Chapter Seven – Haru haru (Day by Day)
Life was curiously un-empty without him in her life.
He had arrived out of the blue, played the role of the charming black knight and swept her off her feet. As they were about to ride off into the sunset, he paused, looked her in the eye and told her firmly to leave and the next thing she knew, she had been dumped back on the rocky ground to face the cold reality that had shadowed her all along.
And that heartless reality dictated that she move on. Things still had to be done and she had to do them, regardless of her heart.
Ga Eul paused, pen in hand as she studied the page before her. Her eyes flew over the words and she snorted in disgust before tearing it out of the writing pad and dumping it into the dustbin. She muttered softly to herself as she picked up a loose page paper from the top of her books and re-read the essay question.
"Select the title of a popular song and write a short narrative essay (2 pages) using the title as a prompt."
Ga Eul closed her eyes and sighed again in frustration.
IU's "Cruel Fairy Tale" lay next to a crumpled "Lie" by CNBlue and Big Bang's "Bad Boy" in her overflowing dustbin and her assignment, which was due the next day, lay blank on her desk.
It had been just over a week since she had seen Yi Jeong and his absence was starting to take its toll on her. As much as she tried to stop herself, her mind wandered and every errant thought she had immediately fixated on him. She repeatedly wondered how he and his mother were coping and if she would ever see him again.
And now, her unwanted musings were starting to affect her school work.
Shaking her head, Ga Eul scrolled through her playlist and selected a new song.
"Surely 4Minute's "Volume Up" will be safe to use?" she thought as she picked up her pen to start again.
"Whatcha up to?"
The question broke the silence that had settled in the studio. Yi Jeong looked up at the grinning face of Woo Bin and frowned, unimpressed by his friend's question. "What does it look like?"
"Honestly, it looks like you're playing with mud."
"I think you need to ask the Shinwa administration for your money back," Yi Jeong said, "'cause you clearly didn't learn anything if you are saying stuff like that."
Woo Bin held up his hands, in mock surrender. "Hey! I know what you are supposed to be doing, but from where I've been standing for the last five minutes, I haven't seen even a semblance of a pot on that wheel. And last time I checked, knuckle impressioned rocks aren't popular."
Yi Jeong looked at the lump of clay on the potter's wheel before him and silently admitted to himself that Woo Bin was right. He had been trying for the two hours to form even the most basic of pots and had punched each and every one of them down, just as they had begun to form. He pulled back and wiped his muddy hands on his apron. Sighing heavily, he turned to his friend. "So what's up?"
Woo Bin pushed himself off the door frame he had been leaning on. "Not much. I could be asking you the same thing. You've been missing in action for a while so I just thought I'd come and check on you." He peered at the clay splatters spread over the table and the clay that had hardened on Yi Jeong's face. "I take it that your 'thing' with Ga Eul didn't go well. Didn't she put out or something?'
"Yes. I mean no. It doesn't matter." He glared at Woo Bin. "Don't talk about her like that?"
"Well that clears up everything." Woo Bin said sarcastically. "I am glad I asked."
Yi Jeong picked up a clod of clay and threw it at Woo Bin, who promptly dodged it. "Aish, you asked the wrong questions at the same time, idiot. The "thing" with Ga Eul-shii, which incidentally is not anything, went well enough for the most part, and it had nothing to do with her not putting out anything, which she did… and didn't."
Woo Bin's right eyebrow rose as he stared at Yi Jeong. "Okay," he said slowly. "Do you want to try that again so it actually makes sense?"
"I'd rather not. It doesn't make sense in my head anyway." Yi Jeong said as he started washing his hands. "Besides it's not important anyway. It's not going to work out between us."
"Because I don't want to hurt her."
Woo Bin watched silently as his friend walked away to get changed, his words running through his head. Yi Jeong was hurting worse than he let on.
"Okay guys, can I get your attention?"
The class president's voice intruded on Ga Eul's musings. She had been staring out of the window, her thoughts on her looming university entrance exams. Since she wasn't sure what she wanted to study, she had applied at most major universities as well as a few collages just in case they offered a course she was interested in. She has been receiving letters of conditional acceptance all week and her future was looming blankly over her.
Forcing herself to pay attention, she turned to look at Park Ba Yoen, who was fiddling with papers in the front of the class as he waited for the class to pay attention to him.
When the class had settled down, he began his presentation. "As you all know, the school festival is coming up and we need to decide what our class is going to do."
Ga Eul grinned. This was just what she needed to take her mind off all her worries. She loved the build-up to the event as well as the day itself. Although she was sad that this one would be her last school festival that she helped participate in, she couldn't wait.
Immediately, the class began shouting out suggestions, creating a din that would make a lesser person's ears bleed. Ba Yoen raised his hands and voice to stop them. "One at a time, guys. I can't hear you if you all shout over each other."
A few hands shot up and ideas were given in a slightly calmer manner but with just as much enthusiasm.
"I think we should run a food stall." The largest boy in the class offered.
"Yeah, a curry stall would be awesome." Came a voice from the back of the class, which was followed by a series of high fives from his friends.
"I vote for a fortune telling booth, those are always a success." Said the girl behind Ga Eul. "We can do love match predictions." This garnered a few squeals from excited girls in the class.
"I second the fortune telling booth, we can make a fortune off everyone with exams coming up." Jin Hyuk said excitedly. "Maybe we should make good luck charms to sell as well."
Min Jae, the most popular girl in the class cleared her throat and in a tone of an adult speaking to a group of small, slightly stupid children said, "Obviously we should perform something, since we are in our final year and we want to go out with a bang."
Almost immediately, the class broke out into heated discussion as everyone began to express their opinion on the given options. Ga Eul rested her head on her hand and wisely decided to keep quiet. They didn't need another voice to add to the mayhem. She would be happy with almost anything, although dancing wasn't really her thing, she had faith in her class that they wouldn't go with a stage performance. Her class wasn't the most out spoken of classes around, preferring to keep out of the spotlight.
As she listened to the arguments around her, she couldn't help but wonder what the Shinwa school festivals would be like. They would, without a doubt, be spectacular given the amount of money they had at their disposal. Her school festival would probably pale in comparison, but her school had a spectacular festival tradition that never failed to impress every guest who stumbled upon it.
A smile flittered to her lips at the thought of Yi Jeong at her school's festival. Like the shopping that she had inflicted on him, it would likely be something that would boggle his mind. For all his worldly knowledge, he was surprised by the most mundane things. She could almost imagine the look of shock on his face at the organised chaos that her school produced.
A moment later, a flash of nausea flashed through her, when she remembered that Yi Jeong was no longer in her life to invite to such things. Ga Eul swallowed hard and returned her attention to her class president.
Yi Jeong knocked softly on his mother's door, not wanting to disturb his mother in case she was sleeping.
Readjusting his grip on the flowers he carried, Yi Jeong opened the door and strode in. He headed to his mother who was sitting in a patch of sun, with a book on her lap.
"Eomma." Yi Jeong placed a kiss on his mother's check and handed her the flowers. "These came for you just as I got home."
"Oh they are lovely." She said as she brought the bouquet to her nose. "I wonder who they are from?" She gestured to the seat across from her while she plucked the card out of the envelope, "Won't you take a seat and tell me about your day? How's the preparation for the show coming along?"
"It's going well actually." Yi Jeong said as he plucked a biscuit off the plate on the table and made himself comfortable. "We finally settled on a theme today and things are starting to fall into place. We are using the concept "Summer situations"."
"That's different. How are you going to open it up into artistic representation?" She asked, the card held loosely in her fingers, still unread.
"It's actually quite easy. Typically summer can be seen as a chance to express yourself freely, where there are less and less constrictions on not only the obvious like clothing, but also emotions and actions." Yi Jeong reached for another biscuit. "These are delicious by the way."
"They are, aren't they? I will have to tell the cook to make some more." She replied smiling faintly. "But I am so glad that your exhibit is coming along so nicely. I am looking forward to seeing it."
Yi Jeong smiled as he watched his mother read the card. Hearing her say that she wanted to see the show was a sign that she was slowly getting over her suicidal attempts as she was taking an interest in the future.
"Well that's odd." Yi Jeong's mother murmured as she stared at the card in her hand.
"I don't know the person who sent me the flowers." Her brows crinkled in confusion. "The card says that I mustn't give up and that I must get better soon, but I swear I have never met someone with this name before."
"Let me see." Yi Jeong held out his hand to accept the card. His eyes skimmed quickly over the content of the card before settling on the name, carefully written at the end.
Chu Ga Eul.
Yi Jeong stared at the name for a moment, shocked but not completely surprised that she had sent the flowers to his mother. Sending flowers to a friend's ailing mother was just the type of thing she would do, but considering their last meeting, he hadn't even expected her to do such a thing. Especially after almost three weeks.
"Yi Jeong?" His mother's voice intruded on his thoughts. "Do you know her?'
He nodded carefully. "She is one of my…" He paused, searching for the right word. "Friends."
"Oh really?" A glint entered his mother's eye. "How come you've never told me about her?"
Yi Jeong rolled his eyes at his mother's tone. "It's never come up and besides her and I aren't speaking at the moment. In fact I am surprised that she even sent you the flowers. I was a bit of an idiot the last time we spent time together."
"Ah. Well, next time you see her, please tell her that you are sorry and that I said thank you for the lovely flowers."
"What?" He yelped. "Why would I tell her that I am sorry?"
The look on his mother's face was unimpressed. "You just said that you acted like an idiot and if you still aren't talking, it's because you still haven't apologised." She picked up her book. "Now why don't you go off and finish planning your exhibit and let me carry on with my reading."
Rising to his feet, he gave his mom a kiss on the check again and left the room, his mother's words running in his head.
"So are you nearly ready for your school festival?"
Jan Di's question jolted Ga Eul out of her cleaning stupor. It was late on a Friday night and the last batch of customers had just left, leaving a massive mess on the table for the two girls to clean up before they could go home.
"Nearly." Ga Eul replied stretching. "Ever since my classmates decided that as seniors we had to go out with a bang, the preparations have gotten a little out of control."
"I thought you were going to help run the fortune telling booth." Jan Di stated as she piled a tray full of empty dishes.
"Oh I am, but apparently that's not enough. Min Jae decided that we should do a class performance as well, so we have been booked a spot in the talent show." Ga Eul groaned into her hand before turning to Jan Di with a look of absolute horror on her face. "It's going to be a nightmare. You know I can't dance to save my life."
Jan Di chuckled in sympathy. "What dance are you doing?"
"T-Ara's Rolly Polly."
Jan Di froze for a moment trying to recall the appropriate music video. "That's not too bad." She said after a moment's hesitation. "It could be worse, at least you don't have to buy outfits. I take it that you are going to be doing the Copacabana version so you can where your school clothes?"
Ga Eul nodded. "I know." She picked up the dirty dishes and staggered back to the kitchen. "It's actually pretty fun to do but I am just worried that I make a mistake on stage and move left when everyone goes right."
"Well if you do, I will beat up anyone who dares say a horrible thing about it." Jan Di grinned. "I am still invited right?"
"Of course. The school festival has always been open to the public."
Jan Di set her tray of dishes down with a clutter and started loading the dish washer. "Will you pass me the dishes?" She asked Ga Eul, who nodded in compliance. "Do you think I could invite Jun Pyo and Ji Hoo to come with? I think they might enjoy it."
"Sure, I don't see why not. Just keep them away from Jin Hyuk, 'cause he is going to try and fleece them of all their money."
Jan Di grinned. "Is he still that bad?"
"Definitely. He has an eye for making money like you won't believe."
The two girls shared a smile. "So how's Jun Pyo Sunbae and the rest of the F4 doing?" Ga Eul asked as she handed a bowl to her.
"They are super busy at the moment. Jun Pyo is busy working on a business deal, Ji Hoo is preparing for a recital. I think Woo Bin is wrapping up a land sale and Yi Jeong is organising an exhibit at his family's museum." She threw a quick look at Ga Eul. "But don't worry. I am sure that they will make time to come with to your festival when I mention it."
"You don't have to." Ga Eul said quickly.
"Don't worry." Jan Di said unconcernedly. "It's not hard."
Realising that her friend had misread her distress completely, Ga Eul simply sighed to herself. If Yi Jeong came to her festival, she would just treat him like she treated the rest of the F4 – politely.
Thankfully the clean-up went quickly and the two girls were ready to go just after midnight.
"These late night shifts are the worst." Jan Di said, stretching in the door way.
"Tell me about it." Ga Eul said as she adjusted her handbag over her shoulder. "Thank goodness we get to sleep in tomorrow."
The two walked down the street together, but when they got to the corner, they said their goodbyes and went off in separate directions.
Ga Eul was three blocks away from her house, her mind running through her dance moves when a hooded man stepped out in front of her.
Jerking to a halt, lest she bump into him, Ga Eul reflexively bowed and murmured an apology. She was about to step aside when he grabbed her arm and shoved her up against the wall.
Ga Eul cried out in pain as her head knocked against the cold concrete. A moment later she heard a soft snick and felt the cold hard edge of a blade against her neck. Ga Eul froze.
"Give me your phone and wallet." His voice was gruff and cold.
A tremor of fear swept through her as she raised her hands to do as she was told, but apparently that wasn't fast enough for him.
"Now!" He ordered and he shoved against the wall again. The knife bit into her neck.
Tears of pain trickled down her face as she shakingly removed her bag and gave it to him.
'Don't move." He snarled. He quickly pulled out her wallet and cell phone, before turning her bag upside down to shake out its contents. When this revealed nothing of worth, he threw her handbag down and glared at her.
"Don't you dare tell the police about me." He threatened waving the knife in her face. "I know where you live." He left the threat unfinished before turning and running off down the street.
Ga Eul knelt down on shaking legs and slowly gathered the contents of her handbag which lay scattered on the sidewalk. Her hands shook as she fumbled for her compact. A quick look inside revealed a broken mirror and her own tear stained face.
As quickly as she could, Ga Eul shoved her belongings into her, now defiled, handbag.
Ga Eul hardly recalled the trip home, most of it just being a blur of pain and delayed adrenalin. She staggered into the house, blindly locked the door behind her before heading straight to her parents room.
The light from her parent's room was still on and Ga Eul knocked before entering the room. She took in her father, reading in bed, just before the back of head throbbed painfully. She touched the back of her head softly and felt the dampness in her hair.
"What's wrong sweetie?" Her father asked worriedly, setting aside his book.
She pulled her hand away, and looked at the blood that coated her fingertips. With panic in her eyes, she looked at her father and murmured "Appa," before falling unconscious on the bedroom floor.
Author's Note: What an unpleasant cliff hanger… Sorry but it seemed the best place to end the chapter for now.
I know that there wasn't much (none at all) Yi Jeong and Ga Eul interaction in this chapter, but it was all very important. While it may have had a slight filler feel to it, I need to set the scene for the next few chapters as well as let Ga Eul and Yi Jeong have their very brief opportunity to indulge in a self-pity fest.
So please review. I am really curious to know what your opinion of this chapter was. Thankfully I am going to be on holiday in a weeks time so I will be able to work on and upload the next chapter soon.