Reading is a series of human emotions. Writing is the gift of sharing these emotions.
I don’t normally believe in signs. But tonight, I had a moment with the night sky, pondering about the answer to my question. I prayed the night before and asked for a sign because I couldn’t decide whether to leave my very toxic job in the corporate world or not. And I don’t know why, but I must’ve been good lately because on the spur of the moment, the sign materialized. At exactly 9:43pm of March 20, 2019 I saw a full moon. That was it. That was the sign I asked for. So finally, I will be leaving the job that has been tormenting me for five straight years! I can finally slack off with all the savings I have for rendering too much overtime.
While 95% of my city’s population was presumably working up a sweat, time has stopped in my own invisible world. It has been a week of binge-watching too much television series on Netflix. From Lucifer Season 4 to The Order, to Sex Education, to Stranger Things Season 3, and even Korean dramas like Arthdal Chronicles and Abyss, I have watched them like someone magically compelled me to watch incessantly. And whenever I watch Korean, I couldn’t help but drool over bibimbap. Bibimbap sounded mouthwatering. It was also reason enough to get out of the house because my fridge was literally empty. I must’ve been working too hard without ample rest because the desire to be lazy has accumulated. Sloth seemed to have penetrated my well-being and leaving the house would save me.
“Nia!” Someone shook me from behind as I watched my sneakers and their slow-pacing steps on my way to eternity. I almost jumped then realized that the culprit was Matthew. Without warning, he appeared right in front of me.
“I hate it when you do that!” I cried out with a bit of displeasure.
Matthew was wearing his favorite black Metallica shirt and ripped black jeans. He was quite charming with his laidback style. Except, he wasn’t my type. I never got used to the way he howled my name. It felt a bit eerie because of his deep voice so I always got frightened by it. He was a good neighbor though, and his occasional disturbance was a temporary relief to my boredom.
“I just wanted to see you smile.” He grinned.
“When you say smile, is that metaphor for heart attack?”
He put his hands on his jean’s pockets. “Let me rephrase it. I just want to see myself smile.”
He worked his magic. I smiled then started walking. “I’m going to that new Korean restaurant to eat bibimbap. You can come with me if you want."
When we got to the restaurant, Matthew and I opted for beef bibimbap. We had a good seat overseeing the passersby so as we ate, I glanced from time to time. For a moment, I caught myself staring at a big poster of airline with promo packages and had the brightest idea. “I’m going to Korea.”
“Wow. The food was that good?” He said with a surprised look on his face then continued eating his bibimbap.
I gave him a devilish smile. “I’ve never been anywhere. Why not go somewhere with this kind of food everywhere I go? It would be heaven.”
“You can’t just be going there for food.”
“Hello. Of course, I’ll visit scenic spots or probably go to some shows or ancient places to get the feel of the Joseon era.”
“Oh. You’re serious?” He put down his spoon and fork. “Let me come with you.”
“No. You can’t even use chopsticks.”
“Well, it’s not like they don’t have utensils. You’re not even that good in using those sticks.”
“Okay, call them sticks again and I’m not going to talk to you forever.”
“Let me escort you. You’re geographically challenged. You need me.” He crossed his arms.
“No. I wanna travel alone. I’m going to meet Yeo Jin Goo so he can’t see me with any guy.” It was just a joke but it felt pathetic that I was such a fangirl of someone younger than I was.
“Yow Jin what?” Matthew didn’t know anyone famous. Not just Korean actors but even local and Hollywood stars. All he did was either listen to music or watch ESPN. Or eat.
All thanks to a travel agent, I had less hassle in booking flights and reservations. It wasn’t cheap but it was all worth it. After a week of anticipation, I was finally in Seoul Korea. Staz Hotel Myeongdong had just about the same price as the hotels in my city but because of a tour package, it was 20% cheaper. There was a subway station nearby, just a 4-minute walk, and the hotel amenities included a relaxed restaurant and a guest laundry which was coin operated. (Not that I would do my laundry because I was only staying for 2 days.) I love the room. It was straightforward. It had free wi-fi, minifridge, tv and coffeemaking facilities. These were the exact things I needed in my room.
As much as I took pleasure in appreciating my well-spent room, it was time for me to explore. April was the best month to travel to Korea because it was Spring and I had the perfect and most comfortable but stylish outfit. My top was a Lora Gene Reverse Cable Jumper and I was wearing it with my Hepburn shorts, Allison Combat boots and 50 Shades of Grey hat. “This will be such an adventurous day.” I uttered, as I cheerfully passed by the lobby. I was greeted with “Annyeonghaseyo” by the hotel staff which was just one of maybe 10 words that I understood in their language despite the kdrama binge-watching.
My day in exploring Korea went almost perfectly well. I went to a Cathedral then headed towards Cheonggyecheo Stream. Afterwards, I had a delightful food tour around. Just when I was so satisfied with the day’s itinerary, I got lost at Myeongdong Shopping Street and couldn’t find my way back to the subway station. It takes 30 minutes to walk back to Staz Hotel and I was so tired and looking so haplessly around like a lost puppy. When I finally got out of the shopping street, I almost had a heart attack because someone cornered me and gently pushed me to the wall. He covered my mouth and I could smell his leather gloves. It was a guy with black hair, black cap and black mask. I didn’t know if I could embarrass myself by screaming to attract attention from people or if I had to use the self defense, I have learned years ago (if only I could remember it). When I finally recalled what I was supposed to do, he whispered with his Korean accent, “Help me. Stalker kidnapped BTS.” He then removed his left hand from my mouth.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t quite understand. Are you saying you are stalking me, and you are about to kidnap me or something?” It felt wrong to say that, but I had no idea what to ask while I was in between his two long arms and he was so close to my face.
His eyes looked very anxious. “No. Please help me.” He gestured pointing at himself and uttered, “Not bad person. Need help please.”
For some reason, I believed him, and I felt concerned because of the expression in his eyes so I nodded. “I’m about to go back to Staz Hotel. Let’s talk there, okay?”
“Araso.” He said.
I have never been thankful to Netflix for those Korean dramas because I understood what he meant. He said he understood me.
It was easier to be with someone who knows the place because we reached the hotel in no time. It was a bit hard though to try and act normal with a stranger when we passed by the lobby. Good thing the elevator was empty. I took a glimpse of him and he still looked anxious. His hands were fidgety, and he kept on pushing his cap down to his face as if it could cover his eyes. When we reached my room, he sat on the edge of my bed and for a moment, I didn’t know what to say. The only thing I was sure of that time was that he wasn’t a bad guy.
“Alright, let’s talk. I’ll try my best to understand what you’re going to say.” I said as I started carrying a side chair. He instantly stood up and held the chair for me.
“I will sit here. You sit there.” Instead of pointing through his forefinger, he used his eyes to direct my attention.
As we sat across each other, I had a lot of questions in mind, but I wanted him to say what he’d been wanting to say. “Go ahead. I’ll listen.”
Without wasting a second, he said “I escaped kidnapping.”
Oh boy, I was shocked to hear the third word, so I had to confirm if I heard it right. “So, you were kidnapped…but you were able to escape?”
I suddenly realized he was still wearing his mask. “Can you please take off your mask? We’re in a safe place. No one will see you here.”
He took it off like slow-motion on a movie because of the suspense in finally seeing his face. And when I finally saw the stranger behind the mask, my heart stopped, and I was short of breath. My lips parted a little and my mouth tried so desperately not to make an “Oh” shape. I couldn’t stop my eyes from forming like an owl’s though. He then took off his hat and oh my gosh…I think I just died when he uttered, “Mannaseo bangapseumnida.”
Whatever it meant, it sounded sexy. And he looked so damn attractive that I could hardly think right. Since I had to get back to earth, I responded without giving away my lust after seeing his desirable face . “You don’t look like a bad guy.” I couldn’t help but sigh. “How can I help you and why were you kidnapped?”
“Stalker.” He paused. “Stalker got mad; I think. BTS is in danger.”
“BTS? What do you mean?”
“Please google BTS.”
My bag was right next to the coffeemaker and he knew I needed that, so he stood up to get it. When he handed it to me, I realized how tall he was. I had to discreetly swallow my saliva at the strong presence of his very manly physique. While I took out my phone my right hand was sweaty because of the tension. I then googled BTS and was very surprised to see a lot of results. I clicked the very first one and read, “BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band formed in Seoul in 2013.” I was flabbergasted. I clicked on images and easily spotted him because he was the only one out of seven members who had a sexy look. I checked for the top stories and clicked on the headline title BTS’ Jungkook Wears Hoop Eearrings in New Selfie & Fans Go Nuts. “So, your name is Jungkook. Did I pronounce that right?” It was all I could say to prevent myself from going nuts like his fans.
“Yes.” He still looked serious.
“I can’t believe you’re so famous and I didn’t recognize you.”
“It’s okay. “ He smiled.
He smiled! And he had dimples! Oh my gosh, he just escaped from a kidnapping and his band members were in danger but there I was, fangirling over someone I just met. I needed to calm myself down. “Do you remember the location? Or recognize the captor? Should we call the police?”
He shook his head. “Might kill them if we call police.”
“That’s the only option we have. We can’t rescue them because it’s more dangerous, so we just have to let the police do their thing. We have to trust them.”
He breathed hard and after a short pause, he uttered, “Araso. Araso.”
I went to the other side of the bed for the phone and dialed the line to the front desk. The recipient agreed to connect me to 112 and report a crime. Once connected, he took care of the rest of the conversation.
It felt like such a long time, but the talk duration was only for 10 minutes. I sat there staring at his hand gesture, the way he talked and the way his lips moved. I was about to lose my sanity.
“Manager is in the police station when we called.” He finally put down the phone to its rightful owner.
“Oh wow, really?”
“Well what did he say? Any updates on your band members?”
“We are all over news.”
At this point, I could sense a bit of struggle in speaking English, but he was doing fine, and I could understand him so what the heck. “Oh my. Is that bad?"
“No. But reporters are in lobby...in the lobby.”
“What do we do now? What did your manager say?”
“I wait until he comes.”
“When would that be?”
“Tomorrow. I’m sorry.”
“No. I mean why are you sorry?”
“No, it’s fine.”
“I can sleep on couch.”
“No, you don’t have to do that. The bed is big for both of us.” Shoot. Did I just offer to sleep with him in one bed? This is crazy!
“Yes. You’re nice.”
I think I blushed, but I hope he didn’t notice. “Thanks. What should we do now? How about dinner?”
“Yes. I’m hungry.” He rubbed his tummy.
I chuckled at the cute gesture and bid him a temporary goodbye to head towards the nearest restaurant. When I got back, he looked excited. We savored every food like we haven’t eaten in days.
“I have to take shower.” He said after the last gulp of his coke beverage.
“Okay.” It was all I could say though my mind was starting to get filled with some things. I needed to calm myself down. But how can I do that when my heart palpitated the minute he said the word shower?
When he was finally done and I was pretending to be busy watching a movie on tv that I didn’t even understand because I had my own movie going on inside my mind, he just stared at me while he was drying his hair. He only had a towel covering his hips and I really wish I could just go ahead and tell him what's on my mind but I didn’t want to be in trouble. I mean. How old is he anyway?
“I hope you don’t mind me asking but, how old are you?” He sat on the side chair while I tried my very best not to look underneath his towel. Is he trying to make me crazy here?
Hallelujah. “I’ll go take a shower too.”
When I stepped out of the bathroom. My heart broke into smithereens because he was sound asleep. What was I really expecting to happen? He couldn’t possibly do anything to me or even think about doing anything to a stranger he just met. He was probably such a gentleman not to even dare to look at me after taking a bath. I think he deliberately slept so nothing would happen. How sad.
Since I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t turn on the TV, I just played Ramsay Dash in my mobile without a sound. I was all caught up in hitting my fourth frenzy to get 1200 coins when he turned around to face my hip and uttered. “What is your name?”
My heart skipped. “I thought you were sleeping. You can call me Nia. It’s short for Harmonia.”
He slowly opened his eyes. “Trying my very best to sleep.”
“You don’t have to if you’re not sleepy.”
“I have to.”
“Trying not to touch you.” He turned to the other side again and covered himself entirely with the blanket. After a few minutes of silence, he slowly emerged from the blanket, looked straight into my eyes and took my mobile phone to rest it on the side table. “Nia.”
He cupped my face and my heart raced like I was first place in a marathon. “You make me crazy.”
“No. You make me crazy.”
“Can I kiss you?”
What happened next was complete euphoria.