There were a series of ups and downs along the way to maturity. A couple of crestfallen setbacks that broke them almost irreparably, and a hundred more unforgettable breakthroughs—every single of which successfully molded them into the person they had become.
It was not long enough when she found herself falling in love with him, silently admiring him from a distance. And with all the things that the world had thrown at them, nothing could seemingly break what they had, until a marriage proposition wreaked havoc in their lives and turned their worlds upside down.
The twists and turns of how her world turned inside out left her in deep shambles and desperately grasping on the very thin thread of life. The fairy tale she had always dreamt of living just seemingly turned into the most horrifying nightmare she was never prepared to battle.
And the same person, whom she had always thought would save her unexpectedly became the lone monster she never knew she had to battle.
Suddenly, Eunae was left to choose between to love or to be loved.
[TW]: mention of mental disorders/illness
"Eunae, come on now, you turtle head. We're going to be late!"
"Oh crap! Wait! Hey—I said wait!"
It was 6:30 AM.
The dazzling sun was just barely painting the whole horizon of the above and coloring the lives of the awake, yet here they were, already sprinting to the bus stop with heavy bags slung around their shoulders and sweating with disheveled hairs.
Their short lower limbs desperate to take bigger steps than what their feet could ever feasibly make. Their lungs loudly howling to get a snag of air to fill their close to empty air sacs.
This was the normal routine Eunae and Jaehyun had ever since they entered high school. Jaehyun, her best friend, would always drop by her house to fetch her just so they could go to school together. He would cross pavements after pavements, roads after roads, brave the unpredictable weather be it a pouring rain or a scorching heat of the sun. Jaehyun would go in great lengths to reach her house, and most of the time, he would be even early enough to catch her fumbling on her uniform.
This had been part of his routine ever since her father walked out of her life four years ago.
The pillar of her household and the man whom she had always looked up to had an explicit affair with his colleague, leaving Eunae and her mother hanging up in the air with broken hearts and broken dreams.
Bringing with him all their family fortunes, he coldly turned his back on them as they helplessly grasped on the very thin thread of life, wondering how they could even possibly continue on living with nothing but a roof above their heads.
Devastated was an understatement on what Eunae felt upon hearing the news directly from her mother, who came home with a tear streaked face on a cold rainy night.
In a second, her heart seemed to break into two and her whole world swiftly came crashing down around her like a million broken glass shards painfully scraping her skin.
The almost perfect family she held very dear and the thousands of dreams she had sworn with her soul instantly turned into a tiny bubble that ceased to exist.
With everything that seemed to run in circles and not having any finite answer to the endless questions swirling in her head, Eunae had to tuck every hurt wreathing her body and wear a façade that screamed she hadn't lost it.
She had to.
Eunae had to numb all the pain killing her from within because she had no time to mourn over the wreckage of the blissful household she once had.
She neither had any spare time to tend to her keeling heart when her hands were too full scrambling to salvage her mother, who was losing her sanity over the whirlwind of events that struck them defenseless and unprepared.
In a fraction of a second, she had to step up for what was left of them and rebuild their lives from there. She was too occupied fulfilling the duties she did not have any knowledge to take on, that eventually, she learned to live with the pain—to carry it all on her shoulders and get used to its weight.
Every single day, all Eunae could ever think of was how she despised her father to the core; how she loathed cheating to the bones; and how she would never understand why he had to go around her mother's back and see another woman when he was married—when he basically had a family whom he was partly responsible and had sworn to always protect.
She would have probably accepted the sudden separation if he chose to divorce her mother before seeing someone else. She would have possibly understood if he only went through the legal process on how things should have been rightfully done and gave her mother the utmost respect she deserved.
Heck, she would have even appreciated it if he simply talked things out with them, explained himself, and gave them the closure they rightfully deserved rather than leaving without a single word and only to see her mother coming home almost lifeless as if she was dead in the inside.
There were a couple of ways her father could have possibly left without hurting them so much—of not embedding painful memories to drill in their heads, yet he still chose to selfishly wreak havoc in their lives like a humongous hurricane that destroyed their home.
He did not only break their hearts and shattered their dreams—he killed them.
He assassinated her mother's identity and made her feel less of what and who she truly was. The tiny doubts that started from inaudible whispers had little by little turned into loud piercing cries of the eerie night.
Day after day, the hoarseness of her mother's voice closely sounded as if a dozen of sharp glass splinters were stabbing her from within. The shameless infidelity continuously kept her up at night, desperately questioning her self-worth and why she was not enough.
As days eventually turned into grueling weeks, her mother seemed to lose more and more of herself up until she reached the final breaking point of even taking her own life.
The horrific event that occurred in a cold rainy night left Eunae utterly mortified. The horrendous images seemingly got stuck in her head, playing like a broken record that just would not stop and killing her from within.
At that time, she was more than thankful that Jaehyun was there for her—for her family. Their mothers were the best of friends since they were little—just exactly like how her friendship with Jaehyun started.
Ever since that night, his family voluntarily took care of her as if she were their own. They put food on her table, gave her a roof above her head, and provided yellow walls that welcomed her with undying warmth and hope.
"Dammit! My hands are being squashed by the bus door already, " Jaehyun complained, keeping the bus door open. "Eunae! Are you coming or not?"
They reinforced the deteriorating pillars of her home until her mother had fully bounced back—until Eunae had ultimately and irrevocably fell in love with her best friend.