Friday, December 31, 2010

Wrong Foot First: Chapter 1

Note: Originally started on December 10, 2006. Dates have been changed for scrolling purposes. The posts in 2010 are Wrong Foot First while the posts in 2009 are for the sequel, With One Foot in.

Genre: Romance

Rating: PG 13

Length: About 20 chapters

Summary: You can find love anywhere – even next door.


Love is one of the few things that transcends every generation and culture. Not everyone gets to experience it but most want to. Sometimes, it hits us in an instant and other times, it creeps on us like a thief. And no matter how many times we fall in love, we always remember the first time we felt those flutters; the first time our knees went weak; or our lips instantly spread into a smile at the sight of the other person. Or the first time our lips touched and it felt like our hearts were beating together. Regardless of how old or how cynical we get, we always remember our First Love. This is the story of mine:

Chapter One

“Hurry!” I screamed at the driver’s seat. I’d ducked under the dashboard so that the passenger seat would look empty and most importantly, so that my mother wouldn’t see me in the car.

“Why?” you ask.

Because my ass was supposed to be sitting at home and not hanging out at the arcade with Yun Ah, Kyung Min and Ki Won. Who? I’ll get to them at some point.

Luckily, Ki Won was able to get through before the light turned red and even better, my mother’s cab was stuck behind the now red light. I waited a few seconds before deciding that I was in the clear and sitting up.

“Phew!” I wiped off the non-existent sweat for effect. “That was close. ” I glanced at Ki Won then fixed my unbuttoned shirt. Yeah, just because we were friends didn’t mean that he got to get a free peek at my boobs… especially as my shirt had mistakenly unbuttoned when I made the mad dash to hide from my mother.

“If you’d stopped the game when I asked you to, we wouldn’t have to be rushing now,” he reminded me.

I rolled my eyes. Yeah, true. But that would have meant that I was forfeiting, i.e. losing yet another game of Dance Dance SuperNOVA to Yun Ah and I wasn’t having that. We were playing the best of 5 and having already lost 2, I knew I had to win, which I eventually did, so now, Yun Ah had to deal with my trash-talking for a week. But would it be all worth it in the end? That would depend on how hard Ki Won hit the gas pedal.

The car screeched as he stopped in front of my apartment complex. I whipped out my card so that the huge gates would open and he could drive past them. The first time we'd done this, the gateman had raised a brow at letting a beat up jalopy into our oh-so-exclusive grounds but his car now came in frequently enough that he barely noticed us as we sped by.

The car hadn’t even stopped when I started to open the door.

“Hey, be careful,” he cautioned as he hit the brakes.

“Don’t worry about me,” I said as I flung my right leg out. “A little scrape is nothing compared to what my mother would do to me if she got home first.”

“Who’s talking about you? If something happens to my car door…”

I hissed then jumped out of the car before he could finish his sentence. I held on to my chest and ran into the building. Damn, it sucked being a girl! I screamed a quick “hello” at the doorman and ran to the elevator. I could already hear it ding so I knew that all I had to do was put my hand in between the doors to keep them from shutting. When I succeeded, I stopped to catch my breath and peered into the elevator. And that was when I saw HIM.

For now, let’s just call him HIM okay? Why? Because his name gives me headaches and I took the last two tablets of Ibuprofen the last time I mentioned it. You see, I’m actually quite an amicable person so there are only a few things I hate. For starters, I hate mice. They are little, nasty, creepy, squicky, ugly, evil, disgusting animals that seem to find their way into everywhere. Why the hell is there an ANIMAL in your house? Living in your house? Showing up in the middle of the night? Running around your freaking kitchen, hiding behind your cabinet and chewing holes in your walls and cabinets? And it’s not something you bought or even invited into your home. Nope. It just shows up and refuses to leave. And worse? It freaking populates like a bloody gremlin after water’s been thrown at it. So you see? I hate mice.

But at that moment, watching him smirk inside that elevator, I actually wished I’d seen a mouse instead. Okay… so who am I kidding? If I’d seen a mouse I would have run the heck out of there. A mouse and I chilling together in an elevator for 6 flights? Not in this lifetime.

“Are you coming in or not?” he asked, scowling at me like I was a naughty 5 year old.

Bastard. I really wanted to run in, kick him in the balls and run out. But I couldn’t. Why? Because 1)Our neighbor Mrs. Choi was standing a few feet from him looking impatient and 2) If I risked climbing 6 flights of stairs, there was a reasonable chance my mother would get home before me. In fact, there was a chance she was walking towards the elevators at that moment. With that realization, I quickly stepped in and hit the 'close' button.

Real sweat had begun to form on my forehead so I wiped it off with the back of my hand then leaned against a wall to steady myself and my rapidly heaving chest. I didn’t even bother to hit the button for my floor because as bad luck would have it, the bastard just happened to live on it. And even worse, next door to mine.

“Eww,” he said, scrunching his nose. He sniffed around then covered his nose. “What the hell? What’s that smell?”

Mrs. Choi mimicked him by sniffing then she shook her head. “I don’t smell anything.”

“You don’t?” He covered his mouth. “It’s so strong!”

I shook my head and looked away. The place smelled like roses (and not the ones that smell like poo-poo) so I knew he was just being his usual annoying self.

“Oh God, I think I’m going to choke.”

The stupid loser didn't even have enough acting talent to be an extra in a low budget porn flick. I looked at him in disgust and wanted to make him choke on my fist but since Mrs. Choi was there, I couldn’t do anything because I knew that she’d turn around and relay everything to my mother. So I waited patiently to hear the ding indicating that we’d gone past the third floor.

Probably unsatisfied with my lack of response, he decided to use the direct approach. “So Hee Soo, what’s your excuse?”

I smoothed my hair as I heard the next ding. As far as I was concerned, there were only two people in the elevator.

“ Don’t you think that a girl your age should at least shower once in a while?”

"Young man, what are you saying?" Mrs. Choi scolded. "Stop being so rude!"

"You're only saying that because you can't smell it, Ma'am. If you could, you'd agree with me," he said in a pained voice.

I shifted my weight from foot to foot and waited for the next ding. We’d just gone past the fifth floor when he started laughing.

When the elevator stopped at our floor, I flew out and ran to my apartment. I turned the key, went in and shut the door behind me. After I looked around and saw that I was the only one home, I let out a sigh of relief and promised to get Park Ji Tae back at the first chance I had.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chapter 2

“What’s Ji Tae Oppa doing over there?” Mi Soo asked as we walked through the back door of our building. Our hands were filled with bottle filled trash bags because my parents had had a few friends over for lunch so, of course, the people who’d been relegated to their bedrooms the whole time, The Suckers (i.e. my sister and I) who didn’t even get to enjoy anything, had to clean up after they left. And unlike almost everyone in my building, we didn’t have any maids to cater to our every need. Not that we were poor or anything. My father is a partner at an accounting firm and my Mom an actuarial scientist (yep, I have boring parents) but we lived where CEOs, best-selling authors and the like lived. Why? How? Because my mother grew up as the daughter of one of those CEOs and when he died, she inherited the apartment. But instead of selling it like normal people did, we moved in.

“He looks so sad,” my dumb sister said, pouting. Can someone explain to me how one sister (the smart one, obviously) could absolutely loathe a person while the other could have a crush on him? Sometimes I felt that she didn’t really like him but was doing it just to get on my nerves. And boy did she love to do that… isn’t that what every single 11 year old lived for?

Ignoring her, I threw my bags in the trash bin then took hers and threw it in. I’d already turned around to go back to my lovely home when she grabbed my hand and pleaded, “Unnie, let’s go and talk to him and see what the matter is!”

“Shut the fcuk up,” was my reply to her. Why in the world would I care about what was bothering him? If anything, I hoped it killed him.


“Umma,” Mi Soo called. She was on her tiptoes staring outside of the window. It was dinnertime and as usual, one of The Suckers had the task of setting the table. You know how some families just ate whenever they were hungry? Well not mine. My mother is psychotic so we always have to set the table and make a big deal about every freaking meal. Even breakfast! We always have to use nice linen, cutlery etc etc and act like we were descendants of Emperor Sunjong. I think it came from her growing up with all that money. Except that instead of having maids, she had children so we had chores, like setting and clearing the table for every meal. And my father’s no better. One of his favorite sayings is, “A family that prays together stays together” except that since we weren't religious, he applied it to everything else. You think I am kidding? Unlike most people whose parents stopped dropping them off at school by the time they left elementary school, mine still did. Not on some days, no. Every. Freaking. Day.

“Umma!” Mi Soo repeated. “I think that’s Ji Tae Oppa. He’s been there all day!” she cried. We both went to the window and looked down. My apartment complex had tennis courts, swimming pools and all that great stuff and right next to the dimly lit pool sat the idiot.

Okay, let me not be a bi.tch about it. So his parents had been fighting all day. Our apartments were supposed to be sound proof but sounds tended to carry when people were so angry that they forgot to shut their doors tight. They were actually a nice looking couple: Mr. Park the plastic surgeon with his never aging beautiful housewife. As I said, she never aged so I always wondered how many procedures she had a year… maybe three? One to keep the eyes bright, another to keep her cheeks tight and the last to keep her lips full (I couldn’t think of a word that rhymed). But she was a sweet woman so maybe I shouldn’t talk about her that way. Okay, so she didn’t exactly go around baking cookies and all that bullshit but she was friends with my mom and I always liked having her around because she was always on The Suckers’ side. What do I mean? Take this scenario:

Me: Umma, my friends and I are going bowling tomorrow night. Can I have 20,000 won?
Umma: Are you taking me with you?
Me(confused): Uhm… no.
Umma: Then why do you want to take my money with you?
Me: *Pissed off and irritated that I wasn’t born into another family *
Bastard’s Mother: Come on, Unnie, give the girl some money. If she can’t have fun at this age, when can she?

See? That’s why I like her and why I keep a list of things I need in anticipation of her next visit. So as I said, they were a cool couple… at least, better than their son but over the past few months or so, they’d been fighting a lot. And seeing as we had sound proof walls, it wasn’t that they kept us up every night but sometimes, I guess when they were too angry to care about proprieties, I would see them fighting in the parking lot or they’d slam a door.

So maybe Ji Tae was sitting out there looking pitiful because he was sick of listening to all the screaming or maybe, just maybe, his mother had done something right and he’d been kicked out of the house and he’d have to spend the night outside where hungry wild dogs would find him and have him as their dinner. Then, of course, I’d wear yellow and dab my dry eyes at the funeral but on the way home, I’d stop by the butcher’s and buy the best cuts of meat to leave out for the wild dogs as a special thank you. Of course, we didn’t exactly live in the wilderness so I wouldn't know where the wild dogs would come from but please leave me to my fantasies! And no, I’m not evil or anything so it’s not like I’m wishing a violent death on him but if his parents happened to kick him out and he just happened to get eaten by wild dogs, how’s that my fault?

I was still staring at his pathetic figure when my mother called me. I turned around to find her holding a tray filled with food at me.

“Umma, what’s this?”

“What does it look like? How many times do I have to tell you to stop asking foolish questions?”

I gritted my teeth but didn’t say anything. Weren’t mothers supposed to be the nicest, sweetest people on the planet? Wasn’t I supposed to hold on so tightly to her on the day she dropped me off at college then drink myself into a stupor because I didn’t know how I’d live without her? But right there, staring at her bored face, I wished I could time travel into the future just so I wouldn’t have to live with her any longer.

“Umma, what do you want me to do with it?”

“Take it down to him,” she said, tilting her head towards the window.

WTF? “Why?” I cried.

“Umma! Umma! Let me take it,” my little sister interjected. When we looked at her, she got on her knees and put her palms together. “Umma, please! Please!” she begged.

“No, it’s too heavy for you,” my mother replied, looking away from her.

So did I look like a freaking weight lifter? Why didn’t I act like every other girl and diet myself till I looked half dead? I cursed the huge bowl of noodles I’d had for lunch. “But Umma, why do we even have to give him any food?”

“Because I don’t think he’s had dinner.”

“So what? If he’s hungry, all he has to do is go home.” Oh, did I forget to mention that my mother happens to have a reputation for being extremely nice? Can you believe that? Actually, I can because she’s pretty much wonderful to everyone but us... I guess she still hasn't gotten over the labor pains.

She shoved the tray in my hands. “Just do what you’re told for once. And stay till he finishes eating so that you can bring the empty dishes back.”

I grumbled as I walked out of the door then kicked it shut behind me. I looked down at the bowl of soup in disgust and wondered how sick he’d get if I peed in it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chapter 3

Oh God, I hate my life. It was bad enough that I had to step out of my home after I'd been prepared to chow down on my dinner but not only did I have to give Him food, I also had to watch him eat? Did I really commit such terrible crimes in my previous life? As I went down the elevator, I planned to just leave the food, walk around the complex for a few minutes then return when I was sure he’d finished eating. There was no way I was actually going to watch him pick a spoon up, scoop some rice in it, open his mouth and stick it in. Ewww. I could already feel my lunch coming up my throat.

“You,” I called when I was a few feet behind him. It’d expected him to turn around on hearing the sound of my feet on the grass or at least the sound of them on the pavement… after all, I'd been dragging them for a reason. But nothing. He just had to make me speak to him. He was so lifeless that I squinted to make sure someone hadn’t sculpted a not quite broad-shouldered statue on the pool chair. Then he coughed. “You,” I repeated.

He turned around and after his eyes registered recognition, he frowned. As.shole. It wasn't like I'd expected him to jump into my arms and ask me how my day had been but why the hell did he have to frown? What had I ever done to him? But being the nice, wonderful person that I am, I ignored that transgression and walked over to him.

“Here,” I said, holding the tray out to him.

“What’s that?” he asked suspiciously.

“It’s my science project.” I mean, what the hell? Other than a tray filled with food, what else could a tray filled with food be?


“Look,” I said, “my mother sent this for you. She saw you sitting here and thought you looked hungry."

His frown deepened. “Do I look like a beggar to you? If I’m hungry, I’ll go home.”

I nodded in agreement. “That’s exactly what I told her but she forced me to bring this here.” Since he made no move to take it from me, I dropped the tray in the chair next to him. “I have to stay till you finish eating so could you just start?”

He looked at me incredulously. “I already told you that I don’t want it, so take it back with you.”

What the fcuk? “Look. There’s no way I am carrying all that food back with me so you’d better start eating,” I said, pushing the chair closer to him.

He pushed it back, almost knocking the tray off.

“Are you crazy?” I screamed. “Are you trying to throw away the food my mother spent her time cooking? I know you have no manners but isn’t that too much? Why are you insulting Umma?”


Before he could finish his sentence, his stomach growled. Then growled again. And again. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. So his dumb ass was hungry but he was just being stubborn? Well, I figured it was time for me to teach him the downside of stubbornness.

I took a deep breath, put my poker face on and looked at him. “Well,” I started with mock pity, “I guess you’re not hungry. I’m sorry that you think my dear family is treating you like a beggar.” I bent down to pick the tray. I couldn’t be too sure but I could have sworn that he reached out for it but quickly stopped himself.

I walked over to the trash can. “As I said, this is too heavy for me to carry all the way home so I guess I’d better empty these plates now.” I picked up the bowl of rice and turned it over into the trash. Next was the plate of barbequed beef. I picked a piece of meat up and popped it into my mouth.

“Hmm,” I said in exaggerated satisfaction. “This is soooooo good. It’s a shame it’s going to waste.” I finished my sentence as I dumped the rest of the beef in the trash.

I didn’t say a word to him after emptying all the other dishes. Instead, I picked up my tray and skipped back into the building with the biggest grin on my face.

“What the hell was that?” and a slap on the head was my welcome back into the apartment.! In my quest to teach that idiot a lesson, I’d forgotten that my mother would be watching. So, of course, she saw the whole thing. I gazed up at her sheepishly with the kind of look that was meant to melt a mother’s heart.

But providing me with further proof that there was a good chance I'd been adopted, it had no effect on her. Instead, she pulled me into the house by my ear. I winced in pain as she dragged me past my giggling sister and into the kitchen. I put the tray on the counter with her fingers still on my ear. “Umma, please stop!” I begged.

“Why should I?” she asked, twisting it even harder. “How dare you throw it away? I sent you down there for one thing but instead you did another. What's wrong with you?”

At that moment, my father walked out of the bedroom. “What’s all this noise about?”

She let go of my ear and turned to him. “Why don’t you ask your daughter? Why don’t you ask your daughter why she threw out the food that I’d slaved to cook? How dare she?"

One of the joys that came with being born to a mother like mine was that she always acted like housework was much harder than it really was. Not that I’d actually had to do it all but really, how hard could it be?

She sighed. "And there's a hungry boy down there and she was so heartless. Where does she get it from?”

She looked so disappointed that I almost regretted it. Almost.

She glared at me for a few moments then lifted her arms in surrender. Then she turned around and mumbled to herself as she marched out of the kitchen.

My confused father looked at me. “What did you do?”

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chapter 4

So there I was again, a few feet from Him, dragging my feet blah blah blah… you get the point. The other night, my mother had sent my very excited sister down to Him with a second tray of food. My share of dinner, by the way, and I had to make do with peanut butter sandwiches. I was sure it was no coincidence that I started the next morning with two freshly minted zits on my right cheek.

Frowning at the prospect of being known as ‘Pizza Face’, I called out to him.

He turned around, looked me over and… smiled? Or was that a smile? Or maybe he had some sort of medical condition that made his cheek twitch at random times. Okay, but seriously, why couldn’t he just stay at home for goodness sake? Isn’t the normal reaction to your parents fighting locking yourself in your room and playing your music really loud? Isn’t that what happened in all the movies? Why did he have to sit by the pool so that my nosy mother could see him and send him dinner? How’s that fair to me?

I thought about my growling tummy and with a newly found determination, walked up and dropped the tray on the table in front of him.

“What the…?”

“Look, you have to eat this, okay?” I sighed with all my might then sat across from him with a flare. Oscar, here I come!

He stared at me for a few moments then looked at the tray. “I thought my mother was the best cook in the world but I guess I was wrong. I really enjoyed the meal your sister brought the other day.”

Oh… how sweet. Well, I won’t be repeating that to my mother. “Well, lucky for you, I cooked today.”

“Really?” He picked up the chopsticks and looked at them.

“Because of you, I’m on punishment. I have to cook dinner for two weeks.”

He narrowed his eyes and looked around. Then he smiled. “She saw the whole thing?” he reached across and picked some vegetables.

“Yes, okay? The next time you want to brood, go to the tennis courts or someplace that’s not like directly under our building so that my mother doesn’t have to look down and see you.”

He sipped some water. Then as if the implication of what I’d said had suddenly hit him, he glared at me. “What did you just say?”

“Look, just hurry and eat so I can leave. I don’t want to be here for longer than I have to.”

“Why do you have such a fcuking attitude?”

“Why don’t you just fcuking shut up and eat?” I hissed then looked away. The way the lights hit the pool gave it an eerie but pleasant look. It'll be nice to go swimming at night, I thought. I was considering walking over to the pool and running my fingers in the water when I remembered why I was down there in the first place. “Could you please hurry up?” I asked, looking at him from the side of my eye.

“Chill. I’ll soon be done,” he said with his mouth full.

Disgustiod. Didn’t he know not to talk with his mouth full? I turned around to look at him. “I’m sure you can eat faster; there’s no way you want to be around my smell for this long.”

He chuckled and kept on eating.

As I watched him shove the food down his throat, it occurred to me that this was probably the most civil conversation I’d had with him in the seven years we’d lived in the same building. I hadn’t seen him the first weeks after our move but finally did when they’d come over to introduce themselves.

At first, everything was cool. I did my thing, they did theirs and since we didn’t even attend the same school, I barely saw him unless we just happened to run into one another in the hallways or by the elevator. So there we were, chugging along like civil neighbors till I got lice. Yeah, you heard me, I got lice. A shitty new school with shitty people who had shitty hair filled with lice. And it wasn’t even like I had a lot of friends so up till today, I can’t really say who gave it to me. And the worst part was that Yun Ah didn’t get it. How’s that even fair? If I had to suffer, why couldn’t she?

Anyway, to go with the theme of my life, it just happened to be a particularly resistance case of lice and when all the over-the-counter and doctor prescribed medications weren’t working, my mother made me cut my hair. Not just a little, but practically all of it. Couple that with the fact that I didn’t have breasts at that age and… you get the idea.

So one Saturday, there I was, feeling sorry for myself that in addition to being stuck at home for a good number of days, I was now bald, I was walking around the complex when I happened to see a group of boys playing ping pong.

I always did my best to stay away from huge crowds, especially those made entirely of the more irritating gender so I quickly picked up my pace. I hadn’t even gotten past them when one called out to me.

I turned around and looked at him.

“Do you want to play?” he asked, gesturing with his racket for me to join them.

I quickly shook my head and kept on walking.

“What’s his problem?” he asked his friends.

“You mean ‘her’, right?” Ji Tae asked laughing. Of course, at the time, his voice was indistinguishable to me so I had to look to see who’d said that. It annoyed me that my neighbor could betray me like that. What the hell? I sent him a dirty look but kept on walking.

“You mean that’s a girl?” Someone asked.

Ji Tae laughed even harder. “I promise you - it’s a girl. She’s my neighbor. Her family moved in a few months ago.”

“Are you shitting me?!” an idiot exclaimed. “Then why is she so ugly?”

At this point, Ji Tae was in a fit of hysterics. “Why don’t you ask her?” He laughed some more then said, “Hey, Hee Soo! Stop! Why are you walking so quickly? Could you come back and tell them why you’re so ugly?”

And that was the moment I knew I’d hate him forever.

I gazed up at him with the fresh memories of hatred to find him looking back with a bored expression on his face.

“Are you done?” he asked.


“You seemed to be in deep thought so I didn’t want to disturb you.” He pointed at the empty dishes. “Thanks a lot. Why don’t I bring them up myself?”

As if the time we’d already spent together wasn’t more than enough he wanted to walk back with me? As if! “No thanks,” I said, reaching for the tray. “But do me a favor; the next time you feel like staying away from home, go and do it somewhere we can’t see you.”

“You!” I yelled at Ji Tae at what had become his nighttime spot. He turned around, looked up at me then at my empty hands.

I had to smile at the disappointed look on his face. Didn’t he say that he wasn’t a beggar?

“What do you want?” he asked suspiciously.

I gestured for him to stand up. “My mother is calling you.”


I shrugged. “Just come, okay? Otherwise I’m in trouble.”

He still didn’t move. “Is that supposed to be some kind of incentive for me to follow you?”

I bowed exaggeratedly. “Your highness, please come up. I am sure my mother is watching and after all the food she’s given you, don’t you think you owe her this small favor?”

He didn’t look pleased at my last sentence. In fact, he grunted, but he also stretched his legs out to pick his slippers with his toes then slipped his feet in them.

“This had better be good,” he said, standing up.

I rolled my eyes and led the way back to our building.

The more we walked, the more irritated I was with the situation. Why was he such a pain? Why couldn’t he just stay home when his parents were fighting?

“Because they’ve started including me in their fights.”

What the fcuk? How the hel… could he… ehm, could he read minds?

He must have noticed my quizzical look because he said, “I know you were talking to yourself but I heard you.”

I thought aloud? I gave him an apologetic look and opened the back door to our building.

“They usually go through this every few years,” he continued, “ but I guess that now that I’m older, they feel okay including me in their fights – trying to get me to pick sides, you know?”

I didn’t really know but I nodded like I did. I didn’t know what to say or do so I just kept walking to the elevators.

“But I just hope they get over this so that everything can get back to normal. Maybe it’s because I’m older now but it seems really bad this time.” He pressed the call button and looked at me. “Do your parents go through this as well?”

“Yes,” I lied.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chapter 5

“So how’s school?” My suddenly sweet mother asked Ji Tae.

Can someone explain to me how “How’s school?” is an interesting question? Every single adult I met always asked me that question –it was like they' all learned it at some parenting class. But the thing was that regardless of the time of the day, the day of the week or the week of the year, my answer remained the same: “Fine.” Never once did I go into any discussions about how I was flunking Physics or how much I liked the new English teacher or how the school curriculum wasn’t up to my liking. Yet, they all asked it. E.V.E.R.Y.T.I.M.E.

“Fine,” he predictably said, smiling back at her.

I glanced at my sister who was looking up at him like he was Kwon Sang Woo. Girl, get a grip.

“How are your classes going?” was my father’s mundane contribution to the conversation.

I had to hold my head up to keep myself from dozing off. If Ji Tae hadn’t been with us, we’d have had our usual dinner with my parents talking about work and my sister getting on my nerves. Twenty minutes later, we’d have cleared the table and gone to our rooms to study. But because we had His Highness with us, we were having a conversation that could cure insomnia.

The uninspiring conversation inspired me to shove all my food down in about five minutes but when I got up to leave, Umma gave me Look Number 6, which was the one that meant, “Sit your butt down!” But hey, we had a guest, right? I could pretend I didn’t see it and leave anyway. So I started to do just that.

“Hee Soo. Don’t you know it’s rude to leave the dinner table while everyone else is still eating?”

“But I’ve finished eating,” I replied my mother in the sweetest of voices.

“So what? Why were you rushing in the first place? I hope you haven’t made yourself sick. Alright, sit down. You can get up when everybody is done.”

I obeyed her but pouted the whole time. I tried my best not to look but from what I could see, it appeared that Ji Tae had turned into the funniest comedian on earth with Mi Soo as his biggest fan. My sister was giggling so much that I wanted to reach across and tap her head just to ensure that it wasn’t hollow. I shut my eyes and prayed that she’d outgrow this phase and not grow up to become a reality show star.

After a few more pain-filled minutes, everyone was done with their meal so I finally got up to clear the table. My father often said that we were too young for others to be picking up after us so as usual, I picked up all the adults’ dishes as well as all the general ones. When it became clear that I wasn’t picking up Ji Tae’s dishes, my mother asked me about it.

I smiled at her and proudly reminded her of my father’s policy.

“So what?”

“Well, he’s only 1 year older than me,” I pointed out.

“And what does that have to do with anything?”

“Isn’t he still young enough to pick up after himself?”

My mother wasn't buying it. “Does he live here?”

With the amount of food he’d been eating, he might as well have. Not that I relayed that thought to my mother. Instead I shook my head.

“So why should he enter our kitchen?”

I glanced at him and caught him hiding a smile that was begging me to punch his teeth into his throat. Since I didn’t have any reasonable answer for my mother, I gave in and began to pick up his plates.

The chair screeched against the floor as my mother stood up. “Instead of just doing that in the first place, you decided to be naughty. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”

“So what are you having?” Kyung Min asked me.

“What does she usually have?” Yun Ah interjected.

He shrugged. “Anything is possible… she could have changed her mind today.”

“Babe, in the 2 years you’ve known her, has she ordered anything other than noodles before? And I’m not talking about when we all order galbi.”

“She ordered gimpap that one time,” Ki Won reminded her.

I stuck my tongue out at her. “There you go.”

“Yeah, one time she didn’t order noodles. Let’s clap for her,” she said before proceeding to actually clap.

I frowned and sent her a threatening look.

“No, not just once. She’s ordered dumplings before,” Ki Won added, coming to my rescue once again.

I smiled at my knight in shining armor then back at Yun Ah who was now rolling her eyes. It was the world’s worst kept secret that Ki Won was in love with me. In fact, it wasn’t a secret at all. According to folklore, he instantly fell in love with me the moment I walked into Drama Club, which was the reason he and Kyung Min (who was supposedly his wingman) had spoken to us in the first place. I always found it odd that I was the reason they'd approached us because while Yun Ah was petite with big eyes and a nose that I never could believe wasn't surgically altered, I was pretty tall with a flat chest and skin that tended to break out at the worst times. Anyway, the boys had become our friends and two years later, while Yun Ah now referred to Kyung Min as her “First Husband,” Ki Won and I were just friends.

Not that I didn’t like him or anything, in fact, next to Yun Ah, he was my bestfriend in the whole world. And not that he was bad to look at… okay, so maybe he hadn't been so hot on that first day they spoke to us but halfway though year 10, he’d grown about 7 inches and instantly become a Kingka. And he did have a bit of je ne sais quoi. And even though he was one of the scholarship kids at our school, being one of the top strikers on the soccer team with a hot bod to match kind of overshadowed his lack of finances. Not that anyone at my school really cared about family wealth. Okay, let me rephrase that. The kids at my school were heirs to the wealthiest fortunes in Korea that so many of them were so used to it that they couldn't be bothered to think about money. I mean, there were some losers who snubbed him but the fact that he was hot, smart and athletic, made the horny girls forget that he couldn’t buy them a Mercedes at the mere thought of it.

For a while, my lack of attraction to him really bothered me. There was a hot, awesome guy who wanted me and I felt absolutely nothing but brotherly love towards him. Was it because I was a lesbian? But then I thought about all the fleeting crushes I'd had and my never ending one on Kwon Sang Woo and decided (with Yun Ah) that I just wasn’t mentally ready for a relationship and that when I was, he’d be my first choice.

“Oppa,” a skinny, pretty girl with far too long hair called from the doorway. Whenever I saw her, I wondered if she was growing her hair just so that she could donate it to wig makers.

“Oh s.hit,” Yun Ah said underneath her breath.

I kicked her from under the table then turned around and waved the girl to our table. Soo Young was none other than Ki Won’s girl of the month. A kingka had his fair share of girls and my dear friend was no exception.

Soo Young didn’t return my smile. Instead, she ignored me and ran over and planted a big kiss on her man's cheek. After making sure that everyone around had seen her mark her territory, she sat next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. As usual, Ki Won looked uncomfortable and as usual, I squeezed his arm to reassure him that we didn’t mind the PDA. Did I fail to mention that every single girlfriend of his hated me? He made it clear to them that he was waiting for me to be ‘mentally ready for a relationship’ and although they all claimed to be alright with it at the start of their relationship, they detested me by the end of it. I was sure it had something to do with girls always thinking that they could change boys. Sadly, I was well aware of the fact that there was a growing group of girls that hated me so whenever I slipped or hurt myself in any way, Yun Ah joked that it was because those girls were playing with the voodoo doll they’d made in my likeness.

I was trying my best not to notice Soo Young running her hand through Ki Won’s hair when Yun Ah coughed and said, “Hey, your best friend just walked in.”

I looked at the doorway to see Ji Tae and his friends walk into the restaurant. Even with all the money that went into our school, our cafeteria food still sucked so practically no one stayed on campus for lunch.

Ki Won had suggested this hole in the wall because, other than the fact that the food was good, it was also cheap and well within his budget. And mine. So the first time Ji Tae walked into the place, it really pissed me off that an idiot who got chauffer-driven to school had the gall to walk into a place like it.

So on that day, as usual, I scowled at the sight of him. The four of us had only been hanging out for about a month by that time so the boys had yet to witness any of my run-ins with Him.

So there he was, acting all high and mighty and haggling with the poor ajumma who was just trying to make a living selling food to anyone, including spoilt brats with ridiculous trust funds.

He was arguing with the woman to get a discount for his large group of friends that I couldn’t keep my fury in any longer. “Look, if you think it’s too expensive, find another place,” I yelled.

From the side of my eye, I could see Ki Won shocked to see the sweet little girl he was crushing on screaming at some random twerp.

“Was I talking to you?” he asked calmly.

I stood up. “Dude, who aren’t you talking to? You’re screaming so loudly that you’re talking to everyone within a 1km radius!”

“Just sit down and mind your business,” he said, waving me off.

His dismissiveness only served to further piss me off. “Who the fcuk do you think you are?” I saw Ki Won’s eyes grow at the sound of the curse word escaping my lips. If I’d paid attention, I would probably have stopped to keep him from getting a concussion from opening his eyes so wide. But right then, I couldn't care less about what was going around me. What gave Him the audacity to try to trespass on our turf? It was bad enough that I sometimes ran into him at home and school but now I had to deal with him while I ate?

“Look, I wasn’t talking to you, okay?” he said.

“It doesn’t matter. She already told you how much everything costs. If you can’t pay, just get the hell out and leave the rest of us in peace! Get the fcuk out of here!” I screamed.

Something in my last sentence must have gotten to him because he screamed back and before we knew it, we were all standing outside the place with the ajumma waving a spoon and threatening to send us six feet under if we dared set our feet in her place again. Of course, we later apologized and became regular customers.

Since shouting matches were now banned, I couldn’t say anything to him even if I wanted to. He hadn’t been to our place in the past few weeks so everything had gone back to normal i.e. pretending the other didn’t exist. After all, a few dinners did not a friend make.

“So no comments today?” Yun Ah asked, looking at me thoughtfully. She was rubbing her fingers on her chin like a television detective.

I glanced at her. “About what?”

She pushed her head in his direction. “About him. You usually have something scathing to say whenever we run into him but you haven't said anything the last few times.”

I rolled my eyes. “What’s your point?” Why was she always trying to start something? I turned away from her and smiled at Ki Won who'd been watching our exchange with a bit too much interest. “Have you placed my order?”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chapter 6

“Oh, by the way, Ji Tae will be spending his evenings with us from now on,” my mother said offhandedly. She’d just picked my sister and me up from school and was driving us home.

My mouth flung open. If she was going to drop a bomb, why not at least give me some prior warning? Is it fair for me to be walking all merrily along only to have something drop down from the sky and explode on my head? What happened to compassion?

“W-W-Wh--” I couldn’t even get the word out.

My mother sneered at me. “What’s wrong with you?”

“But why?” I cried. Without even looking at the backseat, I could tell that my sister was beaming with happiness and that only served to further depress me.

My mother cleared her throat. “His parents have decided to separate so his mother is working nights and can’t be home with him.”

She went on to explain that it had been a bad break up so his mother had refused to take any money from her husband, who was more than happy to oblige. Since she hadn’t worked in so many years, she was finding it hard to find a job worthy of her qualifications but in the meantime, was working as a tutor at an examination preparation center. My mother said she thought that it had a lot to do with the fact that their friends had now become his friends.

Okay, so the violins had begun to play and the PMSing girls had begun to sniffle but what did that have to do with me? Didn’t he have relatives, friends, teachers, priests, social workers or anybody else to go to? Besides, why did a grown ass boy need a babysitter? I rubbed my temples to ease the tension that had begun to build in my head. I took at deep breath in and sat up straight. “Mom, I’m sure he'll be fine,” I told her in a reassuring voice. “He’ll probably prefer to be on his own.”

Without taking her eyes from the road, my mother said, “His parents might be getting a divorce and now his mother is working. Things have changed a lot so I just want to give him a feeling of normalcy, you know? I would want a kind soul to do the same thing for my child if, God forbid, I ended up in the same situation. Since he doesn't have any siblings, he'll be all alone at home. And I don’t think she has many relatives in the area. I know you hate him but could you set your feelings aside this one time?” She reached across and rubbed my shoulder like only a mother could. A mother of the manipulative variety.


I groaned but was grateful that she hadn't batted her eyelashes at me. “I don’t hate him,” I said in a small voice.

“Yes, you do!” the dummy in the back seat countered.

I turned around and hit her on the head. “Just shut up.” I really wasn’t in the mood for her bulls.hit.

“How many times have I told you not to hit your sister?” my mother scolded as she slapped me on the side of my head.


Because Ji Tae had already become somewhat familiar with my family, the conversation that first evening was quite normal, except that while my parents were having their conversations about actuarial science/accounting/taxes or whatever the hell excited them, my sister was both annoying me and hanging on to his every word.

“So, Ji Tae,” my father started, clearing his throat. We were just about done with dinner. “We were wondering if you would mind being a tutor.”

Tutor? “You know someone looking for a tutor?” I interrupted excitedly. “Which subject? I could do it!” I’d been begging my parents to let me get a job because I was getting sick of having to ask them for money. My father had always said he felt I was too young to get a job but what the hell, the minute they found something I could do, instead of giving it to their own flesh and blood they wanted to pass it on to the neighbor? I understood the concept of hurting the ones you love but weren’t they take it too far?

“Hee Soo doesn’t want to do it?” Ji Tae asked. “I heard she’s a good student so she might want it,” he said, glancing at me.

Aww... maybe he wasn't so bad after all. I almost smiled at him till I replayed what he’d said in my head. He’d heard? He was hearing things about me? What the...? And which sick fool was telling him stuff about me? About me of all people? What was going on? I balled my hand into a fist and decided that I'd eventually sniff the mole out but right then, I had more pressing issues.

“Appa, please, I want to do it.”

My sister groaned. “Appa say no! Unnie can’t do it.”

I looked over to the little traitor and snarled at her. Everyone said she was going to grow up to look just like me so I figured that it was high time I rearranged her face. “Why can’t you just shut up?”

She folded her arms. “Because I’m getting the tutor,” she finished with a flourish before sticking her tongue out at me.

After my mother hit her on the head and reprimanded her for being ill-mannered, my father continued. “Mi Soo is having problems with math; I was told that this is one of your strengths."

Ji Tae looked at us in confusion then pointed at me. “But why not her?”

I backed away. “No, it’s okay – you teach her.” I’d have picked bricklaying to tutoring my sister. She was actually pretty good in subjects that required words but put some numbers in front of her and she turned into a bumbling idiot. By my last count, I’d lost about seventy-three and a half strands of hair trying to teach her.

Ji Tae looked at us uncertainly. “I really don--”

“Please, Oppa,” my sister begged. “Unnie turns into a witch--”

I slapped her head.

“Did you see that? You see what I mean?” she yelped. She immediately rubbed her head and started to cry.

I rolled my eyes. From the way she was going on, you’d have thought I’d stabbed her in the gut.

I was about to hit her again just so that the pain would at least match the tears when my Mom barked at me to load the dishwasher.

I was dancing to the rhythm of the running dishwasher when my mother walked into the kitchen. I took that as my cue to leave.

“Where are you going?” my mother asked as I walked past her.

To watch Youtube. “To study,” I replied.

“You can do that in the Study.”

What? In the study? With the chairs that were not my bed, the cabinets that didn’t have my hidden stash of chocolates and the computer with a screensaver that wasn’t Kwon Sang Woo? “Why?”

“When Ji Tae’s finishes helping your sister, I’m going to suggest that he join you in there.”


Before I could say anything, she added, “Don’t you think that it’s better for him to be with someone his own age? His mother won’t be returning for a few more hours so why don’t you study together? He could probably help you with your homework.”


“What are you doing?” Ji Tae asked, walking into the study and shutting the door behind him.

“Knitting a sweater,” I said before I could stop myself. Then I remembered that there was no reason for me to even bother to stop myself. “Yes, as you can see, I’m knitting a sweater.”

He walked over and peered at the computer screen from behind me. “You can spare me the sarcasm. It’s not like I could see… oh, Lost.”

“Yeah,” I said, not taking my eyes off the computer screen. I sucked on the candy I'd gotten from my room.

I looked up to see him squinting at the screen.

“I don’t recognize this episode,” he said, glancing at me.

“You watch Lost too?”

He nodded.

“This one just aired in America three days ago,” I said, pointing at the screen. “It finally got uploaded today."

He pulled a chair and got ready to sit. Next to me. “Dude, what are you doing?”

“What does it look like?” he asked, sitting down. “I want to watch it too.”

What the hell? I moved my chair a few inches away from his. “Don’t you have a computer at home?”


“So watch it on that.” I moved a few more inches away and moved the monitor screen along. I glanced at him then caressed the arm hairs that had already begun to stand. Okay, so the hairs didn’t really stand, but they should have. When the Devil moves close to you, all your senses should be alert and your hairs should stand up in fright. That was the unwritten rule! In fact, it was so important that it deserved to be a written rule. So I stretched across and pulled a piece of paper from the printer and wrote it down with the hopes that my arm hair would remember it the next time around. Then I looked over at him and shuddered. I made a mental note to ask Umma to make me some garlic necklaces for our next study session. A few moments later, I opened another browser window and logged on to my hotmail account. “What’s your email address? I can send you the link.”

He gave it to me. “Do they also have the earlier episodes from this season?” he asked.

I nodded. “As you can see, this is the 6th episode.” Well, he couldn’t actually see since I’d turned the monitor away from him but I was sure he understood it was all figurative. “… So there are 6 episodes from this season but you can find older ones too.”

“Cool. Could you also send me the links to those ones?”

I rolled my eyes. “All you have to do is look through this person’s account or do a search. It’s not brain surgery you know,” I said as I copied and pasted the link into the message window.

Shortly after, he logged on to the other computer but instead of studying like any self-respecting student would, went straight to his hotmail account. “This is in English," he said a few minutes later.

Could someone please sound a gong for Captain Obvious? “It’s an American show.”

“But are there subtitles?”

“Do you see any?”

He shook his head in mild annoyance. “What I mean is: do you understand English?”

I shrugged. “Sure I do. But only in English class.”

“Then how do you watch this?”

By opening my eyes and staring at the computer screen. Surely that wasn’t too difficult to understand. I decided he had the brain capacity of a three year old so I explained to him the importance of body language and how one could just fill the blanks in with common sense.

Soon after, it was his turn to talk to me like a one and half year old and explain that not only did he understand English, he was fluent in it. Apparently, his mother was Korean-American, they’d lived there till he was 7 and still went back every summer.

I let it all digest till it hit me that I could finally find out what Henry had said to Jack in episode three. Beaming at him, I grabbed a chair, patted the seat and granted him the honor of becoming my translator.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Chapter 7

Han Bi: Henry really said that? Are you sure?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: That's what Ji Tae said.
Han Bi: Whatever. I bet he’s a faker – he’s probably only been to America in his dreams.
KSW Oppa’s Wife: lol

And I actually laughed out loud. Well, not really, but I chuckled. It’s funny how everyone tended to exaggerate online. Other than guys adding an average of 4 inches to their heights and women subtracting an average of 15lbs, simple expressions like ‘lol’ actually meant “I’m slightly amused." Something like ‘rotflmao’ meant “That was cute” and for me, more often than not, ‘brb’ meant “I don’t want to talk to you.”

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Oppa, did u finally watch Xman last week?
Han Bi: How many times will I tell you that I don’t watch that crap?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: You really should. It was pretty good because they had DBSK on but I don’t understand why they won’t get Sang Woo Oppa.
Han Bi:

Oh, and meant “I have no point so I’ll just pretend I’m rolling my eyes.” Kang Han Bi was a second year college student I’d previously met at one of my grandfather’s (now uncle’s) company’s shareholder’s meetings. Just like everyone else under 21, he'd looked bored and annoyed at being forced to attend another stupid meeting where the adults kissed each other’s asses while their male kids sat stiffly with 500,000 Won ties strangling the color out of their faces.

I was standing stiffly at the bar in my 100,000 Won toe-pinching shoes trying to see if I could dig a hole in ground with the heel and disappear when he walked up to me. Since I was going through my “I hope I am not a lesbian” phase, I talked to him and gave him my number. A little over a year later, we were friends who kept in touch mainly by Instant Messenger.

Han Bi: What are you doing this weekend?

I was about to type my usual, “nothing” when another window popped up.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: brb

I clicked on the blinking window.

Ass-Anal sucks: Hey.

Uhm. Okay. I had this knack for allowing myself to be added to every single contact list and it looked like it had come back to bite me in the ass.

Ass-Anal sucks: What’s up?

I looked at the email address but couldn’t place it.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Who the hell is this?
Ass-Anal sucks: Jesus.

So not only was it deranged, it was also stupid?

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Was that supposed to be funny?
Ass-Anal sucks: What’s funny about saving your soul?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: Fcuk off, you sick freak. I’m blocking you now.
Ass-Anal sucks: Chill. It’s Ji Tae.

What the…? How tha…? Then I put 2 and 2 together and figured that he must have gotten my address from the email I sent him with the Lost links. What a stalker.

Ass-Anal sucks: Are you still there or have you run off?

I could practically see him smirking.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Why would I run off?
Ass-Anal sucks: Ask yourself that question.
KSW Oppa’s Wife: wtf?
Ass-Anal sucks: Whatever. Can you read Chinese?

What? What kind of conversation were we having? Was I in some kind of alternate dimension? I looked around but everything looked the same.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Why do you want to know that?
Ass-Anal sucks: It’s a simple question: Yes or No?


KSW Oppa’s Wife: I can manage.
Ass-Anal sucks: Cool. I found a site that has recent Lost episodes subtitled in Chinese. I’ll send you the link.

Ehm… Okay. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Cool.
Ass-Anal sucks: So who’s KSW?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: You don’t know Kwon Sang Woo?
Ass-Anal sucks: Is that the one from the crappy girly movie about the two guys in the palace?

I chuckled. It was funny how almost every guy I knew hated The King and The Clown.

“What’s funny?” Yun Ah asked, interrupting me in mid-type.

I quickly covered the MSN window with my hands. “It’s none of your business.”

But that only intensified her curiosity. “What?” She tried to pull my hands off but I elbowed her side.

“Ouch. Why are you so mean? Okay just tell me who it is.”

I shook my head.

“Hee Soo’s got a boyfriend, Hee Soo’s got a boyfriend,” she teased. She probably would have kept it up all day long if she hadn’t gotten distracted by something on her screen. I didn’t even have to look to know that it must have been something Kyung Min had written on MSN. Could someone please explain why someone would IM the person sitting right next to them? What happened to just turning your head and talking? And this wasn’t a one off thing. Yun Ah and her First Husband did it all the time. They even went as far as IMing eachother while they were on the phone to each other! Was that supposed to be cute?

Ass-Anal sucks just sent you a Nudge!
Ass-Anal sucks: Are you still there?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: Yeah.
Ass-Anal sucks: So am I right? Is that KSW?

Oh, back to this. Of course he wasn’t right. Only a deranged loser would mistake the epitome of maleness for the epitome of femaleness. Lee Jun Ki was cute in his own way but could we not insult Kwon Sang Woo? Thanks in advance. I was about to tell him off when I finally understood who he'd meant.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: Oh. No, dummy. That’s Gam Woo Song. Oppa has been in a lot of dramas and movies like Sad Love Song, Running Wild, My Tutor Friend, Stairway to Heaven etc etc

It turned out he’d seen My Tutor Friend because his ex had brought the DVD over and forced him to watch it with her. It’s funny how you probably knew more about your enemy than you did your friend. He didn’t mention her name but I knew he was talking about Lee Tae Ran: The most annoying do-gooder this side of PETA. After recommending some of Kwon Sang Woo’s work to him, I decided that it was time to change the subject.

KSW Oppa’s Wife: I take it you’re not a fan of sodomy?
Ass-Anal sucks : What?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: Your name
Ass-Anal sucks: lol. Oh. That’s about a soccer team.
KSW Oppa’s Wife: Oh. Arsenal?
Ass-Anal sucks : You know them? Do you like soccer?
KSW Oppa’s Wife: Nope. But Ki Won does. Are you a Man-U fan as well?
Ass-Anal sucks: Hell no. It’s all about Chelsea, baby!

I was about to ask him if I looked like a 15 month old child when Han Bi’s MSN window blinked. I instantly felt bad for forgetting about him but when I started to write my apology, I realized that he was already offline.

When I got back to Ass, he’d begun to write an epistle explaining why Chelsea was the best team in the English Premier League so I left him with a ‘brb’ and started on my homework


“I’ve got one question,” Ji Tae said.

He’d returned from helping my sister with her homework and we hadn’t exchanged a word in the fifteen or so minutes he’d been there.

“What?” I asked, not taking my eyes off the fanmade JaeHo video montage I was watching on youtube. I just couldn’t get over how adorable those boys were and when Yun Ho covered Jae Joong’s mouth and hugged him so possessively, my heart fluttered. DBSK rocks!

“How is it that I’ve never seen you study and you’re not flunking out of school?”

I groaned. He was taking my mind off all that JaeHo goodness to ask me that? “I’m just naturally brilliant.”

“No, I’m serious. You don’t wake up in the middle of the night to secretly study, do you?”

“Do I look crazy to you?”'

He looked me straight in the eye. “Do you really want me to answer that?”

“Fcuk off!” I said as I rewound the part where Yun Ho massaged Jae Joong's thigh. I arched my brow and tried to figure out if I found that hot or not.

“But seriously, how do you do it?”

I sighed. Why couldn’t he just let me be? “I just happen to have a photographic memory or whatever. As far as I attend class, I’m fine. And I usually do my homework while waiting for Umma to pick me up. Are you happy now?”

“So you mean to say that if you actually applied yourself you could be a genius?”

I shrugged. “Probably not. Besides, why would I want that?” I reached for my bookbag. “But now that you've disturbed me, I’ve got a math problem for you. I think I’m doing it correctly but it doesn’t fit with the example in the book.”

I pulled out some books and went over to him.

He spent some minutes looking over my work. “Yeah, I think there’s a mistake in the book.”

I was standing behind him and looking over his shoulder. “You’d better be right because if I get this back and the teacher marks it wrong, you’re in big--”

We were interrupted by the sound of the door being opened. We looked around to see my mother walk in.

“You’re still here? Do you think you own this place or what?” my mother asked with irritation. She’d been having problems with one of her contracts and as such, had been spending an inordinate amount of time on it. “Okay, I have some work to do. Go and study in your room.”

What the bloody… “Both of us?”

“Yes.” She looked at me like I'd asked the dumbest question since the last question Jessica Simpson asked.

“But Umma, he’s a guy and I’m a girl.”

“So what? Is anything going to happen?” she asked, daring me to say otherwise.

“Of course not,” I replied in disgust. There was no way I’d committed that many sins in my past life.

“Then what’s the problem? Study in there from now on.”

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chapter 8

looked at my watch and saw that I had two more minutes left to rest. I’d already swum ten laps and was taking a break before I tackled the next ten. I’d initially planned on taking a five-minute break but at the four-minute mark, I decided I needed an additional five minutes. However, at the eight and half minute mark, I could tell that my muscles weren’t fully rested and stretched so it was only right that I tack on five additional minutes. I massaged the knot that had formed at the back of my neck and wondered if I should consider resting for an additional five minutes. I’d promised myself to beat my long standing record of thirteen and two-thirds laps and I needed to make sure I was in tip-top shape when I resumed swimming.

“Unnie, have you given up?” Mi Soo called from the other end of the pool. If there were other people around, I’d understand why she felt the need to show off all her flips and customized butterfly moves but since we liked to get in and leave before the rest of the complex even thought of swimming, I wished she’d get a life and just swim normally.

“Race you?” a voice from behind asked.

The hair on the back of my neck thought of standing up so I instantly knew who it was. I turned around to see a half naked Ji Tae looking down at me. He was wearing black, baggy swimming trunks with his towel wrapped around his neck. Even though he was no Ki Won, his body was actually not bad… at least not bad for a soccer player who spent most of his time on the bench. His chest looked pretty bare and I wondered if that was because he hadn’t yet reached puberty or because he waxed it. Either way, it screamed, “Loser.”

When I realized that I was staring, I quickly looked away.

“So what do you say? Five laps?” he asked as he climbed into the pool.

What the hell was his problem? It wasn’t bad enough that I had to see him at home now I had to see him at other places? What the hell? Couldn’t he tell that my sister and I were spending some quality time?

“Hello, Oppa,” my sister called.

He waved at her then refocused his attention on me. “Yes or no?” He’d jumped into the pool and was now in the lane next to mine.

“Have you no shame? Why do you want to race a girl?”


“Are you crazy?” I laughed to emphasize my point but it came out a little louder than I’d hoped.

“Then let’s do it.”

I shrugged. “Why would I? What exactly would I gain from this?”

“The winner gets whatever they want from the loser.”

“I don’t want anything from you so just forget it.” With that, I started on my 10 additional laps. After about 2 laps, I realized that my muscles hadn’t fully rested so I decided to take another break.

I hadn’t even caught my breath when I heard Ji Tae laughing next to me.

“Now I see why you won’t race,” he said between laughs.

Bastard. I turned to tell him to shut up when I suddenly noticed how long his eyelashes were. Maybe it was the moisture on his eyes or the fact that his face had never been that close to mine but they were actually pretty striking. But what the hell? How come girls like Yun Ah had to wear fake eyelashes just so they wouldn’t look bald while a guy got such long, pretty and curly eyelashes? How in the world was that freaking fair? Stupid, disgusting bastard. Was anything good about him?

I looked at him and wished I’d had a tweezer handy so I could pull each and every single lash of his out. “Okay, let’s race,” I said, jumping into the water.

Five laps later, I was fighting what felt like emphysema and cursing the day Ji Tae was born. “You’re an as.shole, you know? Why didn’t you let me win?” I asked between each painful breath.

“Why should I?” he asked, looking proud of himself.

“Have you no manners? If you knew anything about being a gentleman, you’d have let me win.”

“Yeah, right. If I’d let you win, you’d have been just as angry.”

I tsked. I rested my back against the wall of the pool and tried to regain my strength. “That shows how little you know about me. Regardless of how I’d won, I would have gloated and made fun of you for weeks.”

“I can--”

We were interrupted by the sounds of thrashing and splashing from the other side of the pool.

“What’s that?” Ji Tae asked in shock.

I looked around the pool and instantly knew what was going on. “Oh, it’s just Mi Soo. Ignore her," I said, rolling my eyes.

“What? Is she drowning?” His voice was shaking.

I grabbed him just as he turned to swim to her. “Don’t bother – she’s faking it.”

“Get off me!” He tried to shake me off but I was holding on with my all my might. “Hee Soo, what’s your problem? Let me go to her.”

“Are you deaf? Trust me on this; she’s faking it. There’s no way one of the strongest swimmers on her school’s team would drown in the shallow end. She just wants your attention.”

Ji Tae was still fighting me off when the trashing stopped.

“You suck! You suck! I hate you!” Mi Soo screamed as she practically jumped out of the pool. “I hate you both!” She ran back to the building leaving her slippers and towel behind.

“Should I go after her?” Ji Tae asked as he got out of the pool. He looked like a weird combination between confused and shocked. Poor thing. I bet he’d thought that my family was more normal.

He stretched his hand out to help me out of the pool but I pretended not to see it. “Give her time to cool off.” I picked up my towel and dried myself. Despite Mi Soo’s tantrum I was quite pleased with myself for breaking my personal best. Wow, 17 laps! I was sure I was going to make it to 20 the next week. “Don’t worry about her, okay?” I picked up her towel and slippers and put them in the bag I’d brought with me.

“Are you sure?” he asked uncertainly as he ran his towel over his hair.

I nodded as we started to walk back home. “Besides, you can talk to her when you come over this evening. Oh, speaking of which, I tried to watch this show called Heroes but I’m completely confused because I don’t understand what they are saying.”

“What happened to body language and filling the blanks?” He fell in step with me.

I rolled my eyes. “Just translate it when you come over.”

“It’s Saturday so I’m not coming.”

“Oh. But you can still come – it’s not like you’re doing anything better.” Besides, I really needed to know what was happening! There were people flying and there were some weird twins who killed people.

He scoffed at me. “I have a life, you know. I’m not like you.” He opened the door for me.

I went through it and waited for him to shut it behind him. “Whatever. You wish your life was as interesting as mine,” I said as we walked to the elevators. “What could you possibly have to do today?”

“If you really must know, I have a date.”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chapter 9

“I have a life, don’t I have a life? I totally have one, don’t you think?” I asked Yun Ah the second she answered her phone. It would have been one thing if someone with a life had said those things to me but Ji Tae? He probably thought starring at a wall was fun.

“Do you want the truth or do you want me to lie and make you feel better?” she asked, sounding bored.

I rolled my eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Instead of answering like a normal person, she laughed.

“What’s funny? Are you trying to say that I don't have a life?”

“Answer me first: Do you want to hear the truth or something nice?” she insisted.

I thought about it for a second. What exactly was this insinuating? “Are you saying that the truth isn’t something nice?”


What a cow! With friends like this... I was about to go off on her when I decided to give it some additional thought. Something nice, huh?

“I don't have all day.”

It had been said that ignorance was bliss so what the hell? “Okay. But you’d better tell me something really nice,” I said before we both burst out laughing.

“But seriously, I can't stay home tonight and just watch my mom clipping my dad’s toenails, so what’s going on?”

She sighed. “The party that Ki Won tried to bribe you to attend - that's what.”

I groaned. “Park Eun Ha’s party? That’s tonight?” I groaned even louder.


“You know how annoying her voice is. I can't spend the night watching and listening to her. Let’s so somewhere else.”

“You know I can’t because she’s Kyung Min’s cousin and he promised to attend.”

“He promised. Why do you have to go?”

“When you get a boyfriend, you’ll figure it out," she said in that condescending tone married women reserved for their spinster friends.

I rolled my eyes. From the way she acted, you'd think that having a boyfriend raised one’s IQ by like 30 points. “But I really don’t want to come.”

“Then don’t.”

“What's with the meaness, Miss High and Mighty?"

“I need to get dressed and you're wasting my time. Can I hang up now?”


“So was the neckline like that?” One girl said, trailing her fingers against her collarbone.

“Yes, can you imagine that? Am I a nun for chrissakes?” her even dumber friend replied.

“But wouldn’t it have been better here?” The first girl said, this time running her fingers along the top of her breasts.

“Exactly. That’s what I said but my grandma was there and she wouldn’t agree. How can I go to my cousins wedding looking like a librarian?”

“I know. How unfair is that? What do you think… ehm… ehm,” the first girl said, looking at me.

I knew I was standing there but I would have been happy to not have been included in their conversation.

“Hee Soo. My name is Hee Soo.” I said, knowing that she’d forget it instantly. From what I could see, she was slightly more intelligent than a bucket of paper mache. I looked around the room and I smiled when I saw a familiar face. “I’m going to get a drink,” I told them before I left.


“Ki Won ah,” I said, walking into the kitchen. “Ki Won ah, why does this party suck?”

To my surprise, the kitchen was pretty empty as it only had three other equally as bored people in it.

I kept walking till I was standing next to him then I rested my head on his shoulder. “Why does everyone suck? Why does everything suck?”

He glanced at me. “It doesn’t suck.” He picked up a cup and filled it with punch. “Try to have an open mind and mingle a little. Or you can come and hang out with us.”

I hissed. “Yeah, right. You guys are all coupled up. If I come with, I’d literally be the fifth wheel.”

“Well, if you’d agreed to come with me in the first place, I wouldn’t have brought Soo Jin, would I?”

“Whatever,” I said as I watched him spill some of the liquid on the table. I turned to find a cloth to wipe it off with when I saw Ji Tae walk in with Han Yong Sil – the most annoying do-gooder in my year. Boy did he stick to his type. And to think that this loser had accused me of not having a life? If having a life consisted of ruining the rainforest by handing out numerous pamphlets about things nobody cared about then he was definitely right about me. Besides, weren’t they supposed to doing the whole ‘dinner and movie’ thing or was Eun Ha screening a movie afterwards?

When Ki Won turned to leave, I called him back and asked him about the punch.

He shrugged. “It’s okay, I guess.”

“What’s in it? Rum or Vodka?”


“Eww,” I said, making a face. But what the heck, if I couldn’t have fun the least I could do was drink. “Alright, let me taste it,” I said, sticking my head out so that he could feed it to me. He did just that except there was some miscalculation on his part because he spilled some of it on my dress.

“Ki Won ah!!! What the fcuk?”

He apologized but he was obviously not sorry because he kept chuckling as he wiped the liquid off me with a napkin. It wasn’t like it was my favorite dress but it was pale blue and I knew I was going to face hell when I got back home. I was still screaming at him when a shrill voice called his name.

We both looked at the direction of the sound to see a very red faced Soo Jin glaring at us with one hand on her hip.

“Oppa, what the hell is wrong with you? When you didn’t come back, I just knew you’d be with her,” Soo Jin shrieked. “Are you some kind of--?”

I looked down at my dress and was sure that the stain would be permanent. Soo Jin was still screaming as I walked by Ji Tae and Yong Sil and out of the kitchen.


Since we were seeing each other often, I thought it was only fair that I inquire about him… you know, in a nice neighborly fashion which was the one and only reason I asked Ji Tae about his changed date plans.

“Why do you care?”

“Forget it.” Once a bastard, always a bastard. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. So much for being a nice neighbor.

"Is everything okay with your friend and his girlfriend?"

"If by okay you're asking if they've broken up, then yes," I said chuckling. I always laughed when those girls thought they could get away with saying about me to Ki Won.

"I'm sure that makes you happy."

I gave him a sidelong look. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Whatever you want it to mean."

As usual, he’d come to my room to study and as always, I was doing anything but studying. But if he was going to be an ass, so could I. Rolling my eyes, I turned my music on and started singing along to it.

“I’m trying to study here.”

“Why should I care?”

“Don’t be a,” he said, not bothering to hide the venom.

“You’d know all about being a bitc.h, won’t you? And in case you’re confused, this is my room so I can do whatever I want here. If you don’t like it, you can go to the study.”

“So that your mother can kill me? I don’t think so.”

“Then take it or leave it.” If he'd been worth the effort, I would have stuck my tongue out at him. I kept singing along till the music changed to one of my favorites. I immediately reached for the knob and turned the volume up. “You know, I will give you everything…” I sang. I got off my bed and moved to the beat. “We’ll never be apart now I know…”

For no particular reason, I glanced at Ji Tae only to find him staring at me curiously.

“What?” I barked. Leave already!

“You like Clazziquai too?” he asked with disbelief.

"And so?"

“I like them too," he said as I turned around and kept dancing. Who cared what he liked? I got lost in the Clazziquai-controlled world till I was jerked out of it by the feeling that someone was around me. Pissed, I turned around and found myself face to face, okay, more like face (mine) to chin with Ji Tae.

WHAT THE FCUK? “Dude, dude, dude, what are you doing?” I quickly backed away like he had the plague. I didn’t stop till my calves hit the side of the bed and my butt hit the mattress. What the freaking hell? “What was that all about?” I screamed.

He shook his head in pity then sat back in his chair. “It’s called dancing. What’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal? Why the hell were you dancing with me? Don’t ever do that again!”

I could feel the goose bumps popping all over me.

“Don’t flatter yourself -I wasn’t dancing with you. That just happens to be one of my favorite songs and since you weren’t allowing me to study, I decided to dance. The end.”

“Yeah, whatever. Next time you feel like dancing, do it over there,” I said, pointing at the door. “I mean, I don--”

“Do you have the Color Your Soul album?” he asked, interrupting me.

The question would have sounded less daft if I'd played anything else so far. I sighed. “Yeah.”

“Which version do you have? The one with the bonus tracks?”

I shrugged. “I downloaded it so lemme check,” I said, clicking on my Window’s Media Player.

He frowned. “What do you mean you downloaded it?”

I pretended not to hear the edge his voice had developed. “I mean I downloaded it. What’s hard to understand about that?”

He arched his brow. “But you like them.”

“So?” I asked, not taking my eyes off his. If he wanted to get into a stare contest, I was ready for him.

“So don’t you think you should support them? Why rip them off like that? Do you think they spend all that time and money just so that you can enjoy their music for free?”

The fcuk? “Do you work for the recording industry?”

“No, but I have a conscience.”

Bastard. “Are you crazy or something? I’ve attended their concerts twice. The first time I went with Yun Ah and the second time with Ki Won. And neither of them are fans but they paid for concert tickets because of me. If that’s not supporting them, I don’t know what is.”

“I bet you’d have attended the concert if you could for free,” he said with a smirk.

I could feel my hands balling into a fist. I inhaled to keep my anger from escalating. I was not going to allow Park Ji Tae to piss me off so soon after listening to Clazziquai. “What’s it to you? Are you related to them?”

“No, but do I need to be to see that what you're doing is wrong?” he asked, matter-of-factly.

“Just shut the fcuk up, okay?” I got off my bed and started folding the clothes that were lying around my room. “Just fcuk off.”

“Yeah, exactly. When you don’t know what to say you just curse, right? You need to come up with something new.”

Fcuk maturity. “You know something, Ji Tae? FCUK YOU, YOU FCUKING PIECE OF mini cooper! FCUK FCUK FCUK!!!” I would have kept screaming if my mother didn’t come in a few seconds later and shut me up.


I walked into my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. “The study is empty,” I announced. It had been a day since the stupid bastard sitting at my desk had decided to get all Recording Industry on me. After spending 30 annoying minutes in silence , I’d gone over to check to see if my mother was using the room. “Did you hear me? The study is empty.”

He looked up from his book. “So?”

“So go and study over there.” Did he really need everything spelled out? “I’m going to be playing my music really loudly so you might want to go there.”

He shrugged. “It’s fine because I’m not studying,” he said raising the book he was reading to me.

Like I cared about what he was reading. I was sure that Playboy would be just as interesting outside my room. I regarded him closely. “So are you saying that you’re not going over there?” I asked impatiently.

“I don’t see why I should. You mother said I should study here.” He cleared his throat and waited for my response.

“But it’s empty now so it’s okay for you to leave.” Was I being too subtle?

“I don’t want to.”

“Then why should I be the one to leave? This is my own bedroom.”

“Then don’t leave,” he said in a bored voice. “Did I ask you to?”

ARGHHHHHHH. It was one of those rare days that I actually had work to do and his presence was really distracting me. How can you learn trigonometry when all you can do is think up ways of getting away with murder? I started putting my books back into my bag.

“Before you leave, I got something for you.”

I picked up my pencil and sharpened it. “I don’t want anything from you.”

“Just take it,” he said as he shoved a plastic bag in front of me.

I turned my head and looked at him. It’d hoped his face would tell me something but it was devoid of all emotion.

Curiosity killed the cat so I guess you can call me Kitty because I took the bag from him and looked into it. What the hell? “It had better not be what I think it is,” I muttered to myself as I reached into it, pulled the square object out and read the text: Color Your Soul by Clazziquai. “Is this some kind of joke?”

“No. Is it funny?”

“Then why the hell are you giving this to me?”

He shrugged. “I just feel that if you truly--”

I threw the CD at the wall and slammed the door behind me. Could anyone be more moronic? I was walking to the study when I realized I'd forgotten to throw the youtube videos, thus his hypocrisy, in his face. Bastard.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chapter 10

Fighting with Ji Tae was no big deal. In fact, almost every time I fought with him, I promptly forgot about it... or at least I forgot it till the next time I saw him. But this time, I just couldn’t shake it off. I couldn’t honestly believe what he’d done. How dare he try to force his views on me? And who the hell did he think he was?

“Don’t take it out on the cup,” Yun Ah cautioned, permeating my thoughts.

I looked down and loosened my grip.

“What’s your problem? You’ve been acting weird all day.” She tried to hide it but I could tell that she was worried.

“Yeah, what’s the matter, Nuna?” Ki Won asked. He usually teased me because he knew how much I hated hearing him call me that since I wasn’t even up to a month older than he was.

I knew not reacting would raise a red flag so I weakly elbowed him in the side. He let out an exaggerated yelp so I smiled at him. It was nice to see that sweet boys did exist on the planet.

A few minutes after the ajumma brought our meals over, just like she normally did, Yun Ah announced my ‘best friend’s’ arrival into the restaurant.

But unlike most other times, I pretended not to hear her.

“Hey, Hee Soo, did something happen between you?” she whispered.

"What could happen between them?" Ki Won cut in.

I eyed her. “Exactly."

“But why does he keep looking over here?” she asked, looking at him then at me.

I feigned ignorance. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh my God, oh my God! I think he’s coming over here!”

Fcuk. I shut my eyes and begged for divine intervention.


“What are you doing here?” Umma screamed, barging into my sister’s room.

“I’m studying.” I said innocently. Since Ji Tae had refused to get the hell out of my room, I decided to leave it for him. Luckily for me, he hadn't spoken to me at lunch and I was hoping the silence between us would become permanent.

“What happened to your room?”

“Nothing. I just think I concentrate better here," I said it the geekiest voice I could manage. Besides, maybe it was time for me to apply myself and try the genius thing. I turned the page over and hoped it made me look focused.

My mom looked at me curiously. “Does Ji Tae distract you?”

I nodded enthusiastically. “I think it’ll be better for him to stay in the study but he won’t leave because of what you said. I even think it might be affecting his studies too," I said in a very concerned voice. I was thinking of rubbing my chin for effect but decided against it.

“Okay, I’ll go and talk to him.”

A few minutes later, my mother came back and told me that I could return to my empty room. Mission accomplished!


I was lying down and watching television when my mother practically kicked my door off. I quickly got off the bed and stood next to it.

She nodded knowingly. “So that’s the kind of studying you’re getting distracted from?” she asked with her arms folded.

“Umma, I was just taking a break. My studying has already improved.”

“Really? Then how come your sister says that the only reason you were studying in her room was because you'd had a fight with Ji Tae?”

That little... I smiled weakly and shrugged. “Mom, I always fight with him – it’s not a big deal.”

“Really? Then why don’t I just ask him to come back?”

“Umma, please. Isn’t it better to study alone?”

She walked into my room and shut the door behind her. "Look, I really don't have time for all your nonsense. I don't want him to study alone because I want him to be comfortable when he's here."

“Mom, he’s comfortable. Believe me – he acts like he’s part of the family. He even came swimming with Mi Soo and I last week. He doesn't need any special treatment, okay?”

My mom looked me up and down then turned around. I didn’t know what she was going to do so I sat on my bed and waited. About 20 minutes later, I heard a knock at my door.


“It’s me,” Ji Tae said. Or at least I hoped the male voice that wasn’t my father’s was coming from Ji Tae. I picked up my shoe just in case I was wrong.

“What do you want?”

The person hesitated then said, “Can I come in?”

I walked up to the door and opened it but made sure my body was blocking the entrance. “What do you want?”

“Look, I’m sorry, okay?”

I rolled my eyes. “Whatever.” He could stuff his 'sorry' in the same orifice most of his words came out of.

“But you didn’t have to break the CD. It cost money, you know?” He pouted and looked down.

He actually looked sorry, and even though I didn't really want to admit it, the fight was using up a bit too much of my energy.

“Did I ask you to spend that money?”

He shook his head. “But that's no reason to break it.”

I shrugged. "I can't allow you to force things on me."

He leaned in to me. "Giving someone a gift is forcing something on them?"

"When it's something they said they don't want, yes." I had to break away from his gaze. Stupid, freaking lashes!

"Hee Soo."

"What?" I said, looking back at him.

He looked uncomfortably around the hallway. “Can I come in?”

I shook my head.

He sighed. “But are we cool?”

“Were we ever cool?”

He hissed. “Why do you have to be like this?" He put his hands in his pocket. "Since I’m here so much, can’t we just be friends? I'm getting tired of this.”

I smiled. I was slightly comforted that it was taking some energy out of him too. “Friends might be stretching it. I don’t even like you.”

“What’s not to like?” He asked half-seriously.

He started doing the pierce eye thing so I backed away a few inches. I could feel my heart beating slightly faster. I made a mental note to get him sunglasses for Christmas.

"So tell me what you don't like about me."

I laughed. “Do you have all day?”

He looked down and stubbed his toe against the carpet. “I get it. But let’s just try to be civil. If we can't be friends we can still be civil, right?”


Exasperated, he said, “Alright, Hee Soo. I better go back to the study – I have some work to do.”

When he turned to leave, I said, “If you feel like a break, you can come here and listen to some Clazziquai.” If he was going to offer an olive branch, the least I could do was take it. He really wasn't that bad of a person.

He arched his brow. “Your pirated songs?”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chapter 11

*Italicized part is a flashback

Being nice to Ji Tae was using up a different kind of energy. Instead of expending my energy on screaming at him or trying to think of something cutting to say, I spent it on holding back and smiling. At first, it had been a little difficult as I’d already formed a habit saying anything but nice things to him but it had been two weeks and it was getting easier. We even laughed together sometimes. I still didn’t like him or anything but he was right – if I had to see him often, we could at least be civil.

He had yet to take me on my offer of coming to my room to listen to music but we had pleasant conversations at dinner and he now joined Mi Soo and me on our Saturday morning swims. In fact, he completely ignored me the last time; spending the entire hour with Mi Soo. It was kind of cute, I guess.

I repositioned my bag on my back and peeked into his class. He was sitting with his back to me and talking to his friends. As I was trying to avoid people staring at me when I walked into the class, I tapped the person closest to the door. As it does with coincidences, it happened to be the same person I’d tapped almost a year earlier which happened to be the first and last time I’d been to Ji Tae’s class. I almost laughed when I saw the shocked expression on her face.

Need further explanations? So basically, just like today, Ji Tae had left for school before he could take the lunch his mother had prepared with him so for the second time in her life, she asked me to take it to him. Back then, I’d wanted to refuse but my mother agreed before I could protest which was why I’d been standing at his door with a cooler filled with food.

Just like today, I’d begged the slightly chubby girl to call him so I could just give it to him and be on my merry way.

So there I’d been, standing with an irritated expression I wasn’t planning to hide and racking my brain coming up with cutting comments that would make him realize that it would be the first and last time I’d take time out of my extremely busy day to help him out. I’d already practiced lines that included, “be more careful in the future,” “next time I’ll piss in your food,” and other colorful words that I’d hope would convey the fact that I didn’t enjoy spending my time on him – even if it was at his mother’s request.

I’d planned to catch his eyes and send him some hateful glares but after his classmate caught his attention and he looked up and saw me, he promptly looked away.

Say what? “Could you please call him again?” Surely, he hadn’t seen me!

“Ji Tae ssi, your friend is waiting for you outside.”

Without even sparing me a second glance, he said, “I don't see anyone.”

My jaw dropped. What the hell? I looked over at his classmate and wondered what she thought of me – she probably thought I’d sacrificed Ji Tae’s firstborn. Or worse.

Frustrated, I’d bent over to drop the food on the ground then leave but stopped myself when I realized that he wouldn’t pick it up and when he got home, he’d tell his mother that he never received his lunch which would make his mother come over to our place and I’d end up in trouble.

“Can you call him again? It’s important,” I begged her.

She shrugged. “Sorry, but I don’t think he wants to come. Just forget it.”

If only it were that easy. I took a deep breath and stepped into the classroom. “You! Your mother asked me to give this to you,” I said as I approached his desk. Everyone in that area looked at me. Everyone but him.

“Oppa, I think she’s talking to you,” one of his friends said. But he didn’t move a muscle.

“Ji Tae, your mother said I should give this to you,” I repeated in a much louder tone.

At this point, the whole class but him was staring at me curiously. Feeling their eyes bore into me only made me angrier. Okay, so we weren’t friends but did he really have to humiliate me like this?

“Park Ji Tae, are you deaf?” I yelled. “Do you want your lunch or not?” I tapped my foot and waited for a reaction. Instead of acknowledging me, he made a non-related comment to a friend whose eyes were trained on me.

“Ah, fcuk it,” I said in frustration as I threw the cooler at his desk. But as luck would have it, I showed off my skills as the worst basketball player in the world so instead of hitting the desk, the cooler landed on his forehead. Ouch

“What’s up?” a somewhat deep voice jolted me out of my memories. I looked up to find Ji Tae staring at me inquisitively. Instinctively, I reached across and pushed his hair back.

He slapped my hand off his face. “What are you… oh,” he said as it dawned on him, “you’re checking out your handiwork?”

“Whatever,” I said dismissively hoping it didn’t show that I was relieved that the wound hadn’t left a scar. “I guess I didn’t do a good enough job, huh?”

He rolled his eyes. “What’s up?” he asked slightly impatiently.

I reached into my bag and pulled his lunch out. “Your Mom asked me to bring this for you.”

He took it from me. “Thanks. I had an early soccer practice.”

A group of people approached the doorway so we moved a bit further into the hallway.

“Do you eat two lunches?” I leaned against the wall and waited for his answer.

He shook his head. “Why?”

“Because I usually see you at the Ajumma’s place.”

“Oh,” he said, holding his cooler up. “I guess you can call this my tea.”

I shook my head in disgust as I looked over his toned frame. “How can you eat so much and not get fat? I hate people like you.”

“Whatever. I’d better get back now – we have a test in a few minutes,” he said as he turned to leave.

“Wait. Can I hitch a ride home with you today?”

He looked at me curiously. “Isn’t your mother picking you up?”

I frowned. “Her car is in the shop again.” My mother had a very strange relationship with cars. No matter the model, age, price or color of the car, no more than six months after she got it, something always went wrong with it. My father had tried to figure it out by watching how she drove and even exchanging his car with hers (which broke down shortly after) but we couldn’t figure out. I’d decided that she must have been a really bad racecar driver in her past life so now the spirits of all those crashed cars were taking their revenge on her.

“How do you normally get home when her car breaks down?”

“Ki Won generally gives me a ride but he’s gotten more hours so he starts work earlier now.”

“Why don’t you just take the bus or the subway?”

I hissed. “What’s with the interrogation? Can I ride with you or not?”

He sent me a sarcastic smile then told me where his chauffeur usually parked.


“This is the first time since I’ve been driving Ji Tae that any girl has sat next to me,” his chauffeur said a few minutes after he picked us up.

“Does he give rides to a lot of girls?”

He shook his head. “Not that many – mainly Lee Tae Ran. You know her?”

“Not really,” I said, shaking my head. “But no one ever sat next to you?”

“Why would they? They didn't come for me.”

I nodded knowingly. “See, that’s the difference. I don’t want to be there with him.” I looked around us. “This is so much better.”

He chuckled. “I must say that after all these years, it’s nice to finally talk to you.”

“What do you mean? I always said hello whenever I saw you.”

He gave me a look. “Is ‘Good Afternoon, Mr. Kim,’ talking?”

I laughed. After enjoying a few minutes of pleasant small talk, as I was trying to find a radio station that would please both of us, I heard a knock on the glass separating us from the backseat passenger. Mr. Kim hit the intercom. “What?”

“Hyung, please stop the car.”

Hyung? I hadn’t realized they were that friendly.

Moments after the car had been pulled over, we both watched as Ji Tae stepped out and walked over to my side of the car and opened the door.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked as he slipped into it, pushing me into the middle of him and Mr. Kim.

“What does it look like?” He looked over me and at Mr. Kim. “Hyung, you can start driving now.”

Mr. Kim shook his head. “No. One of you has to go back there.”

“Well, I’m not going to sit there all by myself while all the fun is over here.”

“Does it look like we are having a party here?” I asked incredulously.

He shrugged. “I don’t know but why did he put the glass up and leave me out? He normally talks to me when he's driving but not today. Why’s that?” he asked half-jokingly.

I chuckled. I couldn’t tell if he was really jealous. “Okay, go back and we’ll include you in our riveting conversation about The Crocodile Hunter. You can leave now,” I said, pushing him out of the car.

“Well, I’m not going by myself so you’re coming with me,” he said as he took my hand and pulled me along.