When he spoke in a half-awake voice, there was laughter everywhere on the bus. Saying, ‘Yoo Chun Young, now you got up,’ kids poured out words of blessing to him. They knew that he had a loose personality than expected.
“But it’s weird…?” Woo Jooin, who furrowed his face out of doubtfulness in front, spat his thought bluntly.
“What do you mean?” Eun Hyung asked back. Woo Jooin responded still knitting his forehead.
“Yeo Ryung didn’t give her phone number anyway.”
“Yeah, I tried to at first but… wasn’t sure whether her school was a co-ed or not, so I decided not to give mine.”
“What the… I thought you gave them yours, then how did they send that text to you? It couldn’t happen, you know.”
At that moment, a few girls dashed into the bus. Among them existed Choi Yuri’s dark brown short hair. As she came back to the seat, she handed out her juice to Ban Yeo Ryung.
“Do you want to sip?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Really? Oh, Chun Young, you woke up? Do you want to have some?”
Yoo Chun Young, who hated to share things that others touched or ate, didn’t respond but just turned his head away from her. Besides, he found it particularly difficult to treat girls.
‘How can he get along so well with Donnie?’ Ban Yeo Ryung thought while staring at the text inside her hand. Eun Jiho then said from aside.
“Hey, don’t delete that text for now. If something happens, we must know that number to figure out what we can do or so.”
Listening to their conversations, Woo Jooin, who rested his chin on his hand in front of them, opened his mouth.
“If someone texted that message, doesn’t it mean someone else told Yeo Ryung’s number to the sender?”
After his remark, a cold air surrounded them. Ban Yeo Ryung quietly dropped her gaze at the floor with a sigh as she felt his words were reconfirming the fact that she already knew. Eun Jiho remained silent with a grim face and Kwon Eun Hyung looked at Ban Yeo Ryung with spine-chilling eyes. Maybe not Ban Yeo Ryung, where he gazed at. It looked as if he were staring at Choi Yuri. His green eyes were so deep and dark that Ban Yeo Ryung could barely figure out where he was looking at.
“Why? Something happened?” Choi asked. Her voice sounded still bright and innocent.
Ban Yeo Ryung shook her head and smiled, “No, nothing special.”
“Come on, what’s up?”
“Oh, seriously, nothing special.”
“Hey, you’re making me curious,” Choi Yuri then laughed naughtily. Her face reminded Yeo Ryung of Donnie somehow; however, she still wasn’t Donnie.
While Ban Yeo Ryung dropped her gaze at the floor again, Eun Jiho, next to her, took his phone out then called someone. What came out from his mouth was brief and straightforward.
“Hey, Ham Donnie. Ban Yeo Ryung says she needs you.”
* * *
I thought this retreat might go a little smoother, but it didn’t, eventually. Feeling puzzled, I asked immediately.
[Um… I… I just…]
Ban Yeo Ryung was then at a loss of words. Those short words were enough to grasp that her voice was soaked in tears. ‘Shoot, what’s going on again this time…?’ When I grabbed the bus strap a bit tightly, Yi Ruda, beside me, showed a sign of wonder while looking at me.
I asked, “Did something happen? Again?”
[It’s just that… someone sent me a cursing message. I think it’s one of the girls I met in the rest area. Nothing special though.]
Girls in our age could hardly be generous to strangers who abuse them verbally; however, Ban Yeo Ryung spoke in a calm voice that it was nothing special. She went through such things numerous times.
She then didn’t say anything. I could clearly illustrate Ban Yeo Ryung rubbing her forehead with her fingers in an exhausted look. I asked her again while furrowing my brows.
“But how did they know your number? Did you give them yours?”
“Then someone might have told your number.]
[Yeah… I just don’t want to care about it anymore. Eun Jiho dealt with it for me, so they won’t send me those messages again. Maybe someone gave my number without any means and could feel bad for me receiving a cursing text.]
It was indeed her style of interpretation. She never judged rashly at any circumstances that people were ill-intentioned. She believed that human nature was fundamentally good. I knitted my brows again.
‘How should I perceive this? Should I think of her as a sweet person or an idiot? Ban Yeo Ryung was quick-witted about other’s situations but was, strangely, turning into an idiot when it came to her things. Being hesitant for a moment, I opened my mouth again.
“But if someone keeps giving your number to others, you can receive that kind of text again, can’t you?”
[Oh, yeah, so I’m wondering… Geez, number… I’m afraid if I’m being too sensitive about a trivial thing.]
“Hey, you’re actually not wondering about that, are you?”
Ban Yeo Ryung remained quiet for a while. In her prolonged silence, I read that it was true, which made me heave a deep sigh. She was concerned about something else.
Perhaps she was afraid of a person who pretended to be her friend in front but talked behind her back. She might be worrying that the person’s identity could be revealed through this incident. It was not her first time going through this kind of situation; it would be her fourth time after now. Why would such a thing happen to particularly Ban Yeo Ryung? My brows met in the middle.
What was funnier was that those kids were such great actresses that even I, who was with Ban Yeo Ryung, couldn’t be aware of their malice at all. They should’ve become actresses with those talents instead of harassing Ban Yeo Ryung. I clicked my tongue then continued my words.
“Such hypocrites talking behind you but pretending to be nice in front. It’s worthless to understand what they think about you. Those kids would get paid one day.”
This was true. Why should we have to understand their thoughts about us? It was meaningless and worthless.
A moment of silence went on then a fading voice responded over the phone.
“Just ignore all that but treat people with your heart as you always have done. Only think about the friends you truly care about. One day, those who are true to your sincerity will remain next to you.”
“Eww, what the…”
I laughed out of embarrassment then followed refreshing laughter over the phone. The sound of her smile was enough to give joy.
As if she was feeling better, she hung up the phone saying that the kids wanted to play games. I followed her laugh then closed my flip phone. When I finished the call, a few kids had their eyes on me.
So was Yi Ruda. She showed a mysterious excitement in her blue eyes. ‘Why…?’ Before I was about to say something out of perplexity, Yoon Jung In, in front, broke the ice.
“What was that? You looked kind of cool.”
“Yeah, it sure was.”
Surprisingly, Kim Hye Hill replied with a nod to agree with those words. ‘Oh, god,’ I laughed blushing my face.
“Come on, stop.”
“No, you were so lit making my heart flutter.”
As Kim Hye Hill did to her brother, I picked up a pack of snacks and smashed Yoon Jung In. He finally became quiet. Inside our bus, we also began to play a game that heated the air with hullabaloo.
Resting my chin in my hand, I watched the buzz of excitement and fell into thought.
‘How many people are there in this world who is different inside and out? How can we avoid getting hurt while dealing with those people?’
No matter how many times I thought, the only way was to treat someone from the bottom of my heart for every minute. When I got to know about the other side of someone, the only way to feel comfort was to think that I tried my heart out to the person.
To be honest, there was no way to avoid getting hurt when we confronted those things.
I thought about Ban Yeo Ryung and how much she deserved to be loved. She got heartbroken so many times but never stopped thinking about the good side of others. Like a person who considered that just by having a negative thought could truly harm someone, she never let go of her positive way of thinking.
Instead, she later fell to pieces and cried her eyes out. After the tears, she repeated trusting and loving someone as if such things never happened. She loved others like that as if her heart never sank… as if it was her first time in love. How incredible, pathetic, and lovely she was!
With my chin in my hand, I thought that people could never stop loving her, the real protagonist.