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Letters from the Heart

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It was a dream that has coldly disappeared and will never come back.

One day, let’s meet by chance at least once.



“Why would I take your money?”

Despite his last encounter with halmoni being days ago, he still could hear her words reverberate in his ears. His mind constantly filled with the memory of her aging wrinkly face contorted in confusion, sadness and something indescribable—disappointment perhaps? He was so overwhelmed at that time with her for not cursing at him and, more importantly, with himself for letting him think badly of the one person who accepted him unconditionally.

While the whole world treated him cruelly, halmoni embraced him for who he was...yet he immediately responded the only way he knew how to—a fierce refusal to all things that seemed too good.

“Hagsaeng? Hagsaeng?”

Shaken from his thoughts, Han Ji Pyeong turned to the cashier, who appeared to have been calling him for some time and was looking at him with tired, sunken eyes. “Cash or card?”

Hastily reaching into his pockets, Ji Pyeong pulled out his wallet, slapping the bills on the conveyor belt for the lady to receive. “C-cash. Thank you.”

Ji Pyeong stuffed his groceries into his bag and made his way out to the entrance as fast as possible. He wasn’t generally the type to be intimidated by a stranger’s impatience but there was a familiarity in the cashier’s fatigued self that Ji Pyeong could relate to.

Plip, plop, plip, plip, plop!

He took two footsteps too far, his feet getting immediately soaked by the launching rain that pelted aggressively against those without an umbrella or those who dared to venture beyond the supermarket awning. Ji pyeong scowled, glancing up at the sky and looking over his phone. 

“What good are weather forecasters for,” Ji Pyeong muttered. “If they can’t ever predict the weather accurately?”

After a couple minutes of the rain not subsiding and, instead, getting more aggressive, Ji Pyeong was on the verge of just making a run for it. The apartment he finally found was a convenient couple blocks away, after all. 

Right as he readied himself for a sprint, he heard a sniffle.

“Ugh… eomma is such a paboo…”

Turning slightly, Ji Pyeong could catch sight of a female with brown shoulder length hair and glittering hazelnut eyes—whether they were glittering from her tears or naturally so, Ji Pyeong wasn’t quite sure. She did appear to be his age, her attire was a school uniform that looked awfully similar to the one he was wearing. He found himself almost unconsciously reaching for her shoulder, her dejected state warranting a sanity check when her yelp almost startled him.

Paboo! Paboo! Paboo! Paboo!

Her shouts were mostly drowned out by the roaring rain that sought to drown out the world with its thunder and wailing, but Ji Pyeong being right beside her could hear her loud and clear. 

“Why am I getting punished for not following appa?” She continued. “Why is eomma always complaining? Why ?”

Unable to discern what was happening, Ji Pyeong retracted his arm, his fist going into his pocket. Is she… spiting those people?

“I just…” The girl’s voice softened, the storm around them seemingly winding down with her as well. “...want to live a normal life. And be...appreciated.”

Feeling a pang in his chest, Ji Pyeong looked away from the student, his eyes scanning the night sky and dying rain. He didn’t know who she was but he could definitely relate with her words and feelings, having always thought that no matter what he did, why didn’t anyone ever adopt him? Why did he end up as an orphan? Why did he end up meeting halmoni?

And why did I abandon her?

Sighing, Ji Pyeong decided he should leave before his thoughts wandered beyond further than what he would like. Noticing the rain had stopped, he decided it was a perfect opportunity for him to leave.

Right as he made his move, he took a canned coffee from his grocery bag, slipping it into the girl’s hands. He could glimpse her surprised teary expression for a millisecond before he disappeared from sight completely.

Her tears looked like sparkling stars that peeped out after a stormy midnight rain.

It was pitch black when he jiggled his key for a full five minutes into the door of his brand new apartment. He felt the wall beside him, his fingers slowing when coming across the switch.

Click!

Lights blinding, Ji Pyeong squinted, letting his eyes slowly get adjusted to the painful fluorescent white that coated his single studio apartment. He wasn’t the biggest fan of the ambiance, especially when the room wasn’t particularly large and barely held all the living essentials he needed. There was just barely enough space for a bed and a small table, let alone the bathroom that had a shower stand and not a bathtub.

Beggars couldn’t be choosers though. It was all but a short term suffering until he was able to apply for business school and make more money for a luxurious penthouse that overlooked the Han River. 

A foolish smile spread across Ji Pyeong’s visage as the teen placed his groceries in his mini fridge and went to take a quick shower. 

There was nothing like a nice warm shower after making a quick grocery shop run in the rain.

Ji Pyeong always considered himself pretty self sufficient but he didn’t realize the extent of what halmoni, and adults in general, did until his second or fourth day of living entirely off of Shin Ramyun noodles. Of course he still liked the noodles but as the saying goes, there was something as having too much of a good thing.

Plopping down on the ground after his shower and taking a tangerine to snack on, Ji Pyeong glanced around his room until his eyes skirted to the small floor desk in front of him.

Even though he had long been absolved of his responsibilities to write to Dalmi, he still had a desire to express himself in some way. It was one way to help him feel less alone. But every time he tried to write a new letter, halmoni’s mixed expression surfaced in his mind and haunted his dreams when he tried to sleep.

In the end, he would be incapable of writing even a single character.

But this time, as he stuffed a tangerine piece into his mouth, his mind wandered to the girl he had encountered at the supermarket, her attitude and pleas reminding him of his own.

Ji Pyeong nodded to himself decisively.

Okay. Let me write to her.

Taking out a pen and paper, Ji Pyeong set aside the fruit he was snacking with and immediately started scribbling.

Dalmi-yah

The young boy paused, his eyes widening slightly at what he had just written. Did the many nights spent with halmoni crafting letters for her granddaughter etch into him so profoundly that his muscle memory was unconsciously writing out her name? There was a dull indistinguishable but painful throb at his heart.

Was he sad he could no longer write to Dalmi?

He shook his head, going back to his original intent of writing to the girl he had seen that day. Pen in one hand, he crumpled the paper, tossing the paper ball neatly into the wastebasket across him. Nice shot! Opening the drawer underneath the table, Ji Pyeong took a sheet of paper, his hand ready but...

He cocked his head. He didn’t know what the girl’s name was though. Rolling his eyes, he decided to write something else.

Annyeonghaseyo. This is Han Ji Pyeong.

“This sounds good.” Nodding in approval, Ji Pyeong scribbled some more before noticing the time, folding the letter he wrote carefully and placing it in the top drawer which he decided to keep empty until he found a purpose.

He supposed he had found a purpose for it now.

Annyeonghaseyo. This is Han Ji Pyeong.

You may not know me and you may never know me but, I bumped into you today and was reminded of myself. Funny isn’t it? Especially when you were cursing at who I presume to be your family members.

Maybe leaving a can of coffee isn’t exactly the best parting comfort gift to give. But I am a firm believer that the more bitterness you expose yourself to, the sweeter life will feel by comparison. Or else there really isn’t anything that explains why my life is such a mess right now.

As a fellow comrade who also wishes to be appreciated, I think the whole world is a paboo too.

Annyeong, my comrade.

“You’re looking in great shape,” his homeroom teacher was predictably complimenting him. “If only you were...well supported.”

You mean if I wasn’t an orphan. Han Ji Pyeong maintained his smile, not wanting to be in the office any longer than he had to. He always thought it was ridiculous that just because he was a minor, he was at the mercy of adults that were older than him but held far less sense.

Take his teacher for instance. 

He clearly was hesitant and uncooperative during the entirety of Ji Pyeong’s career counseling, the teacher referring him to vocational or lesser known schools as options for Ji Pyeong to take when he graduated.

Luckily for his teacher, Ji Pyeong had greatly built up his patience dealing with inept adults over the years in the form of his stay with halmoni. The teen boy felt the grip around the papers he needed to submit tighten, his lips pursing into a tight smile to fight down the surfacing thoughts.

“Thank you, seonsaengnim,” Ji Pyeong nodded. “If there isn’t anything else I need to do, can I go now?”

Ji Pyeong had come to realize that when dealing with adults, immediate acceptance without room for continued feedback was a highly effective conversation killer. And to Ji Pyeong’s relief, it worked with his teacher, who nodded and waved a dismissing hand. Ji pyeong nodded in return, giving a short bow before making his way out of the teacher’s room. 

Opening the door, he felt someone brush right up against him, papers suddenly flying everywhere upon impact.

Bam!

“Sorry,” Ji Pyeong apologized to the person he bumped into, immediately kneeling to the ground to collect the papers that were strewn all over the hallway floor. As his eyes wandered around for any scattered papers to collect, he noticed that the papers were very similar to the ones he had just submitted. 

Is this student a senior like me too?

Brushing those thoughts aside, he gathered the papers into a pile and was about to hand it off when he noticed the name at the top, foreign university emblems at the corner, as well as a student profile picture of someone familiar—

“Can I have my papers back now?”

Her voice cut his thoughts, immediately forcing him to look into the starry teary eyes he had seen a couple weeks ago. His own eyes widened.

Woah, she really does go to the same school.

Before he could say anything, he felt the papers escaping his grasp and the girl getting up, walking past him and disappearing as fast as he did with her during their very first encounter.

This is Ji Pyeong again.

I saw that you plan on studying abroad after high school. You must come from a rich family. How is that like? I always wish to have one of those fancy sports cars in a bright color, going along for a drive with no destination in mind. 

They say a poor person struggles to make money but a rich person struggles to retain more time. 

I must be both rich and poor since I feel like I struggle with both, haha. I’m not quite sure what I want to do and I wish I had more time to decide. At the same time, I have to make sure I have enough money to support myself. I used to live with halmoni, who provided me a place to live for a couple years. I didn’t realize how much basic necessities such as rent and food cost. 

Pray that you don’t end up in a situation like mine.

Ah, how rude of me. I should address you by your name.

Annyeong, Won In Jae-ssi. 

A sandwich in his mouth, Ji Pyeong pushed the staircase door open, peeping to see if the coast was clear and he was able to eat in peace. If the cafeteria wasn’t in its usual ruckus, he would’ve opted to sit there. But of course, if he sat alone he would risk capturing the attention of a nosy teacher, who would ask him if he was getting bullied or had friends.

For a Korean school, the teachers were pretty attentive to the wellbeing of their students.

Noticing there was no one around, Ji Pyeong walked up a bit, plopping down after satisfactory inspection that the step wasn’t particularly dirty. He recalled occasionally watching some dramas with halmoni, some of which took place in a high school setting.

Every time the outcasts needed a place to flee to, they turned to the rooftop for refuge.

“Bullshit.”

The word fell out from his mouth immediately, eliciting a surprised look from the older woman who was peacefully humming to herself while peeling an orange. Ji Pyeong felt himself redden, clearing his throat.

“Th-the rooftop,” he stuttered, trying to correct himself. “No one ever leaves the door to the rooftop unlocked. That would be unsafe.”

“Is that so?” She handed the boy some of the unpeeled oranges before taking another one from the basket near her. “Where would they go then?”

“The staircase—” Ji Pyeong almost gave himself away, with how halmoni’s eyes narrowed, indicating her suspicion of how Ji Pyeong’s school life, a life he did his best to obscure, was really like. 

“Still,” Halmoni continued, not broaching further on his knowledge much to his relief. “It’s better to have some place for these kids to go to than none.”

“Why am I thinking about this,” Ji Pyeong muttered, biting into his sandwich as he stuffed his earbuds, turning on a podcast about the future of investing and flipping the workbook he had managed to purchase the other day. “I should be focusing on my studies.”

Feelings and humans easily betrayed but hard work betrayed no one.

After going through a couple more pages of his workbook, Ji Pyeong nodded to himself, feeling fairly satisfied with the progress he was making. 

Beep, beep, beep!

With his watch’s reminder that lunch was ending soon, Ji Pyeong began collecting his items and gathering the scraps from his meal when the entrance door of the floor above him slammed open, a female figure storming and furiously shouting to someone.

Appa !” She had yelled. “Why would you sell already? Didn’t you hire a ton of consultants recently? Shouldn’t you wait for a bit before prematurely thinking the company will fail?”

“Why are you yelling at your appa?” Ji Pyeong wasn’t sure whether she had the man on speaker or he was speaking incredibly loudly. Regardless, his booming voice echoed in the staircase, instilling a sense of fear in the male student. 

What is this? Feeling like he shouldn’t be listening, he crept as slowly and carefully as he could to the exit, opening the door as quietly as he could. As he did, he could glimpse the person above, recognizing the figure belonging to the girl he had been bumping into— Won In Jae .

“I just think,” the girl seemed to have calmed, massaging her forehead with her hands in frustration. “You should give your investments a chance before jumping to another. You’re bankrupting these companies under the guise of helping them out.”

Bankrupting companies under the guise of helping them out… Ji Pyeong cocked his head. Is her father shorting them?

The last thing he saw before he left was In Jae’s distraught and frustrated expression. “I may be a female but I’m still your daughter.”

Annyeong.

Firstly, I’d like to apologize for my previous letter. I should know better than to judge someone. No matter how well off a person can be, it doesn’t mean problems disappear. I heard how there’s an upper bound of how much happiness wealth can bring. I wonder if I will ever find the perfect balance. I shall share what that is when I do.

Are you interested in starting a business, by the way? I couldn’t help but overhear the advice you gave to your father. It sounded pretty good and I’m sure you would be able to start a successful business yourself should you choose.

I feel like people could look at me and say I can, but I think I rather help businesses thrive. It would be like helping a scrappy human being like me make it to the world. I would like to cushion the falls and sufferings of those unknowing.

Hope we are able to achieve our dreams.

From Ji Pyeong.

“Do you even know who I am? I am expected to go to NYU. It’s a college in America .”

Not answering, Ji Pyeong tried struggling under the grasp of his two classmates who had him pinned against the wall, the ringleader of the two inching closer to his face.

They had to give peer reviews as an assignment for one class and Ji Pyeong had the misfortune of being assigned to one of the rich kids in the school, and arguably the worst writer Ji Pyeong had the displeasure of reading from. Needless to say, he was ruthless in his review, effectively earning the rich student a poor grade.

Unfortunately for Ji Pyeong, the student’s temper was far more aggressive than his passion to work harder.

Giving up, Ji Pyeong sighed, his eyes leveling to see the bitterness in his assaulter. He had seen students getting hit on television before but never did he imagine he would be a victim of bullying. Luckily he had only been cornered in a hallway so far, but the way the boy was cracking his fists didn’t sound very promising.

“So,” Ji Pyeong panted. “What are you going to do? Punch me? Instead of wasting time on me, why don’t you use that time to improve your writing, you paboo.”

Paboo? ” The taunt seemed to have set the boy off, his arm lifted to a readied stance and Ji Pyeong felt the grip around him tighten, as though to lock him in his place.

It was a stupid choice of words. Ji Pyeong knew. He wasn’t quite sure why he didn’t mince his words. Did he truly believe he deserved to be hit by this bastard? Or…

Do I want to be punished for insulting and leaving halmoni?

The thought flashed right as he saw the boy’s fist landing closer to his face, Ji Pyeong instantly closing his eyes to brace himself from the impact. 

Maybe… I do deserve this.

But whether he actually did deserve the punch or not, the impact he was waiting for never came. Instead, there was a shout from a female, someone unrelated to this fight. The males turned to the source; a shoulder length haired female a couple feet away stood in the center of the hallway, her hands resting her hips—Won In Jae.

“Oi,” she called. “I told a teacher about this. You better go away now.”

“Aish, I can’t let my parents know this.”

“Goddammit, not again.”

Almost instantly, Ji Pyeong felt himself getting freed, his assaulters fleeing quickly and tossing a threatening scowl at him. 

“They’re about to graduate,” Ji Pyeong heard a voice say beside him. He jumped a little, noticing how the female was now right beside him. “Yet they can’t handle a bit of feedback like an adult. Sad isn’t it?”

Words unable to escape his throat, Ji Pyeong blinked, nodding in agreement. He couldn’t help but be distracted by how In Jae’s scowl was twisted into a neutral state, her face relaxed and slender arms folded around herself protectively.

Was… was she afraid herself too?

“But you’re not in the right either,” she turned to him, her eyes narrowing sharply. “I know you were outnumbered but why didn’t you protect yourself?”

“I—” Ji Pyeong tried replying but realizing very quickly he had no excuse to give. A couple of seconds ago, he was fully ready and accepting of receiving some form of punishment. 

A pat on his shoulders, his gaze shifted towards the female, who now nodded understandingly,

“If you don’t try to give it your all,” she said softly. “Who will?”

With that said, she brushed past him, her face never looking back to see the awe struck look Ji Pyeong had on.

In Jae-ssi,

Thank you so much for helping me out today. Both with the students and your words.

I always had a tendency to talk straightforwardly. Some people can take it. Most people can’t. I don’t understand those who take advice so personally instead of seeing it as a way to improve themselves, but I’m sure that’s something you must experience with your appa.

I wonder how that is going?

Also, as the saying goes, one should practice what they preach. Thank you for reminding me that life is worth giving it all, even if I made a blunder or two in the past. I will be sure to continue fighting every last second, even if I don’t stand a chance.

Because, as you mentioned, if I don’t fight for myself, who will?

From Ji Pyeong.

Equipped with all the paperwork involved for college admission in a folder tucked underneath his arms, Ji Pyeong was about to step into the counselor’s room when he heard an ongoing conversation happening inside.

“Why can’t you recommend me for NYU Stern?”

His hand hovering over the door handle, he halted. This voice… Did it belong to Seo In Jae?

He heard a tired sigh. “ Hagsaeng .” It was mildly upsetting how a single word could be laced with frustration and dismissal of a student the teacher could care less about. “I told you already. Several of your other students want to apply there too. Shouldn’t we give them a chance?”

In other words, she should step aside to make the admission process a lot easier for other more privileged students.

Ji Pyeong frowned to himself a bit. Wasn’t In Jae from a pretty well off or influential family as well? But as In Jae continued to argue with her teacher about how unfair the whole situation was, Ji Pyeong suddenly remembered the conversation she had in the staircase a couple weeks ago, her dad not sounding particularly the most supportive or open minded.

Did she, perhaps, also not have anyone who supported her...just like him?

At that moment, he decided to step in.

“Seonsaengnim,” Ji Pyeong interjected, stopping In Jae and her teacher in their conversation. “I couldn’t help but hear that you weren’t going to recommend her to the university. Didn’t you promise you would send me and others if we wanted to the other day?”

“Wh-what?” The teacher looked, understandably, confused but In Jae took this as her chance, her mouth twisting into a scowl.

Seongsaengnim ,” she whined. “You promised him but not me? That’s not fair at all!”

A couple more proddings later, the teacher finally relented, taking the application from the female student. As she handed over her paper, Ji Pyeong couldn’t help but notice the calluses on her fingers. 

Has she… been working that hard? He looked at his own for a couple seconds, noticing, for the first time, the red spots on his hands. Huh… guess I’ve been working hard too.

“Hagsaeng,” Shaken from his thoughts, Ji Pyeong found that the teacher and In Jae were looking at him expectantly.  “Are you here for the NYU application too?”

“Oh… uh…” With a pair of weary and suspecting eyes set on him, Ji Pyeong wondered what their reaction would be if he had admitted he was here to just submit an application. Deciding against it, he figured he could just come by the next day to submit it and settled on accepting the NYU application to avoid any confusion as to why he intervened.

Because he himself couldn’t even explain his nosiness. The last time he was like this was when halmoni forced him to write those letters to dalmi.

And dang, didn’t that feel like a while ago?

“Can I… also have an application?”

After being explained how the application process was like for an American school and how different it was from applying to a Korean school, Ji Pyeong and In Jae were finally excused, the latter stuffing her items into her bag while the former wondering whether he should say something.

He didn’t get much time to talk, however.

“Hey,” In Jae said. “What’s your name?”

“H-huh?” It was an odd feeling being asked for his name from someone he felt he knew so much and intimately about. “My name is—”

“Thanks,” Stretching out her arm, In Jae interrupted, glaring with a tiny glimpse of softness peeping through the cracks. “For your help. But I’m going to NYU Stern. I won’t lose to you.”

I don’t even want to go to that college… Needless to say, Ji Pyeong remained impressed, taking her hand and giving it a firm pump. “I wish you best of luck.”

In Jae gave a toothy smirk. “I don’t need luck. I make my own fortune.”

Letting go, she gave a curt wave, walking off with her head immediately buried in a workbook she took out from her bag. Ji Pyeong found himself rooted where she left him, his face still in awe when the dismissal bell rang, bringing him back to reality.

In Jae-ssi,

You continue to perplex me. You have your parent’s wealth but don’t seem to want to fully utilize it. Though I suppose I can somewhat understand—it’s difficult when there is no one to support you. And when you are so used to that, you’ll become skeptical of the first person who does support you.

But also, reality can be so cruel, especially towards those with privileged, supportive families. They can easily grab all the best opportunities for themselves and not leave any for the rest of us.

That’s why I think you’re pretty cool, In Jae-ssi. I hope I can someday truly believe that I too can make my own fortune.

From Ji Pyeong.

“Congratulations on graduating,” the principal nodded from the podium.

Squirming in his seat, Ji Pyeong scanned around the gymnasium, his eyes searching through the sea of seated students and proud parents sitting not too far behind. The ceremony had been going on for quite some time now, the young man’s patience waning rapidly. What usually happened after accepting your diploma, arguably the only important event worth staying for at the ceremony, was students being let loose to celebrate—something Ji Pyeong could care less for as an orphan with no family and friends and far more dire concerns to focus on.

“Now,” Clapping his hands together, the principal cheered. “The only thing left to do is to laugh, stay healthy and enjoy your college life. Bye!"

A triumphant roar ripped through the room, everyone clapping simultaneously and a smile spreading across Ji Pyeong’s face.

So this is the end of my adolescence...

As the students streamed out the gym auditorium, walking towards their awaiting parents to be greeted, Ji Pyeong aimlessly made his way to the exit when he found a familiar representative from the orphanage, loitering about with a bouquet of flowers.

“Congratulations,” the rep, a stoutly short haired lady, said, handing over the bouquet. Ji Pyeong accepted it graciously. “We are all very proud of you.”

“Thank you, sunbaenim,” Ji Pyeong nodded politely. Having grown up in the orphanage all his life, Ji Pyeong oddly held little affections towards the institution. It was hard when he tried not letting himself become attached in hopes of being adopted soon after. It became even harder when it turned out, no one wanted to adopt him in the end.

He cleared his throat, shifting the bouquet in a comfortable position. “Sunbaenim, are you busy right now? You may go. I don’t want to keep you away.”

“Ah no,” she shook her head, perspiration and streaks of worry clearly jutting on her visage despite her efforts. “I came here for you . We should celebrate your graduation.”

“I’m fine,” Ji Pyeong insisted. “We can grab food when you’re free.”

After a couple more proddings and false promises to grab food afterwards, Ji Pyeong waved to his caretaker goodbye. He was familiar with how busy the orphanage was, with the amount of unwanted children that appeared on their footsteps every week. From the brief exchange he had with his former caretaker, it seemed like things had gotten worse.

He glanced at the coneflowers in his arms, stuffing his nose briefly to inhale the purple sweetness. They represented strength and healing—the perfect flowers for an orphan graduating from high school and ready to make his mark in the world.

Weaving his way through the barrage of students and families, Ji Pyeong headed towards the exit, ready to go back to his humble apartment and plan out what was next in store for himself. He was excited to finally close this chapter and start a new one, one where he was finally of age to do things that he knew he would excel in.

Hm… perhaps I should open a bank account when I get home.

Just as he was heading out the gates, he noticed, towards a slightly crowded alleyway of students and their parents taking graduation pictures, a female standing alone but face devoid of expressions, her phone close to her ears.

Won In Jae.

Ji Pyeong found himself halting, walking a bit closer towards her maybe for himself or for her—he wasn’t quite sure.

“Yes, appa, I graduated,” the young man heard In Jae sighing. “Can you get eomma on the phone? I thought she was coming.”

There was a pause, In Jae’s face contorting with anger, frustration, and shockingly of all, resignation. “She’s not feeling well again? That’s fine, I’ll go buy some ox bone tail soup on my way back home for her. Yeah I won’t be alone. I’ll be with friends for a bit.”

As far as Ji Pyeong could tell, In Jae wasn’t with friends. Everyone who was chatting around them had long been dispersed. If one of them was associated with In Jae, Ji Pyeong assumed they would interrupt her call. But only In Jae and Ji Pyeong remained in the alleyway, as though they were the only two left on the planet.

His stomach growled. Maybe I can invite her for tteokbokki…

But then he thought about the increasing pile of bills in his apartment, his ease of leaving halmoni at the thought of someone betraying him, and, above all, the idea that he could potentially befriend someone who would celebrate the joys of life with him and vice versa.

Are those but a luxury for me?

Grimacing, Ji Pyeong looked down at his bouquet, feeling a bit frustrated for her . Today was a momentous time for everyone and while Ji Pyeong was used to not being celebrated, it didn’t mean he believed anyone else—especially In Jae of all people—should go through the same.

Plucking a bunch from his bouquet of purple flowers, he walked over In Jae, whose back turned against his, and carefully placed the bunch in her arms, making sure to slip away without her notice.

Annyeong, Won In Jae.

In Jae-yah,

We did it. We have graduated from adolescence and can now embark into our adulthood.

Although we haven’t known each other for too long, there is still so much I have to be thankful for. Thank you for saving me from those obnoxious rich boys. Thank you for showing me to not judge others from their appearance. Thank you for making me a less hateful and more hopeful person.

I wish I had the courage to ask you to grab tteokbokki but I can’t do that. I used to think having love-filled moments with someone can last, but life is too demanding for that.

For the brief moments I was able to have with you, I felt at ease. I wish you the best of success and hope we both achieve our dreams, no matter how hard.

From Ji Pyeong.