Shuhua looked at her phone calendar, stilling along with the breeze outside of her small condo. She watched the kids walk by, playing in their ideas of minuscule fun. Shuhua wishes she had kept her innocence, that she had kept the things that made her the happiest.
She lost that all when she lost her rock, the calm in her storm, the one thing that always grounded her. The one girl named Seo Soojin.
It had been one year, exactly today, that she packed up her bags and left, that she stripped them of her many problems and insecurities, and even if she spends some nights crying alone in the dark, clutching the blanket that still smelled particularly like her, as the thunder boomed, it was worth it, for allowing Soojin to be happy was the best decision she had ever made.
She had always made sure to keep up with her friends, even from afar.
She always streamed their music, watched their variety appearances, and often commented nice things about them using an anonymous account on their live streams. Today was no exception, as she sat down on her balcony, her previous home in Taiwan, as she connected her headphones to her computer, tuning into their (now) 5 member live.
"Hey everyone!" Yuqi shouted, making Shuhua smile. She sure did miss that rascal, despite Yuqi's numerous attempts at annoying the living daylights out of her.
"How are you guys?" Minnie asked, as Soyeon and Miyeon sat by her side, watching as Yuqi's face bombarded the screen, trying to read the fast paced comments.
Shuhua's attention turned to Soojin, as she sat next to Soyeon. The girl of her dreams kept glancing over to her right, where no one resided. Shuhua was beginning to think that it may have been habitual for Soojin to make sure she was there, this time, there was no need.
She had been gone for a year already.
"Do you guys miss Shuhua? When is she coming back?" A comment asked, as Yuqi's eyes softened, her expression now slightly solemn, as she tried to put on her best face for the many fans watching.
"Yuqi? Are you alright?" Soyeon asked her, her eyes swirling in concern as Yuqi gazed into them lovingly.
"A comment asked if we missed Shuhua." Yuqi reiterated, as Shuhua watched in curiosity, not failing to notice how Soojin's eyes teared up a little.
"Of course, we're not the same without our maknae." Soyeon answered on everyone's behalf, as Minnie hurriedly started to look for other questions to answer, to shift the focus off of something that clearly bothered them.
Shuhua shut her computer, taking a breath as salty tears started to fall down her face, her hands shaking as she tried to wipe them, to no avail, of course. She missed them so much, but the bad outweighed the good.
She caused them too much stress and trouble, and she wouldn't let her stupid feelings get in the way of that.
One year, one damn year, and Soojin still couldn't get over the absence of her once best friend, of the girl who's smile always made her happy, of the one young member of their group that Soojin knew she always had a soft spot for, that she loved.
It was always too late for her. Maybe in another lifetime, perhaps.
The live stream only made things worse, in her opinion. Dealing with internally was one thing, but having to hear it repeated all over again? That was just rubbing salt in the bleeding wound.
"I wish I knew how you were feeling beforehand, Shuhua. I would have reminded you that you're so beautiful and ethereal to me, that you were and still are the reason I get up every morning. I wish that I could have the opportunity to say this to you, to show you how much we need you, how much I still and always will need you." Soojin looked up at the skies, tracing the pattern of the constellations. A bright star whizzed by in the sky, and Soojin thought, maybe, just maybe, there was a chance for them again.
Coming back to Korea certainly wasn't on Shuhua's 'To-Do list' for the week.
Her longtime friend Tzuyu, had told her that she wanted her to meet her girlfriend, some Japanese girl named Sana, or so Shuhua thought. Her Japanese was pretty poor in itself.
Who was Shuhua to say no? Not especially when Tzuyu was the one she ran to when she left the group, ignoring all of the articles, letters, and notifications, as Tzuyu helped her gain confidence, slowly but surely. She owed it all to the girl for helping create a person that Shuhua could now be proud of.
"You're telling me that I have to walk there? You've got to be kidding me." Shuhua thought, scoffing as she grabbed her black umbrella, starting her walk to her old favorite cafe, the place where she met Tzuyu in the first place.
Soojin woke up in their dorm, a now two person dorm, due to Shuhua's absence. They had gotten two puppies, a short time after their maknae left, in honor of Shuhua, who had always wanted a dog, but the company hadn't allowed it at that time.
After feeding Mata and Haku, she wrote a note to Miyeon, as she grabbed her favorite black umbrella, pushing the door open as she walked towards her favorite cafe.
"So how did you two meet?" Shuhua asked, as she sat in a booth, facing Tzuyu and her friendly girlfriend.
"I was shopping in the mall with my friends, as she tripped right in front of me, and the rest was history." Tzuyu laughed as she recited the moment, one that changed her life for the better.
"I personally think it was unique. Now I'm certain that she won't ever forget me." Sana smirked, as Shuhua joined into the laughter, feeling relatively calm and welcome in her favorite cafe, a place she missed so much.
She remembers how she used to take Soojin here, how Soojin would almost always order an iced coffee, one that opposed her piping hot chocolate.
The two girls would talk about anything and everything, you name it,they talked about it. Nothing was ever awkward, an aura of comfortableness always exuded around them, as they created memories in this cafe, in the exact seat where Shuhua was currently sitting.
All she could ever hope was that Soojin was always happy. Knowing that would put an end to all of Shuhua's worries.
The meeting at the cafe wrapped up, as Sana had gotten an emergency text from her boss, meaning she had to leave, and Tzuyu was her ride in the first place.
"Thanks for coming, Shu. You look so much happier than the last time I saw you, I'm really glad you're doing better." Tzuyu told her with a soft smile.
"I owe it all to you. You were right, time really does heal all wounds." Shuhua smiled back, as Tzuyu bid her goodbye, driving off in the rain, as Shuhua looked up at the gray skies.
"Guess it's time to walk." Shuhua thought, as she opened the door of the cafe, stepping out, when her umbrella flew out of her hands, blowing away in the wind before she could stop it.
"My luck is horrible, wow." Shuhua muttered to herself, as she began to walk home in the pouring rain, the walk was at least 20 minutes, give or take.
Soojin noticed a girl with raven hair, and a solemn complexion, and somehow knew that she had to go over there and share her umbrella, for the girl was soaked and probably freezing.
"Would you like to share my umbrella with me?" Soojin asked softly, and Shuhua knew that soft, familiar voice from anywhere.
"My pleasure." Shuhua responded, smiling softly when she locked eyes with Soojin, the latter embracing her tightly.
The two girls stood there, under the umbrella, watching the rain drops fall by in slow motion; rather Shuhua's heart was beating so loudly, giving her an altered version of reality, perhaps.
"I knew I would find you." Soojin said, her eyes moving up in crescents, as Shuhua sighed contently, her arm already linked with the taller girl besides her.
"I never really left, did I?"
Shuhua had finally found her home, her rock, her lifeline.
She felt like she could breathe again.
She was no longer drowning.