I sat under the tree behind the school building. Although it was only lunch time, I could not hold my attention on anything at all of late. I stared ahead. My eyes were tired of searching on anything to settle its focus on. Ever since the start of a new semester, I could not settle to do anything. Involuntarily, flashbacks of what happened last winter came to me again.

——————–

“JoonHo” had stopped halfway the whole play and looked straight at me. Or rather, he was staring at me as though I had done something to him. The whole theatre hall was quiet. Everyone was waiting for something to happen. I looked back at him, searching his face for an answer.

Why do I feel so penetrated?

I could not move. The air was still. There was only me and him then.

“Pssk. J.Y, continue with your line,” there was a whisper from backstage. “JoonHo” looked away for a moment, then our eyes met again. Finally, he looked away and continued with his line.

“Give me the chance to love you,” his voice was mellow as he turned to “HeeJin”. The atmosphere in the theatre hall resumed to its usual cool.

“What was that?” YooBin hissed, nudging me. I was too stunned to say anything.

——————–

After that performance, YooBin had dragged me with her into the dressing room backstage. We saw Tablo. YooBin went up to him shamelessly, presenting him that huge bouquet of flowers, she was squealing rivers of praises on Tablo. I did not care more, I looked around – there was no “JoonHo”.

After that day, I never saw “JoonHo” again. I never really understand why he was in our school play when he was not even a student of our school. I never understood why he stopped in the middle of his lines and gave me the weird stares. There were so many so many questions – but no answers to them.

——————–

After that day, YooBin had became really close to Tablo and they started dating each other. It was like a dream come true for YooBin. She no longer called on me as much. She spent most of her time fussing around Tablo.

“JoonHo..” I let it out without knowing it.

“Orh? Who?” YooBin dropped herself down next to me. I withdrew myself instantly.

“Ah. No one.” I said sheepishly.

“Have you been waiting for long?” she took out her lunch box and offered me some kimbab.

“Ah, no,” I said plainly, shaking my hand at the same time. I took out mine from my bag, opened it up and started chewing absently at the sandwiches. The sandwiches tasted bland. I made a face.

“Seriously! What’s with you these days? You looked so lost.” YooBin plied. Even though YooBin and I have been friends through since elementary school, she was not around much these days to know what exactly had happened to me.

What do you know.

“Nothing. I guess it’s just the spring coming. Such nice warm weather coming makes you start musing at them” I started to crap out some excuse.

“Really?” I nodded slightly.

“Alright, great,” she smiled to herself.

She didn’t even see through my stupid excuse.

“Tablo oppa is taking me out on a date this Friday. I suggest we all go on a double date – I’ll get him to introduce one of those stage group guys to you? How about that?”

“Nah…” She went on and on. But I just shut her out. I finished the rest of the sandwich. I did not have the mood for anything.

——————–

The day when YooBin went on for her date with Tablo, I found my myself too restless to stay at home. I could not find the focus to continue penning on the story I was working on, nor was there anything else I felt like doing.

“Night Blossoms” was one of the stories I wrote that I really loved. The idea of forbidden love just intrigued me a lot. Love as simple as two parties was never really love – it takes more to it. I posted up the story on my CyWorld mini homepage. It was really well received but no one knew that I was the one who penned it. All they knew was that “Night Blossoms” was written by a someone named Mi. But it never at all bothered me, I love writing stories, and all I’ve wanted was to write stories.

But for today, I was not even in the mood to write stories. I mingled around on the floor where the teddy cushion was for awhile, before I stood up quickly, grabbed the keys and headed out of the door.

I need to get out.

I walked without a destination in mind, down the cool, slippery streets. The streets were definitely too crowded on a Monday afternoon like this – and I’ve always hated the crowds. They were pushy, noisy, impatient and tense. No one ever stopped to observe the clouds against the dense blue sky in the day, nor do they lose themselves to the dancing neons along buildings at night anymore. There were too many things happening in the crowd, all at the same time. Men with suits talking over cellphones; schoolgirls squealing hysterically and waving their hands in the air; mothers laughing heartily, wiping the perspiration off their foreheads; children run around, leaving echoes of happy footsteps; couples cooing over each other; infants wailing around – there were always too many things all happening at the same time, and the sounds of them always go louder and then softer again. Louder and then softer again. They just kept rushing past us.

I kept walking.

Spit spat spit spat. The sqweesy sound that my boot made when they touched the tiled pavement, and my own breathing sound grew dominant. I began to grow bored of these sounds. I looked up and around.

Same old crowd.

Suddenly everything stopped. There was no more sqweesy sound, no more moving crowd, no more sound, no more breathing.

There in the midst of the crowd, I caught the glimpse of him. I couldn’t be wrong. It was his side profile alright. That high nose bridge, those eyes, those lips. He was just standing there, hands tucked into his pocket, eyes closed and looking up at the sky.

I went dizzy for a moment. I took a few steps towards him. Then I started plying my way towards him. Pulling aside people who were standing or walking around and were in my way. I keep plying and plying through the crowd. I heard my breathing sounds and my footsteps come back.

But when I got to the other side of the crowd, he was no longer at that spot. He was nowhere to be found.

All of the sudden, all the noise, all the hustler, the crowd, that slippery concrete pavement all came back alive in my world. I just stood there, dazed.

——————–

The next day, after much effort to get out of bed, I dragged myself to school. After what happened the day before, I could ever more conclude myself that I am psychotic. I must be crazy to let that incident at the play bother me too much.

It was homeroom lesson the first lesson of the day – perfect time to space out. Our homeroom tutor Miss Baek was rather late today but I couldn’t care more. My classmates were all engrossed in their own group discussions.

There was that group of girls – YuRi, SunYe, SooYoung and Min Joo who were talking and laughing loudly, accompanying with their conversation were huge and comical gestures. They were giggling without care of their image and there was also constant cooing of “He is sooo cute.”. Then there was the group of girls who were deep into their books – TaeYeon, SoHee and SunMi – no surprise, they are the teachers’ favourite students.

The boys on the other hands were in their own clicks doing other stuffs. There was the group of boys talking and describing, while others listen with awe, about that fight they picked up with a rookie a few days back – HeeChul, KangIn, DongHae, ShinDong – I came to learn that most of the things that they claimed they have done were all tell-tales. On the other end of the class, there was YounHa, HongKi, JaeJin and MinHwan who were all plugged into their music players. These folks don’t go anyway without their music players.

There were also loners in the class who chose to do their own stuff or just put their heads on the desk at a time like this – JungHoon, TaeYang, Yeon Hee, HanKyung and myself.

I stared out of the window.

Yes, I’m such a loner.

Just then, YooBin popped up from behind me.

“Morning!” She beamed. “I am so glad I made it to school just in time. I was out with Tablo oppa till rather late yesterday.” She fanned herself vigorously with her hands.

“You should be there yesterday. You know what Tablo oppa told……….”

“Alright class, time for lesson” Miss Baek’s arrival interrupted YooBin’s potential long winded storytelling. Everyone kept quiet and went back to their seats. Chairs were shuffling around, and then there was silence.

“I apologise being late. We have a new transfer student today and I need to settle some matters for this student.” She gestured for a person from outside the classroom to come in. Everyone waited. There was steady footsteps into the classroom.

Right then, YooBin pushed a note into my hands. I opened up the paper. “You should have been there. Tablo oppa brought so many cuties along to the gathering. ^^” was written on it. I made a face, shook my head and shoved the paper back to her.

“Why don’t you introduce yourself to the class?” Miss Baek’s voice flowed back into my attention.

“Hi, my name is Joon Young. I’m a transfer student from the States.”

I looked up. It was him, “JoonHo”. I stopped breathing.

I saw him sweep a glance across the room, his eyes merely met mine.

“Why don’t you take the seat behind SooKyung.” Miss Baek gestured towards me. Joon Young nodded and walked steadily towards my direction. As he walked pass me, our eyes met. I searched his face for a sign. He gave a mere nod with a polite smile and took the seat behind. I could feel YooBin’s vision settle on me.

I was stunned once more.

Doesn’t he remember me?

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