Five

“Looks like the weekend’s burnt, no thanks to Mr. Jin,” Sunny lamented as they filed out of the lecture hall. The hour long tutorial class seemed like an eternity.

 

“It’s the last chance he has to torture us before we graduate at the end of this semester,” Taeyeon grumbled.

 

They headed for an ice cream store just outside their school.

 

“Wow, they had a new flavour, green apple sorbet. Sounds refreshing,” Sunny said, pointing to the glass display where a variety of ice cream was advertised.

 

“Oh cool, I’ll have that then.”

 

“You’ve been eating a lot of apple-related food lately. Apple pie, apple bun, now apple sorbet. Trying to keep the doctor away?” Sunny teased.

 

Apples…they remind me of Jessica. I miss her and perhaps that is an indirect way of trying to overcome my longing for her…

 

“Sunny, what would you do if you like a person, but that person is already together with someone else?” Taeyeon asked abruptly.

 

“Hmm, I would leave that person alone since he or she is already attached. I wouldn’t want to be the third party.”

 

“But what if that person isn’t happy about being with her other half? What if the other half is a very abusive person?”

 

“Then perhaps I would tell that person I like her and show her how much I care. Ultimately it would be her decision.”

 

Taeyeon took a bite of her sorbet. The cold icy feeling filled her mouth and slid down her throat.

 

“Are you referring to Jessica?” Sunny suddenly asked.

 

Taeyeon nodded sheepishly.

 

“That’s tricky. Firstly, you don’t know the reasons why she still stays with him though he’s such a creep. Secondly, you don’t know if she’s okay to be in a relationship with a girl.”

 

Taeyeon had been thinking about those two questions, but she had no answers at all.

 

Just then, Taeyeon saw a familiar person walking by. He had his hand wrapped around a girl’s waist and was giving light pecks on the girl’s face.

 

“Sunny, it’s him! Jessica’s boyfriend!” Taeyeon nearly jumped out of her seat when she realized who he was.

 

“Oh, my goodness! Cheating on Jessica with another girl? That’s unacceptable!”

 

“He treats her like a maid, but he treats this girl like a princess. This is just…just so…argh!” Taeyeon howled, banging her fist on the table.

 

“Taeyeon, calm down. There’s nothing you can do. Confronting him wouldn’t help at all,” Sunny said as she held Taeyeon back.

 

Taeyeon sank back into her chair, anger building up inside her.

 

I wish I could fling this metal chair at him!

 

“Let’s go.” Sunny grabbed Taeyeon’s arm and pulled her out of the seat in hopes of keeping Taeyeon from doing the unthinkable after having witnessed the infidelity of Jessica’s boyfriend.

 

That evening, Taeyeon decided to go cycling. She couldn’t focus on her assignments at all. Her head was filled with Jessica and Taeyeon wondered how Jessica would react if she knew that her boyfriend was cheating on her.

 

Cycling freed Taeyeon’s mind. The feeling of exhilaration as she rode her bicycle along challenging pathways cleared her mind of any unhappy thoughts or stress. She pretended she was participating in the Tour de France race and pedaled with all her might.

 

Turning around a windy road, Taeyeon didn’t bother to slow down. She knew it was a rather quiet road and there wouldn’t be many cars traveling along this stretch. Another reason was, she felt like a daredevil today.

 

Taeyeon took her feet off the pedals and allowed the bicycle to whizz around the first bend.  She could feel her heart coming up to her throat, the same feeling she had when she was on a rollercoaster. It was awesome.

 

Coming towards the second bend, Taeyeon took her feet off the pedals again, allowing the bicycle to slow down by itself as she leaned slightly to the right to take the bend. From the corner of her eye, Taeyeon spotted a girl sitting by the road, crying. She immediately slammed on the brakes and almost flew out of her bicycle as she skidded and came to a stop, her body sliding sideways on the pavement. Fortunately, she ended up with only a few scratches on her legs.

 

As Taeyeon limped towards the sobbing girl, she thought it was quite odd for someone to be sitting by the road alone. It wasn’t a usual walking path either. As she approached the girl, her heart sank.

 

Jessica…

 

“Jessica, are you alright?” Taeyeon asked, squatting down in front of the sobbing girl, wincing some upon feeling the pain that rattled from her scraped knees.

 

Jessica looked up at Taeyeon, with tears streaming down her face.

 

Why is she crying again? It breaks my heart each time I see her cry.

 

As if on instinct, Taeyeon wrapped her arms around Jessica’s shoulders and hugged her. Jessica buried her face into Taeyeon’s shoulders and sobbed harder, soaking Taeyeon’s shirt with her tears. Taeyeon felt Jessica’s fingers clamping down on her, tightening their grip of her shirt as she cried. Tears were brimming in Taeyeon’s eyes as she heard Jessica’s cries. Taeyeon didn’t know what to do except to hold the fragile girl close to her.

 

Jessica had calmed down after a few minutes. Her tears soaked a portion of the tee that Taeyeon was wearing.

 

“He left you here?” Taeyeon had guessed Jessica’s tears had something to do with her boyfriend.

 

Taeyeon felt Jessica nod against her shoulder.

 

That bastard!  Taeyeon cursed at him silently.

 

Ignoring her own injuries, Taeyeon slowly helped Jessica up when she had stopped crying. She passed Jessica some tissues to clean her face and hands. Judging from the girl’s exhausted expression, Jessica must have been walking for some distance before she sat down by the roadside and broke down.

 

“If you don’t mind, I can give you a lift to my house. It’s nearby. You can get a change of clothes and later my housemate and I will send you home. We’re all girls and my housemate’s very friendly, so don’t worry about it.”

 

Jessica didn’t say anything but Taeyeon took that as a sign of consent.

 

“Y-You’re injured…” Jessica pointed out as she stared at Taeyeon’s scrapes on her knees.

 

It was only then that Taeyeon had noticed the pain shooting up from her knees. But her concern for the other girl overpowered the nagging feeling that her injury gave off. Taeyeon shrugged and led the girl to sit on her bicycle.

 

“It doesn’t hurt. Let’s get you to clean up at my house first. I’ll tend to my wounds later.”

 

Sitting on the small padded seat at the back of the bicycle, Taeyeon told Jessica to wrap her arms around her waist so that she wouldn’t fall off the bicycle as she rode. Jessica did as she was told obediently.

 

Taeyeon almost melted on the spot when she felt arms circling her waist. Blood rushed all over Taeyeon’s body like an express train and she felt her cheeks warming up to Jessica’s touch. Reminding herself that she had a passenger and that she, herself, was injured, Taeyeon rode the rest of the way home cautiously. At times, she felt Jessica leaning against her back and Taeyeon hoped Jessica wouldn’t notice the rapid beatings of her heart.

 

Yuri was surprised to see Jessica at the door while Taeyeon stood behind her, the Kim’s knees red with scrapes. Taeyeon’s housemate was speechless when Jessica meekly greeted her, introduced herself, which prompted Yuri to do the same out of courtesy, before ushering them in with Jessica supporting her housemate towards the couch and after settling Taeyeon on the sofa, the apple girl had kindly asked Yuri for a first aid kit.

 

Yuri watched in silence as Jessica carefully tended to Taeyeon’s wounds. For a moment, Yuri had thought the couple had something going on between them if it hadn’t been for Jessica’s tear-stained cheeks, puffy eyes, and the occasional sniffles to clear her airway after having cried for some time prior to her arrival at their doorstep.

 

After having gotten her wounds treated, Taeyeon handed Jessica a set of clothes and a towel from her wardrobe and told her to wash up. Then, Taeyeon headed to the living room to explain the whole situation to Yuri. Yuri listened attentively to what Taeyeon had to say.

 

A tear rolled down Jessica’s face when the steaming bowl of noodles was placed in front of her. Yuri handed her some tissues and Taeyeon poured her a glass of cold apple juice.

 

“Thank you so much,” Jessica said almost inaudibly.

 

“It’s no trouble. I think you ought to break up with your boyfriend. Leaving you alone along a quiet stretch of road isn’t the right thing to do. Fortunately, Taeng spotted you,” Yuri said bluntly.

 

Taeyeon shot Yuri a look and hinted for her to keep quiet. She knew Yuri had good intentions, but Jessica was probably feeling very upset already. Hearing such things from a stranger might make her feel worse.

 

Yuri caught Taeyeon’s hint. “Sorry, I don’t mean to offend you. Enjoy your bowl of noodles. Let me know when you’re ready to leave. I’m free this evening, so Taeng and I might as well escort you home.”

 

Yuri walked out of the kitchen and went into her room. Taeyeon sat down in front of Jessica to accompany her at the table. In order not to remind her of what her boyfriend had done to her, Taeyeon talked about some random stuff she did during the day, including finding a new flavour at the ice cream store. Taeyeon finally saw Jessica smile when she told her about her discovery of the new green apple sorbet.

 

“You’re such a kid,” Jessica chuckled.

 

“I look like one too, don’t you think? People often mistake me for a high school student,” Taeyeon said proudly, flashing a cheeky grin at Jessica.

 

That remark made Jessica giggle. “Yes, you do.”

 

Since they were getting comfortable with each other now, Taeyeon decided to make her move. “How about joining me for ice cream tomorrow? What time does your class end?”

 

Jessica pursed her lips as she thought about the invitation.

 

“Well, it’s obvious I’m a girl and we’re meeting at such an open place. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t take up too much of your time. Just an ice cream. Oh man, I can feel that deliciously refreshing ice cream calling out to you,” Taeyeon said dramatically, waving her arms in front of Jessica.

 

That made Jessica laugh some more.

 

I would gladly give her my soul in exchange for that laugh.

 

“I’ll take that as a yes then. Yeah!” Taeyeon cheered, punching both fists into the air.

 

Jessica nodded shyly.

 

Sometime later, Taeyeon went to ask Yuri if she could accompany her to send Jessica home. She agreed readily and the three of them went together. Jessica told Yuri that she wasn’t offended by the remarks earlier on. In fact, a few of her friends also said the same thing. However, she felt indebted to her boyfriend as he had saved her from drowning at sea previously. Therefore, she would never leave him.

 

About half an hour later, they stopped outside a house. It looked quite grand with a huge garden in front of it.

 

“Thank you for the noodles and for sending me home. Good night and drive safely.” Jessica bowed when she stood outside the car.

 

She is from a rich family. Why do I have a feeling that it is an arranged engagement between her and her boyfriend? I have a nagging feeling I’m right.

 

“It was nice to have you around. Take care and have a good rest,” Taeyeon said, waving her hand.

 

Yuri leaned across Taeyeon’s seat and said goodbye. They waited till Jessica went into the gardens before they drove off.

 

“Wow, big catch eh?” Yuri said as they drove home.

 

“I have a feeling hers is an arranged thing with that creep. What do you think?”

 

“Hmm, maybe. It could also be that the guy is after her money since her family is wealthy.”

 

“That could be possible too. I just feel sad for her.”

 

“I know, right? She doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Let’s hope someone in her family realizes what she has been going through.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

The following day, Taeyeon waited anxiously at the bus stop near the school. Fifteen minutes into the appointed time, Jessica hasn’t arrived yet. Taeyeon was pacing up and down the bus stop and people were giving her strange looks. She had a feeling Jessica’s boyfriend must have found out about their meeting and had prevented her from coming.

 

Tick… Tick… Tick…

 

Taeyeon occasionally stared at her watch.

 

One hour had passed and there wasn’t any sign of Jessica. Soon, there wasn’t anyone left waiting at the bus stop since it was past school hours. Taeyeon sat on the chair, swinging her legs and staring at the setting sun. She didn’t want to leave in case Jessica appeared. The stubbornness in Taeyeon made her refuse to leave because she had faith Jessica would appear.

 

“Taeyeon… Taeyeon…”

 

Taeyeon heard someone calling her and tapping her shoulder when the Kim had unknowingly dozed off in her seat. She opened her eyes sleepily and saw Jessica standing in front of her. Taeyeon didn’t realize that she had fallen asleep while waiting for the younger girl at the bus stop. Jessica was very apologetic for being late, as she had to discuss her final year assignment with her lecturer and she didn’t take note of the time.

 

Honestly, Taeyeon was very happy when she saw Jessica’s face, regardless of what time she came. The most important thing was Jessica had come to meet her.

 

They headed for the ice cream store and Taeyeon insisted on buying Jessica an ice cream. They both had the green apple sorbet. Taeyeon couldn’t stop herself from grinning when she saw the look of satisfaction on Jessica’s face as she ate the ice cream.

 

As promised, they left for home shortly after they finished their ice cream. Taeyeon didn’t want to hold Jessica back and get her into trouble on their first “date”.

 

Yes, to Taeyeon it was a date and she felt like she was on cloud nine.

 

Jessica had insisted on crossing the road herself to the other side to catch a bus home, though Taeyeon offered to walk her to the bus stop. Taeyeon didn’t want to argue with her and told her to take care as she watched Jessica look out for traffic before stepping out onto the road.

 

Out of the blue, Taeyeon saw a beam of light heading towards the younger girl.

 

“JESSICA!!!”

 

 

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