Her Dog's Grave
There she was again.
Everyday, Hwoarang would see that girl in white pass by his condominium, carrying a bouquet of white lilies. He wasn't sure who those flowers were for, but he was positive about one thing: That girl in white was lonesome.
He got used to seeing that girl everyday. In fact, he would even wake up early every morning just to catch a glimpse of her. His dog, a pure-bred German Shepherd, was also accustomed to seeing the girl in white. The dog would stick his nose out of the condo unit's marble terrace and wait for that girl in white, as always, carrying a batch of fresh white lilies in her arms.
"You're looking at her, too... Aren't you, Kyou Ra?"
The dog faitfully raised his head once his master called him. Kyou Ra, as Hwoarang lovingly named him, watched his master stand beside him, place his mug of coffee down on the flat railing and look down at the sidewalk. There was the girl in white, carrying her usual bunch of white lilies, the same somber look was on her face.
"...I want to meet her, Kyou Ra."
Kyou Ra watched the girl in white as she disappeared in the corner. When she was gone, he walked back inside his master's unit and lied down on the floor.
Master isn't serious.
And yet, Hwoarang took note of the time the girl in white always passed by. She usually came at around at 7 O'clock in the morning, same time as the local flower shop opens...
Yes, flowers. He was friends with the flower shop owner. The beautiful nature-lover Julia Chang. Seeing as the girl in white was one of his friend's regular customers, Hwoarang decided to ring up his good friend.
Looks like his hunch was right. The girl in white was a regular customer of Julia's flower shop, and she usually ordered a bouquet of freshly-picked white lilies. He didn't know who those flowers were for, but as of what Julia told him, there were always nine while lilies in the bouquet. Hwoarang made a wild guess that those flowers were for her late boyfriend, and their anniversary was the ninth of a month.
"Feh... That's silly. Nine flowers mean nine months? I really am crazy, aren't I, Kyou Ra?"
He held out his hand to his dog. Like what Kyou Ra commonly did, he placed his snout on his master's hand. The Korean just smiled at his dog. He scratched his furry neck and rubbed his moist and creased nose.
"It's decided, Kyou Ra. We're going to meet the girl in white tomorrow."
"Why? Don't you want to meet her?" he asked, grinning. "It's okay if you don't want to. That means I can keep her to myself."
Kyou Ra bit his master's middle finger. He drove his sharp teeth deep into his master's finger.
Yeah, right. And pigs can fly, Master.
The Korean snatched his hand away from his dog's mouth and glared at his 'beast'. There were puncture marks on his finger.
"Fine! That means you're coming with me! You didn't have to bite me so hard!"
You may be my master, but don't forget that I'm as cool as you are.
"Yeah... And since you're coming with me, that means I have a rival," he chuckled. "It's a competition to see who's better."
Hwoarang stood up and went to the kitchen, opening the cabinets under the kitchen sink. Kyou Ra knew what that meant. Immediately, the tall and proud dog stood up and followed his master to the kitchen. He was standing in front of his stainless steel dog bowl, awaiting his master to fill it up with his favorite chicken-flavored dog food.
"Oh? You think I'm gonna feed you?" Hwoarang jeered at his dog. Kyou Ra stuck his tongue out of his mouth and waited.
"I'm not gonna feed you, Kyou," he stated firmly.
What?! Why not?!
"Take a bath first. Then I'll feed you."
NO! Honest to Buddha, NO!
"You don't want to? Fine then," Hwoarang closed the cabinets. "Let's see how you'll fare without breakfast, lunch and dinner, okay?"
Kyou Ra's ears pointed upward. The Korean smirked at his dog.
Today was the morning that Hwoarang would meet the enigmatic girl in white. He stood in front of his condominium for almost twenty minutes, with Kyou Ra sitting beside him, faithful as ever. The red-head was wearing a blue jacket and blue jogging pants. Hwoarang glanced at his watch.
"6.50. Just a bit more. You ready, Kyou?"
Kyou Ra turned his head and faced his master.
Ready when you are, master.
Hwoarang whipped out his cellphone from his pocket. He thought of giving Steve a call.
"Hey, pal! I met a new girl. She's really pretty, you know."
But he abandoned the thought of calling his friend. He bet his ass that Steve was still asleep at this time. It was already 6.52. Kyou Ra sniffed around the place, hoping that he could catch the familiar scent of white lilies. He caught it, along with a sound. His ears pointed up.
The two of them looked across the street and turned to their left. And there was the girl in white, carrying her usual cluster of white lilies. Hwoarang didn't waste any more time and hurriedly crossed the street, his dog trailing behind him.
"Yo. Good morning!" he said enthusiastically. The girl in white looked back. Her long, pale blond hair swished as she turned around. "Good morning."
"So... You come here often?"
"Yes. Every morning, I come and pick up these white lilies."
The girl in white shifted her gaze to the clump of black and auburn that stood beside the Korean stranger. "What a cute dog!"
She bent down on her knees and placed her flowers down on the sidewalk. She gave the German Shepherd a pat on his head. Kyou Ra licked her hands.
"You have such a sweet dog..." she said with a slight smile. That was the first time Hwoarang ever saw her smile, and it wasn't even clear.
"Oh? You heard that, Kyou? She said that you're a sweet dog!"
The girl smiled at Kyou Ra. Hwoarang bent down beside the girl, holding out his hand to his dog. "I don't mean to intrude, but can I ask who those flowers are for?"
The girl in white froze. She suddenly felt tears well up in her eyes.
"...The one you bring flowers for... Must be really special since you bring them fresh flowers everyday."
Master, shut up!
She was crying. Warm tears fell from her eyes. She hugged Kyou Ra tightly and stood up quickly. "I-I'm sorry! I have to go!"
And without another word, the girl in white ran off, leaving Hwoarang speechless. Because of the girl's haste, she accidentally left her bouquet of white lilies. Kyou Ra began biting Hwoarang's left hand.
Stupid master! If only you kept your big mouth shut!
The Korean watched as the girl in white disappeared in the corner. He swore in Korean under his breath. Now, he really needed to call Steve.
"Nah." Hwoarang just thought of giving his good ol' buddy a visit. After all... Steve was training in the nearest gym, just right beside the candy shop Ling Xiaoyu owned. Kyou Ra whimpered at the thought of the cute candy shop owner. A memory that was connected to a box of Nerds.
Now, the human and dog stood in front of the said gym, looking into the huge glass window.
His movements were precise. Graceful, if he was dancing. The way he thrusted his fists onto the star-stitched punching bag, the way he lunged, his agility, footwork... Steve Fox was brilliant...
That's what he thought, though.
The minute Steve turned to the glass window, he slipped and fell on the floor. Outside the gym, Hwoarang was laughing so hard, his stomach hurt. It was Steve's turn to curse now.
"Hey there, Swiftsole," Hwoarang teased his buddy boy Steve. The two of them, with Kyou Ra, were in a nearby coffee shop. It was already 9 O'Clock in the morning. Just right after Steve's training, the Korean dragged him out of the gym to have some coffee, which was bad for the champion. Now, the three of them were seated comfortably inside the coffee shop.
"You should have seen your face when you fell flat on the floor, pretty boy," Hwoarang went on with the teasing.
"Don't be such an arse about my fall," The Englishman brushed off his friend's comment. The Korean chuckled as he ceased his catapult of snide remarks aimed at his friend.
"Yeah, yeah... Kidding aside. I want to ask you something, Steve."
"What's it about?"
"...Have you ever..." Hwoarang spoke silently, almost inaudible. "Made a girl cry?"
Right after Hwoarang asked that question, the waitress arrived with their orders. "Espresso for Mister Tangerine and Milk tea for Mister UN?"
Kyou Ra snorted under the table. These humans are so corny.
Hwoarang and Steve gave the waitress their signature "aren't we cute" smiles. The waitress, flustered, almost dropped Steve's cup of milk tea. As soon as she placed their orders on the table, she left, blushing.
"Works every time, huh?" Hwoarang lifted the paper cup of compressed caffeine. "So... About what I asked..."
"You made a girl cry?" The blond stirred his tea mindlessly. "How many times have you done that?"
"Yes," the redhead said as he took a sip from his cup. " And I'm not answering your second question."
"Well... You should apologize to her. It depends on whether you meant to make her cry or not."
"I didn't meant to."
Steve took a sip from his drink. "If you didn't mean to, then you should just apologize and tell her that you did not intend to make her cry. Simple as that."
"Look, it isn't as simple as that! I don't even know that girl!"
"...Say what?" Steve said as he raised an eyebrow.
Hwoarang groaned and stood up from his seat. "Come on, Kyou! Steve's paying for our drink!"
"What?! Hey! Get back here, Rang!"
Too late, though. Hwoarang and Kyou Ra were already outside the coffee shop.
Typical master... Steve is triumphant!
"Just shut up, you mutt."
The next day, Hwoarang made sure to apologize to the girl in white. He and Kyou Ra were waiting at the same spot where he made the girl in white cry. He wasn't sure how to apologize. Once, Julia told him that girls are more sensitive than guys. Sometimes, guys tend to forget that men and women are different from each other.
Master, snap out of it! She's here! Say that you're sorry!
Now, the girl in white is standing right in front of Hwoarang, carrying the same bouquet of white lilies. All he had to do is apologize... "Hi there."
"Hello," came the reply from the girl in white.
"Look... About what I said yesterday... I'm really sorry! I didn't meant to make you cry," He bowed down.
"Oh... Please raise your head! There's no need to apologize. You didn't say anything wrong."
Hwoarang slowly raised his head, turning to look at her. "I didn't...?"
She smiled at him. "Yes. You didn't say anything wrong."
He was relieved. At least he knew that he didn't offend her or anything. "I'm glad! I thought that I was the one who made you cry."
"You asked me yesterday..." she caressed the white petals she held in her arms. "Who these flowers are for, right? Do you really want to know?"
"If it's okay with you," he said, scratching the back of his head. She smiled at him. "Come with me. And bring your cute dog with you."
Hwoarang and the girl in white were walking towards a courtyard, which was strangely covered in white crosses. During the whole walk, they both kept silent. Some of the people in the courtyard were looking at Kyou Ra with teary eyes. The German Shepherd now realized where they were.
"We're in a cemetery," the girl in white said, stopping in front of a certain grave. It was her dog's grave. Hwoarang looked around and asked, "This cemetery is for fallen pets?"
"Well, yes. That's why there are white crosses all around," The girl in white knelt down before her dog's grave and placed the bouquet of white lilies on top. Kyou Ra stood beside her.
"So... Is that why you cried?"
"I've had my dog for nine years," she said with a rueful smile. "She was a gift from my father. A pretty, sweet and lovable dog."
"Why did she go?" he asked her. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve and replied, "Severe liver and kidney failure. And old age."
"So please take care of Kyou Ra. You know... I would give everything I can just to have my own dog back with me," she hugged Kyou Ra tightly. The dog didn't complain. Somehow, he was quite fond of this girl. No, he was really fond of this girl.
"I understand. I'll take good care of Kyou."
The girl stood up and turned to Hwoarang with a warm smile on her face. "I never got your name."
"It's Hwoarang," he held out his palm to her. "And you are?"
"Lili," she said, grasping his hand. He grinned at her and mustered up enough courage to ask her. "Maybe... Me and Kyou can visit you sometimes? You can play with him."
"I'd like that very much," she replied with the same warm smile.
"We can bring flowers for your dog, too. What does she like? You bring her white lilies everyday," he said, releasing her hand. She laughed lightly. "I'm sure that she'll appreciate more of those."
"What was your dog like?"
"Well... She's just like me. Stubborn and cheerful. If she and Kyou Ra met, they would get along fine."
"Yes? What is it?"
"Would you like to have some coffee with me?" he had his hand held out to her. Her eyes flickered from his hand to his face. Her lips formed a smile again, then she gave him her hand. "Of course."
She lost her dog... But it was her dog that brought Hwoarang to her. It was her dog that brought the two of them together. Pretty ironic, eh? All she wanted to do was grieve. But instead, a stranger comes her way and pulls her out of the nightmare.
Don't forget me! Lili said that I'm cute!
And Kyou Ra, too.
There's always someone that's going to save you... When you're hiding in a pit of hatred and loneliness. His had was outstretched. All she had to do was take it. And when she did, he vowed never to leave her alone again. Ever.
2000-2008. Sleep well.