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Loose Leaf

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Hyejong Reign- 943

It was one of those days. She kept on remembering the life of Go Ha Jin. That pitiful, pitiful woman betrayed by her own partner. She forced her eyes shut and the final scene of her previous life played back vividly in her mind.

She was standing, hands firm on her gun, trying to comprehend the situation in front of her. The Senior Superintendent General is sprawled dead on the floor, blood flowing and slowly fanning all around him, creating a strange ripple, trying its best to give the now empty vessel the last honor of being on the red carpet. Her heart beat so loud she could feel it thudding against her vest. Slowly she moved her gaze from the wound, looking up straight at the shooter.

“Jin Hyuk? What are you doing? WHAT. HAVE. YOU. DONE?!”

“Doesn’t matter what I have done. The most important thing is the version the public will know. Go Ha Jin caught that corrupted senior embezzling fund. Go Ha Jin reported it, acted on it. Go Ha Jin was seen storming out of court, seething for the undeserving light sentence given. Go Ha Jin tried to bring her own brand of justice. I, Jin Hyuk, tried my best to stop her, but to no avail…”

“Why?”

“I’m sick and tired of being shadowed by your achievement. We are supposed to be a team, aren’t we? But why you get to take all the credits?”

“I never –“

Bam. One shot. Straight to her chest. She was sent straight to the wall, wheezing from the impact. It hurt, but she had to work past that or she would lose her life to this maniac cackling while aiming for another shot. With her gun nowhere to be seen, she sprung herself forward, pulling the knife from its sheath she attached inside her boot. Bodies collided, her right hand expertly lunged the knife to his thigh. Once, twice. She attacked to disarm, not to kill for this was still the man she loved and cherished. She felt the butt of his gun against her head and she pulled the knife out, moving out from the way but not before she felt a strong slap on her cheek.

There is something about a slap. It hurts not from the impact but because it is degrading, and humiliating. The stung reverberated to her core. How could he do that to her?
She ran, trying to lure him outside. He caught her, one hand fixed on her neck, pushing her down to the ground, releasing another shot this time close to her ear. She managed to grab his arm, the one holding the gun, twisted it while clawing her knife on his arm. Once, twice, thrice, pulling him who is now on his back-yelling profanities- dog, bitch, wolf-dog, towards the end of the bridge. She did not see it. How he moved his right leg with purpose aiming her head, giving her a hard blow that caused her to let go of her hold on him.

She was down, trying to clear her head from the force yet her sight was compromised. It was blurry. She felt another kick to the side of her face. She tried, tried really hard to stand up, to fight for her life when she felt his hands pulling her by the vest. Blurry vision did not stop her from seeing spits flying from his mouth. She was on her knees, looking up to this one man and wondering what exactly went wrong when she felt a stab to her shoulder. She screamed like she never screams before she felt him twisted the knife, pulling it out, gashing her right cheek before forcing it to enter through her side. Again and again, until she could scream no more.

Blood pouring, heart breaking, she was lifted into the air before she was flung towards the water. Just like a rag.

She was jolted back to the present when she heard a soft voice calling her.

“Soo”

She caught herself smiling when that voice called that name. The name bestowed by a glitch of fate, a crinkle in time. She wondered how it would feel should that voice call her by her real name. She looked up to see him looming over her, eyes narrowed trying to decipher her scattered thoughts.

“You look pale. Are you sick?”

“No, just distracted.”

“By what?”

“Memories. Distant memory”

He noticed her short-clipped answer. The way she forced her concentration to prepare the items needed to cover his scar. How her shoulder was too rigid as if she was carrying with her a secret too big a burden to carry alone. He was curious but decided to give her time and to wait until the secret would unravel itself. He had a suspicion, sure, yet he could not come to an acceptable explanation by clues she unintentionally left trailing behind her. She began their morning routine attentively, covering his scar layer by layer.

“Soo, this scar…it is enough to scare the whole nation, to scare a mother, yet not enough to scare you away? Why is that?”

Her eyes moved from his scar to his eyes, piercing him with its gaze. She continued working, taking a deep breath, casually moving his hair, tucking it behind his ear to buy herself sometime before she answers. He loved the small touches, how freely she gifted them to him.

“Your Highness, from where I come from- no, let me start again, “she corrected herself for she was reminded how in her time, people are scrambling over trying to cover each imperfection. “For me, personally, a scar is just a physical reminder of our journey. Scar is a reminder of many things. It reminds us to be careful. It reminds a mother, of the beauty of pregnancy, the sacrifices one makes to carry a being to this world. It reminds a person, that he survives.” Her delicate fingers tracing his scar before fleetingly caressing his cheek.

“I survive this”- pointing to the scar that she gave herself- “and many, too many more. By right, I should have one on my face, just like yours but on the other side.” At which he raised his eyebrows. He looked hard on her face, now facing the other way and decided to prod further.

“How many scars do you have?”

“Countless.”

“Where?”

“All over my body.”

“What do they remind you of?”

“A broken heart, a broken trust. What a sad journey…” She chuckled.

“From where I come from…. that place, sounds too far. Isn’t it Soo?”

“A thousand years too far.”

“Do you wish to go back?”

“Do you wish for me to go back?” It was her turn to raise her eyebrows. Daring him to ask further. She knew she said too much. But she was beyond caring at this point. She needed to spill it out to him, to someone who was more than willing to lend his ears. She could no longer carry this burden alone. It consumed her, killing her from the inside. If he wanted to know, she would gladly answer.

“No.”

He looked at her. Really looked at her. He noticed how her cheeks flushed from frustration or was it anticipation perhaps? Shoulders hanging low as if the weight of her secret had finally crushed her. Her labored breaths, and her quivering mouth…as if the secret was already hanging by her lips waiting for the right time to experience free fall. Her eyes were glistening, blinking back tears to which he responded by cupping her small dainty hands and offered her the very thing she needed.

“Tell me.”

And she did. Everything laid bare to him. For him to judge and choose to believe or not.