His hair scattered along with the winter wind. Stretching out his hand, he touched my hair. His quiet voice reached my ears as always.
“It isn’t dried yet. Why did you come outside like this?”
‘You’ll catch a cold,’ he added serenely. However, I cut in, saying, “Oppa, why didn’t you wait inside your house? What if my mom came outside ahead of me?”
He still replied with a nonchalant look, “I’m just dropping you to the class.”
“Still, you aren’t going to the same cram school with me!”
I tried to add something, but as soon as I sensed an indication of a person being around inside my house, I became startled. Just as I expected, I heard my mom asking, ‘Donnie, is it you outside?’ I quickly stuck out my hand toward Yeo Dan oppa and grabbed his hand. Feeling a tug at my hand from the cold air, I trembled for a second and wondered, ‘Gosh, how long has he been here waiting for me?’
With a moment of surprise, I soon began to run against the sound of the door opening. Yeo Dan oppa followed me with a look of wonder while still holding my hand.
That was the sight, a week after the beginning of winter break.
* * *
Two months ago, since the rainy Sports Day, Yeo Dan oppa and I became a real, official couple, which was no longer having a fake relationship. In other words, I didn’t need to tell Ban Yeo Ryung or the Four Heavenly Kings that we were pretending to be together.
The day after the rain stopped, I went to Eun Jiho to return his umbrella. When he asked me hesitantly, ‘What were you trying to tell me?’ I replied, ‘Nothing. No need to tell you about it anymore.’
His brows met in the middle as if I gave him a suspicious answer; however, we just wrapped up the situation that way without sharing any words of apology or reconciliation.
Yoo Chun Young also came to me as he promised. I later found out his missed call but thought that I could speak to him the next day at school. When we met, Yoo Chun Young also dropped the same question, and I also returned the same response.
‘Everything’s resolved. It’s done now. All over.’
I was talking about the thing between Yeo Dan oppa and me. However, for some reason, I felt cold like I was speaking about the relationship between the Four Heavenly Kings and me. The gap between us still wasn’t shrinking.
While going through the hectic mock tests in November and December, the rest of the second semester came to the end. It became winter break then. Meanwhile, the six of us didn’t have time to gather.
The Four Heavenly Kings were busier during the break while flying overseas to take special classes and experience extra curriculums. We could have met each other during the week before their flights, but I registered to take classes in cram school as soon as the second semester was over. It was also where Lee Mina was going to.
I didn’t mean to register the cram school to avoid them. It was just that I had utterly no idea how cutthroat the class schedules were in a preparatory institute.
Just like going to high school, I had to leave my house eight in the morning straight, take classes according to the class schedules, and do self-studying until late at night. Going through this academic routine almost every day, I definitely had no time to meet them.
‘What if they misunderstand that I don’t like to meet them?’ I was concerned that they could get me wrong, but on the other hand, I had no strength left to try resolving the misunderstandings that might take place among us.
After that incident, I lost my will to recover our relationship. Desperately finding our common features and differences, looking for their strengths, talking repeatedly about the good memories we had, and confessing the things they didn’t know about me…
I was no longer feeling the necessity of doing all those things.
Maintaining a relationship required time, devotion, and effort. Who would have lost those first? I wasn’t sure.
Today, I was also sitting in the lecture room since early in the morning. Inside the heated space, I spun my pencil with my fingers and murmured, ‘Now I come to think of it, it’s very hilarious.’
“The reason why I wanted to achieve better grades was that I wanted to go to the same college as them.”
Or, at least, somewhere close to them. I didn’t want to go to a college far away from those kids. It wasn’t about the level of the institute, but I cared about the physical distance between us.
I was, of course, very aware that out of sight would lead to out of mind; therefore, I was afraid if we happened to naturally grow apart that way. ‘What made us become like this?’ I tilted my head.
That was when I kept on wondering, ‘I mean, for real, how did we end up like this?’
“Is it hard to solve the problem? Should I help you?”
With that voice, someone’s face suddenly came right between my face and my workbook. ‘Holy Christ!’ Being so startled, I pointed my pencil in that direction instinctively.
AHHH! The face that approached me out of the blue moved back with a shriek, at last. He shouted, “Dude, you were just about to poke me with that! Do you get it?”
Grabbing my pounding chest, I replied, “Eek, sorry… gosh, you scared me to death.”
Still, I wasn’t able to catch my breath. Lee Mina beside me grumbled, “Hey, it was you, who shoved your face into her first. That’s why Donnie became so surprised. Why are you blaming her? Ridiculous!”
Well, it was my fault to almost attack him with my pencil though… Rolling my eyes, I wondered whether I should add those words or not and just read their countenances. The reason why I couldn’t simply agree with Yoon Jung In was very clear.
Showing Lee Mina the most sorrowful expression, Yoon Jung In whined, “You’re too harsh. Are we a real couple?”
Lee Mina swung her fist in front of him and asked, “Then do you want to break up?” As soon as she flung that question, Yoon Jung In lowered his head like a faithful servant in a historical drama while uttering the politest apologies to her. I couldn’t hide my bewildered feelings at that sight. It was the same scene I was encountering every day for almost a month; however, I still couldn’t get used to it.
So, yeah, the reason why I couldn’t intervene between the two and stand up for Yoo Jung In was that they were an official couple.
‘I would just be someone intermeddling in a quarrel between a husband and wife. So surprising…’ When the two began to bicker again, I wielded my tongue while quietly looking at somewhere else.
If someone told me a month ago, ‘Yoon Jung In has a crush on Lee Mina,’ I would have never believed that story. However, this was what happened, at last. Once I heard that the two became an official couple, I recalled the memories of Yoon Jung In looking irritated when Lee Mina brought up the group hangout thing, and he blushing up to the root of his hair when she complimented his handsome appearance.
But the point was that I never knew he reacted those ways because he had a crush on her.
I was told that Yoon Jung In confessed his crush on her a week before the end of the second semester during the festival. That was why I couldn’t see the two around us. They were alone in the school’s back yard while sharing their crushes on each other.
‘Anyway…’ With my chin on palm, I thought while looking at the yet quarreling couple, ‘Didn’t things turn out in a good way? Both are a good looking man and woman at a glance. They have great personalities, athletic, and share the same hobbies, which would become a good thing while spending time together. Besides, Lee Mina is only the few who’s as competitive as Yoon Jung In in every aspect.’
Anyway, ever since Yoon Jung In began to go to this cram school with me after Lee Mina, my prep school life became a little comfortable.
First of all, Chun Dong Ho and the other boys dropped out of this place. I couldn’t remember his name but probably the boy in that group, who had a crush on Lee Mina, had a hard time dealing with his feelings; therefore, the boys reacted considerately for his friend and left this school.
Being lost in reminiscence for a moment, I soon raised my head again. There was still half an hour left until the end of the self-studying session. Since there were only thirty minutes left, those who weren’t at their seats like Yoon Jung In were chitchatting quite loudly here and there, but it wasn’t too bad to concentrate. Besides, I was almost used to this atmosphere while going to this cram school for a month.
Within ten minutes, I would finish solving this mock test questions. After that, I would take a break while listening to some music. Having those thoughts in my head, I suddenly noticed that it became quiet beside me. I turned my head and gasped shortly at the sight coming into view.