One

“It’s a one way traffic. Aunt Hyoyeon wouldn’t stay married for long,” Taeyeon muttered to herself.

 

“Shh, don’t say inauspicious things on Aunt Hyoyeon’s wedding day! If mum hears you, you’ll be grounded for sure,” Seungyeon, Taeyeon’s elder sister, warned.

 

“I’m just stating the…ttrruuuthhh!” Taeyeon exclaimed defensively, the last word was muffled as Seungyeon hurriedly covered Taeyeon’s mouth with her hand.

 

The wedding song played and its joyous melody filled the church. The choir began to sing as everyone rose from their seats and applauded to welcome the bride and groom when they entered the church. Taeyeon stuck her hands defiantly in her pockets while Seungyeon had one hand on Taeyeon’s mouth and another over Taeyeon’s shoulder to prevent her from wriggling around too much during the ceremony.

 

At the end of the ceremony, Seungyeon merely sighed and smacked the back of Taeyeon’s head as they walked out of the church. That was what an elder sister could do to protect her younger one from getting into trouble.

 

Later that evening, Taeyeon told her mother that Aunt Hyoyeon’s marriage wouldn’t last and she was certain of it. In the end, Taeyeon was grounded for three days. Her mother said it was rude to say such inauspicious words about her aunt and that she deserved to be punished.

 

Taeyeon was only ten then. As a kid, she was told to tell the truth; so, she didn’t understand why she was being grounded for it. Aunt Hyoyeon’s marriage ended in a divorce after a year because her uncle had an affair with another woman at his workplace. It didn’t come as a surprise to Taeyeon. At a distant relative’s wedding, she made the same comment and was grounded for one week.

 

It was true that their threads didn’t meet and they ended up in divorce after three months. Taeyeon’s mother treated her like a bad luck charm and from that time onwards, she wasn’t allowed to attend weddings at all.

 

When Taeyeon was little, she noticed a loose red thread hanging from the fourth finger on her left hand. She excitedly showed it to her sister but Seungyeon merely dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. Her mother threatened to ground her if she persisted on convincing everyone about the red thread on their fingers.

 

Being the inquisitive sort, Taeyeon spent most of her time observing how the red threads linked people together. She realized that happily married couples had the strongest knots linking them, which meant that their relationship was very stable. Single people didn’t have knots at all.

 

Taeyeon discovered the magic of the red thread during one of the outings with her sister. They were sitting in a café at a mall after shopping for clothes. Taeyeon suddenly noticed a slight movement of the red thread on Seungyeon’s finger. She looked at her sister who seemed to be oblivious to the light tugging. Taeyeon followed the thread with her eyes and saw the end of the thread approaching a young boy who had just entered the café.

 

The boy, around Seungyeon’s age, ordered his drink and sat opposite them. He was silently observing Seungyeon and had a shy smile on his face. It seemed like he was interested in her. Taeyeon decided to experiment with the threads. She focused her thoughts of linking both threads together, wondering what result would happen. The moment both the boy and Seungyeon’s threads touched, they coiled around each other slowly.

 

“Unnie, I think that boy is interested in you,” Taeyeon whispered, subtly pointing to the boy.

 

Seungyeon looked up from the novel she was reading and looked to the direction of the boy. The boy flashed his brightest smile as he waved ‘hi’.

 

“I’ve seen him several times at the bus stop while waiting for the bus to come home. He seems quite cute,” Seungyeon said, a hint of blush appeared on her cheeks. Taeyeon tried not to giggle when she saw the change in her sister’s expression, from being cool to acting shy.

 

The boy came to their table and asked if he could join them. Seungyeon agreed shyly and he sat down at the table. Somehow, Taeyeon had a good feeling about this boy they just met.

 

As they were talking, Taeyeon discovered that she could make both their threads meet and coil around each other. She tried to tie a knot with their threads but it didn’t seem to work. After a while, she gave up trying as she was mentally exhausted.

 

Two months and several dates later, Seungyeon and the boy were together as a couple. Her parents were pleased with the boy, saying that he was good natured and responsible. Although no one knew about what she had done at the café during their first encounter, Taeyeon was glad that her special ability was put to good use at last.

 

Growing up, Taeyeon kept to herself most of the time in school. Seungyeon told her not to tell people about her special ability as she was worried that people might treat Taeyeon like a freak and make life difficult for her at school. Seungyeon wouldn’t be able to protect Taeyeon since they went to different schools.

 

During college, Taeyeon had a crush on a girl named Ji Eun. She had the most silky black hair and big round eyes. She was one year Taeyeon’s junior and Taeyeon got to know her during their college’s sports day. Ji Eun’s forte was high jump and Taeyeon made sure that she was present during the competitions that Ji Eun participated in. There was a spring in Ji Eun’s step whenever she lifted her feet off the ground. Ji Eun’s body would soar through the air as she cleared the bar.

 

It was such a breathtaking moment.

 

After Ji Eun received the gold medal at the annual inter-college sports meet, Taeyeon went up to Ji Eun to congratulate her for her win. She shook Taeyeon’s hand and told her that she had actually noticed Taeyeon at the spectators’ stand for each of her competitions. Taeyeon was very happy and they chatted till late that night. Taeyeon didn’t care if she was going to be grounded by her mum for the following week.

 

Taeyeon and Ji Eun got together shortly after the long chat that fateful night. A few days after being officially together, Taeyeon noticed her red thread was still wound tightly around her fourth finger. She tried to make the thread extend to meet Ji Eun’s red thread but it didn’t work at all. It was strange as it had never happened to her before. She was able to make people’s threads meet all the time.

 

A week later, Taeyeon went to the school hall to watch Ji Eun practice doing her high jumps. It was fascinating to watch Ji Eun leap up into the air and float across the bar effortlessly. However, on the third attempt, something happened. Ji Eun tripped over a rope near the high jump mattress and hit herself against the thick cushion. Taeyeon found it weird that a rope would suddenly appear in Ji Eun’s path. Fortunately, Ji Eun only suffered superficial injuries but still, that accident had put her out of action for nearly two weeks.

 

A month later, while Taeyeon and Ji Eun were crossing the school field to get to their class, Ji Eun accidentally sank her foot into a small hole on the ground and tripped. She landed on her knees, hitting a jagged rock that was nearby, causing a huge gash on her shin. Tears freely flowed down her face as she tried to bear the pain. Taeyeon pulled a towel from her bag and tied it tightly around Ji Eun’s shin to prevent the wound from bleeding.

 

Taeyeon thought it was rather strange to find a hole in the field since it was very well-maintained. Moreover, Ji Eun wasn’t a clumsy person. It seemed that she was getting injured more often after she and Taeyeon got together.

 

Poor Ji Eun was forced to drop out of the national high jump competition because of her wound. She was devastated when her coach told her the news. Somehow Taeyeon felt that her injury was indirectly caused by her.

 

Guilt overwhelmed Taeyeon and she decided to break up with Ji Eun for Ji Eun’s own good. Each time Taeyeon saw her face, she would be reminded of the time Ji Eun suffered the deep cut on her leg and Taeyeon’s heart would ache. To make matters worse, Ji Eun’s friends blamed Taeyeon for her various accidents. To them, Ji Eun seemed to have lost interest in practicing and chose to spend time with Taeyeon instead.

 

For the rest of the year, Taeyeon avoided places where Ji Eun and her friends would hang out. After school, Taeyeon would immediately rush home and hide in her room. Seungyeon consoled Taeyeon saying that it was probably a coincidence when both accidents happened. Nonetheless, Taeyeon didn’t dare to date anyone else for the rest of her college days.

 

When Taeyeon was starting university, she decided to move out of her home and stay in a rented apartment near school. She wanted to be more independent and to get away from home since she wasn’t welcomed most of the time. She intentionally chose a university that was far from her hometown so she didn’t have to meet her college friends.  Seungyeon was also planning to move into a hostel at her university so that she didn’t have to travel so far to get to school.

 

Through the university’s bulletin board, Taeyeon managed to find a housemate who was studying in the same year as she was. Her housemate’s name was Yuri.

 

Yuri was a tall and athletic girl who was very sociable while Taeyeon was the total opposite of her. Nonetheless, they became good friends within a short time.  They shared a cozy, two bedroom apartment that was within walking distance to school.

 

During the first month of the new school term, Taeyeon attended an ice breaker party in the school hall. Many seniors and freshmen attended the event. She saw a flurry of red threads running all over the place and was envious of people who met their soulmates.

 

“What are you doing?” Sunny, Taeyeon’s classmate, asked curiously. Taeyeon was startled when her classmate had suddenly appeared beside her.

 

“Nothing much. Why aren’t you mingling with the crowd?”

 

“This party is just a lame excuse for seniors to check out juniors and vice versa,” Sunny grumbled as she handed Taeyeon a glass of soda.

 

Both of them laughed. Sunny became a person whom Taeyeon could confide in and she was like a replacement for Seungyeon, although Sunny was two months younger than Taeyeon. It was a pity that she was already staying with friends, else Taeyeon would love to be her housemate.

 

While sipping on her soda, Taeyeon noticed a senior standing a few metres away from the both of them. She was looking at Sunny and Taeyeon could tell that she was interested in her as the senior was looking in Sunny’s direction the whole evening. Her red thread was slowly extending from her finger as the evening went on.

 

Focusing on the red thread, Taeyeon mentally pulled it towards Sunny and it worked. The red thread crept along the floor and reached Sunny’s fourth finger, much to Taeyeon’s delight.

 

“Hey, that senior over there is checking you out. She has been looking in your direction for the whole evening. Perhaps you ought to go over and say hi, make new friends,” Taeyeon suggested.

 

“Ooh, she looks kinda cute. Nah, I don’t want to leave you here alone,” Sunny replied firmly.

 

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be heading back soon to finish my essay before I get a scolding from Mr. Jin again,” Taeyeon said as she rose from her seat.

 

“This early? I thought you finished that essay two days ago?”

 

“Nah, I’m still short of a couple hundred words for my essay. By the way, I think she’s sincerely interested in you,” Taeyeon said softly.

 

Their threads finally met. Taeyeon smiled at her accomplishment.

 

“How can you tell?” Sunny asked, puzzled by Taeyeon’s comment.

 

“I just know. Trust me. Have fun and tell me all about it at class tomorrow.” Taeyeon gave Sunny a pat on her back and waved goodbye. Taeyeon hoped her little act of kindness would result in something good for her.

 

The street leading to Taeyeon’s apartment was a nice and quiet stretch of road that was lined with streetlamps and benches. Often, one could see couples sitting on the benches, whispering sweet nothings to each other under the moonlight. Taeyeon plugged her earphones in and listened to Jason Mraz while walking home.

 

Suddenly, a man’s loud voice rose above the music Taeyeon was listening to. She pulled out her earphones and saw a couple quarreling by the corner of the street. It seemed that the guy was very angry with the girl.

 

“Why did you go out with Jonghyun without telling me? I’ve already told you so many times that you’re not supposed to go out with any guy!” the guy bellowed.

 

“I was out with my female friends when I bumped into him. I didn’t arrange to meet him, please believe me!” the girl pleaded. Her cries echoed throughout the quiet street. Another couple sitting at a nearby bench was staring at them.

 

“Taemin told me he saw the both of you holding hands! Don’t lie to me!” the guy’s voice was getting rougher and louder. Taeyeon didn’t like the way he was treating her.

 

“No we didn’t! Taemin must have been mistaken. It wasn’t me for sure,” the girl explained, the tone in her voice was desperate.

 

Sigh, typical couple arguments. Some guys are such control freaks! He is too much! Taeyeon thought as watched from a distance.

 

The girl had her back facing Taeyeon but she could tell from her body language that the girl was afraid of the guy. The guy was basically barking at her non-stop and gesturing wildly. Taeyeon felt sorry for the girl. By natural instinct, Taeyeon looked at each of their left hands and noticed that the red thread linking the both of them together was very thin. It wasn’t a stable relationship for sure.

 

As Taeyeon passed the couple, she caught sight of the girl’s face and Taeyeon’s heart sank. Tears were streaming down the girl’s face like raindrops falling from the sky. She had a gorgeous pair of eyes but they were filled with sadness. Taeyeon sighed inwardly and walked briskly past the couple since it wasn’t any of her business.

 

The girl deserves someone better. That guy is being such an ass for making his girlfriend cry. Taeyeon thought to herself as she walked along.

 

Once Taeyeon reached home, she made herself a cup of hot chocolate and went into her room. Turning on her laptop, she began to work on the remaining part of her essay. As she typed away, the image of the crying girl she saw earlier came into her mind. There was a lump in her throat as sadness overwhelmed her.

 

Leaning back into her chair, Taeyeon wondered if she ought to have stopped the guy from yelling at the girl in public. Taeyeon knew that was impossible as she didn’t have the guts to do so. Taking another sip of the hot chocolate, she tried to erase the image of the girl from her mind and focused on her essay. Taeyeon was going to be in deep trouble if she didn’t complete her work by tomorrow afternoon, but the picture of the girl in tears kept bothering her until she decided to go to bed.

 

The girl’s face continued to pester her even in her dreams. The girl’s silvery tears streaming endlessly down her face, her beseeching eyes penetrated Taeyeon’s soul, but what kept Taeyeon awake throughout the night were her weakened pleas for help, for salvation from the harsh relationship she currently suffered.

 

“Please, help me.” The girl begged of her in her dream.

Taeyeon jolted from her bed, breaths ragged from the dream, sweat tracing the contour of her face as she regained her senses of the real world. She carefully laid herself down, eyes wide awake as she recalled what her subconscious mind had conjured during her sleep.

 

Why? Why can’t I stop thinking of her?

 

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