Chapter 5 - A Hidden Monster
Yiyoung returned to the classroom with a spring in her step and a large smile on her face. She had successfully handed out the candies to every student present in the cafeteria. She thought those snobby kids would make faces, but surprisingly, they accepted them without any hesitation. In fact, they even seemed to like the candies!
“Did you wrap these yourself?”
“Where did you get these from?”
“Wow, you are so great. Can’t believe you had the time for this.”
The kids bombarded her with questions, and she answered each one honestly.
“Phew! I was scared for no reason,” she murmured as she took her seat.
Yiyoung had been worried her efforts would all go to waste. She always handed out candies that she personally wrapped at her old school, not because she wanted to gain attention, but because it was something that soothed and comforted her. She did it every year, and as a habit, she found herself wrapping candies this year too. She was glad that this year was no different than the others.
‘They’re humans too, just like me. Why would they be any different?’ thought Yiyoung. It was hard to believe that a mere 13-year-old girl was capable of having such mature thoughts.
“So, now…” she murmured as she took out the remaining candies.
‘If I give these to him, he might choke me again.’ For a moment, she wondered if she was overreacting to Muyeol’s short-lived goofiness, but she quickly shook those thoughts away. She remembered exactly how much strength he had put into the head-lock, and just how furious he sounded.
“He sucks,” the kids had told her.
“You’re so unlucky. To think that you ended up sitting beside Muyeol, of all people.”
“He’s a scion, and he looks down on all of us. He never even comes to the cafeteria. Guess he doesn’t even want to eat around us.”
Her classmates kept insisting that Muyeol was different from the rest of them, but Yiyoung could not care less. He hadn’t been physically or verbally mean to her until the incident earlier in the day.
“Did you get hurt earlier?” a classmate asked her.
Yiyoung turned red. Muyeol had put her into a headlock in front of the entire class. She’d barely noticed it then because she was so furious, but it had drawn everyone’s attention. And she’d forgotten all about it until now.
“Anyway, I’ve never seen Muyeol that upset.”
Darn it, I guess we gathered a lot of attention earlier. Oh no… I even flipped him off,’ Yiyoung thought.
“Right? He’s never acted like that with us,” another student chimed in.
She listened to their conversation, silently observing how the kids had put Muyeol on a pedestal and were treating him like an outcast as a result.
‘There they go again,’ Yiyoung thought bitterly, ‘Let’s not worry about it. I knew this would happen. They accepted my candies, so I hope they’ll continue to be nice to me.’
She placed the remaining candies on Muyeol’s desk as she thought, ‘These ones don’t make too much noise, so they should be okay.’
‘I’ll pinch him if he ever does that again,’ she determined as she prepared to go to the music class.
“Let’s go, Yiyoung,” her classmate called out.
“Okay,” she replied, standing up to leave for the music class with the others, but the hem of her skirt got caught in the chair’s side. She sat down again to pull the skirt out. She sighed with relief when it finally got detached. ‘Thank goodness. This skirt is so expensive.’
Yiyoung exhaled heavily as she thought about her school. This year would be nothing in comparison to the next when she would have to go to an elite private junior high school. Yiyoung’s dad had claimed that he would take care of the tuition, but she didn’t think it was possible.
“I need to get a part-time job,” said Yiyoung.
She wanted to pay off her phone bills and buy school supplies, so she needed to get a job that she would be good at. There were a lot of things she wanted to buy, but she valued her phone more than anything else; it was the only thing that kept her connected to the rest of the world.
“You can do it, Yiyoung. You can do it,” she muttered as she took another step.
* * *
With a shopping bag in his hand, Muyeol came back to a handful of candies lying on his desk. He dragged the chair back and took a seat as he looked at the colorful candies. He didn’t think she would save any for him, especially after his sudden burst of anger caused by the crinkle of the wrappers.
“You are insane, Muyeol,” he muttered to himself.
He observed the candies carefully and scoffed. They looked so crude that it made him laugh out loud. He lifted his head and looked around. Everyone had left for the music class, so the classroom was empty. Muyeol picked up the candies on his desk and dumped them into the shopping bag. As he stood up, the shopping bag in his hand, the door to the classroom opened and Yiyoung entered the room.
Muyeol hurriedly shoved the shopping bag under his chair to hide it from her.
“Oh, you’re here? I noticed you weren’t in music class, so I was looking for you,” Yiyoung spat out as she gasped for breath, failing to notice Muyeol’s actions.
Muyeol eyed her flushed cheeks. ‘Did she run all the way here?’
“Let’s hurry. I heard the music teacher hates latecomers. We don’t want to get into trouble with her and fall sick because of it.”
‘So she ran back to class just to look for her deskmate? Why bother?’ Muyeol wondered.
Muyeol frowned and nodded. His simple response satisfied her, so Yiyoung said, “I’ll get going first so that the kids don’t misunderstand and tease us.”
Muyeol sneered, unable to believe that she thought the kids would mistake them for a couple. No kid was bold enough to imagine something so far-fetched. Yiyoung was simply a busybody. Nothing could happen between them.
But he didn’t move from his place. As he drowned himself in his thoughts, he took out the shopping bag from under his chair and shoved it into his bag. The shopping bag rustled loudly under his movements; it contained all the candies that Muyeol had collected from the trash cans in the cafeteria.
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