“What an eventful morning!” Taeyeon exclaimed when she got to her room. She dumped her bag and her snacks onto the table before taking a quick shower.
Taeyeon took out the dirty handkerchief from her jacket pocket. It was covered in dirt and some patches of blood. Her blood. She shook her head as she brought it to the sink and washed the handkerchief with the hand soap.
Satisfied that the handkerchief was clean, Taeyeon hung it from the railing in the bathroom to let it to dry. She took a step back to admire the handkerchief. It was white with pale floral prints. There were letters ‘MY J’ embroidered at one corner of the handkerchief.
“MY J. Wonder what those letters stand for?” Taeyeon said aloud, curious about the meaning of the letters.
Feeling rather lazy, Taeyeon decided to hang out in her room while reading magazines on her iPad. Lucky for her, she downloaded a number of novels and magazines just before she was sent here. At least she could rely on her iPad for entertainment.
“What’s this? Martha Steward’s e-mag? Home and Garden? Aish, Kyu must have used my iTunes account to download her magazine onto my iPad. Cheapskate, bleh! I ought to change my iTunes password,” Taeyeon grumbled.
She flipped through the e-magazines anyway and came across an article about using creative floral prints for decoration. There was also a separate article about spring flowers and how to use them to decorate your house.
Her mind drifted back to the incident that happened earlier today. The encounter with the blonde hair girl and her flower-loving Golden Retriever.
“What was the name of that dog again? Angel was it? Quite an unusual name for a dog. A dog with a flower fetish! Haha!” Taeyeon laughed out loud.
There’re so many flowers along the road. I bet Angel goes crazy every time she sees a huge flower bed. Poor Sooyeon, I wonder how she’s able to handle a dog like that. She seems so frail…it’s not a surprise if it’s the dog that’s leading the way instead of her. That would be such a comical sight.
“Taeyeon, would you be kind enough to pass a package and this tin of cookies to Mrs Jung? She’s staying in the red roof house that’s a few doors down the road. Here’s a tin of cookies for you too. You can bring it up to your room later on. I made it this afternoon,” said Mrs Hwang.
“Thanks for the cookies and delicious dinner Mrs Hwang. I’ll go over right away to pass the stuff to Mrs Jung,” Taeyeon replied.
There was a light breeze as Taeyeon stepped out of the guesthouse. Taeyeon wrapped her fleece jacket tightly around her as she walked towards Mrs Jung’s house.
Stopping outside a double storey white house with red roof, Taeyeon pressed the flower shaped door bell and waited.
A bespectacled lady opened the door.
“Hello, you must be Taeyeon. Mrs Hwang rang me up to inform me you’re coming over. I’m Mrs Jung, pleased to meet you,” the lady greeted.
“Hello, Mrs Jung, I’m Taeyeon. Pleased to meet you too. Mrs Hwang told me to hand these two items to you,” Taeyeon bowed and greeted Mrs Jung politely.
“Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee? I have something to pass to her too,”Mrs Jung smiled and beckoned Taeyeon to enter the house.
Taeyeon sat in the living room while waiting for Mrs Jung to return. The house was simply furnished and flowers seemed to be the main theme of the house. Floral cut out designs lined the hallway to the living room. A bowl of water with floating candles and fresh flowers was placed in the coffee table, serving as a centerpiece.
Just then, Taeyeon heard someone running down the steps and approaching the living room.
“Mum, where’s the package?” a girl called out. Taeyeon found the voice strangely familiar.
“It’s on the coffee table. Meanwhile, please bring this cup of coffee to our guest. She’s in the living room,” Mrs Jung replied.
Taeyeon turned around and saw a familiar figure holding a cup of coffee in her hands. The girl gasped and almost dropped the cup.
“Sooyeon?” Taeyeon asked.
“Tae..Taeyeon? What are you doing here?” Sooyeon asked, surprised to see Taeyeon in the living room.
“Mrs Hwang told me to hand some stuff to Mrs Jung. This is where you stay?” Taeyeon asked.
“Yes. Here’s your coffee,” Sooyeon replied. She placed the mug on the table and stood opposite Taeyeon, with a quizzical expression on her face.
“I believe this package is meant for you?” Taeyeon picked up a brown package wrapped with pink ribbons and handed it to Sooyeon.
Sooyeon unwrapped the package excitedly, like a little girl unwrapping her Christmas gift. She took out a scarf with floral prints on it. She stood up and ran to the kitchen to show the scarf to her mum.
“Mum, look what Miyoung got me! I like it a lot!” Sooyeon exclaimed excitedly.
“That’s a pretty scarf. Miyoung knows your taste very well,” Mrs Jung replied.
Overhearing the conversation between mother and daughter in the kitchen, Taeyeon chuckled. She was amused by Sooyeon’s reaction to such a simple gift. The scarf wasn’t branded and she was surprised Sooyeon loved it so much.
Just as she finished the last drop of coffee, Mrs Jung reappeared in the kitchen and handed Taeyeon a large paper bag.
“Taeyeon, please pass this to Mrs Hwang and thank her for the cookies. The night’s gonna get colder, so hurry home soon. Good night, Taeyeon. Sooyeon, please show Taeyeon to the door,” said Mrs Jung.
“Good night Mrs Jung,” Taeyeon bowed and followed Sooyeon to the main door.
“Nice scarf,” Taeyeon said, breaking the awkward silence as the two girls walked out to the main gate. Sooyeon had the scarf wrapped around her neck and she was playing with the ends of the scarf.
“Thanks. It’s from my best friend who’s studying in the States now.”
“I see. Thanks for sending me to the gate. It’s quite chilly, better hurry in. Good night Sooyeon.”
“Good night Taeyeon.”
Taeyeon watched the girl skipping merrily back into the house and closing the door behind her.
At least now I know where the owner of the handkerchief stays. So the letter ‘J’ on the handkerchief probably stands for ‘Jung’.
Taeyeon smiled to herself as she hurried back to the guesthouse.
There was light coming from the living room as Taeyeon stepped into the guesthouse. Mrs Hwang was knitting a pink sweater by the fireplace.
“Mrs Hwang? Mrs Jung asked me to hand this to you,” Taeyeon said, handing the paper bag over to Mrs Hwang.
“Thanks Taeyeon. Sorry to trouble you earlier,” Mrs Hwang replied. She took off her spectacles and invited Taeyeon to sit next to her.
“Seems like the package was meant for Mrs Jung’s daughter, Sooyeon and it is from her best friend who’s currently in the States now,” Taeyeon said, wondering if Sooyeon’s best friend had any relations with the Hwang family since the package was mailed here instead of their house.
“Yes, some of its contents were meant for Sooyeon. Her best friend is actually my daughter Miyoung. She’s currently doing her further studies in New York. The two girls are best of friends since elementary school,” Mrs Hwang explained.
“Oh, no wonder I heard Seungri talking about his elder sister but I never got to see her around.” Taeyeon learnt back into the comfortable couch, hugging her knees.
“Ah yes, that boy treats his elder sister like a Goddess. In fact, he only listens to her. When Miyoung was here, I need to get Miyoung to talk to him if he misbehaves. That boy…” Mrs Hwang sighed.
Taeyeon giggled as she tried to visualize the sight of mother and son arguing with each other.
“Actually, you do remind me of Miyoung sometimes. Both of you are the same age though she’s a few months younger. You share some similar characteristics; both of you are impatient and eager to get out to explore the world. You wouldn’t want to be tied down in a boring countryside like this,” Mrs Hwang continued.
Taeyeon couldn’t help but agree with Mrs Hwang’s observation. She wasn’t a person who liked to idle, preferring to keep herself busy with work or other activities.
Mrs Hwang continued, “Sooyeon, on the other hand, preferred the quiet and peaceful life. She isn’t as ambitious as Miyoung, hence decided to complete her studies here instead of going overseas. Moreover she loves nature and the arts, so this place suits her better than the big city. I’m sure you’ll get a chance to know her better as time goes on.”
“We kinda bumped into each other earlier today. She has a rather huge Golden Retriever ! One that loves flowers!” Taeyeon announced.
“That dog is her life. She bought it when it was just a tiny puppy but look how much it has grown. Miyoung and Sooyeon went to the pet shop together and bought Angel. Sooyeon and Angel are very close and Angel keeps her company when Miyoung is overseas,” explained Mrs Hwang.
She must have been so worried about her dog when it ran across the road. To think I was still reprimanding her so harshly.
“I see. Is Miyoung’s favourite colour pink?” Taeyeon asked, curious.
“She loves pink! Her room is painted pink and she insisted that her scooter must be pink. That’s the scooter you rode today. She’s the person who named this guesthouse On Cloud Nine because she feels that most people tend to chase after material goods and are busy climbing the corporate ladder, thinking that success is everything in life. However, most people have taken a lot of small things in life for granted. Most of the people who visited this town agreed that they felt more relaxed and learnt how to take a step back in their hectic lifestyle to appreciate their loved ones and the beautiful nature around them. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to meet her in the near future,” Mrs Hwang smiled like a proud mother.
“Miyoung sounds like a very fun person to be with! I would love to meet her someday.”
“I’m sure you would. Oh, I just realized I got carried away. It’s rather late now. Have a good rest tonight. I’ve an interesting place for you to visit tomorrow morning and I’m sure you’ll love it. Good night, Taeyeon,” Mrs Hwang smiled. She leant over and gave Taeyeon a hug.
“It’s alright, I don’t usually sleep early. I’m a good listener. I’m sure Sunny would agree with me if you asked her. I enjoyed your stories. Good night Mrs Hwang! See you tomorrow morning.”
Taeyeon snuggled under the warm quilt cover and randomly flicked the channels on the television. Nothing on television seemed to interest her. Her mind was occupied with the thoughts of the countryside girl whom she met today.
I’ve not seen such innocence in a long while (other than young children of course). The bright smile when she saw the scarf. Her excited tone of voice as she sought her mother’s opinion of the scarf, just like a young kid scoring 100 marks in her first Mathematics test. Has living in the city made us take things for granted?