Yuri pulled out a duffel bag from her locker and headed for the school’s gym. It was quiet since it was a Saturday morning. She pulled out the pair of kickboxing gloves from the bag and secured them around her hands. Slipping into her worn out pair of grey trackshoes, she headed into the corner of the gym where a punch bag hung from the ceiling.
After giving herself a good stretch, Yuri did one hundred sit ups and two hundred skips on her jump rope before starting on her boxing exercises. She did a variety of jabs, crosses and hooks and repeated the motions for the next few minutes until she was panting heavily.
Perspiration was dripping from her face and she wiped them with a towel around her neck.
Don’t fight again. It hurts.
That gentle voice rang in Yuri’s head when she stopped for a short break. She tore the Velcro on her gloves apart and threw them onto the bench. As she wiped her perspiration with a towel, memories of the past slowly filled her mind.
= Flashback =
“Miss Yuri, are you alright?” the housekeeper asked, her voice filled with panic when she saw a battered looking thirteen-year old Yuri walking through the front door. There were scratches on her arms and legs and blood was snaking down from one of the cuts on her right arm. She stopped at the main hall and turned her head towards the living room.
Yuri’s father was reading a newspaper in the living room and he didn’t bother to look up to see his daughter who had just returned home. Yuri’s mother was rarely at home, preferring to spend her time in the office slogging her life away than to stay home. She left the domestic matters to the housekeeper and the driver.
“Mr Kwon, Yuri is home. She seems badly injured,” the housekeeper reported.
“Get a doctor then,” were the only words that came out of his mouth. The newspaper was still held up high, covering his face.
Yuri bit her lips and tried to control her tears. Her father, related by blood, preferred reading the news than her own well-being. She clenched her fists, feeling the ache in her heart. She knew that in time to come, she wouldn’t feel any more pain as her heart would have been numbed by then. It was only a matter of when.
Yuri stomped into her room and slammed the door. She threw herself onto the queen sized bed, buried her face into her soft pillow and let the tears flow freely. It wasn’t the first time she cried over the lack of concern from her father and she knew it wouldn’t be the last. Each time she told herself it wasn’t worth it to cry but it wasn’t easy to control her emotions. Crying seemed to be the next best way to release the sadness besides fighting.
Since young, Yuri’s parents never gave her the care and affection she craved. They managed their own businesses and spent a lot of time away from home; her father was doing trading while her mother was in the fashion industry. Her birthdays were spent without them. If she was lucky, perhaps one of them would bring her out for a nice meal and get her a huge toy.
After a while, Yuri learnt not to cry anymore because she knew it wasn’t worth it. Her only outlet was to bully or fight with kids at school. Since elementary school, Yuri had been involved in fights just to get her parents’ attention. The principal often told her to summon her parents to school. They sent Yuri’s tutor there in place of them as they claimed they were too busy at work to go to the school. Whenever Yuri was injured in a fight, they would merely ask the driver to send Yuri to the hospital for treatment and for the maid to look after Yuri back home. Yuri wished that her parents would scold her or ground her for being so defiant but they did none of those.
Her parents hardly spent them with each other and it was only a matter of time before they drifted apart from each other. Yuri’s mother was involved in an extramarital affair with one of her business partners when Yuri was just ten. Yuri’s mother didn’t want to take her since her new ‘stepdad’ didn’t like children. Left with no choice, Yuri was placed in the custody of her father.
Yuri’s father was always busy at work or flying off to some foreign countries for business trips. To him, giving her material goods was a replacement of his time with her, especially after his divorce. Yuri suspected he had another family elsewhere but couldn’t be bothered to confront her father. She was thankful when he finally said he wanted to go to China to start a new business and would be based there for the next few years. The home was an empty shell, regardless of whether he was around or not.
Rather than facing the four walls at home, Yuri rather spent her time outside. Surrounded by strangers was better than surrounded by silence and emptiness back home. One day, one of the older kids she hung out with brought her to the disused timber factory where the underground boxing matches were held. She was awed at the sight of the teenage boxers fighting with their might. The thought of being able to release her pent-up emotions in a proper fight excited her.
Since then, Yuri trained hard at the gym. She watched videos and did research about the sport. She didn’t care about the money that was made at these matches. Moreover she had a lot of time on her hands, unlike some of her schoolmates who had to work part time to earn pocket money. To Yuri, it was the best way to pass time.
= End of Flashback =
“I heard from my senior in Yuri’s class that Yuri has been attending school every day since two weeks ago,” Seohyun commented, cutting up the sweet potato on her plate.
“Really? That’s good. A student should attend school regularly since it’s her duty to do so.”
This means that she hasn’t been going to that underground fight club. That’s good news. Yoona thought to herself.
“That sounds like something I would say.”
Yoona smiled. “You’re a good influencer.”
“In two weeks, you’ll be free!”
Yoona pursed her lips and thought about what Seohyun said. Unknowingly she had been helping Yuri with her Mathematics homework for a month. There were only two weeks left till the end of the semester and she would be free as a bird.
Would Yoona really want to be free from Yuri?
“Yoong, Yoong,” Seohyun called, tapping Yoona on her forehead.
“You went off to dreamland. I was talking to you earlier on about being freed from Yuri,” Seohyun repeated herself patiently.
“You like her.”
“Yoong, do you need me to repeat everything to you twice?” Seohyun sighed and tapped Yoona’s forehead again.
Yoona took a deep breath and exhaled slowly with a pensive look on her face.
“So you do.” Seohyun studied her classmate’s facial expression. “She’s akin to an empty glass and you’re the warm liquid that fills her up.”
Yoona let Seohyun’s words sank in her mind as she leaned back and placed her hands behind her head.
“Am I?” Maybe I am.
The next week flew past quickly. Yoona and Yuri still met regularly to hand over the completed homework. However, instead of their usual ‘grab-and-go style’, they hung around a little longer to chat. Yuri also didn’t allow Sunny and Hyoyeon to tag along.
All Yuri wanted to do was to spend a little more time with Yoona. It was definitely more interesting than hanging out with random friends at the arcade or gym. Listening to Yoona’s hearty laughter brightened her day. Yuri treated Yoona’s constant nagging and lecturing as music to her ears. At least someone cared for her enough to nag at her. She even bothered to do some of her homework, determined to show Yoona that she had the brains and wasn’t just about brute strength.
Yoona was amazed Yuri bothered to read through the completed homework. She expected Yuri to hand up the homework as if it was her own credit. It turned out that Yuri went home to read through each question and studied the solutions that Yoona provided.
“I noticed your smile is looking fuller these days,” Yuri commented, sucking on her lollipop.
“What do you mean?” Yoona questioned. She handed over the folder containing Yuri’s homework.
“It used to be this.” Yuri showed a lopsided smile.
“And now it is this!” Yuri pulled her lips into a big smile, beaming at Yoona.
Yoona giggled at Yuri’s reenactment of her own facial expressions. Yuri couldn’t help but smile along.
“I added some additional questions on a separate piece of paper. Do it when you have time,” Yoona said.
Yuri leaned closer to Yoona, placing her face next to Yoona’s. Yoona felt Yuri’s hot breath trickling her face but something in her made her stay on the same spot instead of moving away from Yuri.
“If I give you some of my delicious lollipops, can I skip the additional work you give?”
The next instant, Yuri jumped backwards and let out a shriek. “What the!”
It turned out that Yoona had stomped on Yuri’s foot on purpose.
“No bargaining,”Yoona said firmly before walking off, leaving poor Yuri hopping on one foot.
While walking away, Yoona couldn’t help but giggle to herself as she could imagine the tanned girl massage her poor foot.
I think I do.
It was the last day of the semester before school closed. Everyone was sharing their holiday plans before the start of the new semester. Most people filled out of the school the moment the bell rang, eager to enjoy their long break.
Yoona was clearing out her stuff from the locker while saying goodbyes to her classmates who were walking past. When she closed the locker door, she saw Yuri leaning against the door of the locker next to hers. As usual, Yuri had a lollipop in her mouth and her school blouse was tucked out. This time her jacket wasn’t on her shoulders but draped over her like a cape. There was a wide grin plastered on Yuri’s face and her eyes seemed to twinkle like stars.
“What are you doing here?” Yoona asked, surprised to see Yuri again. Her ‘punishment’ ended one week earlier when teachers stopped giving homework since the semester was ending.
Yuri looked somewhat upset. She spat out the plastic stick in her mouth and flicked it into a bin nearby.
Yuri stepped in front of Yoona and placed one hand on the locker right beside Yoona’s face.
Yoona felt her legs turning a little softer, her heart pounding a little harder and her breathing a little quicker.
Kwon Yuri, with her signature tousled hair and evenly tanned complexion, was standing right in front of her on the very last day at school.
Kwon Yuri, whose face had entered Yoona’s mind moments ago as she was packing her locker, was staring at her with an usually wide smile on her face.
Kwon Yuri, whose name used to strike fear in Yoona’s heart but now turned into a name she enjoyed calling, was standing in the flesh right in front of her.
~ Twenty minutes ago ~
Seohyun saw Yoona clearing her locker outside and went over to give her classmate a hug.
“I will. Enjoy your trip to Europe. I’m sure your French lessons will come into good use,” Yoona praised.
“Take care and let’s meet when I get back from my trip.”
“Sure! Bye Seohyunnie!”
Yoona was stuffing her track shoes and some textbooks into her duffel bag when a letter slipped from one of her books and landed onto the floor. She picked it up and smiled, seeing the familiar envelope with fancy prints.
An image of Yuri, tousled hair and untidy uniform, holding onto her letter flashed across her mind. Her heart flutter for a moment.
“Finally, I’m done with her… Am I?” Yoona muttered to herself. She took a last look at the envelope before keeping it in her bag.
~ Back to the present ~
“You can’t wait to get rid of me eh?” A mischievous grin appeared on Yuri’s face, replacing the arrogant smirk. Yuri inched closer. She placed her free hand on the other side of Yoona’s body, trapping the girl in front of her.
“I…I don’t…owe you anything…else,” Yoona said nervously. She could hear her heart racing when the distance between them was reduced to mere centimeters.
“You do,” Yuri said, her voice deepening. Her breath smelled of peppermint.
“I do? What is it?” Yoona thought hard but couldn’t point a finger to what she still owed Yuri.
“This.” Yuri grabbed Yoona’s right hand and placed it on her chest, where her heart was. She flattened Yoona’s palm onto the spot where the organ was pumping hard and fast.
Yoona’s breath hitched the moment she touched the warm body. Her eyes widened and darted to where her hand was currently resting on.
“I…I didn’t take anything…,” Yoona stammered.
“You took my heart,” Yuri whispered into Yoona’s ear before she straightened herself. “How do you intend to return it to me? How about a lifetime of completing my homework for me?”
Both of them looked at each other for a while, not saying anything. Tension was building up between them, each of them waiting for the other to make the next move.
“I…don’t think…I can return it to … you…,” Yoona said almost inaudibly.
“What?” Yuri said, surprised by Yoona’s reply.
The next instant, Yuri’s vision of Yoona became blurred and she felt a pair of warm lips pressed against her right cheek. Yoona’s other hand ran through Yuri’s dark hair and stopped at the back of the latter’s head.
Yoona leaned back against the lockers, her face was flushed pink and her heartbeat was erratic. She didn’t dare to look at Yuri straight in the eyes. On the other hand, Yuri’s eyes were as round as dinner plates, trying to make sense of what had happened in the past few seconds. She could feel her heart pounding so loudly against her ribcage.
It was almost half a minute before Yuri broke the awkward silence between them.
“So…what am I now? McGorgeous already has a taker,” Yuri smiled sheepishly, ruffling the hair at the back of her head. She could still feel the warm imprint of Yoona’s hand at the same spot.
Yoona broke into a laugh. “McPepper suits you better, brown, hot and spicy.”
Yuri wrapped her arms around Yoona’s slim waist and nodded in agreement.
“Though I personally prefer McSexy,” Yuri said with a grin.
Yuri pulled Yoona in a hug, happy that someone was finally here to fill the emptiness in her heart.
= The End =