August 29, is the date that is burnt into my memory, forever it will. I rolled over to my bed staring at my alarm clock. A quarter to one, forty five minutes into the day I always dread. I closed my eyes tight, trying to sleep and try to forget it just for tonight, but there’s no way to block out the memories that always make its way into my mind, taking over it completely. Oh, that beautiful day in the summer, I could just remember it all - his smell, his touch… his kiss!
I turned to my pillow, again trying to sleep, my body shaking in rebellion to my memories, trying to repel it… forget it. The memories succeeded into overcoming me, as it did every day, but today was special. I’m again forced to go back to that beautiful summer I dread of my eighteen year old self…
The year was 1973, where boys opted to wear tight-fitting jeans, white t-shirts with the ‘trendy’ leather jackets, and the girls still wore petticoats and flared skirts. I remember those days as if it was last week. I remember everything; the long days and short nights, the beautiful sun and the late sunsets at the beach. What I remembered the most though weren’t the delicious patbingsu and the milkshakes, it was looking up from my book, straight into the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Eyes that were drowning me, but not really scary… thus looking so soft and kind. He walked into the bakery, where I spend most of my days reading. The heads of every man, woman, and child turned at his entrance, making it look like he made a silent command for attention.
He looked like someone out of some men’s rugged jeans ad. It was quite evident from his appearance that he was some kind of a drifter - from the worn out jeans, the rugged look and the t-shirt with a hint of road dust. Everyone instantly got captivated by his air, but eventually returned to their business after a few glances. His gaze had swept the room, eventually found my own, resulting in a silent battle trying to get the other to look away. At last we broke into smiles, his gaze diverted, but mine was fixed on him going to the counter ordering two ice creams and walking towards me. Suddenly, he was already standing directly in front of me, with milkshakes in hand.
"I’m sure you’re aware that it’s rude to stare, right?” He asked, handing me the milkshake.
"Sorry,” I mumbled as I quickly lowered my gaze and blushed, earning a chuckle from him, making me more embarrassed than I already am.
"Do you mind if I join you?” He asked, indicating the other chair across from me.
I was dumbfounded when I realized that this epitome of beauty was not just talking to me, but offering me milkshake and even asking to sit with me! I was only able to nod briefly and quickly looked around to see if there are other booths that are vacant. About five of them were, so he really did want to sit with me!
"My name’s Dong Wan, Park Dong Wan,” he said, as he bowed in politeness.
I quickly bowed back, and saw him smiling at me, so I smiled back. He had an expectant smile, arching his eyebrows with a toothy grin. I tried to mimic his actions, but my smile turned out to be shy rather than an expectant one.
"So,” he started.
"So,” I echoed.
He flashed another smile, "I, uh, told you my name.” He said.
"Yeah, Park Dong Wan.” I replied, still mesmerized by his eyes. He actually made me nervous, so I fixed my hair which was more than fine, thankful that he looked like he didn’t mind.
"Don’t you think you should tell me yours, assuming that you have one?” He said with a chuckle.
"Oh!” I said, snapping out of my daze. "I’m Seo… Joo Hyun – Seo Joo Hyun.” I finished sounding confused, but that earned me another smile.
He leaned back and studied me… he must think I’m an idiot. I felt his gaze searching and scanning, like he could see through me, and it wasn’t really a comfortable feeling. As he keeps observing me, I allowed my gaze to shift from his eyes, to the body bellow.
He apparently lived a hard life. He was very well built, but it wasn’t like the muscles my brothers had that they had earned from their gym visits. It was like muscles that were used to hard manual labour. He had a boyish look, and probably is older than me, but not particularly older than twenty one.
"You don’t look like a Joo Hyun,” he said lazily.
"I beg your pardon?” I asked, immediately snapping out of my trance I was in while observing him.
He smiled yet again, but a lazy one this time.
"No need to beg princess,” he said in the same tone, "I just meant that ‘Joo Hyun’ doesn’t suit you very well.”
"My name suits my fancy very well and I like it very much thank you!” I retorted defensively.
He smiled and indicated me to take a sip of the milkshake as he did the same. He was cute and I couldn’t help it; I smiled back, taking a sip.
"So Seo Joo Hyun, I’m guessing you’re the daughter of the big time businessman, Seo Jung Shik, the one who’s building a new factory in the forest outskirts? Is he, Seohyun?” He asked.
"Seohyun?” I asked.
"Yes, Seohyun, short, unique and sweet, just like you!” He replied with a cute grin.
"Hey! I’m not short! I’m fun-sized!” I defended, and so I earned another smile.
"Don’t change the subject, I was asking a question.” He said.
"Yes,” I replied, "Seo Jung Shik and my father is the same person.”
"Hmm… I see. First day at work and I’m already flirting with my boss’ daughter!” He finished his milkshake in one gulp.
"Are you flirting with me?” I questioned bending and twirling the straw in my milkshake.
"Oh, I think I am, what, you don’t think I’m worthy enough?” He responded maliciously.
I wasn’t a stuck up ice princess as he may have thought, so I quickly assured him. It was the beginning of a beautiful and innocent relationship though we were already starting our adulthood. We had continued on with our conversations as if we were long lost friends. I had learned that he was here to work for the construction and is planning to stay permanently. His mother had died from cancer and his father had died of a heart attack. Dong Wan said that he believed that his father actually died of a broken heart. He said that he has never seen a love like that of his parents.
He only has himself as a family, alone in this world. I was heartbroken when I heard this story. I just met him, but somehow I knew that I would be his family, and would be a big part of him. I don’t know how I knew that, I just did.
As time passed, I spend more and more of my time with Dong Wan; and the more time I spend with him, the more I liked him. By the end of July, we were inseparable. We were so drawn into each other that we talked like there’s no tomorrow since the day we met. Even the bakery owner had to shut us up for closing time, yet we were there again the next day.
People had always treated me like a ‘Seo’, a member of the richest family in our town. People like that name, but not me. They were always so careful around me, careful to not offend me with their actions, as they are likely employed by my family or maybe a friend of my father.
But they had no idea that I was the one who has to act careful. I could always earn the instant label of a spoiled brat for any wrong move I make. Another thing is that my mother is a social butterfly and a society queen, always making sure of my behaviours. I had to have proper posture, grammar, language, tone of voice and etiquette. She didn’t want to be disgraced by her ‘little embarrassment’.
Believe it or not, that’s what she actually called me. I was never really like her; I never took part in friendly auctions, school plays or the local gala. Nothing I did was good enough for her, even with me being forced to be in the women’s club and automatically being president, I still didn’t become an active member, to my mother’s disappointment.
Her pride and joys were my older brothers Jung Shin, Min Hyuk and Jong Hyun. They had the highest gross collectors in charity auctions; they were the stars of the soccer team and even taking business degrees from renowned universities. While I, on the other hand, is only in the local college and looking to major in Literature; which to my mother, is a waste of money. But abeoji is a different case; he was pleased with this and he never considered me as his embarrassment.
Being the young lady that I am, I was forced into being a dutiful daughter and socialize with my mother’s friends whenever they have their gatherings. I was alone in doing this, since my three brothers were always in the office where they do ‘manly’ things. Every afternoon was spent with giggling females gushing over how ‘cute’ and ‘handsome’ my brothers were. I’ve always wanted to strangle each and every one of them and I’m still surprised I haven’t done so.
My only comfort was Dong Wan. I was free from my entire pretense. The more time I spent with him, my insecurities grew less. I’ve never seen someone so perfect, that he was unconcerned about social standings and positions. This has always delighted me from day one, and I’m pretty sure he was aware of it.
We spent every hour together. The only time we were separated was when I had to go and sleep. Even when he was working, I was there tagging along. I was there with Dong Wan every day. When Dong Wan was really busy, I just sat there watching. The workers were surprised to see a Seo in the worksite, but I helped in whatever I could help with, so they can’t really put on a bad word for me. None of them also belonged to my mother’s social circles, so I’m sure it won’t reach my mother. It was a waste that I haven’t met these people before. They were really fun to be with.
Only my brothers knew where I spent my days. They probably thought I was just avoiding my mother’s friends, with them laughing every time they see me at the site. They even gave me my own hard hat and a tool belt. But I only filled the belt with treats for the crew instead of actual tools. I didn’t notice the figure that came up to me when I was busy giving out the treats, until the workers started acting cautiously. When I turned to look, it was my father staring at me.
Jong Hyun oppa luckily assured him that they were there the whole time and I was perfectly safe before abeoji even got to speak.
"Why the heck would you want to spend a day in a construction site?” He asked as he led me to his office.
My father always had his way of getting the truth out of me every time he puts me on the spot. For sure he didn’t know about Dong Wan, and I’m quite nervous of what he will do when he found out.
"Well … um… I… uh… I, I, I…” I was at loss on trying to find a reply.
Jung Shin and Min Hyuk oppa’s laughter suddenly took my attention. I got too tensed that I never realized that they even went in the office. I’ve never been so glad to see them!
"Oh come one dad, you always knew that Joo Hyun was more interested in our construction more than mother’s social gatherings. She was simply interested on how things worked in here since it was her family’s business after all.” Min Hyuk oppa replied, still laughing.
Jung Shin oppa sat down next to me and whispered, "Isn’t that right… Seohyun?”
Hearing Dong Wan’s nickname for me made me snap my head up staring at him and then glanced at the other two who simply gave out a knowing smile with a wink with it. Looks like I can’t really hide anything from them. But at least I know that it was safe with them.
"Is that so?” Abeoji said turning to look at me.
I sighed. "Of course… abeoji.”
"Are you sure this has nothing to do with a certain worker that came from Ilsan, named Park Dong Wan?” He asked in a serious I-mean-business tone.
I blushed immediately with this statement. I unconsciously fiddled with my hair and looked at Jong Hyun oppa, then back to abeoji. Min Hyuk oppa put a hand over my shoulder and squeezed it in encouragement, while Jung Shin and Jong Hyun oppa nodded theirs.
"It has… everything to do with him abeoji.” I finally said… followed by a short silence.
"I knew it.” He laughed.
"You’re not angry?” I asked, a little relieved and confused as the same time.
"Oh, no, of course not. I checked his records and he’s a good kid.” He said with a smile.
Four stunned eyes stared back at him. Well, that’s my abeoji, alright.
"Believe it or not, I used to be a construction worker too. I worked my way into getting myself into Business School, so I learned my way into all this, eventually falling in love with my boss’ daughter, and oh he didn’t like it at all!”
I knew abeoji came from a poor family, but our grandparents from our father’s side only told us that it was the tough times they had been through that abeoji got to overcome their state. But that last bit was something I never knew; and by my brother’s faces, I guess they didn’t have an idea either.
"So what happened with the girl, dad?” Jong Hyun oppa was brave enough to ask.
He smiled and came to me, pulling me into his tight embrace and replied, "Well, we got married and had three handsome sons and a goddess-like daughter!”
"Really?” The three boys chorused then looked at each other, then back at abeoji; too intrigued to care.
"Harabeoji didn’t like you?” I asked.
"Not even a little!” he laughed, "But I got his approval when I got them out of bankruptcy and later took over the business and made it successful all over the country.”
"Then, would she be okay with Dong Wan?” I hopefully asked.
He released me and look at me with a smile, "I’m not too sure, but to be on the safe side, we’re going to have to keep this from her.”
We all nodded knowing that eomeoni would be downright angry just knowing that I spend my time at the construction site, let alone falling in love with one of the workers. I was used to eomeoni’s wrath since childhood, but seeing Dong Wan was worth eomeoni’s wrath a million fold.
I fell in love with him. I didn’t know how or when, but I know I’m head-over-heels for this twenty year old man called Park Dong Wan from Ilsan.
"Yong Hwa, please. I don’t consider you as more than a friend. I’m in love with someone else, and his name is Dong Wan”
"Really looks like I don’t have a chance. I can’t really compete with that, can I?”
"She may not know who he is, but she for sure knows you’re in love. So you better watch out, before you get into her nerves.
Life was perfect at the moment.
Finally got the first chapter done after SO many distractions! No Yong Hwa for this chappie since I’m still building the characters, but I promise there will be Yong Hwa on the second chappie! XD
Well, I hope you still liked it, despite Seohyun falling in love with another guy. XD I assure you though, that this is a YONGSEO ENDING... No doubts about that, so keep reading!