A MOMENT’S CHOICE: First Inning

A MOMENT’S CHOICE

 

First Inning
 
December 31st,1999
Sincheon Boarding House, Seoul

 

Na Jeong
 
I wondered if I made the right decision staying home tonight. Coming home from work, I stopped to pick up alcohol and snacks, convinced that Binggrae, Haitai, Yoon Jin and Samcheonpo would remember the plans we made four years before. I watched as they all left the house one by one, and realized that I would be ringing in the New Year by myself.

Looking out the window I saw that it had started to snow. Wrapping my arms around my chest I stepped out onto the deck. I gazed up at the sky and reflected on how much time has passed and how much of my life had changed, how much I have changed. I am not the same person that I used to be. I guess it’s true what people say, that change happens so gradually you don’t even realize it’s happening until one day you wake up different. Having to make difficult decisions and sacrifices did that to me. The past is gone, and another year has passed. Everyone around me has continued along in their lives and it’s time for me to do the same. It’s a time for new beginnings and I made a silent vow to take care of myself better and listen to my own voice starting today.

After working abroad for two years, I was happy to be home. I’ve only been back two weeks and just now am settling into a routine. Being with my family and friends felt comforting; like a warm embrace after a long cold walk alone. It’s almost as if no matter what changed in my life, Sincheon Boarding House stayed the same. Part of me can’t believe that all the borders have coupled up. Samcheonpo and Yoon Jin were still together, Binggrae had Jin Yi, and even Haitai had Ae Jung. Out of all of us, I was the only one alone. Well, maybe not the only one.

Unbidden, I remembered that someone else had been present the night we promised to meet up for New Year’s Eve. I need only to close my eyes to see his face and hear his voice again. It’s been four years since I last saw him, and after all that has happened, I doubt that he would want to come back. Shaking my head, I snapped myself back to reality. I went back into the house and resigned myself to a night alone.

*****

I was just about to pour myself a drink when I heard the car pull up. I stepped outside and saw a familiar looking figure. Going back inside, I heard the door close softly. I was about to call out a greeting when I heard footsteps approaching. I waited for the telltale sound of someone climbing up the stairs, but all I heard was silence. There it was: hesitation. As soon as I registered that pause, I wondered if it could really be him. Waiting, I listened as the footsteps up the stairs resumed.

The last time I saw him was on a night not unlike tonight. It had been snowing then, too. An emotion I could not identify swept over me. Sadness? Regret? Maybe it was a combination of both. Sitting across the table from him four years ago, he watched me as I babbled on and on about trivial matters. I listened as he berated and mocked himself for liking me.

We sat in the restaurant for a long time watching the snow before we walked home in silence. I remember the way he put his cap on my head and how he awkwardly brushed the snow off my shoulders. I remember shaking his hand goodbye and what he told me next.

“Na Jeong-ah, if at sometime in the future we meet again and you don’t have anyone at your side, then let’s date.”

All the time I have known him, I had convinced myself that I only saw him as my friend. But that time, in the snow, with the warmth of his hand clasping mine, it felt like I was seeing him for the first time. I looked at his face, saw the resignation in his eyes, and wondered if I had made a mistake in giving my heart to someone else.

As he pulled his hand ever so gently, I found myself unwilling to let go. “Just a little longer,” I thought. “Let me hold on, just a little longer.” I wasn’t sure why, but it felt like he had been saying goodbye.

It turned out that I was right. I haven’t seen or spoken to him since that night. Since he left, I have had to listen to Haitai and Samcheonpo reading emails from him. I have had to hear my Appa and Omma worrying for his health and whether he’s eating enough. I watched as Japan and all of Korea fell in love with him. It never ceased to amaze me when I saw him on television that he had been someone I once had in my life. I was immensely proud of him, but I could not help feeling a pang in my heart when I heard news of him from the people around me. Still, I dared not speak of him, nor say his name. That being said though, not one day has gone by that I didn’t think of him or missed him.

But, I had already made my choice. All my life I have only ever thought of being with one person. And that person loved me back. What other decision could I have made?

“You idiot,” he had said, referring to himself. Looking back now I wondered if he was the fool, or if the fool had been me all along.

A creak snapped me out of my reverie. I turned around slowly, and saw his face, once as familiar to me as my own, looking back at me. His eyes focused on mine for a moment before he hesitantly looked away. Of course, he would be here. My lips curved into a smile, and he smiled back in response.

Chilbong was back. He was finally home.

*****

After sitting together for a few minutes in silence, Chilbong finally spoke.

“Where did the others go?”

“Jongno,” I replied. “They all went to Jongno since it’s the day before the Millenium.”

“Ah,”he nodded in understanding.

“You didn’t forget about this,” I commented.

“Yeah… I didn’t forget. I remembered it for sure,” he answered back, in dialect.

“You’re going to die.” I hesitated for a moment and then said,”by the way, aren’t you hungry? Shall we make some ramyun?”

He looked surprised for a moment until understanding dawned on his face. He started chuckling as I darted my eyes and nodded my head towards the direction of the kitchen. He came back a few minutes later with a steaming pot of ramyun. We sat down companionably on the floor and started eating. Years melted away and it felt like neither one of us had ever left.

“Wow, what an honor to our family name. Getting to eat ramyun made by a Major Leaguer,” I teased.

He laughed and handed me a bowl.

“Chilbong’s ramyun is the best!” I said sincerely. “When you can no longer play baseball, go into the ramyun business. You’ll earn a lot of money.”

“Aigoo, just jinx it, why don’t you,” he replied back with a smile.

“What time is it now? Isn’t it New Year’s yet?” I asked with my mouth full of ramyun.

“Ah, it’s close. 10 seconds left,” he said staring at the clock on the wall.”7…6…5…”

As he counted down, a flash of memory came into my head. New Years Eve. 1994. Samcheonpo. Chilbong stood in front of me after I had walked him to the bus station. I asked seriously why he would ride the bus from Seoul for six hours when he would only end up spending a few hours here.

“Do you really not know?” he asked. “I like you. I know you like someone else but I thought I should say it before the year ended. I am not the type to endure a one sided love for two years.”

I had been speechless, unsure of what to say. I felt my heart beating fast, but was unable to say one word. His face illuminated by the light, he looked at the clock behind me.

“7…6…5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year.”

Before I could respond, he leaned down and gently pressed a kiss on my lips. With his eyes closed, I felt his fingers graze the side of my neck, infusing me with their warmth. His lips felt soft against mine. It had been my first kiss, and I had shared it with Chilbong. For a brief moment I wondered if he also remembered that scene from our past.

As quickly as the memory came, it also went away.

“…3…2…1… Happy New Year.” He looked at me as he said it and I quickly covered my lips with my hand. His voice rich with bemusement, he laughingly said, “Yah, I wasn’t going to do that.”

I was embarrassed, in spite of myself, to admit that I had expected him to kiss me. When he did not, I realized that a part of me had wanted him to. 

 
*****
 

A couple of hours and a few drinks later, we were still talking and reminiscing about our 90’s. I have missed speaking to Chilbong and laughing with him. He was a wonderful listener, and had a way of making whoever he’s listening to feel important. Unwittingly, I found myself looking at him closely. The years have been good to him. I always found him physically appealing, but he has a confidence now that made him even more so. He was definitely a handsome man. His face was the perfect culmination of soft lines and hard angles. His eyes still held the same good humor and mischief that I have always known. His nose sat perfectly in the middle of his face, and his lips, always so quick to a smile, had a perfectly bowed top and a plumper bottom. Lips made for kissing. A little confused at the turn of my thoughts, I gave myself a mental shake and wondered how much I have had to drink.

He asked me the last time I saw him if he made me uncomfortable. I answered that he did. I felt uncomfortable with the way he looked at me then, just like he was looking at me now. His eyes, which under normal circumstances appeared gentle and sweet, can burn with a focus and intensity that made me nervous. I was uncomfortable with the knowledge that there was something about Chilbong that got under my skin. He was my friend, but not the way Binggrae, Samcheonpo and Haitai were. There had been a time when I thought he would just be a friend, until the day I persuaded him to massage me because of my herniated disc and our faces were inches apart. The way I reacted to his presence confirmed that would never happen. I saw Chilbong as a friend, but I also saw him as a man. That was the difference. I was always aware of him and I knew that he was someone who can sway my heart if I had allowed him to. The timing however, has not always been right. I had been in love with someone else, but there had always been a part of me that wondered what if I had chosen to be with Chilbong.

“Four years later and you still look exactly the same,” he said with a smile. I did not notice he was observing my face just as closely as I had been looking at his.

“Was that supposed to be a compliment?” I asked.

“Of course. You have always been the most beautiful girl to me. You know that.” he said quickly.

“That’s just the alcohol talking,” I jokingly replied.

“I’m not drunk.” He said it so softly I barely heard the words.

The soju I had been pouring sloshed to the rim of the glass. Surprised, I quickly glanced at him. Any self-deprecating remark died on my lips when my eyes met his. I could feel my cheeks turn pink and I bit my lips nervously. Nervously, I tucked my hair behind my ears and fiddled with my earring. I must be tipsier than I originally thought because I now feel out of breath and just a little dizzy. I quickly downed my shot of soju and poured another one for him.

His eyes still locked with mine, he cleared his throat and quickly drank the liquor. I watched, entranced as he swallowed it in one go. My heart was pounding so loudly I wondered if he could hear it too. It seemed, however, that I was the only one affected. I should have known better than to drink so much. I thought I was still sober, I felt fine just a few minutes ago, but what is this? I was afraid to even so much as move. It was as if every one of my nerve endings was charged and any movement can spark me into a million pieces. If he came any closer I was afraid of what I might do.

Staring at his lips I wondered if he now had someone in his heart. Not for the first time in my life, I was curious as to how it would be to be with Chilbong. The question hovered on the tip of my tongue and I debated as to whether I should ask. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for his answer.

“Chilbong-ah…” “Na Jeong-ah…” we both said in unison. “You go first,” he quickly added.

“No it’s okay, you tell me first.”

“Ahhh…” he hesitated. “I’m a little tired. I think I’ll be going to bed first,” he said. “Do you need help cleaning up?”

I shook my head no. Tamping down my disappointment, I managed a small smile and bid him good night. I watched in silence as he stood up and made his way down the stairs. As I looked at his retreating back, I felt an urgency wash over me. I have never been a timid woman, and I knew that if I didn’t ask now, I would never ask. Bolstered by curiosity and no doubt by the alcohol in my system, I quickly stood up and spoke.

“Chilbong-ah. Do you, perhaps, have a girlfriend?”

He stopped on the stairs and turned around. He looked taken aback by my question.

“No,” he answered.

“Does your offer still stand then?” Even I was surprised by my own boldness. I took two steps towards him.

“Offer?” he asked, looking momentarily confused.

“Yes. You offered to date me if we met again, and I had no one by my side. I didn’t give you an answer then, but I want to reply now.”

I saw him clench his jaw and harden his gaze. Looking at me directly he said, “What can I do then? I am no longer that same boy. You already made it clear once that it will never be me. I have to…”

I could not allow him to finish his sentence. Fear and insecurity made me a very brave person. Or was it the alcohol fueling my courage? Either way, he says he’s not the same person, but neither am I. I quickly interrupted him with the only thing I can think of.

“Let’s date.”

*****
Chilbong
 
Falling in love with Sung Na Jeong has both been a blessing and a curse. I never planned on falling in love or dating while I was in university. I had a goal: make it to the professional league. Once that goal has been achieved, then I can focus on meeting someone and perhaps having a relationship.

Growing up in a broken home, I was used to being alone. That’s how I lived most of my life, even on the baseball field. I was part of a team, but I still stood alone. I didn’t think that there had been anything missing in my life until Na Jeong came into it.

Imagine this. You go through your life seeing everything in black and white. But then you see a butterfly, and you don’t know what to do because it looks different and acts differently from you. Everything the butterfly touched became colorful. You let it fly around because that’s what butterflies do, until one day you realize that your whole world was now covered in greens, blues, reds and colors you have never even imagined. You can’t believe you’ve ever lived not knowing your world could be like that. Na Jeong did that for me.

For the first time in my life, I felt more passionate for something else besides baseball. I found her fascinating, interesting and beautiful. I thought her honesty, outspokenness and intelligence were charming. I saw how dedicated she was to her family and friends and it made me crave to be part of her world. She never treated me with deference. To her, I was just Chilbong. Not the baseball star, but the person. She brought into my life the warmth that it had been missing, but along with that, she also brought something else: my first heartbreak, for she was, and had already been in love with someone else.

I approached my one sided love the way I approached everything in my life. I believed that if I just held on and sincerely tried to show her my heart that I would succeed in winning hers. I was wrong. It had both been a painful and humbling experience. Even as I sent her off and said goodbye that snowy night four years ago, my stubborn heart still clung to some hope that she will change her mind and choose me instead.

I remember the day Haitai called and told me she was engaged. It should not have come as a surprise, but the news still hit me like a tonne of bricks all the same. All the hope that had carried me through my pain flew out the window. I went out that night and drowned my sorrows in alcohol, baseball practice be damned. It had seemed the only right thing to do at the time. I ended up paying the price for one night of recklessness. For the first time since I started playing baseball, I did not pitch well at all during the game the next day. I realized then that I had to make a choice. Either I let my broken heart ruin my life or I can use it to finally move on.

I chose the latter. After that I made every effort to go out with my teammates and socialize. I even dated someone for a few months, until she realized I had no plans to stay in Japan permanently.

Falling in love and getting my heart broken for the first time has taught me to not only think of the one I love but to protect my heart as well. I am not perfect, but I am a good man and a good person. Surely I deserved a woman who will treasure my heart as much as I treasured hers.

A year later I thought I was over it. I convinced myself I was fine. Until one day, Haitai told me that Na Jeong and Jong Gook were no longer engaged. I should have felt elated by the news, but all I could think about was Na Jeong and how she must have been feeling. I thought about going to Australia to make sure she was okay, then decided against it. I also thought of calling her but what would I say? Too much time has passed. I made every excuse not to speak to her whenever I called the boarding house for years. I don’t even know if she still considered me a friend. I doubted that she would want me around during this difficult time.

I thought for sure that I would be okay living the rest of my life not having her in it. Even as I boarded the plane to Korea earlier I had no plans of going back to Sincheon Boarding House tonight. I had called Dong Joon on my way to my apartment when he mentioned that they had all gone out. Immediately I thought of Na Jeong. I worried that she might be lonely spending tonight alone. I told my Manager Hyung to turn around and take me to the boarding house instead.

As I walked up the path to the house, I honestly did not know what to expect. For all I knew, she might not have even been home. Even as I made my way up the stairs I questioned whether I did the right thing coming here tonight.

Then I saw her. My heart felt so full I thought it might burst. How could she still look so beautiful after all this time? When she smiled at me, I felt like I was brought back to life.

The awkwardness that I worried would be present was not there. Instead, we spoke like friends who have not seen each other for a long time. We laughed like we used to and it was as if nothing had changed.

She still spoke to me directly, looking straight into my eyes. But the glances she kept throwing towards my direction were unexpected and confusing. Once I even caught her looking at my lips. I did not know what to make of the situation. I dared not hope that she could possibly be interested in me. We have already been through that, and she had made it clear that she only saw me as a friend. My one sided love had crashed and burned, and I was lucky I made it out alive.

I made a conscious decision to keep the conversation light and casual. I made sure we didn’t veer off topic. Even as we reminisced, I avoided bringing up memories that just involved the two of us. I didn’t ask any personal questions, deducing that if she wanted to share that information, she would initiate that conversation instead. Truthfully, I was happy just listening to her voice and all she had to say.

“Four years later, and you still look exactly the same,” I said with a smile. And she did. Her hazel eyes still shone with excitement when she spoke, her face as expressive as I remembered.

“Was that supposed to be a compliment?”she asked.

“Of course. You have always been the most beautiful girl to me. You know that.”

Sometimes I embarrass my own self. I did not mean to say that. As I was mentally berating myself I heard her say, “That’s just the alcohol talking.”

“I’m not drunk.” I muttered, more to myself than to her.

In an instant, the air became laden with tension. I tried to avoid meeting her eyes, but the silence that followed left me with no choice but to look at her face. My words seemed to have rendered her speechless. I took in the blush that now covered her cheeks and her eyes watching me intently. I cleared my throat and drank the shot she just poured for me. From the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of her, still looking at me as I swallowed. As I put the glass down, she continued to watch me with an unreadable look on her face.

I tried to keep my expression neutral, but I felt lightheaded. I had to clasp my hands together to keep them from visibly shaking. She looked so pretty sitting across from me, an expectant look on her face. I saw her tongue dart out to wet her upper lip and my thoughts went into overdrive. I remembered how soft her lips are. The two kisses we shared have burned their softness into my memory.

There is something different about tonight and I struggled to pinpoint what it was. Feeling my heart racing I wondered whether I had one drink too many. I still had lucid thoughts, and I am pretty sure I can still walk in a straight line, so I doubted that it was the alcohol making me feel this way. Then I silently admitted that trying to deny that Na Jeong still had the same effect on me as she did from years ago is futile.

To my surprise, Na Jeong also seemed affected. I have never before seen her looking at me with such an expression. On another woman I would have concluded that said woman wanted to be kissed. But Na Jeong is not every other woman.

For a moment I wondered if she’d had too much to drink. Then I remembered that Na Jeong had a quirky habit of winking and biting people when she was intoxicated, and I dismissed that thought.

She looked pensive as she held my gaze for a few minutes. My gut instinct is telling me to get closer to her. But I knew that if I did, nothing would stop me from kissing her. Unsure that I was willing to go down that slippery slope, I did the only thing I could: I bolted.

“Na Jeong-ah…” “Chilbong-ah…” we said in unison.

“You go first,” I said.

“No it’s okay, you tell me first,” she responded.

“Ahhh… I’m a little tired from today, so I think I’ll go to bed first,” I answered. Distractedly I asked, “Do you need help cleaning up?”

Was that a flash of disappointment I saw in her eyes? The expression left so quickly I assumed I was only seeing what I wanted to see. She shook her head no and bid me good night. I stood up and started making my way down the stairs.

“Chilbong-ah. Do you, perhaps, have a girlfriend?” I heard her say behind me.

I turned around and looked at her. The color deepened on her cheeks, and she looked uncharacteristically shy and vulnerable.

“No.” I responded.

“Does your offer still stand then?”she asked. I watched warily as she took two steps towards me.

“Offer?” I was still processing why she needed to know if I had a girlfriend when I heard her speak again.

“Yes. You offered to date me if we met again, and I had no one by my side. I didn’t give you an answer then, but I want to reply now.”

I clenched my jaw and tried to wipe any expression from my eyes. I had already had my heart broken by her once, and I had learned my lesson. Meeting her gaze, I said, “What can I do then? I am no longer that same boy. You already made it clear once that it will never be me. I have to…”

“Let’s date.”

Trying to stay as calm as possible I could do nothing else but look at her as she stood only a few feet from me waiting for my answer. Though she confidently spoke, her demeanor implied that she was anything but. Had I been the same person from years ago, I would have rejoiced and jumped at this opportunity. Alas, time has made me older, wiser and more hesitant.

As I struggled to find the words to say, she walked towards me with sure strides and a determined look on her face. She stopped inches away from me and looked into my eyes.

“Na Jeong-ah…”

“I’m drunk and I don’t know what I’m doing. So don’t use this against me later, okay?”

Before I could ask her what she was doing, she had thrown her arms around me, taken my cap off and pressed her lips to mine. All at once I was surrounded by Na Jeong. I can feel the softness of her lips, their pressure insistent. I could see her eyes shut tight, even as my eyes flitted closed. I can smell her all around me, a scent that no matter where I went I could never forget.

The kiss ended as quickly as it started. She opened her eyes and looked everywhere but at me.

“I’m sorry. I’m drunk and I don’t know what came over me. Forget I asked…” She took two steps back away from me. “Uhh, yeah you can have this back,” she said giving my cap back.

“Is that right?” I asked. I took one step up the stairs and another towards her. My eyes never leaving hers, I tossed my cap to the floor and kept walking closer as she retreated at the same time. Soon her back was against Binggrae’s door and I stood over her. “You want me to forget what just happened? I don’t think I can do that. I’m not the Chilbong that I used to be, and you need to think very carefully about what you just asked of me. Unlike you, I’m not drunk and I do know exactly what I’m doing. I’m going to count to three and if you don’t leave in that time, I’m going to kiss you again.”

We were standing so close to each other I can see the pulse beating on her neck. Adrenaline coursed through my veins, and I struggled to regain my composure. Part of me hoped that she would go as far away from me as possible while another part of me wished she would stay. Looking at her face so close to mine, it felt like I was dreaming. If this is a dream, I thought, let me stay in it for a little while longer.

Keeping my eyes fastened on hers, I placed my hands on either side of her face and braced the wall for support. She stayed looking at me, her chin defiant, a stubborn gleam in her eyes. Sung Na Jeong, you’re playing with fire, I thought. After all the years of loving her and the pain I’ve had to endure, I felt backed into a corner. A man can only be pushed so hard until he pushes right back.

*****
Na Jeong


When I opened my eyes I saw Chilbong’s face over me. Suddenly self-conscious, I avoided his gaze.

Omona, what have I done? What exactly have I done? I’ve gone crazy, that’s what I’ve done. Why won’t my heart stop beating erratically? This is Chilbong. My friend Chilbong. I should have resisted whatever impulse caused me to kiss him. At the time it seemed the right thing to do. But now… now…

“I’m sorry. I’m drunk and I don’t know what came over me. Forget I asked…” I blurted. Drunk? I’m lying now! I’m tipsy but nowhere near drunk. I have always been a good drinker, and it would have taken more than the two bottles of soju we shared to get me to start doing things like kissing people. Why is he still looking at me? Oh God, this is too much. Why am I still holding his cap? “Uhh, yeah you can have this back,” I said awkwardly.” Feeling the need to flee the situation, I took two steps back.

“Is that right?” he finally said. Is that right? Is that right! That’s MY phrase, though I’m not really in any position to be getting mad. I just took advantage of him!

I finally met his gaze. I was still thinking of what to say next when he took a step towards me. I saw him fling his cap to the floor as he kept coming towards me. I kept backing away from him until I felt my shoulders collide against Binggrae’s door.

Unable to read his expression, I wondered if I should apologize. I think I definitely need to apologize. Chilbong put both his hands on the door behind me, on either side of my face. My knees felt close to buckling. Standing over me, with his lips inches from mine, I heard him say, “You want me to forget what just happened? I don’t think I can do that. I’m not the Chilbong that I used to be and you need to think very carefully about what you just asked of me. Unlike you, I’m not drunk and I do know exactly what I’m doing. I’m going to count to three and if you don’t leave in that time, I’m going to kiss you again.”

I don’t know how he made a threat sound like a promise. I should be scared, but I felt empowered. I looked at him then, chin up, a challenge in my eyes. In all the years I have known Chilbong I have never seen him lose control. There is a small part of me that is curious to see what happens if he does. WHAT is wrong with me? I should run when he starts counting. I’m gonna run.

“1…”

Was his voice always this husky? I silently thought. Focus, Na Jeong. Focus.

“2…”

Omo, he smells so good. Eye to eye with his collarbone I can smell him perfectly. It made me want to nuzzle his neck. What number are we at? I still have one second. I WILL run.

“3.”

My legs were frozen in place. I can’t go. I don’t want to go. I’ll think about the consequences later.

All thoughts flew out of my head as he leaned down towards me. Unlike the chaste kiss I gave him this kiss was intense. Glorious. My eyes fluttered closed and I felt my whole body come to life. I felt the warmth emanating from his body and I wiggled towards him to get closer. His kiss was insistent and hard. I felt one of his hands on my neck, his touch like the fluttering of a bird’s wing. I felt his other hand on the small of my back, strong, pulling me closer and closer still.

When I felt his tongue coax my lips open I almost sighed. This kiss was not of persuasion, but possession. He tasted of soju, winter and pure male. When I hesitantly touched my tongue to his, I felt a shudder go through him. Our breaths mingled together as he kissed me deeper. His hands held me in place, but I couldn’t have moved even if I wanted to, which I didn’t. I felt him nip on my lower lip gently and I sucked on his tongue in response. I felt his sharp intake of breath as I wrapped my arms around his neck. I savored the feel of his heart beating against mine, and I wanted to kiss him forever.

When he pulled away, I almost cried in protest. I opened my eyes slowly and saw him looking at me. He looked as out of breath as I felt. It’s a good thing he was still supporting me or I would have fallen down. Neither of us spoke, almost afraid to break the spell. His eyes were focused, and his lips still gleamed with moisture from our kiss. Instinctively I placed my fingers to my lips. My lips felt bruised and tender. I still have his taste in my mouth.

“Na Jeong-ah, I…”

Before he can finish his sentence, I took my hand from my lips and signaled him to stop. I looked him in the eyes and shook my head. He smiled at me, leaned down and pressed his forehead to mine.

“You need to stop interrupting me,” he said with a chuckle. “I was going to say I’m sorry but I won’t be apologizing for kissing you.”

“Is that right?” I said in response.

He looked at me blankly for one second then burst out laughing. Next thing I knew, I was laughing too.

*****
One hour later
 
Chilbong
 

I’ve been tossing and turning for the better part of the last hour. I had hoped that I would be calm and content by now. Instead, I feel restless. I am almost hesitant to sleep because I’m afraid that this was just a dream. In the light of day, would Na Jeong still see me differently, or will I go back to being just her friend?

I guess I will just have to wait and see. Knowing that there is no use worrying about things I can’t control, I decided to enjoy this moment for as long as I could. I closed my eyes and Sung Na Jeong filled my thoughts. Moments later, I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

*****
Two hours later
 
Na Jeong


What other secrets has Chilbong been hiding? I wondered as I lay in bed. I knew he said he’d kiss me, but I didn’t think he’d kiss me like that. I suppose that’s one more thing he can add to his list of talents. 

I turned over in bed, hugged my pillow and leaned my head onto my arm. When the night started, I could never have predicted it would end this way. I was fully prepared to start the New Year alone, like I did last year. In a surprising turn of events, I found myself in Chilbong’s arms.

For the first time in a long time, I felt free. I guess maybe it’s true that good things come to those who wait. I felt hope bloom in my chest, and my face hurt from smiling for hours. I turned over on my back again and saw my puppy toy sitting on my bed facing me. I promise I’m not crazy, but I could swear that he was smiling at me too.

As I drifted off to sleep holding my puppy close, I realized belatedly that Chilbong never gave me an answer. 

 

CHAPTER SONG: Secondhand Serenade “Fall For You”

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4 thoughts on “A MOMENT’S CHOICE: First Inning

  1. Kat Austria says:

    Gia unnieeeee~~~ I am pressed for time for the next few days so I cannot leave a non-spazzy comment but I LOVE YOU FOR WRITING THIS!!! So good. So sexy. The tension and the angst. Everything hurts so good. Thank you for giving me warm fuzzy feelings! x Kat

  2. Sweta Kushwaha says:

    OMG. Can i just say that it has been one of my dreams to read a novel where i get to know about the story from both the perspectives. I was literally on the edge of the seat while reading this. The atmosphere is crackling with chemistry and that raw appeal that is a given between two healthy people.
    Can i say i like the descriptions that you have described. The thing that struck me was that metaphor of butterfly. LOVe IT. Great work. Keep on going
    a side comment…i almost thought they were gonna sleep together. Since korean dramas are so chaste i wanted to believe that in some alternate state of my mind they did sleep together. off course we cant have that in real life. love needs to be based on respect and care and trust and not lust. but still. a girl can dream.:D

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