and sat silently. He knew he didn’t need to force her into a relationship. He was mature enough to know that’s not how the world works. He didn’t need to understand her if she didn’t want to be understood. He didn’t need to know her reasons for he also had his reasons. He himself was a busy man, living by helping and preaching to people around the world. He knew that Stephanie would never come with him for she has her own family and friends here in Korea. He felt like a fool for even pleading Yohan to set him up on a random blind date in the first place.

      “It was nice meeting you anyway,” Stephanie said in a timid voice.

      “You, too,” Si-Yoon bowed his head and smiled. “I hope you find someone soon. You’re too pretty to be left alone in this life.”

      “Oh, thank you,” Stephanie chuckled as her eye-smile slowly started to show. “I hope you find your special someone too.”

      “YAH!” Suddenly, Sunny came out of nowhere and approached the table for two. “Stephanie, I’ve been looking everywhere for you! Why aren’t you picking up my calls?”

      “O-oh, sorry,” Stephanie stuttered, confused as to why Sunny was here. “My phone must’ve run out of battery,” Stephanie said, looking at her dead phone.

      “Sorry sir, but I have to take Stephanie away now,” Sunny said to a startled Si-Yoon. She bowed and took a tight grip on her cousin’s arms. “Let’s go!”

      “Wait, hold up. Where are you taking me?” Stephanie asked, almost tripping as she stood up from the chair because of Sunny constantly yanking her away.

      “To Xiah Dragon Noodles,” Sunny intensely stared at Stephanie’s eyes, enough to make goosebumps creep on her skin. “Don’t ask questions and just come with me.”

***

      Jessica’s plan will start as soon as Junmyun’s band finishes their song. However, Stephanie was still not in sight in the restaurant and Junmyun’s band was about to finish up. Jessica anxiously bit her nails as she paced back and forth on her spot.

      “Aish!” Jessica stomped her foot in frustration. “Where the hell are they!?”

      “Thank you,” Junmyun bowed in the stage, indicating that he and his friends have finally finished and that Jessica is up next on stage. Without thinking any further, Hyungsoo dialed Sunny’s number.

      “Sunny!” Hyungsoo exclaimed on the phone and Jessica stared at him anxiously. “Where are you guys?”

      “We’re getting closer,” Sunny replied.

      “Jessica, go on stage now,” Jaejun, the original music manager of the restaurant, commanded. Jessica worriedly looked at Hyungsoo, but Hyungsoo insisted she just go up on stage and do her job well while they wait for Stephanie and Sunny.

      Yes, the show must go on for the audience, if not for Stephanie. So Jessica introduced herself in her usual friendly fashion and started to sing as Jinki played the piano.

(Song: The One Like You – Jessica)

Is this what love is?
Does it hurt the more you do it?
When I get closer to you
My feelings grow stronger
It scares me

Such a precious person to me

Sunny dragged Stephanie in and sighed as she found they were not too late.

That person, who won’t ever come again

      “Yah! Are you gonna tell me what we’re doing here now?” Stephanie asked Sunny.

That’s it for me, that’s enough

      “Actually,” Sunny tried to catch her breath from panting. “I have no idea.” She said only to find a frustrated Stephanie staring back at her.

Just the fact that I love you

      “Jessica just told me to bring you here,” Sunny added.

      “Why?” Stephanie turned her attention to the stage.

The one person who can’t see me though I am looking
The one person who can’t hear me though I am calling
Do you even remember me?
Do you even think of me?
Just once, please

The only thing I can do is cry but
Like a fool, I am waiting
Please come to me now
Come to me just like this
My last wish is that one person, you

Stephanie stood frozen as she watched her friend sing. Jessica was singing a song that she wrote. She strictly told Jessica a long time ago that she should never sing this song if she’s going to be around, but why was she doing this to her now?

To you, I’m a small person

Just then, Hyungsoo spotted them.

Just someone you know

      “I saved up a seat for you guys,” Hyungsoo said, leading them to a table that is directly in front of the stage.

That’s it for me, that’s enough

      “What are you guys planning here?” Stephanie asked, hesitating to take a seat.

Just the reason of love

      “Blind date,” Hyungsoo said, heavily laying his hands on her shoulders and forcefully seating her. Then the Sunny and Hyungsoo also seated themselves on the same table.

The one person who can’t see me though I am looking
The one person who can’t hear me though I am calling
Do you even remember me?
Do you even think of me?
Just once, please

That one person is you
You are my only love
My heart can’t let you go
Just as much as I love you
Each minute and each second hurts so much

The one person who appears even when I close my eyes
The person who is next to me even in my dreams
Do you even remember me?
Do you even think of me?
I miss you, please

The only thing I can do is cry but
Like a fool, I am waiting
Please come to me now
Come to me just like this

My last wish is that one person, you

      Even though Stephanie felt a flow of emotions rush back to her so suddenly, she had to admit, it was a pretty good song. She has not heard that song in a long while, so listening to it was pretty nice.

      After Jessica got off stage, YongHwan went up on stage with his guitar and introduced himself. He looked at Jinki and started plucking the guitar as Jinki played the piano.

(Song: Because I Miss You – Jung YongHwa)

Always under exactly the same sky

      “YongHwan works here?” Stephanie asked Hyungsoo.

Always exactly the same day

      “Just for tonight,” Hyungsoo replied.

Other than you not being here

      “Just for tonight?” Stephanie wondered.

There’s nothing different at all

I just want to smile
I want to forget everything
Just like absolutely nothing has happened
I’ll just smile so I can live

Longing, I’m longing for you
Because I really miss you
Every day, all by myself,
I keep on calling and calling on you

Want to see, want to see you
Because I really want to see you
Now it’s like I have this habit
I keep calling out your name
Like today

      “Did YongHwan write this?” Stephanie asked Hyungsoo.

      “He was one of the writers,” Hyungsoo replied.

      “One? Who’s the other?” Stephanie asked.

      “The next singer.”

I thought I’d let you go
Not leaving anything behind
No, no, I still can’t let you go

Longing, I’m longing for you
Because I really miss you
Every day, all by myself,
I keep on calling and calling on you

Want to see, want to see you
Because I really want to see you
Now it’s like I have this habit
I keep calling out your name
Like today

Day by day, it feels like I’m gonna die
What should I do?

I Love you, I love you

      “Who’s the next singer?” Stephanie asked.

I love you

      Hyungsoo just gave her a smirk.

I haven’t even said these words
I just let you go

Sorry, I’m sorry
Do you hear my words?
My late confession
Can you hear it?
I love you

      YongHwan bowed and was applauded by his performance and got off stage. While having a short intermission, Jessica went to the table where Stephanie, Sunny, and Hyungsoo sat.

      “Having fun?” Jessica asked Stephanie as she sat beside her.

      “If you tell me why I’m here, maybe I can answer your question,” Stephanie grumpily replied.

      Jessica sighed and patted Stephanie’s back and said, “Just get ready.”

      “For what?” As Stephanie faced Jessica, the next singer came up on stage with a guitar.

      “For him,” Jessica said, pointing to the stage.

      Stephanie turned her head, and there he was, Jinwon. Time slowed down and everything suddenly blacked out. Her brain muted everything around her and she could only hear the beating of her heart. She could not even see anything but the man shining under the bright stage lights. “This must be a dream,” she whispered to herself. “This has to be.”

      The man on stage went closer to the microphone and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Kim Jinwon. This is a stock song and may have been played back in the old days of this restaurant. But I personally chose this song because it expresses my feelings to the one who originally wrote this song. I hope you enjoy it.”

      “J-Jinwon…” Stephanie’s eyes started watering. It was too overwhelming to the finally see the man she thought would never come back to her life.

      Jinwon started plucking his guitar and Jinki played the piano. In that moment, Stephanie felt even more emotionally overwhelmed hearing the familiar tune.

(Song: Missing You Like Crazy – TaeYeon)

Don’t you know me?
The reason I’m here is ‘cause of you
My eyes are blinded
And I can’t seem to speak
I just look toward you by myself

      “So it was really him…” Stephanie thought remembering the same exact voice filling the air on that Saturday night.

Even if the tip of my heart hurts like this
Even if the tip of my hands tremble like this
I can only think of you

The person I miss like crazy
The words I want to hear from you like crazy,
“I love you, I love you” “Where are you?”
The person who is deeply stuck in my heart is you
I want to cherish you forever

What do I do?
You were so cold to me
But still, I miss you

Even if the tip of my heart hurts like this
Even if the tip of my hands tremble like this
I still can’t forget you

The person I miss like crazy
The words I want to hear from you like crazy,
“I love you, I love you” “Where are you?”
The person who is deeply stuck in my heart

Please tell me that you cherish me
Please don’t blankly erase me
Because you’re my everything

The person I miss like crazy
The words I want to hear from you like crazy,
“I love you, I love you” “Where are you?”
The person who is deeply stuck in my heart is you
I want to cherish you forever

I love you, I love you

      The ending left Stephanie breathless. “But I personally chose this song because it expresses my feelings to the one who originally wrote this song,” Jinwon’s words echoed loudly in her mind. She was the one who wrote that song! He was obviously referring to her! Hearing Jinwon’s feelings like this… this has to be a dream!

      Jinwon met her eyes from the stage and both of them became paralyzed. At that moment, the thought of this being all a dream was dismissed. Nothing else felt as real as seeing his sparkling eyes  finally staring back at her. Jinwon, on the other hand, blanked out. Was he really staring at his dream girl at this very moment?

      “Mr. Kim,” Jinki whispered, breaking Jinwon’s gaze on Stephanie. “Don’t just sit there, go and play the next song!”

      “O-oh, right,” Jinwon stuttered. “This uh,” Jinwon’s focus went askew now that he knew Stephanie was closely watching. “This next song… Lost in Love.”

      Jinwon tried to focus for the audience and started plucking his guitar. Jinki then played along with him. While doing the intro, Jinwon looked around to see if his duet, Jessica, was going to come up on stage. He practiced this song all day with Jessica so he was in a bit of a panic since she was not on stage with him right now when she should be. Still, the song must go on now that he already started playing. If he had to sing her parts, he would do it without hesitation. He closed his eyes to immerse himself in the emotion of the song and softly started to sing.

(Song: Lost in Love – TaeYeon and Tiffany [SNSD])

Jessica stood up from her seat and harshly grabbed Stephanie’s arm.

Are we really separating now?
If not, like how we promised, are we just distancing from each other for a while?

      “Y-yah! What are you doing?” Stephanie said as she got dragged to the stage.

For me, this much is enough

      “Here,” Jessica said, giving her a microphone.

But why haven’t I heard from you?

      “Sing,” Jessica pushed her to the middle of the stage, and Stephanie was left with no choice. It was somewhat unbearable to be standing near Jinwon like this after such a long time, but she didn’t want to embarrass herself on stage. Holding the microphone tightly, she sang as her voice slightly trembled.

I-I love you

Jinwon’s eyes shot open, startled that Jessica’s sweet high-pitched vocals did not sing those words, but by the familiar heart-wrenching voice that he would hear in his dreams.

If I have to wait forever, it’s okay
If you ever look for me again
I’ll always be able to smile at you

Instead of panicking, Jinwon simply smiled. Although Jessica did sing pretty well when they rehearsed, there was something about Stephanie’s voice that made the song sound more honest. After all, she was the one who wrote this song.

Is it that you still cannot accept me?
You beat around the bush when you said those words of farewell
I want to accept you as soon as possible
What could you be doing now?

If this song was once her feelings, he knew had to put all of his heart into it, too.

I love you

Stephanie stared closely at him as he sang with his eyes sealed shut. Even after all these years, he could still project such an extreme flow of emotion through his voice. Could he really feel and mean wholeheartedly what the song was aching to say? She so badly wanted to believe that was the case.

If I have to wait forever, it’s okay
If you ever look for me again
I’ll always be able to smile at you

Moved by all the words that were being said, Stephanie sang with tears almost flooding her eyes as she threw her heart’s deepest thoughts on the line.

Now I’m slowly getting more depressed
Even though I know you already left
“If you come back, can I do better for you?” is all that I think of

In Jinwon’s long career of being a musician, he has never focused on his duet’s lyrics as much as he did now. The fact that she was the one singing greatly added to the projection of his lines. For the first time, it felt more like a conversation than a duet.

Why am I always acting so foolishly?
The time that you gave me
The four days to even things out was the only time I had

Stephanie could not hold back her emotions any longer. A tear rolled down her cheek and she cried,

I’m not sad
The belief that you’ll look for me again

At that moment, their feelings collided together with an immense passion and everyone watching was left in awe.

Will make my love stronger
And give me strength to live on

Ooh

***

      Backstage, as Jinwon was packing Kibum’s guitar, he still could not grasp what had happened on the stage. Stephanie was right there beside him and they were singing together. Was this perhaps Jessica’s plan? If it was, then he had a lot to be thankful for.

      As he took a deep breath, anxiety slowly took over his body. He was overjoyed that he and Stephanie have been reconciled through music, but finally facing her was the true reality. Stephanie, the woman he harshly rejected in the past, was here in this very restaurant.

Oh, what was he supposed to do? What was he supposed say?

He rehearsed for this kind of day too many times, but right now, his mind got completely scrambled. Would it really be okay between them just because of the songs she heard today? Would she really accept him back after fifteen years?

     No, I’ll just say sorry. Yes, that’s what I should say,” Jinwon mumbled to himself, constantly huffing out a heavy sigh. No, that’s too common. ‘I love you?’ Aish, she’s probably not going to be—“

      His thought was interrupted when someone knocked on the store room. He wasn’t even half-way turning his head when Stephanie already invited herself in.

      Jinwon’s whole body instantly froze and he lost his voice when he realized who was before him. His stomach crumpled trying to frantically search for the perfect words to say. His eyes nervously darted all over the place until finally, with one big gulp, took the courage to stare right at her eyes. Her graceful eyes calmly gleamed back at him, taking him back to his dreams, to a place in time when he felt so complete. Finally, he was home.

      Stephanie could not comprehend the feeling that she went through seeing him again staring right back at her with wide eyes. Her heart beat so fast that she was so choked up, unable to process things properly. The questions, “Does he remember me?” did not even cross her mind for all that she could read was how much he missed her. He said it with his voice emotionally radiating through the restaurant a while ago and he’s saying it again with stunned eyes. Everything about him tonight clearly confessed his feelings for her. Just how did things turn out this way? It’s a story so unbelievable. After all this time, he still deserves the name Mr. Daydream, doesn’t he?

      Throughout the years, whenever she imagined how their encounter would go, it would end with a closure, a sad goodbye, or a painful moment of trying to ignore the fact that he exists even if he was right in front of her. All those stories sounded so absurd now. She did not want to stay in that heartbreak anymore. If he was truly the man of her dreams, she had to make it a reality now while she was finally being given the perfect chance. However, would it really be okay to have each other’s hearts again after all the harsh words, lies, and time that separated them?

      The silence started to separate them even further. They were closer now than they have ever been for years, but the longer they timidly hung around without a move, it’s like nothing has changed at all. Stephanie has waited so long to meet him again and she did not want to feel this distance anymore. With heavy steps she slowly walked closer to him. She wanted to feel that were actually close together, physically and emotionally, to finally prove that this was no longer merely an unreachable dream.

      Slowly, Stephanie run her arms through Jinwon’s hips and hugged him softly. She gently laid her head on his shoulders and finally let the tears mingled with sadness and happiness flow down her cheeks.

 

 

      “I’ve missed you…”


CHAPTER 8: 안녕


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