Yeojin laid on her bed, curled into a ball. Her small body was heaving with the force of the sobs wracking though her body. Her cries echoed through the empty dorm, heavy with pain and regret. If only Yeojin could go back in time and change the confession that had led to her crying her heart out, her bruised body protesting against the movements of her sobs. Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t, and one thing she was certain of was that her life would never be the same.
“Yah, Yeojin, come here” Haseul called out as she wrapped the younger girl in a hug, even as the latter whined about it. “Unnie, it’s just for two weeks”, she told her, struggling to get out of her arms. “Oh please, Yeojin. You’re probably going to be the one calling us constantly during the break”, Hyejoo teased the younger girl as she dragged her suitcase to the door.
“Damn Jiwoo, what do you have in this bag, rocks?” Sooyoung exclaimed as she followed after the younger girl. “And remind me again why exactly am I carrying your bag for you?” she complained. “Because you’re whipped”, Jungeun chipped in as she came out of her bedroom carrying both her and Jinsol’s suitcases. Sooyoung huffed at that but didn’t deny it. “Says the one refusing to let her girlfriend carry her own stuff”, she muttered under her breath.
The girls were getting ready to leave the dorm, each headed home for their much-anticipated two-week break. They had all but finished getting their stuff ready and were saying their final goodbyes to each other.
“Yerim why are you crying? We literally see each other all the time. It’s just two weeks” Hyejoo said, laughing at the slightly older girl who was wiping a tear away. “Yah, leave her alone”, Chaewon scolded her girlfriend, hitting her on the shoulder.
Finally, after some more struggling and some cursing courtesy of Hyejoo, much to the dismay of the older girls as Sooyoung immediately hit the back of the younger girl’s head, they were all finally ready to leave the dorm.
Kahei had already left earlier that morning, as she was the only one who had to fly home and her plane for Hong Kong had left hours earlier. The rest of the girls went around the room, hugging each other goodbye before they all separated to make their own ways home.
Some of them were being driven home by their managers while others had made prior arrangements with their families. Yeojin’s parents had insisted on making the two-hour drive to the dorm to pick her up, eager to reconnect with their daughter as soon as possible.
Speaking of, Yeojin felt her phone vibrating with a new message. She quickly looked at her screen, and felt excitement coursing through her when she saw her mother’s text letting her know that they had just arrived and were waiting on the street.
“Are your parents here?” Jinsol asked the younger girl, noticing her excitement. Her and Jungeun were the only ones left, as they were going to be spending the break together and were waiting for Jungeun’s parents to arrive to pick them up. They were spending the first week with Jungeun’s family and the second one with Jinsol’s family.
“Yeah, they just arrived”, she exclaimed. Jungeun let out a small chuckle, knowing she was going to miss the excitable maknae during the break. “Come here”, she said, opening her arms up for a last hug. Yeojin quickly walked into it, hugging her back. The hug lasted a few moments before she turned and hugged Jinsol goodbye too. “Have a good break unnies”, she shouted, before grabbing her suitcase and making her way out of the dorm, a skip in her steps. “Have a good break, Yeojinnie”, both girls responded simultaneously, an identical fond smile on their faces.
Yeojin made her way down the stairs, exiting the building and immediately catching sight of her parent’s car. Her mom got out and ran up to her, enveloping her daughter in a huge hug. “Oh Jinnie, I’ve missed you so much”, she exclaimed, squeezing her tighter. Yeojin smiled, as she enjoyed the warm embrace. She had missed her family so much and couldn’t wait to be back with them.
“Come-on, your father is waiting”, she told her daughter as she started walking towards the car, an arm wrapped around her daughter’s waist. Yeojin got into the back of the car while her mother got upfront. “Jinnie, how are you?” her dad asked, turning to look at her from the driver’s seat. And just like that, Yeojin started rambling on about everything that had happened since the last time they’d seen each other as they drove home, ready for two weeks of catching up.
Yeojin scoffed when she remembered how excited she’d been, looking forward to two weeks with her family. Her sobs finally slowed down, as she forced herself into a sitting position. She’d arrived back at the dorm at around nine in the morning and she was surprised to realize it was already nearing 10:00pm, having spent that whole time crying in her bed.
She gingerly tried to stand up, wincing at the pain that hit her at the movement. She slowly made her way to the bathroom, locking the door behind her even though there would be no one else in the dorm until the break was over, in a week’s time.
Yeojin stared at her reflection in the mirror, shocked at how unrecognizable she looked. Her eyes were blood red from the nonstop crying and a hand-shaped bruise was visible on her cheek in the bathroom light. At least that was the only visible bruise, she reasoned, hoping the one week she had until the other girls were back was enough time for it to fade.
She took off her shirt and jeans, until she was left standing in nothing more than her underwear. Yeojin gasped at the sight of the many bruises that covered her stomach, along with a hand-shaped bruise on her right upper-arm from where he had grabbed her when he’d dragged her out into the streets. She felt tears stinging her eyes as she once again remembered the hate in their eyes, the love she usually saw there nowhere to be found.
She stood there staring at her body for a long time, tears running down her cheeks. She felt so stupid at now naïve she’d been. She hadn’t thought it was that big of a deal and had thought they would simply hug her and remind her they loved her unconditionally.
Then again, she could see now that her naivety had probably come from living with her fellow members. She ‘d been so young when she’d first started as a trainee and met them after all. And ever since then, she’d lived with them and spent all her time with them constantly. Of course, she’d come to believe that it wasn’t a big deal, being anything other than straight.
After all, there were three different couples in their group and everyone knew that there was something going on between Heejin and Hyunjin. Well, everyone except they, themselves at least. It felt as thought Sooyoung and Jiwoo had been together from the very start and nobody had even blinked an eye when Jinsol and Jungeun had gathered them all in the living room one night and come out as a couple, aside from some teasing from the maknaes, especially Hyejoo.
Hyejoo and Chaewon had never really announced their relationship officially, it was simply a known fact to all of them that both girls were together. Watching so many same-sex couples around her and how it was a normal part of her life had led Yeojin to mistakenly believe that most people were rather cool about that. Don’t get her wrong, she wasn’t stupid. She knew no one could ever find out about her member’s relationship but she’d reasoned that it was mostly because idols dating, be it someone from the same gender or the opposite gender, wasn’t that well seen in Korea and it could negatively affect their image.
She’d never felt as dumb as she did in that moment. She remembered how she’d never really thought about those things herself, not until realization washed over her out of nowhere one day.
Yeojin sighted, annoyed as she watched her car smashing against a wall as she lost control of it, Hyejoo’s car flying past her on her way to victory. It was late one night after practice and the four youngest members were sitting on the living room couch, playing Super Mario Kart on Hyejoo’s switch, which was connected to the tv.
“Yah, Hyejoo unnie”, she exclaimed, as the older girl celebrated her fifth victory in a row. “Don’t worry Yeojin, it took me a while before I could beat Hyejoo. You’ll probably get there eventually”, Chaewon joked, teasing her younger friend. “Please, the only reason why you don’t always lose is because your girlfriend lets you win”, Yerim retorted, coming to Yeojin’s defense.
“What? That’s not true, right Hye?” Chaewon exclaimed, turning to look at her girlfriend. Said girl avoided the blonde’s eyes, knowing she could always tell when she lied to her. “Can we get back to the game?” she asked, already picking a new track to race. “Son Hyejoo, how dare you. You promised you weren’t letting me win”, Chaewon exclaimed once she realized what her silence signified.
Hyejoo was saved from having to answer by Haseul stepping out of her bedroom. “You guys, it’s almost midnight. Go to sleep, all of you”, she told them, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Hyejoo sighed in relief, being thankful for once that she and Chaewon didn’t sleep in the same bedroom. “Right away Haseul unnie”, she exclaimed, jumping to her feet and quickly making her way to her own bedroom, which she shared with Yeojin, Haseul, and Sooyoung. “This is not over Hye”, Chaewon shouted after the taller girl’s retreating form. “Coward”, she muttered under her breath before making her way to her own room, which she shared with Heejin, Lip and Vivi.
Haseul looked baffled at the exchange but was too thankful at the way Hyejoo immediately listened to her to complain. Especially considering she usually had to threaten to take away her switch before she obeyed and went to bed. “Okay then”, she said. Yeojin snorted at the exchange before turning to look back at Haseul. “I’ll be right there unnie. Let me just turn off the tv”, she reassured Haseul. The older girl simply nodded her consent and made her way back into her room, where Hyejoo was already in bed.
Yeojin walked around the room, looking for the controller to turn off the tv. “Looking for this?”, asked a voice behind her. She turned to look at Yerim, holding the controller in her hand. “Oh, yeah. Thanks, unnie.” She told the older girl. “And also… thanks for… you know, back there with Hyejoo unnie”, she said, stumbling over her words as she tried to thank the older girl.
“Of course. You know I’ve always got your back”, she responded cheerfully. She then used the controller to turn off the tv before turning back towards Yeojin. Yerim leaned down and kissed Yeojin’s cheek. “Good night Yeojinnie”, she told her with a small smile, walking off to her own room which she shared with Hyunjin, Jiwoo and Jinsol. Yeojin was left standing there in the dark room alone, a smile threatening to break free as she held a hand to the cheek Yerim had just kissed, wondering why her heart suddenly felt as if it was trying to break free from her chest.
That had been the first time Yeojin had realized her feelings for the purple haired girl. And they had only grown from there. With each smile and hug, sent her way. With every look shared between the two. Soon, the older girl was all that Yeojin could think about.
She was unsure about what to do, confused about her feelings. But not because Yerim was a girl, simply because she’d never felt this way about another person, be it a male or female. All she knew was that she loved the way Yerim made her feel and she loved who she was when she was with her. The purple haired girl brought out the best in her and it only made her love her more for it. She loved the girl’s never-ending positivity. The way she always knew exactly what to say to make her feel better after a bad day. She loved how loyal Yerim was to those she loved. She loved everything about her.
Yeojin forced herself to shove these thoughts to the back of her mind, finding it too painful to contemplate on at the moment. She slowly slid into a pair of shorts and a tank top she’d brought to the bathroom, hiding most of the bruises from plain view.
Afterwards, she walked to her room, hesitating briefly before her bed before getting into Hyejoo’s bed instead, as it was the other bottom bunk and her body couldn’t take the climb to either of Haseul or Sooyoung’s top bunks. She wrapped herself in the sheets, pulling them close to her so she could inhale the faint familiar scent that was so clearly Hyejoo, needing to feel close to any of the girls, looking for any kind of comfort.
She tried to close her eyes, wanting nothing more than the sweet oblivion that came with sleep, but her mind spiraled back to her earlier thoughts when she did. She remembered how confused she’d felt as her feelings had continued growing. She would look at the other couples in the dorm, at the adoring way Sooyoung would look at Jiwoo when she thought no one was looking or how Jungeun and Jinsol would whine about missing each other anytime they were apart for longer than five minutes.
At how Chaewon and Hyejoo were literally two sides of the same coin and at the way Heejin and Hyunjin would always argue with each other but would still come back to the other at the end of the day. Although those last two were still oblivious to what was obvious to everyone else but themselves.
She remembered longing to have what they had with Yerim, wanting to hold her hand even when there were no cameras around or to snuggle close to her on the couch after a tiring day. She was scared, however, of being rejected. Of confessing her feelings only to find out that the other girl didn’t feel the same way. She didn’t want to ruin one of the closest friendships she had.
And so, she’d started distancing herself from her instead, fearing that she would end up blurting her feelings out one day and ruining their friendship. It wasn’t exactly obvious. It was the subtle actions, such as making sure they were never completely alone together or that Hyejoo or Chaewon were always in between them.
Actions that went unnoticed by almost everyone. Everyone except Yerim herself of course. It had all come to a head one day after school.
Yeojin was walking on the sidewalk, headphones in as she tried to ignore the older girl walking next to her. It was normally easier, as Hyejoo also went to school with them which meant that she could put her between herself and Yerim but the older girl had had a fever that morning when they’d woken up and the older members had refused to let her out of bed, leaving Yeojin alone with the very girl she’d been trying to avoid.
She had quickly put her headphones in as they started their walk home from school, hoping the older girl would get the message and leave her alone. Unfortunately for her, Yerim had never really been one to take social cues. “How was your day? I didn’t see you at lunch today either”, Yerim said. Yeojin said nothing, remembering how she’d lately taken to hiding away in the library during lunch, trying to avoid the older girl.
Yerim waited for an answer but continued talking when she realized she wasn’t about to get one. “How about that math test you were studying for the other day? How did that go?” she asked. Yeojin usually loved the other girl’s cheerfulness and her persistence but it definitely didn’t help when she was trying to avoid her. She remained silent once again, but it seemed that Yerim’s never-ending patience actually had a limit after all. And she’d just reached it.
She felt a hand wrapping around her wrist, stopping her in her tracks and making her turn to face Yerim. The older girl let out a sight, clearly annoyed. She reached out to take out one of Yeojin’s earphones before speaking. “Why have you been avoiding me lately?” she asked bluntly. Yeojin started shaking her head, about to deny it when Yerim spoke again. “I’m not stupid Yeojin. You think I haven’t noticed that the only times you haven’t been missing at lunch this month was the two times that I had to go to the library to study for an exam? Or that you’re always too busy to play games with me now?”
She held her gaze, waiting for an answer. “What’s going on Yeojinnie? Did I do something?”, she asked again, tone softening. Yeojin sighted. She hated that she had made the older girl feel like it was her fault. Yerim wasn’t to blame for Yeojin being so useless at feelings. She’d thought that avoiding her was the only way to get her feelings to disappear but it clearly wasn’t working and she was only hurting both herself and Yerim by staying away.
“No, of course you didn’t do anything. I’m sorry Yerim. The truth is, I’ve just been really tired lately. What with trying to keep my grades up and all our schedules. I didn’t even realize I had started ignoring you”, she said. Yeojin hated lying to Yerim but she wasn’t ready to tell her the truth. “I promise I’ll be more careful of your feelings from now on”, she promised.
Guilt coiled in her stomach at the continuous lies but the beaming smile that made its way across Yerim’s face more than made up for it. “I’m going to hold you up to that promise”, she teased the younger girl, before entangling their hands together. They walked the rest of the way home hand in hand, with Yeojin internally debating between feeling happy and feeling confused, as she was now back to her original problem. How to be Yerim’s friend without accidentally confessing and ruining their friendship.
Eventually, Yeojin had had enough of her wondering and had decided to confide in someone that she thought would be able to help her.
Yeojin was standing on the edge of the living room, trying to get the courage for what she was about to do. It was their first day off in a while and most of the members had gone out, all except for Yeojin and Sooyoung, the latter of the two claiming to be too tired to go out.
She’d been waiting for the right moment to approach one of the older members who were currently in a relationship to ask for advice and now seemed like the perfect moment. It especially helped that the older member was Sooyoung, as the older girl had always been one of the best members at giving advice.
She watched Sooyoung, who was currently lying horizontally on the couch watching some drama. She was just about to tail it out of there, losing her nerve, when the older girl noticed her presence. “Are you going to join me or would you rather continue watching me?” she asked the younger girl. She’d meant it in a teasing way but her smile faded away, replaced by worry when she noticed how nervous the maknae looked, standing stiff and looking like she was seconds away from bolting. She sat up from her previous position.
Sooyoung had always been a really good listener and great at giving advice, which was why all of her members had turned to her for help at one point or another. She recognized from the way she was acting that the younger girl needed to talk and was quick to respond.
“Como sit”, she ordered, patting the spot next to her on the couch. Yeojin wordlessly obeyed. Sooyoung was one of the most observant members and she quickly noticed an air of nervousness that seemed to follow her usually happy, out-going member. Once Yeojin was next to her, she grabbed the controller and turned down most of the volume before turning to look at the younger girl. “What’s up?” she asked her.
Yeojin looked down at the couch while she played with the sleeve of her hoodie, trying to explain how she was feeling. She wasn’t sure why but it somehow felt like a big thing to admit her feelings for their cheerful member out loud. Like it somehow made it real. Sooyoung got completely serious as the silence between them stretched on, her worry increasing by the second.
“Yeojinnie? You know you can tell me anything, right?” she asked her. Yeojin nodded, still refusing to look at her. She was starting to regret the whole thing but she knew that it was too late. That the older girl wouldn’t let her just leave now that she had worried her.
“Unnie?” she asked finally. “When did you realize you liked Jiwoo unnie as more than a friend?” Sooyoung hesitated for a second, clearly not expecting the conversation to go down that path. She was about to question her further but saw the wide-eyed gaze Yeojin was looking at her with, genuine curiosity and a bit of apprehension in her eyes and decided to humor her instead.
“Well, to be honest with you I knew I liked her since the second I laid eyes on her for the first time. But it wasn’t actually until the very last day of her filming her solo that I finally got the courage to confess.” There was a far-away look in her eyes as she remembered that day with a fond smile. Yeojin, however, was quick to fire of her next question.
“But weren’t you afraid of ruining your friendship if she rejected you?” she wondered. Sooyoung chuckled at the question. “I would have been but, to be honest with you Yeojin, Jiwoo is a lot of things but subtle is definitely not one of them. I lost count of how many times I caught her staring at me. Of course, the only reason I caught her so many times was because I was doing the same exact thing”, she reasoned. “I was pretty confident that she returned my feelings so that helped a lot.”
Yeojin didn’t respond, a little bit disappointed by the answers. As much as it made for a cute story, it didn’t really help Yeojin with her little Yerim problem. Sooyoung noticed the disappointment the younger girl was feeling straightened up, the small smile she’d been wearing disappearing as she noticed the seriousness of the conversation.
“Yeojin, what’s all this about really?” she asked her. Yeojin shook her head, her eyes stuck to her fiddling fingers. Sooyoung reached out to clamp Yeojin’s hands between her own, stopping her anxious motions and making the smaller girl look up at her. “This is about Yerim, isn’t it?” she asked, deciding that Yeojin needed a push to talk. Yeojin’s eyes widened in panic. “How did you know?” she asked quickly. She started wondering if she hadn’t been as good at hiding her feelings as she’d first thought. What if everyone else knew too? What if Yerim knew?
She could feel her breathing getting heavier as her thoughts continued to spiral. Sooyoung squeezed her hands tightly, trying to ground her. “Breathe, Yeojin. Breathe.” She ordered. Yeojin’s reaction was more than enough to confirm Sooyoung’s suspicions. “Don’t worry. No one else knows. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that has noticed the way you always stare at her. Kind of like Jiwoo back when we first met. The others are too busy trying not to strangle each other on a daily basis to notice anything else”, she joked, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
Her efforts were rewarded by a small laugh before she got serious again. “Are you going to tell me why you’ve been avoiding her lately?” she asked. Yeojin looked surprised at her words. “Damn, there’s really nothing you don’t see, is there”, she wondered. Sooyougn shot her a small glare at her language and Yeojin simply smiled apologetically before sighting. “I feel like I’m going to ruin everything between us if I say anything but at the same time, I can’t imagine being close to her and not telling her how I feel”, she admitted.
Sooyoung internally awed at how cute the younger girl sounded, feeling excited about her maknae’s first crush but she didn’t word those feelings, knowing Yeojin wouldn’t appreciate it. “I know it might seem scary but you have to consider how staying away from her might just be the thing that ends up ruining your friendship in the end. Besides, I know Yerim. That girl isn’t capable of hurting a fly. She would never let something like your feelings get in the way of your friendship. And have you even considered that she might just feel the same way?”
Yeojin shook her head. “I don’t think so”, she said. Sooyoung laughed a little. “Please. Remember that I see everything. You’re not the only one with staring problems.” Yeojin brightened up at that. “Wait, really?” she asked. Sooyoung was amused at how quickly the younger girl perked up. “Yes, really”, she assured her.
Yeojin didn’t reply, thinking about the conversation. “So? What are you going to do?” Sooyoung prodded after a few moments. Yeojin looked up at her, determination in her eyes. “I’m going to tell her the truth. But after we come back from break. That way I can have some time to think about how to do it”, she told her, already daydreaming about her and Yerim being like Sooyoung and Jiwoo were now.“That’s my girl”, Sooyoung joked, pulling the younger girl into a hug.
That would clearly never happen now, Yeojin thought bitterly. Not after what had happened during the break. The way they had reacted. This was on her. It was her fault for not thinking before speaking, she reasoned.
She should have known that her parents wouldn’t just accept the fact that their only daughter apparently liked girls that easily. Instead, she’d made the mistake of thinking that it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was her fault for not realizing how much of a freak she was before.
Yeojin was sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging her legs as she watched her mother cooking for a dinner they were having that night with some of her parents' friends. She used to hate these fancy dinners her parents forced her to sit through but ever since she’d debuted, she now took advantage of any chance that she had to spend time with her family.
“Hey, drop that”, her mother suddenly said, as she caught her daughter sneaking one of the cookies she’d prepared for dessert. “We don’t want a repeat performance of what happened that time we had your father’s boss over for dinner”, she joked. Yeojin blushed bright red as she remembered how her mother had prepared lots of bupyeon, a traditional Korean dessert, which also happened to be one of Yeojin’s favorite treats. By the time they had finished dinner and her mother had gone back to the kitchen for the plate of bupyeon’s, all that had been left were some crumbs on the plate.
Yeojin had denied having anything to do with it but the specks of white sugar dust visible on the outsides of her mouth gave her away. Fortunately for Yeojin, her father’s boss saw the humor in the situation and laughed it off. Not that that saved her from being grounded for some time, thought.
She turned her puppy eyes on her mother, a smile immediately blooming on her face at the resigned sight the older woman gave. “Fine, one cookie. But that’s it until dinner”, she said, giving in. No more than five seconds later, the cookie was gone as Yeojin shoved it in her mouth before her mother could change her mind. Said woman rolled her eyes fondly at her daughter’s antics before shooing her away with her hands. “The Kim family will be here in less than an hour. Go get ready”, she told her.
Yeojin wordlessly got off the counter and ran up to plant a huge kiss on her mother’s cheek before running out the kitchen and up the stairs, towards her bedroom. Her mother had already chosen the outfit she would wear later that night and it was laying on her bed, waiting for her. She quickly hopped in the shower, finishing up quickly so she could get changed.
By the time she was done, there was still half an hour before the Kims’ were scheduled to arrive. She sat down on her bed, taking out her phone to check her messages as she hadn’t had the chance to do so that often during the week that had already passed since the break began. She had a few messages from some friends from school which she quickly answered before opening up the Loona group chat, seeing the more than a hundred unread messages.
She rolled her eyes when she realized that most of them were Jinsol sending memes only she found funny or selfies of her and Jungeun from the break, with the other girls, mostly Hyejoo, begging her to stop. She found herself chuckling when Sooyoung joined Jinsol in sending memes once she realized it annoyed Hyejoo, missing the older girls’ antics.
Kahei finally stepped in, asking the girls about how their break was going so far, successfully stopping the fight that was surely about to break out between Hyejoo and Sooyoung. She smiled while reading the other’s messages about all the things they had done so far with their families and was just about to type one of her own when she heard her mother calling for her, telling her that their visitors had just arrived.
She quickly stood up and threw her phone on her bed, deciding to answer later once dinner was over. A decision she would surely come to regret later. Of course, she had no way of knowing at that time that it would be a very long time before she ever saw her bedroom again. Oblivious of what was to come, she happily made her way down the stairs, looking forward to eating more of the cookies her mother had made.
Yeojin walked into the dining room, saying hello to Ms. And Mr. Kim, both whom she hadn’t seen since she’d debuted. She sat down at the table, sitting next to her mother, who in turn was sitting to the right of her father, who sat at the head of the table. The Kims’ were sitting across from her, with Mr. Kim sitting on the left of her father and Ms. Kim next to Mr. Kim.
Conversation flowed easily between them as they began piling their plates up with food, Yeojin mostly listening in silence. She was just about to reach across the table for a second serving of meat when Mr. Kim turned towards her. “So, Yeojin. How has idol life been treating you?” he asked. Yeojin straightened up, not expecting to be addressed. “It’s great”, she said. “It’s a lot of work but I love it. We’re about to start working for a new comeback soon actually”, she confessed, knowing she’d probably get in trouble if it got back to the company that she was revealing that information but she seriously doubted that the Kims would go spreading it.
“And your members?” He asked. Yeojin immediately brightened up, as she always did when it came to the topic of her members. “They’re all amazing. Being an idol would definitely not be the same without them”, she exclaimed. The others noticed how her voice had gone up in her excitement and smiled at the younger girl. “I know there probably isn’t much time, what with school and idol stuff, but is there someone special in your life?” Ms. Kim asked, shooting her a mischievous smile.
Yeojin blushed bright red, looking down at her plate. “Well if that blush doesn’t answer my question”, Ms. Kim teased, making everyone laugh. Yeojin was embarrassed at the sudden attention given to her but she’d always talked about everything with her parents so she didn’t see this as any different. “Actually, there is someone but nothing has really happened yet.” She admitted quietly. “I’m not even sure she likes me back.” She added as an afterthought.
Silence greeted her admission and she finally looked up, surprised by the way the adults were suddenly looking at her, the happy atmosphere replaced by a heavy one. “What do you mean she?” asked her father, breaking the silence after a few moments. There was a tightness to his voice. Yeojin was unsure of what to reply, having spoken without even realizing what she was saying. “Answer the question”, he thundered, his face getting red as the silence stretched on.
“I think we’re going to be taking our leave. Thank you for a lovely dinner”, Mr. Kim said, standing up. Yeojin’s mother quickly forced a smile on her face as she stood up to show them out. Her father didn’t move an inch, still staring at her. Yeojin turned to look at the retreating couple and managed to catch Ms. Kim’s eyes. She visibly flinched at the barely concealed disgust she managed to get a glimpse of before the woman turned away.
Yeojin wasn’t sure how things had escalated this quickly. One second, she was happily answering questions and the next, her father was looking at her in a way he never had before and her mother looked as white as a sheet. She heard the door close behind their visitors and watched as her mother came back into the room, the fake smile she’d been wearing immediately disappearing, replaced by an angry look. She walked up to her quickly and grabbed her by the arms, dragging a shocked Yeojin out of her seat.
“This isn’t funny, Im Yeojin. How dare you joke about something like that. And in front of our guests no less. Why would you try to humiliate us in that way?” she snapped, her voice getting louder and angrier with each word. Yeojin only felt her confusion increasing. “I wasn’t trying to humiliate you. I was just answering their questions”, she said, trying to calm her mother down. “What, so you didn’t think it was humiliating for you to even be implying that you’re one of those people”, she scoffed, disgust dripping from her words. “Did you think it would be funny or something?”
Yeojin started getting angry then. “I wasn’t being funny. I was being honest”, she exclaimed. Her mother visibly paled at her words. “Stop this nonsense at once. There is no way our only daughter is a faggot.” She spat out. Yeojin froze at hearing the derogatory slur coming from her mother’s voice. “And so what if I am. What does it matter”, she exclaimed. “Not another word. You’re just confused. I think this whole idol stuff wasn’t a good idea after all. God knows where you’ve been getting ideas like this but it definitely wasn’t from us. Go to your room. We’ll discuss this more tomorrow and your father and I will contact the company to see about getting you removed from the group”, her mother said, talking as if she had everything figured out. She started turning to walk away but stopped in her tracks at Yeojin’s next words.
Yeojin immediately started panicking at her mother’s words. She loved being part of loona and couldn’t imagine leaving the members. “You can’t. please, don’t do this”, she pleaded. Her mother turned back to look at her. “We can and we will. You’ll soon see that we’re doing this for your own good. You’ll understand that you’re just confused.” Her voice had a tone of finality and Yeojin snapped, having had enough of feeling like they weren’t listening.
“I’m not confused mom. I’m gay.” She shouted at her mother’s back. The next thing Yeojin knew, there was a resounding sound as hand met cheek and she was on the floor, thrown down from the force of her mother’s slap. The stinging pain coming from the throbbing in her cheek was nothing compared to the pain she felt at the way her mother was looking down at her, no sign of regret on her face.
This is your last chance. I mean it. Go to your room”, she ordered, barely restrained anger in her voice. Yeojin was slow to respond, still trying to process what had just happened. She lifted her hand towards her cheek, feeling it throb beneath it. A thousand different thoughts ran through her mind at that moment. A part of her considered getting up and doing as she’d been told but she knew that if she did, she’d probably never see any of her members again. Another part of her was also angrier than she’d ever been before. Although she suspected that the current anger she was feeling was just trying to cover the feelings of sadness and grief which threatened to overwhelm her at any moment.
She used that anger to her advantage, looking straight up at her mother, looking more confident than she actually felt. “No”, she simply said. “I’m gay”, she repeated once more, trying to make it clear that she wasn’t confused or joking.
Her mother’s face immediately changed, the last signs of the mother she knew completely vanishing. She braced herself for the harsh comments that she was sure was about to come her way but nothing could have prepared her for the feeling of her mother’s foot coming into contact with her stomach, stealing all the air from her lungs. She was thrown into the floor from her sitting position. Yeojin hadn’t even begun to process what had just happened when the next kick made contact.
She didn’t have a chance to get up, her mother’s kicks flying down at her at a rapid speed. Yeojin curled into a ball, trying to protects her head and stomach from the hits. Tears were running down her cheeks and it was thought blurry eyes that she caught a glimpse of her father still standing next to his seat, watching his wife beat his only daughter wordlessly. A particularly hard kick suddenly had her heaving up her dinner all over the floor, which only served to further anger her mother.
Unintelligible insults flew out of her mouth with every hit, calling her slur after slur. Yeojin covered her ears with her hands, feeling the words sting just as much, if not more, than the kicks. She didn’t know how long it lasted but she remained in the same position, curled into a small ball, for a few minutes after the attack had stopped, expecting it to renew at any moment.
She suddenly felt a hand closing in on her upper arm, harshly pulling her up to stand. Her body protested heavily at the sudden movement, the pain almost overwhelming her. Her father was the one who had lifted her and he kept his grip on her arm. “We don’t want to see you ever again. At least not until you return to your senses”, her mother spat at her. Yeojin didn’t even have time to reply before her father was dragging her out of the room, opening the main door and throwing her harshly out of the house, the door slamming behind her without a word.
It couldn’t have been more than half an hour since the Kim’s had left, and yet Yeojin felt as though her whole life had changed in that short amount of time. She turned to look back at her house, still in disbelief over what had happened. An arm clutched her hurt abdomen, shocked at the fact that her mother was responsible for the pain she was in.
She knocked on the door, unsure of what she was doing but needing to make things right. She felt as thought she’d just lost her parents. Nobody came to the door, yet she continued knocking for a long time, the focus of it helping her ignore the feeling of grief that knocked around in her chest, making her feel like she couldn’t breathe.
She didn’t know how much time passed as she continued knocking but she could feel her heart breaking more with each moment that passed with the door remaining close. Before she knew it, the sun was peeking on the horizon and Yeojin realized that she’d passed the whole night on the porch. Finally accepting that she wasn’t going to get a response, Yeojin turned around and started walking towards the bus station, feeling grateful that her bus pass was in her pocket.
Her journey back to the dorms took hours but Yeojin barely even felt it, moving through the motions like a ghost. It was taking everything in her to maintain her composure which threatened to break at every pitying glance a stranger threw at her, knowing she probably looked like a mess at the moment. Never before had she been as grateful as she was now to the fact that the Loona members were very rarely recognized while out in public in Korea.
Her last grasp on her composure finally broke the second she walked into the dorm, wondering how things had changed so drastically from the last time she was there. She quickly walked into her room, crawling into her bed where she proceeded to cry her heart out, her grief finally being unable to be contained any longer.
Yeojin squeezed her eyes close, trying to keep the tears in. Their words echoed around in her head constantly, reminding her of everything her own family had called her. But it wasn’t the words that hurt the most. It was the look of pure disgust they’d had as they looked at her. She’d never felt so small as she did in that moment.
She hugged herself tighter, trying to forget everything that had happened. She’d showed them, thought. She’d showed them that she could be normal. That she could still be the daughter they loved. She’d show them and they would all go back to normal, like it was supposed to be. She had to believe that she could change their minds. Because otherwise, it meant admitting that she’d lost them. And she wasn’t sure she would be able live with that.