Chapter 154: Chapter 154
What else I could do? Should I slide open the door and yell to the random kids, ‘What do you know about Ban Yeo Ryung and me? Shut the fu*k up and mind your own business!’? Among the random folks, it’s difficult to distinguish those who deserve to hear my pleas.
It felt like I was glowing alone in the darkness while some pebbles flew toward me from somewhere one after another. The stones soon turned into hail and showered down onto my body; however, I still didn’t know who was targeting me at all. There was no way for me to avenge myself either.
What if I threw a pebble into the darkness randomly, and it hit someone who wasn’t targeting me? What would I do then? There was nothing I could do. What frustrated me the most was that fact.
Ban Yeo Ryung… I bit my lips tightly. How could she just say, ‘I’m fine,’ and move on as she went through so many things like this? She might be either fantastic or pathetic. I had no idea.
After a sigh, I covered my forehead with both hands. At that moment, my phone vibrated. A message arrived from Ban Yeo Ryung.
Sent by: Ban Yeo Ryung
See you in front of your house today
Her message didn’t have any errors, which seldom happened. Dropping my gaze at the phone for a moment, I moved my fingers to respond.
To: Ban Yeo Ryung
As I closed my phone, I looked forward while resting my chin on my hand.
They said we learned the value of what he had once we lose it. Almost four years had passed since I entered this world. Throughout those times, I cried, denied, and stomped, but I, at last, opened my heart, accepted the fact, and smiled with them. Ban Yeo Ryung, who always waited for me near the shoe rack, wasn’t there. A few kids glanced at me in concern; however, I left the school entrance with a nonchalant step.
It was five in the afternoon. The rain had already stopped, but there were puddles on the schoolyard. On every step I made, the sound of wet sands squeaked beneath my feet.
A group of kids who were wearing our school uniform walked past by me. It was a usual scene that I encountered every day; however, even this scenery felt like a knife stabbing my heart. ‘Walking alone can feel like this,’ I thought.
Ever since I fell into this world, for over 3 years and a few months, I never missed walking with Ban Yeo Ryung on my way to school and back home. Once I entered So Hyun High School with her, we always went back home together. Thus, I rubbed my cheeks out of awkwardness and shame. Suddenly, the incident at the cafeteria came across my mind.
The cold stare of others directed at Choi Yuri, who was wailing in front of me and… well, me. On top of those images, Lee Soo Yeon’s coy face overlapped faintly. ‘Oh, shit,’ I ended up disheveling my hair all over instead of keep thinking those things.
When thinking of those two girls, I couldn’t bear the anger rising in me, but at the same time, my heart bled for the gaze I had from others. I thought, ‘Perhaps I got hurt and upset simultaneously, but it’s really annoying.’ Stopping in front of the crosswalk, I stared beyond the street.
‘My anger won’t resolve anything,’ I thought. The abnormal realities of the past three years have made me a calm human being. Wiping out Choi Yuri and Lee Soo Yeon’s faces one after another, only Ban Yeo Ryung’s text message remained in my head.
Geez… I shook my head with a frown. Still, her message didn’t disappear in my head. I sighed eventually.
‘See you in front of the house today.’
What did that mean? It was unusual for her message to have no errors at all, which bore traces of her efforts. Without any puns or touches of humor, which she usually used, Ban Yeo Ryung just sent that short message and left ahead of me. I breathed out slowly.
Maybe, she felt disappointed at me after hearing the rumor, so she didn’t want to see me anymore. In front of my house, she might shortly say that she didn’t want to hang out with me anymore and just go inside her house. ‘No…’ I shook my head immediately.
I was going too far. Being concerned about myself while feeling the pressure upon others’ gazes, maybe she just wanted to meet me in front of my house. Ban Yeo Ryung, who suffered from the fake rumors for so long, wouldn’t turn against me because of such a stupid gossip. I knew her very well; however, my head still throbbed at my anxious imagination.
‘Oh, god. What should I do…’ Bad rumors wouldn’t stop quickly; besides, the girl, Choi Yuri, stirred this up into a big thing, so even kids from other grades would talk in whispers about Ban Yeo Ryung and me. ‘Should we just go home separately from here on out? If not, then others would just keep talking about us…’ with that thought in mind, I got so annoyed that I grimaced involuntarily.
As I got anxious, my hands tried to move individually. Perceiving that, I shoved my hands in the pockets of my cardigan. I then looked forward again.
Like a scene spread by the water, I saw the red-light signal flashing over the blurred sight under the ashy sky. Suddenly, something shiny came into my eyes.
I saw a bright yellow hair hardly seen in Korea; however, I soon shook my head. ‘No, it won’t be him,’ I thought since I never met Yi Ruda near my house. We did bump into each other at the Chinese restaurant in front of the City Hall station. However, that place was far from my house. I looked at the traffic light again.
The green light then turned on, and the vehicles slowed down into a halt. Among the people, I began to move my steps. The yellow-haired person across then came toward this side slowly.
I could barely see, but the person seemed like they were talking with someone on the phone. Almost attaching the phone to the ear, he or she was saying something. I slowly walked past that person.
That was when I heard a familiar voice ringing in my ears.
“Okay, I’ll help you.”
The clear voice that was coming through the damp noise was indeed from Yi Ruda. A unique intonation, mostly from those who lived abroad, was prevalent in her tone. With my eyes wide, I turned back to see her immediately.
The gold hair, however, disappeared so quickly that I couldn’t see her within the crowd anymore. Turning my head back, I bent my steps toward my house again.
As I arrived in front of the elevator on the 1st floor of my apartment, I pressed the button. 13th floor, 12th floor… 1st floor. When it finally descended, I got on while rubbing my sore eyes. When I took out my phone from my pocket and checked if there were more messages, I saw that I had received nothing from Ban Yeo Ryung yet. A few of my friends in class texted me but not Ban Yeo Ryung or the Four Heavenly Kings. The elevator then stopped on my floor.
When the door opened, a slow breeze came through with a familiar resonance as it swept my hair. Turning around the corner, the long hallway aligned with units where Ban Yeo Ryung and I often met came into my sight.
The sky outside the windows of the hallway was still ashy, and in the middle, there stood Ban Yeo Ryung like a still life. Like silence had complete dominion of the space around her, our eyes met slowly.
I, again, realized that Ban Yeo Ryung looked like an incomparable porcelain doll when standing in a straight face. I gazed at her sparkling white cheeks, gorgeously bent eyes, and red lips… then at the next moment, her face changed dramatically. She walked toward me while furrowing her eyebrows.
“Oh, hold on.”
Stopping her words, I slowly swept my hair upwards. ‘It was such a long day,’ with that thought in mind, I stared at her while leaving the exhausted look on my face. At her surprised face, I flung a question.
“Do you believe the rumor?”
My words soon made saddened her. ‘Oh, that’s her face that I know, naïve yet deeply wounded…’ Ban Yeo Ryung’s eyes were filled with tears.
She then shouted, “How can you say that? Why should I believe it? Do you think I’m that dumb?”
Her voice echoed throughout the hallways, along with the damp air. ‘Geez, what a loud voice she has!’ I tried to cover my ears naughtily but just burst into a giggle.
The rock weighing my mind as I walked towards my home came tumbling down. Ban Yeo Ryung’s text still lingered in my head until that time.