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Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

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Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

Post by miss_misa on 7/7/2009, 7:42 am

Beyond Happily Ever After
by miss_misa

What happens after the fairytale gets its happy ending?

Main Characters
Choi Siwon
Young Hei Ryung (Fictional OC)

Supposrting Characters
Remaining members of Super Junior
Bae Seulgi
Anyone else that decides to pop in, lol


P.S.-- My poster for this fic is being resized. I'll post it later. :-)
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miss_misa

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Re: Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

Post by miss_misa on 7/7/2009, 7:45 am

Prologue

No one really looks beyond the “happily ever after” endings of fairytales, mainly because that’s what they are: endings. No one questions that of course the prince and his princess live the rest of their lives in bliss, or that they’d ever be apart because of the hardships they endure to be together. Everyone wants to believe in the happily ever after, so they close the book once the happy ending is achieved, content with that limited knowledge.

I believed the same, not because I’m a hopeless romantic or a fervent reader of romance novels. No, I believed in happy endings and beyond because at one point of my life, I was in my very own fairytale. I’m not talking about real princes or damsels in distress, or even large and beautiful castles. No, I think most would consider my story a “modern fairytale” set among the wealthy, the poor, the humble and greedy.

My name is Young Hei-Ryung. Just by appearance alone, I wouldn’t be considered the beautiful princess or attractive damsel in distress, like those in the classic fairytales. Honestly, I’m just the only child of the local baker, helping my parents run the family business. For the most part of my days, I’m covered in flour, so I don’t think anyone would know if I’m attractive or not, to tell you the truth. But, I know I’m not unattractive; how else would I have caught the eye of the handsome, only son of the one of the country’s wealthiest businessman? I think that has to count for something, right?

Choi Siwon was what fairytale princes were often portrayed as. He was tall, handsome and very charming. He had a smile that would make girls swoon (and he often did), and intense brown eyes that seemed to look beyond yours when he spoke. Above all else, he was a gentleman and had the manners of one. He opened doors for
women, bowed to his elders when he came across them, and always used tact when called for.

He was a gentleman and a very obedient son. His father owned the biggest and most successful chain of grocers in the country, an empire that had been built from his great grandfather’s sweat and hard work. It was expected that Siwon was to take his place at the head of the business when his father deemed it appropriate, and Siwon was more than willing to do so.

But, if you asked his parents, meeting me put a wrench in that plan.

With this business came a lot of things: wealth, opportunities and expectations. Because of this, you could say Siwon and I ran in different social circles. His was filled with important people like government officials and other wealthy entrepreneurs, while mine was close and knitted with family and friends I’d known from childhood. And, if you got right down to it, we were from different social classes.

And, I guess that’s what makes me…undesirable for someone like Siwon, according to
his arents.

The day I met Siwon, was like any other ordinary day for me. I had just finished a class at the university and was on my way home so I could work a shift at the bakery. The university was only a ten minute walk from the bakery, so I never rushed myself. The people around me, however, had places to go and people to see, and often walked faster than I did.

So was the case with Siwon when he bumped into me. I had just passed the localcoffee shop when he burst thru the front door and barreled right into me. It must have been a sight to see, two colliding figures disappearing under the explosion of papers and personal belongings on impact. All I remember was landing hard on my butt, as my book bag went sliding off my shoulder and bursting open as it hit the ground.

With papers still fluttering down to the ground, a hand was offered to me with the most sincere apology I’d ever heard. I gladly took it and was helped to my feet, only to discover a pair of very concerned brown eyes looking at me.

Like the gentleman that he was, Siwon gathered together my things, as well as his, and walked with me the rest of the way to the bakery. He said he wanted to make sure I was alright and got to my destination safely. I was too dazed to argue.

When we arrived at the bakery, my parents were immediately concerned at the sight of their daughter, their only child, being gently led by the arm, into the bakery, looking slightly disheveled. Siwon immediately told them what had happened and why he was there, causing my parents to shower him with praises and gratitude.

When I was deemed alright under my mother’s watchful eye, all attention turned to Siwon and the gifts of gratitude began to pour: a fresh cup of coffee to replace his spilt one, a freshly baked pastry, still warm from the oven, and a lifetime supply of the best they had to offer, in exchange for taking care of their daughter.

Siwon refused at first, but relented once he saw the determination of my parents. He sat with me while my father ran back to get his coffee. It was then that we shared an amused smile.

He returned to the bakery the day after that, claiming he was making good on their lifetime supply gift. But, he returned the day after that, and the day after that and the day after that, until I realized he’d been coming in everyday for a month after we’d bumped into each other. When I mentioned it to him, he finally confessed that he’d come back each day, hoping to ask me out, but always backed out.

We had our first date that night.

I won’t say it was all fairytales and bliss after that, because it wasn’t. When we started dating, we were strangers. I will admit that I was very attracted to him, but restrained myself because I really knew nothing about him. So, as we dated, we became friends. We slowly learned about one another, discovering what made the other “tick” as they say in books. I was very surprised to find we had many things in common, despite our different backgrounds and upbringings.

It was when we decided to take the next step towards an exclusive relationship that trouble started.

After only six months of dating, Siwon proposed to me. It took me by surprise, as I didn’t know he was that serious about me. He gave me a very romantic explanation that we were meant to be together, and that it didn’t matter that we only knew each other for a short time. We were soulmates and needed to be with one another. Logically, I should have been wary of him, but the romantic part of my brain seemed to overrule that warning and I ecstatically agreed to his reasoning, to him.

His parents, however, didn’t agree.

The day after he proposed, we went to see his parents at their sprawling mansion. I had never seen so many beautiful things in one place before! It was like walking into a real castle of royalty. We were greeted warmly enough, but once Siwon dropped the bombshell of our engagement, all hell broke loose.

His mother began to wail, while his father shouted very angrily. Siwon began to shout back, an action that scared me because he was usually very composed and calm. The gist of the yelling was that I was a baker’s daughter and Siwon deserved someone better than that to bring into their family. Siwon argued with his father until they were both red in the face, while I stood awkwardly next to him. It finally ended with an ultimatum: “If you do this, you are no longer my son.” Siwon responded by grabbing my hand and leading us out the door.

I tried to do what I thought was honorable, and attempted to break up with Siwon. I didn’t want to be the reason he no longer spoke to his beloved parents nor did I want him to have to give up his dreams of taking on the legacy of his family’s business. Siwon refused to take back his ring and stayed firm to his decision, even when his father repossessed his car (an 18th birthday gift) or when access to his credit cards and bank accounts were cut off. His father thought that if he cut his son, his heir, off from the life he was accustomed to, he would come crawling back.

Siwon refused. He humbly accepted a job at my parents’ bakery and worked hard beside them, all the while helping them to improve their business productivity and effectiveness. He applied what he’d learn from his father to our small family business and it worked.

We were married two weeks after Siwon’s estrangement from his parents. It was a small ceremony, with just a few family members and a handful of my friends. Afterwards we moved into the small apartment above the bakery and started our life as husband and wife.

For three years everything seemed great. With Siwon’s guidance, our bakery grew and became even more successful, allowing my parents to retire and hire on additional help. Siwon stayed on as manager, while I helped when needed, which wasn’t too often. I mainly became a housewife, something I gladly stepped into, and strove to take care of my husband and our home. My life was simple and filled with happiness, and I was content.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Siwon didn’t feel the same way. And, I was in for a very rude awakening.
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Re: Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

Post by miss_misa on 7/7/2009, 3:41 pm

Chapter 1

“Oh, crud!” I exclaimed, as I pulled the baking dish out from the oven. The oven mitt I was using had a hole in it, exposing my fingers to the extremely hot surface of the dish. I quickly, but carefully put the dish onto the stove top and ran for the kitchen sink. The moment the cold water hit my skin, I sighed with relief.

When I was convinced it was just a minor burn, I returned my attention to the task at hand: setting dinner on the table. Like clockwork, Siwon always ended his shift at 6pm, allowing the assistant manager to take over the closing duties of the bakery, while he came upstairs to eat dinner with me. The last time I’d glanced at the clock, I had fifteen minutes until his arrival.

Lucky for me, that night’s main course finished well before the appointed time, allowing me to spoon it and the sides into serving dishes that were then well arranged on our small dining table. I finished putting the plates, cutlery and cups in their proper places, and glanced at the digital clock on the stove.

6:11 pm.

What? Confused, I glanced at the large clock in the living room nearby. It read the same time. That’s strange, I thought to myself. Siwon always comes thru the door no later than 6:02.

“Maybe there’s an issue at work,” I told myself. I busied myself with some last minute things, convinced that I would hear my husband’s footsteps coming up the back stairs any minute.

However, nothing but silence came from the staircase that led from our apartment to the back door of the bakery.

By 6:25 I became a bit edgy, so I called down to the bakery. Imagine my shock when Dae-Jung, the assistant manager, informed me that Siwon had left at four that afternoon and he hadn’t been heard from since.

Of course, that put me in panic mode and I abruptly hung up on him and fumbled as I dialed Siwon’s cellphone. Voicemail, damn!

“Get a grip, Hei-Ryung!” I scolded myself. “Probably some urgent business came up and distracted him; he forgot to call.”

But, I couldn’t help but worry. For the last several days, Siwon seemed quiet and withdrawn. Everytime I had questioned him had been met with an abrupt “Nothing.” And, then he’d turn away from me. It took a few days, but I finally noticed he seemed to turn away from me, especially. It was troubling, to say the least, knowing there was something troubling him, something to do with me, but he was unwilling to share it.

When seven o’clock rolled by and Siwon still didn’t show or call, I sat down to dinner by myself. It was a weird feeling, knowing that this was the first time since we’d been married, that I was eating dinner alone; I didn’t like it. The food seemed to lose its flavor with each bite, and it took more than a glass of water to wash it all down because my throat seemed a bit dry.

I watched the minutes go by on the clock, feeling the anxiety in my chest grow by
each tic. Where was my husband?

It wasn’t until a little after nine (with the table cleared and a plate warming in the oven) that I finally heard the sound of footsteps coming up the staircase. I jumped up from the couch and pulled my robe tighter around me and anxiously waited. I heard a key being turned in the lock and the front door finally swing open.

Siwon entered the apartment, his black button up shirt unbuttoned at the top and his tie loosened so casually. It never failed to amaze me how handsome my husband could look, even in a state of dishevelment. Once his eyes rested on me, his expression turned to one of guilt, and then, just as quickly, annoyance.

“Why are you still up?” he asked, throwing his jacket onto the nearest counter. He closed the door behind him, then stalked past me into the living room.

I blinked in surprise, then turned towards him. “Excuse me?” I asked, watching as he flopped down onto the couch.

He frowned. “Why are you still up?” he repeated, bending down to slip off his shoes. “You’re usually asleep by now.” He sat upright on his seat, his posture rigid.

How could he be so calm? “And, you’re usually home by six,” I shot back, becoming annoyed.

“Are you a time clock or my wife?” he demanded, equally annoyed.

I flinched at his tone. “Your wife, of course!” I answered, trying to calm myself. The sharpness in his voice stung. “I’m sorry, Siwon. I was just worried. Dae-Jung said you’d left earlier this afternoon, but you didn’t call. And, I couldn’t reach you on your cellphone.” I gave him an apologetic smile.

“What, are you checking up on me now?” he barked, jumping up. He walked away when I moved towards him, frowning when he saw my smile replaced with confusion.

“Siwon, what is the matter with you?” I asked, hating the pleading pitch in my voice. All my worries from the last several days were now coming to a head. I moved to grab his arm, but he roughly yanked it out of the way. “Siwon, please!” Tears pricked the corner of my eyes and I hated the fact that I didn’t know exactly why I was going to cry.

“Nothing!”
he yelled, and I automatically cringed. He growled in frustration and shook his
head. “Just…just leave me alone, Hei-Ryung.” He moved past me and hurriedly
entered our bedroom, firmly shutting the door behind him.

For a moment, I stood there, staring at the closed door. He hadn’t slammed it, but he might as well have. The silence that followed Siwon’s departure was deafening and my ears were beginning to ring. There was no lock on our bedroom door, but the anger and frustration in my husband’s voice compelled me to stay away anyway.

Sighing, I sat back on the couch and pulled my legs to my chest, hugging them tightly. Our apartment was small and had only one bedroom; it looked like I was sleeping on the couch.
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Re: Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

Post by miss_misa on 7/8/2009, 11:54 am

Chapter 2

When I awoke the next morning, I found myself on the couch and tears dried on my cheeks. I felt extremely tired and my eyes felt swollen, but it was nothing compared to the ache in my heart. In all our years of marriage, Siwon had never been as cold and angry as he’d been the previous night. It was alarming, to say the least; the last time I’d seen him that angry was the day he’d told his parents of our engagement. That display had scared me, but last night terrified me, as that anger had been directed at me.

What had I done? I searched my memory for anything that I might have done to offend my husband, but the more I tried to pinpoint something – anything - I came up with nothing. Had he’d always been annoyed and stressed and I’d been oblivious? Was last night the explosion for his
pent up emotions? I honestly didn’t know.

Hesitantly, I approached the bedroom door and tentatively knocked. The apartment had only one bathroom and it just so happened to be in the bedroom. When I received no answer, I turned the knob and let the door swing open. The bedroom was empty, although the bed was unmade. There
was no sign of Siwon.

I sighed, then quickly stepped inside; I was scheduled for a short shift at the bakery, and judging from the digital clock on the nightstand near the bed, I was going to be late if I didn’t hurry.

The hot water from the shower head hit my skin in a soothing rainfall, immediately relaxing the tension in my shoulders. I shoved my head under the steady stream of water, soaking my hair and washing away the dried tears on my cheeks. I would give anything to be able to just stay in the shower and let it wash away the memories of the previous night, but I knew that wasn’t an option.

When I had showered and dressed, I finished getting ready. As I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, I made the absurd mental note to schedule a trim; my hair was getting longer and it’d been awhile since my last appointment. Siwon had always discouraged me from cutting my hair, even for trims, because he claimed he loved running his fingers through the long strands.

I shook my head, rolling my eyes at the sudden thought of my husband’s preference for my hair length. Was I really thinking about that, right at this moment? I shook my head again, took one last look at my reflection, then made my way downstairs
to the bakery.

Siwon wasn’t in the back office, much to my dismay, but it really didn’t surprise me. After his angry outburst last night, it wasn’t hard to surmise he was angry with me. To distract myself, I called a
greeting to the other workers, then headed over to the backroom to grab my apron. After I washed my hands, I set about to starting the dough for the day’s fresh bread.

It was nearly noon when I finally got word about Siwon, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

**************************************************************************

“What exactly happened?” I asked the doctor as we stood outside the operating room. I’d rushed to the hospital after getting the phone call with the news that Siwon was seriously injured and about to enter surgery. The hospital was only ten minutes away from the bakery, but the drive over had seemed longer.

The doctor, dressed in his scrubs and ready to go in, looked grimly at me. “His car collided with
a semi truck running a red light,” he answered. “Unfortunately, it was a head on collision and Mr. Choi got the brunt of it.”

“Will he be alright?” I asked, worriedly, glancing thru the small windows in the doors.

“Mrs. Choi, I’m going to be frank,” the doctor answered. “The semi truck did considerable damage to your husband’s car. He sustained serious injuries to his head. At present, we’ll have to go in and
relieve the pressure on his brain. It’s most likely that he’ll remain unconscious after the operation.”

I gasped and reeled a bit at the news. The doctor looked concerned and helped me to a nearby chair.

“Is there anyone you can call to be here with you?” he asked, taking the empty seat next to me.

I numbly nodded and pulled out my cellphone. I hit speed dial and almost burst into tears when my mother answered. With a tremble in my voice, I explained the situation, and was grateful when she told me she and my father were on their way.

The doctor looked sympathetically at me. “I’ll take very good care of your husband, Mrs. Choi,” he told me, softly. “I’ll do everything I can to help him.” When I mutely nodded, he got up from his seat and quickly entered the operating room.

My tears immediately spilled over, and I was so glad the hallway was deserted.

**************************************************************************

Three days later, after I spent every second by Siwon’s bedside, my husband opened his eyes. He took one look at me, and asked, “Who are you?”

And, at that moment, my world changed.
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Re: Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

Post by miss_misa on 7/9/2009, 4:31 pm

Chapter 3

“He has amnesia?” my mother asked, surprised. She had come by to visit like she always did, but I had pulled her aside to explain before she could enter my husband’s hospital room.

“Sort of,” I answered, tiredly. I was exhausted, both physically and emotionally, and this latest development in Siwon’s case was taking its toll. “He remembers his life up until the day we met, but anything after that, is lost. He has no memory of me or our marriage,” I added.

“How is that possible?” my mom asked, looking towards the open door to Siwon’s hospital room. Inside, Siwon lay in his bed, surrounded by his parents and several of his friends. They were all smiling and laughing, as if they’d gathered for an impromptu party. “So, he doesn’t remember you, us, at all?” she continued.

I shook my head. “The only thing he remembers is exiting the coffee shop and crashing into…something; other than that, nothing.” I answered. My mother gently hugged me, and I could feel the tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.

“So, everything is lost after that?” she asked. When I nodded, she frowned. “So, it’s as if the last three years never happened. How is he dealing with the time loss?”

“He’s still trying to wrap his head around it,” I replied, my eyes wandering once again to the hospital room. I saw Siwon’s mother kiss him on the cheek and felt my chest constrict with sadness. “He thinks it’s still the year 2007.” My mother slightly gasped, then comfortingly squeezed my hands tight.

“Excuse me,” a new voice interrupted. We both turned to see Siwon’s father standing there. He was tall like his son, and very intimidating. He was dressed in an expensive suit, which fit his stature, and complimented his wizened features. “The doctor has deemed my son well enough for release in a few weeks,” he announced. “Because of his…um, sensitive situation, we’ve asked that he be released into our care.” He stared, pointedly at me, as if daring me to oppose
his wishes.

My eyes widened. “But…but, he’s my husband!” I protested. “He should come home with me.”

Mr. Choi’s eyes were stern. “My dear,” he began, “he doesn’t remember you or your…marriage.” A tone of slight distaste had entered his voice at the last word. “ For all we know, he may never remember you and the life you know. Don’t you think it would be in my son’s best interest to allow him to recover in familiar surroundings?”

I glanced at my mother and saw that her lips were pursed in thin line. “And, what of my daughter?” she asked, quietly, her voice almost menacing. “Is she to just go on, as if the last three years had never happened?” She stared intently at the tall man before her, her eyes challenging. “Your son may or may not remember anything concerning my daughter, but you should at least give him the
opportunity!”

I placed a hand on my mother’s arm, hoping to calm her. In all honesty, I had never seen my mother so angry before. To Mr. Choi, I said, “All I’m asking is to be allowed to help my husband. If there is any chance that I can help him regain his memories, then I’d like to be able to see him.” I slightly bowed and felt my mother tense beside me at my actions.

Mr. Choi’s eyes narrowed, but he said nothing. He clicked his tongue and turned on his heel to walk back into his son’s room. As he walked towards the door, he called over his shoulder, “We’ll work out a visitation schedule later.” His tone was cold and final, making me flinch.

“Yah! That man is infuriating!” my mother exclaimed, frowning as she crossed her arms across her chest. “’Visitation schedule’? He acts as if Siwon is some sort of child of divorce!” She stalked down the hallway, stopping at a water fountain and took a long drink.

“Omma, please calm yourself,” I pleaded, a bit embarrassed by her vocalized displeasure. “If this is the only way to see Siwon, then I’ll gladly take it!” I gripped her hands in mine, squeezing them slightly.

She sighed. “Alright, dear,” she said, soothingly, gently patting my cheek. I’m sorry for getting so worked up. But, just so you know, I don’t trust that man. I don’t think he’ll keep his word.” She glared in the direction of Siwon’s hospital room, as if simply looking would cause the man in question to burst into flames.

I laughed. “You don’t trust anyone, omma,” I teased, hugging her with one arm.

“That’s not true!” she protested. “I trusted your father, didn’t I? If I didn’t, you wouldn’t be here now!” She winked at me, her sudden mischievousness instantly lightening the somber mood.

“Yah! Don’t tell me those kind of things!” I exclaimed, pretending to be horrified. “My existence implies way too much of what goes on between you and Appa!” I pretended to shudder.

This time, it was my mother who laughed. “For a married woman, you are still so naive!” she teased. “There’s nothing wrong with talking about the relationship between husband and wife.”

“Omma!” I protested, not wanting to hear more.

She just laughed again.

***********************************************************************************

“How are you today?” I asked Siwon as he buttoned up his shirt. He was being released today after two weeks in the hospital, and seemed to be making great physical progress, according to the doctors. Unfortunately, his brain still chose to keep me a mystery from him, which was becoming more and more of a disappointment.

He nodded politely at me, his head still wrapped in gauze to protect the healing stitches from his surgery. It made him look like the top half of a mummy. “Much better, thank you,” he answered. He stared at me for a moment, then went back to tucking his shirt into his slacks. The room was silent, as there was onlythe two of us at the moment. He nervously cleared his throat. “What was your name again?” he asked, politely.

I inwardly sighed. “Hei-Ryung,” I answered, disappointed, but trying my best not to sound it. “I’m your wife. We’ve been married for three years now and-“

“I’m sorry,” Siwon interrupted, still polite, but embarrassed. “I know you’ve told me this before and even presented me with our marriage certificate, but I’m afraid I just don’t remember having a wife, miss.” He slightly shrugged, then averted his eyes.

I felt embarrassed. If Siwon had yelled or been angry with me, I’m sure I could’ve handled this better. But, he was so…polite. It made the situation even more unbearable and humiliating.

“Right,” I mumbled, feeling the tears stinging my eyes. I jumped when the door suddenly opened and his parents came in.

“Ready?” Mrs. Choi asked, warmly smiling at her son. She walked over and hugged him, then helped him with his jacket.

I was all but invisible as the Choi’s helped their son, ignoring me right to the point when they headed out the door. As if in an afterthought, Mr Choi turned and told me, “We’ll be in touch.”

I mutely nodded, trying hard not to cry. I would die of a heart attack if they actually did call me to set up a time to visit with Siwon once they got him behind the gates of their home. They finally had their son back, and as long as he didn’t remember me, it would stay that way.

I waited a few minutes before leaving the room. Making my way down to the main lobby, I felt exhausted and a bit depressed. Life was throwing me a definite curveball and I was ashamed to say I wasn’t handling it in the best way.

As I exited the elevator onto the main floor, I caught a glimpse of the reunited Choi family out front. They were standing just outside the front doors, patiently waiting as a shiny, black limousine pulled up. A chauffer stepped out while the trunk popped open, and opened the back door for his employers. Mrs. Choi was helped into the car first, followed by Siwon, then his father. I stood perfectly still as I watched the door close behind them, and after a moment, the limo pulled away, taking what happiness I’d had in my life, painfully away.
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Re: Beyond Happily Ever After (ft. Choi Siwon & Super Junior)

Post by miss_misa on 7/12/2009, 9:22 pm

Chapter 4

Maybe I was being dramatic, but in the days that followed Siwon’s departure, our apartment seemed bigger than I remembered. Suddenly, there seemed to be more room than I knew what to do with, and I felt small and miniscule every time I entered it. The ceiling made me feel like I was sitting in a gigantic cathedral whenever I lay down on the couch.

And the bedroom? I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in there. When we’d first been married, Siwon and I had only been able to afford a full-sized mattress, and even that felt enormous to me. After such a long time of sharing a bed with someone, it felt weird and unfamiliar to lay there alone.

I needed something to distract me, but what?

“Hei-Ryung?” I heard someone call. The front door slamming closed followed, echoing in the
apartment. “Hei-Ryung, are you here?”

I hurriedly stuck my head out of the bedroom, not really bothering to see who my visitor was. “In here!” I called back, then once again disappeared into the room. I stared at the pile of clothes on the bed and sighed.

“That bad, huh?” I turned and found my best friend Park Mi-na standing in the doorway, looking highly amused. Mi-na and I had been friends since we’d been toddlers, thrown together because of the friendship our mothers shared. I couldn’t remember a time that Mi-na had not been there in my life. “What’s all this?” she asked, a delicately shaped eyebrow arched with interest.

I sighed again. “Siwon’s clothes,” I explained, gesturing to the large pile. “It’s been three weeks since he left the hospital and his parents haven’t called; I can’t look at his stuff anymore.” I cleared a small space on the bed and heavily sat down. One side of the pile crumbled, sending several articles of clothing tumbling to the floor. I sighed again.

Mi-na walked over to sit beside me. “I’m sorry, doll,” she told me, sincerely. “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now.” She draped an arm around my shoulders and hugged me into her side. “How are you doing, really?” she asked, closely studying my face.

“Not so great, Mi-na,” I answered, truthfully, averting my eyes. “I’m going out of my mind! One minute I’m angry, the next I’m sobbing like an idiot. And then, I find myself despising Siwon’s parents! I’m such a bad person!”

She frowned at me. “It’s understandable, doll,” she told me. “From what you’ve told me, they’re not exactly the nicest people!”

“I know,” I groused, chewing on my bottom lip. “But, they took Siwon home because they love him; I can’t deny that.”

Mi-na rolled her eyes. “They’re still being selfish,” she argued. “I mean where do they get off looking down on you? They only prove that money can’t buy manners!”

“Mi-na!” I exclaimed, horrified.

She just grinned. “What?” she demanded. “You know it’s true!” She poked me in the ribs. “Oh, come on, Ry!” she exclaimed, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “You’re not going to hell for it!”

I sighed, sobering immediately. “Wouldn’t matter as I’m already there,” I told her, my shoulders drooping.

Mi-na slowly blew out a breath. “This situation sucks,” she commented, bumping her shoulder against mine. She fell silent for a moment, then suddenly grinned. “Wanna go and get some lunch?” she asked, brightly.

I laughed. “Food doesn’t solve everything, you know!” I exclaimed.

“Sure it does!” she shot back, getting to her feet and pulling me with her. “Come on! I‘m starving!”

“You’re always starving, Mi-na!” I told her. “Just look at you!” I pretended to sternly gaze at her lean and fit body, clucking my tongue in mock disgust.

She stuck her tongue out at me. “You’re one to talk!” she shot back. “Skinny ass!”

“Bubble butt!”

She laughed. “If we were in America, I’d have hordes of guys all over me!” she said, sticking her rear out. She gave a slight wiggle for good measure, her smile mischievous.

I slapped her butt. “I thought you were hungry?” I demanded.

“I’m waiting for you!”

**************************************************************************

We headed for our favorite restaurant, a three minute walk from my parents’ bakery. We were seated quickly in a booth near the windows, and settled in with our menus. We threw suggestions out to one another, as was our custom for sharing our entrees, hoping to find something to our liking. We were narrowing down our choices when someone interrupted us with a polite cough.

We both looked up and were shocked to find Choi Siwon standing there with his
mother.

“Siwon?” I stuttered, my eyes wide. I must have looked like an idiotic bobblehead,
staring at my husband.

He politely bowed to me. “Hello, Hei-Ryung,” he greeted. “How are you?” I couldn’t help but notice how handsome he looked, but at the same time…different.

I glanced quickly at Mi-na, who was frowning, then back to him. “Fine, Isuppose,” I answered, feeling moronic. Here we were, a married couple, but speaking so formally to each other. “And you?”

Siwon nodded. “Fine,” he told me, slightly smiling. He turned to Mi-na. “I’m Siwon,” he introduced, holding out his hand. “I suppose I knew you?”

Mi-na quickly shook his hand. “Yes,” she answered, smirking a little. “I’m Hei-Ryung’s best friend, Park Mi-na. I was her maid of honor at your wedding.” She brightly smiled at him.

At those words, Mrs. Choi frowned and made what sounded like an unladylike snort. Mi-na just smiled wider.

Siwon seemed unaware of the tension, which would’ve made me laugh aloud had the situation been different. He’d always been so oblivious to the cattiness of the women around him; it had always been a source of amusement for us. “Nice to meet you,” he said, bowing slightly. He turned back to me. “I was just finishing lunch with my mother when I saw you walk in,” he told me. “And, I realized you hadn’t been by to see me since I left the hospital.”

I stared at him, confused. “Um, what do you mean?” I asked, trying to remember our last conversation in the hospital. Had we agreed to meet up? I was pretty sure the answer was no.

“My father said he’d suggested to you that you come and visit me, to see if my memory would return,” he answered, gently, as if to remind me. “He said he left his contact information with you, but that you haven’t called him yet.”

I felt my jaw slightly drop and my eyes skated over to Mrs. Choi, who refused to look at me. Anger and annoyance began to bubble in my veins, and it took all self-control that I possessed to not call the woman a liar. I saw Mi-na fiercely frowning at the older woman, seemingly picking up on the deception.

My face became tight and strained, as I smiled at Siwon “Hm,” I said, slowly. “I seem to have misplaced that information.” My words were pointed and by her sudden rigid posture, I could tell they were not lost on Mrs. Choi.

Siwon looked thoughtful, even as he stared at me. His eyes seemed to be searching mine for…something; a slight frown turned down the corners of his mouth. He suddenly reached into his jeans pocket and brought out his wallet. “In that case,” he said, opening it and pulling out a small business card. “Here’s my contact info. There’s my new cell phone number, as well as my email address.” He explained, pointing to each number. “There’s also my parents’ home number.”

I took the small card, but secretly eyed his wallet. It was brand new and expensive looking, an apparent contrast to the worn, synthetic one I’d given him for his birthday last year; what had he done with that wallet?

Mi-na suddenly kicked me under the table, jarring me from my thoughts. “Thank you,” I told Siwon, immediately putting the card in my wallet.

“Please call me,” he told me, a bit formally. “My therapist suggests I exhaust every possibility of regaining my memory.”

The words stung, making my heart heavy. He didn’t want to meet with me because he wanted
to; he wanted me to visit because he had to. An obligation. In just a few seconds, I’d been reduced to an obligation!

Averting my eyes, I willed my tears to stay out of sight. “Of course,” I murmured, slightly nodding.

Siwon slightly bowed again. “We’ll let you get back to your meal,” he announced, turning slightly to take his mother’s arm. “Have a good day.” To Mi-na, he said, “A pleasure to meet you…again.”

She just smiled. “Good-bye, Siwon,” she said. She turned her eyes to his mother, her gaze firm, as she added, “Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Choi.”

The older woman forced a smile onto her face and politely nodded. This seemed to amuse Mi-na greatly, as she cheerily waved. If I wasn’t so busy feeling sorry for myself, I would have laughed.

“Hei-Ryung,” Siwon said, in farewell. He nodded slightly at me, then led his mother out of
the restaurant.

Mi-na let out a huge breath. “That was interesting!” she exclaimed, her face flush. When she saw my eyes shining with unshed tears, she frowned. “I’m sorry, doll,” she told me, sincerely. She leaned forward, her arms reaching across the table and took my hand in hers. “Are you alright?”

I squeezed her hand in response and shook my head. No, I wasn’t alright. And something told me I wasn’t going to be alright for a long time.
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