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I’m at my sister’s place, which is more like my mother’s house. My sister bought it off of mom after my sister had earned enough from her cupcake shop. Now, this house is filled with her and her family, and mom. Everything looks so different from before. The walls have been painted different shades of pastel with the living room, and kitchen being light, canary yellow, her favourite colour. The furniture has changed to suit my sister’s acquired taste. They’re completely modern, yet girly in their way. Mom would have been too cautious to throw away anything. This has to be all of my sister’s doing.
“Hyunbin and I decided to do some renovations.” She hands me a warm cup of hot chocolate before taking a spot across from me. We’re sitting in our usual seats, just like how we’d have dinner with the three of us.
“How’s Mom doing?” I suddenly ask.

“She’s fine,” my sister utters. “She just decided to bail dinner, and have high tea with those—“

“Aunties!” the two of us exclaim in unison, and start to laugh again. 

I wonder how long it has been since I have visited my sister, Jina. Sure, I have spoken to her on the phone, yet I never time have her in person nor does she have time for me now that she has Rina. I can’t say that she is the best mother, but I know that she cares about Rina enough to hire a nanny for the year, and to keep the business thriving. Actually, I guess Jina is just too preoccupied with her work, just like me. Though, I do feel that she’s doing it for herself, while I’m not sure what exactly . . .

“I take it you want to ask about Junghoon?” she suddenly inquires.

“How’d you know?” I ask, blinking my eyes a few times.

“You’re my baby sister, Jikyung,” she chuckles in between her statements. “Of course I know what you’re thinking!”

“But I thought you were all for Raewon . . .”

Jina nods, and then continues to explain, “I was until I got a call from Junghoon today. He was asking me where you were, and what you were doing. Of course, I was mad at him for hurting you, but after he started to tell me more, I realized that he’s nothing like Dad.”

“Why are you—“

“Jikyung, I know you’re scared of marriage or of love because of what Dad did to Mom,” Jina interrupts, “and I know that Junghoon cheated on you before, and he probably won’t change, but . . . I think he gets you. He’d, at least, care for the family, and give you everything you need.”

“I can make my own money,” I tell her harshly.

“I’m not just saying money,” she reminds me. “You need that stability. He has that, and because you don’t love him as much he loves you, you’ll be okay.”

“I just can’t—“

“Trust him?” Jina folds her arms and leans back in her chair. “Did you even trust Junghoon in the first place?”

“Yes,” I counter, “he’s a good friend.”

“You’re doing what Taeyang did to you to Junghoon now,” Jina states with a threatening glare.

Doing what Taeyang did to me to Junghoon? It’s almost too long ago that I have trouble remembering what happened then? More than ten years ago? I’d rush to Taeyang for any problems or to tell him of any happenings in my life or thoughts interspersed in my mind. Even when he moved away, we were closer than ever. We’d text or talk every day, and despite the time zone difference, I felt that I could finally rely on someone. I was wrong though. Suddenly, he cut me out of his life. He indirectly left a good-bye message, and never responded to my question as to how we’d contact one another now that he had deleted the one mobile application that was keeping our friendship alive or giving me hope. Or Hope? Hope that he’d realize that I was more than a friend, and the right girl for him in the end? I was stupid then, thinking that I even had a chance. I was nothing more than a . . . friend.

And Junghoon? What was . . . or is he or will he be?

I begin to confirm, “You mean, I’m—“

“You’re putting him into the friend zone,” Jina interrupts. “You’ve never given him a chance or anyone else.”

“That’s nonsense!” I almost slap my palm against the table.

“Oh really?” Jina leans further back on her chair. “Then, what about Seungri?”

“That guy . . .”

Seungri was my first boyfriend that I dated during my second year of university. I was desperate to find a boyfriend, and with my family pressuring me, I thought whoever liked me first was fine. Seungri was fine, but he just wasn’t right for me. I’d try my best to tolerate some of the words he used or what activities he’d like to do. He tried to introduce me to his close buddies, and it wasn’t as if we were enemies. His friends just didn’t click with me. What was worse was that Seungri would side with his friends, and he’d choose them over me any time. Back then, I didn’t need another Taeyang, so both of us agreed to be friends rather than lovers.

“And what about Moonbin?” my sister shouts out another name.

“He’s . . .”

Moonbin was my second boyfriend during my third year of university. This time, I didn’t try at all, and he was the one that talked to me first in my literature course. At first, I thought he was annoying. He’d message me constantly, walk me to classes, and attend events that I hosted for my club. Somehow, he ended up being on call whenever I needed him. His persistence was eventually how I became his girlfriend, yet his love turned overbearing. He’d want to know where I was all the time. He’d forbid me from hanging out with my guy friends. He didn’t like me making any decisions with his say; he seemed to know what was best for me. Because I needed a break from him, I applied for an exchange to Seoul for my last year of university. Ultimately, that decision I made was what separated us.

“You’ve changed,” Moonbin told me on the last day of the school year.      
I remember laughing at him, and correcting, “No, Moonbin, you’re the one that changed.”

“You rushed to Seoul to find comfort in Taeyang,” Jina starts to say, “or rather, you were always hoping to use this opportunity to see him.”

I slip out a smile accidentally. What Jina said is true. Instead of seeing Taeyang, however, I met Junghoon.  I didn’t date Junghoon immediately; we were in completely different faculties. He was in medicine, while I was there for business administration. I did see him all over campus. He happened to be one of those guys that I’d always meet, yet I’d never know his name. I just knew his face, and a bit about him through his actions. He usually ate lunch when I had my breaks. He’d order at the same café as me, and he’d choose the same items: a chicken Caesar salad wrap, and a regular cup of Earl Grey tea. Then, he’d go off to a table to sit by himself, but minutes later, there’d be a few girls or some of his guy friends chatting with him. While Junghoon was eating, he’d make a mess. He’d drip a few droplets of his tea onto the table or sometimes even on his pants. He barely wore jeans. He’d curse aloud, and our eyes would meet. His eyes would quickly dart away from me, and I’d laugh.

“But that didn’t really work out.” I chuckled to myself. 

“Yup, you ended up casually dating Heechul for the first term,” Jina listed. “And whatever happened to him?”

Heechul was amazingly smart, and witty. Because he was so brilliant, he liked to make fun of my mistakes. At first, I didn’t mind his teasing. Later on, I got tired of his constant jokes. I kept wondering why he even dated me in the first place. I wasn’t stupid, but I definitely was not a match for him. When I finally had the courage to ask him, he told me that I was entertaining. That was the end of the relationship.

“He was too bizarre for me to handle,” I utter some more.

“And then, you went with Junghoon.”

Yes, Junghoon was the guy I dated before I met Raewon. Somehow, I had bumped into Taeyang on campus, and it was all like before. I decided to forget about how he disappeared over these years during our nice chat over coffee. I never even asked him why he left; he’d never tell me anyways. I was filled with a sense of relief. He hadn’t changed at all. He’d laugh at my silly antics, and listen to my every trivial complaint. Honestly, I thought nothing had changed until . . .

Jikyung, this is my fiancée, Daeun.

Who’s this, Taeyang?

Oh, just a friend of mine. She’s just here to study on an exchange. She’ll go back during summer.
Nice to meet you, Daeun, and congratulations, Taeyang! I really thought you weren’t ready to settle down yet! Who knew? Really, who knew you’d change? I guess it’s all thanks to Daeun. Daeun, take good care of him, okay?

I didn’t leave it like that. I still visited Taeyang, had our share of conversations, and listened to his problems as well. He told me that I was right. He wasn’t really sure whether or not to settle down, but he felt Daeun was the one. Daeun helped him during his weakest moment, when he felt there was no reason to live. She gave him light in his life with her bubbly personality and sweetness. I realized that she was everything I wasn’t, and that hurt . . . a lot. 

Jikyung, I really hope you find the right guy.

Why don’t you introduce me to some then?

You wouldn’t even be able to carry a proper conversation with them. Your Korean is worse than mine. It’s too bad they don’t speak Mandarin.

That’s not true! I’ve been working on my Korean over here, and I’ve gotten my cousins here to teach me. Just introduce me to someone.

No, they’re all bad guys.

Maybe, that was why I dated Junghoon, who was walking into the library as Taeyang and I were heading out. Junghoon was the first to approach me.

You love him, don’t you?

Who are you? What are you even talking about?

I’m Lee Junghoon. I’m a close friend of Taeyang’s.

If you’re close with him, why didn’t Taeyang say hi to you?

Taeyang didn’t see me?

Jikyung, where are you? Oh, Junghoon! What are you doing here? Thought you never liked studying at the library!

I thought I’d try focusing for once. I need the marks if I want to be a specialist. And, who’s your friend, Junghoon?

That’s Kim Jikyung. She’s an exchange student studying business admin here, and she used to be my high school classmate.

Hi, nice to meet you.

No wonder your Korean sucks.

Well, she’s half Chinese, and half Korean. She’s way better at Mandarin.

It’s okay, Jikyung. I can be your Korean buddy, and I can tune up your skills.

Really? You’d practice with me?

Now, Junghoon, don’t go off hitting on her. She’s not like those girls.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll treat her seriously. 

“And then we broke up after a year,” I recite, “because he didn’t treat me seriously.”

“And you never treated him seriously as well.” Jina pours more tea into my cup before opening up a large bag of chips. She still adores snacking even at this age. I hear her crunching as she utters, “Finally, there was Raewon, a guy younger than you, and sweeter than you.”

 “Who you thought was much better than Junghoon.”

“You should really give Junghoon another chance.” Jina leans forward with her neck jutting out. “You haven’t seen his gifts, have you?”


“Well, he told me he gave you two things.”

I don’t remember getting two items. There’s that box I threw at him, and what else? I’m already walking down the streets. I’ve skipped out on dinner with my sister and mom. Somehow, I just can’t digest food without figuring out what I’m missing. Maybe I shouldn’t have chucked that at him. I could ask him what else he sent. 


I almost curse at the fat, sweaty man who bumped into me, but he looks like Santa Claus, so I don’t say much. He has managed to make my purse fall to the ground, and since I forgot to zip, everything falls out. I’m scrambling to recover everything before others trample on my belongings. There’s this white envelope, and I see the writing.

It’s Taeyang’s.

I’m on my knees, but I can care less. I rip the piece apart, and I’m reading frantically. There’s nothing much to read though. It’s a wedding invitation, the one I never got, and thought I would get. Why?
I open the pale rose card, and I see the generic writing. You are invited to Shim DaEun and Park Taeyang’s wedding on June 16, 2005. Blah, blah, blah. I feel like ripping the invitation to small bits, yet I see someone else’s writing.

I was supposed to give this to you six years ago because Taeyang had no idea where you were after you returned to the States. I know I could have mailed this to you, but I didn’t want to see you hurt again like that time. 

On the day of the wedding, Taeyang never asked why you weren’t there, but I knew what he wanted to know. I thought that this time, I’d give this to you like I was supposed to years before. I’m sorry that I was selfish, but I would rather you live off of hopeless thinking than be constantly upset about it. Now, I just want you to be free.

With love,
Lee Junghoon

So, he did marry Daeun. They probably have beautiful children now. He’s probably a great father too. He always had that fatherly feeling to him. He’s probably happier too. He found her, and settled down. I know I should be happy for him, but somehow, I feel like crying.

To make things worse, it’s no longer raining. It’s snowing.

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