She sat there looking at the computer screen. Read. Three years, countless tears and moments of longing, months of closing off her heart to the rest of the world and it all seemed to culminate to this one point. Read. “He read it.” She whispered to herself.
Suddenly, the image of his tall, comforting figure, and childish smile accompanied with warm eyes, flooded her mind, an image she refused to ponder on in fear of breaking down. Every memory of him came crashing into her like a hurricane. His large, protective, comforting hugs, that made her feel like there was no world beyond where his body encompassed hers. His smiles, the genuine ones, the ones only reserved for her, with the glitter in his eyes and the childlike wonderment. Him.
She continued to stare at the pulsing blue screen in the darkness of her room, as the rest of the street was enveloped in darkness and sleep. Then, a loud buzz broke through the palpable silence. Her head whipped down to her phone laying on the desk and his face buzzed up at her.
He's calling! She hastily reached for her phone and answered the call, lifting the phone up to her ear. No one spoke from the other end and she continued to hold her breath, barely believing what was unfolding. Using all her strength and praying to the gods of hearing, she concentrated on what was coming through the receiver. And thats when she heard it. A stuttered, wet breathing. A breathing low and deep, filled with tears.
“Sunbae...?” She couldn't help but whisper. Suddenly, the breathing stopped. “Y-you called. I-I was waiting.” She smiled to herself, her eyes beginning to water. She held her breath again, as her vision began to blur. She put all her will and strength into listening, for anything, a sign, a sign he was there.
A loud exhale of relief came through from the other side. Then the one sound that undid three years of longing, loneliness and pent up heartache came through, a low voice replied, “Seol-ah.”
He was sitting in his car, steps away from her house, in the street where she once ran into his arms. He had been in Seoul for three days now and made countless attempts to approach her but couldn't bring himself to do it. He had planned to meet her after work today. Told himself that today would be the day for sure.
He had gone to the department store and picked out a little furry lion and a few kimbaps and taken a last glance at his phone, looking at all the emails she had sent him, as a last boost of confidence. And then he saw her. It had been three years, yet without a doubt he was able to catch the red hair in the crowd and his heart caught.
The light went green and all he could do was walk with the crowd. Towards her. Every step he took towards her his heart's pace quickened. She was lost in thought and looking at the ground below her. Her hair wasn't as uncontrollable as he remembered, instead a neat style framing her face. She wore sensible clothes and carried a bag flowing with work papers.
Before he knew it he passed her and the world came back into focus. That's when he knew. He couldn't stay away any longer. Now he was sitting in his car, breathing staggered by the sound of her on the other end, tears forming from the terrible ache of missing her flooding through him. “Y-you called. I-I was waiting.” Her voice of honey whispered through the line and the rivers began flowing down his face. He leaned his head back on the headrest, his hands going white from clutching the phone like a life line and the other hand grasping the steering wheel in efforts to ground himself.
He let out a loud exhale, an immense pressure being lifted from his chest. Being away from her had felt like drowning, and her voice and just pulled him out of the waters. “Seol-ah.” He breathed out in relief.
“I'm sorry I took so long.” He whispered, feeling genuine remorse for keeping her waiting. A small, wet and relieved laugh came through from her side, bringing a smile to his tear stained face. “Wh-where are you? I-I want to see you...” He heard shuffling from the other side and then a door slamming shut. Her breath suddenly became short and panting, indicating that she was running.
He hastily undid his seat belt, jumped out of the car and began running with all his strength towards her house. “I'm-I'm coming. I'm on my way, Seol-ah.” He ran up the streets in nothing but his sweater, his face hot despite the cold of fall settling in. He held the phone to his face, never parting it from his ear.
He ran and ran towards her, taking a left, taking a right, his muscles remembering the way to her home better than the way to his. He took a last left and an orange street light shone into his eyes. The closed windows of a noodle shop came into view and as he turned his head, there she was.
She needed to see him. Now. Hastily grabbing a scarf and making her way out of the house, she began running down the street. “I'm-I'm coming. I'm on my way, Seol-ah.” She heard through the phone and that only made her legs move faster.
She kept taking turns and moving down alleyways, when suddenly the orange lit street of the noodle shop came into view and a the loud approaching of footsteps reached her ear. Her hand dropped from her ear, her mouth gaped open because suddenly the footsteps came to a halt...and there he was.
His dark hair shone in the orange street light, his face shiny from flowing tears. He seemed taller than she remembered, his face a little rougher but the crease between his brow seemed to have disappeared. He lowered his phone from his ear and stopped dead in his tracks. As did she.
The world seemed to be holding it's breath as they looked at each other from across the street. His eyes peered into her and she returned the gaze, barely blinking. And then they moved at once, like divers taking a plunge into the water. They both ran to each other with all the strength in their legs.
“Sunbae.” She cried as she landed in his outstretched arms. Her vision blurred from the generous amount of tears falling down her face. “Seol-ah.” He whispered back in a wet sob. She wrapped her arms around him as tightly as possible and tucked her face underneath his neck. He smelt of cologne, musk and tears, and something distinctly Yoo Jung, that she hadn't smelt in years.
His hand found the top of her head as he began rubbing her hair in slow circles, allowing his other hand to hold on to her tightly around her waist. They both breathed sobbing, wet breaths together and leaned into each other. And suddenly, Seol wasn't as lonely.