Suddenly, I opened my eyes upon the piercing orange light. When I looked up, a streetlamp, which was emitting bright light against the dark night sky like a spotlight on stage, came into view. Meanwhile, the wind that swept past my cheek turned quite chilly. Looking up at the streetlamp with my mouth wide open, I switched my gaze to someone’s back shaking in front of my sight.
I couldn’t come up with the memory before getting up on this person’s back. It was disconnected as if someone had cut it with a scissor; however, I wasn’t that surprised since the person’s back, which I was riding on, was very familiar.
Lowering down my head, I buried my cheek onto his back and took a deep breath. I could feel his body suddenly turning stiff over his clothes. Curling up my hands, I murmured, ‘It’s indeed a familiar scent.’
The moment when I took another deep breath, dim memories surged into me at the same time as if the familiar scent had been a hook.
‘That has alcohol inside! It’s the leftover we brought from the retreat last time…”
It was an urgent remark from one of the girls who were surrounding me. The memories afterward were all entwined as if it was messed up by a crayon.
My brows met in the middle, wondering, ‘Hold on, did I say something?’ Nothing came into mind. The only thing I could remember was people collapsing on the floor fitfully whenever I said something. Recalling to that extent, I suddenly gathered my senses as if someone splashed cold water into me.
Covering my mouth, I murmured, ‘Oh, my god! What on earth did I do?’ As soon as I had that thought in mind, Yeo Dan oppa, who was carrying me on his back, halted his step. He turned his head to look at me and said, “Are you awake”
I tried to pick the most proper word at this moment. Since I committed a sin, my heart pounded hard even at his trivial question as if he was interrogating me. Putting my fist on my chest, I replied, “Uh-huh.”
Yeo Dan oppa tried to say something; however, he heaved a sigh and suddenly changed his response.
“Don’t drink anything thoughtlessly that people give you.”
I nodded at his unusual way of speaking, which sounded like a preach. ‘But honestly, not everything is just my fault,’ I murmured in my thoughts. How would I know that the beverage on the karaoke table had alcohol in it?
That was when Yeo Dan oppa uttered, “Especially, don’t drink anything that my friends give you. No, if you see them from a distance, just run away immediately.”
I giggled at his words while forgetting how tense I had been just now. Once I began to laugh out loud, Yeo Dan oppa heaved a sigh as if he couldn’t help it. He might be thinking that I was still drunk. Anyway, thanks to that thought, I was able to avoid him scolding me.
When I put my arms around his shoulders more lightheartedly, he turned his head back and began to walk again. I placed my cheek on his swaying back and made an excuse to myself, ‘If it isn’t this time, when will I get to ride on his back?’
Yeo Dan oppa would, of course, give a piggyback to me whenever I asked him for it. He would perhaps not even ask why. No, maybe he would, at least, ask me the reason why I wanted to ride on his back. However, that would happen because he might be concerned if I had hurt my legs.
Leaning onto him more deeply, I thought, ‘Perhaps Yeo Dan oppa is gonna do everything that he can do for Yeo Ryung and me such as taking us to somewhere, getting us away from bullies, or bringing umbrellas and picking us up, something like those…’
Since I had seen him from long ago, I had no doubt how he would treat me. Still, he was Yeo Ryung’s sibling, not mine. I hated that fact at first, but later it was okay.
The only person who could ever like me…
The only person I was ever allowed to have a crush on…
There was a time back then that I had those thoughts in mind.
I quickly raised my head at his voice that suddenly penetrated my thoughts. Being on his back absent-mindedly for a moment, I replied, “Um, yeah.”
“What you said in the karaoke…”
Listening to his subsided voice, I scratched my forehead. ‘Is he talking about the conversation I had with the unnies?’ I only had the memory of myself having some snacks while feeling like a Casanova and falling into sleep in the end.
I did talk about Yeo Dan oppa with those girls a little bit… only a little bit, but it would hardly reach Yeo Dan oppa’s ears in the incredibly noisy karaoke.
Thinking about their comments about Yeo Dan oppa existing as a non-binary person to them, I tilted my head. That wouldn’t be what he was trying to bring up right now. What would it be then? His following words soon make me blush all over.
“You said that I have to be responsible for you…”
“W…hat?? When did I say that?!”
Looking at him blurting out that word, unusually, in bewilderment, I suddenly got to forcibly swim out from the surface of my forgotten memories. With an instinctive moan, I suppressed them hard, saying, ‘No! Go back inside! GO BACK INSIDE!’ However, it didn’t work at all.
The dark history, the embarrassing moments in the karaoke flashed through my head eventually. Touching my forehead, I was in agony.
‘Oppa… if you didn’t want to cause me any trouble, you should have not lived next-door!’
‘Because of you, Yeo Dan oppa… I… I’m not tall, but my eyes… my standards are… as high as the stratosphere… Huh?’
‘If a person wants to be the bigger person… he must be responsible! But oppa made my standards so high up in the stratosphere, and he isn’t taking any responsibility at all…’
ARGH!!!!! I rubbed my lips while writhing in pain. Did those words really escape from my mouth? Did I really say those words in the karaoke that was crowded with Yeo Dan oppa’s friends, but who were strangers to me? Holy Christ! How shameful it would be if I ever got to encounter them someday?
Geez! Urgh!!! Shrieking only in my thoughts, I shook my head. Yeo Dan oppa asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Huh? Uh… no… nothing… sir,” I replied weakly. Yeo Dan oppa just frowned wordlessly. He didn’t seem to think that I had totally forgotten about those remarks.
Turning his head to the front again, Yeo Dan oppa bent his steps with me on his back. He continued, “So… what you said to me in the karaoke…”
‘Let’s just rest in peace,’ rambling such thoughts, I couldn’t pay attention to his words. Frankly speaking, I didn’t want to listen to him at all. I was so afraid of his response that my heart was about to come out. Riding on his back, I couldn’t avoid his words, however.
“Yeah… sir…” I replied with a sinking heart. Yeo Dan oppa flung a question as if he felt a little confused.
“Why are you speaking politely out of the blue? I mean… anyway, what I want to say is that…”
His following words, which was something very unexpected, made my eyes open wide.
“The reason why I didn’t ask you for help with the stalker thing…”
Nodding meekly, I couldn’t help questions arising in my head. Now I had come to think of it, he seemed to talk about something like this before.
‘I don’t want to cause her any troubles.’
And when thinking about what I responded to that remark… Eww, the moment when I shuddered at my behavior again in the karaoke, Yeo Dan oppa kept on speaking.
“The reason why I denied when my friends asked me if we were going out…”
Nodding again, I rolled my eyes. I had no idea what he was trying to say right now.
“Speaking about that thing…”
“It’s not because I hate you.”
My eyes widened at his sudden words that sounded quite out of context. Hesitating for a second, I responded, “I… I’m aware of that too.”
As I had mentioned quite frequently, I had in mind that Yeo Dan oppa was taking care of me so much as his sister’s best friend and a close acquaintance living next-door. I continued, “I never thought you responded that way because you hate me. You literally didn’t want to get misunderstood. That’s all, isn’t it?”
Yeo Dan oppa uttered a sigh.
“No… that’s not what I’m trying to say…”
“You told me that your eyes are high up in the air like right beside a satellite.”
“What? Um… ah…”
‘What’s wrong with that?’ Before I got to drop that question, his response returned.
“When you explain something is high up in the air, that’s only available when you position yourself low.”
“I think you’re undervaluing yourself.”
I didn’t know that he could read and interpret my words that way. Closing my mouth, I quickly thought, ‘But… if a person like Yeo Dan oppa lives next-door, who else will not undervalue herself?’
That was when Yeo Dan oppa uttered the following words.
“People getting us wrong if we’re going out…”
“I didn’t hate that at all.”