A moment of silence went by between us. I bit my lips and blinked several times out of anxiety. The silence grew like a needle poking my skin.
Maybe about a minute passed between us before Eun Jiho finally asked with a surprisingly heavy voice.
My shoulders slouched after hearing his subdued tone. I tried to bring up this conversation a few times in the past but never really did. How would they understand and accept my request? After all, we were best friends in middle school, for me to suddenly request to have us treat each other like nobodies in high school was unheard of.
However, I was serious. It was not a joke that I no longer wished to be their friend.
Why didn’t I transfer to another school if I hated the whole situation this much? I could not. It was because I passed the entrance exam of the most prestigious private high school in the neighborhood. Just look at Ban Yeo Ryung, Eun Jiho, and the super genius Woo Jooin; they were all accepted in the school.
My grades were just around the cutline, so my acceptance was not guaranteed. My dad, however, suggested me to at least give it a try. Therefore, when I got the acceptance letter, our house turned into a fiesta. Asking my parents how I wish to refuse to be in such a school was like putting myself out there to face execution. Going to a different school at that time made no sense in the long run.
As I did not say a word while holding the phone firmly for a while, Eun Jiho also did not burst into a fit of anger. There was, however, a deep sigh flowing over the phone. He asked me with a calm voice when I blinked my eyes, “You’re seeking for a normal life that much?”
I held my breath.
A moment later, another sigh came through the phone. He then continued, “What’s the problem? If it’s about the kids who call you Hyang Dan-I, you have Kwon Eun Hyung and Yoo Chun Young at your back. Besides, you’re not that sensitive about how others think about you. Maybe you hate having to deal with such bothersome environment, but at least you don’t care about how others perceive you. I don’t think I’m misunderstanding you either.”
“But you are strangely obsessed with a normal life. I’ve been wondering about it so, okay, let me just ask you now. What makes you so obsessed with it?”
I had my feet down on the bed as I heaved a sigh. Then I tapped the floor with my toes for a moment. There were so many excuses that I could make up in my mind, but nothing seemed to come out of my lips.
Honestly, I didn’t believe for a second that any of them would work on Eun Jiho. There should be something I could say to logically to cheat Eun Jiho’s insightful mind, but I couldn’t think of any such excuses that harbored such a great depth.
I bit my lips. Should I just tell the truth? ‘When I am with you guys, it seems like you are all performing a well-manipulated play. Sometimes, I also feel myself being one of the actresses on the stage.’
I felt like there were invisible strings controling my every move: my lips, body, and even the way I breathe. There were also times that I felt horrified to awaken from my sleep as if the string was constricting my wrist… Even my phases of life seemed to be tied up on that string. Therefore, in this way, I felt like I would live my life in constant fear of my life.
Gosh, I couldn’t say this. I heaved a deep sigh and made my remark.
“Just for 3 years.”
Eun Jiho kept his mouth shut in wonder. I had my eyes down and muttered. 3 years would be enough for this novel to reach it’s end. If nothing special happened during middle school, where I ended up meeting Yeo Ryung Ban and the Four Heavenly Kings and ended up attending the same high school with them, the middle school part would just be the prologue before the actual novel began.
In my thought, it was apparent that the real story would unfold once we were all in high school. Since no female rivals or other main characters had yet to appear in this novel, I believed things would take a new turn sooner or later.
We were awaiting our high school entrance ceremony, and it would take 3 years to graduate since then. Web novels mostly reached the end when the main characters graduated high school, so I did not have to care about what would come afterward anymore.
3 years seemed quite long, but when I put it in retrospect to the entirety of human life, those times were just miniscule in comparisson. It could be relatively short than my what I had initially anticipated. I spat out my words through the phone as if I was making a promise to myself.
“Just for 3 years… would you all treat me like a nobody?”
Eun Jiho questioned with a freezingly calm voice. As I stopped talking to consider how to explain, he uttered a low sigh.
What he asked me afterward made me even more dumbfounded. His question was brief.
“Is this related to why you fought with Yoo Chun Young?”
“I knew it. I kind of reckoned from quite a long ago that you seemed to look at us as people from a completely different world… Do you know that it drives me so crazy every time you’re like that?”
My lips were closed tightly, unable to give any sort of meaningful reply. Eun Jiho’s voice was still quiet and serene like the surface of a lake, but in there, I felt his burning rage deep within.
A moment after, he spoke with a sigh.
“Should I ignore you only in school?”
“… Would you?”
“Do you know how your voice sounds right now? If I say no now, you would just pass away.”
It wouldn’t be that severe though, but probably. I scratched my forehead with my embarrassment.
As if he felt much relieved after accepting my favor, his voice sounded lighter than before. He continued, “If only in school, I got you. So it’s okay if we could keep in touch through the phone, right? Then do whatever you want, but if you ever ignore my call or text, then see what will happen in school.”
“Yeah, I got you.”
“Plus, I’m gonna go to your house at any time. These are my options, but Woo Jooin will deny and wail if he can’t hug you in school. Kwon Eun Hyung… let’s say yes for now, but Yoo Chun Young… good luck.”
“… Thanks for your kind advice. I’m so thankful right now I think I’m about to cry.”
Eun Jiho giggled as if he felt better after hearing my sulky response at last. Just like other boys my age, his giggle suited him terrifically, which differed from the soft smile he had in front of his father. It was also good to listen to it from time to time. I spent a little time exposing my ears to his laughter. Then I realized how I held the phone still as he hung up while telling me that he would be meeting with Yoo Chun Young on Channel 10. Oh shit. I slowly raised my hands and dug my hair until it turned into a ball of mess.
As Eun Jiho said, there was nothing strange about Woo Jooin wailing for my request. Eun Hyung would not get angry easily, but he would inquire about the details of my request a gentle smile, which would elevate my fear of him at that moment. Finally, Yoo Chun Young… oh, Chun Young… I would be in for a long ride.
I had my hands around my hair and got up from the bed to turn on the computer as my anxiety crawled all over my skin. It had been about 3 hours, so I should open the computer and heal myself while enjoying Instiz. As I clicked the mouse and accessed the main page of Naver, Yoo Chun Young’s name disappeared from the trending topics. I skimmed over the ranking topics such as the news about an actress’ marriage and an idol group launching a new album. Then, I had my hands on the keyboard and carefully typed in Yoo Chun Young’s name on the browser.
What greeted me again was that photo of Yoo Chung Young with the fedora on. I had that picture on my screen and looked at it for a while. Then I muttered,
Of course, Yoo Chun Young inside the screen did not respond. I was, however, seized with an odd feeling as I rested my chin on my hand and stared at his lips. Something was still not enough. I opened my mouth again and said, “Sorry.”
The boy on the screen remained mute as he stared at me without another word.