Actions

Work Header

Sugar Maple Tree

Chapter Text

 

 

Was there a lifetime waiting for us

in a world where I was yours?

 

 

*****

 

 

Late Winter of 2016, College Freshman Year,  2nd semester

 

Their annual year-end winter party is so much fun, contrary to what Jeongyeon had expected.  

Well, she honestly is not sure if the party itself is fun or it is only fun because Mina is with her-  the girl who she likes to tease throughout the entire duration of the party.

She has witnessed her best friend danced adorably in the middle of the crowd in her blue penguin onesie.    Mina was so cute flapping her little wings dorkily while jiving in with the bubblegum pop music playing in the background.   

The crowd was equally excited and delighted as they cheered for Mina who Jeongyeon noticed was getting a bit shy because of the cheering.     So she immediately joined her best friend in the dance floor, aiming to share the embarrassment that Mina is obviously hiding despite her confident dance moves.  

 

After all, this is Mina’s gift to her,

“Ok, I’ll dance.   If that’s what you want as a gift for winning the championship this year.    But just this once, Yoo Jeongyeon.  I’m not gonna do it again.  Savour it while it lasts. ”

Mina said after Jeongyeon whined to her about her championship gift and made such a playful request to her best friend.    Mina then downs a cocktail in one shot before she waddles in through the crowd to grant Jeongyeon’s wish.

 

 

Back to the dance floor,  Mina’s neutral face turns into a wide grin of gummy smiles and tipsy crescent eyes when Jeongyeon playfully slides towards her and holds her little wings.   Together they harmoniously sway into the loud beats of music blasting through the entire floor.

The crowd’s cheers become even louder as a cute blue penguin and a dorky green dinosaur sway their hips in the middle of the dance floor and make adorable impromptu dance steps along the way.

It was fun.

They probably looked like idiots but Jeongyeon didn’t mind.    

All that matters is that she and Mina are enjoying this together.

She’s glad she invited Mina in this party.

And she’s even more grateful when her best friend accepted and joined her tonight.

Being with Mina is fun.

 

*****

 

 

It’s already past midnight and they’re driving on their way home when Jeongyeon sees a public playground across the street and a crazy idea pops into her head.

Still high from the excitement of their party, Jeongyeon pulls over in front of a convenience store nearby and then looks at Mina, 

“Ice cream? ” 

“It’s winter, Jeong.”

“Exactly.”   Jeongyeon lets out a playful grin and Mina immediately smiles because she knows exactly what Jeongyeon means.

 

And so they both exit the car to enter the convenience store and buy ice cream.    Mina forgets to bring her coat from the car so Jeongyeon drapes her winter jacket to Mina as soon as they enter the store.

“You’re gonna get cold.”   Mina looks at her worryingly.

“It’s ok, you need it more than I do.  I’m fine.”   Jeongyeon smiles reassuringly.

 

After buying their midnight snacks, Jeongyeon gets Mina’s coat and they walk across the street to the empty yet fairly lighted kid’s playground.     They each take their seat on the double outdoor swing as Jeongyeon hands over the newly opened popsicle stick to Mina.  

Mina bites on the ice cream excitedly and her face immediately crumples because of the sudden brain freeze.   Jeongyeon laughs out loud at her best friend’s cute quirky antics.   Mina pouts at her, feigning offence.

Not wanting for her best friend to get more annoyed, Jeongyeon stands, hands over her coat to Mina, and starts dancing awkwardly in her fluffy green dinosaur onesie.    She dances to the same steps she first showed her best friend during their 5th grade.    

Mina smiles so widely now as she watches her best friend recreates the nostalgic dance moves.   Jeongyeon’s heart immediately feels warm against the cold winter night.

They both start to sing the familiar tune as Jeongyeon re-enacts the very same scene from eight years ago.   The very same moment that both of them treasures dearly.

 

It has always been their thing.   Whenever Jeongyeon or Mina is feeling extremely happy, celebratory, or just utterly sad, they always go to a playground and eat ice cream.  They don’t know why but it makes them both feel at ease, just being around each other while they discuss their worries or share their happiness with each other, as they partake on their favourite snack.  

Tonight they are celebrating a successful conclusion of their first year in college together.    College is tough.   It can be evil.  Juggling both of her academics and her intense basketball training was a strenuous challenge for Jeongyeon.  She barely survived it. 

Jeongyeon thinks she couldn’t have survived it if not because of her best friend.   She’s not sure what could have happened if Mina didn’t join her in Haneol.     She doesn’t like to imagine what it’s like not to have Mina around.

In most difficult times, Jeongyeon gets her strength from her best friend.

Despite Mina’s quiet appearance and calm demeanor, Mina is her anchor.

Being with Mina is reassuring.

 

Mina’s laughter is music to Jeongyeon’s ears and so she continues dancing in the middle of this quiet playground on a cold winter night, ignoring the lingering thoughts that have been trying to escape from the back of her mind.

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon is awakened up by the smell of her favourite blueberry pancakes in the morning.    She rouses herself from sleep, sits up and eventually gets surprised to realize that she slept on the couch again and still in her onesie.  

She’s still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes when she hears someone walking towards her and her best friend’s soft voice starts to travel into her ears,

“Good morning sleepyhead, breakfast is ready.” 

Jeongyeon looks up and she sees Mina smiling at her in her large oversized white sweater over a black tempo shorts which exposes her milky white legs.   

She has seen her best friend wears those kinds of outfits numerous times before but today, for some reason, her brain short circuits at the sight.    Suddenly, flashes of her dream last night vividly reappear and Jeongyeon internally panics.

 

Fuck.

“Why is she wearing shorts?   It’s winter for god’s sake.”

Jeongyeon is still in a panic mode when Mina speaks again and asks,

“Do you want to change and shower first or do you want to eat already?”

Jeongyeon shakes her head subtly to clear off her mind and replies smiling,

“Breakfast first, I’m starving.   Can’t say no to that smell.”   

Mina smiles at her reply and they start to eat breakfast together.

 

It’s a lazy Sunday morning, the day after their year-end party.

It’s the day when Jeongyeon starts to entertain the blurry questions that have been lingering at the back of her mind ever since she and Mina nearly kissed few months ago.

 

It’s a lazy Sunday morning, and all Jeongyeon can think about is her dream last night.

A dream so vivid it almost felt like it’s real.

A dream when she is kissing her best friend.

 

*****



Spring of 2016, College Sophomore Year

 

Their second year of college starts blissfully by welcoming Dahyun and Chaeyoung again into their circle. 

The younger bros, as what they call themselves, are Jeongyeon and Mina’s other childhood friends back in their hometown.    They also went to the same school and both of them are Jeongyeon’s former basketball team mates.    Despite their height,  Dahyun and Chaeyoung are both very skilled and capable point guards whom Jeongyeon really misses playing basketball with.

Both of them got scouted in Haneol too and so Jeongyeon and Mina couldn’t be any happier.

 

Having Dahyun and Chaeyoung again is also a good distraction for Jeongyeon because she and Mina have been circling around a certain topic for months now.  

When Jeongyeon starts to initiate bringing it up, she usually ends up messing the entire conversation because she’s really not that good in confronting real feelings.    That’s never Jeongyeon’s forte.

 

 

“Why didn’t you kiss Dahyun?”   Jeongyeon blurts out one time while having her weekend movie nights with Mina.  

“What?”   Mina looks at her flustered, eyes widen in surprise at the sudden question from her best friend.

“When you dated her, why didn’t you two kiss?”

“Jeong, you know very well that I’m not even sure if I can consider Dahyun as my legit ex.”  

Mina answers her looking confused.

“Well..”   Jeongyeon sighs,  “.. you have a point.”

Clearly, that’s not how Jeongyeon imagined this conversation will end.

 

 

You see, back in high school, Dahyun is a result of the rarest times when Mina followed Jeongyeon’s crazily stupid advice.

 

“We’re going to college soon.  How about live your life a little, Mina-ya.  Get yourself a girlfriend and experience how it is to date someone before throwing yourself into the real world. ”

" Jeong, college is not the real world yet.”

" That is not the point!”

Mina sighs, her best friend can really be persistent and stubborn when she wants to.  

 

And so she followed her best friend’s advice eventually.    Mina chose Dahyun out of the several girls that have confessed to her simply because she’s already friends with the younger girl and she trusts Dahyun.

She asked Dahyun to be her girlfriend for a day saying she wants to experience how it is to have a girlfriend before graduating.     Dahyun was fine with it, she was even extra giddy when she asks Mina,

"Can I hold your hand, unnie?”

“Sure.”   Mina smiles in approval as she takes on Dahyun’s hand.    But she doesn’t feel the same tingle in her heart when she holds Jeongyeon’s.

They just watched a movie and built puzzles in the Myoui’s living room that day.    As sunset approaches, both girls stood in the doorway to say their goodbyes.

“Dahyun, I think it’s time for us to break up.” 

“Ok, unnie.”  

Mina holds Dahyun and gives the younger girl a warm hug,  “Thank you Dahyun-ah.” 

"You were such a good girlfriend, unnie.  I’m glad to have experienced it.”   Dahyun says sincerely.

As they break the hug, Dahyun smiles at her and takes on Mina’s hands then kisses her knuckles.

“and oh Mina-unnie, your secret’s safe with me.”   are Dahyun’s last words before she leaves the Myoui’s mansion and waves her goodbye to Mina.

 

They still remain good friends after that, even sometimes laughing at the fact that they are both each other’s “first girlfriend” and “first breakup”,   if one can even validly consider them as such.

 

*****

 

 

“I’m not in love with her.”    Mina says after an hour, in the middle of the movie playing.

“What?”   Jeongyeon looks at her initially confused, but then she remembers her dumb spontaneous question earlier.

“You asked why I didn’t kiss Dahyun.”   Mina clarifies,  “It’s because I don’t love her.”

 

Mina is now staring at her with an expression that Jeongyeon can’t decipher.

“So you haven’t had your first kiss yet?”

Mina continues to give her that look, and Jeongyeon suddenly feels uneasy.

“I want my first kiss to be with someone I truly love.”

 

“Why?  Is there someone you’re waiting for?”  Jeongyeon hesitantly asks her best friend.

“Maybe.”   Mina is still staring at her, she seems to be waiting for Jeongyeon to ask something.   

 

But Jeongyeon doesn’t know how to voice it out loud.    She’s afraid she might mess it up again.   There are a lot of questions that are now running circles on her head,

 

“But what about that ‘night’?”

“Would you really kiss me if I lean in closer?”

“or..is that why you hesitated?  Because you don’t love m-”

 

Jeongyeon was surprised by a sudden explosive sound from the action thriller movie that is still playing.   

Mina shifts her gaze back to the TV screen again while she fiddles with her sweater.

They both just continued watching quietly until the end of the film.   

Another night ended again without both of them actually addressing the biggest elephant in the room.

 

*****

 

 

Early Summer of 2016, College Sophomore Year

 

In the middle of the first semester, Dahyun and Chaeyoung became the new recruits of their basketball team who will carry on their yearly tradition.   Jeongyeon volunteered to set up their blind dates with the help of Mina.

 

It’s Dahyun’s first date today,  and the two best friends are now sitting just a table away from their friend as a sign of support.    It was Jeongyeon’s idea despite Mina insisting that they don’t really need to be there since Dahyun can carry herself well during romantic dates.

After a few minutes, Dahyun’s date finally enters the cafe, walks onto Dahyun’s table, and Jeongyeon sees how her friend’s face glimmer with both excitement and shyness.   Mina feels proud because she knew then that her blockmate is a perfect match for Dahyun.

 

Few minutes into their date, Dahyun begins to throw her trademark pick-up lines:

“They say hugs and kisses make stress go away.”   Dahyun smiles charmingly to her date.

“Oh, is that so?”   Sana replies curiously.

“Yeah...”   Dahyun fiddles with the small flower pot decorating their table before she looks at Sana again and adds with a smug grin,     “You look stressed.”

 

Jeongyeon chokes on her cake upon hearing Dahyun’s cheesy lines and Mina hurriedly pats on her back to her rescue and gives her water.    She cannot believe Dahyun actually blurted that one out on an actual date with a pretty girl.     She’s 100% sure Sana won’t buy it and her dear friend is going to fail this one.      What she definitely didn’t expect is Sana’s reply after that,

 

“Well you’re right.”   Sana looks amused,   “Receiving hugs is scientifically proven to relieve some stress away.”  

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, and you’re definitely right too..”,  Sana leans closer, props both of her elbows on the table and puts her chin on the top of her hands while looking at Dahyun with a sly smirk,  

“College is hell right now.   It’s definitely stressing me out.  I’m pretty sure it’s the same for you.”

Dahyun looks at her date and admires the slight shade of pink that forms in Sana’s beautiful cheeks,    “Do you wanna get out of here?”

“Sure.”    Sana smiles and the two girls walk out of the coffee shop holding hands.

 

 

Jeongyeon can’t believe what she just witnessed.  Meanwhile Mina looks entirely proud and delighted.  

“I didn’t know our friend’s got game.”    Jeongyeon comments still thoroughly amused.

“Dahyun’s always like that.  She’s not afraid to say what’s in her heart.”   Mina softly replies after a while.

Jeongyeon looks at her best friend and sees Mina looking outside the window.  Her best friend is having that same forlorn expression again.

 

Mina softly speaks after a while, she’s now looking at Jeongyeon with a small smile.

“I’ve always admired Dahyun for being so brave.  I wish it could be that easy for everybody else.”

 

*****

 

 

The next day,  they set up Chaeyoung with one of Mina’s hoobaes from their college.   

Chaeyoung pulled the same trick after Dahyun proudly told her how successful her first date was when she told Sana those cheesy pick-up lines.

Needless to say, Jeongyeon and Dahyun ended up cackling in endless laughter on Mina’s couch, while Mina continues to console the sulky Chaeyoung.    

“You’re a scammer.  My date hates me now.”    Chaeyoung mopes at a laughing Dahyun.

“Well, you’re just not as charming as me.”  Dahyun grins smugly and alternately raises her eyebrows.

 

Chaeyoung’s blind date,  Chou Tzuyu, was apparently not a fan of cheesy pick-up lines.

“It’s ok Chaeng.   Maybe next time, you can set up your date in a dog café.  Tzuyu would love that.”  Mina gently says to a sulky Chaeyoung.

“But she hates me now unnie.”  

“No she doesn’t. Trust me. ”   Mina replies with a reassuring smile as she pats on Chaeyoung’s hair.

Chaeyoung’s mood finally lifts up a bit upon hearing Mina’s words.

Jeongyeon, who’s silently observing the two, smiles contentedly.

It feels like the old times.

 

*****

 

 

Late Fall of 2016, College Sophomore Year,  2nd semester

 

Jeongyeon accepted Mina’s offer to lend her the other spare room since it’s better for Jeongyeon anyways as it’s closer to their college gym.     Jeongyeon transferred to Mina’s place at the start of the second semester.

However, despite Jeongyeon now having her own room at Mina’s place, she still often sleeps at Mina’s couch whenever she goes home every night, extremely exhausted after their training.

 

She prefers to sleep on the couch for two reasons:

First, it’s because the couch is the closest comfortable place she can find as soon as she enters the unit and Jeongyeon’s usually so tired and lazy to walk few more steps further to her room.    And so she usually ends up lying immediately on the couch as soon as she enters their shared apartment.

Second, it’s because every night, Jeongyeon is secretly waiting for Mina to arrive and to kiss her good night.  

 

 

For the past months, Jeongyeon and Mina rarely see each other now despite them sharing the same unit.   Their schedules on this semester are not aligned, and Mina usually comes home late from their study sessions or research.   Every morning, her best friend also leaves home before her because of Mina’s early classes.

College is taking a toll on Jeongyeon and she misses her best friend so much.    She even misses Mina more whenever she finds a cooked breakfast and a note every morning when she wakes up.   

One late night while she stirs in her sleep after hearing Mina arrived, Jeongyeon is about to sit up to greet her best friend but then she suddenly freezes on her spot when Mina didn’t turn on the light but instead just walks quietly towards the couch.

Jeongyeon closes her eyes again and pretends to be asleep when she feels Mina’s gentle hands on her head as her best friend starts to carefully caress her hair.   Jeongyeon hears Mina softly whispers,

“My Jeongie, she must be so tired to sleep on the couch again.”

 

Mina then walks to her room and Jeongyeon wonders if Mina will now sleep, after all her best friend must be tired too.

But then after a few seconds, she hears Mina walking towards her again and then she feels the warm comfortable blanket enveloping her.   Mina is carefully tucking her in.  

Jeongyeon is still pretending to be asleep when she feels Mina sits closer on the floor beside the couch.   She’s hearing Mina’s even breathing now and she can feel her best friend’s warm presence beside her.  

Jeongyeon is about to open her eyes when she feels Mina’s gentle touch on her cheek.   Her heart suddenly leaps at the sensation.    She misses this.   She misses the feeling of her best friend’s comforting touch.

She feels that Mina is now gently brushing her cheek with her smooth thumb and she’s tucking away some of Jeongyeon’s stray hairs behind her ears. 

Mina’s gentle touches make Jeongyeon feel at ease so she starts to feel drowsy again.   

 

When sleep is about to take over on her, she suddenly feels Mina’s soft lips on her forehead and Jeongyeon couldn’t explain the extreme tug on her heart because of the unusual intimate gesture from her best friend.

They always hug, they even sometimes cuddle, but Mina never kisses her.    This is the first time that she feels her best friend’s soft lips on her skin and Jeongyeon already misses the sensation when Mina pulls away carefully.

“Goodnight, Jeong.  I miss you.”

Jeongyeon hears her best friend whisper to her right after.   She really wants to open her eyes right now to say that she misses her just as much.    She wants to open her eyes, to hug Mina and then to request for another forehead kiss, maybe even a kiss on her cheeks.

But Jeongyeon decided not to.   Mina might get embarrassed and she doesn’t want that.

 

 

And so every school night, Jeongyeon prefers to sleep on the couch rather than her own bed because she gets to experience being tucked in by Mina every night.    And  Jeongyeon gets to feel Mina’s soft tender forehead kisses and hears her soft whispers of “Good night”.

It’s Jeongyeon’s happy escape amidst her tough and challenging college life.

Mina is her respite.

 

*****

 

 

Early Winter of 2016, College Sophomore Year,  2nd semester

 

The cold weather, Jeongyeon’s dream, and her secret craving for Mina’s forehead kisses every night is already making Jeongyeon so confused, so she invited Dahyun one weekend morning to their apartment to get some possible answers.

Jeongyeon made sure Mina is attending her Saturday classes when Dahyun arrives and she confronts to her friend all the things that have been bothering her for months.

She tells Dahyun everything- from their nearly kiss incident, to her dream, to the forehead kisses, and everything in between.

 

After telling her story, Dahyun just looks at her, eyes squinting, and then she bites on her pepperoni pizza as she casually comments,

“You’re an idiot, unnie.”

“I did not invite you here just for you to call me an idiot, Dub.”   Jeongyeon grunts.

 

Dahyun looks at her pitifully for a few seconds and then carefully puts on her half eaten pizza on the box, as she raises her closed fist and replies to Jeongyeon,

“Look,  you’ve nearly kissed Mina-unnie,”  Dahyun raises her pinky finger,

“you’ve already dreamed on kissing her,”  she raises her ring finger,

“and then when you experienced her kisses, you’re looking forward to it every night.”  Dahyun raises her middle finger.  

“Now you’re here asking me what the hell do those things mean when the answer is just right in front of you..”

 

“You-  like- her.”   Dahyun stresses each syllable as she points on each of the three raised finger on her other hand.

“You might even be in love with her.”    Dahyun adds then taps on Jeongyeon’s shoulder gently,

“So tell me...  do you love Mina-unnie?”

 

Jeongyeon suddenly can’t find the right words to say.  

“Do you love Mina?”

 

She won’t deny that this possibility has already crossed her thoughts before, but actually hearing it from someone makes it more real.     Jeongyeon was still in denial before and whenever this thought is emerging at the back of her mind, she tries her best to ignore it.  

 

“I- ”     Jeongyeon scrambles for an answer, afraid to voice the real one out loud.

“Do you love her?”     Dahyun repeats the question, now with a gentler tone.

“I-..  I don’t know..”    Jeongyeon sighs,   “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“It’s Mina, Dub.   She’s my best friend.  What if she doesn’t like me back?   What if she becomes awkward after?”

“Have you tried confessing to her?”

“There’s just too much risk, Dub.”

“No unnie, there’s too much risk in not.”  

 

Dahyun then holds both of her shoulders as she stares at Jeongyeon and adds,

“Just try, unnie.   You’ll never know unless you try.” 

Dahyun is now looking at her encouragingly as if she knows something that Jeongyeon doesn’t.

 

“Besides if it doesn’t work out, you can still be good friends after.  I’m sure of it.  Look at me.  I’m still good friends with Mina-unnie.”    Dahyun smiles smugly.

“Your case is different.”   Jeongyeon snickers.

“Are you underestimating my love for Mina-unnie before?   Mina-unnie was my first love, how could you say that?  I’m hurt, unnie. ”     Dahyun taps on her chest dramatically.

Jeongyeon just scoffs on her friend’s antics.   And Dahyun smiles after seeing a bit of worry washed away from her friend’s face.

 

“Think about it.”   Dahyun says after breaking her hug from Jeongyeon before she exits the apartment’s door.

And think is what Jeongyeon did that night.

 

*****

 

 

“Do you love Mina?”

 

Jeongyeon thinks back during their 1st grade primary school when a 6-year old Mina came crying to her because her parents won’t allow her to have a pet dog.

The 7-year old  Jeongyeon was so worried for her best friend because she knew how Mina wants to have a dog so badly. 

So when a young Jeongyeon lose her first baby tooth then,  she left a note under her pillow together with her lost tooth.   The note contains her innocent request to the tooth fairy written in Jeongyeon’s scrawny handwriting:

“Dear tooth fairy, I don’t need money please just let my best friend have a dog.”

 

The morning after, Mina’s parents brought a dog into their home.   Mina came running to her holding a cute little brown puppy while excitedly telling Jeongyeon that she named her “Ray”.

The young Jeongyeon then, bless her pure innocent heart, thought that the tooth fairy really exists and she grants wishes as long as it’s genuine.

Even as early as during their first grade, a young Jeongyeon already thinks she’s willing to lose all her teeth as long as she can see Mina smile again.     

 

*****

 

 

“Do you love Mina?”

 

Jeongyeon remembers the first time she wears a dinosaur onesie.    It was during their 5th grade when some of their classmates bullied Mina for being a Japanese and for being too “aloof”.

Mina skipped her classes for 2 straight days and Jeongyeon always finds her on a playground swing after class, crying alone. 

One day, Jeongyeon skipped her classes too and walked towards Mina slowly in the swing.  She gently wiped Mina’s tears, and her best friend was shocked when she looked up and saw a shy Jeongyeon dressed in a cute baby dinosaur onesie.

“I know how to make you smile again.”   Jeongyeon shyly comments,  “Just stay there.”

Then Jeongyeon starts to sing the Korean Three-Bear Song and dances to the tune.    Mina’s face immediately lights up and her gummy smile starts to reappear.   It’s the smile that Jeongyeon hasn’t seen in a while. 

After her impromptu performance finishes, Jeongyeon shyly walks towards Mina and says,

“Sorry if I’m not a bear.  This is the only costume I found in Seungyeon-unnie’s closet.”

“You’re a cute dinosaur.  It’s perfect, Jeong.  Thank you.” 

 

Jeongyeon then holds both of her best friend’s hands,  “Minari, you know I’m always here for you right?”

“I know.  You’re enough for me.”   Mina smiles at her sincerely.

“So.. Ice cream?”   

Jeongyeon offers after pulling out the ice cream sticks from a plastic bag.

After a few minutes, an 11-year old Jeongyeon dressed in a dinosaur onesie, and a 10-year old Mina in her school uniform can be seen laughing together and eating ice cream while playing on a swing.

 

Jeongyeon then thinks that she can endure any embarrassment as long as she can make her best friend feel safe with her.

 

*****

 

 

“Do you love Mina?”

 

Jeongyeon thinks back during their second year at middle school when she had a leg injury from a basketball accident.   Her leg was put on a cast.   A teenager Jeongyeon was very grumpy because she couldn’t play in the games. 

It was her first serious accident in her bastketball career and Mina was always there for her.

“It’s the drink of the champions, Jeong. It will give you lots of energy to help you win. ”

“You’ll recover fast if you drink it.”

That was the first time Mina handed her the smoothie.   Mina then always checks up on her after school and takes care of Jeongyeon.   She’s always by Jeongyeon’s side while her injured best friend is still recovering.

Mina even scribbled encouraging notes on her cast.   It made Jeongyeon feel better.  Whenever Mina comes into her room to check on her, Jeongyeon feels better than yesterday.

A teenager Jeongyeon then thinks that having Mina by her side makes everything better and her world gets a little brighter.

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon thinks back on all of the other moments that she and Mina have shared throughout the years and only came to a definite conclusion that night:

 

"Do you love Mina?”

Yes.

 

 

And so Jeongyeon spent the rest of the semester gauging if her best friend feels the same way and figuring out how to properly confess to Mina.

 

*****

 

 

Early Spring of 2017, College Junior Year

 

Realizing her feelings for her best friend is equally frightening yet exciting to Jeongyeon.    Every single touch and interaction she now has with Mina is heightened to a whole new level and Jeongyeon feels butterflies in her stomach all over.

 

One Saturday, while Jeongyeon is lazing around in their couch playing games,  Mina came home sporting a new red hairstyle.

Jeongyeon is sure her jaw dropped the moment her best friend enters their apartment.   It was the first time her best friend has dyed her hair and Mina is so mesmerizing and alluring with her new hair colour.

Mina sits beside her on the sofa and shyly asks,  “Do you like it?”

“It’s beautiful, Mina-ya.”

“I’m glad you like it.  I was worried it wouldn’t look good on me.”   Mina smiles at her and Jeongyeon was enchanted.

“No, it’s perfect.   You’re perfect to me.”    Jeongyeon replies, a bit shocked that she blurted the last sentence out loud.

 

But Mina didn’t comment on it.  And Jeongyeon notices the faint blush that creeps onto Mina’s cheeks afterwards.  

Perhaps she has a chance.   Jeongyeon feels braver.

 

*****

 

 

One Friday night,  Jeongyeon finds Mina already playing a game in their living room when she goes home to their apartment.

Mina’s classes were cancelled that day and so they ended up snuggling on the couch while watching a movie.   Mina is settled comfortably in front of Jeongyeon who is backhugging her best friend.

It’s like the old times, their usual movie nights, but Jeongyeon’s heart is beating so fast now as her chin is settled on Mina’s shoulder throughout the duration of the film. 

 

Jeongyeon hesitated at first but she asks anyway,

“Mina-ya..”

“hmm?”

“Can I kiss your cheek?”   She whispers into Mina’s ear.

Jeongyeon feels Mina’s body stiffen a bit.  Then she notices that same pink blush adorns her best friend’s adorable cheeks again.

Mina doesn’t look at her but replies quietly, “uhmm.. I guess so.  If that’s what you want.”

Jeongyeon smiles at that and gently kisses Mina’s right cheek.   It feels warm yet soft on Jeongyeon’s lips.

 

 

“Okay, my turn.”   Jeongyeon announces few seconds after pulling away.

“What?”    Mina turns to look at Jeongyeon who’s now pointing at her left cheek for Mina to kiss.

“Minari, I’m waiting.”     Jeongyeon demands firmly but she’s already internally panicking at the possible kiss.

 

Mina rolls her eyes and scoffs at Jeongyeon before she finally leans in and kisses her best friend’s cheek.

“You’re happy now?”   Mina teasingly asks her best friend.

“Very.”  

“Good.”

 

Mina squeezes her hand before shifting her gaze back to the TV screen.  

Jeongyeon has finally thought of a perfect time to confess.

 

*****

 

 

Late Summer of 2017, College Junior Year

 

Jeongyeon plans to confess to Mina by the end of the first semester, on the last day of their University Summer Fair.

She asked for Dahyun and Chaeyoung’s help so they can arrange the bands’ set list and Jeongyeon will confess during the last song of the night before the finale fireworks show.

 

At the night of the concert, when Mina goes out of her room wearing a denim shorts paired with a black off shoulder top adorned with a plain black choker,  Jeongyeon gasped and she almost blurted out her confession then, almost ruining their plans.

During the entire concert, Jeongyeon almost never lets go of Mina and keeps her best friend close.    In some songs, they light up their small firecrackers and sway them into the air in tune with the music.   But most of the time, Jeongyeon is just back hugging Mina, especially when a band is playing a slow song.

 

Before the final act, Mina excuses herself to the restroom.   While Jeongyeon is waiting for her best friend and feeling more nervous and jittery now as they’re nearing the end of the concert, she feels someone pulling her arms suddenly.   

 

“Hey Yoo.  You look great.”   

“Nayeon, you’re drunk.”    Jeongyeon comments on the other girl as she tries to slowly pull away from her grip.

“No.  I just miss you.”

And before Jeongyeon could react, Nayeon already pulls her closer forcefully and kisses her hungrily.   

Jeongyeon tries her best to pull away and when she does, she firmly grips both of her hands on Nayeon’s shoulders so that the other girl would not be able to steal another kiss from her.

“Nayeon please, I’m with Mina.”

“Oh so you’re finally together, huh?”

“No...  Not yet.”

“You’re still an idiot then.”    Nayeon shouts at her.

Jeongyeon sighs,  “You’re really drunk.   Who’s with you tonight?   Let me bring you to them.  Come on.”

Jeongyeon then helps the drunk Nayeon walk back to her friends’ area on the concert grounds.

 

When Jeongyeon gets back to their spot, Mina is still not there.    She’s already extremely worried now so she gets her phone to call her best friend but then a notification pops up:

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd 👽 (9:24 PM)

Sorry, I already went ahead.

Suddenly not feeling well..

 

 

 

Ace Jeong (9:24 PM)

Minari, how are you feeling?

Tell me what’s wrong so I can buy meds

I’ll go home now too.

Just rest, ok?

 

 

Mina didn’t reply anymore.   Her room is closed when Jeongyeon goes home that night, medicines in hand.     Jeongyeon thought she’s probably sleeping already and so she just lets her best friend take her rest.

 

Jeongyeon never gets to confess that night.

 

*****

 

 

Early Fall of 2017, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

By the start of autumn, on the second semester, Mina cuts her hair shorter and it’s back to black again.

 

Jeongyeon and Mina go back to their old routine, nothing much has changed.    But Jeongyeon feels that somehow, something has shifted.    She just can’t put her finger on it.

 

One night, when Jeongyeon goes home from practice, she’s surprised to see Mina standing in the hallway to their living room, and her exhaustion is immediately washed away as she hurriedly embraces her best friend in a tight hug.

 

“Mina-ya, you’re home early!”

“Yeah. Our college library is getting renovated so we’re here to study for the meantime.”   Mina says as she hugs Jeongyeon back,   “Oh, come here.   We have a guest.”

Mina tugs her gently to their living room and that is when Jeongyeon sees a smiling girl already standing in front of the couch as if waiting for them.   Jeongyeon notices the pile of books and notes scattered on their coffee table.

 

“Jeongyeon, this is Jihyo.   Jihyo, this is Jeongyeon, my best friend.”

“Hi Jeongyeon-ssi, it’s nice to finally meet you.   I’m Park Jihyo.”    Jihyo introduces herself while smiling warmly to Jeongyeon.   She offers her hand and Jeongyeon shakes it politely.

“Jeong, we’re just gonna be here studying every night for a while.     Don’t worry, we won’t be noisy so you can still sleep and take a rest in your room.”    Mina says to her reassuringly,

“Would it be ok with you?”    

“Of course, it’s your apartment anyways.   It’s fine, Mina-ya.”    Jeongyeon replies while squeezing Mina’s hand.

 

*****

 

 

Of course Jeongyeon knows who Park Jihyo is.    She’s a blockmate of Mina and one of the few students whom her best friend admires from their batch.    Jihyo is a consistent university scholar and she’s also popular in their campus because she’s part of the student council.

Based from Mina’ stories before, Jihyo seems to be a good person.   And Mina is a pretty good judge of character.

Although she's heard of the girl based from her best friend’s stories before,  it’s the first time Jeongyeon has actually met her.   In fact, it’s the first time ever that Mina has brought someone in their apartment and introduced another girl personally to her.      

 

Jeongyeon doesn’t know what to do with that information.

 

*****

 

 

Ever since Jihyo and Mina start to do their study sessions at their unit, Jeongyeon doesn’t get to sleep in the couch anymore.     This means she doesn’t get to have her nightly dose of goodnight forehead kisses from her best friend.

 

One night, while Mina is in the bathroom and Jeongyeon is eating her late dinner, Jihyo carefully walks towards her into the kitchen.

“Hi Jeongyeon-ssi.”

“Hi Jihyo-ssi.”  

 

Jihyo looks nervous.   She clears her throat quickly before she proceeds in a quiet voice,  

“I just want you to know that-  I like Mina. ”

Me too.   Jeongyeon thinks, but she just continues to listen to the nervous girl in front of her.

 

“As Mina's best friend, I want you to know that my intention is pure.    She’s a very important girl to me.    She’s beautiful inside and out.”

I know.

 

“There’s just something special in her you know.. ”

Yes, she’s really one in a million.

 

“I think I might actually be in love with her.”  Jihyo confesses, albeit shyly.

I’m in love with her too.

 

As Jihyo describes Mina and confesses her feelings for her best friend,  the girl’s big pretty eyes twinkle, and it sends a prickle to Jeongyeon’s heart.

It hurts for Jeongyeon.   It hurts her because she can see the sincerity in Jihyo’s words.   It hurts because she knows Jihyo’s feelings are genuine too.

 

*****

 

 

Winter of 2017, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

One Friday school night,  Jihyo and Mina pull an all-nighter for their exams and requirements and so they finish quite late.    It’s snowing heavily outside so Mina just offers Jihyo to sleep on their couch for the night, instead of her braving the snow outside to go home.

Jeongyeon excuses herself earlier that night after their dinner to sleep into her own room.   But she’s having a hard time sleeping.   Not when she hears Mina’s muffled laughter at Jihyo’s stories in their living room.

 

Deep into the night, Jeongyeon hears Mina finally says,

“Goodnight Jihyo-ya.”

“Goodnight Mina-ya.”

 

Then silence.   

Jeongyeon wonders if Mina also tucks Jihyo in.     She wonders if Mina also kisses her forehead goodnight.   Jeongyeon shakes her head into her pillow and closes her eyes.   She doesn’t want to think about it.

 

After a while, Jeongyeon hears Mina’s careful footsteps outside, the sound gets closer and it seems to stop in front of Jeongyeon’s door.    Jeongyeon’s heart beats nervously, she secretly wants Mina to enter her room and tuck her in, kiss her goodnight.    She misses the feeling of Mina’s soft lips on her forehead.  

There’s a long pause, before Jeongyeon finally hears Mina’s footsteps again, but it gets farther this time.   Then she hears a sound of a door opening and closing, and then a click of Mina’s lock in her room.   Mina finally entered her room and didn’t kiss Jeongyeon goodnight.

 

After a few minutes,  Jeongyeon’s phone lights up with a notification:

 

 

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (11:37 PM)

Not sure if you’re sleeping already..

I just want to say goodnight.

 

Cutie Alien nerd  👽 (11:38 PM)

Goodnight, Jeong

Sleep well

 

 

Jeongyeon closes her eyes after reading the message, remembering the feeling of Mina’s goodnight kisses on her forehead.  

 

*****

 

 

Jeongyeon is starting to like Sundays more.    Maybe because she gets to have Mina all by herself during Sundays. 

One lazy afternoon while they are having their Stranger Things marathon in their couch with take-out pad thai and milk tea, Mina asks her,

 

“What do you think of Jihyo?”

Jeongyeon furrows her brows and looks at Mina,  “What do you mean?”

“She told me she likes me.”

“Oh.”   There’s that single needle prickling in Jeongyeon’s heart again, but she manages to reply briefly,   “She seems fine.”

“Fine?”    

“Well for starters, she can play Mario Kart.”   

“That’s really your basis?”  Mina chuckles at her looking surprised.

“Of course, but she needs to beat me first before I say my final verdict on her.”

Jeongyeon shrugs smugly, ignoring the small prickly feeling in her chest.

 

 

“Do you like her?”   Jeongyeon finally braves herself to ask Mina after a few minutes.  

“hmm..”   Mina hums, she seems to be contemplating on her answer,

“Honestly?  I think I’m starting to, Jeong.”

 

Wow.  Why do these needles multiply so quickly in Jeongyeon’s heart?   She suddenly can’t seem to breathe.  It hurts.  It hurts so fucking much.

 

“Is it ok with you?”  Mina asks her quietly after a while.

“Why do you need my opinion, Mina-ya?   Go for it.”

“Your opinion is very important to me, Jeong.”

Mina then holds her hand and stares into her eyes as if she’s reading into Jeongyeon’s mind.    She squeezes Jeongyeon’s hand gently before she pleadingly asks again,

 

“So answer me honestly please, if ever…  If ever me and Jihyo date each other, are you truly, honestly  ok with it?”

No.  I don’t want you to date her.   

“Of course I’m ok with it.”      Jeongyeon replies instead.

 

“As long as you’re happy, Mina-ya.”

I want to date you.

 

Jeongyeon squeezes Mina’s hand back hiding the pain in her chest.  

Mina looks like she still wants to say something but she just smiles at her best friend and lets go of Jeongyeon’s hand.

 

Jeongyeon noticed that Mina’s smile doesn’t reach her best friend’s eyes.   Although she just ignores it again and tries not to read much into it.

 

*****

 

 

Late Winter of 2018, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

A week before the semester ends, one Monday night,  Jihyo personally tells Jeongyeon that she’s planning to officially ask Mina to be her girlfriend after the finals week is over and they have passed all of their subjects.

And so Jeongyeon spends the rest of the semester mostly sulking and ranting to Dahyun and Chaeyoung about her failed lovelife.    

 

“Unnie, how can you fail it if you haven’t even tried to start it yet?”

“You can only fail at something once you start working on it already.  It’s either you fail and learn, or you succeed and be happy. “    Dahyun tells her.

She couldn’t even count anymore how many times Dahyun has called her an idiot  for not attempting to confess to Mina again.

 

“Are you really gonna give up on Mina-unnie already?”   Chaeyoung asks her.

“She already likes someone else, Chaeng.”   Jeongyeon replies sulkily.

“But you haven’t even confessed to her yet!”    Dahyun whines frustratingly.   

Dahyun’s getting a sudden headache with how frustrating their love story is turning out right now.   If she can confess in behalf of Jeongyeon, she would do in a heartbeat.   But it’s not her confession to tell.    Still, this is getting on her nerves and she’s getting more impatient now.

 

“Look Jeongyeon-unnie, you’re aware that Sana and I are celebrating our anniversary already next week right?”    Dahyun holds Jeongyeon’s hands.

“What does that have to do with my heart problems?”      Jeongyeon looks at her confused.

 

Dahyun sighs,  “It means I’m very happy now because Sana is my girlfriend.  And Sana is my girlfriend because I asked her to.   And that was a year ago already.    And you’ve been having feelings with Mina-unnie even before Chaeyoung and I got here in Haneol.”

“Do you get what I’m saying?”   Dahyun asks her in conclusion.

“Yeah..”   Jeongyeon sighs,   “It means, I’m an idiot.”

“Right.”    Dahyun and Chaeyoung agrees in unison.

 

Jeongyeon chuckles at the duo and envelops both of them in a tight hug.

 

*****

 

 

Late Winter of 2018, College Junior Year, 2nd semester

 

One Saturday morning, Mina happily hugs her in a tight embrace as she announces to Jeongyeon that she successfully passed all of her subjects this semester.   Jeongyeon then invited Mina to have a celebratory ice cream party in a playground swing that day.    But Mina apologetically said to her that Jihyo invited her for lunch already so she can only do dinner.     Jeongyeon’s fine with it.   

 

And so Jeongyeon is now passing her time at a vintage store today while waiting for her dinner date with Mina later.    While Jeongyeon is shopping for a film camera inside the store, she hears a song with a familiar melody in the background.   After the first verse, her heart immediately recognizes it, because it’s the song that Mina played for her during their freshman year.  

 

It’s her song which her best friend has dedicated for her.   It’s apparently a Japanese song.

So she asked the store owner for the title, and immediately searched for the translated lyrics afterwards.

 

Then it hits her like an over speeding truck.   She feels like a bucket of huge ice blocks is immediately thrown at her.   She suddenly feels numb.

Jeongyeon hears Mina’s words to her again 2 years ago,

 

“It’s your song, Jeong.”

The realization suddenly makes her heart aches.

 

“I dedicate it for you.”

She can’t breathe.

 

“Is there someone you’re waiting for?”

“Maybe.”

 

She remembers Mina’s smiles.   Mina’s touches.   Mina’s hugs.   Mina’s goodnight kisses.

Her best friend, Mina, who’s always by her side, every single fucking day.

How could she be so dumb?

 

And Jeongyeon finds herself running to the nearest bus station.

She hopes she’s not too late.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

But that's the thing-

 

Jeongyeon was late.

 

 

She finds herself standing now in a street corner, a few metres away from the entrance of a restaurant.

The front of the restaurant where she sees her best friend’s back, as Jihyo leans in closer to Mina, and finally kisses her best friend.

 

 

Jeongyeon then hears Mina’s voice again,

“I want my first kiss to be with someone I truly love.”

 

 

And so by the end of second semester of their junior year,  Mina has finally gotten her first kiss.

 

And by the end of their junior year,  Jeongyeon’s heart bleeds in constricting pain as she finally experienced her first real heartbreak.

 

Jeongyeon turns around and walks away.   

She hasn’t noticed the tears that unknowingly begin to stream endlessly into her face while small snowflakes start to fall from the dimming winter sky.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

Tangled with another's eyes

Never mind, you were never mine

Glimpse of me and you

Oh, you were a good dream

 

 

 

 

 

*****

 

 

 

**Late Winter of 2016, College Freshman Year,  2nd semester

 

Mina is currently sitting on the floor, beside her huge couch where her best friend is sleeping soundly.   

Jeongyeon is still wearing her dinosaur onesie from the party, she was too tired to change earlier.     She almost immediately slept on the couch after lying there as soon as they entered Mina’s place.

 

Mina smiles when the sleeping girl exhales a light snore.   She’s watching Jeongyeon tenderly as she remembers her best friend’s words earlier before Jeongyeon finally dozes off,

“Minari, thank you for coming with me.  I had so much fun tonight.” 

" I’m the happiest when I’m with you.”  

 

Mina’s heart swells after hearing those words.  

 

She brushes the few stray hairs that fall on Jeongyeon’s face and tucks them gently behind the girl’s ears.  Her best friend’s hair is getting longer now and she looks even more beautiful in Mina’s eyes.

Looking at Jeongyeon’s peaceful sleeping state, Mina can’t help but remember all the times that they have spent together.   She smiles reminiscing all those years and precious moments that she has shared with her best friend.   

Her heart fills with so much love and warmth as she remembers how Jeongyeon has been nothing but a good, protective, selfless and caring friend to her.    She also remembers the first time she realized her feelings for the other girl.

There are so many things she wants to say to her best friend, but she can’t because she’s still afraid.   She’s afraid of the possible consequences, she’s afraid of the possible rejection.   She doesn’t want to lose her friend.    She’s not yet prepared to lose what they currently have if ever Jeongyeon doesn’t feel the same way.    

 

She continues to stare at the sleeping girl forlornly.

 

After a while, Mina gently holds Jeongyeon’s cheek to place a tender chaste kiss on her best friend’s forehead, like she always does.

But when she pulls away from the kiss and shifts her gaze back at her best friend’s sleeping face again, there’s a sudden tug in her chest and Mina’s heart begins to ache with so much longing. 

She knows this is a risk she’s not yet ready to take.    But she also doesn’t know what will happen in the future.    All that she knows right now is that she loves the girl in front of her so dearly.   

 

And so without much thinking, letting her heart win this time-   Mina slowly leans in, closes her eyes and places a gentle kiss on Jeongyeon’s lips.    It’s a quick and careful kiss but it contains all of Mina’s love and unsaid affection.

It’s a coward move she knows, but she can’t hide it anymore.   At least not for tonight.

 

When Mina pulls away carefully, she opens her eyes and whispers in the silence of the night,

 

“I love you”

“I love you so much”

 

She whispers again, still looking longingly on her best friend’s peaceful sleeping face softly illuminated by the dim yellow light from the hallway.

 

Jeongyeon remains still, and Mina is thankful.

 

And so by the end of second semester of their freshman year,  Mina made her second confession to Jeongyeon.

 

And that night after the party,  Mina has finally gotten her first kiss.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a lifetime waiting for us?

All this time, I have been yours

 

*****