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Lost In Japan

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Nayeon had been tossing and turning in her bed, drops of sweat pooling from her forehead despite the fact that the air-conditioning had been on high cool and blasting for three hours now. She just couldn't sleep. She had lied down at 10 and now it's 2 a.m.

 

Just like that. It started when she overheard Momo and Sana talking about Mina being home. And by home, they meant Japan. She was at Sana's and they were having a night out and the booze had taken toll on her.

 

She knows why they didn't and couldn't talk about Mina in front of her. It has always been the unwritten rule. And it pisses her off sometimes but she came around with it. She guesses that she can't do something about it and just accept the illogical phase her friends are on.

 

But today Nayeon had enough.

 

She barged in Momo's room first and demanded an explanation. When Sana heard the confrontation, she knew she had to call Jihyo. In times like these, they needed a moderator. An unbiased opinion and a sharper tongue.

 

So Jihyo had to intervene and explain to Nayeon why. Problem is, Nayeon already knows. She had known for 5 years but she denied it. She learned to live with it anyway. Momo was holding her head with both her hands. Sana had been comforting her. Nayeon looks as if she's fusing and needed another room to breathe.

 

Some time, about 4 years ago when Mina and Nayeon had a thing. A phase, is what Nayeon calls it. A call of flesh and nightly boredom. A passing. Nayeon brought home some girl, someone about  twice her age, introduced her to friends, in hopes of getting a reaction from Mina. Also, that's the only way she knows how their affair would stop. Nayeon just can't call her up and say, 'it's over thanks for the sex.' No Nayeon can't do that. So she brought home a girl. Presented her as a girlfriend. That's how stupid an unguided Nayeon would think at 20. The problem is, Mina didn't flinch. She didn't bat an eye. She even brought her a pair of fur rabbit slippers the next day because winter came too early that year. Nayeon saw the new slippers beside her bed.

 

One time, when Nayeon and Mina were having a hot make out session inside Minas's apartment, Nayeon blurted out that she's dating a guy named Suho. She remembered clearly how Mina stopped and looked at her as if she's asking her a question. It almost felt like forever when Mina softly placed her lips back to hers. Softer, calmer, hungrier. And when the younger girl cupped her cheeks, by instinct, she closed her eyes, took her in, lay her down. She took her in for the first time that night. The next day, Mina left a lily on her bedside table with a weird note. At least to Nayeon.

 

It says, 'i dare you.'

 

And they never talked about it.

 

Nayeon also remembered, about 3 years ago how they all planned to go to a skating rink. She's with a guy named Chan and the rest of the girls, too. And Mina was there too. But she hasn't seen her eyes once. Mina was smiling too much, though. Nayeon figured she was ok, maybe happy for her, too. Maybe she's got a guy with her, too. The night was fun and she couldn't help being touchy and clingy with the current boyfriend.

 

And then for a brief moment, when they stopped by a coffee shop, she saw Mina look at her.

 

She couldn't place it. Couldn't name the feeling. Mina just poured out to her, making her feel...things.
Mina just smiled. Sadly or shyly. She wouldn't know. When she dropped her off, she hastily said goodnight, didn't turn in for a hug. Not that Nayeon expected it, no. Mina was never the affectionate one between the two of them. A few minutes later, she received a text.

 

'Drive safely, unnie.'

 


The next day, Mina is in her apartment. She made crab soup for everyone. Including Chan.

 

Nayeon knows the problem. It was her. It's been her all the time. Why Mina left. Why Mina, at 2 a.m in the morning, decided to buy herself a ticket to New York and accepted a scholarship offer from the Maggi Flanigan Studio without telling anyone. Nayeon knows Mina wouldn't admit that it's because of her. She knew because of Momo. Because of an outburst of emotions at 6 in the morning. Because of a heated discussion with Sana. They both eventually admitted, that Mina left because of Nayeon. Because Mina, the shy, happy, outgoing Mina, suddenly fell on her knees. Sana said she lost touch of life. Momo said, she's just tired all the time. They both admitted to Nayeon that she couldn't stand one second in a room with her. Nayeon swore she never saw it coming. But she had to hold her chest because it felt close to breaking.

 

From then on, the random dates just stopped. Her friends were caught off guard. Especially Momo. But Jihyo, she knows why.

 

Now, how Mina is in Japan, only Momo and Sana seem to know why and they don't seem to have any plans on telling. It made Jihyo shoot Mina a text. And Nayeon, it made Nayeon lose sleep. Two days of excessive and constant empty thinking. So what Nayeon did, she grabbed her phone, typed in the airline website and booked herself a ticket to Japan. 

 

When Momo and Sana heard about this, they were at rage. Nayeon, in all of her honesty, was a bit taken aback by the unnecessary reaction from her friends. She was packing her bags, the flight will be in the afternoon, Jihyo barging inside her room followed by Sana who's face says she's already done with this drama, holding her temples as if it went through a trauma.

 

She was being bombarded by questions about why she wants to go there. Why she is making an abrupt decision. How Mina doesn't want to see her. How she would make Mina uncomfortable and anxious.

 

Why this. Why that.

 

It's been 2 years. Maybe she wants to see me now.

 

Nayeon doesn't have any answers. She really wished she does. But maybe it was at the back of her throat.

 

She saw Sana crying out her frustration.

 

"You never saw Mina break that night."

 

Were the last words she heard from her before she left the room.

 

"You don't deserve her," were the last from Momo.

 

Whispered softly in the winds of Seoul, Nayeon carried it too, like a baggage.

 


 

I miss her selfishly.

 

Nayeon heard her brain said it, amidst the busy streets of Haneda. Overlooking the city in her own eyes. Bustling cars and people running past her. Tokyo overwhelms her sometimes. For the first time, she breathes in the air. It's cold in January and she had to hold onto her scarf a little more.

 

Nayeon took out the city map from her inside pocket and browsed. She squinted as she searched for Sateyaga. According to Sana, it was a walk away from the airport. She also said how Mina is obsessed with the place. Nayeon decides she'll have a quick lunch, thinks of shooting Mina a quick text hello and just be done with it.

 

She took sip from her lemon tea after finishing her first Tokyo meal, wiped the corners of her mouth with tissue and typed in Mina's name from her contacts.

 

1:15
"Hi Mina, I'm in Tokyo. I was wondering if we could catch up maybe?" -Nayeon

 

One minute passed.
Two.
Five.
Ten.

 

Thirty.

 

She had finished her drinks, too, and had been thinking of buying a cold tea since it's only 1 p.m. and her check-in is not until 2.

 

1:42
"Nayeon unnie, it's been a while."
What's up?
where are you staying?"

 


1:43
"Plat Hostel. Near the airport. We should meet, Minari :)"

 

2:30
"I'm kind of occupied at the moment."


2:30
"Tomorrow then?"

3:21
"Tomorrow, too. Sorry, Nayeon."

 

 

If she was about to cry, Nayeon wouldn't admit. But she grabbed a few table napkins just in case the tears roll down but it didn't. But she heard a clink of shattered glass inside her chest. Maybe a piece fell. It sounded stupid when she replays it inside her head. But she heard her heart break.

 

To actually break for the first time.

 

She has not heard anything from Mina since then. It's been two days. And she was kind of hoping the younger girl would reach out and ask if she's free. At least ask why she's in Tokyo. Not that she has answers to that. Because there's no other reason why she's booked a flight to Japan.

 

Her eyes started to sting and her throat feels like she's swallowing bricks. Tokyo makes her feel things. She turned the t.v. off from her hotel room and decides to go out and maybe head to see the Red Light District in Shinbuku. Momo said it's best to go there at night. She slipped on her  comfortable boots, grabbed her phone and left.

 

Nayeon has no intentions of vacation. This isn't what she came here for. She came for a certain blonde. At least she was blonde the last time she saw her, two years ago, inside her room, building some lego. That was the last image of Mina she remembered. Smiling at her. Struggling with her lego. Unintentionally funny.

 

The next morning, she left for New York.

 

Her lego looks like an unfinished flower.

 

Like a lily.

 

The night definitely took Nayeon by surprise. The icy temperature bites into her denim jacket. She coiled her scarf around her neck and tied her hair in a bun. She took out the city map and was glad that she's wearing glasses because the Japanese texts makes the font tinier in the small material.

 

Nayeon took some random photos with her Nikon camera. Staring at the mass of people going here and there. Animatedly talking in a language she doesn't understand. She took pictures. Of people, of the small ramen place packed with older Japanese men, the neon signs, the steam coming off of the udon restaurant, the rattling of charcoal in the grills on an incredibly narrow street, the amusing tiled infrastructure of Tokyo. If she could take a picture of the freezing cold, she would. Nayeon inhaled the cold breeze but remembered Mina as she exhaled. She remembers her in the winter. When it's cold and all Mina does was smile.

 

She feels like a fireplace in Vienna.

 

When Nayeon felt her feet betraying her after 30 minutes of walking. She took a seat on a bench past the busy part of Shinbuku. Beside a Japanese couple who shares a corndog quietly. She took out her phone and decides to finally send a message to Mina.

 

7:28
"Night is young, Minari. You should see me. It's freezing here."

 

7:30
"Where are you?"


7:30
"Red light, Kabuchiko. Plus I'm hungry."

 

7:32
"There's a nice small place there, Kuriya. You should try it."

 

10:32
"I passed by it earlier. Are you still busy?"

 

10:34
"Not really, no."

 

10:34
"Then come have dinner with me, Minari."

 

"Please?"

 

Another thirty minutes had passed and Nayeon didn't get any responses. Her hands were red and numb from waiting to text back. She wore her leather gloves back after realizing that Mina probably fell asleep. She'll try again tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day. Until when will she be in Tokyo anyways? A question one for herself, and another for the reason why she's here.

 

She walked back to the street where she came from, stopping in front of the small restaurant Mina recommended. It looks homey with the wooden interior and dimmed lights. At the front door lies the name of the restaurant both in Japanese and English. She also noticed how few people are already inside how this part of Kabuchiko isn't that much crowded compared to the East gates.

 

She scrolled through the pictures from her camera and was in awe of the grandeur of the city. She made a mental note that she'll send the pictures to Mina so that she knows where she went to while in Japan. Not that she cares, she thought.

 

This must be why Mina kept coming back.

 

Nayeon just took everything in. She took a few more pictures of an old couple sitting outside the resto when she saw the menu displayed outside.

 

This doesn't look english to me, Nayeon thought.

 

She's been contemplating whether she'd eat alone in a busy Shinbuku night, and maybe struggle with herself while ordering or just go back to her hotel, probably watch a cool comedy show and just have room service with an english menu.

 

"Need help with some Japanese, Nayeonnie?"

 

Nayeon swore her heart rate dropped upon hearing her voice. It doesn't sound alien to her ears. It sounded like mornings in Jeju. Waves crashing and falling back in. The voice. The mockery. The playfulness. With her heart hammering, with her senses collapsing, her sanity so close to just shutting everything off.

 

She hasn't looked but she smiled and looks at the ground beneath her, her boots. She hasn't even seen her face. But her chest is warm. But not like a fireplace anymore. It felt more like a forest wildfire. If she's going to cry, Nayeon wouldn't admit it again. Nayeon wouldn't do it here.

 

But her eyes sting so much. And her lungs are constricting air.

 

She turned her head from where the voice was coming from and saw her. Finally being able to look her in the eyes.

 

Finally.

 

Fucking finally.

 

Mina.

 

With her long coat, white sweater paw, a shy smile, and her now jet black and straight hair.

 

Mina after two long fucking years. She still looks soft and warm. Like she had aged two years but the math didn't add up.

 

Nayeon felt herself levitating. Her winter boots leaving the Tokyo grounds.

 

Mina smiled.

 

And Nayeon, she felt it for the first time.

 

Nayeon swore she's forgotten to breathe. Why it's important she doesn't know. Why she's loss of words, she doesn't know. How long she's been staring, she doesn't know.

 

And if she would say she's about to breakdown in front of an old friend, she'd lie of course. Inside her head, is a whole card deck of questions. Inside Nayeon's heart, it's just the queen of hearts.

 

Here.

 

Nayeon swallowed most of her inhibitions.

 

"Mina," she said in almost a whisper, she thought it was just inside her head.

 

"Nice to see you here, Nayeon,"

 

Mina smiled and everything just faded away.

 

When Mina pulled Nayeon into the small entrance, all Nayeon did was follow and hold onto the younger girls arms. Linking into her by instinct, not by choice. No words ever dare leave her mouth.

 

Their conversation is a brew between calm and somehow a bit awkward. Nayeon blamed it to the two-year gap. But Nayeon felt warm in this vicinity. In her vicinity. Inches away from Mina felt home. It always had been home. Maybe that's why she feels so lost for 2 years.

 

Maybe.

 

She let Mina tell her stories. She's never quiet when with her contrary to what people know. She spoke about New York and theatre and how she is now busy with production and writing instead of acting. She spoke about her apartment in the city and about how she worries about playing too much video games during her free time. She talks about buying a Vespa and strutting the city in it. Old school.

 

She talks about having friends and going places. 

 

All the while, Nayeon listened. She imagined it as how Mina described and filled her mind with memories of her that didn't happen.

 

Nayeon finished her dinner with a cup of tea and asked the Japanese waiter about her same age that she'll have the rest to take out. Mina did the same.

 

"Where do you stay?" Nayeon asked as they walk past a group of teenagers wearing Pokemon hats.

 

"Just a taxi ride from here. I rented an apartment here since I liked the city. It has everything I needed for now,"

 

Nayeon nodded, looking again at the ground beneath them. "What about Kobe?"

 

"Kobe is Kobe. My parents and brother are there now. I just have some important things to settle here in Tokyo," she said, eyes smiling.

 

"And New York?"

 

"Is New York. I may still come back every now and then."

 

"Can I walk you home?"

 

Nayeon was just as surprised with the new found courage and saw how Mina was caught up with the question she probably never saw coming.

 

"Where do you stay?" It was Mina's turn to ask.

 

"Plat. Just a small hotel near the airport,"

 

Nayeon saw Mina took in a deep breath, nodding as if she knew the place.

 

Mina rubbed her hands together, looked at the sky and blew off the winter chill in her hands.

 

"Let's stop by the park and then you can take me home. I need to burn that ramen," she smiled. Fully looking at Nayeon. The older girl felt her chest constrict. Tight and uncomfortable. It was her who broke the staring. It was her who couldn't handle the heat. Since when did Mina had the courage.

 

Since the skating rink night out maybe.

 

Sometimes, she doesn't like her head when it thinks.

 

They walked a few more minutes before reaching the farthest part of the park and took an empty bench and Nayeon motioned the younger woman to sit with her.

 

"So you'll stay here for two weeks?"

 

Nayeon nodded. Her head ready to answer they why's and what for's. But they never came. Of course. This is Mina in front of her. Not that she doesn't care. She always do. She just don't talk that much. Since then and until now. They sat there for what felt like hours.

 

Last night Nayeon decided to book a ticket for her flight back to Seoul. It makes her feel like she's running out time. Challenging her core to do as it should.

 

Then she saw Mina's ungloved hands. Red as her cheeks.

 

"Are you used to the cold?"

 

"Not really," she giggled while rubbing her palms together.

 

Nayeon took off her gloves.

 

"What are you doing?"

 

Nayeon took Mina's hands into her own and gently rubbed theirs together. Her hands are soft and cold and Nayeon is at the verge of losing things tonight.

 

For example, her gloves. And another, her sanity.

 

"Wear this, I know how you're easily cold,"

 

"I'm okay,"

 

"I insist. Don't argue with older people,"

 

Mina laughed before accepting defeat.

 

Nayeon took her time, slipping the smooth leather, gliding softly into Mina's fingers. There are some things that she didn't want to end tonight.

 

They sat there for a few minutes more. Quietly observing the place.

 

The crowd is starting to die down together with the night.

 

Sometimes, Nayeon would glance at Mina. In a haste. In the corner of her eyes. Just to get a glimpse of what she's lost in those two whole years. Or three. Back when she didn't know. Back when all she knew was having fun, playing around.

 

Breaking hearts.

 

She took another mouthful of Tokyo air before Mina stood up, looking at her. Her eyes were unreadable as they always were.

 

They walked for 10 minutes more before they're finally in front Mina's tiny apartment on the quieter part of the city, past the city lights and busy neighborhood.

 

She hesitated for a moment when Mina stopped in front of the gated door. She can't ask Mina if she could come in. Guests don't ask that. Nayeon has her tongue on her throat for the nth time tonight. Her brain feeding her thoughts about not letting the night go. But Nayeon, had too much pride in her shoe. She  held her jacket tighter and was about ready to say goodbye.

 

"I-It's been nice seeing you again, Mina"

 

Mina didn't say anything. Nayeon was close to begging. She waited. Her head in a whirlwind of battle. Fighting over a question. Mina was just smiling, her eyes focused on her winter boots.

 

"Can we meet again tomorrow?" Nayeon asked, voice close to cracking.

 

Mina sighed.

 

"I'm quite b-"

 

"Busy. Yeah okay. Okay. I understand."

 

"-are you getting married here or what," Nayeon blurted out. But it wasn't a question. It wasn't as if her voice was breathy and her eyes are stinging, but maybe it was from the cold. Not because Mina is blatantly avoiding her after the fact that she knew how short her stay would be. She had to ask. She had to know.

 

She must be with someone right?

 

Because look at her.

 

Just look at her.

 

Nayeon thought all to herself.

 

"No, Nay-"

 

"I'm kidding," she smiled. But it never reached her eyes. And Nayeon wasn't kidding. She's pissed. And she is somehow relieved. It was actually a relief. But she wanted to be relieved of other things, too. Like, is Mina seeing someone. When is she coming back to Seoul. Does she even want me here because it doesn't feel like it. Maybe Sana was right. Maybe she shouldn't be here. And maybe Momo was, too. That she doesn't deserve her.

 

"You never saw Mina break that night."

 

It rang in her ears and it stung her like a bee. And it hurts more when the person is looking at her now as if she's invisible. As if she isn't there.

 

As if they never shared the same bed, and dorm and friends. As if they never tasted each other's skin. As if they never shared whispers of lust late at night from years ago.

 

Four years ago, on Wednesdays, when the coast was clear and Nayeon has time for Mina, she would curl up on her side of the bed, leaving Momo behind with Sana. And Mina would tuck her in. Until she has to go outside and meet with a random guy she wishes to. And when she comes back, Mina would be out of bed. She waits, but Mina takes so much time inside the shower at 4 in the morning on Wednesdays.

 

And she always wondered why.

 

Her thoughts were interrupted when Mina bid her goodnight. She didn't hug her, no. She didn't give her a peck on the cheeks, like what friends do. She didn't touch her. Mina turned her back from her, smiled shyly before eventually closing the door ever so lightly.

 

"Next time." Nayeon whispered all to but herself.

 

She went back into her own hotel room that night. Her chest heavy with five years of whatever. And sleep never came.

 


 

 

Second week came by faster than Nayeon intended it to be. She had only met Mina once. She had asked her on the weekend but Mina was busy. She knew that even if she didn't tell her friends about the situation, they'd still know somehow. Maybe they asked Mina and maybe they're either laughing at her saying she deserves this, or maybe they emphatize with her, borderline pity, but at this point Nayeon doesn't care.

 

Nayeon's flight is on a Friday and it's Tuesday so she decides to send Mina a quick text message. She just found out about this arcade in town, which Mina probably already knows. And there's a cute sushi house beside it too. Maybe they can have dinner after. Whichever Mina wants to do first. Whatever.

 

5:30
"Hope you're not too busy today because I figured you might want to go out on a sushi night with me? My treat!"

 

And Nayeon waited.
Nayeon looks at her watch for the nth time and saw it's now 8 pm. And she's quite hungry.

 

And Mina never replied back. And how many times she heard her heart shatter here in Tokyo, she lost count. And she knew it was all her fault. She never told Mina about the trip, she probably has a lot of engagement. No one asked her to come to Japan and accommodate her like a guest.

 

It's all hers.

 

And she can't blame Mina but she can blame her for not replying at a text message sent at 5:30 and left unreplied by 8. But Nayeon chose not to. She chose to grab her coat, go out, have dinner at the sushi place alone. Maybe next time, she'll try the arcade, too.

 

Thursday came by faster than Nayeon expected.

 

The plain white futon in her room is occupied by clothes she's preparing for her flight tomorrow.

 

She saw a text from Jihyo asking if she's ready. She shot her a quick 'yes'.

 

Finally when Nayeon was fully packed, she laid her back on the mattress, closing her eyes, feeling the comfort of the night and the idea of leaving. In her head, she saw Mina in a coat with a shy smile pulling her inside the ramen house. Her black hair is so beautiful. Her moles are more prominent. Her cheeks, crimson from the cold. She imagined Mina animatedly talking  while sitting in front of her sipping her tea.

 

Then she imagined Seoul without her.

 

She imagined the time when she woke up and Sana said Mina left for New York.

 

She was with Jackson back then. A fling of two months. When Nayeon heard the news she called Mina the moment her plane landed. But Mina didn't answer. She didn't for two years. So when she heard about Mina being in Japan, it's the closest she could get. Nayeon could do Japan. Japan is easy.

 

Japan is close and familiar.

 

But although Nayeon is here, she felt that Mina really isn't. And she is not sure what shatters her heart more. To be in alone Seoul or be alone in Tokyo.

 

She physically drained her thoughts that night. Of memories that are easier to take. Like that of one time when her car broke down and Mina offered her a ride home. They never arrived. They went into a hill, overlooking the city and spent the night inside Mina's car, drank cheap beer and fogged up the windows. Nayeon remembered Mina leaving her a mark. A possible marking of a territory. Mina said she was sorry but basically she isn't based on the smirk plastered on her face. 

 

They arrived home in the morning and spent the whole day watching Grey's Anatomy.

 

She remembered another memory.

 

It was Sana's birthday and they were playing truth or dare. The bottle pointed to Mina first and then to Momo.

 

'Dare,' Mina said.

 

She readied herself and scooted closer as Momo,  trying to reach out when Nayeon hastily grabbed Mina by the hand and excused her, saying she needed someone to buy drinks with her asap because they're 'running out of drinks'.

 

She earned defeaning boo's from her friends for missing a possible smooching action. Momo said she wasn't subtle with the jealous thing. But she doesn't care. She got Mina. She was all smiley when they went to the convenience store. And when everyone were passed out drunk at four in the morning, Nayeon grabbed Mina by the waist, sat her on top of the kitchen counter and kissed her instead that night.

 

Nayeon thought that all of her memories of Mina brings warmth and it makes her miss her more.

 

Longing. Is a weird feeling.

 

Night came but sleep never did. She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and is having an internal debate whether to send a message to Mina or not.

 

Nayeon thought it's just reasonable to at least say goodbye and tell her that she's thankful that she made time for her despite the busy schedule. 

 

But that night, before anything else, Nayeon cried.

 

Nayeon cried while typing, she cried while brushing her teeth. She cried while watching t.v. Cried when she saw Mina's name pop up from her phone.

 

What.

 

Nayeon quickly opened the text.

 

Mina:
"Outside your hotel. Brought crab soup :)"

 

Nayeon rubbed her eyes.

 

She didn't reply. She just picked up her robe, tripped on her rabbit slippers, quickly grabbed her keys, wore her eye glasses and run quickly to the elevator. Avoiding weird stares from strangers. She gave them a humorless smile.

 

Nayeon saw Mina first, in the dimly lit lobby. Fixing her hoodie while holding their dinner in a crumpled, brown paper bag.

 

And Mina saw her.

 

And Nayeon, she didn't fight it this time. She didn't swallow her emotions whole together with the her pride. Instead, she walked slowly, holding her last bit of self-esteem, holding the same pair eyes of the woman before her, and leant in a for a peck in her cheek. It lingered longer than she intended. The body before her froze in place. So she pulled Mina in for an embrace. And Mina held her too. She felt the embrace tighten.

 

And her eyes started to sting.

 

But she had drained her tears tonight didn't she?

 

"Let's go," slurring and dragging her words in a playful shamble. Mina laughed along with her, offered her arms while the Nayeon linked them naturally. Like before.

 

When Nayeon is nervous, she's jumpy and annoyingly moves too much. Mina felt the need to say something or else Nayeon would be a mess.

 

"I'm really sorry I've been so busy. You're leaving tomorrow already?,"

 

"No need to apologize, Mina. I understand,"

 

"I'm glad I dropped by before you go,"

 

"I know you can't quit me,"

 

Mina looked are her, eyes asking.

 

"I'm---I mean, I-"

 

"I sure can't,"

 

Nayeon stood in the kitchen counter, dumbfounded with the sudden revelation. A revelation she's not sure of. Between Mina and her, the air is just full of unanswered question. Mostly from her.

 

Nayeon turned the microwave on to reheat the food.

 

"Why are you here, Nayeon?,"

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"In Japan. In Tokyo,"

 

Nayeon stood still for a moment. Her greater self debating whether she'd just blurt it out. What is she telling Mina anyway? That she misses her? Why is she here? Because of her? It sounded nauseous. It sounded so real. Nayeon felt her head getting light as Mina drills her softest stare into her.

 

"You, Mina--"

 

"--I wanted to see you."

 

Mina left frozen in place. She looks so small inside her hotel room.

 

Nayeon swore she felt Mina's struggled breathing when the words left her mouth. Her eyes still fixed on her, her hands tucking deeper inside the pockets of her sweater shamelessly numb from hours of commuting in the streets of Tokyo.

 

Mina sat comfortably on her futon lying on the floor. Tucking in a pillow in sight.

 

"You're unpredictably annoying,"

 

Was all that Mina said.

 

Nayeon nodded in return. Agreeing with the incredulous point. She waited for snarky remarks from years of betrayal, she waited for words that would hit her right to the core. She waited for words that would want her not to wake up the next day.

 

But they never came.

 

And surprisingly it hurt her more.

 

And she remembered what Momo said.

 

And what Sana said.

 

And it hurt more. It slapped her back into a reality where she screwed up big time after realizing what she lost. She lost her in Seoul. She's losing her here in Japan.

 

"Momo said I don't deserve you. I guess she's right--,"

 

"--- I finally realized she's right,"

 

"What are you saying?"

 

Nayeon sighed. But not because of being tired. She sighed out all her frustrations from herself. She moved closer to Mina and slowly faced her. Finally being able to examine the face before her, the city lights briefly touching her features and leaving it bare with just her and her moles and her lips slightly drawn apart.

 

"I'm sorry Mina,"

 

Mina never said anything. She just motioned Nayeon to sit beside her and when she's close enough she pulled her closer and lean her head on the older girl's shoulder. They were like that for what felt like hours.

 

Tonight feels like an ending.

 

Mina closed her eyes.

 

When Nayeon noticed Mina's steady breathing, after a few minutes, she figured the younger girl fell asleep. She carefully lie her down on the mattress, tucked in some pillows and pulled a blanket to her chest. Mina doesn't snore, but she knew when Mina is asleep.

 

Nayeon pulled some strands of hair covering Mina's face and tucked it softly beside her ears. She had lied down next to her. An arms length away. Calculated her every move not to wake her up. Making sure she's on a safe distance, respecting her space.

 

This is what I lost.

 

Right here.

 

One who graces the icy nights of Tokyo to bring her crab soup,

 

In hoodie and sweatpants.

 

Nayeon stares at the wooden ceiling.

 

Tonight feels like an ending.

 

"Mina..." Nayeon whispered. She almost didn't hear her own voice.

 

"Minari.."

 

"Wake up.." Nayeon breathed.

 

"I think I'm falling inlove with you,"

 

It came out like a whisper, blown in the wind.

 

"I'm sleepy and I wanted to kiss you,"

 

Nayeon almost slurred the last words. She pulled a pillow and faced the younger girl.

 

Who is now fully awake and is looking at her, eyes glistening.

 

Nayeon didn't have time to defend herself when Mina hovered slowly on top of her, cupped face and leant in.

 

It came unexpected and Nayeon melted together with the night.

 

Her senses fading with just the image of Mina's lips on her. Sucking hers softly, tongue just gracing hers like a hint of winter with a promise of spring. She's suffocating in dreams and desires that she had missed for the years she longer for.

 

She held into Mina's waist, pleading for contact, she pulled her in for more. And Mina gave her more like she always does.

 

She curled her hands into her hair, pulling her towards more skin. She felt Mina's hand trace her neck. She felt her thighs bury into her own. She swore she heard her whimper impatiently when Nayeon took a second to breathe.

 

If Mina continues with this pace, she wouldn't last, Nayeon thought.

 

Mina.

 

"Mina,"

 

It came out like a whimper, too. It came out needy and pleasing just as she is.

 

Nayeon's hands travelled. Some places familiar. Some places new. They travelled and lingered and teased.

 

God, now she hates hoodies.

 

"I-I hate your goddamn hoodie," Nayeon said in between kissing. Mina pulled away and sat comfortably on top of her, leaving her catching her breath. Mina looked down at her with hooded eyes. High and clouded with lust and longing.

 

In a split second, she saw Mina removing the material, pulling it over her head. Revealing a glimpse of skin inside her plain white shirt.

 

"I hate white t-shirts, too,"

 

Mina took it off in front of her. Nayeon swore she's never seen anything more perfect than the person before her.

 

Nayeon took her that night. Leaving all the traces of self-doubt and future prophesies of what ifs. Mina gave it to her. Came to her. Within her. On top of her.
She lay spent and contented with her head full of silly plans of maybe, asking Mina to marry her.

 

She smiled at the thought and smiled harder when she saw Mina peacefully sleeping on her bare chest.

 

That's why when she woke up in the morning with no trace of Mina, she panicked like a child.

 

She saw a note beside the food they never ate last night.

 

"Have a safe flight.
Please let that just be one night."

 

Nayeon felt like she needed to throw up.

 

That she did.


8:17
"Hi Mina, I'm leaving this morning. I don't understand"

8:19
"I was hoping we could meet before I go and maybe talk for a bit,"

8:35
"Mina my flight is in an hour,"

8:53
"Mina, can you please come and see me before I go?"

Nayeon waited.
She hugged the pillow where Mina lay down and waited.

She called but her calls were being ignored.

Is this a fucking joke?

9:01
"Have a safe flight, Nayeon,"

 


 

Nayeon took the plane back to Seoul with a luggage that she might not be able to carry. She cursed herself for looking back.

 

As if.

 

As if Mina would magically show up in the airport and declare that maybe she loves Nayeon, too. Nayeon felt a rock inside her throat and she had been trying her best, god knows she had been trying her best not to cry.

 

No one cries in the airport, she thought.

 

At least she never saw anyone.

 

It's only in sappy movies.

 

Nayeon didn't cry. But her heart stopped beating since then.

 

The flight back to Seoul was quiet.

 


 

She was greeted by Jihyo with a warm hug. Asking if she bought her the matcha tea she'd been craving for. She said she forgot about it but she handed her a penguin-shaped candy bar she saw in a convenience store once. She gave her friend a bitter smile.

 

She was planning to give it to... someone.

 

But Jihyo took it.

 

And she understood. But she never asked. She just hugged her tighter. She let Nayeon take a shower and promised she'd be there when she needs something. She let her lock herself inside her room the whole night. 

 

When Momo and Sana came, Jihyo asked them if they could skip game night. The three watched a movie and decides to sleepover instead.

 

Nayeon never came out.

 

The next day, Nayeon said she's got a bad headache and is feeling feverish.

 

Momo made her some chamomile tea.

 

Sana and Jihyo cooked her marinated soy sauce crabs.

 

She never texted Mina that she's home.

 


 

It's been two weeks since Nayeon arrived from Tokyo. She told her friends, too, not to let Mina know about her arrival. She insisted there's no point of it anyway.

 

She was just confused.

 

So this is what it feels like.

 


 

 

"I'm craving for some Japanese. You want something, Park? I'm ordering online!" Nayeon screamed from the living room.

 

When Jihyo came out of her room, they both stood surprised.

 

"You were just in Tokyo two weeks ago Nayeon," Jihyo mocked.

 

"Where are you going?" Avoiding Jihyo's antics.

 

"Meeting with a friend,"

 

"Who?"

 

"A friend,"

 

"Well, does that friend have a name-- why the hell are you in a hurry,"

 

"Well, are you my mom,"

 

Nayeon squinted her eyes, animatedly dissecting Jihyo who was rummaging through her coat for her car keys.

 

"You're dating Sana, you can calm down now,"

 

"I'm not dating Sana, Nayeon. Thank you,"

 

"I saw you two ki--"

 

"Bye Nabongs,--oh by the way, I heard you craving for Japanese right?--

--here I got one for you, stupid,"

 

And then Jihyo left, closed the door.

 

"Where is the food?!" Nayeon screamed.

 

Then the door opened again.

 

"Uhm, hey, am I Japanese enough?" and laughed.

 

And it rang through Nayeon's ears. Because she's heard it a fucking dozen times. And she needs to hear more of it. And she wouldn't admit but she pinched herself in her arms just to make sure.

 

Hell fucking no.

 

Nayeon swore it wasn't a fever dream, or a lucid dream or a dream of any kind. She heard that laugh before. She's hearing it now.

 

"So, I heard you're craving for Japanese, hope you're still hungry, Nayeonnie,"

 

"I got salmon sushi, your favorite, oh some udon noodles, too," she continued while removing her coat.

 

Nayeon nodded. Dumb-founded. Dumbass heartbeat. Drumrolls fucking in her heart and head. Deafening her senses. All she knows is Mina. All she knows is Mina in her front door. With a bag of salmon sushi on the left and udon noodles on her right. And two cold tea mugs on both. She brought Japan with her.

 

"I-"

 

"Unnie, i need a hand, please," Mina giggled. Again.

 

Nayeon noticed how Mina was struggling and realized how stupid it is for her to not initiate the help. She quickly stood from the sofa, tripped on charger lying on the floor and eventually grabbed the food from the Japanese. Placing it on the dining table.

 

She earned a smile.

 

And she never gave it back.

 

Confused Nayeon is angry Nayeon.

 

Her heart is still hammering through her head.

 

"I'm really craving for Japanese. But, not you," she said sternly. Her eyes holding Mina's gaze.

 

"I was just kidding, Nayeon, I-"

 

"Guess what, I'm fucking not--

---I can't believe you!" Nayeon said close to screaming.

 

The moment she realized, her hand quickly shut her mouth.

 

"God, I'm sorry,"

 

Her hand automatically reaches out to the other girl.

 

Mina gets anxious with loud noises.

 

Mina wasn't looking at her, she's avoiding her gaze and she looks so confused and at the verge of crying and Nayeon is so close to breaking down and holding her again and reassuring her that the words she left that night were true.

 

It still is.

 

And for the first time, she saw Mina cry.

 

And she lost it.

 

Nayeon lost the game.

 

She forgot about the hate she bottled up and the emotions she reserved for this day when they meet.

 

She quickly held her and pulled her into an embrace.
Kissing her hair. Rocking her safe.

 

Mina never said anything. She just held onto Nayeon, crumpling her t-shirt, soaking it wet with tears.

 

For minutes she had wept while Nayeon reassures her that everything is alright. And that she'll never leave her side. Somehow this calmed Mina.

 

"I'm sorry," she started when her breathing evened out.

 

I panicked.-

 

What you said there. I'm not used to it. It scared me,"

 

Nayeon tightened her embrace.

 

"It scared me, too. Because it's you, Mina. But it was a feeling that crept up on me some 4 years ago. It lingered within me for some years more, at the back of my head, it was there. But it never introduced itself until that night. Until I finally have these thoughts of losing you again. I-I can't lose you again, Mina,"

 

Nayeon held Mina's face towards her and gave her a peck in the cheek. She's not really good with words and she hated it. Maybe that's why it got her here.

 

She took Mina's hand as they both sat on the cushioned sofa, t.v news about football softly plays in the background.

 

"You came to see me? Or stupid Jihyo?"

 

Nayeon finally saw Mina smile.

 

"I'm staying here in Seoul,"

 

Nayeon has never felt more elated with the news. 

 

"Why were you in Tokyo?"

 

"My brother is getting married next month. I basically take care of everything,"

 

Nayeon wiped traces of tears from Mina's face. And pulled her in, carrying the weight of her as Mina leant in and rested her face on Nayeon's neck.

 

"You look like an angel crying" Nayeon said while stroking her hair.

 

"You look like a rabbit,"

 

Nayeon laughed. A little too heartily, too, for the first time in two weeks since Tokyo.

 

"As I was told,"

 

"Annoying rabbit,"

 

Mina rolled her eyes. And Nayeon laughed again. This this realizing how shallow her reasons for laughing was but this is Mina making her laugh stupidly which basically means standard in her books.

 

Nayeon took Mina's hand closer into her and softly gave it a  massage and never leaving the spaces empty.

 

"When did you get here by the way?" she asked. Looking down at the other gir intently, while Mina watches the news, still clinging on to her but she's not complaining.

 

"Just today. I told our friends about it a week ago, that's why Jihyo left today, so that we could talk,"

 

"That asshole didn't even give me a hint,"

 

"She's good at keeping secrets,"

 

"Yeah, of Sana,"

 

Mina giggled. Nayeon noticed she probably knew about them, too.

 

"Well you know, since Jihyo isn't home maybe we could, you know,"

 

Mina looked up at her, eyes squinting in pseudo-thinking.

 

"You know, eat some Japanese," wiggling her eyebrows animatedly and making sure that Mina gets the hint.

 

Mina laughed and slapped Nayeon in her arms.

 

"Unbelievable, Nayeon," she rolled her eyes.

 

God I wanted this. Please give this one to me.

 

Mina stood up.

 

"Where are you going?" Nayeon whined like a baby.

 

"Heating up your Japanese. You wanted to eat 'some Japanese' right?" motioning a quote with her hands.

 

Nayeon followed suit in the kitchen while screaming that her Japanese doesn't need heating.

 

Maybe.

 

The house vibrated with laughter.

 

Nayeon's heart with unfamiliar peace.

 

When she got hold of Mina, she turned her over and kissed her hungrily, claiming her mouth in a greed that she's never felt before. Mina fought back with the same intensity, held her waist, dangerously threading the exposed skin, giving pressure to the right places.

 

When they parted, they were both out of breath. And Nayeon was clinging into Mina, holding her steady looking at her eyes, her lips. Dragging her eyes down to her chest, too.

 

She knows what she wants.

 

Mina playfully brought her chin up for focus.

 

Focus, Nayeon.

 

Her eyes are whining. Mina eyes were scolding hers.

 

"I guess we should practice eating every food I bring you," Mina mocks.

 

Nayeon kissed her in the shoulder while Mina puts the ramen in the microwave for heating and prepares the sushi on a plate.

 

Mina opened one of the chopsticks and stuffed Nayeon's mouth with a maki.

 

"You're a such a baby. A super whiny ba--"

 

"Would you be my girlfriend?"

 

"I-I just wanted to make us official and--" Nayeon said stumbling with the rights words.

 

Mina stood frozen in place, a maki stuck mid-air in between her chopsticks.

 

"I'm serious. I-I don't know what to say. I'm not good with words so i kind of hope I made it obvious,"

 

Mina smiled.

 

"Is that a no?"

 

Mina bursted out laughing leaving Nayeon extremely nauseous and confused.

 

"I smiled and you assumed it's a 'no'?"

 

"So it's a yes?"

 

"No,"

 

"What??"

 

"I'm just messing with you, silly," patting Nayeon's nose with her index as she heads back into preparing their dinner.

 

"You can't do that,"

 

She moved closer to Mina, observing how the latter carefully plates the maki one by one.

 

"Yes," she said after what feels like hours.

 

"Yes what?"

 

"Maybe I could do girlfriends I guess,"

 

Nayeon looks as if she has seen a ghost and liked it. Her face buried in deep crimson that she couldn't hide. It's not helping, too, when Mina quickly stole chaste kiss from her cheeks. Inside she's panicking and her heart is leaping in light years. Outside, she's just smiling like an idiot. Not saying anything. She just watch as Mina prepares the table.

 

Mina just smiles at her evey now and then. Understanding her current state of mind.

 

"Come here, Nayeon," Mina called after washing her hands on the sink.

 

Nayeon moved towards her and captured her lips without a warning. Mina took it and claimed it. Nayeon tasted everything there is that Mina is willing to offer. She indulged in Mina's smell, savored her lips with need and held onto her waist, sometimes dangerously sliding lower as she pulls her in.

 

Mina let out a moan.

 

Nayeon felt that hit her core she felt she almost came.

 

"Nayeon," Mina said panting. "F-food."

 

Nayeon agreed with a 'hmm' but didn't really do anything instead, she resides Mina's neck, kissed and nipped her lobe, her pulse point while cornering her in defeat . She felt Mina held tighter onto the counter. Exposing her neck wider for Nayeon's attention.

 

"Nay-"

 

"Food,"

 

Nayeon whined and Mina finds her amusing and started laughing at her childish antics.

 

Nayeon looks like a child who didn't get to buy her favorite candy at the grocery store. And Mina is trying so hard not to make it too obvious that she wanted to give it to her.

 

But they have to stop NOT eating the food on the table.

 

"So what do we do after eating?" Nayeon asked, brows meeting in the middle, her pout visible.

 

She didn't even try to hide her frustration and Mina is having so much fun.

 

Mina sat on the table.

 

"We will clean up,"

 

"And?"

 

"Take a shower, maybe?"

 

Nayeon pulled her chair with a little bit of force.

 

"And then?"

 

"I wanna watch a movie with my girlfriend,"

 

"And then what?"

 

"We could go outside for a coffee, too"

 

"AND THEN WHAT?"

 

Nayeon growing so impatient, shoving the ramen down her throat, a little quicker than normal.

 

"Hmmm,"

 

Mina pretends to think.

 

Nayeon pierces her eyes through her animatedly.

 

"Then we can finally go to sleep!" Mina exclaimed, clapping her hands.

 

"NO ONE IS SLEEPING TONIGHT,"

 

"Oh yeah? What are you gonna do Nayeonnie?"

 

"I--"

 

"Yeah?" Mina teased.

 

Nayeon leant in across the table, parting a strand of hair and whispered something in Mina's ears.

 

She went back into sitting to see a very flushed Mina breathing heavily before her. Pupils dilated. She noticed how she swallows thickly. Her eyes looked fogged and she's taken pride into making her feel that way. Mina looked at her as if she's ready to completely ignore all the food in the table and just jump in.

 

Nayeon smirks devilishly. She continued to eat her ramen avoiding eye contact. Panicky Mina dipped the sushi in the udon bowl.

 

They never got to finish the food that night. 

 

But Nayeon,

 

Nayeon finally got her Japanese.

 


 

END.