As I knitted my brows speechlessly, someone from aside spoke gently.
“But I think it’s fine,” said Shin Suh Hyun.
Yoon Jung In then asked in wonder, “What do you mean?”
“Acting as if you’re reading a book or a cue card. Isn’t it quite funny the way it is?”
When Shin Suh Hyun said that while blinking his brown eyes, a few kids inside the bus soon voiced out to agree with him, ‘Yeah, that was pretty cool!’ A girl then spoke with her eyes on me.
“True, it was quite funny when reading the cheesy lines in an expressionless face. Hey, Donnie, follow her.”
“Just what Hye Hill did before.”
‘Ok…’ I hurried to flip the pages of the script inside my head. The part that I was about to do was…
“Heart pound. What are you talking about? We met just now. What a weirdo.”
“Oh, now you ain’t stammering!”
“Look, it’s pretty nice? I think showing the contrast between Yi Ruda’s serious performance and Donnie’s terrible performance would be really interesting.”
Shin Suh Hyun continued his words after Yoon Jung In rejoicing at others’ reactions. Everyone soon turned bright enough to say how cool it was, but in my point of view, they looked delighted for not hearing those painful lines anymore.
The bus kept running quite a while after the end of the rehearsal. Kim Hye Hill and I tried to go back to our front seats. Yoon Jung In, however, wanted us to stay with him, so we had to remain sitting on the back with no way out.
The back had five seats connected to each other, which Kim Hye Hill, Kim Hye Woo, me, Yi Ruda, and Shin Suh Hyun sat alongside. Although they said that they weren’t so close in middle school, being alumni indeed made them share many stories together.
While munching some chips, my eyes grew bigger in surprise from the story ringing around me.
I asked, “Kim Hye Hill has a boyfriend?”
“Didn’t I tell you?”
“No, you didn’t.”
As if feeling embarrassed, Kim Hye Hill scratched the back of her head then responded shortly, ‘I see,’ in a blank face.
My voice might have been loud since some kids talking in front turned back to look at us. I could see the shock in their eyes. We then heard a burst of booing throughout the bus.
“What…? Kim Hye Hill has a boyfriend?”
“Hey, Kim Hye Woo! You should’ve told us that!”
Suddenly facing the complaints, Kim Hye Woo also scratched his head. It looked the same as what Kim Hye Hill did just now; they were indeed twins.
Kim Hye Woo turned to look at his sister and asked in a lukewarm tone.
“You guys still didn’t break up yet?”
As if his question was worthless to respond, Kim Hye Hill just heaved a short sigh. She then stretched out her hand to grab a pack of snacks and smashed Kim Hye Woo with it.
After the fuss cooled down, Yoon Jung In soon continued his words.
“Have you been dating him for about 6 months? You guys went out from late December and now it’s mid-May, so yeah… less than 6 months.”
“For six months?!”
“Her boyfriend goes to our school. His name is Lee Jihan in Class 1-4. He’s a kid who sucks at everything except for running.”
As I asked in wonder, Kim Hye Woo responded like that. He was massaging his arm that got smashed with a pack of snacks. Listening to his remark, Shin Suh Hyun flung a question while furrowing his forehead.
“A kid who sucks at everything except for running… what an introduction.”
“He looks run-of-a-mill and maybe a bit tall? Oh, but Kim Hye Hill had short hair until middle school, almost like a boy?”
“True, I had short hair during middle school.”
Kim Hye Hill touched the end of her blue-black hair as if she felt embarrassed. She also didn’t have that long hair now, which was almost about to reach her shoulders… she had even shorter hair than this?
After rolling his eyeballs in the air, Kim Hye Woo continued his remark.
“She had long hair until elementary school but when she entered middle school… a boy who liked her put gum all over hair, so she had to cut everything off. It was then when she found how comfortable it is to have short hair…”
“He liked me?”
“You didn’t notice that?”
“Of course, I didn’t. He never said that, so how do I know?”
“Anyway, one day Lee Jihan told me that he’s dating my sister. At first, I was like, ‘How can you go out with a tomboy like that?’ Then I got smashed to Kim Hye Hill again and… they are still having a good relationship?!”
Kim Hye Hill looked angrily at Kim Hye Woo. Yi Ruda and I burst into laughter while watching the twin’s quarrel. Since I didn’t have any brothers, I stared at them in envy then Shin Suh Hyun, from aside, opened his mouth.
“Oh, I remember that.”
“Yoon Jung In, don’t you remember the campfire during our junior retreat in middle school?
Yoon Jung In rolled his eyeballs in wonder then soon turned pale. He pulled up the corner of his lips and smiled awkwardly.
“Dude, are you still remembering that?”
“If you ask that to the whole school, at least half of them will clearly remember.”
“Hey, hold on. I know what that is too.”
Kim Hye Woo, who enjoyed the blowing wind through the opened window, intervened out of the blue. Yoon Jung In then backed up his body a little in surprise.
Without being hesitant about everyone’s attention, Kim Hye Woo rubbed his chin nonchalantly then continued again.
“It was probably at the campfire during our junior retreat in middle school. Watching the dying bonfire, the instructor said to us, ‘Guys, this is your parents. They are sacrificing themselves like this dying fire to burn the flare, which is you guys…’ I still remember those words.”
The air inside the bus suddenly became solemn. At that moment, Kim Hye Woo lifted his hand then opened his mouth.
“Yoon Jung In was the class president back then too. You know, class presidents are mostly in front of the class during the retreat with a microphone in their hands. Yoon Jung In, however, forgot himself holding a mic and spoke that…”
“What did he say?” As I quickly asked, Kim Hye Hill continued her brother’s words in an intimate tone.
“He said, ‘Come on, how dare could you compare my parents to a dying bonfire?’ in the middle of the solemn campfire.”
“Everyone hung their heads down as they held a cup with a candle inside. Some kids were sobbing while thinking about their parents but Yoon Jung In spoiled the entire mood. As a punishment, his class had to do a squat walk for 5 laps as a punishment.”
A moment of silence seemed to prevail the space but soon a burst of laughter took place. ‘Yoon Jung In, what a guy!’ Kids teased him naughtily, which made Yoon Jung In open his mouth in a grumpy face.
“Come on, let’s be real! How dare could they compare my parents to a dying fire?! My mom and dad are still burning fiercely like the sun!”
“Oh, boy! But how could you say like that on the mic?”
“Yeah, when everyone’s crying and so on…?”
Just when Yoon Jung In was about to say something in a sulky face, a robot-like woman’s announcement came out through the speaker. It made all of us raise our heads.
[We’re going to stop for about 15 minutes at this rest area. Please go to the bathroom during the break.]
As the bus wheel rolled into the parking lot smoothly, we began to get off the bus. At last, the bus stopped and I jumped down the stairs after the kids. It was somehow delightful when my sneakers bumped on the ground.
As it was in the morning, the weather was nice and sunny. Under the wide blue sky, many colorful buses stood in the parking lot, which showed that it wasn’t only us who came for the retreat. As soon as I had that thought in mind, a group of boys who wore the same gym clothes passed by.
‘Geez, almost freaked me out!’ I thought.
Kim Hye Hill then mumbled while looking at the boys, “Are they members of an athletic club?”
“Yeah, maybe. Let’s just go to the bathroom quickly.”
Replying shortly, Kim Hye Hill moved her steps toward the bathroom. In the meanwhile, I looked around to locate where our classmates were; however, instead of them, those who came into my sight immediately were, funnily, the Four Heavenly Kings.
In front of the snack bar full of students, they easily outstood. Not only their fancy hair colors but especially Eun Jiho’s platinum blond hair dazzled under the sunlight. As if Kim Hye Hill also thought the same, she dropped a remark while looking at them.
“They would be dead tired too.”
“Yeah… oh, look. Isn’t that picking up?” I asked while snooping around that side to see them better.
It was true that a few girls were getting closer to the Four Heavenly Kings, who were shoving their hands inside the pocket and standing like a model – maybe unintentionally. – The girls handed out their phones to them, obviously noticeable what they were asking for.