The large space was buzzing with students picking up the balls and cleaning up the courts. Those who were at the second-floor spectator zone were already downstairs on the first floor. Wandering through the students for quite a while, I barely found Class 1-8 and walked close to my classmates.
Our principal, who just stepped onto the stage, announced the result of Sports Day.
“Class 3-4, 2-5, and 1-1, please come up to the stage.”
Ah, just as we expected. Having that thought in mind, I clapped my hands apathetically.
Among the three students lining in front of the principal, Eun Hyung’s red hair stood forth by far. Even though they were the final winners in each grade, we still had to award the semifinal winners and the best cheerleading class. Once the principal announced the next prizewinners, our class applauded in delight.
“Class 3-8, 2-1, and 1-8, please come up to the stage.”
Before going up to the stage, Yoon Jung In turned around and gestured a sign of victory to us while throwing his fist in the air. Running hurriedly toward the front, he nearly tripped on the steps to the stage.
When the principal finished giving the last award to the best cheerleading class, we finalized all the events and ceremonies on Sports Day. All the students in the gym turned around to leave the space one after another.
Watching the seniors stepping outside the door first, other kids began to vent their complaints.
“Ah, does it make sense that we’re having classes in the afternoon?”
“You’re telling me! I wish they let us go home straight.”
“Should I just leave without a trace?”
Although they spoke that way, no one among us was bold enough to leave the school without permission. However, a few kids seemed to plan a sick leave by feigning illness.
Listening to their chitchats absent-mindedly, I didn’t even notice that most of the classes already left the gym. Someone then pulled my arm, which made me flinch in surprise. Once I turned back, the Kim twins were standing behind me.
“Ah, yeah, let’s go.”
As soon as I replied that way and took a step forward, they shook their heads. Eh? My eyes widened. The twins then pointed behind my back, so I turned around.
“Oh…” I uttered in a small voice. Through the people rushing out of the door, Eun Hyung was looking at me waving his hand. When our eyes met, he flaunted a grin, which looked more cautious and softer than usual.
“How’ve you been?”
Once he approached me and flung that question, I almost got tears in my eyes for some reason.
* * *
After Yoo Chun Young, this time, I had to bid farewell to the Kim twins again to speak with Eun Hyung. Feeling a little sorry, I tapped the ground with my toes. Eun Hyung then offered some words of consolation.
“I’m sorry. I should have talked to you earlier, but I didn’t have a chance to be away from them.”
I shook my head, replying, “That’s okay. You would have been very busy preparing for Sports Day. Besides, you live with Chun Young.”
Without making a response, I just turned my head to look at Eun Hyung. He was speaking severely with no signs of a smile.
“Still I’m sorry.”
Looking up at him for a moment, I shook my head again.
“Why are you sorry for me? Those two bastards… they are the ones who kept you away from reaching out to me.”
That was when Eun Hyung recovered his smile and shook his head. Looking back at me, he asked, “Haven’t you ever talked to the kids?”
“I did bump into Eun Jiho in front of the school entrance in the morning.”
Eun Hyung asked carefully, “Really? What… was it like…?”
Shrugging my shoulders at his question, I replied, “I asked him to let’s have some talk, but he told me he wouldn’t since I’d be busy dating.”
“Aha…ha…ha…” he smiled awkwardly. Lifting his hand to cover his forehead, Eun Hyung then murmured in a small voice, ‘Geez, dude…’
If I spoke further about the situation, it would sound like backbiting––though it already was––so I just shut my mouth at that point. Eun Hyung asked me again, “What about Chun Young?”
“He said sorry and…”
Dropping my gaze at the floor, I replied, “I told him I thought that we would stay together now and forever; he said he also thought the same and still wanted to make things go that way between us.”
“Really?” replied Eun Hyung with an increased voice. I nodded my head.
“Uh-huh, but if we were about to keep that going, he told me I shouldn’t know the reason why he’s behaving that way.”
Eun Hyung touched his forehead again. Listening to his sigh, I shrugged and tried to show him a grin.
“Oh, no! We decided to talk again once the rain stops. Well, this is a quite positive sign, isn’t it?”
As if my effort to smile had worked, the agonized look on Eun Hyung’s face slightly cleared up. Heaving a deep sigh, he uttered, “I see. That sounds good though.”
I smiled back at his grin. We then left the gym side by side to return to our classrooms.
‘Once I go back to my classroom, I’ll get my share for the winning prize of Sports Day, have lunch, and take classes in the afternoon. What was the next class then? Did I bring my textbook?’ Rambling those thoughts in my head, I heard a voice coming from beside me.
“Oh, I must ask you that.”
“How’s your relationship going on so far?”
“Ah…” Blurting out shortly, I stopped bending my steps, but it didn’t last long. I took off my steps again and uttered with a clumsy smile, “Well, it’s just… nothing so special, I guess.”
“Are you sure?”
“Uh-huh. We just do what others all do and have more time to see each other… Maybe that’s all?” Replying that way, I added in an undertone, “Actually, all we do together is study.”
Eun Hyung burst into laughter. Walking along with him, I thought, ‘I could unveil the truth about Yeo Dan oppa and my relationship later.’ Getting refused several times already, it wasn’t even easy to bring up the story to Eun Hyung. I felt sorry that I didn’t give him the correct answer, but repeating, ‘Later… later…’ in my head, I bid farewell to Eun Hyung and returned to my class.
We had classes in the afternoon, which seemed to be uncertain until they actually started. Watching the kids, who had some mere hopes, groaning in disappointment, I also opened up my textbook.
Good things were, most of the afternoon class teachers were quite chill, and today, they didn’t collect our phones. My seat was close to the very back of the classroom, so I could clearly see other kids typing on their phones continuously under their desks. Resting my chin on my palm, I also sat idle and glanced at my phone, but the only messages I received were all from my classmates.
No incoming messages from the Four Heavenly Kings, of course, and even Yeo Dan oppa wasn’t keeping in touch. The only thing I got from him was the suspicious text message I received earlier.
Putting my phone in my pocket, I chewed the tip of my pen and murmured, ‘Well, he told me to wait for him after school, so maybe I should just do what he says.’
I looked outside the window on the off-chance that the weather might change; however, the rain didn’t stop all afternoon.
* * *
When the classes were all over, Ban Yeo Ryung came in through the front door, as always. However, I was bewildered at her loud remark that she made as soon as she stepped into our classroom.
“Ta-da! Donnie, I borrowed an umbrella. We can use this on our way home.”
Eh? My eyes opened wide. It wasn’t difficult to estimate where she borrowed the umbrella. Many boys dedicated their umbrellas to Ban Yeo Ryung on rainy days. Usually, she refused all their offers; sometimes, there could be exceptions. However, that wasn’t the reason why I got surprised.