Peace and tranquility ruled the Elysian fields of Heaven. There were divinities basking in the comfort and relaxation it offered and on one pavilion was seated a high-born goddess – the Goddess of Love. She held in her hand, an apple as red as the finest claret and as tantalizing as a divine being’s lips. The fine fruit was a gift given by none other than her older sister, Soojin, Goddess of Life.
As Sooyoung sat on her gilded lounging chair in admiration to the beautiful fruit, she couldn’t help but to remember her meeting with her sister before she found herself in her current place.
“Sooyoung, you do know that Taeyeon’s lover is under my Ministry and it is my duty as head of the Ministry of Life to punish her for the mistake she committed in your halls! You should have consulted me before administering the punishment.” Sooyoung could still hear her older sister’s booming voice in her mind as she recalled her conversation with her sister.
A groan left Sooyoung’s lips upon recalling her sister’s rants regarding the punishment of Taeyeon’s lover.
“I’m sorry,” Sooyoung remembered apologizing to her sister, “I was so angry with her that I had to banish her from Heaven and make her suffer on Earth. I really didn’t think it was too harsh of me until I saw how Taeyeon was suffering now.”
Soojin had shaken her head in disapproval as Sooyoung had recalled, “Sooyeon was a great member of my ministry. She always made sure that the apples which held the lives of people on Earth were well kept and healthy. She always ensured that the Tree of Life would be watered and healthy. She was just overjoyed to be in your halls of love together with her lover, who was working for you. It was a mistake on her part, but your punishment for her was too harsh for someone who had been sincerely sorry.”
My sister was right. Sooyoung thought as she pondered on Taeyeon’s and Sooyeon’s case. Jessica, who embodied Sooyeon’s soul on Earth, had been suffering such a terrible punishment from the Goddess of Love. Sooyoung found it unfair that she hadn’t given the miserable lovers any reason for their agony.
With the flick of a hand, she opened a portal revealing Taeyeon’s sleeping figure. Taeyeon was curled up on bed, sleeping. Her eyes were puffy and she was hugging her Gingerbread soft toy tightly in her arms. The wet patch on the Gingerbread man’s face was an evidence of Taeyeon’s tears. A sad smile crept across Sooyoung’s face when she was reminded of Taeyeon’s selfless act for her lover.
“You deserve to know, little one.”
Sooyoung shifted her gaze from Taeyeon to the apple in her hand. The apple, given by Soojin, held Taeyeon’s and Sooyeon’s memories of Heaven; one, which Sooyoung herself had crafted and given to her sister for safe-keeping when she carried out her punishments for the couple.
“Give some reprieve to the couple. Taeyeon’s heart already remembers. Give them back their memories, Sooyoung. They deserve that much from you.” Sooyoung could still hear Soojin’s words ringing in her ears.
The apple glowed under Sooyoung’s power. It disintegrated before half of the glowing fragments entered the portal and settled inside Taeyeon’s figure. A satisfied smile appeared on Sooyoung’s face. She snapped her finger and the portal revealed another sleeping figure.
It was Jessica.
Sooyoung’s heart throbbed upon seeing evidences that the girl, too, had cried herself to sleep just like how Taeyeon had done.
I was really harsh on them…
“I’m sorry, little one.” Sooyoung said as she stared upon the sleeping figure. “At least, be at ease in your dreams. You, too, deserve to know what happened here before you were punished.”
Sooyoung beckoned the remaining fragments of Taeyeon’s and Sooyeon’s memories as a couple to pass through the portal and enter Jessica’s body. With a satisfied smile, Sooyoung closed the portal as she allowed the couple’s memories to relive themselves through dreams.
Jessica couldn’t recall how many nights she had cried herself to sleep when her parents and Donghae’s parents had arranged for them to get married in the future. Donghae had been adamantly against their parents’ decision and he made sure that he showed it by mistreating Jessica. On the other hand, Jessica merely took the inflictions without complaints.
She had wondered for many nights why it had to be her who would suffer in fate’s hands. Often, she would ask herself what she had done in the past to have such a present full of tears and sadness. This night was no different, although she had been relieved this time when Siwon came to her rescue.
But there was one thing which caught her curiosity. She saw Taeyeon scrambling away from the vicinity as if she was escaping from something. Jessica saw how Taeyeon ran from the corner of her eyes when she pulled away from Siwon. As Jessica laid in her bed, wiping her tears, her mind came back to that very scene where she witnessed Taeyeon leaving. Her heart throbbed upon reminiscing the fleeting figure of the other girl.
It made her wonder why she felt that way.
Jessica closed her eyes, tears escaped from her as her mind replayed the scene where Donghae had tried to hurt her before Siwon stopped the incoming assault. Then, as she was about to recall Taeyeon’s back turning away from her, a dream began to take form.
Light kisses peppered her face as she frowned at the sudden intrusion of light in her sleep. Nonetheless, the tingling sensations, caused by the plump lips tracing a pattern on her eyes, nose, and eventually her lips, made her giggle. She opened her eyes to find a pair of lovely chestnut orbs staring right back at her. She immediately grinned at the face that welcomed her for the day.
The figure leaned on her, capturing her chapped lips in plump ones to welcome her for that morning.
“Mmm.” Sooyeon found herself basking in bliss as she savored the sweet lips of her lover. When her loved one pulled away, she smiled in a sleepy manner, “Good morning, Taengoo.”
“Morning, Sooyeon-ie. Time to get ready for work.” Taeyeon said as she pulled her lover to sit up on bed before stealing a peck on Sooyeon’s cheek.
Sooyeon stretched herself and sat up on the edge of the bed, still half asleep. It wasn’t until Taeyeon jumped onto the bed and tickled her from the back that Sooyeon finally hopped out of bed and into the bathroom to wash up.
Both of them got dressed in their white silken gossamer gowns girdled by belts made of golden threads. Sooyeon picked up a heart-shaped badge from the dressing table and pinned it onto Taeyeon’s robe. Taeyeon did the same, pinning an apple-shaped badge onto Sooyeon’s robe, smiling from ear to ear as she patted the badge on Sooyeon’s chest, letting her hand linger on the soft bosom a little longer than usual.
“Hey, stop trying to take advantage of me, you sneaky love thief!” Sooyeon swatted Taeyeon’s lingering hand away playfully and poked Taeyeon’s forehead with her finger.
“I’m not a thief. I’m an angel who strings happy couples together, just like you and me,” Taeyeon grinned, drawing a heart with her finger on Sooyeon’s chest, stirring tingling sensations through her lover’s body.
Sooyeon bit her lip to prevent a moan from escaping as a result of Taeyeon’s sneaky ministrations.
“My lips are dry. I want my lip balm.” Taeyeon stuck her lips out, hinting for Sooyeon to kiss her. Instead of conceding to her lover’s request, Sooyeon produced a lip balm from the pocket of her robe and applied it evenly on Taeyeon’s lips. Taeyeon pretended to sulk, but that turned into a smile immediately when Sooyeon gave her a light peck on the lips as a finishing touch.
“Remember to eat your apple later on.” Sooyeon picked up a red apple from a woven basket and packed it into Taeyeon’s pouch.
“An apple a day keeps my Sooyeon-ie closer to me,” Taeyeon chuckled as she planted a quick kiss on Sooyeon’s cheek. Both of them held hands as they made their way to the Ministerial building where they had to check in at the start of their work day.
At noon, Sooyeon and Taeyeon had lunch together at the cafeteria located on the ground floor of the Ministry of Love. They were teasing each other and fooling around as they shared homemade sandwiches and apple juice.
“Taengoo-ah, I’ve never seen the Love Vault since I came to Heaven. I heard it’s a very beautiful place where all the love threads were kept. So far, I’ve only seen a few official photos of the place, but how about showing it to me today since we’re here?” Sooyeon batted her eyelids at Taeyeon. She had been very curious about the highly guarded Love Vault and heard a lot of stories from the other people in her Ministry. Only a selected few from the Ministry of Love had access to the Vault.
Sooyeon rubbed her bare foot against Taeyeon’s thigh under the table, causing Taeyeon to squeak. She knew that was one of Taeyeon’s weak spots and she could get anything she wanted. Taeyeon’s brows were knitted as she pondered on Sooyeon’s request.
“Pretty please, Taengoo-ah…” Sooyeon added a mighty dose of aegyo to her plea.
Fifteen minutes later, both of them stood outside a huge steel door. Taeyeon inserted her heart-shaped badge into a slot and punched her code into the number pad in front of her. Then she placed her right palm against a glass panel and waited. A small metal door slid open and out came a tiny camera that scanned Taeyeon’s face.
Kim Taeyeon. Ministry of Love. Verified. Access granted.
The next moment, a melodious tune was played as the insides of the steel door twisted and turned to unlock itself. Once the door was opened, Taeyeon held Sooyeon’s hand as she led her to a red box that was in the middle of the foyer. An overhead CCTV took a picture of them before they were allowed to enter the Love Vault.
Sooyeon gasped when she entered the main storage area. The ceiling had paintings of clouds and angels and the floor was covered in pink clouds. There were shelves that ran from one end of the room to another and they were filled with a variety of glass bottles. Each of the glass bottles held hundreds of red threads that were intertwined with each other. Everyone was labeled with a country’s flag and a serial number.
“This is the Love Vault where every mortal’s love threads are kept. There is a special climate control in this room to keep it cool as the love threads emit a lot of heat due to their passionate nature. If you noticed, the clouds are a little pink because of the high energy of love found in this room,” Taeyeon explained as she showed Sooyeon around.
“Wow, this is much more magnificent than I had expected.” Sooyeon’s eyes were darting around the huge room, trying to take in the grandeur of the vault.
“You’re free to take a look around but just remember, don’t touch anything. Those bottles are very fragile and precious. In the meantime, I want to check on the climate control unit. I’ll be right back, don’t wander too far away,” Taeyeon instructed. She gave Sooyeon a quick kiss on her cheek before disappearing into a room at the far end.
Sooyeon wandered to a nearby shelf and peered at each bottle, as if she was admiring exhibits in a museum. There were thick knots on the red threads that were in the bottles and the threads were bobbing around in a clear liquid, as if they had a life of their own.
Unable to hide her curiosity and wanting to take a closer look, Sooyeon picked up one of the glass bottles to examine it. She was staring intently at the movement of the threads and didn’t realize that Taeyeon was calling out to her until Taeyeon was just metres away.
“Sooyeon-ie, there you are! What are you doing?” Taeyeon asked as she approached Sooyeon. The latter had her back towards Taeyeon and seemed to be bending over something.
Sooyeon, startled by Taeyeon’s voice in close proximity, hurriedly put the bottle back onto the shelf. Unfortunately, she wasn’t careful and the bottle slipped from her hands, crashing onto the floor. Taeyeon’s smile disappeared instantly and it was replaced with a look of horror as she watched the clear liquid evaporate into the air and the red threads untangling themselves in a flurry. Taeyeon grabbed an empty bottle from a cabinet nearby and attempted to scoop the red threads into the bottle to prevent them from untangling any further, but it was too late. The red threads lay on the ground in a heap and suddenly, they stopped moving.
Taeyeon sat on the ground and stared emotionlessly at the red mound in front of her. Her face was in shock as this was the first time such an incident had occurred. All the personnel who had access to the Love Vault were carefully selected and screened to ensure that they were of high caliber and were meticulous people.
“So…sorry, Taengoo ah, I…I didn’t mean to…” Sooyeon stuttered, her hands covering her mouth. She was unable to complete the sentence as she witnessed the horrifying scene in front of her.
Guilt overwhelmed Sooyeon immediately and tears started flowing freely down her face, like the rush of water cascading down a waterfall. She buried her face in her hands, collapsed onto the floor and cried.
A pair of arms circled Sooyeon’s back, rubbing it slowly, as if to soothe the crying girl. Taeyeon pulled Sooyeon into a hug, allowing the latter to wet her shoulders with her tears.
“Sooyeon-ie, don’t cry. I’ll find a way to solve this problem,” Taeyeon assured. However, her own tears were starting to fall as she tried to pacify the crying girl who was still in shock. She knew that she was in deep trouble for letting such an accident happen.
News of the incident at the Love Vault spread like wildfire. Sooyoung burned with rage when she heard the news. Taeyeon had admitted it was her fault that she had broken the bottle because of her clumsiness and was willing to accept any punishment that was served to her. However, Sooyoung’s veins almost exploded when she saw the CCTV footage and found out that it was Sooyeon who had broken the bottle, not Taeyeon. She was furious at Taeyeon for covering up for her lover instead of telling her the complete truth. In her anger, she summoned Sooyeon to her office and banished her to Earth to suffer by being in an abusive relationship.
Taeyeon pleaded with Sooyoung to take Sooyeon’s place on Earth but, it fell on deaf ears. Taeyeon was also punished by Sooyoung and had her access to the Love Vault revoked. Finally after a month of continuous pleading, Sooyoung relented and sent Taeyeon to Earth on a mission to string couples together in replacement for the red threads that Sooyeon had ruined. The completion of Taeyeon’s mission was meant to shorten Sooyeon’s punishment on Earth.
Back in heaven, the Goddess of Love took to viewing Taeyeon’s and Sooyeon’s shared dreams. Sooyoung then remembered another person who got herself involved in the mess – Tiffany – another angel of her ministry.
Tiffany, Taeyeon’s colleague from the Ministry of Love, heard about Taeyeon’s plight. From a portal in Heaven, she saw how Taeyeon was suffering on Earth. Since the first day she joined the Ministry of Love, she harboured a secret crush on Taeyeon. However, Taeyeon was already in love with Sooyeon and Tiffany knew that she would not be able to break the couple. Their deep love was evident in the thick strong knot that their divine red threads shared.
Unable to watch Taeyeon suffer alone on Earth and the pain that the couple was going through, Tiffany boldly approached Sooyoung to help Taeyeon on a mission to weave new threads as a replacement for those that were lost. She offered to help Taeyeon, giving the reason that Sooyoung had always emphasized on teamwork and bonding. Sooyoung had no choice but to agree.
Sooyoung remembered the pain that Tiffany had been carrying as she set out for Earth to help the angel she had loved, but who could not love her in return, for her love’s thread had been wound tightly around another angel’s. The knowledge of Tiffany’s unrequited love burdened Sooyoung as she sat on her lounging chair, her mind drifting back to the three angels that she had sent on Earth.
A sigh escaped the goddess’ lips.
“Love and Life are both complicated things that even my sister and I could not fully fathom…”
Taeyeon jolted awake. Her tee was soaked in perspiration and her hair was plastered across her face. The dream she just had, felt very real. The morning sun was just peeking through the blinds, signaling the start of a new day.
Was that a sign from Heaven? Does it mean that I’m really an Angel from Heaven? This sounds so incredible! Are Jessica and Sooyeon the same person? Is that why I feel so strongly for Jessica?
Endless questions flooded Taeyeon’s mind as she sat on the edge of her bed and wiped the perspiration off her face with her sleeve. She switched off the alarm on her mobile phone since she was already wide awake and knew that she wasn’t in a state to fall back asleep again. Not with what her dream had revealed to her. She knew she had to look for Tiffany, fast.
On the other hand, Jessica slept soundly for most of the night, waking up only once. Telling herself that it was a mere random dream, she managed to fall back asleep again. There was a smile on her face as the image of Taeyeon’s cheeky grin flashed across her mind. She wasn’t sure why Taeyeon’s smiling face gave her comfort and relief from the harsh reality she had to face every day. Nonetheless, she was thankful she met someone who could make her feel happy.
“Taengoo…” Jessica murmured in her sleep.