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To the girls of my life

Who shaded my complexity with the color pink
This is for you, girls

No More Heroes
Jessica Jung


First and foremost, I wanted to thank you for putting yourself together and brandishing a fresh
attempt towards reading my story. Youre free to share the story with your friends, relatives, online pals
or even pets, if youre one of the weird ones. Yet, be warned: you have no right to claim its your work.
But that applies only when you start selling them along the sidewalk or eBay. If your face is that thick,
your conscience will judge your immaturity for me. Or if youre one of the stupid ones, you can tell me
you owned me and I will deal with you personally. :3
Secondly, English is not my first language. Im a pureblooded Filipino thus grammatical errors
can be noticed as you moved along reading this fiction. And to the fact that Im not that confident with
my grammar skills, you can bear with me [anxious smiley here]. But I tried my best to correct the
irregularities and errors so, no sweat.
Thirdly and might be the last, graphics included here are my own works (as if its something
amazing) so there.
Oh, and finally, dont forget to leave a comment. Loved goads. Just drop by my profile comment
box and there
Jill aka allbliss

"This is Miyoung."
A girl in pink cardigan stood immobile by a withered, undistinguishable tree that appeared as if creepy
hands planted on the damp, winter soil. With the tree, she was rooted in the middlemost part of an
isolated meadow that was dreaded by the season, brought down by time. A vast emptiness filled her
atmosphere as she stared at the gray clouds, not a ray of sunshine spotlighting anywhere her sight laid.
Then her legs trembled, her lips quivered, and her eyes sparkled, signs of defeat against the reigning
"When starlight falls, Jess. You will guide me, right?"
But there's no one to respond. The only resonance were the crackles of the nudging branches from the
nearby forest, together with her own low breaths and suppressed emotions expressed through nasal
sounds and croaking hiccups. There was only grief.
"I'm alone and scared, Jess."
Her thighs gave up: she fell to her knees, arms on the ground as she winced through an invisible cause, a
torture within. The wind whooshed above her, sending the hair on her back up. But she was numb. The
something she bears had acted as an anesthetic, and the image of the burden reflected from her frayed
body and soul. The bleeding heart throbbed faster in its ribcage, as if breaking free from the agony, from
the anguish of not having someone to comfort her.
"You know how much I love you, so why left?"
She had become desperate. As her hands curled into fists, she raised her head up and stared at the sky.
On one glorious moment that in spite of the bitter winds lashing her with grief and numbness, a feeling
of something guiding her, slowly, consumed her pain, a short freedom.
The cold breeze halted abruptly. The gray clouds stopped drifting. The time has stopped.
The answer on the last inquisition was responded by a warm zephyr, and it was as if a pair of warm
hands caressing her cheeks and somewhat drying her tears though it continued to fall.

"Are you in heaven now, Jess?"

Then it started to drizzle. Thin raindrops splattered her face with wetness, and it drowned the tears, a
thin mask to the real emotion that had her whimpering.
"You'll be with me, right? When there're no more heroes?"
Tiffany Hwang. Twenty-two years old. Gorgeous eyes, rosy lips. Not that tall, but an average Korean
devoured by what appeared consuming her from the inside. She had cried fifty times for Jessica, the one
she loves who died two weeks ago.

Chapter One: Interlude

I waded passed the troubled waters, not knowing how I got there. But I just went on, walking upon the
mist regardless of the unknown peril that might swallow me out of blue, and continued pacing in spite of
the blurred destination I have, to be honest. Then all of a sudden, a beam of light shone over me, and I
knew that it was heaven, Miyoung. Coz youre there

Crisp wind from Siberia swept across the greater of Kangwondo Province just right after
the autumnal equinox, signalizing the start of the bitterest part of the year. The long pane of trees
turned gold, and pieces of its leaves that fell off, teemed over the road, creating a small swirl every time
a vehicle came passing. The natural mixture of yellow and red in the landscape, and additional caressing
zephyrs wrapped with autumn fragrance, had been the reasons why Tiffany had always wanted to get
on to her bike and wander pointlessly anywhere the pedals would take her.
Her hair was swayed by the wind, dancing and waltzing with the comforting breathes of the Earth.
Woodsy smell reached her nose, and her stomach gave a tiny crunch when she abruptly remembered
the potato pancakes Jessica promised once she arrived at her destination, their sacred sanctuary.
After passing a trail of maples, the dried leaves twirled in midair as she ventured along the paved road;
she found herself running across a path beside a lush, golden soybean field ready for harvest. The village
elders great wrinkled faces, as they reap their precious crops, showed content, an absolute quench, and
it was vivid that the simplicity they have is more than enough of a purpose to stay alive and to linger in
this earthly haven. It amazed her, and she couldnt keep the joyousness, so she mustered a radiant smile
and she thought it wasnt enough of a reaction in respond to such spectacle.
Then after she went that through, she gazed at the orange velvet cloaking her. She bathed under a
shower of golden majesty brought by the ray of sun, the source of warm comfort despite the chill fused
with autumn breeze. In this spectacular weather, she was more than glad she will going to share it with
Jessica, who, for sure, wasnt still there at their secret place. She was always late, and Tiffany found it
lousy, a defect to what seemed to be Jessicas perfection
They had known each other for almost the rest of their lives. Jessica lived some few miles away from her,
almost a driving distance. The apartness of their home wasnt actually a hindrance but instead, there
was an imperceptible bridge between them, which allows the two souls to be with each other all the
time, wherever, whenever and however they want. A gift bestowed by love they shared, times they
spent and moments of grief they boldly faced.
Furthermore, they both attend the same school, and of the same year level. Theyre bound to graduate
this June, but they might not make it since their records were dangling above the flames due to the
absences and missed exams. An inevitable habit that had long since theyve started doing.
Tiffany reached the end of the road, by the edge of the forest. She pulled over by a low steep, her bike
tire scratching. After she found a spot to park, she hastily swung the straps of her bag around her
shoulder and darted recklessly into the forest, wind slapped her face and fallen leaves showered above
her head.

The ground crunched under her feet as she tottered through the entangling roots that seemed
embedded on the forest soil; and she jostled through the thicket, small twigs clawing her jacket as she
tore towards the mouth of a lake. The same glee every time she felt the soft, damp ground by the lakes
shore, made its appearance again in her visage, and as she scanned the trees that cloistered this wonder,
she knew shes home.
You lousy snail, someone called from somewhere. To her almost wild astonishment, she found a
brown-haired girl sporting a deep purple sleeve and a look of annoyance. In spite of the cold features in
the girls visage, she appeared charismatic, as she stood next to the lake, looking aggravated on purpose.
Jessicas feet tapped the earth. Tiffany consoled herself by putting up a smile for Jessica to empathize.
Luckily, the bond between them is more than being friends, and lateness wasnt enough to shatter even
a teensy portion of it.
Sorry, Ive stopped by to help the elders harvesting carrots, said Tiffany, making up a lousy excuse
while putting down her bagpack upon the leaf-teemed ground by the nearest tree and letting off a sigh
in an opaque wisp of fume.
Youre lying, said Jessica skeptically, her eyebrows raised frigidly. But a simple ribbing always work
through this kind of situation, and Tiffany was best at it.
You should dye your hair blonde, she said lovingly, as she glided to Jessica, skipping her every step.
But you insisted it should stay brown, she responded matter-of-factly, catching Tiffany off guard.
Well, said Tiffany, cornered, I was amazed that you came first. Perhaps changing the subject is a
perfect salvage before she became roasted by Jessicas tantalizing stare that seriously burns.
Jessica turned around, and Tiffany grabbed her left arm and rested her head on Jessicas shoulder while
they both climbed toward the infamous cliff that used to be a popular diving spot. The lakes water
glimmered as it reflected the suns radiance.
And everything had become peaceful.
The perfect pale lines of the mountains that surrounded them looked as if theyre talking and smiling
upon them.
Theres only peace.
Unaware of the test they will have to deal in the future.
Theres only serenity.

With them
That is why they chose this place, other than the privacy and its closeness to nature, which they
considered a blend of sweet fruits for them to drink at leisure. Its history was a weird one. There were
ghost stories about an underwater monster pulling divers deeper to the abyss, and eerie cries
resonating at night. Jessica merely laughed it, finding the legends ludicrous. In fact, it had just been a
nice prop every time she had a desire to scare Tiffany just for the fun of it.
The place was first discovered by Tiffany, as shes the one who loves travelling. Basically, Jessica was
always the lazy one. This spectacular hermit delimited with maples and ash that seemed whispering,
was an accidental discovery, a product of their more than occasional cutting of classes. While in search
of a hiding place, where they can shout their secrets without having anyone finding it out, their feet
took them to this place, as if it was destined. Since then, this had been the bare witness of their
flourishing, of moments where they laughed and of feelings unraveled as time went on.
Tiffany plummeted down the hard surface, sitting in an Indian position, while Jessica remained erected.
Tiffany glanced up and saw her sporting an expression as if shes touched by Gods as the light glowed
upon her face.
It was a moment of placidity despite the hardships she faced in home. If Tiffany had lived with nice
parents, who relentlessly poured her with love, a total bipolar comparison of that, is the one Jessica has.
She was neglected, never trusted and, the one thing that always breaks her heart, she was ignored. But
the love she sought was quenched with having someone like Tiffany in her life. She really didnt mind
the negligence. Jessica was a strong girl. If maybe not in the inside, she got the guts to convince herself
that she can do anything, a fact that separates her from Tiffany, who was always shy and somewhat
Youre going to burn your face, said Tiffany merely, staring at Jessica with eyes blinking through the
unwavering luminosity. Jessica let out a deep breath, undressed her jacket and, without a trace of
hesitation; she strode towards the edge of the cliff and leapt into the lake. Taken aback, Tiffany
scrambled to her feet as she watched Jessica, diving her way down, ending the show with a graceful
splash. Thin droplets by the aftermath of Jessicas feat hit Tiffany, and those tiny droplets felt like stabs
of small icicles.
Jessica remained submerged in the water in the next minute. Tiffany continued peering chest down and
head squinting over the edge, worried more than ever. Jess! JESS! she yelled at the top of her lungs,
and Jessica came out of the water, her face drenched but full of wonder as if she just discovered the
meaning of life and had achieved cosmic consciousness. Tiffany merely looked incredulous. Are you
CRAZY? Its freezing, for Christs sake! She had seen Jessica jumping in the water before, but definitely
not in this temperature.

It was answered only by a laugh. Jessica started doing backstrokes as though comfortable despite the
temperature thats probably almost zero degree. Tiffany remained scratching her head, contemplating
Jessicas weirdness but as she watched Jessica swam finely across the surface; she just swung herself
around and glared at the afternoon sky.
Woah, its cold, shrilled Jessica as she breaststroked farther and farther. The birds started tweeting
and it sounded as if she was cheering for her. But this made everything looked as if they were goading
Jessica away from her, and Tiffany didnt like that.
How do I get down there? Tiffany asked worriedly, standing up after seeming to have made a decision
albeit the thought was crazy. She stared down to her correspondent, with brows met and eyes
Jessica halted wind milling her arms and yelled back, Youve got to be one with the water.
Tiffany thought it was stupidly nonsense. What are you talking about? Her voice reverberated
somewhat eerily.
A grin twitched on Jessicas mouth as she floated across the lake, still wearing the same ethereal
expression she had back at the cliff. Youve got to feel the water touching your body... force yourself
that youre a creature that lives underneath remove the word cold in your head and simply let the
liquid swallow you.
As she said those, Tiffany could actually feel what Jessica want her to do, a magic of the bond between
their hearts. She took a step by the overlooking steep but the height made her heart race and Jessica
noticed it with an appraising stare.
Close your eyes and let the light caress your face, said Jessica in an encouraging sort, flapping her
arms around her. Youre about to fly with me.
Those words blew the anxiety away. What could be more awesome than flying into the water where
your love awaits?
Tiffany obeyed, and she raised her head, allowing the ray of sun to caress her face. That particular
minute was heavenly, and the glorious glow inside her body seemed to emanate in every inch of her
skin, a sign of an epic wonderfulness. Then she stepped closer toward the edge, shut her eyes as Jessica
instructed her, and without the full awareness that shed already made up her mind of jumping, she
already did. She could feel the wind upward, despite the matter of seconds in midair, tearing to her face
and it was as if shed flown. And the moment her body touched the water with a large splash, shed
gone through a new world. With Jessica.

Wow! she blurted out, the time when her head came out of the water. She started flapping her arms
and squint around for Jessica.
However, the coldness of the temperature appeared as if twisting her muscles, immobilizing her
underneath. Her feet stopped fluttering as if had frozen, and her head started sinking. Je-ss! Bubbles
went out of her mouth as she went down deeper into the abyss slowly.
Just before it happened, an arm clung around her elbow and she was being dragged back to the surface.
Her consciousness flew off for a moment, as Jessica pulled her back to the shore, apparently horrified
instead of amused.
Tiffany spurted out water, and quickly gasped for air as Jessica rounded up courage to fight the fervent
fear creeping in her veins. Im sorry, Miyoung. Never again!
Tight, comforting arms were wrapped around Tiffanys chest, and all she can do was to smile back to
respond on its almost motherly caress. She cant survive without Jessica, shes the knight and shes the
pawn. Tiffany rather wanted to stay at the back, as Jessica fights. It was proved through the years
theyve shared. That she would always be there, to stand against anyone who will oppose, anything that
will obstruct, anyhow that will keep them separated from each other, even death. Jessica had promised
that she would fight for Tiffany, a pact forged under the spell of love, strengthened with affection to
each other. No matter what even if therere no more heroes.
Tiffanys heart throbbed against her chest, but shed regained almost the rest of her consciousness and
she started replying finely. Teeth chattering, Jessica lovingly wrapped her casuals around Tiffany, and
even pressed her chest against Tiffanys body to provide more warmth. It was a scene more spectacular
than her dive. Shivering slightly, Tiffany gazed up to Jessica as they both sat down by a nearby tree. This
is the first time she saw Jessica be afraid of something and it was rather entertaining. Scared-d?
An incredulous look spread across Jessicas face, Are you kidding? What if Im not there and you
drowned? What if I died and left you alone?
Those words stabbed Tiffany straight in the chest, and she shuddered through the horrific possibilities
Jessica had just mentioned. Yet she wondered what if Jessica was not there? She mightve drowned by
now or perhaps she may not be here at this moment. Many scenes played repeatedly inside her head,
and those flashes of what-would-it-be-ifs moments, every single one of it, made her eyes brimming with
As Jessica stood up to fetch their belongings that were left at the cliff, Tiffany quickly took a lunge and
embraced Jessicas legs, as if beseeching her to dont go anywhere. Jessica noticed it, and stood at her
tracks, rooted. She could feel Tiffanys shudders nudging her leg, and her sight fell down.

Dont say things like that, J-Jess, hiccupped Tiffany unabashedly. Her body trembled with both
coldness and of the exaggeration from Jessicas last statement. Youll never leave me, right?
A smile curved on Jessicas thin lips, and she put Tiffanys arms away then gazed at her directly in the
eye. I wont leave you. When starlight falls, and when therere no more heroes, Ill stay beside you.
The twinkle on her eyes is like an assurance enough to make Tiffany smile comfortably, and as she did,
Jessica ruffled her hair and pinched her cheeks. Promise me that you wont leave by my side, Tiffany
asked as though a five-year old kid seeking guarantee.
Jessica bent down, and raised her right arm, I wont leave my Miyoung unprotected. If I would be gone,
let the stars fall down to make her smile; if I would be gone let there be no classes anymore!
And they both laughed to their stomachs. But amidst of it, Jessica suddenly thought: What if shes gone?

Chapter Two: Broken

Jess, you just kissed me. Does that mean were sealed forever?

It was a hermit of dancing lights caused by flying china and plastic plates across the room. It
was also dinnertime, which was considered family time, but as of the moment, Jessica quivered at the
corner, behind their sofa, trembling with fear that any moment, blood will spurt over her and cries will

reverberate to join the pandemonium inside their cozy house. Suppressed sobs and snarls of rage, it
echoed every corner, bounced up and down, left and right, in and out of her ear.
You cant keep doing this, a womans voice pleaded Jessica recognized as her mothers.
Who the hell are you? A deep growl from the devil, she was absolutely sure it was from his stepfather.
In the middle of this racket, she placed her palm to cover her ear, but the more she evaded, the keener
the fiery discussion darted deeper and deeper to her skull. Then she imagined Tiffany, sitting next to her
and they were both grinning. At that precise moment, her eyes began to sparkle, and the courage she
showed moments ago by saving Tiffanys life, suddenly, had amalgamated with a more feminine and
vulnerable side of her. Yet, she kept her sanity intact but at the same time in her mind, she begged for
Tiffany, for someone who could hug her and take her away from this forsaken place. Anyone please.
Tiffany smiled next to her, and they both parked themselves over the Bermuda grass carpeting the
meadow in the surreal place Jessica dreamed up. She could hear the clutters of shattering plates and
yelling getting fainter and fainter until it was gone and was replaced by Tiffanys playful humming and
mild winds whooshing above their heads.
Miyoung-ah, she murmured, and Tiffany stared up, her expression as if annoyed by the disruption.
Theyre stitching hankies, and there were birds tweeting peacefully, light glowing majestically and wind
whispering as if asking for a dance.
What? Tiffanys voice echoed as if theyre miles away from each other. Yet just by her mystical timber
makes it sufficient to calm Jessica, and she wouldnt be gratified enough.
Miyoung-ah, Jessica repeated, biting her lip as she resumed stitching a lily over the pattern shed been
working with.
Hm? Tiffany mumbled, focused on whats shes doing.
Is this a dream? Jessica asked, looking around. Everything that surrounded them shone and the pale
pink sky shimmered with solar winds. The bright yellow light that illuminated this heaven came from
something up in the sky that was neither reachable nor seemed to exist. The dreamy trees produced
rustling sound as they tapped each other as if greeting to one another. And the grass, the soft grass to
which they lay at the moment, appeared cushions and Jessica thought they were in some big, overlaying
What if this is all a dream? said Tiffany brightly, in a voice that was never hers. The question registered
to Jessicas brain, and she let out a sigh.

Then let me stay here forever, said Jessica, equally jovial. Yet at that moment, a loud shattering noise
clang beside her, and she was fell back to reality, back to the sofa, back to the messy living room, back to
the battlefield in a war that she had nothing to do with.
Her sight wander across, and saw their house trembling: the fight had gone upstairs. The aftermath of
the never-ending quarrel between her parents was almost the destruction of their kitchen. The large,
family table, that moments ago had some kimchi pancakes, spicy fish stew and pickled radish placed
lovingly, now nothing but splinters of wood where shards of broken plates scattered among with it. The
fridge was toppled down, and the counters where wrecked as if beaten down to demolition.
After gathering the strength she had, she erected from her silent din and unsaid prayers. Then took a
stride toward the stairs but only after pacing a few steps, she fell to her knees as piercing pain erupted
under her feet: blood blossomed freely across the deep cut caused by the shattered china that landed
beside her minutes ago. Burning with pain, she squirmed for a few moments until a notion slapped the
sense out of her: I am a strong girl, and I have to keep the same image even if Tiffany wasnt around.
But the problem is, shes not as strong as Tiffany had known of her.
She was never strong when Tiffanys not in her midst. She was Jessicas source of power, the only person
she can brag her faux strength with; the only person in the world who appreciated her, from the littlest
to the most astonishing thing shed ever do. Real or mere show offs. Yet and yet Tiffany wasnt
around, and the reverie that merged in her mind moments ago was nothing now but faded fragments of
a happy dream. She finds herself barred in a hellish cloister of grief and of anger.
The first floors ceiling shook, and she could hear someone choking and another one growling. How
could her stepfather become like this? What does her mother did to make him frenzied with this
destructive rage? Why had a person who always cared for Jessica become such a brutal beast?
She crouched up a bit and reached for the dangling piece of rag by the lopsided petite chandelier, and
she hastily wrapped it around the wound to block the flow of blood. She started to feel nuisance. Is it
caused by the lost of this much blood or is it through watching a pool of red in front her? The notion was
nonsense. She had to get up. To prove once and for all her capability, even not in front of Tiffanys eyes.
Despite the clumsy strap she did to cover the bloody slit under her feet, she grabbed the edge of the
sofa and pulled her body up. She could feel the blood streaming from her wound, but right now, she had
to climb upstairs to prevent herself from claws of her devilish stepfather.
Dragging her feet, she blundered toward the banister, wincing through the agony and shoulders
slumping lethargically. As she got herself a breathing space while resting her arms at the magnificent
oak baluster, the stairs trembled. Stricken cries reverberated somewhere on the second floor, but her
heart raced when she saw her stepfathers fiery actuality ambling down the stairs. Little bloodstains

blotted his shirt, and the monster-like mustached face was contorted with unimaginable rage behind the
thin layers of sweat.
Jessicas eyes widened, and she knew she couldnt run. As the devil walked closer and closer, that she
could hear his deep breaths, she closed her eyes together with an expectation to be clawed by his brute
hands. But a wind that passed her face, swinging her bangs, spoke to her, telling her that shes in no
danger. That the disaster had ceased.
Starting from her right eye, she slowly opened both and she saw total isolation. Together with a sigh of
relief, she wiped the brittles of sweat from her forehead, and lurched toward her room, thanking God
that she only received a cut instead of bruises in the face.
The first thing she did, as her rooms door swung agape, was to throw her lethargic body onto bed. Lying
spread-eagled, she thought that tomorrow would be a general cleaning day, that her parents would
made up as if nothing happened. An annoying circle, a continuous cycle that seemed to have no end
until eternity. It was always like that, and it was proved no matter how brutal the scene is, they always
got along the next day. However, Jessica was sick of it.
Her eyes rested at the ceiling as her mind swirled with thoughts about tomorrow. The reunification with
Tiffany made her more than eager to go to bed and as a complimentary, the promise of pink radiance of
dusk and pale outline of the moon in the morning.
While rounding everything together, without having the full cognizance that shes about to fall asleep,
her trance lured her to a deep trench, into the dreamworld.

She was gazing sideways to Tiffany, as Tiffany stared back. They lay placidly back in the surreal meadow,
to the heaven she put up moments ago. Tiffanys face glowed by the same, warm luminosity, and her
eyes sparkled as it reflected the unwavering light coming from above. Comfort run through Jessicas
veins as the eternal warmness wrapped every inch of her skin. And as she slowly faced the sky, her eyes
winked: even the clouds were shimmering behind the aurora.
In this wonder, the hunger for affection that was never given to her was sufficed. And the tinkling laugh
that suddenly reverberated had pulled her closer to that haven of delight, of mirth and of whimsical

Why do I keep coming back to this place? Jessica asked though the inquisition sounded negative, she
felt jocund by her actuality in this dreamland.
Because you want to, Tiffany answered, smiling serenely, and Jessica snapped her eyes back to her. I
mean, dont you want to be here? Tiffany appended, her eyes curved in chinks.
Jessica chuckled, and she let off a sigh. Her toes writhed and there was no agony. Only warm,
comforting reign had taken over her soul, and pain turned devoid. Miyoung-ah. She never gets weary
saying that name, and even if Tiffany finds it annoying, she just does what she want.
Why do you keep saying my name? It started to fill each moment with questions, and Jessica cleverly
avoided it by answering truthfully this time.
Because I love you. It was followed with the sincerest look she could ever fledge. Affection burned her
insides with passion and she thought theres a fire in front of her, a different kind of fire. A soft skin
touched her palm, and they were both holding each others hand, a forever seal. As the light drowned
them with unending warmth and as they held each other, the surreal world appeared real. The smile
they both sported, addressed to one another, is a sign of contentment, and in this world Jessica had
built for them, they could do it forever, no more tears, no more rage just them, by the fire of love.
But suddenly, her eyes quivered. Her body shook, and Tiffanys image, together with the imaginary
world, shattered as if glassworks. She was back in the twilight-consumed room, and her arms were
knotted at the headboard of her bed, V-position. Heaves of deep breaths, of hunger, clang somewhere,
and she looked around as she fought to break free.
You sleep pretty deep. Dont worry, I would go easy on you, said a growling voice. She squinted down,
and even before she screamed, a ball of handkerchief was stuffed in her mouth by her stepfather.
What are you doing? She yelled but stifled sound came out of her mouth. Her stepfather started to
undress her, as she writhed around helplessly. Tears trickled on her cheeks, and as the devil gave a
suppressed maniacal laugh, and she knew: this it. Theres no one around her, even Tiffany. She had left
her left her to be broken.

Some miles away from her, a loud gasp echoed across Tiffanys room. She flung her body up from her
four-poster bed, and let out a noise coming from fear burning against the walls of her body. Tears
glimmered in her eyes, and her sleeping gown was drowned with sweat.
Something happened to Jessica.

Then she cried as she never cried before. She took a glance over the clock, which showed both arms
pass two; and she had become desperate. Her moans got louder that the door slammed open, and her
parents strode in. They found her knelt down, groaning from the agony that described as though a stab
of white-hot wires sinking deeper to her chest.
What happened? Mr. Hwang asked, aghast. Tiffany continued murmuring Jessicas name, and
resumed swinging her head around as if it was happening somewhere near.
Jessica, father, Jessica, she moaned, and she weakly pulled her body up but fell down due to the
horrification that was torturing her at the moment.
Its a nightmare.
It wasnt a nightmare, Tiffany thought. They will never understand. Mrs. Hwang glided towards the
switch and turned the lights on.
It isnt a dream, father. Jessica, shes in trouble, said Tiffany hopelessly, grabbing her fathers arm, and
dragging him, wanting him to see what she saw. But it was a special sign between her and Jessica and it
was imperceptible to anyone but them. This painful truth had slapped the sense on Tiffanys face. With a
loud thud as her arm slid out from Mr. Hwangs arms, she fell back on the floor, devastated by an
unseen prospect that was never a dream. She knew. She knew its true.
Go to sleep, dear. Youre only dreaming, said Mrs. Hwang amidst of repressed cries and confusion
held back. She swung an elbow around Tiffanys arms and supported her toward her bed. But Tiffany
knew that somewhere Jessica was in desperate struggle and it kept Tiffany awake all through the night.

Chapter Three: Protection

Jess, can you fly after this? asked Tiffany while they both sat by the cliff, staring at the large streak of
azure across the morning sky as Jessica rested her head over her shoulder. Jessica let out a weak laugh
and answered the question in a tone of lethargy and of great inanition, The first time we met,
remember that day when I bully you coz youre so dumb (Tiffany chuckled abashedly)? I had already
flown into the sky. Every moment we shared, Im flying.

Tiffany eyed her bowl of rice with a flyspeck enthusiasm. Mrs. Hwang gazed at her worriedly
while her husband just pored over the newspaper though apparently concerned about the issue the
other night; he seemed compelled in some way.

Dark shadows lined under Tiffanys puffy eyes, and her hair was washed minimally for shes afraid that
the fire inside her chest would be splashed down to void. It was her source of happiness, but today, she
just cant feel it: not a teensy bit of warmth, not a tiny speckle of passion. Literally, shes dead. And she
just doesnt know why and how but for sure, it was because of Jessica.
Those forsaken images she saw last night were as fresh as the morning dew that lingered over the
leafless trees as she sauntered to her bike for school. The wind was mild but at the same time,
expressionless. The surrounding, as she stared around, felt so cold, alone lifeless.
What happened to you, Jess? she asked in her head as she slip her bags strap around her arms and
stepped onto the pedal. Biting her lip in a flummoxed way, she drove her way out of their yard into the
As she stared at the vertical, adobe thoroughfare that appeared to be endless, her mind wandered
somewhere, followed by the horrifying scenes she witnessed. Something happened to Jessica, and
somewhat, she needs Tiffanys help. But the snag is, she didnt come. Therefore, it added to one of the
things, along with cutting classes for fun, she despised.
The soybeans were already harvested, and as she reached the end of the road, she thought Jessica
might be at the lake, waiting for her. Completely sure from this, she took a swerve to a different route
and instead of heading to school; she decided to visit their secret place. Yet as she arrived there,
unusually bitter winds tore as she strode deeper into the forest and closer into their sanctuary. Catching
breathes and compelling not to cry, she emerged from the forest to the mouth of the lake.
However, there was only plain void. Across the lake, there were only waters. In the middlemost of the
golden autumn trees, there were only dragged-by-the-wind leaves. Then on the contrary from where
she stood was only her, Tiffany. Forlorn and isolated.
Determined, she kept her hopes up. Jessica just might be late as she usually is, and would head here
instinctively for sure. Breathing deeply, Tiffany sat down upon the pile of dried leaves by the edge of the
forest. As she stared around the place, she realized the sadness around. Pain blown by the wind
intensified the bitterness while it glides across the atmosphere, leaving a vivid sign of loneliness,
whooshing with carried angst.
Cmon, Jess, where are you? She thought through gritted teeth caused by the impatience that frustrated
her. Her legs shook anxiously. Still, after half an hour of impetuous waiting, Jessica did not turn up.
Tiffany arrived at the school in sure prospective of a woman that would fling her arms around her. But
as she stepped over the doorstep of the classroom, no one lunged. Gradually, she gazed at the students
of Hojae Shin Girls Highschool, bored and alienated: it was a world totally different than hers and

Jessicas: in each corners, there were squealing girls over their phone, exchanging pictures of cute guys
and, the worst part, glaring at her as if shes a sea-slug. Thats a suffering of being pretty and being liked
by many boys from other school. Even if she, Tiffany, didnt care about it, it has drawn the line between
her and the real world. A chic, selfish world she wouldnt even dream of sharing with Jessica.
Their world is plain. They settled themselves apart from the complexity of life, thinking only beneficial
things for themselves. Selfishness is non-existent; love doesnt give a room to jealousy. Love blossomed
there like the rose of Sharon on a cool, spring month. Love scented there like honeydew at the edge of
their tongue. Love felt there like a fortification barricading the cruelness of the world. And they only
have each other for themselves.
Yet, Jessica wasnt around until after a week.
There was a tiny tear at the corner of Tiffanys eyes when she spotted Jessica at the lake, staring at its
depths in profound engrossment she appeared not moving an inch. Filled with hunger, Tiffany tore
towards the clawing thicket, breathless and emotional. The rustling sound she produced as she strode,
made a disruption to Jessicas abysmal reverie, and she riveted to the panting Tiffany.
Jessicas face looked as if shed suffered an adults burden of a lifetime: shadows rested under her eyes,
and her hair seemed untrimmed all these days, carefree, windblown and unknotted. Bitterness was vivid
on her shattered visage, and her almost graying lips quivered as she stifled a sob, an expression implying
grief held back. Her heart beat against her chest, epitomizing the triggering love as they stared at each
other like memorizing every detail in their faces.
There were neither bright rays nor comforting winds around them. Winter had already started the first
phase, and had taken over the momentary autumn. Even the dried leaves were decomposed, and the
ground was mushy. There were no marks of life around them but just a concoction of grief, sadness,
misery, happiness and love, mixed together that caused an awkward implosion as if theyd just met.
Tiffany remained rooted on a position only their eyes could meet. Jessica seemed to have no power to
stand from her comfortable position. And they were both numb, unable to react due to the nimbleness
of the meeting. Must they run to hug each other? Of course.
Jessicas expression was grieving. It was clear that something broke her. And Tiffany felt it, the pain
Jessica is at the moment. This was the first time Tiffany had seen Jessica in such status, and also the first
time she will try to comfort her. Juvenile at this, Tiffany fell on her knees and sported an expression of
the deepest confounding. Jessica empathized the meaning of that look: she grinned. A grim sort of smile.
Tiffany started to sob. You left me.

If only Tiffany knew, Jessica thought, what hellish din shed been barred these past few days. If she only
knew what mistreat shed suffered from the hands of her devilish stepfather, she wouldnt have said
those words.
But these stuffs, Jessica always kept it within her. She doesnt want Tiffany to help her. It was her
personal sin. Shed put too much pride to herself that shed been secluded by the demons that would
drag her down, denying any helping hands or even requesting one. All their lives, shed only shown
Tiffany an image of endurance, of power to stand against any inbounding snags fate would throw upon
her. In spite of the beauty of those words, Jessica knew it was merely flaunting. She was never strong.
The daringness shed boasted in front of Tiffany was counterfeit of the real self, which is fragile,
emotional and useless.
Miyoung-ah, she said monotonously, staring at Tiffanys eyes but not blinking. There were enough
tears in her eyes sufficient for moisture.
It was moment as though theyve exchanged their personality. Tiffany did everything she can to prevent
herself from crying while on the other hand, Jessica was already in wild tremor at her feet. As Tiffany bit
her lip, she thought about all the years theyve shared. How Jessica protected her from the tiniest to the
most intolerable harm shed been plunged into. Those wonderful moments had proved that the forged
link is a fiery actuality, the source of power, a brain-like part, a core of life and the wings that let them
fly. It was beyond of any understanding. Even themselves doesnt understand it, but the purpose of its
existence is clear for them: that of any spectacle, any streak of disaster, theyre bound to help each
other, to tend each others wound to breathe an air amidst of the wintery pain that got them
What happened to you? Tiffany asked, the melancholy clear from her voice.
Nothing, Jessica shook her head and stared away. As Tiffany sauntered toward her, a mad desire to
run away, to hide from shame that left a mark in her face, seemed to fill her gradually. Yet, as Tiffany
grabbed her shoulder, stared at her sparkling eyes, she found out that love is what brought her here, a
shimmering lure Tiffany would never, ever, regret following in. Jessica was frozen to her position and
just gazed back to Tiffanys amazingly determined stare. Then there was a plethora of love.
Jess, you know how much I love you, said Tiffany sincerely, her words cutting down deeper to Jessicas
heart for there to linger forever. She heaved a sigh, and stared away from the eye contact. She was in a
brink of tears when, suddenly, Tiffany crouched down and smiled at her in spite of herself.
Then there was a blissful streak of light. The magic of that smile had made Jessica smirked to herself,
and even made her eyes shook. Tears sparkled to their eyes, hands were locked eternally and lips met.
The warmth appeared again within them. It was an eruption of hungry hearts in spite of the fluid
gestures and placid motions. As Jessica ran down a finger over Tiffanys perfumed hair, she was in

heaven. Tiffany strangled her with the sweetest embrace, and it was a problem shared, a problem
halved. Like a husband and a wife
As the oblivion took over their soul, there was a soft sob. Tiffany broke their moistened lips and gawped
at her for a moment.
The nightmare, in Jessica, flashed inside her head and it made her quiver with unseen angst. She doesnt
deserve Tiffany: shed already been tarnished. However, the glint on Tiffanys eyes showed persistence
even if Jessica was against the grain. Jess, Im always here for you, the same way youd been with me
when I need you. I owe a lot from you. I wouldnt inquire what specifically happened to you, I know its
bad but I dont care. What matters is that were here. Were at our heaven! As she delivered those
mellifluous words, she grabbed Jessicas arms and pulled her up. Thighs shaking slightly, Jessica
awkwardly smiled as Tiffany laughed unashamedly. No one can hear their merriment and childishness
anyways, thought Tiffany, so why not let the passive mountains hear your felicitousness a hundred times
Jessica farts after eating exactly three sweet potatoes! Tiffany yelled, and Jessica growled but brightly.
Yah! My fart is odorless but its kinda loud, she stuck her tongue out and Tiffany grinned happily. For
a moment, she thought she would never smile like this. Not until she found herself chuckling with
Jessica, until they were both consumed with overflowing gladness.
Isnt it too cliche talking about farts inside an isolated jungle? Jessica asked, after laughing her lungs
out and amidst of catching breathes as they sat down by their favorite cliff. The afternoon sky showered
them with orange light and despite the cloudless velvet upon them; they both knew that something is
behind the atmosphere and it was happy to drown them with warmth.
Tiffany did not answer the question at once. She immersed herself on listening to the rustles of the
forest and splashes of the lake, a melody sung by Earth, arranged by peace undaunted and pristine.
Jessica, as well, seemed profoundly captivated by the giant ecosystem delimiting them in a fortress of
trees. The natures seemed to be in harmony and one with the earth, with the wind, with the waters and
with the sky. The link that connected them glimmered mightily, by the cycle that will never end. Like
their love
Are you afraid that the monkeys will find out that you eat more than fifty sweet potatoes and farts like
an earthquake? Tiffany teased after a minute of silence. Jessica let out a nasal sound and smirked.
I was molested, Miyoung. By my stepfather, suddenly, the bitter truth touched Jessicas lips and been
verbalized. She forced a smile as Tiffanys eyes widened with shock.

WHAT? She exclaimed prompting at once as she saw Jessica wipe the glittering tear from her left eye,
an apparent epitome of sadness held back.
I dunno what to do. He said if I ever tell it to somebody, hell kill me. So I chose to isolate myself, said
Jessica indifferently. She had been strong for Tiffany, and yet, this was a total fail of expectation. Shame
brimmed in her chest in plethora."You will understand, right?"
Tiffany threw an incredulous look. We should call the police! she said anxiously, staring at Jessica as if
she will shatter at any moment. But sitting beside Tiffany can make Jessica virtually indestructible.
Therefore, Jessica shifted her expression that told Tiffany it was all right and she was happy now. Tiffany
merely shrugged and gave a gesture of awareness. Rather anxiously, she just said but still in perplexity,
Jess, what in earth your stepfather loves you! Id seen it before! How come what makes him change
like this?
Biting her lip, Jessica stared away and rested her sight over the glimmering lake. Tiffany was right. Her
stepfather wasnt really like this before. However, doubt and illogical suspicion changed him to what he
is now: an unimaginable beast hungry for, not attention or violence, but for understanding, which at
times, drove him crazy, depressively frenzied. It seemed it wouldnt change anymore, though.
Nonetheless, Jessica doesnt care now, and the only thing she had been pondering all this time to
console herself was,
Take me with you, Miyoung.

Chapter Four: Home

Damp and soaked, Tiffany emerged from the water, trickles of liquid dripping down from her wet hair
that matted above her curled forehead. You said youre just underneath the surface of the lake, Jess.
Youre not there. Then she fell on the ground, kissing the lakes soil with his cheeks. The birds halted
tweeting, the mountains peered at her grieving and the might force is nowhere perceptible.

Jessica remembered the first day

she bustled upon the nostalgic octagonal

stepping-stones when she visited Tiffany in her house for the first time to ask whether she could lend
Tiffanys Math project so she could copy it. Now, as Tiffany jolted the metal ingress of their peculiarly
large yard and gigantic house nestled at the middle of an unreachable-by-sight apple plantation, she felt
as though shes bound to ask for another project to forge. It brought memories back inside her head,
and it somewhat overlaid the gruesome events that took place these past few days. As of the moment,
she was sucked by the thought that shell going to live with Tiffany. And it was enough reason to show
some brightness in the face and lift her head up with a smile.
Like the dried leaves in the autumn, some dark memories must fall off from the branches. After all, shes
unconquerable now because of the presence of the well of strength beside her who addressed a usual
but amazingly cheerful beam. Tiffanys milky skin seemed to be glowing in the twilight, her chinky smile
vivid. She stepped on the pedal once more, with Jessica wrapping her arms around her and sitting at the
back: then they flew their way across horizontal path closer to the villa-like house. It was almost nightfall,
and there was only minimal luminosity coming from the dozing off sun and lamps lit in flank by the
roadside. However, its sufficient for a three hundred sixty degree visibility that clearly showed the rows
of apple trees lush beside them as they ran along the road.
Your parents wont get mad at us, will they? asked Jessica timidly, her bangs flying up. Despite the fact
that Tiffanys parents liked her, however, that doesnt mean they will be supportive all the time. This
notion made her swallow a mouthful of air and bit her lower lip anxiously.
Well see, assured Tiffany as if nothing worries her. Just try to be more positive now. Were going to
live together from now on. Cant that make you a little more optimistic? Then they were both
consumed with happiness that they expressed through hysterical laughs from Tiffany and snorting
chuckles from Jessica.
Tiffany pulled over in front of the porch, and they both jumped on the mushy ground. Jessica ran an eye
over the large field where cattles chewed their cuds lazily. There was at least a hundred of it, and right
now, they have to expend their time grazing because when winter stepped in, they will spend the entire
season inside the ranch. After scanning this, Jessica stared upon the three-story building erected in front
of her. There are fifteen windows and a large door in the protruding shaded alfresco, and its walls were
splashed with cream-white paint. Its red slate tiled roof, western-inspired porch and exterior settled
that Tiffany was way more than just a middle-class girl. Having said that, their social status wasnt a
talking matter. Tiffany never boasted anything in front of her. It was her most admired trait, in Jessicas
opinion, other than being strong in the inside.
Jess, cmon, amidst of the profound thought, Tiffany burst Jessicas bubble with an urgent tone.
Jessica quickly gathered herself together in spite of the rubbery feeling on her legs that seemed to be

sending a message toward her brain shes sick. But she threw it aside for a while, and all she must do
now is to force a convincing look upon her face and smile broadly.
They ambled towards the porch, holding each others hands, and Tiffany dramatically pressed the
doorbell. Dont worry, mom loves me too much. She casted a bolstering grin that did nothing to lessen
the pressure that pressed Jessica like a sandwich. It was faith that lifted it, and she felt it when Tiffany
grabbed her slightly trembling hands. The proved seal, once more, had provided strength. Jessica
couldnt help but to smile, and then she puffed her chest and signaled Tiffany Go!
Mom, were here, she called as the door swung open. Tiffany unstrapped her bag around her shoulder
and threw it at the lounge-ensconced right side of the hallway. Heaving another breathe, Jessica
stepped at the doorway and gazed for a moment at the splendor and glamour shimmering inside
Tiffanys abnormally spacey house. Everything inside were western, and the familiar expressionism
paintings that hung elegantly across the every walls of the interior seemed to remind Jessica how
stinking rich Tiffany is.

Walking only a few steps, her legs trembled and her head went dizzy until all she could see were blurred
and hazy lights and figures. Repressing it, she drew an extremely deep breathe and continued beaming
in spite of herself. Tiffany doesnt seem to notice it, anyway, Jessica thought.
She threw her bag just where Tiffany flung hers, and followed her as they both sauntered across the
carpeted hall, dancing orange light filling every void shed carried with her all this time. The grin had
appeared upon her face, and regardless of the dizziness and fever-like feelings, she went on, clasping
Tiffanys hands as they both arrived in front of a Victorian ingress.
Oh, Fany! And dont tell me its Jessica! How splendid to have her back here! Tiffany was about to
push the door opened, when suddenly, from their backs, turned up Mrs. Hwang, in her casual and
slightly elegant garment. The brisk smile she sported as she scanned Jessica was somewhat intimidating,
but as a promise to Tiffany, she must be optimistic. Her lips curved into an indifferent grin, and Mrs.
Hwang bustled toward her, strangling her in a tight but rather motherly embrace. She was never hugged
like that before by other person than Tiffany. Even her mother. And the initial reaction after that
soothing bosom that squashed her body had told her it exists, the maternal love.
Mom, do you think youre a bit too much, Tiffany disrupted, and Mrs. Hwang and Jessica snapped
back to her. She was grinning from ear to ear.

Then my little daughter would have some as well, Mrs. Hwangs solaced statement and gesture
towards her daughter made Jessica realized that Tiffany doesnt just have the riches, and also the
abundance of comforting kindle and care. For a second or two, she envied her.
Mom, we need to talk, suddenly, Tiffanys tone became urgent. Mrs. Hwang remained smiling brightly
and nodded toward the kitchen. Jessica gulped down a mouthful of air, and as the two sauntered to a
table, Jessica stayed put on her feet, peering over the gape by the doorway. She could clearly hear the
conversation from where she stood, and just lingered there, listening anxiously.
What is it, my dear? asked Mrs. Hwang in a tone Jessica never heard from her mother. A tone of care,
understanding as though she was ready for any tiding her daughter will bring up.
Can Jessica stay here forever? Jessica could hear Tiffanys anxious voice to some extent.
Why? What happened? said Mrs. Hwang, shifting to seriousness abruptly.
You see mom, Jessica saw Tiffany gawping away from her mothers stare. Theres a trace of worry on
her expression, and Jessica thought everything would become fiasco. Tiffany resumed, You see mom,
Jessica was kind of sick. And her parents had flown to Japan for some business and she was left in the
house. Can she stay here for like a month or two?
Jessica prayed like she never prayed before. She doesnt want to go back on that cursed place she never
considered home; she had enough of it. In fact, she had too much of it that shed became sick with it.
How her stepfather mistreated her was intolerable now that she wanted to escape from its grasp and
live a normal life. The life she had when her fathers still alive. Quite suddenly, memories flashed back
inside her head. Fragments of which she thought were buried together with her fathers body.
Memories that had become as clear as the azure streak across the October sky. Those where the golden
days of her life, and back then, it was almost as unbearable as the moments shared with Tiffany. Until it
was shattered with a sudden heart-attack that took the second person in the world that can make her
Since then, she was nothing but a broken doll trapped inside a nightmare she thought was a perfect
salvage from the lament her late father left to her. The only probable reason why she was battered
down by her stepfather is that he thought she was still haunted by the memories of her father. It was
the stupidest reason shed ever thought but it was very likely. But on the bright side, if it wasnt because
of Tiffany, shed probably nothing more than just a scratching stick erected because she thought theres
still hope when there hasnt.
Mrs. Hwang sighed, and for a jiff, Jessica was wrapped with pessimistic notions. Until a smile cracked
across Mrs. Hwangs face, and as she pinched her daughters cheeks saying, Anything that can make my
Tiffany happy, I agree, bliss took over Jessicas soul. She could jump a million times and continuously

punch the air, but she kept it within herself for a while and pretended for a moment that she hadnt
heard a single thing.
Tiffany emerged from the door, smiling very broadly that her iris was barely visible through her curved
eyelids. She was followed by Mrs. Hwang, who had her arms resting around Tiffanys shoulders, and
Jessica thought those pretty eye smile Tiffany has was a stereotype copy of the person standing behind
Did you bring any clothes, Jessica? asked Mrs. Hwang jocundly, letting her daughter go to hug Jessica.
I can lend mine, mom, assured Tiffany mirthfully, once again, grabbing Jessicas arms. Jessica thought
that once shed shut her eyes even for a mere ten seconds, tears will trickle down upon her cheeks.
Tears that symbolizes joy, of a jovial feeling brought by freedom. Her parents would surely not go out
looking for her. Shes almost thrown away, so shes more than certain, they will never turn up suddenly,
dragging her back to that forsaken house she despised.
As Tiffany beckoned her upstairs, for the first time these past few days, a truthfully happy grin etched
across her visage.

I always knew that my little Tiffany has grown considerably bigger than you, Jessica, this summer, said
Mr. Hwang as the family, with the new member, gathered in front of an ample specially whipped up for
Jessica. Mr. Hwang came back from a stressful hospital shift but despite of this, he had empathized what
bogus situation Tiffany made up for Jessica. In addition to the fact that the house was absolutely too big
for them; theyre more than willing to throw a space for her daughters wish.
Jessica shoved a spoonful of rice, and grinned at him, her cheeks bulging. Mr. Hwang smiled wisely over
the braised beef stew that emits savory fume.
Dad, thats why I wanted to do swimming with Jessica, said Tiffany, her voice muffled through a
mouthful of marinated beef.
Why? asked the teasingly naive father.
Because I felt like Im getting fat, appended Tiffany, followed with a shrug and a large swallow. Jessica
is in the schools swimming team, and regardless of the fact that shed joined the varsity without her
parents consent; she just did what she loves.

You should focus yourself on your class. I want you to become a doctor like me, Fany-ah, said Mr.
Hwang in a fatherly sort, based on some bits of dictation in his voice. You should not goof off and focus
on whats necessary for your future. Were not always there for you.
Jessica thought that not all parents are the same. Some was there, but seemed nowhere. This discussion
made her all ears all through the dinnertime. The legislative authority in Mr. Hwangs words was like a
foreboding prospect that Tiffany was obliged to become like him. To that, Jessica has no power to
interfere. She only exists to make her happy. The same way Tiffany is to her.
Sleeping time was honestly the best time every time Jessica does a sleepover inside the Hwangs
perimeter. Other than a tall glass of milk that suddenly made Jessica reminisced her childhood days,
they were next to each other, over Tiffanys large four-poster bed.
Dad is getting itchy on me, said Tiffany, as Jessicas left arm wrapped around her. I feel like I was
ought to do what he wants.
Thats what some kids must do, especially if they have parents like yours, said Jessica a little positively,
masking the jealousy through that statement.
Then if you say so, Ill become a doctor, Tiffany answered drowsily and as though it was an easy task.
But Jessica believed in her, and she can do it. She will support it. Anything for her Miyoung
Before they even knew it, trance had dragged them to a slumber. Back in the meadow that was not
more of a surreal now. Because in the real world, theyre inches close.

Chapter Five: Might

If I forebode that life is as enduring as this, that the promised eternity was non-existent after I fought
and died in battle, I would still be glad, Miyoung-ah, said Jessica, her breathing gradually becoming
heavy. I mean, Ive got a once in a life time chance to share my joy with you so if anything happens to
me, right now, I would go on, bearing the same grin as the first time Ive met you.

Jess, its time to wake up, Tiffany drowsily nudged her sleepmate, who seemed
drawn deeply to her sleep.

Jessica remained immobile.

Jess, cmon, were gonna be late. Its PE class today, youre favorite. Cmon... Tiffany faded with a
yawn. Her sight fell outside, which showed the mountains drowned in perfect azure and the sky painted
in ghostly blue. It mustve been an obvious sign that winter has come and the rickety vest that was
stocked all through the past seasons is going to be pulled out from its slumber.
Tiffany drew a deep breathe, and scratched her puffy eyelids that refused to open widely. Then she
remembered her eyes never gape broadly; she just forced a smirk. Smiling pathetically, she shook
Jessicas shoulders wake up.
It was responded with shudders.
Jess? asked Tiffany, now wide-awake and anxious. Jessica, who was sleeping with her back on Tiffany,
shivered as if shes in front of a freezer. Tiffany peered over her, and saw trickles of sweat running down
upon Jessicas temples and brittles lingering on her forehead. She bit her lip so much that it seemed
bloodied. Her arms were wrapped around her chest, and her legs were curled as though scared. Jess,
are you okay? MOM!
Vigorously, she shook Jessica, fear fervently creeping on her spine, sending a message to her brain.
Jessica groaned, and her eyes quivered. Im cold, she murmured and Tiffany almost instinctively flung
her arms around her, providing a comforting kindle. Moments ago, she was laughing at her eyes but
now its as wide as it could get because of shock. Jessica never got this sick before.
No, dont take her to me. Tiffany hysterically thought, her arms almost grappling Jessica. You cant take
her to me; youd have to get pass through me before you can. Jessica should not be dying because it will
truly kill Tiffany, and right now, bitterness lashed her soul. Im strong! I can fight. You will never
penetrate into me. In her mind, she was intimidating something.
For a second, she thought she would go crazy until the rooms door jostled open: Mr. Hwang, the
heaven-sent doctor, hastily darted toward Jessica. Tiffany, as she made way for her father, feared letting
Jessica go, but she knew she had to. Mr. Hwang quickly crouched down and gently pressed an arm over
Jessicas forehead. Fever. Go get a towel. Drip it on lukewarm water.
Tiffany nodded, filled with fervor, and dashed towards the bathroom. She grabbed a hanging towel by
the shower gown, and dripped it accidentally to cold water. Hands numbed, she frantically threw the
useless towel anywhere and fumbled for a new one. Tears were gushing down from her trembling
cheeks and stifled moans reverberated in muffled sounds. Chaotically, she flung all the garments she
could find in her drawer and feverishly fumbled for a piece of clothing.

Dad I cant find one Her eyebrows were crossed and her heart throbbed against her chest, ten
times faster than normal. It thudded so powerfully that she could feel it pounding against her ribcage.
Her lungs were catching from the pulsation that nasal noises were coming out from her nose, together
with puffs of steam due to coldness.
They cant take Jess away from me. She thought those words as if cutting it to a stone as she continued
fumbling for the stupid towel. Her mind was in a brink of chaos that she fell to her knees, energy
fluctuated down, and her chin slammed at the hard corner of drawer. But the agony it brought did not
register itself onto her brain, and just pulled her jelly-like legs up and resumed groping. There were crazy
noise echoing inside her ear, and it was as if theyre laughing at her. The stillness of the room vanished,
and all she could here are disarrayed dissonance that was punching deeper and deeper into her ear.
Sweat trickled from her forehead, and tears wetted her widened eyes as her fingers hysterically delved
inside the drawer. Wheres the. towel? Calmness was nowhere within her. She was in the grasp of
bedlam, and her brains functioning was being interfered by the unseen turmoil. Diminutive beads of
cold sweat glittered on her face, lips bitten and anxiousness clear from her expression.
Jessica was not dying. She will not die. She wont leave her alone.
She kept on plastering those words in her head but it just added to intolerable chaos. She was just
looking for a towel. A simple thing. Is that a sign that she cant do anything for Jessica? That all she has
to do now is to sit back and watch her crawled upon the sheets, shivering? She wont let it.
But the towel did not merge into sight, and because of the frustration, she let out a dolphin-like shriek
that made the enigmatic noise abruptly still. She pressed a hand onto her ear, shuddering through the
angst, which the origin seemed non-existent. Crazily, she halted screeching and resumed searching for a
piece of clothing, stifled moans creating grief-struck resonances. Jess, wait a sec. Imma get you a towel.
Just wait. Dont leave me. Her mutterings were muffled through sobs. Her shudders slumped even
lower through lethargy.
Tiffany! A voice echoed. But she continued fumbling for a towel, with eyes half-closed and low breaths
stifling through her lungs. Miyoung-ah.
At the sound of her distinct name, she suddenly stopped to what shes doing. Hearing it was like a thin
drop of water that fell to her thirsted lips. Mechanically, she turned around and saw Mr. Hwang in a look
she couldnt comprehend because of the fiery chaos. Legs quivering, she stood up and faced her father
wearing an expression beseeching for understanding. Miyoung-ah, its okay. Its just a fever.
Everythings gonna be alright: just stay calm.
His voice was frigid and straightforward, and the cheekiness of it was an assurance in the ear for Tiffany.
She slumped down the floor, her rear plummeting with a muffled thud and, while repressing the hiccups,

vacantly stared at her father as he erected for a moment, striding towards the bathroom. After a minute,
he went back, clutching a damp piece of cloth, slightly fuming from the warm water where it was
probably dunked in. He tottered over the mess Tiffany created moments ago, and sat back gently beside
Jessica, who was now sleeping straight and seemed under control. She had stopped shivering.
Jessica, Tiffany murmured from the corner, is not dying, is she, father? Despite the foolishness
found on that statement, it was crammed with fear and worry. Mr. Hwang noticed it and felt the
seriousness from her tone.
Of course not, dear. He dabbed Jessicas forehead with the warm towel, and Tiffany could hear
Jessicas deep breathing of comfort. Mr. Hwang resumed, Jessica is a strong girl. Very strong indeed.
For a jiff, Tiffany had forgotten about that. The fact that Jessica was stronger than she was physically
petered out for a moment in her head. The folly had slapped her. She finds herself ludicrous.
Jessica, she said, a broad grin widening from her expressive lips and eyes, is stronger than me. Shes
not dying.
You got it, lady. Nailed in the head, Mr. Hwang nodded as he wiped Jessicas delicate neck to her face
where a sign of comfort vivid. Before they even realized it, the sun was on. A bright ray was resting upon
the carpeted portion of the room, in front of Tiffany. Ever so slowly, she gazed sideways to stare outside.
At the middle of the gray clouds was the sun, shimmering, defiant and bringing hope in air. A brown bird
perched on the dead tree that was obstructing her right window. The feathered visitor started tweeting
on a song, a melody that penetrated Tiffanys sadness, sending hope through her soul.
How much more test do we have to face?
She asked through a tearful smile. Shrugging, she erected from the cold surface of the floor and glided
towards the windowpane, staring at the pale outlines of the mountains, to the hazy field and to the odd
spectacle lying across the sky. Theres a sun. Amidst of the circling gray clouds that might bring snow any
moment. It was a visualized metaphor. The sun symbolizes their might; while the gray clouds are the
hindrance and obstacles they have to face. The sun remained defiantly bright that it penetrated the
clouds thick obstructions. It shows they did it. They can win.
Again, at the sound of her name, she twirled around and hastily dashed towards the bed where Jessica
was half-awake with her eyes agape to some extent.
Imma scoot so you girls can talk, said Mr. Hwang softly, standing up after placing the cloth on Jessicas
forehead. After addressing a grin to Tiffany, in which she answered with an eye smile, he immediately

ambled to the doorway, jostling the oak with his leg and stepping out, stretching while yawning though
apparently hes wide-awake now.
Smiling at the shut door, Tiffanys eyes fell to Jessica, who seemed conscious. Howre you feeling, fart
Jessica weakly smirked. You gotta have to wait for my old strength so I could squash you. Despite the
truth that Tiffany was bigger than her, she was daring. Malright. My backs aching but Ive been
through worst, if you know what I mean. A somewhat broken smile twitched at the corner of Jessicas
You scared the poop out of me, said Tiffany, earnestly changing the subject. She knew it wasnt good
for Jessica to unearth the dark experiences she has.
Thought imma die, didnt you? said Jessica coolly regardless of the lethargy through her croaking voice.
Tiffany nodded with an awkward smile. Shed been embarrassed to herself after what happened
minutes ago. Therefore, she prayed that Jessica hadnt seen it. I saw you throwing your undies in the
air like a maniac. Found a treasure? Coz youre like digging a mine from the drawer.
They both chuckled but Tiffanys rather abashed. After laughing for a minute, there was a silence.
Tiffany stared at Jessicas half-opened eyes, and she saw a speckle of glint on it. Then the mind talk
Jessica had been in so much pain. It was more than clear because it has been a shadow from her face.
One look from her smile, people might notice the bitterness from it. One look from her eyes, there was a
trace where tear tracks mightve run down. Be that, it was also clear from her expression that shed
fought her way out on every battle, without being cocky and cheeky. Her face might be worn down by
this fever, but to Tiffany, who had been a bare witness of Jessicas strength, she knew that behind the
battle-fatigued visage, was a well of might. And the source of that power was her, Tiffany. The one
Jessica loves, will always love and would eternally admires. If there were a sacrifice needed to make
Tiffany happy, shed be more than willing to give her own life for her. Because, it was her only purpose
to stay put on this planet. To make this girl happy, to put up a smile on her face for the reason that there
are many people out there seeking for joy. And she, Jessica, was beyond luckily she already found hers
on Tiffany.
You dont need to kiss me to express your feelings, dumb, she said as Tiffany slowly crouches down for
a smooch.
Dramatically, she halted bending and smiled at Jessica. What should I do, fart queen?

Jessica wanted to say Tiffany had already showed it, but she kept it again within her and just gestured
her to come closer. Tiffany obeyed, Jessica pulled her even closer and then once more, they were sealed.

Chapter Six: Anemia?

Remember the first snow weve seen when were ten years old? Remember the time when you dyed my
fingernail because you want me to find my true love? Remember how it was futile because were both
stuck under a shade coz it snowed like hell? Remember how you smiled? Tell me, Jess, do you remember
it? As Tiffany sat alone by their sacred cliff, there were tears on her eyes.

The workers started harvesting the apples. Tiffany and Jessica joined them, carrying plastic
trays and wearing gloves. As they sauntered to help, they have a clear view around them. The golden sky
was never majestic as this. The frigid wind was never as cold as this. Apparently, it was a large cloister of
beauty and a simple but gleeful smile is not enough to answer the splendid actuality of what stood next,

opposite, above, beneath and at their backs. As a complimentary, it added a considerable amount of fun
to the fact that the two were together, reaping apples from its branches while cloyed by an atmosphere
Gaea had bestowed upon by her great, majestic power. Then there was a natural redolence of applescent and woodsy smell of cinnamon and ginger tea carried by the zephyrs and it was like an invitation
to lifes contentment and eternal quench. Occasionally, Tiffany would halt placing the apples to the trays,
and she would breathe in the fragrance of defiant dried leaves still lingering on the ground and on the
trees. Placidity had taken over every inch of her body. There was peace.
The gleaning process was somewhat late because Mr. Hwang, the doctor of the family and also the
manager of the field, has to do some errands back in Seoul. Yet, the apples were still more than fresh
and the crispiness was still intact as Jessica, coughing slightly, wiped the cheek of a particular red one
and chomped a huge portion with a loud crunch. Her sweet palate triggered sending bliss to her throat
as she munched happily despite the warm, uncomfortable feeling that hung back after her fever.
Tiffany was right: Jessica never got sick like that before. And even if she gave surety to Tiffany, inside,
she felt scared that something was happening to her. Yesterday, when she went to the bathroom, a
piercing pain from her pelvis stung her like a bee. And every night, she found herself shivering from an
unknown cause regardless of the five layers of clothing, excluding the sheets she shared with Tiffany and
Tiffanys arms around her; she still feel somewhat cold. It was like a permanent fever to her but after the
compliments about being strong, she does her best to keep it to herself even though sometimes the
agony from the lower part of her body was excruciatingly painful; she tried to keep it subtle and sport
the same beam as Tiffanys.
Jess, catch!
Jessica suddenly turned around and saw an apple flying towards her face. Then her eyes were blurred as
it winked, and the solidity of the fruit smashed her forehead. She fell to her knees as Tiffany hastily
dashed to her, apologetic. Oh my god, Im sorry Jess
Jessica felt a lump from where the apple had hit, but it wasnt the thing that bothers her at the moment.
Usually, she could catch a flying object responsively without even looking at it. She couldnt blame
Tiffany because theyre used to throwing things to each other, and she, Jessica, all ways catch it really
well. But the thing that got her flummoxed is how her eyes got clouded so suddenly. She couldnt be sick.
She just cant.
Mokay, Jessica blurted out after staring at the earth for more than a minute. Tiffany eyed her
anxiously until Jessica casted an ensured look that lifted Tiffanys worry. Yet, as Jessica rounded herself
together and tried to erect, her legs quivered and her vision got hazy. Her heart thudded against its cage
suddenly so fast that blood pumped up to her face, shading it with crimson. She thought shes about to
fall down until Tiffany swung her arms around her and pulled her up.

Oh, Jess, you just got hit in the head.

But to Jessica, it was unusual. She could feel her energy disappearing, and her thighs started loosing
strength that it began to shake vigorously. Her arms slipped off Tiffanys grip and she plummeted down
the ground, bewildered upon whats happening to her. Her eyes were wide with shock, and as she
stared at Tiffany, she sent a message through her eyes that something bad is happening to her. Tiffany
caught it, but being optimistic is there goal nowadays. She smiled and concealed the anxiety.
Get up, fart queen otherwise youd gonna be dragged back to porch. Her grin was compelled, and
Jessica almost shook her head and wanted to cry what she truly feels but then again, she thought it
would just fade the smile away across Tiffanys face, and she cant do that.
Recklessly, she gathered all the strength she could muster and put it onto her leg. She grabbed Tiffanys
arms and hoisted her body while trembling. Like a spear that suddenly impaled onto her, the pelvic pain
struck her again, and she couldnt hide it anymore.
She fell back on the ground, massaging her hip that felt as if burning. Grinding sound coming from her
clenching teeth muttered resonances of beseech. The intensity of the pain was unbearable that her
mind was in a storm, and there were chaos within. As her left hand massages the pelvic part of her body,
her free right hand was clasped in a stone hard fist that is so tight she could feel her fingernails sinking
down her palm. Running out of force from her clasped hands, she clutched the ground and squashed it,
never giving up fighting the pain.
Jess? Tiffany crouched down, horrified upon Jessicas writhing state. It took her a moment to register
that Jessica needs help because of the nimbleness of the things these days. As she stared over Jessicas
contorted face that reflects only the deepest pain, she finally knew that she has to shout her fathers
But theyre in the middle of nowhere, obstructed with tall apple trees in an obscuring thicket their sight
couldnt be able to penetrate. The workers were gleaning at the far side of the field. Theyre on their
own now. And in the brink of turmoil.
Argh, Jessica whimpered through gritted teeth. Shes in a battle against the agony, and she couldnt
keep it to herself any longer. The burning feeling was like hell, searing through her genital flesh that she
repressed a shriek that resonated a subdued hush of pain. Curled in an uncomfortable position, she
started rolling over the cold ground, a mad desire to knock herself out just to break out from the utter

pain, relentlessly banged behind her skull. Tiffany had fallen to her knees, aghast to the scene upon
which she doesnt have any idea how to cease.
It was all so fast that she had forgotten to cry. She felt numb, though deep inside she knew she must
have been wailing now. But even shedding a tear, she cant do anything for Jessica, when Jessica had
done everything to her. Disappointment bubbled inside her, guilt fired up like a huge blaze, and
desperation shoved her in the face.
And then cries started reverberating.
As Jessica continued whimpering, Tiffany had grabbed her in the shoulders and yelled, IF YOURE
AROUND BECAUSE Suddenly, she faded, shuddering through every sobs. She wanted to hit Jessica
bad. She wanted to shout, Whyre you doing this to me? Why do you always make me worry about
you? but she knew she cant. Jessica had done so much for her, and she was more than obliged to help
her that it became a responsibility. However, she cant do anything to her at the moment except by
throwing her arms around her and lift her tenderly, thrusting every strength, every joy and every happy
memories, to the bond to provide a warm, soothing embrace.
There were no sounds of any kind, other than a chirping bird that perched itself over a nearby apple tree.
It stood there, appearing as if watching the two. Just as Tiffany grinded her teeth because of the lack of
action from herself, she saw the bird hopping closer to them. Then Jessicas loud moans became stifled
groans that eventually became still and only heaves of deep breathes.
The bird started tweeting, and began fidgeting its head in a playful manner. At that precise moment,
Jessica groaned, Mi young-ah. She had won the battle. She fought the pain. And for the last time, an
autumn shine submerged them in an unimaginable ray of warmth. As Jessica rested her head over
Tiffanys lap, as Tiffany ran a finger over Jessicas lips, as the winds whispered songs in their ears, a
melody sung by the trees, consoling them through rough moments like the one that had just happened;
the workers suddenly came to rescue despite the fact that things are already settled.

Hows she? asked Mr. Hwang as the doctor emerged from the door, his expression frigid as a usual
We have to run some further test. Do you know her parents, Dr. Hwang? asked the doctor in a hallway
Quite literally, Im her father now. By the way, if it would be based on my impression, its an anemia,
right? Mr. Hwang said in a professional sort.

The doctor stared away and gazed at the whitewash adobe wall. We can talk about it at my office, Dr.
Tiffany was with Jessica on a private room, with Mrs. Hwang. Although the pain had ceased, Jessica was
brought down by it that she slept like a log, with only soft, nasal breathes can be heard. Tiffany was glad
that everything is fine now, because she will not be able to stand against it next time. She was just as
battered as Jessica was.
Mr. Hwang walked in towards the ingress, and stepped in at a typical doctors office. Piles upon piles of
books lay scattered upon the messy worktable. The lamp was lit in a gloomy state, making Mr. Hwang
remember how lonely a doctors life is.
He strode towards the seat in front of the table and sighed. The doctor, whose name was Kim Jong Hun,
sat back against the comfort of his chair and took his glasses, revealing a pair of thin and lethargic slits,
which happens to be the eyes.
Im going to ask a few questions, sir. Dr. Kim began in a tone that was very familiar to Mr. Hwangs
ears. A voice that pertains only if the patient was in a serious situation.
Fire, doc, he said in a false playful voice though he perfectly knew that theres a huge wave that would
swallow not only his soul but also most certainly her daughters.
Dr. Kim shoved his glasses again, and Mr. Hwang stared at it, his face reflecting through the spectacles.
The seriousness on Dr. Kims visage was telling Mr. Hwang to hold his breathe, and so he did.
Has there any forceful sexual intercourse occurred to Jessica, Dr. Hwang? asked Dr. Kim seriously, the
keenness inevitable and beyond clear.
Mr. Hwang wracked his brain for a recollection if her daughter ever mentioned something like that has
happened to Jessica. I dont think my daughter said anything about the matter. His eyes narrowed as
he rested it upon Dr. Kims frigid expression.
If itd be based on the symptoms she, Jessica, showed, which displayed apparent and more than
occasional fever, it concludes a certain anemia occurring within her. But the genital pain and
inflammation, upon which our nurses discovered while checking for any signs, suggests that it could be
Which could be what, exactly?

Dr. Kim drew a deep breath and stared directly to Mr. Hwangs eyes. He crossed his legs and tapped his
finger upon the worktable until finally, This may not be sure, but were going to run a blood test.
However, it was very likely that Jessica is an HIV positive person and the abrupt pains were caused by an
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Chapter Seven: Loom

You should not touch me, Miyoung, nor go any nearer to me, Jessica beseeched in a desperate
pleading tone. I can bear myself with this disease but not with you, Miyoung. All I ever wanted is to
make you happy, and this is not part of the plan. But deep inside, a tall flame was burning her heart,
making her want to dash towards the flummoxed Tiffany and grappled her with an embrace she had
never done before. Yet, AIDS secluded her.

There was a muffled snore as Jessica drowsily opened her eyes, blinking rapidly to the
luminosity that suddenly passed through her cornea, sending a hazy vision of the concrete ceiling and

curtained window. Wondering where the stifled noise was coming from, she compelled both eyelids to
open widely, though it repressed to keep shut due to the small amount of lethargy lingering through
every inch of her body. With the full manipulation of the brain, she forcefully opened her eyes wide and
saw herself sleeping comfortably over the hospitals squashy bed and inhaling the steam coming from
the heater. It passed through her nasal tracks, and the warmness provided by technology, made way to
tranquility within her anguished soul that was lashed with agony moments, or it can be days, ago.
Ever so slowly, she turned her head left and a desire to stand up and pull the obstructing velvet to have
a full view of the outside seemed to fill her gradually. And as she scanned upon whats surrounding her,
her eyes fell over Tiffanys crouched and unconscious self, murmuring snores and hushes. After seeing
this actuality that had lifted her persistent oppression, she slowly felt her legs. Vigor seemed to flow on
her veins, and she pulled herself up, carefully avoiding nudging Tiffany wake up. She swung herself to
the left side, and after breathing deeply that appeared as if a profound sigh, she dragged her legs
towards the window, tottering slightly.
Then she pulled the curtains and a wonder reflected from her iris: it was the first snow.
Miyoung-ah, she blurted out exasperatedly through her croaky voice, and she turned around. Its
the first snow She froze. What happened abruptly flashed back to her mind, fresh as the white, chilly
confetti raining down in a decelerating manner.
Theres just something wrong within her body, and it felt as if shes in a different avatar. Her toes were
not moving as she wanted to, and her breathings were deep and exhausting. The genital part of her
body tingled with pain, a searing tickle that resulted to a wince as she took a step to reach the glass
divider that separates her from the fifty-foot edge that can be a gateway to flying only if the obstruction
was non-existent. She stared at the sky, where the clouds had amalgamated its fluffiness to the wide
horizon outlying above the snow-covered landscape staring back at her. Eyes half-agape, she gave a
minute to herself to feel her body, to find out the hindrance and obscurity that seemed to be circulating
within her system.
As she drew a deep breath, she first felt her lungs: oxygen filtered by the phylum and scented by the
hospitals unfamiliar stench, she could feel the blood gathering the needed elements and carrying it to
her lungs for packaging then sending it to her brain and heart smoothly.
She placed a palm over her chest: the fist-sized muscle throbbed a little faster than normal and it kind of
sending an obvious sign of fatigue. Yet, she declined the message and ignored it completely as she
moved on to feel her hands. Other than the red marks and somewhat tiredness as she open-close her
palm, it was quite normal in a way. Then she noticed that her lower part is the ones responsible for her
confounding about.

Her lower extremities seemed to be the most tired part of her body. She could feel the lethargy beating
against her thigh, and the stinging pain from the pelvic portion is pertaining to the disorder within her.
I cant be sick now. Not now, please, not now that Tiffany needs me. She thought what if she suddenly
rolled upon the floor and die. Or she has an incurable disease inside her, and her days were already
counted? Could Tiffany survive it? Could she remain standing after staring at the aftermath of Jessicas
weakening suddenness? Could she live a life when there are no more heroes?
She forced herself not cry, but when it comes to sentiment, shes lame at it. Her emotional barricade
was nothing but a wall of stick, and a simple wave of torrential feeling, especially if its about Tiffany, can
effortlessly drown her. It has always been her flaw and theres no known cure for it. Only Tiffany has
done something to ease it, perhaps because she was always there, a consoling robot that only needs a
smile for a repayment. For Jessica, she just loved it that way.
After seemingly making up her mind, she decided to walk out to the hallway and focus herself on other
things than dreading to the cynical soliloquy that was never a lift. Dragging the dextrose equipment with
her, she meandered across the gloomily lit hospital hall, with only two things in her mind: admitting
Tiffany that she felt bad at the moment and sipping a nice cup of coffee and forget about what she feels.
Walking only a few meters, someone called at the back, Miss Jung! Miss Jung!
Frustrated at the disruption, she appeared as if not hearing a thing and resumed roving to her blurred
destination, brows down and eyes glaring at the tiled floor.
Miss Jung! Wait! Jessica!
The males voice was persistent. Despite the fatigue that had hung back inside Jessica, she tried a sprint.
Then her leg muscles felt squashed until useless, and her genital area, again, burned with pain. Wincing,
she knelt over the floor, and cursed her life like the one she had never done before.
Miss Jung.
A white velvet and a pair of leather black shoes stepped in front of her, as she gazed down. She pulled
her head up and gawped at Dr. Kims kind expression. At that precise moment, a soft gloved grip seized
her left shoulder and a panting nurse blundered, You really shouldnt be wandering along the corridors

Its okay, I got her. Dr. Kim cut in and Jessica, from the nurse, darted her sight to him. The glint on his
eyes twinkled with authority and the nurse caught it in a glimpse, hence letting Jessicas arms free.
But sir

For the second time, Dr. Kim interrupted and this time, the authority was clear in his tone. I said I got
The nurse nodded and raised the white flag towards the potent glow Dr. Kim emitted just by a simple,
expressionless stare. The nurse turned around and walked away, as Jessica, stood up a little weakly after
the pain ceased abruptly. But her trembling legs denied her erection, and she fell back to the floor,
wanting to cry and ask for answers to her flummoxes.
An arm outstretched towards her and she grabbed it, feeling the soft cotton sleeves as she grasp the
wrist part and pulled herself up. She felt pissed to herself. She hated being like this. It was as if she
appeared a weakling when all the trophies she won had pertained physical domination against anyone.
This felt as if a leg was cut off from her limb and she cant run now.
Thanks, she muttered through her teeth, repressed frustration clear. Exhaustion ran back to her veins
as she let out a profound sigh.
Want a cup of coffee? offered Dr. Kim to Jessicas obvious astonishment. A guy had never asked her
that because to her it sounded as if asking for a date, and she seriously avoid that.
No thanks, she refused, turning away with an oppressing cloud above her head.
I insist, Miss Jung. Dont worry, said Dr. Kim briskly, although it can never beat a cafe-made coffee, I
must say our cozy vending machines produce warm cans of decaf. Not catching the humor despite the
resonating laugh that seemed scarce for a doctor like him, he made Jessica halt to her pace. The sound
of a nice canned coffee is an inevitable lure.
A little coldly, she spun towards Dr. Kim and nodded. The doctor threw a gratified look and they both
sauntered towards an intersection, one that leads to another line of rooms, the other to a circle of
bench by the window, where the gloomy snowing scene was open as it takes place. They both swerved
there and Dr. Kim went away to fetch the coffee, then coming back after a minute, carrying two cans.
Its my break, he said as he passed a slightly fuming tin. Jessica took it, and tried to open it but her
arms felt like rubber. Dr. Kim noticed it and offered a hand.
Whats happened to me? Jessica asked, preventing a tear from breaking out as she watched him
opening the can for her. With a muffled clunk, it opened and he hastily handed it back to her, a dramatic
moment for he seemed to be avoiding answering the question. Whats my illness, doc?

After taking a hearty swig and letting off a pleased sigh towards the drink, he stared at Jessica, his eyes
piercingly saying something serious. Dr. Hwang appointed me as your doctor. Did you know that hes
the head here?
Answer the question, dummy. She did not respond and just gawked away, refusing a sip from the drink
she clasped with both hands.
Dr. Kim continued, Tell me Miss Jung, wherere your parents?
The question stung her like a white-hot fork impaled towards her chest. Hes the doctor and he has the
right to know the truth, which will unfold anytime from this day. Theyre at Jongseon. They dont
like me much. It brandished from her lips through a sad snigger.
Dr. Kim ran an appraising eye over Jessica, and it felt as if an x-ray. Parents like their kids in a way the
kids will never understand, until they become fathers and mothers themselves. Dont say that, Miss
The words were insulting to Jessicas ears. You dont understand, doc.
Whats there to understand, I wonder? he said wisely. He pushed it to complete throttle, humiliating
Jessica to her bemused ego.
You dont have parents like mine. Or rather, he doesnt have a stepdad like hers.
Gradually, it was becoming lucid to Dr. Kim. Then I wont take that any farther, I guess. He sounded
happy even though he just fired disgraceful questions to Jessica. She frowned and took a gulp on her
drink. The decaf liquid ran down her neck, warmness wrapping her pharynx and larynx, sending once
again life within her somewhat tattered body.
Im sick, right? She said informally, dropping the honorifics. She threw a furtive gaze to Dr. Kim and he
saw a trace of hesitation reflecting through his expression. It has begun to feel a little ominous to Jessica,
and it appeared as if the loom was finally merging into sight.
Miss Jung, Dr. Kim started in a tone Jessica knew was beyond serious that it sounded sharp, You have
everything you need to know. But I figured that the subject would definitely affect the closeness
between you and Dr. hwangs daughter. I wont be selfish but I think its best to be humane because,
from what I observed, you and Tiffany were more than close.
Of course, dumb. I love her. She wanted to say it but she just went on with the inquisition that bothered
her after the registration of what he said. Like a muddling puzzle, she tried to round up the jigsaw pieces
to have an idea on what kind of torture she is now. She doesnt need his help, anyway. People just make

things complicated for them, and she had grown to believe that principle. It has been the reason why
she chose to be a loner and expend all her time with Tiffany, who, in total opposite, makes things less
complicated for her.
It was either she have an incurable and contagious disease or shes about to die any moment. But the
worst is the notion that it can be both. Pessimism through the loom, optimism by the dim, a furtive
murder dreaming up, it was blurred to her at the moment. She needs Tiffany, the only person who can
make things straight. But her being negative at times had mentioned a thought that perhaps even
Tiffany will not be able to answer her questions. Perturbed more than ever, she clumsily dropped the
half-drunk coffee over the steel bench, where it spilled as it toppled vertically.
Miss Jung, be ready for the hard times.
As Jessica stopped on her tracks, she turned around and faced Dr. Kim, her expression fiery with
determination and hope. If its hard times, Ive been through a lot. Im no newbie. With a last frown,
she resumed to her pace, heading back to her room where Tiffany mightve awoken by her absence.
Even if her last statement was bold, Dr. Kims words bothered her. Does it mean there will be worst
befalling? Uneasy, she thought, Am I ready to face the final test? As she bustled calmly towards her
room and saw Tiffany still deep into trance, a sword seemed to appear together with a shield. Of
course I can. Im with my love. A smile spread across her lifted face.

Chapter Eight: Unreal

Jessica sobbed to herself as she watched Tiffanys outline disappearing through the shroud and the
heaven she put up were left to cinders and burned to destruction. Miyoung-ah I love you.

The soft grass pressed against Jessicas cheek as she lay on a bizarre world, where the sky
was pale blue and bundles of cirrus drifting peacefully as if buses prodding each other with their wispy
prows. Jessica slowly swung herself around and lay spread-eagled across the meadow, her face staring
directly towards the firmament whilst letting every inch of her actuality be drowned once again by the
This is yet another dream and surely, Tiffany was around.
Truly confident to that prospect, for a jiff, she savored the glow wrapping around her as the wind,
probably summer breeze, whispered sweet words in her ears, messages of serenity and being one with
nature. More than fulfilling the contentment she already has with Tiffany, Jessica was beyond glad of
the blissful atmosphere encircling on every direction her sight rest. But in spite of this and the fact that
all these days, she had been sleeping, she shut her eyes and let her body be taken over by the
mellifluous tranquility whooshing, and gentle winds hovering in placid motions as if fluid waltz but
instead of calming in the eyes; it felt lulling in the soul.
Miyoung-ah, Im not scared about anything. No one will hear that somewhat considered prattle that
depicts her bipolar counterfeit self in full armor and ready for battle albeit deep inside, she have no idea
what to do nor have any idea what will happen. But regardless, she felt the words sending power to her
fingers, might to her muscle, flames over the bitterness, and hope amidst of the desperation. As she
breathe out carbon dioxide and inhaled oxygen that went by through her nostrils, peace circulated
around her system, taking the notion that she has a disease off inside her body. The zephyrs blew it
away all the taints and blemishes only Tiffany is missing, and everything will be perfect.
Gradually, she pulled her lazy body up and slowly opened her eyes. The brightness gave her a full three
hundred and sixty degrees of visibility, and she thought the place was almost the same as the ones she
made up back at her place, where a scuffle between her parents had cut a slit on her feet and stained
her femininity by her hell of a stepfather. It was also the day that her mother, real mother, hadnt done
a single thing for her child causing a deep disappointment that cannot be mended anymore. Not now
that she has real kindles of comforting providing real care and warmth for the winter.
Jessica sat up, and she ran an eye around the unreal world. Amidst of the meadow, was a single tree, a
particularly verdant ash. From afar, she saw a person standing underneath it, apparently waiting for
someone. Yet, even from this distance, she knew instinctively through her sudden throbbing heart that
that person was: MIYOUNG-AH!
Her voice reverberated in a wraithlike echo, and this has become a little uncanny now for Jessica, other
than the way she jumped up without feeling a strand of tiredness within her limbs and pain over her
pelvis. But through that, was an onrush of uncontrollable adrenalin that she mustered the vigor to her
legs and did a sprint, the airstream tearing as she strode northwest towards the isolated tree. Her feet

felt as if stepping across the air and an unseen force was pushing her from behind, or perhaps sticking a
pair of wings on her back as she glided her way to her destination. A smile doesnt seem to disappear
itself from her expression, which showed utter brightness insufficient to convey how truly happy she is
from the inside. It was as though she can never sense sadness, nor can feel any guilt and angst that
virtually hung around nowadays, since she has been confined. Today, a feeling of being reborn tickled
through every chunks of herself by the whimsical macrocosm shed been treading over.
Faster than old Aeolus in his majesty as the ruler of the winds, Jessica stride, jumped, hopped and
ambled her way towards the ash tree, with a wild sensation of being allured to that particular centre.
But suddenly, her brown hair blew up, as an incoming gust, out of blue, bumped her halt, few meters
away from her target destination. The wind started to become violent that she barely opened her eyes;
her brown hair waved as it flew by the gush of humid air.
It hardly blurted from the side of her mouth while the wind continued lashing her with such unexpected
might that she reckoned if she remove the weight from her legs, shell be blown away. However, in the
middle of this, Jessicas persistence allowed her right eye a peek, and saw and heard Tiffany humming in
spite of the muffled noise the squall relentlessly grumbled. She kept her feet on the ground as she
fought the flurry with all her might. Until she noticed Tiffany, now staring at her.
Miyoung, h-help!
She flung her arms open and shut her eyes. But after a desperate minute without receiving any action,
she withdrew it and squint through her fingers as she covered her face from the angry winds. She saw
only a smile responding from Tiffany. Her bright eyes curved happily, an expression she displays when
truly flying on cloud nine.
And the wind continued blowing Jessica away away until it just suddenly halted, and she found
herself standing on the same place but had turned autumn, with the meadow now crunchy and brown,
and the far-flung trees that scattered from afar started shedding its fiery colored leaves that was being
blown off by the breeze breathtakingly. Jessica watched a whirl of it circling and waving in the air, up
into the sky and then falling down as an epilogue of the ephemeral show.
Im that small pile of dried leaves, she thought, abruptly shifting to sentimental mode. I was carried
by the breeze, and Im contented dancing with it despite the fact that I was only being blown, not flying
on my own and without any idea that any moment, as I joyfully flew into air: I would just suddenly
slump to the ground then being one with the soil, until theres not even a trace of my existence. A
tear trickled to her temples. Her sight fell down to the firm, autumn earth, thinking of Tiffany again
again and again

She couldnt fathom a life without her. If Tiffany thought that all these time, she has been depending to
Jessica, then she was wrong. Her existence was rooted through the soil Tiffany laid for her, and she lived
through the tears of joy that has served as moisture as her body absorbed the nutrients essential. In
exchange for this, she bloom perfect blossoms for Tiffany to gawp, to be awed to
The war has already fought, and in the brink of this, theres no turning back. All she has to do now is to
stay up for as long as possible and its her turn now to shield Tiffany with anything she could muster. Yes,
she might die doing this but so be it. She had died fighting for something that truly deserves it. She
might fall down amidst of the battle but she knew she felt fulfilled, and that she will pass away with a
grin etched across her face, no matter how tattered her body has become, as long as she had
accomplished her obligation-turned-responsibility deed.
I will fight, Tiffany.
Her eyes rested upon the withered tree, where Tiffany stood moments ago, but now isolated with an air
of somewhat loneliness. Does this mean shes bound to fight the war alone? And the price, eventually, is
her, Tiffany. A promise of eternity with her, a forever-overflowing bliss cloyed together with them
Tiffany had lived a life counting on Jessica, the same way Jessica is to Tiffany. Literally, she was riding
piggyback on Jessica as they walk the shore, the waves, small and large, swallowing and reaching their
feet. But they dont really care about it. No matter how tall the wave is, how torrential danger the
tsunami will bestow upon
Theyre close
Breathing as one
A unified soul
Pain was shared
Pain was halved
Agony was parted
And won over.
It took a moment before Jessica realized she was standing on a barren place, where there is no life
around, and above was cloudless orange velvet blazing in the eye. The hard ground, as Jessica took a

step over it, was creased and stiff, in deep lack of moisture. And as she squinted around, she realized
that she stood upon a vast dessert of drought and lifelessness. An open field of dread, surrounded with
rocks and small hills that looked as if burial mounds dried by the scorching sun.
Then her eyes fell to the ash tree that was nothing than a huge, leafless twig planted vertically. But
underneath it, she saw Tiffany, crouched and gazing down. Despite the desolation that seemed
unwavering; a smile was vivid on her flamboyant face.
Jessica yelled, but no sound came out. She tried to take a step or two, but the more she walked closer,
the farther Tiffany seemed was.
She yelled again but nil blurted from her mouth. Then out of blue, she heard an echoing conversation
deep inside her ear, talking in surreal tone. They seemed distant, faraway from where shes writhing.
Jess, do you know why Im so glad to meet you?
Have a guess!
Cant you just tell me?
No, I cant.
You play so dumb.
Im only asking for a guess, whys that stupid?
I dunno but that question is corny, Hwang Miyoung.
I am always corny.
Good thing you noticed that. Ive been restraining myself with it.
Whats the question again?

Why do you think Im glad because youre here?

Hmm because ever since Ive been your girl, you were never bullied.
Too shallow!
Dont make me think of uncool things, Miyoung-ssi.
Hahaha Miyoung-ssi? Since when have you been that formal to me?
Speak to yourself. Youre glad because I kicked your enemies for you by the bum.
Is it that simple for you to say?
No, actually.
Because when you do beat my enemies, your face always end up battered, too. Hahaha
No, again.
Then whys it, I wonder?
Because Ive been protecting you from the simplest thing when you did the larger ones for me. Im
sorry Miyoung, but if you think youre glad then youre wrong. Coz I am the gladdest person you could
ever think of. Gratified beyond unimaginable because I have someone who were really as strong as you,
who always say Protect me! but when I turn around, youre the one who fights to death.
Jessica knelt down, her heart drowned with tears together on her eyes.
It was right. Tiffany has always been dealing with the most intolerable things for them, and she was
always humble always. She fought the war on Jessicas back when Jessica thought she was fighting on
her own. With this notion, something seemed to conclude that Tiffany is the actual gladiator that has
been fighting side along. And Jessica is her energy pill, and at the same time, always the burden. The
bitterness brought by that fact made Jessica trembled as she thought to herself an existence without
Tiffany. It was indescribable.
With a plethora of truth about her weaknesses, Jessica ambled towards Tiffany. And the moment she
arrived there and touched her, like a glasswork, it shattered with a loud dissonance that clanged deeper
to her skull. She winced through the noise and gradually opened her right eye, to see the barren land
shattering and quaking. The noise got sharper. She let out a shrill shriek, painfully piercing.

Her eyes flew open and she was back at her room, with the whitewash ceiling staring down at her.
Catching breaths and shuddering with fear, she scrambled up and started fidgeting around for Tiffany.
Miyoung-ah! Miyoung!
The yells were stifled between her moans. Her voice was croaky by the sobs. Her eyes were twinkling
with tears. Her expression was pleading. Her face was contorted with desperation.
Mr. Hwang bolted the door and darted towards the fiddling Jessica. Jessica-ssi! He restrained an arm
around her and locked her in an embrace. But she needs Tiffany. She needs her bosom against her flesh.
On that precise moment, Tiffany sprinted in, her face aghast. Jess whats happening? She ran an eye
over Jessica as she fought herself out of Mr. Hwangs arms, sobbing every second until she fell
Call Dr. Kim, please. Quickly! Mr. Hwang told one of the bustling nurses. And Tiffany, its better for
you to stay
But Tiffany had took a lunge towards him. Jess! Jess! Their fingers touched but it was slipped away
when Mr. Hwang carried Jessica away from her. Dad! What is happening? Whyre you?
Mr. Hwang casted a look Tiffany had never seen before. Tiffany. Jessica is really sick. You should not
you should It was hard for him to seclude her daughter from the thing that makes her happy. But he
thought it was for her own good and even if its painful to him as well, he knew he had to do this.
But Jessica needs me! Tiffany shot back indignantly.
You dont understand. You see, Dr. Hwang drew a deep breath as he gently placed the Jessica back to
her bed, Your friend has AIDS and it wasnt a good thing to be with her anymore.

Chapter Nine: Getaway

My body is bare to any illness, told Jessica as they ventured on a twilit path that was illuminated by
summer fireflies hovering peacefully and their untouched sparkles blinking, a sight worth seeing.But all
these time, I have been inferior to you. I cant possibly think how it would be living a life without you
when you have been everything I stand for, a walking and talking purpose why I am still fighting this
losing battle. Tiffany caught a glimpse of Jessicas face and surely, theres a tear running down to her

It felt as though all the vigor on Tiffanys legs were drained entirely. As she fell on the floor,
kneeling, her sight was rigidly focused towards the just-closed door that Dr. Kim had banged shut as
soon as he arrived, his brows met and flustered. This left Tiffany with her father, as they stayed outside
the room.
She murmured but there're many to utter yet failed to verbalized because of the numbness brought by
what Dr. Hwang declared moments ago. It struck her straight to the chest as though a bolt of lightning
had impaled her directly, leaving a burn impossible to bear.
So simply, Jessica is sick. And by the looks of it: extremely ill. She, Tiffany, remained knelt down,
seething with action devoid. Color was drained off from her face as she continued staring at the
nothingness, an ultimate bipolarity of the chaos writhing within her numbed soul and self. In the brink of
explosion, she thought of Jessica with the profoundest pity, making her eyes sparkle with tears that
were undoubtedly foreboded. A concoction of anger, sympathy, shock, altogether, swirled in the pit of
her stomach causing a wild discomfort expressed only by the blank look for any expression has been
insufficient description. Her thighs trembled though it still looked repressed and forcefully calmed.
Everything, all of this, were caused by the notion-now-a-fact that Jessicas illness were ones who were
widely discriminated, feared and repulsed.
But what makes it so painful is the scene that took place minutes back, where her father, the caring and
thoughtful Mr. Hwang, had taken Jessica away from her grasp. It was of her utter disbelief that he did
that, when he was always been one of the few witnesses of the manner of his daughter and Jessicas
flourishing. Tiffany never reckoned that loom for she always believed to him, and she knew all he
wanted is to make Tiffany happy. Yet, things had turned deceitful. She saw herself behind the wall that
separates her from her love, Jessica. The person that soulfully makes her happy. The only one that fills
the contentment in the blissful nimiety.
Dad whyd you do that? croaked Tiffany quite suddenly as Dr. Hwang slumped back against the
bench along the hall, his expression as though regretting what hed done. But the damage was done,
and he found himself running an eye over her devastated daughter still kneeling on the floor and
conversing without facing.
You must understand the circumstances, honey, was the only thing that blundered out of his mouth.
He still cant figure out why hed told real situation to her. It was almost a shock to him as well, though
he already knew the truth all along.

How can I understand, said Tiffany monotonously, muffled through sobs, when you hadnt told me a
single thing about what, really, is happening to Jessica? Her words still has a very honorific tone but
deep inside, theres a mountain of disappointment gunning up and down to her spine, back in forth
inside her chest, in and out of her nose as fumes of anger.
Mr. Hwangs stare fell down. Coz I dont wanna hurt you, Tiffany.
You just did, dad. You just did. The emphasizing of every words were stabs of bitterness for Mr. Hwang.
The truth is going to unfold nevertheless, so why try hiding it from her daughter? But the stupid thing is
that he hadnt prepared for this situation though it was foreboded clearly. Perhaps because he doesnt
want to mind it. But then again, it was still a stupid thing.
Im sorry, honey, he apologized through a sigh.
You didnt let me touch her. The pain brought by it, to Tiffany, has shaken her sanity to the point that
she wanted to bang her head to the wall and knock herself out, to let her body went numb. It was
almost denying Jessicas plea as she spread her arms out, beseeching.
AIDS can be transferred through passionate intercourses and through direct transfer of bodily fluids,
most specifically blood, started Mr. Hwang in a professional sort but a little lighter for a doctor, I know
that the first way is really unlikely, I know. But the second one
Transfer of bodily fluids? Dad, do
I saw you last night, cut in Dr. Hwang, I mean, last, last night. I caught you kissing Jessica when shes
deep asleep. Saliva does carry the virus although it has an extremely minimal chance for the syndrome
to be passed through kissing, you cant take the worry off from a parent, like me. Yes, Tiffany Hwang,
this is the moment I would overreact and I apologize for that. But I have to, honey. I have to. His voice
suddenly shifted to potent tone and Tiffany merely looked incredulous as she swung around to face her
father while pulling herself up.
Dad, was the only word that blurted from her lips. She couldnt believe what she was hearing. The
look on Dr. Hwang, now, was expressionless as a wall that Tiffany had no idea how to penetrate. His
jaws were locked stiff and his eyes were fixed directly to hers, but not blinking. It displayed how firm he
will stand for what he just said.
Im sorry, Tiffany, he apologized again lowly.
Dad, begun Tiffany, shaking and fighting the fervent emotion creeping on every inch of her skin, Do
you think well gonna kiss all day long and share bloods and stu

I shall not be spoken like that! he snarled, his face starting to contort to a different Mr. Hwang. It
made Tiffany halt to her pace and gazed at the expression hard as stone, reflecting through Mr. Hwangs
face. These past few days we had with Jessica, I had fully understood whats between you and her,
Tiffany. I have been furtively observing both of you, and I concluded that youre more than close. Not
that I am against with your relationship but I fear, Tiffany. I fear that that
That Im gonna waste my life with someone whos frail, thin and HIV positive person? Dad, you only
saw us. You hadnt felt us.
There was a loud nasal sound and Mr. Hwang erected from his seat, his eyes shut and biting his lip as if
repressing the fury erupting inside. I will stand firm. You will not see her again. Im going to send you to
Seoul. Youll gonna continue your studies there and will be a doctor, as we had planned. I will not let you
squander your purity with someone whos tainted and dirty
He had gone too far. Continuous sobs echoed across the hallway lit by the fluorescent that emits ghostly
blue light, drowning them with coldness through the bitter ambience. With a low thud, Tiffany knelt
back on the floor, hiccupping and shuddering. It all felt as though her heart was torn apart, shredded to
pieces burned by the fiery words that came from her father himself. It slashed her ego leaving her soul
bleeding due to the isolation Mr. Hwang will put up. It was as if her body was halved and the promise of
unification seemed nowhere now.
She saw Mr. Hwang taking a step closer to her, and even though she wanted to run away from him, she
knew she couldnt. Shes already rooted to her position, plastering the belief that everythings surreal;
that she and Jessica was just dozing their heads off as they lay comfortably over their sacred cliff as the
breeze provided warm zephyrs that pleases their souls
Father, whyre you doing this to me? She murmured, hushed by the tears she forcefully held back
albeit fiasco.
Love is unconditional, honey. I can see no guarantee that you will comply with the exceptions. You
must understand. Even though his purpose is to sooth his daughter, his tone was somewhat frigid. But
what he just said was true. Love moves in mysterious ways and Tiffany just cant understand why he was
bothering himself when he totally knew that passionate hearts could find a way even through thick walls
and armed soldiers. Phyramus and Thisbe proved that. So were Romeo and Juliet.
Youll gonna send me to Seoul?
She calmed herself down with a loud, nasal breathe and scrambled for words but his fathers expression
made it futile. I wanna be happy.

You will be happy once youre there. Youll only make yourself suffer when youre with her. She
pretended a nod and assurance but deep inside, she knew she had no choice but to stand to what she
believes. A plan whipped up within in spite of the chaos writhing like flames and prospects of fiascos.
But this is the only way they can be together
Dad, she started, her voice stifled and her eyes puffy as she wiped them with her cardigans sleeves,
is there any known cure for her disease? What will happen to her?
Mr. Hwang heaved a sigh and his sight rested on her daughters bogusly relieved face. There are
experimental treatments existing. But its not advisable, seriously. Id rather suggest that she isolate
herself since people judge the illness quite inhumanely, based on my experience as a doctor.
Furthermore, about the illness, she will be seriously prone to viruses and will easily get sick. Many died
from being extremely ill. Their bodies cant recover for the reason that the WBC or white blood cells
were being destroyed and those particular cells were antibodies that helps fighting diseases. Occasional
severe cold can be expected. His voice suggests concern but Tiffany perfectly knew now that her
parents cant be trusted just because they act worried in front of her. In her eyes, theyre huge and solid
She merely nodded and Mr. Hwang ruffled her hair, appending, Go and rest. I will contact your mother.
Imma say what happened and that you had agreed to be transferred to Seoul.
Mechanically, she nodded once more and he replied it with a grin. Then he walked off as Tiffany
watched his fathers back swerving to the right side, dragging his legs lethargically. Tiffany took the void
and momentary remoteness to sketch the blueprint, in full detail, of the plan inside her head. The
scheme she had to put up for her and Jessica.
She lingered outside for an hour, muttering words, shaking heads, contemplating and nodding fervently
to herself and watching the face-masked nurses one by one exiting. As Dr. Kim, the last person that
came out, addressed an assurance with a grin and left, a force drew her to erect and walk towards the
door. Gradually, she hoisted up and moseyed to the ingress. After reaching the barrier that separated
the two hungry hearts, she peered over the embedded glass stuck on the door, and let her sight
penetrate across the pane towards Jessicas unconscious self, lying comfortably on her bed.
Jess, she murmured with a smile, the workers said that the apples were really sweet and big this year.
The golden delicious were crispy. Wanna make a pie with it?
Her breaths within her talk moistened the glass, blurring the view inside. She wiped it with a sleeve and
continued her bittersweet soliloquy.

Theyre harsh, arent they? Sniggered Tiffany nasally and rather bitterly. The people around us, she
added, followed by a profound sigh. They dont know what theyre doing because they dont even
know a single thing about us, right? They thought they can overpower us when we had tackled every
single snag that was thrown towards us.
Probably this one is the biggest boulder fate would fling to them. But they dont care. They believed too
much to each other that theyre virtually unconquerable. Say Jess, how about an overnight sleep on the
lake? Then we can walk ourselves to Hongchun and we can settle there, in a place that-t nobody knows
u-us. As she mumbled those words in a muffled voice, there were hot tears trickling on her cheeks and
her heart was on fire. I can carry y-you, Im practicing weightlifting nowadays. I c-can catch fishes for us
so theres no problem-m. Yes, thats right, Jess. I will work for us and well gonna live together. Like a
permanent sleep-in, aint that cool? It was uttered between sobs. Her cheeks were already drowning
with tears. Fear was ignored. Anxiety is set aside. She should trust on her courage now, and she should
condition herself for they will tear across the snowstorm
Jessica remained immobile on her bed but Tiffany knew Jessica could hear every word, every promise
she declared. It was a magic of their bond the indestructible bond a connection no one can destroy,
not even those who were close to them, who think they can even scratch a portion or kick a chunk off.
Nothing can separate them, even this unconditional illness. Even death itself.
Love is unconditional, she suddenly thought. Is this a part of fates tricks, letting Mr. Hwang leave his
daughter alone after saying love breaks rules? Or this is just a well-deserved chance for them to savor
while still fuming?
Jessica, wake up. She whispered and it did the trick. Jessicas eyes quivered and gradually flew agape.
Her iris played around until it focused on the lucid pane where Tiffanys squinting face was clear.
Tiffany grinned.

Chapter Ten: Moment

Why am I crying? I should be happy! Jessica divulged frustratingly, while they both sat on the cliff as
the setting sun, that seemed to utter its goodbye, unwaveringly displayed its majesty through warm rays
and immeasurable glow. Tiffany answered, Thats because you always held your tears back. Jessica
laughed, slightly bemused.

The door slowly swung open and Tiffany, with a huge rucksack and in thick, white vest as
though a piece of winter was enfolded around her, furtively walked in, her steps as cautiously hushed as
she could possibly allow. Her eyes wandered for a moment around the dimness that greeted her, and
the moment she turn the lights on, she saw Jessica, already sitting on her bed though her expression

suggests lethargy, her heart was burning with hope. Perhaps seeing Tiffany, from the twilight Jessica had
been these past few hours, and then emerging with the light, a blaze burned up, providing warmth so
precious, so comforting that for a jiff, the anxiety brought by her illness that she just found out, flew off
to provide a way for them. A free tarmac for a runaway that will change their lives.
Shhh! Tiffany shushed with a smile that expressed a million emotions.
Youre the one who should be keeping your mouth shut since youre basically the loudest person Ive
ever knew, whispered Jessica back and within her words was the old self, Tiffany always loved.
I went home and packaged our house, murmured Tiffany, tapping the rucksack with a slight pride to
herself that Jessica noticed but answered with a gratified look.
Whats in there? Ramyun? Coffee? Coffee?! I would give anything to drink a pint of it! Jessicas eyes
widened as she stuck her tongue out to tease Tiffany, who extracted a purple scarf from the bag, one of
her most precious possession. She intimately wrapped it around Jessica and Jessica couldnt bear but to
grin in respond to the tender warmth it brought.
Are you ready? Tiffany asked in a confident sort.
Jessica grinned, the most beautiful she could muster. She felt obliged to conceal the sluggishness that
seriously sucks her energy even to stand up. Yet, as she witness the determination, the glint on Tiffanys
eyes; it has been a guarantee that everything will be all right. That after this, they will be together in
an eternity where they will just laugh at everything as they held each others hands, a forever seal, a
shimmering hold
Im ready, smiled Jessica as she grabbed Tiffany in the shoulder. The sensation of their touching flesh
provided a blissful implosion Tiffany utterly missed. With minor nostalgia, she, with Jessica, peered over
the embedded pane and observed the what-seemed-to-be isolated hallway.
Wait a sec, Jessica suddenly halted just when Tiffany began to step her right feet out. Slightly annoyed,
she withdrew her leg back and casted a questioning look. Jessica consoled the aggravation with a sweet
grin that Tiffany automatically understood. How did you get here with half of your house? I mean
I would do anything for us, answered Tiffany matter-of-factly.
Exactly two hours ago, her father took her home and there started a conversation, which she doesnt
paid attention listening with for she has been busy with the blueprint already detailed inside her mind.
She doesnt give a damn now; even the consequences of what shed going to do. This might turn a little
selfish but she doesnt care: for living a second with the full knowledge that Jessica is dying or an
excruciating minute haunted with the prospects that soon theyll have to separate, was a torture not

just to her but, beyond surely, to Jessica as well. It will kill her. It totally will. And because of this, she will
stand against the loom. Even if desperation dragged her down or even if it all seemed impossible. She
has Jessica, as she forever is, and this purer than gold fact is a glittering motivation that will let her trod
across the rainbow or put up a smile even through the bitterest part of their lives.
Albeit the rubbery sensation on Jessicas legs, Jessica bit her lip as she gave her entire trust to the girl,
whose flowery-scented hair flowing on her back and was squinting again on the thin gape of the door.
Theres no point to be hesitant now
Jess, close your eyes. Dramatically, Tiffany swung towards Jessica, bearing a grin as though shed just
seen the light at the end of the long tunnel. Close your eyes. Youll gonna fly with me.
A warm sensation crept on Jessicas veins as Tiffany, pulling Jessica with her but softly, sprinted towards
the fire exit that will serve as their stairway down to freedom theyve craved ever since the discovery of
Jessicas illness. Being able to run, even though not as fast as she used to be, and the gently tearing wind
on her face, even though not the same as that from their sacred lake, she was pleased more than
enough as Tiffany jolted the fire exit entrance while keeping her chuckles and the bursting joy within her.
To Jessicas almost disbelief, they had managed to stride the ten storeys building in mere three minutes.
The forcefully kept jovialness exploded through their echoing laughs as they run down.
You dont have a disease, Tiffany panted the moment theyve arrived on the exit, sporting the smile
that displayed the inexplicable joy of being together once again, after all these days.
Whyd you said that? Even though Jessicas gasping for air was quite heavier, a trace of mirth on the
grin shes wearing was flamboyant than the afternoon sun at the lake.
Youve literally flown! Tiffany proudly said between their wheezes that reverberated across the first
floors fire exit.
So what now? Jessica blankly asked as Tiffany pushed the door and walked out, feeling the winds
despite the midnight chill wrapped with the breeze, and the snow relentlessly pouring since morning.
The sky Jessica yearned seeing cloaked her with midnight azure and even though the stars and the moon
were veiled with gray clouds, the feeling of being more than glad just ambling with Tiffany across the
cobblestones buried with snow, quenched her thirst for glitters.
I think we have to walk, I think. Tiffany smiled and Jessica pulled her closer, then slipping her thin
but warm arms around Tiffanys shoulder. Jessica never noticed the sudden spurt of growth from Tiffany.
She just found herself almost tiptoeing as they both swerved towards the gate, feebly lit by the lane of
lamps from afar. As they passed by the guards house, Jessica held her breath for a moment and thought

they would be gunned down for sure. She slid back her arms and clutched Tiffanys arms, slightly
trembling. Tiffany noticed it and grinned. Dont worry. Hes asleep, look.
They halted few meters from the shed and Jessica lowered her down to peer. The stillness made the
guards snore decipherable. Jessica chuckled, the moment they stepped outside the hospitals perimeter.
Were free, said Jessica simply as she rested her eyes on the urbanized part of Kangwondo, as if a
huge crossroad and they dont have any idea where to begin or what path they should choose. She bit
her lip and stared at Tiffany, who seemed flummoxed as well. Now what?
Tiffany gazed up and let her face be the drop zone of infinite snows pouring. Then she let off a deep
breath that produced chilly fumes, and she darted her sight back to Jessica. Continue walking, I guess.
Jessica grinned, a wide and expressive sort. As if we had that much of a choice. Tiffany laughed in spite
of herself and Jessica let her lead the way, with her head resting on her shoulder and her arms still
clinging on Tiffanys.
And the road that seemed nowhere appeared as if a long path that has no end. But they ventured the
tarmac heated by the warmth shared and laughs kept. They might not be able to chuckle in the future,
so saving was now a necessary even though it wont do much against the loom. Then again, the prospect
of their separation merged. As they walked towards the lamp-lit and slippery paved flank, with arms
connected in a pretty knot, Jessica couldnt bear but to imagine everything that is bound to happen. It
was as if catching a glimpse of a torn photograph album of themselves. Contemplating with all these
frayed pieces of the future had let a sudden pour of tears trickling on Jessicas shivering cheeks that
were pink with bitterness.
Dr. Kim told her the truth. About her illness, how to not mind the horrors and just live a normal life. As
he said those, Jessica thought how would I live normally when the only person that makes my life worth
living is the person you all wanted to stay away from me? It was funny in a bitter sort. At first, Dr. Kims
suggestion was surreal, like how will it happen when everyone around her were annoying hindrances.
However, the moment Tiffany bustled on the door, with a huge bagpack and a vow of not going
anywhere without her, seemed to shine a light amidst of her soul enshrouded with pessimistic prospects.
Tiffanys sudden presence filtered her mind with courage and overflowing purpose to continue the fight
for it hasnt ended yet.
Love sees through, suddenly, Jessica murmured with a grin.
Tiffany gawked sideways towards the head leaning on her shoulder. Hm?

Nothing, grinned Jessica and abruptly, she felt dizzy together with the vanished smile. It suddenly felt
so very cold that she halted to her tracks. Again, her legs started loosing vigor to stand up, quivering
until she fell down after her arms slipped from Tiffanys grip.
With a huge bagpack and a sick person, Tiffany doesnt know what to do now. She gazed around.
Theyve walked a satisfactory half a mile to a place isolated and delimited with snow-topped trees. And
across the road, was a lonely bus stop illuminated with a street lamp, equally lonesome. But there, she
found a shed where Jessica can rest. Shed been fighting these past few days and Tiffany knew she
deserved a break.
Slightly blundering, Tiffany carried her as if a precious carriage instead of an excruciating burden, and
they both slumped against the shaded bench, with Jessica breathing heavily. Tiffany couldnt bear but to
feel the pity as she sat there, watching her loved one catching breathes. Ill give you air; just tell me. She
would do anything to ease the discomfort. Why does everything have to reach to this point? They
wouldve been dreaming themselves on a comfortable bed if Jessica werent ill. They may have been
drawn deeply to a trance untouched and untroubled with the prospect of their parting. Jess, do you feel
scared? Because right now, Tiffany felt frightened enough for the rest of her life. Jess, how does it feel?
More than anything, she wanted to take the sword off from Jessicas hands and fight for her.
Her eyes sparkled and she couldnt keep the tears from flowing. Slightly hiccupping, there was a thin
flow of sadness across her face, the bitterest moment that ever happened. Jess, sorry for not making
you happy.
The apology made Jessica halt wheezing and quickly stared at Tiffany, eyes half-closed. Not making me
happy? What do you mean? It was followed with a snigger in spite of the lethargy.
I cant make you happy, sobbed Tiffany as if a small kid who lost her toy. Unashamedly, she seized
Jessicas shoulder and shuddered the unuttered grief, words she wanted to shout, things she always
kept, sadness she held back. The outpour of the tears almost drowned Jessica with guilt. Again, because
of her, Tiffany was crying.
Who said you cant make me happy when you always make my day? uttered Jessica, the weak and
femininity subtle and masked with an encouraging person, an alter ego that always makes an
appearance when the going gets tough.
Im sorry I cant do anything for you, whimpered Tiffany, muffled as she continued pressing her face to
Jessicas chest.
Whatre you saying? Look, Jessica raised Tiffanys face gently by the chin, and she brandished a grin
even with tears dripping on her eyes and the remnant of the disease that made her face paler than usual.
Youve done too much for me that I dont even know how to pay you back. You wont understand it

because youre not on my point of view and because you always cry of disappointment without knowing
why youre disappointed. Miyoung-ah, remember the pinky pact we made back in third grade? What did
we promise?
Teary, Tiffany heaved a deep breath and said, Well be each others purpose for life. And the sought
happiness is each other and no more.
Jessica smiled. Youre my purpose why Im still standing. So dont tell me you hadnt done a single thing
for me when all this time, your presence has been the reason Im still alive at the moment.
The tears Jessica always held back in front of Tiffany, poured on her cheeks as she pulled Tiffany closer
to her, in an embrace that epitomized the love craved, the love sought and the love fulfilled. With the
snow silently falling, with the slightly bitter winds whispering, with the darkness encircling, with the
people who dont know a single thing about them, the two warriors in their own war kissed each other.
Yes, this might be a losing battle, but for them, theres always hope. That in the end of the day, the sun
will shine on the firmament together with the promise of not letting go, until the end
Tiffany fell asleep on Jessicas shoulder, and as they held each others hands, Jessica stole a kiss on her
cheeks. In respond, Tiffanys clasp tightened.
I wont leave you, Miyoung-ah. Even when starlight falls and when therere no more heroes.
A tear fell from Tiffany Hwangs closed eyes and Jessica Jung smiled at her fondly, enveloping her with
her arms.

Chapter Eleven: Embitter

Love sees through, told Jessica, in a tone gleaming with hope in spite of the grief flying with the
ambiance in an agonizing cloy. I saw you, even before you were born. God tied our souls the moment
we came out of this world. I dont know if Hes also the reason why everything will end like this but I
dont care right now. We laughed, we cried and we part. The cycle will end in a bitter parting, and it was
inevitable. But Im happy. I truly am. Because I will close my eyes with the smile you painted. Then
Tiffany strangled her with the sweetest hug with silent tears running down upon her pale cheeks.

Tiffany woke up from the shudders that resonated in a stricken and muffled plea into her ear.
As her eyes gradually opened, the dawns pale light greeted her stare and after an ephemeral daze, she
groggily stared around to the aftermath of a particularly bitter winter night that made the surrounding
caked with mounds of snows. The lifeless scenery was enfolded oddly with the chilly winds that
expressed sadness in the air and Tiffany felt it, the bitterness it carried.
Then her sight fell to the person, whose head leaned against her shoulder and shivering. Jess? she
blurted and it was replied with loud teeth chatters from Jessica, who looked even paler as if frozen.
Trembling intolerably, Jessica slowly swung her eyes open and even forced a smile though her
expression had said the existence of agony held back. The meeting brows and curled forehead displayed
that epithet.
Just c-cold, she blundered, the assurance glaringly fake. Aghast, Tiffany gazed around and felt the
surrounding. Probably, the temperature was negative two degrees Celsius, and for Jessica, who was
seriously ill, the coldness may freeze her to death. They had just slept in an open bench, still by the bus
stop, draped only with vests and arms that mightve warmed them in the soul, but never physically.
Jess! horrified, Tiffany placed a palm over Jessicas forehead only to be stung by the heat. Jessicas
flaming hot. Youre Jess youre... no! Please help no!
Then there was chaos again.
Tiffany scuttled to her feet and undressed her two-layered clothing. Wrapping it tenderly around Jessica,
she faced her and even though she tried her best not to look frenzied with anxiety, a shadow on her face
reflected the unsaid worries rather blatantly. She quickly addressed a look that suggests, I wont leave
you, dont worry albeit she knew it was fiasco.
And Jessica was too weak even just to open her eyes. This left Tiffany restrained in horror, unable to
roar out the turmoil inside her. With fists clenched, she ran towards the road and swayed around, the
three-dimensional actuality glaring down at her, like a tall force that acted as wall. It all felt as though
they were barred in a hermit, without help and, obviously, hopeless. Then there were surreal laughter
that abruptly reverberated out of blue, the cackles piercing as though jeering her with her desperation.
Help, she mumbled, her eyes wide awake due from the shock, from the profoundest regret. Suddenly,
she repented what shed done. It just made everything worst, and she found herself swinging in the
middle of nowhere, with Jessica in the brink of submission and with her heart panged with guilt.
Anyone, please anyone. Father
She resumed circling around as if from the nothingness, an angel will turn up. But there were only trees
around them. Lamenting with them, by the looks of it. After the far-flung withered flora, theres the long,

vertical road that both ends were barely visible by the thin, morning haze. The open sky, still half-azure
half-pale blue, stared down as if crying with her. And the malicious jeers from nowhere intensified the
tension, sucking the hope
The outcome of it was a deep chaos. So profound that it left her body lethargic and her breaths arduous.
I shouldnt have done this. Cursing herself, her sight went back to Jessica, whos sitting up but head
down and still drawing heavily her breathes. I shouldnt have done this. Im selfish. I shouldnt have
done this. The continuity of the words as if a broken piece of record, was relentless lashes of remorse.
If she had listened to her father, if she had just stood against the roaring flow of emotion, of passion
that will do nothing for the both of them, things might be well now. Jessica mightve just been sleeping
on her room, and she, Tiffany, mightve squared a few attempts to change her fathers decision and let
her stay here.
Yet, she had acted so stupid and so very selfish that the damage seemed beyond mending now. Instead
of consoling, shed muddled the plan and screwed everything up. Jessica was dying. In addition, all
Tiffany can do now is the one thing shes good at: wailing amidst of the oblivion, begging for a miracle
between her sobs. The repressed emotion was blocked through hiccups, and it may kill her. This is not
what she planned. This is not, totally, what should be happening.
In the middle of this emotional havoc, a croak held her still. Despite the staggering tone, it implied an
unuttered statement that says a guarantee that things are going to be all right. And she should straight
herself up and believe on each other, for one another is the source of strength and again, shes turning
her back from it while being carried away by the uncertain letdown.
The second tone was now a beckon. Ever so slowly, Tiffany spun towards Jessica and tottered her way
with a lethargic expression. She just wished that this is now over and they were back in the tranquil days
where they just dive, eat and laugh upon the cliff. The hard and smooth surface of the enormous rock
where they sat upon when they dont attend classes she misses it. The suns warm glow damping her
face with comfort she craves it.
That time
Those precious moments
Where is it now?
Tiffany cant feel it.

Theres just snow, misery, heckling cackles, sadness and grief in a mixture exaggerated by Jessicas
illness and Tiffanys selfishness.
A tear broke free. It fell on the ground.
Ill carry you, Jess. As Id promised. Tiffany placed Jessicas arms around her neck and slid Jessica on in
a piggyback ride.
Im sorry, Miyoung, whispered Jessica to Tiffanys ear. The message delved deeper to her heart where
it burned.
Well get ourselves out of this mess. Just trust on me. She thought Jessica was losing hope due to the
vivid sadness flowing silently on her pale cheeks from her eyes. Yet, as she took a step and hit the road,
with the sun now up, Tiffany heard Jessica say the words she will never forget.
I never lost my trust on you.

Tiffany stood outside the room, back in the hallway, under the cold, whitewash ceiling of the corridor,
barred behind the walls that separated her from Jessica and rooted in a position beside her
flabbergasted father. She was glad that on their way through their desperate venture back to the
hospital, a car stopped by and helped them. Perhaps fate wanted to play with them just a little bit more.
The suffering doesnt seem to weaken them but instead, they became more inseparable. Even she,
Tiffany, was amazed that a bond such as theirs exists. It was such a blessing.
Youre crazy, Tiffany.
The voice was uttered between the held growls. But Tiffany wasnt afraid of anything. As the matter of
fact, she doesnt feel anything now. The cold, nimbleness and snag had numbed her. She couldnt feel
her legs. She doesnt have the sensation of tiredness after standing up and staring at the nothingness for
an hour.
Hows Tiffany, Dad? she asked monotonously, as Mr. Hwang, in thick casual, stepped backwards and
plummeting down towards the bench, still dazed by what had just happened.
Youre seriously crazy, Tiffany, he emphasized, rubbing his face with his palm, a sign of frustration.
I think I am, Dad, she agreed, still expressionless as the wall.

Sit down. The order reverberated across the walls of her skull as soon as she caught what the
command had implied. Yet, she refused to move her leg and just resumed staring at the door, where
Jessica, again, was engaged in a battle.
I know what youll gonna say, Dad. Its no use. I am what I am. I regretted being what I am. Just let me
do what I want. The snowy night they shared and the grieving morning theyve faced, played
repeatedly in her head. Every second slashed her heart. Every moment felt as though it killed her.
I said sit down. He repeated, using his potent tone to force her daughter to submit.
But it wasnt responded. Only silent sob, a hushed torment, can be heard across the corridor. And when
Mr. Hwang heard it, he found out everything. About how hard it must be for her daughter to experience
the reality in this manner.
Take a seat with me, Tiffany, he asked, now more fatherly and soothing in the ear. These past few
days, Tiffany yearned for understanding, and from the tone she heard from her father; she concluded
hes ready to empathize. Almost dragging her legs, she turned around slowly and faltered towards the
void that sat next to her father. With a soft thud, she felt the actuality of the bench, the deep sigh of
relief from her muscles and the tiny warmth her father was putting up as he slid his arms around her
With flyspeck disbelief, she stared at her fathers softened expression. Dad
My girl, said Mr. Hwang restfully, putting aside the troubles of HIV and putting in an ear ready to listen,
putting his heart to understand and putting his soul to sympathize. I know its hard. Really hard for you.
But sometimes, therere things you must accept, no matter how hard it is, how agonizing it will only
bring you. If youll going to listen to your soul, to your heart, you will understand the purpose of
accepting and how it will lessen the burden. Running away is for cowards, insolent fools. Facing it is
necessary. Youre not a coward, Im sure.
Its hard, Dad. I just wanna be happy, she sunk her face towards her fathers chest and he, in return,
tightened his embrace.
Everyone wants to be happy. This is the first time Tiffany had heard her father as philosophical as this.
But they cant stay happy forever. And you must first accept that fact, honey.
Dad, she stared up with eyes sparkling with emotion. Tell me hows this story gonna end?
It took Mr. Hwang a moment to analyze things, like a doctor preparing for a surgery and studying the
stand. Then finally, he told, A lot of people doesnt believe in happy endings but Im not one of them,
my little girl. Coz I believe that at the end of the day, when death drew the curtains on to end the show,

theres a prize after it. And watching you two facing the hardships at that age, Im sure youll gonna
swim across the lake with a smile on your face.
Tiffany faced her father with tears flowing noiselessly, a silent din and a painful comfort. In gratitude,
she mustered everything she has to a grin and Mr. Hwang sent back a smile as he ruffled her hair as he
always does. Jessica is a strong girl. Leaving her to Seoul doesnt mean youll going to leave her forever.
Youll see each other soon. You dont have anything to worry about; Dr. Kim and I will look after her.
For the first time these days, he sounded very sincere and true to his words. Tiffany could hear the sense
from his voice, and it painted a smile on her face.

May I come in? Tiffany asked as her head popped on the narrowly opened door. Jessica was awake
and looked very tired yet rather pleased on Tiffanys bustling appearance and from the comfort of her
bed and, bless the existence of technology, comfort from the heater.
Stop pretending to be polite, just come in, croaked Jessica back, staring at Tiffanys smiling face and
puffy eyes, slightly pink from whining moments ago. With the slightly rude invitation accepted, Tiffany
stepped in and ambled towards the empty seat beside Jessicas bed. She parked herself on the squashy
stool and rested her arms over Jessicas sheets. Their faces are close
Howre you feeling? said Tiffany in a deep, concerned voice.
If I answered that question with yes, would you smile? Again, Jessica had her nonsense questions
ready to throw at Tiffany. Tiffany merely laughed.
I think youre good to go. Wanna take a walk across the field? she quipped but rather bitterly. It
seemed quite hard to joke with the event that took place hours ago. But Jessica didnt take it seriously.
Your piggyback ride is uncomfortable. My shin was squashed. Lemme take my three cents back.
Tiffany chuckled, followed by a short silence.
So youre okay now? Daringly, Tiffanys the one who shattered the stillness with yet another
nonsense question.
Youre leaving, arent you? asked Jessica to Tiffanys utter bewilderment. Jessicas brows were raised
wisely even though her eyes were half opened.
Howd you?

I know someday you will, smiled Jessica. I always know. She accentuated the words with unexpected
grasp about what happened, whats happening and what will happen. A trait now had emerged from
nowhere that truly left Tiffany slightly bowled over.
I Tiffany hesitated for a moment but Jessicas grin assured her something that only the bond
between them would make it possible to be understood. I yes, Im leaving to Seoul.
She expected a crestfallen expression from Jessica. However, as her sight fell on her face, she found
herself staring at the ultimate contrary of what she pessimistically thought. Jessicas grin was wider as if
shed found the meaning of life.
To Seoul? I heard that schoolboys and girls there have their noses pierced during their last year on high
school. Not that Im intentionally wanting you to change your mind, to be honest. Jessica sniggered and
Tiffanys forehead curled.
Will you be alright while Im gone? said Tiffany, eagerly changing the subject.
Jessica stared away for a moment. This time, shes the one who seemed hesitating. As much as I
wanted you to be with me all the time, I will not let you risk your life for me, especially physically, when
Im tad stronger than you. But deep inside, if she could stand up on that moment, she couldve knelt
down in front of Tiffany and beg her not to go. She just forced a smile as Tiffany responded with her own.
Take care of yourself, Sica, murmured Tiffany.
Sica? Whered you get that? beamed Jessica, sleep slowly dragging her to trance with lethargy
empowering it.
Well, since youre sick, perhaps I can call you Sick-a, Tiffany quipped that made Jessica chuckling the
drowsiness away.
The pun was quite funny, Fany, sniggered Jessica, with her eyes sparkling with both sadness of the
promised parting and tears of joy that seemed rare nowadays.
Fany? Hahaha
Well, you seemed funny these days so there you have it.
Their chuckles resonated. Their tears were held back. The parting was getting closer yet this two hearts
will not let the chain be broken by the vowed gap. It was clear through their laughs that concealed the
sorrow. Now, it appeared that the vague future was now merging perceptibly. An inbounding fight that

has a million possibilities for an outcome but with only a single purpose: to get the prized eternity for
each other.

Chapter Twelve: After

Wanna know whats waiting out there for me? asked Jessica, thumbing the sky with a slight whim in
her. Tiffany nodded, compelled enthusiastic. I can see stars. Millions and billions of stars. Underneath it
was a vast meadow of Bermuda where I could just sleep myself to my hearts content. Thats what you
call bliss. Jessica never showed any vulgar corniness in front of Tiffany. But theres something in her that
has been forcing her tongue to utter words like heaven, with you and no illnesses. The string of those
words reflected all her emotions, all her feelings but with complete devoid of urge from her brain, her
graying and crusty mouth refused to speak but just curved itself into a happy smile. Yet, the look on
Tiffanys face displayed deepest understanding and it looked as though shed already know what Jessica
supposed to utter.

Living in Seoul wasnt actually as comfortable as Id expected, to the fact that I went there
alone with a luggage crammed with books and along with me was a promise to Jessica that I will return.
That I will come back as a true person that can withstand against disappointments in a way she can be
proud of me. Or not.
But anyway, the paved road embedded with square, abstract pattern, the air-conditioning, formal clad
people walking by in mixed emotions, it was all different to me. It felt as though I was reborn again to a
new world I dont deserve, filled with foreboded letdowns. The sensation of being suffocated in a tiny
space with utter discomfort, I dont think I will survive in the next two weeks. The byroads and alleys,
labyrinths in my eye, seemed will lead me nowhere as I passed it by while pacing along the flank under
the sadly shaded gray sky and with speckles of snow noiselessly falling above my shoulder and newly cut
hair. Dad said that my new school requires a decent haircut and I thought I might as well follow him
despite that Im graduating in four months. Time flew by. That precious time. Those moments when I am
truly happy.
The doorbell rang. I stared rigidly on the alloy door of my new flat where behind it, Im supposed to
study my brain out and nurse my wounds. I can already smell coffee and sleepless nights. Pessimistic
prospect again? I dont think so. Because I knew that in the end of that winding road, theres this certain
light. Jessica is waiting for me.
Mom, I muttered lazily as the door bolted open. A grinning person in slightly exaggerated casuals and
forced kind look beckoned me in, after kissing me on the forehead. I merely snorted, indecipherable to
my mothers ear.
Your dad said youre here by four. But its already passed five. I am done arranging your place. Those
words greeted me as if a surprised I supposed to respond with a happily bewildered expression. But Im
too tired of the almost an hour bus ride and I was too weakened by what had happened yesterday. And I
had a sudden thought Ive inherited Jessicas laziness. That monkey, sometimes you cant help but to
love her when you became so dependent to her.
I walked.
Mother eyed me philosophically, running an x-ray scan upon the slug look over my face. I guess she
understood what hell Ive been into because Im particularly sure about the notion that she was not as
immature as any other people, like Dad. Coz I still cant figure out why hed decided to banish me. Is it
because of his dream for me? Is he afraid that my love for Jessica will ruin everything hes planned the
moment I was born? Lame.
Im going to leave after dinner, Mother somewhat timidly whispered over my shoulder as Id passed in
front of her into the hallway of my cozy apartment. A small couch, a 16 inches television, dull colors

splashed across the wallpapers, tiny kitchen where Alice can found tranquility, cute teapots and a huge,
fur rag, waited for me as I lay sight on it. If Im as insane as Jessica usually was, I might think Im in
Wonderland. Freak as me and Jessica were, we never played mother and father. We love extreme sports,
and I, inspired by Jessicas passion to swimming, must admit that my new place is quite quirky and
The inclusion of Jessicas name in that ridiculous thought clenched my heart as I dropped my stuffs on
the floor with a thud, followed by a deep sigh. Im coming back, Jess. Its not over. The fights not over. I
might not be there as a morale booster, but I promise you that once Im back on our sacred place, Im
more than what I used to be.
Dragging my worn-out legs, I slowly tottered to the middle and gazed at the kitchen where it smelled
like bean curd soup. My stomach gave a tiny writhe and I knew I have no choice but to submit to the
enticing smell of garlic. Im still human, after all, to the fact that Ive tackled the pain worth for a lifetime.
Damn those soups. I just took a step.
I hope youll be over with what youre into. I halted to my tracks, mildly surprised by the words that
resonated across the flat. The voice was clear in spite of the distance I felt between mom and me.
Benevolent in my ear, forced sympathetic in my heart, I hesitated to look back.
Tiffany, Im sorry about your friend. The meaning was now bipolar. I felt anger erupting within me,
virtually nudging the hunger to provide way for spite.
Whatre you sorry about? I asked in a voice barely myself. Maybe Mother knew that my father
intended throwing me away to this stinking place, so they could do something to Jessica. Perhaps this is
a hint. Coz Im too old for their games.
Its just that
Look, Mom. Automatically, I swung around towards my Mother only to see a pair of tear tracks
running down upon that devastated face, which happens to be my Mothers. My heart throbbed against
my chest, shocked at the sadness Ive witnessed. It was unbelievable. Whyre you?
It mustve been really hard for my daughter to be in this kind of situation. I understand what you feel.
Perhaps because Im your mother, I knew what you feel, everything in you, even before the moment
you turn up in the doorstep wearing that look on your face. I can hear the heaviness of your step; I can
feel your sadness as you held it back. I had long since known how much you love Jessica but I never
imagined that itd be as strong and as enduring as this.

Every word she uttered, every tear that gradually ran down upon her pale cheeks had made my eyes
watery. And the next thing I felt is the soft bosom pressing against my cheeks as I moaned and wailed
everything in me, all I wanted to yell. The person who had locked me in a tight embrace had let me shed
all my fears, grief and tears until the bucket is empty. I kissed her, that person. But I think she deserves
more than that. She deserves anything for being there.

The lake glistened as it reflected the rare winter sun that miraculously blazed up amidst of the
downpour yesterday that drowned the whole Kangwondo with three inches of snow. I, alone, sat on the
cliff, staring at the depths of the waters as if delving for a treasure. The sadness in me roared
unwaveringly, and the emptiness, it hung back above my head as though an oppressive cloud dangling. I
never thought it would be a near torture to me. My soul is halved, its obvious but the grin I forced on
that moment: epic faux.
God be with me. The vigor is back on my legs as I stood up, the onrush of the bitter winds slapping me
rudely making my now-blond hair blown backwards. I dyed it, with the color Tiffany wanted it to be. I
considered it because it was the last thing she ever pointed out to me when we both stood here, in this
place. Our secret place
The medicine Dr. Kim gave me did a slight trick. It revitalized my tattered physique but it still left my
tattered soul untreated. But nows not the time to mind it. All I have to do is to wait. And all I can do
now, yet must be considered seriously, is to decide if I should jump toward the waters and have done
with the snag. Luckily, Im not that much of a jerk.
I took a small step closer to the edge and closer and closer until Im in the brink of defying the height
between the pool of icy water and myself. Risk. If I leapt towards the lake, and lived that does mean
Im still strong. Should I measure how strong I am? Risk. But Im still not as jerk as many would think of
While peering over, I thought of things. Things Tiffany and I had risked, had sacrificed, had defied, had
conquered, had tackled, got defeated with it was all a jumble of whatnots with a conclusion that we
will never leave each other and we will hold on tight against the knot that bonds our souls.
But Tiffany left me.
She promised to return.
But she still left me.

I can already feel depression creeping on my spine as the wind whispered bitterness above my neck, the
dark cloud pouring rain upon my head and the twilight waiting for me in the house.
A faint image of a person seemed to take shape, and it looked as though it was smiling at me. Hey,
Miyoung, I suddenly spoke to myself as I declined toward the flat surface of the rock I sat onto,
preceding to the snort of acrimony I still cant get used to. The loud slump resonated in a soft thump as I
positioned myself Indian-sitting. Did you know Ive got a mild pneumonia? It explains the series of
myself catching breaths like a marathon runner. Coz of that, I figured that I would die out of air. Crazy,
isnt it?
Dying. How will I die? Will I go on beside Tiffany? Can I force a smile on my deathbed? Can I comfort
Tiffany with any mocking I could muster so as to make a slightly cheerful parting? The idea was
ridiculous when I should be cherishing every moment while Im still breathing. Its quite an insult,
especially for Tiffany if shed been hearing all this.
Simply, I just laughed, the sound echoing and so was the mighty din in me that still roared with remorse,
of profoundest regret for bestowing only hardship to Tiffany, for acting like a weakling in front of the girl
who always believed on my strength. The opaque image appeared responding me with a sentence that
had slapped the sense on my face: Isnt it a feat just standing in front of me even with the disease
withering your strength?
I should stop downing myself because its ludicrous. Yet, at that precise moment, I wanted to cry. But I
wont permit a tear to shed until Tiffany returned.
Say, Fany, I muttered to myself after getting back to the hospital and was now in a comfortable lay
over my soft bed and cloaked with soft sheets that smelled home. My room was deserted. But I can hear
a soft conversation outside, which might be Dr. Kim and Mr. Hwang. How fortunate I am with these two
doctors looking over me. You dont have anything to despise, after all, Tiffany. Im ideally cared. Say,
Miyoung, if you went back sooner than I had expected, Ill give you something you wont ever forget.
It was blank dare. Only emptiness had placed an ear to hear it. Only emptiness
The door banged open, and I thought there were polices yanking their guns and pointing it at me
menacingly. But what I saw shocked me like a bolt of lightning: it was mom. Her face showed a million
expressions that concluded to only a vivid sign of sadness and pity.
My daughter, were the only words that blurted from her thin lips, and I found myself staring at a pair
of quivering dark brown eyes I always see when I face the mirror. The grief it displayed rose me up from
my bed, unable to respond to what my mother said that is so worth replying.

She began teetering toward me, and I wanted to run away from her. However, a corner in my heart
wailed a mutual longing for her arms, secluding me from absconding in her presence.
Love rooted me on my position.
What kind of mother am I to let my my one and only
A pair of warm arms slid around my neck, and even if I desired to pull it away, I felt the familiar
invulnerability when Tiffany was around, running back again in my veins empowered by her warmth.
Mother was the one word I could utter in counter of the motherly embrace that simply blew the
blemishes away from me on that particularly shimmering moment. I dont know what to say. I just
expressed every words failed to verbalize on sinking my face to her cotton casuals.
Im sorry, Jessica. She sobbed, running a free hand over my golden hair as she pecked my forehead
with kisses to express what shed failed to express, to make me feel what she failed to make me feel, to
tell me what she failed to tell. Ad infinitum.
Mother, I mumbled again. This motherly touch, it was wonderful to the fact that Ive been denied to
that almost all my life. My mother lived her recent life to please my stepfather. He was a renowned
lawyer, who once a champion of his firm until he lost a multi-billion won case resulting to her unworthy
resignation. He basically died from that day onwards, and his actions afterwards reflected his rotten self.
Even though my mother did everything to sympathize.
And now, there were only the two of us, me and her. Her face connoted remorse. But her tongue
divulged a triumphant statement that could only meant freedom after a series of misunderstanding,
faux trust, and betrayal to heart, denying the reality and facing the truth.
You dont have to worry about your stepfather, Soo Yeonnie, a guarantee full-fledged and mellifluous
to my ear, a blissful string of hope, a rainbow amalgamated from different types of joy, brightened my
visage the moment the meaning registered onto my brain. It passed to my right ear and sent warmth to
my body, hope to my soul and vigorous blood to my heart. Thats the power of a mere phrase dont
worry, I just found out.
I hadnt worried about him, I declared in a clear tone in spite of turning away from her gaze. There
was furtive timidity on my voice, and there was an awkward expression on her face. Yet, regardless of
uneasiness between us, her eyes were locked on me, I can feel its stare providing a furtive protection
only she can perceive. Im more worried about you.
It was a nimble moment. The person I conversed with threw her arms around me again, strangling me
with love, tightening the hug with a pledge of an everlasting fortification against the foreboding loom.

Idle, love rooted me with a startled face but at the same time, I could sense her skin, despite the
multiple layers of clothing draped behind those flesh I craved. Mother I never depended on her
because all this time, I reckoned she always leaned on me. But that one, shimmering moment, it
certainly proved the exact opposite of my tactlessness.
I needed her
Dont worry, Jessica. Youre not alone now.

Chapter Thirteen: Preciously

You lazy monkey! a tiny girl yelled to a thin yet gleaming with potent equally small kid. The little
Tiffany, whose fat hands cupped in a tiny fist, stomped her feet on the ground, producing only a soft thud
barely hearable. Apparently, the little Jessica enjoyed teasing her. She simply resumed her blissful siesta
under the pale, spring sky where clouds almost lucid as they drifted boringly across. If you dont move
an inch, I will totally tell A shoe hit her squarely in the face, and for a moment as she felt her cheeks
reddening, she started hiccupping that deteriorated into a eardrum-shattering scream. But Jessica, the
meanest kid from the second grade, merely looked unenthusiastic.

Tiffany sensed jovialness with the winds mumbling the springs symphony that sounded
a clear tone of Gaia in ideal harmony. The flawlessly shaded blue sky, clusters of thick cumulus hovering
gradually across, was a cloaking symbolism of peacefulness. There was tranquility in her.
Shes about to get back to Jessica after tensing herself in four solid months to achieve a line of As on her
report card, sufficient to etch a broad grin to her fathers face when she finally passed over the sheet of
merits deserved. She told her mother that purpose. But shes bound to take a different route.
As she sat alone on the far corner of the bus, her sight played on the scenery through the window panel.
The landscape the moment she passed Seouls vicinity, started to turn verdant, and the fragrance of the
rural flora appeared as though penetrating to the panel, passing in the scent of home. Im truly home.
She went away with a huge baggage. Now, she got back with a small bag but carrying with her the
promise all this time she tended and cherished, and will now fulfill. It has been months. What changes
did Jessica get from the winter that dropped and passed by? Are her eyes still tinted in an astonishing
dark brown that glints every time Tiffany peered closer? Is she still as confident as the same Jessica
Tiffany left since what seemed to be eons ago? So many inquisitions jumbled in her head like a many
piece jigsaw waiting to be solved. But tearing between, a distinct eye smile curved happily to the
prospect of being able to hold Jessicas hands again. There might be no questions, nevertheless. But
there ought to be a barrage of stories that will surely be told upon a nice and cozy conversation by the
lake, over the bluff.
Almost the same moment of her palpably reminiscing look, a tear sparkled from the corner of her eyes. I
am really going home. She can already feel the warmth of Jessicas arms, her breaths blowing her
away the lips, oh how Tiffany craved them. A wild sentiment brought by the yearning inches to
fulfillment overtook her with oblivion but almost ephemeral. Her fist tightened as she remembered the
bitter parting that had tried to cleave through the bond between them. Frames of desperation, seconds
of laughter, unuttered conversations understood by mere looks bittersweet images flashed back.
The lone bench.
The snow.
The look on Mr. Hwangs face.
Jessicas bogus smile as an assurance.
Her farewell drowned with tears within.
Fear that Jessica will worry for her.

Fear that Jessica will give up while shes away.

Fear of the bond that may tear apart.
Fear of the love that may soon fade.
It was mostly fear together with its sibling, pessimism. Was the fact that she never lost faith on Jessica
sufficient to keep her from succumbing to the disease? But Jessica already stated that: Youre my
purpose why Im still standing. So dont tell me you hadnt done a single thing for me when all this time,
your presence has been the reason Im still alive at the moment. However, is it powerful enough against
the fangs of death that anytime might gnaw her life out of blue? Sometimes, things appeared corny than
the less powerful notion Mrs. Hwang thought. It was like I love you, dont die, which doesnt make any
sense at all. Death gives no demand.
But as Tiffany delved deeper to the chasm of understanding their sublime bond, a metaphor
miraculously merged out of her wit-fatigued brain: food supplement. Smirking to herself, she
understood everything and did not take the subject any further.
These past few months in Seoul, Tiffany thought she had done really well academically and had
prevailed successfully against her emotional demons. Friends, it did not motivate her even though she
found herself within a cluster of geeks chatting about the graduation and their plans for college. Her
parents, they were never near a reason why shed done all this hard work. They just existed as an
audience while she broke sweat and denied happiness for the sake of the performance her parents
always looked forward.
She merely took it in a stride.
And now the act is over. Faith remained undaunted, soul intact
This maybe a short visit just to check Jessica, but this certainly proves a light shone through to defog the
enshrouded future. That she can almost see the end of the long tunnel blinking with light and she, with
Jessica, was almost there. They still stood up, never palled; she could truly feel it deep inside her flesh.
A gift of courage, an offering done by the unbreakable bond empowered by trust, strengthened with
hope regardless of the peril that awaits them behind the glimmers at the end of the winding tunnel.
Courage was their sword; love is their shield. Its an everlasting symbol of the affection as wide as sea, as
strong as steel albeit a stupidity for defying death itself. But theyre strong, none so blind as those who
wont see. The glint on Tiffanys eyes tells it so, as the destination came into sight as though arms
widespread waiting for her.

Faraway, were roofs and houses, their outlines visible against the thicket of luxuriant spring trees. Rural
commercial structures, such as small grocery stores and medium sized theaters, drew even closer as the
bus she rode in gunned up, catching a little speed ahead. It still looked far, but she wanted to relish
being home again for as long as her heart could possibly allow. Halfway to the town, she rose from her
seat as the bus halted midway to its destination.
Hopping finally out, the ground crunched under her shoed feet. For a moment, she savored the
Kangwondos unique scent that had evoked an evenly unique happiness; she froze at her spot. In front
of her stood, the memorable bus stop that was a monument of her love for Jessica, idled oppositely as it
rigidly stared back. Ensconced in the middlemost of a wide field and delimited by the far-flung trees
Tiffany never appreciated the beauty all her life. Four months ago, the place was nothing but a barren
dessert of snow in the middle of nowhere. Now, it was a plethora of verdancy beyond imaginable.
Everywhere her sight lay, theres a shade of green, of life, of light. And the steel bench, painted in blue,
and the shade where the sun squinted through flickering rays, it just doesnt brought up the last
moment before their parting, but it also reminded her the sacrifices shed willing to make for Jessica.
It was one, idyllic moment with the breeze ruffling her hair, blowing it sideways to screen her face with
strands of brown. Happiness was implied through the beam she casted on the long, vertical
thoroughfare wounding in between the two vast fields of bright green-tinged unripe wheat.
As graceful as the waltzing winds incoming breathes perfumed by ash trees to the north, Tiffany did not
hesitate. Roaring with happiness, she tore towards the vertical thoroughfare, filled with an unwavering
desire to shout and yell Im back! Im back! The rare, genuine grin across her face doesnt seem keen to
unstuck against the flamboyance of her expression. It couldnt because she was now a surfeit actuality
of an extremely happy person.
Thirty minutes passed by and without even noticing, she found herself panting in the middle of a fiveday market. Im back now, she thought. When shed done catching enough air for her abused lungs, she
sauntered across the flank, beaming to everyone shed passed with and hopping her every step. The
passing elders were slightly annoyed when a girl caught up over the shoulder only to say, Good
morning, grandfathers. But the eye smile across her face that shone with a particular ray of glee, the
elders merely nodded and chuckled to themselves, wondering who this cute woman is. Tiffany looked
extremely pleased to herself as she continued moseying the sidewalk.
Until finally, her sight fell to a particular portion in front of a barbershop and situated together with a
line of spice sellers, the memories of her adolescence, suddenly, run back like an old sepia movie that
had tingled her veins with nostalgia.
Nestled under a verdant oak, was a small store that seemed to be worn out by time and weather. But
the old woman standing behind it displayed a contentment even Tiffany cannot outdo. The smell of red
bean cakes trailed across the street and flowed towards her, caressing her nose nostalgically.

After peering on both sides of the street like a little kid, she strode her way to the store, which had once
been her and Jessicas favorite red bean cake stand. During their eight grade, they usually chomped five
cakes in one session, generally a contest whos the fastest eater, wherein for the first time Jessica cant
seem to beat Tiffany. Afterwards, their stomachs lurched with diarrhea and it was a perfect alibi for a
getaway so they can play in the lake.
The sporting grin Tiffany has at the moment, broadened even wither, bearing some white teeth.
Mother! she called playfully and the old womans wrinkled face brightened in a familiar sort.
Oh! If it isnt Miyoung, she responded as Tiffany hopped towards the stand, resting her shoulders on
the bar. The red bean cake remained the same, even the atmosphere cloyed by the delicious smell as
though she could already taste whats cooking. It all brought back memories she will never forget,
starting a sensation as though Jessica was standing beside her.
I told you, Mother, my name is Tiffany, sniggered Tiffany running an eye to the fish-shape bread the
old woman had been frying.
Tsk, said the old woman, fishing out the golden brown breads from the bubbling oil. Tiffanys eyes
widened even more at the sight of this, that suggests everything stayed as she could still vividly
remember. The cakes perfect crust made her stomach growl. The old woman grinned, You know I
dont remember English names as such.
Tiffany smiled. Wondering why Sooyeon wasnt with me, dont you? she teased gaily. Still 1000 won
for four pieces? Her eyes fell back to the cakes that fumed freshly.
The old woman nodded but did not respond a word. Tiffanys sight went back to her and the expression
she saw on the old womans face was somewhat ominous. But she compelled herself not to mind it
albeit the abrupt appearance of an awkward silence was telling something.
Then two mothers, one in slightly flamboyant dress flowing down and curled hair in a bundle, and the
other, in yellow blouse beneath an obese tummy and thin mouth askew, her whiting her in a tight bun,
shattered the stillness with their crazy chuckles and loud babblings. Hi! Can we have eight pieces of
your cakes? The smell lured me, Hahaha
The other mother laughed accordingly. Then she started the conversation Tiffany cant seem to keep
herself from eavesdropping. Did you know that the lawyers daughter had won the case? the vividly
suited mother chattered.

I presume its because of the daughters medical state. The judge, swimming with pity, wanted it over
in a day so he decided to grant the poor girls request of throwing her stepfather to jail, which I think
makes sense after what hed done to her.
You know what I assume? I assume that that girl was deeply depraved.
The words shot Tiffany like cold water above her neck. Jessica profane? Tiffany kept composed and
merely chomped a large bit to her cake that now seemed unpalatable.
True, thats my assumption as well. None so deaf as those who wont hear and see, right? The girl
looked pretty and it was sufficient for a proof that she was, indeed a depraved girl.
Tiffany caught the storeowners gaze as her heart throbbed against its cage, sending blood to her brain,
thundering. Anger boiled at the pit of her stomach causing a repressed shudders that quivered her
cheeks. Lips bitten and remnants of the cake slowly being squashed, a mad desire to knock the sense
out of these people appeared overtaking her sanity. Her eyes were locked on the ground, and in her
point of view, the earth was shaking. She will not bear another word.
I think I should lock my son up and warn him about this dirty girl
A 1000 Won bill slammed over the counter as Tiffany, fuming with anger but forced to show respect to
the elders, flounced away. Half of her enthusiasm about this place evaporated to thin dismay. How can
they judge a person they dont even know? Is this how the world works? That the narrow-minded
people are free to utter how small-minded they are? And they even call Jessica a dirty girl!
Through gritted teeth, she muttered curses under her breath. This seemed to be one of the challenges
and even though shed tackled one of the hardest ones, this still stabbed her like a knife that had run
through straight to her chest. But she had no choice. This is Gods gift. Freewill.
And by the time she had arrived in front of the gates of a baroque-inspired townhouse, she thought this
is the last straw. Perhaps scolding Jessica will shake the sense out of her. She shouldve fought!
Tiffany pressed the doorbell and it rang. While waiting for someone to open the ingress, she gazed
around towards the surrounding trees staring down at her like pillars that supported the sky. The sun
blinked through the branches, twigs, and small gapes from leafy tops. The birds sang a natures song
honeyed by the rhythm of their tweets, always mellifluous to the ear.
Then she found a place for calmness in her heart.
But on that precise moment, the gates hummed open and a thin girl with gray, crusting lips and slightly
untrimmed blond hair, stared back in sublimity.

It was the first time Jessica muttered Tiffanys real name but Tiffany was inkling towards to what she
was seeing.
A withering image of hope

Chapter Fourteen: Inseparable

I love you, Miyoung-ah. The tickling words flowed in every inch of Tiffanys veins. Surge of warmth run
deeper to her flesh, sending undeniable love to every corners of her body. Those gleaming eyes, she
thought. So sincere. Should I just ignore it? At first, it seemed hesitant, but to her eyes it was deciding if
shes about to forge a pact. Promise I love you too, Jess. The same sensation drowned Jessica. She
merely tightened her hug.

Jessica Jung, as Tiffany Hwang could specifically remember, never wore a one-piece suit her
whole life. White as the springs sky, the velvet streamed down and accentuated by light blue laces. The
blond hair clashed almost unpleasantly vivid, and the tinged brown eyes contradicted the lightness of
the dress because of the apparent glints of oppressiveness twinkling on the iris.
But Jessica was smiling.
The thin, soft lips Tiffany can remember was not as dull as the one she could see right now. The crimson
cheeks that often appended unbearable nostalgia for its every inclusion in her reveries were now pale
and sunken. Frail arms and feeble legs were opposite to the proficiently trained limbs for swimming
Tiffany could recall attached to Jessicas body.
But Jessica was smiling very broadly.
Youre back? Barely a whisper, Tiffany lightly felt the timber of the words echoing silently in her
chest. But she was in deep stun towards to what she was seeing. Everything in Jessica contradicts. The
sad smile, the dyed hair, the oppressively twinkling eyes and the dress its a mismatched fruits for a
nice cocktail.
Remaining impassive, she stared back and Jessica understood the expression. Evidently, Tiffany was
dazed at her almost pitiful condition. Jessicas thin, dull lips pursed, skewing a diminutive twitch. Clearly,
she had failed Tiffanys expectations it deteriorated to an utter disbelief.
The war against the disease had considerably weakened her body. With only an awkward and working
mother standing beside her, the fight was pretty much on her own. Mrs. Jung had only filled a tiny
portion in her emptiness; the void that was a tailing shadow Tiffany had left despite the promise of
return. Hope seemed nowhere when Tiffany wasnt around. The four months is like standing in the
depths of pitch-black nothingness, haunted by voices that wanted her down. Horror beyond imaginable
that concluded the piteous state she sport as Tiffany tottered towards her, the vigor on Tiffanys legs
gradually siphoning to nil.
Jess, she murmured amidst of a crazy battle against the flow of tears that looked welling on her
quivering eyelids. She placed her index finger and circled it upon Jessicas face as though it wasnt
existing, the perceivable aura of utter agony. AIDS wasnt supposed to work like this. Its a slow growth,
gradual steps into torture. Seeing Jessica in such state suggested there is more than HIV weakening her.
And it didnt take seconds to ponder what it is.
Good to have you back, Jessica merely uttered in a tone croaking with lethargy. Normally, she didnt
respond to any doorbells but today, something intuitively compelled her to erect from the solitary
bench shed leaning comfortably. Instinct did not fail her.

Regardless of her meticulous care when shes totally exposed, a deep longing to seize Tiffanys hand and
drag her to their secret lake appeared to be telling her like theres nothing perilous out there. Tiffanys
back, she thought. Come out, ya germs. My knight is back with an attitude. Riveting her gaze to Tiffany,
she noticed the flamboyant urban accustom mirroring from the skinny jeans and buttoned tops
resembling a typical, college student. The mushroom shaped, brown apple-cut hair bounced in the air
when Jessica peered closer and caressed the well-cared strand delicately.
To Tiffanys eyes, Jessica seemed investigating her tiniest details. But on the other hands point of view,
it was an investigation with a hint of knowing. Four months flew, and Jessica wasnt even that sure if its
the same Tiffany. Hearts can be deceived.
I like your hair, praised Jessica, suddenly despising her own. Layers of her blond hair appeared like
haywires twining in burdensome ripples, yet Jessica threw it on her back with slight pride. Tiffany caught
a tiny glimpse of this and chuckled.
And whyre you wearing that kind of dress? she pointed out.
Coz it hurts, dummy, answered Jessica sheepishly. But within it, was a real agony. Pain that was
endured only to have a face worth showing for Tiffany. Yet, it hardly worked seeing her sunken face and
pale features. Good thing, Tiffany doesnt give a damn now.
On one, amazing second: Jessica flung her arms around Tiffany and pulled her closer, their bodies kissing,
amalgamating into a swirl of bliss. This is their moment. Might be the final, but they will cherish this for
as long as forever.
They held so close that they can sense each others heartbeats as though it was yelling at one another. A
link was activated within; a bridge was connected again. That gleaming connection of everlasting
affection, they could feel it against their very flesh.
Tiffany sobbed. Jessica smiled. Bipolar reactions from two beings that has been merged as one. Yet, as
they fused, the mixed emotion was nothing but an ethereal existence drowned by happiness. That
actuality they felt against their bodies, it made Jessicas heart throbbed so rapidly, she felt herself
growing red, a profound blush. She motioned closer to Tiffanys ear and whispered something that had
made Tiffany wail even louder:
I won the fight.

It felt all summer for both of them, as they sat at the edge of the bluff in perfect overview of the lake
reflecting the afternoon sun. Its far-flung rays engulfed the place with glorious luminosity, it seemed
impossible for darkness to exist. There, at the cliff, they have each other for themselves. They dont
even know where to begin, but it appeared words would not do its work today. Filled with utter
contentment, they just gazed at each others faces as though they cant believe that this is happening.
That the cruel world they trod these past few months has found a way to connect into this dream.
Abruptly, Jessica rose from her seat, with a little support from Tiffany. Gradually, she walked down,
faltering a bit, towards the lakes edge. She threw her slippers away and took a step into the water. As
she did, her face displayed yet another expression of blissful plethora. It was an ethereal moment.
Tiffany remained on her position, merely watching Jessica from afar with small tears epitomizing a
million emotions jumbled in her chest.
I waded pass the troubled waters, not knowing how I got there, Jessica declared after a minutes
tranquil silence. The peacefulness in the air made it possible to be decipherable in spite of the distance
between them. Slowly, Jessica turned around towards Tiffany, lips quivering and eyes in the verge of
tears. But I just went on, walking upon the mist regardless of the unknown peril that might swallow me
out of blue, and continued pacing in spite of the blurred destination I have. Im lost.
Tiffany couldnt contain herself anymore. The ground felt pleasingly damp as she fell to her knees,
shrugging the sadness off, as it kept stuck. They have no idea that it could be as enduring as this. The risk
they took was like jumping into an arena, engaging a battle with a dragon. Virtually unprepared, fighting
with a spoon. Yet, to the fact that death doesnt give a damn about their feelings, they dont care now
for they would do the same. Hell is non-existent. Heaven is where they held each other, and this
moment is clearly a portion of it.
Then all of a sudden, a beam of light shone over me, and I knew it was heaven, Miyoung. As Jessica
held her face up, there was a glorious ray of light caressing her face. A splendid sort of warmth ran down
on her veins, and finally, she riveted back to Tiffany uttering, I knew it was heaven coz youre there.
Tiffany let out a chuckle amidst of tears pouring down like a well. You corny, little monkey. I thought
the same way, too, Jess. Its quite unbelievable how much air Jessica has to utter those kinds of words
when Tiffanys out of breath just preparing to say how much she loves Jessica.
Jessica smiled, I believe that the corny ones, she paced across the puddle, wobbling slightly, back to
Tiffany, are actually the true ones. You taught me that, corny machine.
Tiffany sniggered.

Their conversation mostly consists of loud chuckles and ripple of laughter. Over the crackling fire and
under the dimming evening sky, their happy faces glowed above the flames. They casted each others
look, caught each others gaze and they will laugh again. One will start a fascinating story, the other
teases and will end up laughing again. It sounded boring and tirelessly repetitive, but to them, it best
described as filling the gauge again to full tank. Filling the emptiness
Im going back to Seoul tomorrow. When Tiffany found an ephemeral moment when she would be
able to tell that little snag without Jessica being disrupted from her merriment, Tiffany had went for the
kill. The outcome was sudden blue shading across Jessicas face that caused Tiffany a typical resentment.
So you still havent got your nose pierce? After a minutes stillness, Jessica got the pluck to redeem the
conversation its fire.
Thats a stupid lie, to be frank, giggled Tiffany, throwing a stick into the heart of the flames, causing
fiery speckles to fly up like red fireflies. But Ive seen boys their ear pierced.
So youve gotten a little socialization for yourself, havent you? Jessicas voice told something that is
more like a cross between jealousy and faux enthusiasm.
Trust me, Seoul kids are pampered little brats, said Tiffany, sensing the keenness from Jessica, and was
clever enough to avoid it. Shopping is what theyre good at.
Jessica sniggered loudly followed by Tiffanys laughter. Their voices reverberated across the lake, and
the surrounding trees looked pleased as they heaved towards the two a gust of oxygen. Tiffany was the
first one to catch it, and it passed through her nostrils into her lungs. Comfort ran down from her
pharynx and other tracks. Pain, on the contrary, struck Jessica with the prospect that by tomorrow, this
moment will come to its conclusion and her love for Tiffany will finally face its dead end.
Youre really going back to Seoul tomorrow? Tiffany was few feet close to Jessica, and Jessica had yet
another desire to fall down to her knees and beseech Tiffany not to leave her alone again. Nevertheless,
she knew that there is beyond of her personal longing and she must not interfere to it anymore. She had
been a burden to Tiffany all these time, and she wouldnt risk the time that is so precious, Tiffany can do
anything with it other than expending them with someone tainted.
I was that was planned, said Tiffany dismissive to herself. Jessica will understand; shes a brave and
an extremely understanding girl. But Jessica unexpectedly nodded to herself and shrugged with a sigh.
Again, Tiffanys heart was burned with regret.

Howre you these past few months? asked Tiffany in a voice wanting to break the piercing stillness
that evoked an uncanny discomfiture.
Jessica riveted her gaze towards the water that mirrored the starry veil enveloping the landscape
underneath. Telling a lie would be pretty obvious, if she casted a bogus assurance. But Tiffany would
understand, as much as Jessica had somewhat understood Tiffanys situation. This, sort of fired the guts
in Jessica and she found the exact second when she could tell Tiffany her true stand.
I dont wanna fight anymore. Fearing Tiffanys baffled gaze, she refocused to the fire, staring at its
gleaming profundity.
Whatre you talking about? Incredulous, Tiffany rose from the wooden and backless pew and threw
her bangs away for a clear view of the unexpectedly bold face gazing away. Unable to believe what she
just heard, she declined the passage of the specific information into her brain and had bestowed Jessica
a mere minute to explain more specifically why.
Cancer, murmured Jessica, starting to tear up and boldness fading away like the gray clouds drifting
out. Cancer of the genitalia. Seems like my stepdad doesnt go for a single torture. Thats why I fought
hard to make him pay for what he had done to me. But it wasnt easy. Hes a lawyer, remember? He has
some nice connections in the court. Thats why our lawyer had left no choice but to use our final and
only trump card. Regardless what will people think of me, I agreed to be the talking evidence and sole
witness. Then it unearthed itself, and they felt so disgusted but at the same time, pitiful so the tide
favored us. It was a long story. A particularly boring one.
It struck Tiffany like lightning. Cancer? Imagining how much pain Jessica had been barred in and fusing it
to what kind of dress Jessica is wearing, it appeared as though every pace was suffering. Now it became
clear to her. The bridge deceived her. The connection is nothing but a pure fraudulence tricking, like the
fates behavior towards them. Preposterous was the first word that came into her mind the moment
Jessicas statement registered itself onto her brain.
Yet, the look the Jessica, herself, suggest beyond the fact Tiffany denied. It was now sufficient to
straighten the nonsense with a solid truth: that Jessicas dying and there was more than torture killing
her. And acting stupidly is not helpful right now.
Youre Jess no The chaos whirled up again in her pit. When all this time, she always believed
Jessica had been waiting for her in a bright look and was about to greet her with, What took you so
long? Im healed! Completely healed! Except the last one, a grimly woven grin welcomed her. And that
teary smile in the prelude, it showed a dying wish granted.

I am, Tiff. Never thought it would be sooner, but the snag is expected, right? Jessica forced a chuckle
despite the tears brimming at the corner of her eyes. Tiffany slumped back to her seat, still in profound
Remembering what Jessica whispered to her moments ago, she pinned her angry gaze at Jessica. There
was only disappointment bubbling beneath her surface. So generally, Jessica had now given up because
its hard. No matter where Tiffany looked and thought in different kinds of view, its still pathetic.
Jessica the strong Tiffany craved to know what kind of stupidity had struck Jessica to submit so
diabolically easy. She felt missing something. Tiffany thought shes missing the whole point. Does Jessica
love her? Or perhaps, all this time, shed been lying to Tiffany! It sounded so very nonsense, but it came
to ask herself what pathetic reason Jessica has come up with suddenly raising the white flag.
In blazing disbelief, Tiffany demanded Jessica a reason. Then what had you won, loser? Youre already
giving up, you cowardly
Those words were foreboded but Jessicas answer was already prepared as well.
Im not giving up. In fact, I knew I won coz you came back, said Jessica and despite the grimness on her
voice, it was sincere as a knight swearing an oath, I dunno but you being here again, I think my prize
have finally come therefore... I win.
Tiffany seemed lost for words.

Chapter Fifteen: Last

What happened? Uttered between repressed sobs and stricken shudders, Tiffanys heart was
drowned: tragically overwhelmed by unseen grief that had her heart bleeding. Her sight penetrated
through the clouds, where an eternal actuality appeared as though moaning with her pitifully. You! You
have no idea! The words rang with pain caused by a relentless emotional lashing. I I She fell to her
knees, with a loud thud that almost cracked her kneecap, and she rested her eyes on the ground, tears
trickling to the black earth like drizzles on a particularly sad morning. I just wanna be happy.

Dawn had evoked a cold ambience the moment Tiffany gradually elbowed the main entrance
of their house. It hummed open as she trod towards the tiled portico; the crisp morning breeze
bestowed by dewed trees greeted her in such gratifying manner she couldnt bear but to smile. Their
leaves glittered through the reflection of imperfect glow from the ghostly light coming from the equally
imperfect early sky.
She remained rooted on the steps, as she savored Kangwondos air like the way she relished the
atmosphere yesterday. At that same moment, she also thought of Jessica.
Disappointment and resentment concocted deep inside her, and she could sense the bubbling guilt from
not being with Jessica all the time. Like rounding up together fragments of an unfinished dream, she
pondered the wasted four months and what would happen if she had stayed with her. Jessica mightve
come up with a real motivation.
But the problem is Tiffany left her. If she hadnt gone away in the first place, the whole burden wouldnt
have fallen on Jessicas already tired shoulders. Once more, Tiffany had acted selfish when she couldve
stand firm and fought for what she feels, what she wants and what truly is worth fighting.
With the sense whomping her straight in the face, her fist clenched with regret. In her mind, she could
see Jessicas withering state: the sad smile she hadnt done anything to brighten up. Just then, she
recalled what Jessica had mentioned back on their unpleasant luncheon at the lake. The fight was over
because I came back. To Tiffany, it sounded as though Jessica can finally rest now that Tiffanys here,
albeit ephemeral. Would Jessica resume the fight when I would be gone? Would that sound a lot more
selfish letting her fight the battle alone than leaving her for four months? Would that be beneficial for
both us?
It is trust and love at its most profound. Relying to the connection would be the safest choice and
sacrificing is one of the most effective ways to trigger the bond. Therefore, while one is away, the other
would have a purpose to remain standing because she knew it was a responsibility, and thats when the
link will play its part. The special bridge would galvanize a different kind of communication only they can
manipulate. And if theres constant communication between the two souls, there will be no more
worries and there will be trust. And a trust empowered by love will fuel the connection. It was all a chain,
and its pristine beauty is undeniable. Not to mention that when the reunification occurred, the fruit of
the crop is Jessicas existence there to cherish it and feel it in her flesh as though a bittersweet wound.
Yet, can she, Jessica, survive the test of endurance when she has both HIV and cancer?
The boiling remorse transformed into a streak of pity on that precise minute. As Tiffany ambled towards
the yard, with tears cascading like falls, she felt the cruelty of the world to Jessica. How can a person be
so unfortunate?

Tiffany thought of the agony Jessica heroically bears; how she can still muster a smile even if it is
obviously bleak. The sensation can be a million fold excruciating than just imagining the pain like Tiffany
was doing, yet Jessica had managed an expression even if it had hardly conveyed a feeling of gratitude
for Tiffanys return, but the expression was there, the wince subtle and smile forcefully stuck. It totally
amazed Tiffany. In respond, amidst of the barely expressed gratification, Tiffany had sought for that
speckle that summarized all the things Jessica can do just to make Tiffany happy. And just in the center
of the oppressive cloud enshrouding Jessicas exhausted eyes, she had found the tiny twinkle.
A tender feeling crept over her veins, and she knew it was love.
I thought I might have a glimpse of you before you part. Someones voice broke her reverie with a
mellifluous resonance reverberating in the middle of the morning stillness. Jessica stood at the depths of
the early morning haze, her image blurred but the love she emanated; Tiffany could capture its warmth.
Jessica walked closer while at the same time, Tiffany was in the verge of crying. As Jessica finally came
into view, Tiffany found herself staring at the ghostly appearance of the other part of her soul. You look
like you hadnt slept, she pointed out. Jessica wore a white evening gown that had exaggerated the
ghostly feel to Tiffanys eyes.
How am I supposed to sleep when I knew you would be leaving without me saying goodbye? Make
sense, for the last time, Jessicas voice was as clear as her old self Tiffany can still remember. Because
of this, a mad coveting to run towards Jessica took over her body.
It was unbearable. No, it was oblivion. An extremely blissful one.
She sprinted to Jessica, the ground mushy under her sandaled feet, and she strangled Jessica with a hug
so idyllic, so heavenly that it deeply incorporated the ambience of the ethereal morning with their
embrace. A contradictory of the fire inside them to the coldness of the atmosphere. A symbol that only
depicts one thing: that even in the middle of this cruelty, they have found a way to seal a hug. It felt so
pleasing to them; Tiffany swayed Jessica like two lovers frenzied with affection to each other.
Put me down, for gods sake, Jessica giggled and Tiffany set her down with a thud from the grassed
yard. You shouldve done that yesterday.
I just remembered how much you mean to me, Jess, Tiffany thought. Imkind of?
Shocked? Hahaha, laughed Jessica, her head tilted together with a knowing look. Ive expected that,
you know. Ive been preparing for it the moment you left. Perhaps Im kind of diligent when it comes to
this kind of stuffs. Her sight focused to the ground, and abruptly Tiffany grabbed her arms, grasping it

Dont lose hope, Jess. Im always waiting for the moment this will all end, said Tiffany rosily, her great
curvy eyes glimmering and unusually wide with earnest. I cant even possibly think the fact that you
wanted to give up when you were always strong. You always protected me from almost anything
troublesome! To her, Jessica is a fortress. But to Jessicas view, it was Tiffany who had done many
things for their sake.
I told you, I aint giving up, Jessica said a little rudely. And Im not strong, Miyoung-ah. Together with
that appendage, a tear ran down on Jessicas cheeks, and that drop is a confessing sort. Perhaps I am
when Im with you. But to be honest now, Im genuinely incapable of dealing with this. She could feel
the burning agony under her skin brought by the abnormal tissues intensified by HIV. But this must be
tolerated. This must be bear. For Tiffany
Hold on tight, Jess. Were about to fly after this. Both of us.
And their lips touched. Their bodies had melted and had mingled to a one soulful existence. The pain
faded away. Tears dried up. The love within burned higher and warmer than ever. Their hearts felt as
though nudging to each other, as they are so close. Every thud, were messages of love. Every
synchronized beat were fulfillment of the wild yearning for love. And the prospect of the disease were
cinders of a bad dream. But all they have right now is faith.
Jessicas breath is Tiffanys breath. Jessicas pain is Tiffanys pain. They could perceive the connection
embodying the years of their affection, from the mean Jessica to a more courageous persona, from the
whining Tiffany to a more definite person. How they had fledged to what they are now, is a gift of their
love. The love that will forever blossom as long one will stay and continue believing. One may leave, its
inevitable but the one who was left behind will bear their mark. And to Tiffany, she will be proud to
sport it until eternity
When they will reunite again.
The sun was finally up; its majesty unwavered despite the thick clouds attempt to obscure it from view.
Hovering peacefully in the perfect morning sky, the clusters of cumulus will be hopeless befogging the
traversing resplendent of the ideal spring sun. Dawns typically early mist is now non-existent
underneath the glimpsing rays. The green grass was plethora, twinkling by the morning dew as it
reflected the magnificent beams of light. That luminosity damped their faces with a warm touch: it must
be from someone who watched them with such enthusiasm. Someone up there who was fond of them
despite the sufferings, the obstacles He had bestowed. He pondered more deeply and wondered what
the world would look like if every corners of it there were love. Love as powerful and as unbearable as
Tiffany and Jessicas. Would that serve as an adequate source of bliss? Or would it be yet another reason
for a lifetime test on how far love would take you?

Jessica knelt down but still holding Tiffanys hands. The warm winds embraced them for a moment until
Jessicas soft sob resonated. A sob between joy and sadness. Im sorry, Miyoung. This time, she
apologized, and Tiffany felt the words penetrating her skin towards her heart. It was a blissful kind of
No, Jess. I
Miyoung-ah, Jessica shook her head as she cut in, Ive been such a burden. All these time Ive only
given you pain. She shuddered as she uttered those words. Her every shrugs were echoing pity to
Jess, she crouched down and raised Jessicas head. Those eyes sparkled. The pale cheeks once again
retained its crimson, and it was soft as cushion. It concluded that the frail appearance was a mere
optical illusion. The texture of Jessicas cheeks, as Tiffany ran her index finger in the same manner as
yesterday: it was the same. And the smile. Jess Ive made a pact with you. Youre never a burden to
me. Youre my happiness. Yes, Jess. Rant it around for its corniness, but its true and you cant get a
comment any sincerer than that because thats what I truly feel. You make me happy. So please, Jess,
dont lose hope. Well get through this, okay? Did I promise wed gonna get this through? I cant do that
without your help. Promise me, Jess. I need you to promise something again.
Jessica slowly stared away. Tears resumed pouring as she shrugged and hiccupped like a small kid. But to
Tiffanys arms, she is a small kid. Oh, how I loved those arms, Jessica thought. How she felt so protected
leaning against it. Miyoung-ah What if I didnt manage to hold on, will you forsake me?
Tiffany sensed the hesitation upon taking the oath. That uncertainty is not about doubt, but more
deeply between an imminent broken vow and a vague path Jessica would pace the moment Tiffany left.
Jessica now knew as a fact that she wouldnt persevere against the foreboding force that had slowly
weakened her body. Anytime, she would have to go on. She was just not that sure if she would be able
to keep such big promise as Tiffany requested.
Jess Tiffanys arm slid around Jessicas neck and heaved her to her bosom. I dont want to go. In fact,
I can choose to stay with you. But I knew you would disagree.
Jessica gazed up in deep awe. Since when has Tiffany been this knowing? It took her a mere second to
remember the connection between them, and it painted an impressed smile across her face. You
knew? Youre so funny Tiffany was actually right. Only a quarter of Jessica wanted Tiffany to stay
while most of it would definitely insist. Miyoung, if I told you to stay, you would?
A grin responded that question. Jess, I knew you more than your mother and father does and I gotta
say that you will never, ever, show yourself being this that Jessica urged her on.that weak. Even if

I say yes, you would still kick my butt out and you will mind your own business. Tiffany felt like gasping
a mouthful of air but simply halted a stare against Jessicas gaze.
Unpredictably after a minute of an intense eye contact, Jessica laughed really hard that she fell on the
ground, pressing an arm against her stomach as she rolled around. Tiffany looked especially speechless.
Hahaha you really hahaha Jessica chortled out her heart yet deep inside she found herself
holding back a wail of sadness. For a moment, she thought she had lost her screw until Tiffany had
joined her uncanny merriment. In her mind, she yelled, Yes, lets just laugh it out, Jess! Hahaha
Their giggles were the only resonance by the day that had officially started. The two warriors merely
laughed. And laughed and laughed until most of their energy are drained. They had slumped over the
Hwangs grass bed; reeling with bogus happiness that had bitterly masked the sadness expressed
through tears they thought had come from joy. Lying spread-eagled across the lawn, they gazed towards
the bright sky. It seemed that both of them had never appreciated the beauty of it. They were so
engrossed to the snag; they had forgotten the splendor of the landscape. The magic was that it breathed
an air through the suffocation of pressure brought by forced promise that was fulfilled to be broken,
pressure brought by incurable diseases hopelessly fought and pressure brought by the nearing
departure. But by seeing the wide, outlying sky and savoring the cool breeze, it provided a breathing
space for them. Space where they can just gawp at each other, held each others hand and smile at each
other even so pathetically and childishly.
This is the last, they knew. And as Tiffany had waved her goodbye, Jessica couldnt help it anymore.
Despite the thought of running towards the bus Tiffany had ridden in, Jessica merely knelt down. Lips
quivering and eyes welling with emotion, she wondered how many months she still has. Maybe a year,
but it was still imprecise as of the moment (or more likely, she feared that it still has to come like a
brewing storm). Turning away from that subject, her sight fell down to her bare palm, where Tiffanys
warmth is still as fresh as the dew from the nearby thicket, and she remembered the fight she still had
to cope with.
Never lose hope, Jessica Jung. Youre not alone, she told herself.
And as her head slowly swung up, she saw from afar: the bus had halted and Tiffany was dashing along
the road, back to her.

Chapter Sixteen: Autumn

I have known that words are insufficient to tell how much I mean to you, said Tiffany in a broken tone
and angst caging her freedom to acceptance. But Jess, you couldve just at least told me your goodbye.
You couldve just yelled it to me, right into my ear so I can feel the emphasis of it. But all you had left is
that smile. Her arduous breath moistened the embedded glass. Her eyes welled with emotion as her
sight traversed through the panel. Her legs trembled. Every inch of her skin trembled. However, the pain
was beyond of any expressing.

The spring passed by with the knowing of the truth. The summer began with painted smiles
and fake laughs. Then it passed by with energies drained and physical condition battered than ever. And
the autumn began with dried leaves teeming across Kangwondos Medical Centers garden. A sea of red
can be overviewed when one peeked by the protruding balcony. In addition to this fiery landscape, was
the complimentary crisp breeze breathed by the northern winds. These chilly zephyrs blew Tiffanys
bangs up the moment she ambled towards the overhang and rested her tired arms on the balustrade.
She had been stirring Jessicas special porridge (with ingredients including all of her favorites like dried
seaweed), and after catching a small break, she took the time inhaling some real fresh air rather than
the oxygen heated by the puffing heater.
University exams will start tomorrow and its a necessity to attend. Confident all these time, she felt no
worries with answering fifty medical questions. Learning everything while she had agreed to stay in the
hospital has been a total convenience and perfect advantage for the upcoming test. So with these and
Jessicas amazing goads, she knew that entering University of Koreas Medical school is nothing more
than just a piece of cake.
The metal banister clunk against her shoed foot as she playfully banged the tip to the ornamented
aluminum baluster, a lame anti-excitement that has been flooding her like lake. While the banging
clanged with vibrating sound, a hum from her tightly closed lips melodically danced with the winds as it
kept on brushing her forehead, flying her bangs up. The tune was clear through the stillness of the place,
of the tranquility under the orange-tinted sky as the wispy cirrus drift far-flung on the firmament.
And amidst of this peaceful occupation of her beauty-drawn reverie, a groan disrupted her and had
pulled her back from the blowing winds that had literally took her soul away for a jiff. The noise could
only mean one thing: Jessicas awake.
Six months of chemotherapy, twelve different kinds of medicine before and after each meal, Dr. Kims
magic salad that only made Jessica wanted to puke over it, and virtual bolstering Tiffany gave for her;
Tiffany had a sudden vibe Jessica will die overdosed and of indurated nourishing just to stay healthy for
the next month, which for some amazing pessimist as Tiffany, would turn fiasco by just staring at
Jessicas medical stand. No improvements had shone towards the vagueness. And if there is a little
change, its that Jessica had rather wanted to sleep than to expend a handful of her vigor swimming in
the lake like she used to. They dont know if they chose this this way, but for one thing, theyre sure:
despite of Tiffanys decision of staying (with excuses to her father like telling him shes still amidst of
researching for the exam) with Jessica, things arent going well as they had expected. In full despising,
Tiffany wanted to spat to the cruelness brought by huge machines and laser beams roasting Jessica to
death. She could see the pain from her, and it was intolerable as she could ever imagine even though
Jessica tried struggled really hard to keep it furtive in front of Tiffanys keen observing eyes. Yet, at times,
the pain tends to get a little insufferable; she couldnt keep it but to murmur a muffled scream.

But to her idyllic amazement, Tiffany was there to wipe the trickling tears, to hinder the sad emotions
flowed within and implied.
Tiffany stepped in, and Jessica was gazing sideways, traversing the lucid panel with a craving sight failed
to quench because of the seclusion endowed by her disease. Im starving. Her voice was a little
croaky, rather more like a person with sore throat than the typical groggily-awaken hoarseness.
A smile curved at the corner of Tiffanys lips, and a sudden torrent of affection swallowed her like a
tsunami. The prospect again of leaving tomorrow somewhat made this small scene bittersweet. Yet,
their love always finds a way. No matter what the situation is or how crucial the point is, their love
always finds a way.
Ive brought a bowl of porridge Ive made from home. Tiffany flashed a grin as bright as the afternoon
sky beaming grandly, its rays in dazzling spotlight upon the rooms tiled floor. She strode towards her
bag ensconced on a basic wooden chair beside a small round table where a bouquet of tulips vased
centerpiece. Whilst Tiffany rummaged her bag, Jessicas attention riveted outside. Her expression, on
the first look, was rigid yet, when delved deeper, it seemed abysmal, sucked by a non-existent reverie.
In her mind, flashbacks played repeatedly: scenes of adolescence, of struggles, of senselessness, of
stupidity and of knowing. In fairness to Tiffany, it had long since Jessica had accepted the fact that shes
bound to go on. But on the contrary to Tiffany, Jessica had never realized a life without each other.
Utmost pity struck her. That, she thought, was a fair question: what would happen to Tiffany when shes
But Tiffany was stronger than her! She did many sacrifices for them, and even agreeing to her fathers
demand so that she could furnish an ideal future with Jessica regardless of the months she would be
away! Yet just yet this is a different case. This is a matter between life and death, of love and regret,
of blurred prospects and optimistic outcomes. She merely heaved a sigh.
Tiff, she murmured, cmere. She gestured Tiffany closer.
The beckon was responded by a perplexed look and sudden strode towards the beckoner. What?
Staring straight to Jessicas eyes, Tiffany wondered.
Its beautiful isnt it? Jessica smiled reminiscently. The shadow of the disease was like a mirror of
eternal suffering to Tiffany, and she could perceive it right now.
What? she repeated, anxiety subtly masked with naivety.
Jessicas head fell sideways, pointing the view outside, where moments ago, had drowned Tiffany with
magnificent sepia. Slowly, Tiffany followed the indication. The sky was blotted by wisps. However, an

eerie feeling of sadness and prospective departure seemed to express right now, with the sky blotted by
wisps. Tiffany earnestly refocused to Jessica, who was still engrossed by the autumn firmament; it
paralleled the glow to the profound stare of what seemed to be enlightenment.
Its beautiful, isnt it? The thought that tomorrow, youll gonna wake up and you will feel the sun on
your face, said Jessica as though she had fought a battle just to keep the emotion furtive on that
statement. Ever so gradually, she swung back to Tiffany and implied a sad smile.
Tears started to form on Tiffanys eyes. Heart started bleeding. Lips began to form in a fake grin. A quip
must be thrown in. A quip a simple joke a simple joke that will make this conversation positive.
But it was fiasco.
Standing beside the bed and in eye lock, tears fought their way out in brimming cascades of sadness.
Shrugging every breath, she felt her heart throbbed ten times faster. Her face turned scarlet, and with a
quiet finality, she fell to her knees. For some unknown reason, she could sense this moment as a
goodbye. Composure was set aside. Emotions had unleashed from its six months of curb.
Its beautiful, Jess. Thats why you gotta hold on tight. The fights not over. That statement was
uttered against the wild covet of screaming her misery out, of verbalizing the agony held back.
I wanna see something beautiful. Jessica remained sporting the same, sadly woven face. The tiny
black book mother had brought for me mentioned that above the clouds was a far more beautiful
place. In straight face, Jessica submitted. Ill be off soon, Tiff.
Tiffany had lost pace on what shes about to say. She merely sunk her face towards Jessicas foam bed.
Pain writhed in her like a burning monster yawning fire in the pit of her stomach. A sad symphony
played in her ear, and flashbacks replayed: remnants of happy memories of two smiling kids dancing
under the rain, climbing trees on a bright, summer day, and putting up snowmen as they laughed to
themselves; on that hollow room, where Jessicas closing eyes and Tiffanys shuddering were the only
sights, the shimmering connection had proved unbreakable. The past happenings made it invulnerable
to the lashes of death, of grim, of grief, of sadness, of diseases and of a promise in imminent fiasco. But
what would happen if the connection is broken?
Jessica, Tiffany murmured the name of her love, of her forever love, of the girl she will never forget.
Jessica She could go a million years saying the name over and over again without getting weary. The
epithet was her love. Love that burned higher than any mountains, stronger than a million legions, and
would last beyond infinity. Jessica, the porridge
A soft snore was hearable. A stricken moan was also hearable. However, the link between the two souls
cannot be perceived by anyone but them, and now, it emitted warmth, hotter than the artificial heat

provided by the heater, more glorious than the afternoon beams of light, and much soothing than any
embraces. But then, it was just for themselves.
Tiffany, answered Jessica back in tone barely a whisper. From the cushions where Tiffany had dunked
her face, she rose her head up and gazed at Jessicas sleeping visage reflecting a million sufferings
endured, thousands of battle won and gave up, and a sacrifice she would willing to do to make the girl
beside her smile. Tiffany, what are the difference between you and a rabbit hiding from a fox under a
mushroom? droned Jessica. This one last quip this final message to make Tiffany happy touched
Jessicas lip with a bittersweet taste, a concoction of sadness and comfort.
And her wish has been granted. Eyes half-closed, she saw a smile spread across Tiffanys wet face, and
the chinky eyes curved in a false happiness, with the iris glittering with emotion. Her nose reddened and
cheeks those soft cheeks shaded in a rosy crimson, perhaps of the sadness hindered. The pink lips
pursed as though some adhesive material had been stuck between just to hamper a wail of sadness.
Difference between me and a rabbit? her voice was stifled by unending sadness. Her smile was bogus.
Her expression doesnt imply to what she truly feels. And yet, she rummaged in her brain a stupid
answer while still bearing the same grin. Rabbit hiding under a mushroom a rabbit wont fit a
mushroom. If its concealing from the predators, then the hiding place is lame. Difference between
Tiffany and a dumb rabbit? Tiffany contemplated and contemplated when finally she felt the
message running down on her veins. I face the predators her voice faded as her sight fell on Jessica,
who brandished a grin and a tiny nod. The recognition has finally fledged. Shes free to sleep now
In a glorious finality, Jessica Jungs eyes came into shut.

It was a bright afternoon when Jessica died. It was also the start of winter, and the day after the
boarding happened, the first snow poured in a grieving deceleration of hexagonal crystal confetti.
Jessicas last search of beauty was quenched from where she is now. And as Tiffany gazed towards the
cloudy firmament, alone, under an ash tree after the funeral, she thought of many things. Things
considered now as part of a past she will forever sport like a badge. Everywhere she would go, she will
always think of the past. Every moment she has, she will always think of the past. The past when she
had been truly happy.
The sky wasnt as majestic as it usually was. Clouds hovered boringly; its grayness had added
considerable amount of lamentation to the atmosphere. The tweeting birds sang a stricken lay, in a
distressing harmony. The winds whispered condolences. And there was no light. Few meters from where
she stood together with the ash tree, was Jessicas burial mound. The scent of jasmine, where a bouquet
of it laid in front of the mound, was carried by the zephyrs and had reached Tiffanys nose. On that

instance, vigor crumbled. A mad desire to fall down to her knees and cry her heart out gradually
brimmed in her.
But pain was shed through conversing to herself.
This is Miyoung.
Her voice resonated across the stillness. She rested her sight on the meadow: on a sight dreaded by
autumn, ruined by fresh winter. The ground was crumbly; it crunched under her feet. The trees
encircling Jessicas laying site, lamented with her in rustles expressing their own commiseration. Their
voices, Tiffany could hear it whispering
When starlight falls, Jess you will guide me right?
Literally, shes in the chasm of pitch-black nothingness, with no helping hand offering to salvage her
from this void. Shes alone and scared.
And no one responded her inquisition.
Im alone and scared, Jess.
That verbalized conveying was from pain, from loneliness, from not having someone to comfort her. Her
heart thudded heavily, and her breath slowly turned arduous. Acceptance seemed nowhere. For she
believed that Jessica was still there, in an ethereal existence above her. The connection, though not as
perceivable as before, she could still feel its actuality. For she believed that Jessica was still there
watching behind the clouds, staring down at her.
You know how much I loved you, Jessica Jung.
Eyes pinned towards the sky, tears trickled, running down to her temples as she held her face up. The
six-by-two pleat was windblown and ruffled as it fell down. The pink cardigan she sport draped her skin
with uncomfortable warmth. But she was still numb. It was as though shes in a different shell, and she
wont ever get used to it. She was numbed
Why did you leave?
The question was childish. But her pursuit of acceptance was a large fraction. She wanted to accept the
bitter truth. She wanted to escape in this caged realm of anguish. She wanted to be with Jessica again.
She wanted to back on the lake, on times when the weather was okay; on times when everything was
okay: times when okays are paralleled with a guarantee of an eternity for each other. You said you will
be with even if there are no more heroes.

Sensing the vulnerability without Jessica, she shuddered to crying again as she fell to the ground,
kneeling. She never felt as weak as this. It was like loosing the sense of hope, the sense of power and the
motivation to accept the verity of the cycle of life. The will to live vanished to thin air, as Jessicas soul
departed from her body. The lost of the other half of her soul and its excruciating consequence, she felt
it against her flesh, a burning pain, an unbearable agony. This might be the same sensation Jessica has
been obliged to bear when Tiffany left her. Now Tiffany felt the shame of what she had done.
Then the wind murmured a testimony. The warm message, Tiffany felt it as it tear on her face, causing
her hair to be blown backwards, rippling. The tears, it was slowly being wiped. The misery, it was slowly
being eased. The loneliness, it was slowly being occupied.
She loved Jessica all her life. She loved Jessicas smile, expressions, voice and mannerism. She loved
Jessicas eyes, nose and lips. She loved Jessicas dorky side, but she loved the serious aspect even more.
She had loved Jessica the moment she laid eyes on her. She loved Jessica even though Jessica had been
mean to her. She loved her even though Jessica had been keeping things just to herself. Things like pain,
disappointment, direness and Chinese dumplings. She had loved Jessica all her life.
A life without her meant living a life without life. Four months of longing, Tiffany came back. Six
months of fighting, Jessica headed off. Now Tiffany doesnt know where to begin, or confused whether
there is still a beginning after the end. She doesnt know what to do she needed Jessica even more.
Every second that passed by, she had craved for Jessica. Every minute that went on, she had longed for
Jessica. To Jessica, every walk was a physical torture. To Tiffany, every second is an emotional torment.
Drizzle fell. Thin drops of icy water fell above her head. Fumes puffed from her mouth, as she trembled
on her feet. But it wasnt enough to express what turmoil she has in her right now. The chaos the
sadness no expression is sufficient to imply what she felt. How much will it take to overcome this
She filled her heads with a desperate persuasion. This is a just a nightmare. That she was on the lake,
with a smiling girl doing backstrokes across the water. With the girl who once said that in order to
achieve the ideal equilibrium the coldness has denied, she must first become one with the water. With
the girl who once said, she foreboded Tiffanys departure to Seoul. With the girl whom Tiffany had made
a pact with. A promise that the sought happiness is each other and no more.
But shes alone now. Despite her struggles to plaster in her head that this was all a figment of her
imagination, the pain seemed to intensify even more as it got appended by the fact that her happiness
has gone off. Maybe things werent surreal, as she reckoned. Jessica was really gone. There were no
more heroes.

Chapter Seventeen: Always

All that has happened to me, I knew I shouldnt be forgetting about those. When I was being dragged by
those scenes, its when I am trying to turn my back on you when I fully understand that those remnants
are the happiest moments of my life. I guess moving on isnt that simple. It was like indulging yourself to
more torments, said Tiffany in front of a grassy mound. The jasmine she held glittered freshly, its purple
petals wet and reflecting the rays creeping through the ash trees leafy shade. Jessicas name was etched
on a marble set in front of the mound. Tiffany had a desire to place another for herself.

The bus ride home took at least two hours. Gunning towards the thoroughfare, a nostalgic reflecting
back in the days when Jessicas existence occupied most of Tiffanys soul seemed to reel back, like an old
sad film. Sitting on the far corner of the bus, Tiffany Hwangs sight penetrated the lucid windowpane
beside her and stared at the springs landscape, where cherry blossoms showered snowy petals upon

the road. A song appeared to resonate for each swirls as the bus tore across the thoroughfare. A
symphony of rejoice for her return. It has been five years. Five long years of struggles to start a new
Like fresh wound searing on her flesh, every scene that nostalgically ran back in her was a soft torture.
Over and over again, she thought of Jessica without even bothering that shes nowhere in sight now, or
whether she couldnt feel her existence at times. It was a torture. And her smiles are sour grapes of the
acceptance imprecise.
The bus came into halt in front of a stop, where the last scenes of horror and of love took place. The first
step towards the ground crumbling under her feet is like an explosion of memories. It has been the bare
witness of her previous struggles; of anything she can do for Jessica, and the implosion of that sudden
pondering had conjured sadness in her heart enough for tears to cascade on that precise moment.
Yet, this is just the first mark. The second place would definitely not just rain her with dj vu, but the
latter would absolutely transfer her back onto those days.
Like the bus ride from Seoul to where she is right now, her solitary pacing to the town took almost half
of her day. Still, drifting her eyes across the scenery had somewhat enchanted her miserable heart. She
found herself delimited by the heaven craved by any urban folks: under the cloud-obstructed sky, were
vast of soybean and rice fields. The shade of green it cloaked upon the earth, and accentuated by happy
faces tending them, was dulcet in the eyes, she couldnt bear but to smile. The road that cut between
the fields, as Tiffany ran an eye over it, seemed will lead her to the end of this journey, to a blissful
And Jessica might be waiting for her there.
Heaving herself a huge gulp of air, she tore up sporting a grin of craving, expecting believing. More
than surely, Jessica was at the end of the road, and all she, Tiffany, must do is to sprint her way back to
Jessicas arms. This was true because the sudden tingle of excitement, as she usually felt when Jessica
waited for her before, she felt it tickling under her skin. Jessica is at the end of the road Then she
would be happy again
Exactly amidst of the frantic sprinting, she froze to her tracks in exclaiming abruptness. Then tears
rivered slowly across her cheeks and a hushed thud resonated as she knelt down again, unaware that
her kneecap might be fractured by her occasional genuflection. The stoop ensued to a sob, followed by a
stifled moan and, ultimately, of sudden reminiscing of Jessica.
The conveying of the silent torture resounded in muffled words of plea. Jess come back to me. The
statement was foolish enough to be highly sentimental and emotional, together with an optical illusion
of Jessica flickering in the nothingness. But Jessica was gone. She wont be coming back. Ever.

And when the sense of that hit her, a tall wave seemed to swallow her, drowning her with longing that
will never be met. It has been five years yet she was still like this: nothing more but a broken doll beyond
repair. Even with full knowledge that she supposed to be pulling herself together, the feat was
ridiculously unfeasible without Jessicas help. She was Tiffanys hero, her savior, the guide when starlight
falls, the sword and the shield the other half of her soul.
After gathering herself up a bit, she resumed pacing the road and just absorbed herself to reflecting
Jessicas memories, the happiest she could muster. And as she did in the next hours, she found herself
expressionlessly faltering the sidewalk of the town, with people eyeing her oddly. But she dont give a
damn about it. She used to be loners, with Jessica, in their own little world. In their own surreal planet
where they talk and laugh and cry their sadness out. They had learned to empathize only to each
other; they had learned themselves their purposes; and they had learned themselves how to smile
during the bitterest times of their lives. Only Jessicas death had drawn the line and had secluded Tiffany
from that place again. Seems like the unconquerableness their link had endowed was ineffective when
the others gone.
Sadness welled again on her eyes; pain prickled on her physical self until she saw herself in front of the
red bean cake stand, she and Jessica always loved.
Despite the tears glimmering, a smile tore between the reigning emotions, providing a momentary bliss
concocted together with the recollections of adolescence reeling back. Two short kids were fighting over
the last carp-shaped bread, and the brown-haired one found herself losing to the small, pompous-like
girl in mushroom-shaped hair. The old woman smiled at the both of them, and the pompous girl decided
to split the precious cake to share with her brown-haired companion. Those were happy times
As the present Tiffany took a step closer to the stand, she noticed something: the old woman that used
to be frying the cakes was replaced by a lanky ahjumma in astonishing resemblance of the previous
owner but only with black hair.
How much is it for the cake? said Tiffany, her voice stifled and eyes slightly puffy. There was a trace of
knowing in her voice, and a hint of inquisition about the the previous red bean cake seller.
The ahjumma flashed a kind smile. 1000 won for four, my dear. The oil bubbled as soon as she toppled
down a fresh batch of red bean cakes into the wok.
Tiffany groped for her wallet and drew five 1000-won bill. Twenty pieces, please. Before the full
awareness on how in earth is she going to eat all of those cake without getting an upset stomach, she
had already passed the bills.

For kids? They loved this. But business isnt the same because they prefer my mothers recipe. The
ahjumma smiled sadly, as she pocketed the bills and started packing the cakes. Tiffany snatched one
from the pile.
Can I eat this now? The ahjumma nodded and Tiffany almost hastily took a bite over the cake. The
taste seemed different yet it wasnt a hinder for memories fighting their way back into her sentimental
luncheon. As she gnawed and chewed, the image of the two girls kept on playing back over and over
Wheres the old owner, by the way? She asked politely after a mouthful and abruptly stopping her
midday reverie. The sun was valiantly up, and she hadnt had any lunch. She thought this is the perfect
moment for scoffing.
The woman passed her the huge pack of cakes, hesitating a bit towards answering Tiffanys question.
But that wouldnt hurt, she thought. With a little quiver from her brows, she began.
My mother died last year. The cursed epidemic, I hope there are enough doctors to help us. But what
could I do? Thats the way it was. And to the fact that it was my mothers time, all I can do is to just
accept it. She had already lived most of her life, anyway. I think shes happy now, said the old woman
with eyes getting a little teary. Her story clenched Tiffanys heart, and her innards felt as though had
been pummeled by an unseen force. The lifes cycle that tells a fact that everyone or rather
everything has to end and has its own ending it kept Tiffany flustered. When can she understand this
circle? When shes in the brink of death? When she suffered a little more bitterly? When she meditated
under a tree? When she accepts Jessicas death?
She left the store carrying a bag of steaming red bean cakes, anxious expression etched across her
ethereally subdued face, and a chasm left to be uncovered.

And when she finally reached the end of the cliff, staring at the large pool of glittering waters under the
nostalgic afternoon sky, for a jiff, she thought of an existence smiling beside her. Declining down, she
merely stared towards the cloaking velvet shaded by the pale wisps of cirrus and painted with majestic
beams from the sun itself. Through times like this, she always recollects memories like plucking flowers
on a fine, spring day: each blossoms make her smile, each withered ones make her sad. That moment,
she considered picking the withered ones.
It has been five long years since Jessicas death. The wings they intended to stick on their back so they
could soar across the sky they both loved, death screwed it. The future they both had put up for an ideal
happiness sufficient for a lifetime, Jessicas submission brought it to a grief-struck closure. The meadow

they planned to trod onto, despite of the worlds promise atrocities full-fledged like thorns concealed
beneath the Bermuda, the meadow it shattered.
Quivering as she remembered all the plans now remnants of a delusion dreamt up by two naive
juveniles, she couldnt bear but to feel the pain again. Its repetitive the lashes, its relentless.
She rose from her cynical soliloquy, and took a step closer to the edge. Her sight drifted down into the
steep, and the typical aerophobia seemed to be nowhere. Instead, the rippling water was a silent
coaxing song indulging her.
Jess Im not strong.
But she had said those words only in her mind. And its true. Right now, shes pathetic as a doll. Right
now, shes lost. Right now, Jessicas promised guidance was absent. Only fear, pain, broken vows,
disappointments all in a mixture that fabricated the deepest sorrow, unbearable. The five years of
searching was a failure. Jessica was still gone. She was nowhere. The chain between their hearts, Tiffany
couldnt sense it. It was gone. Totally gone. With Jessicas soul
On that precise second, she saw an image of a girl paddling on the lake wearing the ethereal expression
that seemed implying cosmic consciousness. Tiffany peered closer and from the streak of blond and
layered pleat: it was Jessica.
She was calling her down
She was calling her back
She will ease her pain
She will repair the fraught she selfishly left
They will become one again
Like Tiffany had always wanted to
Feet stepping in the air, Tiffany motioned closer. The fear of heights surfaced. She found herself heart
throbbing and breaths being drawn heavily as she withdrew.
But she remembered what Jessica had once told her. She must close her eyes and feel the warmth on
her face for she was about to fly with Jessica now. Forever until they were both tired and would

perch back on this place. Then they will fly again ad infinitum across the sky, prodding each other and
feeling each others existence Jessica was calling her they were about to fly.
Eyes shut, Tiffany took a pluck of courage and leapt towards the air, the wind dabbing her face with
slight chill.
Ill be with you again, Jess. Im coming for you.
With a huge splash, Tiffany Hwangs body submerged into the abyss.

It was a balmy spring day. Kids played under the sun, whereon clouds veiled portions. It was truly, a
pleasant spring day.
A small girl had laid herself under a verdant tree, apparently relaxed to the point that she just wanted to
savor the ambience rather than tire herself playing with the other kids. Who wouldnt? It was a fine,
balmy spring day!
Few steps away from her stood another girl in cute pigtails and eyes barely revealing a pair of iris that
seemed to glitter with wonder as she focused intently on the sleeping kid. She felt that way because
right now, she could sense a bond forming between her and the sleeping kid under the verdant tree: a
forged link created even before she laid eyes on her. On that balmy spring day, she met her soulmate.
Two days went by. The sleeping girl, whose brown pleat flowed down prettily, stood under the same
tree again. The afternoon sun engulfed her with bright orange tinge as it sets gloriously.
Then she heard a soft moan.
Slowly it deteriorated to a shriek.
She couldnt bear it anymore. She sought the source and found the pigtailed girl slumped on the ground
while the two large kids, way larger for third graders, snorted and snarled swearwords upon the poor
pigtailed girl.
Get up, snot wad. Next time, you should share your homework with us. Unless you want some more

The fat kid was distracted when a stone landed squarely on her left shoulder. They all riveted their gaze
towards the brown-haired girls belligerent stance despite the size of adversaries and their sneering
Oh look, Tiffany Hwang. Your knight and shining armor has
Another stone flung into the air and smacked against the taunters nose. The two physically offended
kids were furious now. They lunged towards the brash girl who dared defied the tyrants they considered
The scuffle didnt last for ten minutes. For a moment, while Tiffany remained declining on the soil, she
thought her savior would be squashed like a tick by those monsters of a third grader. She was just too
shock to respond when the fray ceased when she saw the two pigs scrambling on their feet and took a
wild escape, apparently bewildered by Jessicas might.
The brown haired girl erected from the spot fogged by dust left by the fleeting tussle. Her panting was
heavy and her brows met at her forehead rather dangerously. As she strode towards Tiffany, Jessicas
fiery glow somewhat burned the path she paced on. Tiffany couldnt seem to evade her glance.
Until she received a smack on the face.
Whyre you?
Another smack.
Stop it!
Another smack.
I said stop it! Her voice shuddered as she repressed a sob.
But it was replied by another swing of the arm that directly hit her in the cheeks. She fell on the ground,
shuddering and moaning. Jessicas ardent stare as though Tiffany was some kind of a worm, continued
to roast her.
Then Jessica prepared a kick but Tiffany had already stood up and had managed to push Jessica down.
With a loud thud, Jessica found herself sprawled across the soil, with a grin on her face.
A grin
A grin Tiffany will never forget.

See? said Jessica encouragingly. She rose from the slump, and as she cleaned the back of her skirt, she
still sported the same grin. See? You can fight! If you will continue being like that, then youll just gonna
end up being bullied again until you die. You should be fighting for yourself. There wont always be
heroes to fight for you.

There wont always be heroes to fight for me

Jess you are my hero. That day that afternoon of a typical spring season you saved me from the
bullies. You saved me from what I used to be.
That day, I felt strong because of you.
Standing beside you, laughing with you, I knew I was protected so I dont have any worries.
Because I felt strong beside you.
And when you said that there will not always be heroes to fight for me
I get what you mean.
Even though I considered you as my savior my enlightener you are right.
When there are no more heroes
I should be fighting for myself.
I felt weak because I thought youre my hero.
I've depended too much on you.
When in the end of the day, when the sun hits the west with a fiery goodbye I would be standing on my

When there are no more heroes

I will be the hero.
You taught me how to fight.
I was never bullied again after that day.
And now youre teaching me how to stand on my own.

Tiffany, youre strong. If you ever feel lonely, dont look for me. Search yourself. Because when you feel
forlorn its when you have forgotten how strong you are. I know that as a fact coz I have spent so
much time with you. Right, whiner? Those unbearable moments we shared it was your strength.
Because of that, youre stronger now. Dont take that out of your head. You will always be strong Ive
seen that with my own eyes. You will always be strong

A grin started to form

Youre right, Jess. Absolutely right!

Slowly drifting down deeper into the underwater graveyard, Tiffanys eyes flew open. With her mind
enlightened, she flapped her arms and feet. In decelerating motion caused by the frigid waters pressing
her, she ascended towards the glimmering light up. She knew shes using Jessicas adept arms and legs;
she really had no worries.

Every part of her body was Jessicas. Every breath she exhaled (into bubbles) was Jessicas. It were,
because she was Jessicas other half. They were one. Forever one. An inseparable hybrid of two souls
hungry for affection; a linked being beyond those who had been connected through marriages and
simple pacts. They were one. They were a union even before they were born. They were one the
moment they laid eyes on each other. No one departed. Because the moment Jessica left, they were still
one and had been merged more closer than ever. After her death, Jessica had been Tiffanys heart, soul,
purpose to living and the furtive tickle when she found a room for a smile. No one departed. They were
never separated.
They are forever one.
And as Tiffany plunged into the surface, she remembered Jessicas expression when she came out of the
waters too. Her face that day, suggested enlightenment despite the drenched visage and damped bangs
obstructing her eyes. Tiffany now contemplated if Jessica had concluded the things Tiffany had just
thought after emerging from the abyss.
Perhaps Tiffany was right.
Jessica had discovered the notion even before Tiffany did.
That deserves a hearty commending.
But she have a lot of time to do that. Right now, she should just enjoy herself drifting across the lake
backstroking breaststroking or simply floating.
Jess you hadnt left me, I know.
The initial reaction from that statement would be pertaining desperation. But the smile she, Tiffany,
wore, on that glorious moment depicted way beyond any impressions. Because it was an utter
Jess, you hadnt left me. Youve just been whats the word merged into me. We are now one.
Physically and in soul.
The present spring zephyrs hovered above her. The trees rustled as though smirking and laughing, a
hushed merriment. The sky the sky Jessica and Tiffany both loved stared down at her fondly, with the
clouds shading the exaggerated afternoon sun eager for the jollity the atmosphere had whipped up with
the warrior, the hero slowly drifting across the water.
For some reason, she doesnt feel cold at all. The optimal equilibrium has been met. Shes now one with
the water one with the winds one with the nature one with Jessica.

The hero smiled.


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