03

I know something is missing in my life. I’m feeling it again on the day of my wedding. Maybe, I’m getting cold feet because this is probably the biggest commitment of my life, but I don’t think that’s the problem. Even when Minwoo is casually making crude remarks because he’s pissed that he’s not the best man, I can stand that. I can also stand having Junghoon as my best man. Although he irritated me much through university, he was still a good friend. He helped me secure my job at the clinic through his uncle’s connections.
“Yo, fix your tie,” Minwoo barks at me and helps me adjust my bow tie. “Can’t believe you’re fucking getting married.”

I let out a nervous laugh. “Me neither.”

Junghoon immediately glares at me, remarking, “You shouldn’t say that on your wedding day. If you’re going to be committed, then actually—“

“And you’re one to talk,” I interrupt hastily. I can see Junghoon’s expression from the mirror. He’s mad and bottling it up inside of him. He has a right to be mad. I pretty much pushed his button, reminding him of why he and Jikyung broke up. Too bad. He deserves it. He cheated on her even when he knew how much she couldn’t stand cheaters.

“Oh, and I don’t think she’ll be coming,”

“Who?”

“Who else? Jikyung?”

Minwoo harks, “Jikyung? You mean that nerd that you were tight with? Man, I never got that.”

“She’s not a nerd,” Junghoon corrects him. “She’s just more intelligent than you.”

“Like you’ve known her for so long,” Minwoo scoffs. “I was her high school classmate.”

“So?” Junghoon shrugs his shoulders, scoffing, “I was her ex-boyfriend.”

The two shoot menacing glares at each other, showing signs that in minutes, they’d beat each other up. I can’t have chaos on my wedding day. Daeun would be so upset. She was already so frustrated with me not helping her plan. I told her I was busy with my work, yet she couldn’t understand. She shouted that she had the same work as me and that she was working at the hospital. My work was nothing compared to hers. I didn’t shout back. I just let her scream. I know too well that with Daeun, if you just let her shriek like a little girl urging for a cookie, she’ll eventually stop. This time, she ended up crying and tugging my arm.
“A-a-are you even going to marry me?” she coughed with a choking voice. “D-d-do you even want to marry me?” I didn’t answer. I thought it was unnecessary to say anything more. She should know now, but she goes on crying.  And when she eventually wipes her own tears away, she threatened me, “If you don’t marry me, then we’re breaking up! I’ve wasted so much of my time with you, time that I could have spent looking for someone else! You don’t even know, do you?”

After shaking my head, she continues to explain, “My mom set me up with a lot of good people, and I rejected them all! Why? Because of you!” Now, her finger pointed at me, right at my chest. I feel bitterness sliding down my throat to my stomach. I kind of want to throw up, but I still keep a straight face as she shrieked, “Because I love you!”

“I love you too,” I quickly muttered.

“No!” she hollered. “No! I don’t want you to say that! You don’t even mean it! I’d rather you shut up now!” When I listened to her, she desperately rushed over to hug me. “Don’t, Tae,” she begged. “Don’t leave me. Please. I love you so much.”

I didn’t get why she thought I was leaving her. I never had that thought. I already said I would marry her. Wasn’t that enough? Now, I wanted to push her away, but her grip was too strong that I stayed. I stayed still and just beckoned to her commands. I didn’t hug her back. I didn’t have the strength to hold onto her shaking body.

“Daeun . . .”

Immediately, Daeun gazed at me with her wavering, tearful eyes. My heart pounded harder, and my throat burned some more. I know what she wants. She wants reassurance. She wants to be sure that I love her. I don’t know what else more I can do to show that she’s important to me and to ease her insecurity. I want to protect her. I am already by her side. What more does she want? I find myself starting to clench my jaw. I know I might just erupt in fury, but I take a deep breath, and place my arms around her.

“Taeyang . . .”

I repeat solemnly, “I don’t want us to break up, so I will definitely marry you.”

That’s where everything begins to proceed smoothly. We do not fight. She knows not to consult me because I don’t care what she picks. As long as she’s happy, then I’m happy. The only part I am really concerned with is the guest list. Knowing Daeun, she wants everyone to know we’re married. She wants to invite as many people as we can. She doesn’t understand that there’s budget and that I don’t like crowds. I want this as small as possible. No one needs to know about my private life other than my closest relatives and peers. That’s how we begin to argue again.

“You just want Jikyung to be here, don’t you?” Daeun yelps while throwing some dishes to the ground. Whenever she’s mad, she likes to destroy the house. That’s one reason I don’t like the idea of moving in with her.

“It’s okay,” I tell her. “I won’t invite her if that makes you unhappy.”

“But you do want her there?” Daeun questions me with a piercing stare.

“No, it’s okay. It’s up to you.”

Daeun shakes her head and laughs. “No, Taeyang,” she stresses. “It’s not up to me. It’s up to you too.”

Again, I say, “If inviting her makes you unhappy then we won’t invite her.”

“Jesus Taeyang!” she chucks a cup onto the floor, letting it smash around her feet.

“What?”

Still bobbing her head from side to side, she utters, “Never mind. You won’t get it. It’s okay. Invite her. I’ll send out the invites.”

Daeun’s words remind me of Jikyung’s. I just don’t get it. Really, I don’t get why I don’t understand what they’re feeling. I’m trying. I really am, but they’re shutting me out. Somehow, Daeun’s phrase doesn’t seem as tough to digest as Jikyung’s, and I can just hope that Daeun will do what she says. I’m not expecting anything though. I know too well that expectations lead to disappointment. I’m a living example of one.
I feel a tap on my shoulder.

“Yeah, Taeyang,” Minwoo proclaims. “The wedding planner is asking if it’s okay to have lilies instead of roses. Apparently the roses got wilted and the florists only have lilies in stock. They’re white lilies though.”

“That’s fine,” I mumble.

Lilies are just another type of flowers, I think. Still, Minwoo and Junghoon are giving me that questioning look. I ignore them, thinking that they’re too sensitive, and so the wedding starts. I don’t remember much about the procedure. They’re all standard after all, but when it came to that question, I found it hard to answer properly.

“Will you, Park Taeyang, take Daeun as your lawfully wedded wife . . .”

“I-I-I . . .”

Why is it so hard to say I do? My eyes scan around. Actually, I’ve been skimming the room for something, or maybe someone. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I’m uneasy. My palms are getting hot and I can feel cold sweat saturating my shirt. I can feel Daeun’s fingers gripping onto mine tighter. Do it, she’s passing that message to me. Just say it . . . but I can’t.

“Taeyang?” I hear Daeun’s soft, raspy whisper.

Then, I feel a tap on my shoulder, and I turn to find Junghoon nodding at me. He’s also hinting at me to continue, and then I see out of the corner of my eye, my parents with their heads hung low. They’re embarrassed by me like always. I’m disappointing them again. Even my brother, Kwikwang, is getting a good laugh out of me. He’s going to tease me about this every time we meet now.

I just want to close my eyes and sleep this away. Everything will be fine the next day, I tell myself. My eyes grow heavy, and when I think I’m about to fade away, I suddenly sense her voice, asking me, “Why don’t you introduce me to some then?”

I remember telling her, “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.”

She’s arguing with me, “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.”

Immediately, I state, “No, they’re all bad guys.”

And it’s true. All of my friends aren’t suitable for her. I know them too well, and I know her too well. They’d love her looks, but they’d never love her. It’s possible that some would betray her. Still, she manages to pick the worst guy out of them all: Junghoon. Every time I think of her choice, I get mad. In the end, he did hurt her, and I had warned her about him. Like always, she’d never listen. She’d never listen to me anyways. Something I couldn’t take about her. Later, she’d come crawling back to me, uttering that I was right. Usually, I’d say that I told her so, but after their breakup, she never told me anything. Even when she returned, she did not even tell me her flight back. I would have driven her to the airport.

I’m sure, though, that she wants nothing to do with me. She’s not even here. She has always been a great friend, but I don’t think that anymore. It’s okay. I don’t really care anyways. People come and go all the time. She has her own life, and I have mine.

“I . . . do,” I announce clearly. “I do take you as my lawfully wedded wife.”

There you go.

I’m married.

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