Ga Eul closed the door behind her, took her shoes off and walked in the apartment, finding her parents on the couch, watching TV.
Never like that night she wanted to be a child again, to sneak between them, lean her head on her mother’s lap and feel her father’s hand on her back, caressing her lightly. They always made her feel safe and protected, but this time she couldn’t share her troubles with her family. His father would kill Yi Jeong, regardless of his status, if he ever knew what he did to her.
“Are you all right?” Her mother asked, looking at her carefully. She didn’t like what she saw, her daughter seemed so tired she could have collapsed on the floor right there.
“Yes, I’m just tired… I didn’t sleep well last night and my plan of going to bed early this evening was delayed.” Ga Eul tried to smile reassuringly, knowing that her mother was too much observant for her own good. She didn’t want her parents to know what had happened that evening.
“Next time, come home. I’m sure your friend would have survived even if you didn’t go to dinner with him.”
Ga Eul nodded feeling a lump in her throat and after a moment she managed to say she was going to take a shower and then go to bed.
Locked in the bathroom, she started to undress throwing her clothes in the basket to be cleaned, not bearing to look at them anymore, especially her sweater: she could feel Yi Jeong’s perfume on it.
Slowly and methodically, she put everything away, thinking about every movement, repeating it in her head while she moved around the bath.
I’ll put the sweater in the basket.
Then I’ll take my shirt off. I’ll put it in the basket too.
Now the skirt. Here it is, down in the basket.
My stockings. In the basket. Done.
She looked at herself for a short moment, with just her underwear on and she shivered, thinking how close she had been to have it ripped9 off.
No. Stop it Ga Eul.
Take off the bra now, and put it down in the basket.
The panties now. Good girl, down in the basket.
She went in the shower box and turned the hot water on, welcoming its warm touch on her skin. It wasn’t enough, she decided, turning it even hotter, until it started to burn. Now it was better.
She took her time under the shower, especially insisting on her waist, face and hands where Yi Jeong and his father had touched her. Her skin turned red from the hotness and the rubbing before she was satisfied.
Finally she was done, but when her hand went to turn the water off, she hesitated. The burning hot drops kept falling on her and she lifted her face, to receive them. For a long time she just stayed there, breathing in and out until she leaned against the wall and a sob finally burst out. Another one followed short after, and then another one, until she lowered her head, still feeling the hot water on her back and she burst into tears, slowly sliding down to the bottom of the shower box.
She didn’t want to cry, she tried her best to avoid it, but now that it started, she was helpless to stop.
Ga Eul cried her heart out, glad that the shower noise masked her sobs, glad that she managed to be in a secure place before letting out all her anger, fear, frustration and disillusion.
She still couldn’t believe what happened that evening. What started as a perfect date, turned into a perfect nightmare. Worst of all, So Yi Jeong was the mastermind behind it.
She knew it was going to be hard with him, that he had some kind of block preventing him to welcome love in his life and now she had seen some of it, in the person of his father. It was easy to see how living in an unhappy family could have ruined Yi Jeong’s faith in love but still he had no rights to do what he did to her.
For heaven’s sake, he tried to rape her.
There, she said it.
The dreaded word.
She wanted to believe that he would have stopped by himself, but truth to be told she wasn’t sure of it. He was so scary, so crazy. Like he was someone else, and not the Yi Jeong sunbae she liked so much it made her heart ache.
She still remembered his eyes, so dark and passionate, his hands that could gently hold hers or force her down to the bed, his arms hugging her and then trapping her. His lips, his mouth so close to hers, and still so far from what she wanted. If they ever kissed, she didn’t want it to be by force, but out of love.
She kept crying, burning tears of anger this time, for him and for herself as well. Sometimes she wished she was some of his other girls, the ones that didn’t know a thing about him. She would have believed the lie, then, she would have thought that cruel Yi Jeong was the real one, and just run away, never to see him again.
But she wasn’t, she was Chu Ga Eul and she knew him a little bit. That was not the real him and it frustrated her so much that he didn’t want to admit it, burying himself in a vortex of wrath and self-destruction.
The worst thing was that she couldn’t let it go.
She could have told his friends and stop caring about it, letting them deal with him, but she couldn’t.
She didn’t know if it was love or just a simple infatuation, but she wanted to help him, to see him smile again, like in New Caledonia, like on the ice rink, like on their dinner. It was so wonderful when he smiled like that, when his eyes were glowing with peace and she could see what he was trying to hide to the whole world.
Ga Eul slowly calmed down, relieved and exhausted from all the crying. She acted strong in front of Yi Jeong because she wanted him to understand he couldn’t pull her strings like a puppet, but even though all her anger for him was real, it hadn’t been easy to keep her fear under control. Now it was all out, and even though she was really tired, she was feeling better too.
She dried up and went to bed, pulling her blanket up to her chin and hoping she wouldn’t dream about that night, but just wake up in the morning with some new energy.
Her last thought before the much desired sleep was for him and when he said that he always got what he wanted.
He never said he wanted her, he always tried to push her away.
She still remembered their bet and his will to hurt her, but somehow she felt that was not it. Maybe something was changing.
Maybe this hellish night had happened because he was starting to realize he really cared about her and he wanted to fight this feeling out of fear.
Maybe there was still hope. For him. For her. For them.