She started watching the moment her senior told Maru that she was interested in him. She didn’t do so on purpose. She went to the bathroom because of the strange atmosphere, but in that short moment, the two were already talking. She had to step out at that moment. She should have shown up right at that moment with a clueless smile on her face.
However, she wasn’t able to do so. Her senior’s words stopped her. It was like a confession. She flinched and collapsed on top of the platform. She saw the two people through the flower garden behind the platform.
Her senior changed her words. She didn’t just express her interest, but outright expressed that she liked him. At that moment, she felt dizzy. She didn’t know that her senior would reveal her feelings so quickly. Although she calmly conversed with her before, she was feeling very complex on the inside. Her senior was a very famous idol. On top of that, she was pretty. Everyone she met evaluated her in a good way. Such a person was saying that she liked Maru, so there was no way she was comfortable with that.
Honestly, she didn’t have the confidence. Maru told her that he liked her, but she didn’t think that that would last forever. They were both just high school students. There was no way love gained at that time would last forever. They would have to separate one day, and she thought that she would just treat it as one of the good memories of her student days. She thought that it was only a matter of fact that he would move on to a better girl if one appeared. She consoled herself that way.
They would have to become strangers or friends one day. She thought that she would be just a little disappointed if they broke up now, and that she would be able to deal with it soon.
However, that wasn’t the case.
Her chest ached. It ached so much that she couldn’t breathe. It felt like there was a huge stone pressing down on her lungs. That stone even blocked out her cries. She could neither breathe nor cry. The only thing she could do was to watch the two people continue their conversation.
She couldn’t hear any of Maru’s words. She only heard her senior boldly confessing her feelings towards him. Every time her words passed through her ears, serious dizziness overwhelmed her.
Why? How? Was this something to be so shocked about? It was strange. Maru wasn’t an object one could own. He was free to love anyone. He might like her, but he might as well not like her as well. Everything was up to him after all. She was supposed to be able to accept that even if he told her that they should break up, and she was supposed to be able to just accept the fact after getting angry once, but her heart just raced like it was broken, and now it was powerlessly slowing down.
Her brain was whispering to her that it wasn’t anything much and that she should just laugh it over once those two decided to date, but her feelings were the opposite. She tried consoling herself by telling herself that the pain wouldn’t last a long time, but it was no good.
Maru looked around. She flinched back and hid behind a large plant. Now, she couldn’t leave either.
Right now, she had some scary thoughts. Even if the two affirmed their feelings towards each other and started dating, wouldn’t she be able to continue her relationship with Maru if she pretended she didn’t know anything? Wouldn’t it be okay even if Maru went to meet her senior in secret as long as he acted the same way in front of her?
She was startled out of her wits and shook her head. That was no good. That wasn’t good at all. She was already preparing herself for tragedy. She was already preparing for the worst. She was already drawing a picture where she sustained herself with the little bit of affection that Maru would give her without seriously having any feelings for her.
‘Like a pet.’
She clasped her hands. She tensed her toes as well. Then, she perked her ears. Now, she could hear Maru’s voice. The voice she consciously tried to block out could be heard again. She resolved to herself. If the two became lovers right now, then she would immediately rush out to them, slap both of them in the face, and smirk at her senior. Then, she would go home and start crying. Everything would be okay after crying a little.
That was how normal people would react. She didn’t want to become a tragic heroine. If it was going to be a tragedy anyway, she wanted to have her revenge. She didn’t want to be the Juliet that drank poison and followed Romeo to death.
Despite how she felt though, her arms and legs were trembling endlessly. She was feeling just how big Maru’s presence was in her heart. It was just one year. He had recklessly come to her house and confessed recklessly. He was a selfish man who only knew himself. Yet, right now, his presence filled her heart.
At that moment, Maru approached her senior and grabbed her senior’s shoulders. Their two faces slowly closed in on each other. She wanted to turn her head away. She wanted to pretend that she hadn’t seen anything. It would be much better for her heart if she just stayed ignorant. The two pairs of lips were about to touch each other. She felt as though the floor had disappeared. It felt like both her body and soul were falling into the abyss. She tried to stand up with a groan, but she couldn’t put any power into her body.
Actually, she had faith that Maru would keep looking her way; that he would firmly refuse her senior’s confession. However, his actions right now seem to indicate that he was about to kiss her senior, and her senior wanted to reject that. Was Maru that kind of boy? Was that all he amounted to?
She felt complex in her head. She was angry at herself for still having faith in such a person. Even though she witnessed decisive evidence, her heart was open to Maru. She felt stupid. She felt pathetic. A person with free will, a person that wasn’t a toy would not find any excuses while looking at such a scene.
She decided to rush out and ask him what he was up to. Then, she thought that she would apologize to her senior. She pushed against her knees and stood up halfway when Maru spoke. She put down her foot that she was about to lift. Instead, she just looked at Maru absent-mindedly.
Maru cleared up his relationship with her senior with a firm expression. Her senior became obstinate and spoke a few more lines, but Maru shook his head and drew the line and said that he would never become lovers with her. In fact, he even got angry and said that he was not comfortable with her actions.
Seeing that, she felt indescribably complex. First, she was happy. She was incredibly happy that Maru only thought about her. At the same time, she felt pathetic for reacting to every word of his. There was no need for her to hide, there was no need for her to feel anxious, but she fantasized about a non-existent future and pained herself.
Her chest felt much better as though nothing had happened to it. The sweet air filled her body. At the same time, she started crying. Even though it was nothing to cry about, she still cried. If she didn’t hold herself back, she might have started bawling her eyes out. She covered her mouth and blocked any sound that came from her mouth. It would be embarrassing if she got found out right now. If she did get found out, she wouldn’t leave her room for a long while. Like, really.
At that moment, she heard Maru’s voice.
“To me, she is that very breath.”
She was just regaining her vitality from almost becoming ash, and she heard those words. She didn’t know what to think, it just felt like Maru’s usual cheesy words. He said those words like it was nothing. She gained enough immunity to such words from hanging out with him a lot, but she felt very embarrassed right now. If it was just the two of them, she would have just giggled, but he was saying that seriously to her senior.
Despite that, those embarrassing words were adorable. The serious feelings in those words came to her. How could she help but not love Maru who said to anyone anywhere at any moment that he loved her? Of course, that didn’t mean that she wasn’t feeling embarrassed. Now, she felt like she would never be able to go up to those two. She felt that her face would redden up and burst the moment she stepped out.
At that moment, Maru looked straight into her eyes. She was startled. Maru looked like he knew she was here.
She realized why Maru said all those things to her senior. He might have had some intentions to tease her, but it looked more like he was scolding her. Why are you hiding? Why can’t you be more bold about it? I’m bold when it comes to you.
Maru seemed to be saying those words.
“Anyway, once she comes back, tell her to finish the lunchbox. You have to.”
He looked at her again after saying ‘you have to’. She lowered her head. Maru walked up the platform. She hugged her knees and looked down at the ground.
Having walked up the platform, Maru stopped next to her for a moment.
“If you did nothing wrong, then don’t hide. No, even if you have done something wrong, don’t hide. If you have any worries, tell me at any moment. That’s why I exist. Don’t get pained all by yourself, and don’t fantasize about foolish things. Also, if you want to hide, then hide properly. What are you doing in the open? Covering your head with your hands won’t do any good.”
“So, what are you going to do? It’ll be awkward if you go down right now.”
“But I will go down anyway.”
“Really? Then do what you want. Oh, don’t forget to finish your lunch.”
She looked upwards. Maru patted her head twice before going towards the staff. She took a deep breath before looking towards her senior once. Her senior made a vain smile before kicking a can on the ground with an angry face. The empty can made a twang as it was flung across the sports field. Her senior looked at the can for a while before sighing and went to pick it up.
She quietly walked down from the platform. Her senior looked at her once before looking down. She didn’t know what to say. It felt like consoling her was overstepping the line and smiling would make her look crazy. She had no choice but to sit down without a word and pick up her lunch. Maru’s words that told her to finish her lunch spread in her mind.
“I just told Maru that I liked him.”
Her hands holding the chopsticks trembled. She didn’t think that her senior would mention it right away. She didn’t know what kind of expression to make. She couldn’t get angry nor could she look at her with pity.
“Wow. This is the first time I've felt like this. Call me cocky, but the only time when things didn’t go the way I wanted was when I was young. Ever since I became a trainee, everything went the way I wanted it to. I was able to control myself and my environment as I wished. Lots of people swore at me for that, but just as many, no, even more people than that liked me.”
Her senior sighed and put her chin on her hands.
“But recently, nothing goes the way I want to. Whether it’s acting, or the atmosphere within the group. Do you know? The group is in shambles right now. It might dissolve. We are at the peak of our popularity on the surface, but it’s like walking on thin ice once we go back to the residence. Honestly, it’s tiring.”
Hearing the sudden story, she held her breath and started listening. Her senior talked about everything as though she was confessing.
“You know? I take a lot of meds. Do you know what stomach cramps are? They hurt like hell. I feel like dying. But even if I go to the emergency, there’s no cure. The only thing I can do is take some sedatives and lie down for a moment. The doctor told me that you can only endure stomach cramps. He says stress is the problem. But man, a high school student is suffering from stomach cramps?”
“You must have had it hard.”
“It was hard. But it was still fine. There were still things that went as I wanted them to. But after they started disappearing one by one, I just couldn’t hold it anymore. What was left at the end was just the attention from the public, just that. Many people say things about how I’m putting on an act, right?”
“No! It’s not like that. My friends really like you.”
“Thanks for telling me that. Anyway, in such a situation, Maru helped me out. I was surrounded on all sides, but his criticisms made me clear my mind. I was angry, but I was more thankful than angry. That’s probably why I came to like him. I didn’t believe in Cinderella, but I think I know what it feels like to believe in it. I can see why the prince fell for the princess instantly.”
Her senior bit her lower lip before making a faint smile.
“Your boyfriend was amazing. Wow, I don’t know how he can say such an embarrassing thing in front of me. Do you wanna know what he said to me?”
“N-no, it’s fine.”
“No, you have to listen. He said that you were his breath. He said that he can’t live without you. Is this a drama or a movie? Geez, that was just absurd. But… at that moment, I became envious of you who could listen to him saying that. Also, I realized that I couldn’t like him. It would only end up with me being in pain if I liked him.”
Her senior turned around her head and looked at her. Her eyes looked resolute and didn’t contain any hesitation. She was going to avoid her eyes, but resolved herself and looked back at her resolutely.
“Do you want to slap me?”
She flinched back. Her eyes loosened as well.
“I said all that because I felt sorry. If you felt angry after listening to me, then you can hit me. Ah, I guess the face is bad. We still have some scenes to shoot. Do you want to rip my hair out or something?”
“I won’t ask twice. Are you really not going to hit me?”
“No. I’m not going to.”
“Well, then, okay. There’s an idiom that says there’s no tree that’s unfellable, but looking at him, I feel like I know what an unfellable tree is. Did you two perhaps… sleep with each other?”
“I guess you didn’t. Sorry. I’m not sane right now. Haa.”
Her senior stood up.
“You can ignore me from now on. You can leave bad comments as well. You can talk bad about me if you want. I won’t say anything to you. I will not talk to him either. So don’t worry about me. In the first place, he was only looking at you.”
She looked up towards her senior. Her senior looked relieved yet depressed. She saw her hands trembling on her legs. It looked like she was about to cry.
“I just feel really frustrated. It’s because of him, so you don’t need to worry about me. I just feel a little stuffy, so….”
She looked at her senior who started talking all by herself before standing up and hugging her. She felt like she had to do that. Her senior was cornered. Maru appeared as someone who she could lean on in such a situation, so perhaps she became reliant on him. Yet, Maru decided to turn away from her. How would she feel? The group she debuted in was unstable, and her acting had hit a block. Although she was older than her, she was still a feeble high school student. She might be just as much of a crybaby as her.
She patted her senior on the back. Her senior started crying.
* * *
“That world is really unpredictable.”
Maru sighed as he watched her and Chaerim walk hand in hand around the school. He didn’t know what happened between the two, but it looked like they made up. Just now, the two walked up to him and said some incomprehensible stuff before giggling and walking away. He felt confused.
“Girls are really unpredictable creatures, aren’t they?”
“Uh, yeah. I’ve been single my whole life, but I heard that.”
Woojoo looked away as he spoke.
Maru fell silent.
“Well… I’ll probably get married some day,” Woojoo spoke bitterly.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Woojoo, I feel you bro...
Also, I think I've made a final decision on how I'm going to do the italicizing.
For paragraphs where only Cute She Her is referred to as 'she/her' I will only italicize the first pronouns of every sentence. When other people are referred to as 'she/her' I will italicize every pronoun referring to Cute She Her. It should be very obvious when Cute She Her is the only one so that should be fine. Also, I refuse to italicize 'herself' cuz it looks ugly.
Thanks for bearing with my trial and error!