Six

Admiring Jessica’s back view as the apple girl crossed the road to get to her bus stop, Taeyeon couldn’t help but wish that time would stop when they were having ice cream. Although they didn’t talk a lot, the sole presence of sitting next to Jessica and treating her to ice cream was sufficient for Taeyeon.

 

Both of them stood by the side of the road and bade each other goodbye. From the corner of her eye, Taeyeon noticed a beam of light speeding down the road. It was a motorcycle that had appeared out of nowhere.

 

“JESSICA!” Taeyeon yelled at the top of her voice.

 

Sensing that Jessica was caught off-guard and was too shocked to react in time, Taeyeon instinctively dashed across the road and pushed her aside. Fortunately, the motorcyclist managed to swerve and avoid hitting Taeyeon. However, Taeyeon lost her balance and fell down, landing heavily on her left arm and hitting her head on the pavement.

 

Pain shot through her left arm as Taeyeon struggled to get up. She was in a daze and she could feel her head throbbing. She touched the side of her head and felt a warm liquid wetting her palm. Jessica rushed to Taeyeon’s side and helped her sit up. Taeyeon could see tears welling in Jessica’s eyes.

 

“Don’t cry, Jessica. I’ll be fine,” were the words Taeyeon uttered before her vision turned pitch black.

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

There was a soft hissing sound coming from Taeyeon’s right. Her left arm felt heavy and she couldn’t move it. She opened her eyes and blinked twice before realizing where she was. The smell of disinfectant, the hissing sound of the air purifier, and clean white walls told her everything.

 

She looked around and didn’t see anyone else in her room. Her left arm was heavily bandaged and it was placed in a sling. Rubbing her temple with her right hand, Taeyeon realized that her head was also bandaged and the pain made her grimace after her hand had touched a sensitive area of her bandaged head. Feeling dehydrated, she looked around for some water to drink.

 

Just then, Taeyeon heard the door to her room open. Two girls walked into her room, hand in hand.

 

“Taeng, are you feeling better?” Yuri asked, her brows were knitted with concern.

 

Taeyeon nodded very slowly, aware of the pain in her head.

 

Tiffany gave Taeyeon a strange look but said nothing.

 

“Water, I want water,” Taeyeon said softly. Her throat was parched and she needed to quench her thirst.

 

Tiffany poured Taeyeon a glass of water and handed it to her.

 

“Yuri dear, I think Taeyeon is probably hungry after not eating anything since last night. How about going to the canteen to get her some sandwiches?” Tiffany said to Yuri, batting her eyelashes at her.

 

“But I’m not…” Taeyeon wasn’t hungry at all. She had no appetite to eat and she was more worried about Jessica than herself. However, Tiffany shot her a fierce glare enough shut Taeyeon up immediately.

 

“A ham and egg sandwich would be good. Thanks Yul,” Taeyeon replied, letting out a sigh.

 

Yuri smiled and went out of the room, leaving Tiffany and Taeyeon alone.

 

“What do you have up your sleeve?” Taeyeon questioned Tiffany, narrowing her eyes at her.

 

“You love her?” Tiffany interrogated. “You have feelings for her, right?”

 

Taeyeon became defensive.

 

Who was she to question me about my love life that way?

 

“Yes, and what has it got to do with you?” Taeyeon barked.

 

Tiffany looked at Taeyeon intently. She placed her right hand on Taeyeon’s cheek and said, “Taeyeon, you can’t fall in love with anyone.”

 

“What are you blabbering about?!” Taeyeon raised her voice a little and used her right hand to swat away Tiffany’s hand from her cheek.

 

“You’re not supposed to fall in love with anyone during our stay on Earth. You will only bring misery and pain for that person. Think about it, why did a motorcycle suddenly appear out of nowhere when you’ve clearly checked that the road was empty before Jessica crossed it?”

 

Tiffany crossed her arms in front of her chest and sat at the chair next to the bed.

 

“The person who you love would tend to get into strange accidents or fall sick easily. It is a punishment from Heaven. I strongly advise you not to defy it. You’re lucky you didn’t get yourself killed.” Tiffany looked very serious as she explained what was going on.

 

Is that why Ji Eun got into those accidents? It seemed strange to me at that time but I didn’t expect myself to be the indirect cause of her injuries. Now… Jessica, too?

 

Tiffany held Taeyeon’s right hand and rubbed the back of her hand with her thumb. Somehow that had a calming effect on Taeyeon. The knot on their threads was becoming bigger and stronger each time they met.

 

“Tiffany, why is it only me?! Why are you allowed to be in a relationship with Yuri? We are the same kind, but why only me?” Taeyeon shot a string of questions to Tiffany, anxious to find out more.

 

Just then, the door swung open and Yuri came in, holding two bags of food. Tiffany released Taeyeon’s hand as if she was holding a hot potato and stood up abruptly.

 

“Sandwiches and hot coffee for everyone,” Yuri said merrily, putting the food on the table next to Taeyeon’s bed.

 

“Thanks, Yul,” Taeyeon said, smiling at her. Taeyeon took a deep breath to calm her nerves. Her mind was filled with questions that she had no answers to.

 

“I bumped into the doctor just now and he said you can be discharged tomorrow morning. Thankfully there’s nothing seriously wrong with your head and hand. The gash on your head should heal pretty soon as long as you take good care of it, while your hand could be relieved of the bandages tomorrow, since you only had a few scratches and a sprain on it.” Yuri unwrapped a ham and egg sandwich before handing it to Taeyeon.

 

“Sunny said she is busy with rehearsals for the upcoming school musical and would not be able to see you here. She’ll drop by our apartment in the next few days. Meanwhile she has collected all the notes for you,” Yuri said, unwrapping another sandwich before handing it to Tiffany.

 

Taeyeon nodded while munching on her sandwich.

 

“Where is Jessica? Is she alright?” Taeyeon asked.

 

“She’s fine. She only had a few scratches on her arms from when you pushed her out of the way. She sent you here and called me on your mobile phone to inform me that you’ve been injured. She was sorry she couldn’t come to the hospital to visit you and I guess we all know why,” Yuri shrugged her shoulders.

 

“As long as she is alright…”

 

“Taeng, was it very dark when you left? I’ve always known you as a very careful person, especially when it comes to crossing the road. You would always insist on crossing at traffic light junctions or pedestrian crossings only.” Yuri furrowed her brows and looked at Taeyeon. She took a seat next to the bed, facing Tiffany.

 

“No, it wasn’t. The street lamps were on and I could see the road clearly. I remember checking the road before allowing Jessica to cross since there wasn’t any pedestrian crossing nearby. I…I really dunno why the motorcycle appeared out of nowhere,” Taeyeon said, recalling the scene prior to the accident.

 

Taeyeon heard Tiffany let out a short sigh before she turned away to look out of the window. On one hand, Taeyeon felt guilty for causing harm to the people she loved. On the other hand, it wasn’t her fault since she didn’t know about this rule earlier on.

 

The next morning, the doctor came by and told Taeyeon that she could be discharged. Yuri came by to pick Taeyeon up alone since Tiffany had something on at school.

 

Taeyeon had been thinking about what Tiffany had said or wanted to say before Yuri interrupted them at the hospital. She thought hard about what she could have done wrong in Heaven, which led her to such a state on Earth. Her eyelids grew heavier and soon, she fell into a slumber.

 

That night, Taeyeon had a very unusual dream. She was standing in front of a large silver gate that was surrounded by white clouds. There was a feeling of déjà vu as she studied the intricate carvings on the gate.

 

I think I’ve been here before.  Taeyeon muttered to herself.

 

There was someone beyond the gate, resting in a pavilion. Taeyeon waved her arms frantically and the person finally saw her after a few moments. The stranger snapped her finger and the gate swung open, prompting Taeyeon to enter the premises. As Taeyeon drew close, she noticed that the lady was dressed in a white gossamer gown that ended just above her knee, revealing her long slender legs. She looked like a Greek goddess basking in an Olympian hall. Her long light brown hair was wavy, which ended at her waist.

 

“What’s the progress of your mission?” the lady asked when Taeyeon got to the pavilion.

 

“I…I haven’t done anything yet. I… I don’t know how to…how to proceed,” Taeyeon stuttered. Honestly, Taeyeon didn’t know why she was nervous in front of this lady. She seemed friendly and had a wide smile on her face.

 

“Didn’t Tiffany meet you?” she questioned. This time, her tone became more serious.

 

“Yes, she did. But…”

 

“No buts, Taeyeon. You made a mistake, you better atone for it. I’ll be watching you from up here. Your time’s running out. You don’t want your lover to suffer for eternity, do you?” the lady warned. “Now off you go!”

 

With a snap of her finger, a hole opened up beneath Taeyeon’s feet and the next instant, she was free-falling at a very fast speed.

 

Thud!

 

“AAHHHHH!!”

 

Taeyeon heard Yuri knocking on her door. “Are you alright?”

 

Taeyeon slowly rose from the floor, fixing her clothes before she settled back to bed. “I’m fine. Just a bad dream and I accidentally fell from my bed.”

 

“Alright, take care,” Yuri said from the other side of the door before fading footsteps were heard.

 

“Thanks, Yul. Sorry to wake you up!”

 

“It’s okay, I was doing my assignment. Night, Taeng.”

 

As Taeyeon lay on her bed, she tried to make sense of what her dream meant. It felt so real yet so bizarre. She needed to talk to Tiffany about it soon.

 

~*~*~*~

 

“Tiffany! Hey Tiffany, wait up!” Taeyeon yelled, running after the red haired girl when she spotted Tiffany from afar. She could sense that Tiffany was avoiding her when the red head started to pick up speed and ran away. Taeyeon was never an athlete and she knew she would never be able to catch up with her.

 

Looking at her left hand, Taeyeon decided to try her luck. With all her might, she focused her energy on pulling Tiffany closer via the red thread. There was resistance from Tiffany but Taeyeon could tell that she was unable to run any further.

 

At least there’s an advantage of having the red thread. 

 

After a few minutes, Taeyeon managed to catch up with Tiffany.

 

“Why are you … running … away from me?” Taeyeon asked, panting heavily.

 

“I wasn’t,” Tiffany said without batting an eyelid.

 

“You started running when you heard me calling you!” Taeyeon howled, wiping her perspiration with a tissue.

 

“I didn’t hear you,” Tiffany replied nonchalantly.

 

“Okay, whatever it is. I need to speak to you,” Taeyeon insisted. She stood in front of Tiffany and stretched out her arms to block the latter from leaving.

 

“I had a strange dream last night. I went to a place surrounded by clouds and there was a beautiful tall lady with long slender legs who talked to me. I had a feeling you know something about it. Tell me, please.”

 

For a few seconds, Tiffany said nothing except to stare into Taeyeon’s eyes. Taeyeon could see concern in Tiffany’s eyes.

 

“Let’s talk elsewhere.” Tiffany pushed Taeyeon’s arms away and walked off.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Both of them went up the roof of the Arts building. Tiffany headed for a corner of the building, stood on a small step, and looked beyond the ledge. Taeyeon followed suit and it gave her a bird’s eye view of the campus. She was blown away with the neat layout and greenery around the campus. The view was breathtaking.

 

“That place was Heaven. That lady was the Goddess of Love, Sooyoung. She was the head of the Ministry of Love,” Tiffany said in a matter-of-fact manner while looking up at the sky.

 

Taeyeon repeated the two sentences several times in her head. It took her a while before she could register what Tiffany had just said.

 

“What did she say?” Tiffany asked, eyes shifting to Taeyeon.

 

“She asked me about the progress of my mission and if I had met you. She warned me about the consequences if I failed my mission. She said my lover would suffer for eternity if I don’t succeed.”

 

“Typical,” Tiffany mumbled to herself.

 

Then a question popped into Taeyeon’s mind, “Tiffany.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“When I was in Heaven… Did – Did I really have a lover? The goddess warned me about my lover being punished for eternity should I fail this mission. I – I can’t seem to recall anything about my lover or my stay in Heaven…”

 

Tiffany sighed. She got down from the step and looked at Taeyeon very seriously. “Taeyeon, you need to be focused and complete your mission soon. I’ll help you with it. You need to ignore all distractions around you, Jessica included. That way, you’ll be able to save your lover in time and we’ll be able to return to Heaven.”

 

“Why?” Taeyeon exclaimed, not bothering to hide her emotions for Jessica. “Why can’t I be with Jessica?”

 

“Because…you’ll only hurt her…”

 

 

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