Joy may be six (and 7 months!) but she isn’t some dumb kid. Nuh uh. In fact, Joy would say she’s pretty smart! She’s already on what she calls her last year of baby school and is definitely one of the most lovable kids around. She gets the best grades in class and her teacher told her mom she was astute! Joy doesn’t know what that word means but her mom gave her a big hug afterwards so she’s pretty sure it means something good.
Her teachers and tutors say that she’s incredibly cute and charming, intuitive, imaginative and for a kid her age, she knows exactly what she wants. Her dad says she’s headstrong, her mom says she’s brilliant and her unnie? Her Joohyun unnie calls her the best thing that’s ever happened to her. Joy thinks she likes that the best.
And as a little kid that knows exactly what she wants, Joy writes down all of these in her sparkly green notebook with a matching pen, a gift from her unnie on her birthday. She and her unnie even spend a whole weekend looking at different dog breeds on the internet, and her unnie helps her spell so she can make a list of her favorite ones down in her notebook. She has one page about the things she dislikes, and though it’s not a lot, it mostly contains certain vegetables, but her unnie likes them so Joy thinks that maybe she can try to like them a little more.
But the ‘Love’ portion of her notebook is very important. It’s the first thing she wrote when she got her notebook! She even decorated the page with stickers and colored pencils! Because for the things she loves, Joy thinks they deserve the best.
- Joohyun unnie
- Seungwan unnie
- Fried chicken
- Dahyun unnie’s ice cream shop
- Ice cream cake
“Wait, why am I number 5? Why are dogs before me?!” Seungwan cries when Joy proudly shows her the list.
Joy rolls her eyes, too mature for a six year old, but simply says, “Many many dogs, and one Seungwan unnie. I want many dogs!”
“You don’t even have a dog, Joy-ah!”
“But I want many dogs.”
Seungwan sighs in defeat, ruffling the little girl’s hair, causing her to huff and stomp her foot.
“See, at least dogs don’t mess up her hair.” Joohyun says, stuffing the notebook back into her bag and Joy sticks her tongue out at Seungwan. “Anyway, let’s get going?”
“YAY! ICE CREAM, ICE CREAM!” Joy starts to scream, and Yerim follows suit.
You see, one thing that is not on the list (because Joy declares there should only be 10), but Joy still loves are Fridays. On Fridays, after kindergarten, she has lunch then goes to her extra English classes. Those classes aren’t fun but Hayoung and Yerin are with her so it’s okay. Then, when the clock is close to 4:30, she puts on her jacket and her backpack and waits for her teacher to say, “Sooyoung, your unnie is here!” and she zips out of the center as fast as she can, shouting her goodbyes to her friends and tutors. As soon as she gets out, she spots her sisters and she runs to give them the biggest hug her little arms can manage. Usually, Seungwan is there too, and she likes to wink, salute and sometimes raise her hand too high for Joy to reach. (Joohyun always rolls her eyes, and teases Seungwan that one day, Joy will most probably be taller than all of them.)
As soon as they enter Dahyun’s ice cream shop, Joy and Yerim let go of their unnie’s hands and run to their favorite circular booth, the one closest to the ice cream. Joy scrambles into the booth first, then pulls her little sister up beside her. By the time they’re securely in the center, the unnies have caught up, Joohyun on one end beside Yerim and Seungwan on the other, beside Joy.
“There’s my favorite customers!” Dahyun says with a smile, handing them the menus. “And Seungwan.”
“Ha ha. Very funny.”
“Dahyun unnie, look!” Joy says, her notebook already open. “I wrote your name!”
“Wow! Number eight in your favorites? This little place? Thank you so much, Joy-ah!” And Joy beams at the older girl. “And just for that, do you want extra rainbow sprinkles or extra marshmallows on your ice cream today?”
“ME, ME!!” Yerim says, raising her chubby little hand.
“No, Yerim, you don’t get any. It’s my notebook.” Joy says but she regrets it immediately when she sees tears well up in her little sister's eyes.
“I’ve got an idea!” Joohyun says, already rubbing Yerim’s back to relax her. “Why don’t we make a little drawing for Dahyun unnie, hmm? Both of you can do it together!”
“Yeah! Like, ‘Joy and Yerim’s favorite ice cream shop’!” Seungwan says, giving the kids a thumbs up.
“That’s a great idea, Joohyun! Then I’ll put it up on the wall,” Dahyun joins in and points to the empty space behind the cashier. “Right there. So I can always see it.”
Joohyun mouths a ‘thank you’ to her friend and turns to the little girls, “Is that okay with the both of you?” When she receives twin nods, she claps her hands together, “Great! Let’s get started so Dahyun unnie can get your ice cream ready, okay?”
As they make their drawing for Dahyun, Joy tells her unnies about her day. She says how she was mad because Doyoung destroyed Taeyong’s ball and she wanted to shout at him but Miss Seo already put him on time out before she got the chance. They also read a book about a pigeon that wanted to drive a bus! “That’s so crazy, unnie! Pigeon’s can’t drive!” Joy says and Joohyun laughs at how confused Joy looks.
Eventually, Yerim sits on their sister’s lap, coloring the stars for their little gift, while Joy shows Wendy all the new things she learned how to draw over the week. She’s in the middle of a drawing when they hear a loud, “Joohyun-ssi!”
Joy jumps at the loud voice, dropping her pencil in the process. She’s always hated sudden loud sounds, and so does Joohyun, so Joy throws the meanest glare she can muster at whoever caused the commotion.
“Oh, hi, Suho.” Joohyun says with a stiff smile, then continues to help Yeri color.
“Seungwan-ssi! You’re here too!”
“Hey,” Seungwan greets, and Joy instantly notices that it isn’t like her unnie’s usually happy and hyper greetings.
The boy pulls up a chair to their booth, and the older girls give each other a look and Seungwan is already rolling her eyes. Yerim finally looks up from her drawing, confusion etched over her face.
“And who are these cuties?” he asks, about to reach for Joy’s hand but the little girl quickly pulls away and sinks into the couch.
“I’m Joy. That’s Yerim.”
“Aren’t you the cutest?” he coos.
“Yes. I am cute.” Joy says, and smiles when she sees her Joohyun unnie smiling at her too.
The boy talks about boring adult things. He keeps talking about school and sports, and her unnies aren’t minding him. Seungwan keeps asking Joy to tell her what else she did in school and Joohyun is trying her best to not be rude, while still paying attention to the toddler on her lap. He tries to move closer to Joohyun too, but every time he does, Joohyun moves away.
Joy looks around, Seungwan unnie isn’t smiling, Yerim isn’t smiling and of course, Joohyun unnie isn’t smiling!
Okay. That’s it.
Joy has to do something.
Joy moves to Joohyun’s side, tugging at her sister’s sleeve. “Joohyun unnie, Joohyun unnie!”
“I think I ate too much ice cream!” Joy says, rubbing her stomach.
Joohyun’s eyes go wide, and immediately, she and Seungwan start packing up their things. “Sorry, Suho. I have to go. Joy has an emergency. Come on, guys, we gotta hurry up.”
Joy doesn’t even hear him finish his sentence, because they’re already up from the table, Joohyun pulling on her hand.
“We’ll give you the certificate in school, Dahyun!” Seungwan shouts as they run out the store.
They run one block, and then two, and then as soon as they turn the corner, Joohyun lets go of Joy’s hand and starts to laugh. “You don’t have to go to the bathroom, do you?”
Joy smiles sheepishly in response, “Nope.”
Joohyun pulls Joy into her arms, and spins the little girl, “Look at you! I’ve got the smartest little sister in the world!”
Joy wishes that was the last time she saw that annoying boy, but no, it became even worse! There were more! Joy wants to pull her hair out every time some stinky boy comes up to her Joohyun unnie. Sometimes, they even ask if Joohyun can sit with them instead of at their table with Seungwan unnie and Yerim! A part of Joy wants to fling her ice cream at them, but she realizes it’s a waste of good ice cream so she decides against it.
And Joy is smart, so she knows why there are so many boys around Joohyun. Seungwan had said under her breath that they wanted to get into her cookie jar which is really mean! You can’t do that without asking permission! She also thinks boys are dumb because why did they want unnie’s cookie jar? They can buy cookies anywhere!
Even when they’re not in Dahyun’s ice cream shop, boys still go up to them! Like when they’re in the park!
“Boys are annoying.” Joy huffs, sitting down on the bench beside Seungwan and Yerim.
Seungwan nods, watching as Minho talks to Irene in the distance. “Yes, they are.”
Joy hates it. They’re turning her favorite Fridays into the worst days! She glares at them as hard as she can, and hopes the boy will burst into flames. Eventually, she looks at her unnie, “Can I disturb them now?”
Seungwan chuckles, and checks her watch, “Yeah, go for it. It’s been six minutes.”
“Come on, Yerimie. Can you cry again?” Joy asks, and Yerim gives a toothy smile in response.
Yerim hops off the bench, offering her arm to the only “adult” around. “Pinch please!”
Seungwan gently pinches the little girl and watches in amusement as Yerim starts crying on cue, running to Joohyun and asking to be carried. Joy on the other hand runs after Yerim a full two seconds later, pretending to be angry and tugging at her sister’s sleeve, saying she didn’t mean it. Joohyun, apparently a great actress as well, looks at them worriedly and excuses herself from Minho.
“Those little devils are great.” Seungwan laughs, as Joohyun beams as they walk towards her, Minho already walking in the opposite direction.
“Are you sure you still want to go out?” Joohyun asks as she fixes the buttons on Yerim’ jacket.
“But what if someone annoys us again?”
“I’ll deal with them, unnie!” Joy says, flexing her arms like she sees on all those tv shows.
Joohyun smiles, “You two are really the best, you know?”
“Love you!” Yerim says, wrapping her little arms around Joohyun.
“Me too, me too! Love you unnie!”
“And if anyone gets too annoying, we can just buy all our favorite snacks and watch a movie, how about that?” Joy hugs Joohyun as tight as she can, and her unnie kisses the top of their heads. “I love you guys too.”
Joy thinks it takes absolutely forever, but finally, the boys disappear.
“Friday is happy again,” Joy thinks. She and Yerim take a picture with Dahyun and their certificate, and Dahyun even gives them a free taste of their newest ice cream flavor - mint choco! Joy is dancing in her seat, savoring the taste of ice cream and thinking of what crayon to use next for her coloring book when a shadow looms over their table. The little girl is ready to start throwing a fit at the boy, but is caught off guard when instead of a stinky boy, there’s a girl.
A girl that’s wearing the same uniform as her unnies, with puffy cheeks and eyes that remind her of that tiger they talked about in school. Joy doesn’t know if she likes her.
“Hi, Seungwan-ah! Hi Joohyun!” the girl greets.
Joy looks at her sister, who instead of the usual small stiff smile, she’s actually beaming! “Hey, Seulgi!” Her eyes are even becoming small and that’s the smile she uses with Joy!
Okay. Nuh uh. Joy doesn’t like this girl at all.
“Seulgi!” Seungwan high-fives the girl in greeting and Joy squints at the interaction, intentionally scooting closer to her sisters.
Joy watches as this Seulgi person talks to Seungwan and suddenly, they’re laughing. LAUGHING! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
“Do you want to join us?” Seungwan asks, and Joy’s mouth opens in shock.
No one joins them! No one!
When Seulgi takes a seat beside Seungwan, Joy tugs at Joohyun’s sleeve and as loud as she can, she asks, “Unnie, what do you call a friend who is friends with someone you don’t like?”
“Hmm… A traitor, i guess?”
“Yes.” Joy says, glaring directly at the two other girls. “A traitor.”
Seungwan pouts and tries to reach out to hug Joy but she’s already molded herself into Joohyun’s side.
She has been betrayed.
“So, are these the two girls I keep hearing about?”
Yerim eyes Seulgi cautiously and “Good,” Joy thinks. At least someone’s loyal.
“You must be Yerim. I’m Seulgi.” The toddler stares at Seulgi’s hand, but Joohyun reaches out for her, making them shake hands. “And you must be Joy.”
The girl offers her hand out again, but Joy simply looks at it, then looks to her sister who is encouraging her. Joy audibly sighs but refuses to shake her hand, “Hi.”
“Your unnies were right!” Seulgi says, and Joy just tilts her head. “You two are very pretty little girls!”
Instead of smiling at the complement, Joy squints her eyes. “Thank you. I know.” and goes back coloring.
Then, Joohyun does something Joy has ever seen her do. SHE. ASKS. SEULGI. A. QUESTION. “So, what are you doing here?”
Joy doesn’t like this at all.
“Yerim, we have to get rid of Seulgi.” Joy says one night, when their sister is preparing dinner and the two are left in their shared room.
“Because! If Joohyun unnie spends all her time with her, she won’t have time for us! If she doesn’t have time for us, we won’t have an unnie anymore!”
Yerim’s eyes go wide in horror and she shrieks, “No! NO LIKE!”
“Shh. It’s a secret, Yerimie. Okay?”
Yerim nods and mimics her sister, “Shh.”
“Good, good. We’ll just make Seulgi go bye bye.”
Sadly, making Seulgi go bye bye is easier said than done because for some reason, Seulgi is everywhere .
Joy absolutely hates it.
And she’s tried everything!
She used the bathroom excuse but Seulgi just walked with them all the way home!
She tried making Yerim cry but Seulgi carried Yerim and put a bandaid on her arm!
Seulgi even went to her house once and Joy ‘accidentally’ put her doll house in the way and she just laughed it off when she fell!
Joy doesn’t know what to do anymore.
But no, Joy will not give up.
On Saturdays, the family stays home. Joy likes this too. When they’re at home, they’re all together, and they can watch movies, or play in the backyard, and sometimes, Joohyun unnie’s other friends come and play with them!
Today though, Joohyun is studying with Seungwan in the kitchen, their big books are open and there are papers everywhere. Joy knows that when they study, she has to be on her best behavior and she has to watch over Yerim.
Eventually, the front door opens and the little girls rush to greet the newcomer. “EOMMA!” They shower their mom with hugs and kisses, helping her remove her scarf and her jacket, before they all collapse on the couch together.
“How was work, mom?” Joohyun asks, appearing from the kitchen, and they hear Seungwan shout, “HEY, MRS. P!”
“HELLO, SEUNGWAN!” Their mom playfully shouts back before turning to her daughters, “Oh you know, busy as usual. You know that kid I told you about? The one with the surgery last week? He’s getting better, so hopefully he’ll be discharged soon.”
“That’s great mom. There’s still leftovers from lunch, and before you go to bed, do you know what you want for dinner? I can pick it up and Seungwan can watch ‘em.”
Mrs. Park is about to reply when they hear a knock on the door. The Park family looks amongst themselves, “Is that dad? Doesn’t his shift end later tonight? Anyway, I’ll get it.”
Joy continues to cling to her mom, as her mom asks them about the show they’re watching and Yerim playfully pats their mom’s belly, having already turned her attention back to the TV.
“Mom?” Joohyun calls out, and they all turn to face the eldest Park child.
And oh no .
“I’d like you to introduce you to a classmate of mine, Kang Seulgi.”
Oh no oh no oh no oh no. Joy has to stop this.