That was when Ruda’s following words struck my heart like a hammer.
“Donnie’s my friend!”
“Son, what are you talking about all of a sudden? It doesn’t help.”
“Do you feel better when making your son a shameless fellow? How can you do that to a person who has a partner?”
“Love is a power game.”
“Ma’am, you’re going too far!”
Listening to their ongoing conversations absent-mindedly, I stretched out my hand quietly. When his arm was suddenly in my hand, Ruda flinched in surprise and turned to look at me. He tried to ask me why, but once he saw the look on my face, he said in astonishment, “W… hy… what’s wrong…?”
“Ruda,” I tried to speak as calmly as possible, “We’re friends, right?”
“Huh? Yeah, we are…”
Replying with nonchalance, Ruda stood still in a daze for a second then returned me a question in a flustered voice, “H… old on… why are you crying?”
“Because I’m so happy…”
Standing beside me, Yi Jenny was looking at the two of us in bewilderment.
* * *
The very first person, whom I revealed my secret––the fake relationship––to, turned out to be Ruda, eventually.
Having heard my story, Ruda looked very startled. He then clasped his hands and began to murmur some prayer. Watching him with a suspicious glance, I asked, “Ruda?”
“Uh, nothing. Nothing at all…”
Detaching his folded hands, Ruda uttered, “So, what are you gonna do now?”
Turning my head back to the front, I tapped the ground sulkily with my heels for no reason. I replied, “I don’t know.”
“Uh-huh. They all know both Yeo Ryung and Yeo Dan oppa, so I tried to tell everything to them in the first place. However, those kids turned out to behave like that…”
‘I don’t know what to do.’ That was when I tried to add those words.
“Donnie,” Ruda called my name in a sweet voice.
His hand was now on mine before I had even noticed. With a dazzling, bright smile, he continued, “Don’t talk to them for a while.”
“They are acting like bastards. I object that they are treating you that way.”
I was still standing vacantly. Ruda kept on speaking very fluently in front of me, “Come on, their best friend now has a boyfriend. That’s something they should be proud of and feel happy for, but instead, they avoid seeing and keeping in touch with you, aren’t they? They suddenly end your call and even make others not to reach out to you. That’s a no-no. It must never happen, of course.”
Listening to his remark, I nodded and uttered carefully, “That’s true. I felt a little left out.”
‘Nah, honestly, a lot… very much,’ I added. Ruda laughed as if he looked forward to my reaction.
“Yeah, so don’t talk to them. If you want to speak about what’s going on, try to find someone else instead, or we can keep it our little secret.”
“Anyway, I’m here for you,” replied Ruda. Patting my shoulder, he added, “You must have felt so lonely and heavy. There has also been no one to confess, right?”
His words were very moving to me that I was about to break into tears again.
“Ruda…” Halting to speak further while feeling so touched, I suddenly felt something rustling in my pocket. Ruda, who was holding my hand, glanced at my pocket and asked, “Is there something inside?”
“Huh? No, not sure.”
As summer turned into autumn, I began to wear a coat over my school uniform. The pockets on my coat were quite large.
Once I took out a white envelope from my coat, I showed a look of surprise.
“Why is it inside here!?” Even Ruda was roused to anger while blushing his face.
“Maybe your mother put it inside here before she left.”
“Ah, does she think she’s a Santa Claus or what!”
‘Which Santa puts an envelope of money in a coat pocket, not socks?’ While Ruda kept grumbling, I switched my gaze to the envelope and opened it carefully.
Actually, I had been very wondering how much amount the parents of super-wealthy families would put in an envelope of money. With that expectation, I looked inside the flat paper container then became speechless.
What was inside the envelope was, adorably, two free amusement park tickets.
Watching the sight beside me in silence, Ruda got up and lost his temper.
“This woman is making fun of me, huh?!”
“No, Ruda, calm down,” I spoke to him composedly. Carefully putting the two tickets back into the envelope, I smiled awkwardly and thought, ‘Anyway, Ruda’s mother and Ruda are having a battle all year round.’
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree––The Yis were a well-matched family to that saying.
* * *
Thankfully, the stalker didn’t show up around Yeo Dan oppa not long after we started our fake relationship. Love letters didn’t arrive, and nothing disappeared anymore. However, we couldn’t just stop being an official couple all of a sudden, so we had to keep an eye out, at least, for a month.
Having those thoughts in my head, I was walking along the hallway but soon halted my steps with a deep sigh. I murmured, ‘Okay, so about a month. For a month, right?’ However, I still didn’t have anyone to reveal my secret.
Although my initial thirst was gone since I confessed my story to Ruda, but for some reason, I couldn’t give up the thought about looking for more people to tell my secret.
Well, first, I wanted to match the number of people that Yeo Dan oppa told our relationship to. Aside from that, I felt skeptical about my personal relationship. Thus, the source of trouble I had, which was about the people I had to share my secret, moved on naturally to a decision about making more friends.
However, although I was determined to make new friends, those people didn’t suddenly appear. I was already close with my classmates, but the chance to encounter kids from other classes were quite limited. Rubbing my chin for a moment, I bent my steps again.
As the Sports Day approached, the school gradually became bustling. The number of students, who were running around the hallway during class time, had increased, so the teachers were warning them not to do such a thing; the cheering noise from the schoolyard even interrupted class sometimes. When it happened, we also craned our neck over the window to watch the games or cheer the people we knew.
As soon as I threw the classroom door open, I blinked swiftly at the sight, which had all the desks pushed closely to the wall. In the middle of the vacant space, kids were doing something with a ball and traffic cones.
‘A-ha, they must be developing a new game,’ I thought. Nodding my head, I walked toward the window to take a seat and watch them. However, one of them called me, who was just bending my steps.
“Donnie, are you busy right now?”
“Cool, then would you return these to the storage since we brought a few more by mistake?” The girl, who was in the committee of arrangements for the Sports Day, flung a question while lifting a red traffic cone.
“I’m afraid other classes will have difficulties if they find these insufficient.”
I nodded without hesitation, “Um, sure. No problem.”
While everyone was busy preparing for Sports Day, people like me, who weren’t athletic or active, had plenty of time. I didn’t want to behave ignorantly, so it was a good opportunity to participate and assist other people. Receiving the traffic cone, I came out of the classroom again at a quick pace.
I had never taken the head of PE position in class, so it took a while to find the PE storage room. Having arrived in front of the storage space, at last, I blinked at the sight.
The space was bigger than I imagined, but there wasn’t any lighting, which made me a little nervous to step inside. Only in the dim light coming through the narrow window, I was able to see all kinds of things that had been used during the PE class. Glancing around the apparatus such as racquets, balls, hula hoops, and vaulting horse, I finally found where the traffic corns were, so I moved to that spot. However, I never anticipated that I would trip over something and fall to the ground.
Tumbling on the floor with a bump, I quickly raised myself and looked at my palm. ‘Geez, why didn’t they cover the floor with any carpet or some mats?’ Gently touching the scrape, I soon turned around to check what I had stumbled on.
What I had in mind was just the vaulting horse or racquet grip; however, it wasn’t. When the glitter of someone’s eyes, which was very clear in the darkness, came into view, I suddenly held my breath.