Title: Eternity (4/?)
Genre(s): romance, fluff, drama, angst, humor
Summary: Set in the summer of 1913 when Eunsook is 18 and Gwiboon is 16. Eunsook and her mother work year round at the Kim’s summer home. Eunsook and Gwiboon have been friends since they were little girls- each summer bringing them closer. Eunsook finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love with Gwiboon, though she knows that she’s meant to fall for a man.Chapter 1
/ Chapter 2
/ Chapter 3
-----------------------She was swimming in the lake with Gwiboon, though the lake seemed much bigger- stretching on for miles and miles on every side. Gwiboon was laughing; her lips turned up in an almost constant smile that lit up her face.
Eunsook reached out to hug the other girl- wanting to be close to her. But it was then that she found herself alone in the lake; no other person visible across the vast expanse of water. She felt her heart stutter in fear. Where could Gwiboon be? Panicked, she swept her eyes around her, examining every ripple in the water for signs of the other girl, but she was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, she felt arms wrap around her from behind. She knew instinctively that they didn’t belong to Gwiboon. Cautiously, she turned her head and found Jonghyun holding on to her- eyes serious.
“She isn’t yours to take. You know that,” he said, his voice seeming to echo around her.
“I know, but where is she?” Eunsook asked, becoming more and more worried about the other girl’s whereabouts.
“You can’t have her,” was all Jonghyun said. Eunsook looked around again frantically.
“Where is she?”
Jonghyun didn’t answer- only holding on tighter so that she couldn’t wriggle out of his grip to search for Gwiboon.
“Where is she?” she asked again, hysteria creeping into her voice. Still no answer.
“Gwiboon!” she shouted. But she found that her voice only came out a whisper. She tried again, but still she couldn’t call out any louder. She felt herself panic, sure that Gwiboon needed her. But no matter what she did, she couldn’t pull herself free from Jonghyun’s grasp, nor could she yell out. A deep and heavy sense of hopelessness settled on her rapidly beating heart, tears squeezing themselves from her eyes.
Eunsook woke up with a start- bolting up in bed with her nightgown sticking to her sweaty skin and her breathing labored. She held a hand over her heart pounding in her chest as though that would slow its rhythm.
When she’d regained a relatively normal breathing pattern, she noticed the rain hitting the windows and thrumming against the roof. Lightning lit up the gloomy sky, followed by a crack of thunder. It was not the type of morning that promised of a good day to come. Eunsook burrowed under the covers, in no hurry to climb out of bed. It was still too early to wake Gwiboon for breakfast any way, and surely the younger girl would be in hurry to leave her warm bed either.
“Eunsook!” her mother burst in, “Get up! We need to go down to the basement. The storm seems to be threatening to become a tornado.”
Eunsook sat up immediately, climbing out of bed and throwing her robe around her shoulders.
“What about the Kim’s?” she asked, glancing at the violent weather outside with sudden worry.
“The male servants are going to get them. Come on!”
Eunsook hurried after her mother, following her down the wooden stairs that led to the basement. Unfortunately, their cabin was the only structure to have a basement on the entire island, so in emergencies, everyone had to crowd into the small room. Fortunately, somewhere along the line, they’d taken a couch, a few chairs, and a table down there so everyone didn’t have to sit on the damp and cold floor for hours.
A couple of the maids and cooking staff were already in the basement- some perching on chairs while others peered out the window wells at the storm. Eunsook shifted nervously, glancing at the stairs every couple of seconds, hoping that Gwiboon was okay. Her worry increased when Mr. and Mrs. Kim descended the steps followed shortly thereafter by a soggy and grumpy looking Jonghyun. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Eunsook saw Gwiboon’s thin ankles at the top of the stairs, her steps quick and almost frenzied. The younger girl had never liked storms.
As soon as Gwiboon got to the bottom of the steps, her eyes immediately flew up, searching the room until she saw Eunsook standing there, waiting for her. She was in front of the older girl in three steps- pressed against her front as Eunsook’s arms wrapped around her shaking form.
“Are you okay?” Eunsook murmured, sliding the other girl’s wet coat off her shoulders and laying it across the back of the couch. Gwiboon nodded, looking at the older girl with fear in her eyes- her bottom lip clamped between her teeth in worry.
“Do you think- is there really going to be a tornado?” Gwiboon whispered, as though saying it out load might make the idea more probable.
“Probably not,” Eunsook comforted, pulling Gwiboon into her embrace again, “We had to come down into the basement so many times during the spring, but it was never anything more than a loud storm.” Gwiboon nodded against her chest, breathing slowing just a little.
“Come on, let’s go sit down,” Eunsook gently suggested, guiding the other girl to the couch where she urged her to sit. Gwiboon reached out and clasped onto Eunsook’s wrist in a sudden panic when Eunsook didn’t immediately sit down next to her.
“You’re going to sit with me, aren’t you?” Her eyes were so big and watery that even the coldest person alive wouldn’t have been able to turn her down.
“Of course,” Eunsook assured her, sitting down next to her and wrapping her arms around Gwiboon’s shoulders- the younger girl’s cheek resting against her shoulder.
So they sat and waited as the storm raged on outside- wind whistling through trees and rain pounding into the ground outside the windows. Gwiboon jumped each time it thundered, her body shaking at the sudden sound. But Eunsook just held on tight; whispering soothingly and pressing her lips to the top of the other girl’s head, hoping that the storm would have mercy on them and end soon.
“Looks like the worst is over,” one of the men announced, peering out the window at the drizzling rain. Gwiboon perked up at that, sitting up straight and squinting toward the window as if the man might be lying. But true to his word, the rain was only falling lightly now- most of the drops raining on the earth coming from the tree branches.
“You should take a bath to warm up,” Eunsook murmured, clutching one of Gwiboon’s freezing hands in her own. The younger girl nodded and allowed Eunsook to pull her up and lead her up the stairs and out of the cabin.
They walked across the property- the dirt beneath their feet dark and wet- occasional drops of water falling onto their hair and cheeks. The whole outside smelled damp and muddy, but there was a freshness to the scent that begged to be inhaled deeply, almost as if it could clean a person’s lungs.
Eunsook walked Gwiboon all the way up to her bedroom, opening the door and urging the younger girl through it- intending to make her way back down to her house so she could get dressed and then go see if breakfast would still be served.
“Oh no,” Gwiboon sighed, stopping just inside the doorway and alternately staring at the wood floor and the ceiling, “It’s leaking again.”
And sure enough, water was dripping steadily from above into a sizeable puddle on the floor. It had leaked slightly last summer as well, but it was nowhere near that severe. Eunsook clucked her tongue and entered Gwiboon’s room, sidestepping the puddle as she walked to the closet to retrieve a few extra towels to soak up the mess. The three towels immediately absorbed the water, becoming completely saturated within the first minute of being placed over the puddle.
“You just bathe and get dressed,” Eunsook instructed, “I’ll go fetch some more towels to soak this up, okay?”
Gwiboon nodded and made her way to the bathroom, warily eyeing the soggy towels as she passed. Eunsook carefully closed the door and headed off to the laundry room having the sinking suspicion that Gwiboon’s room probably wasn’t the only one with a leak.
The day was a long one- filled with puddles and sopping towels, wet ceilings and peeling wallpaper. Eunsook tried her best to help with the cleanup, but it was rather hard when Gwiboon was following at her heels the entire time like a nervous kitten- almost as if she was afraid that the storm would turn around and come back any second.
But the staff managed to get almost everything cleaned up and Gwiboon was only bumped into twice for standing in the way while she watched Eunsook. Even when dinnertime came around, Gwiboon offered to let the older girl eat with her family in the dining room instead of with the staff in the kitchen, but Eunsook politely refused, assuming that Gwiboon’s parents might not be quite as enthused with her presence as the younger girl was. But she kept her promise to wait for Gwiboon after dinner to walk her up to her room.
The younger girl had been unnaturally quiet the whole walk there, just staying at Eunsook’s side and fidgeting with her hair ribbon. The silence worried Eunsook- she hated to see Gwiboon so shaken up. Even when the younger girl climbed into bed, she just looked at Eunsook with big, brown eyes as though she was waiting for something.
“Are you oka-”
“Have you ever been kissed?” Gwiboon suddenly asked, successfully cutting off what the older girl was about to say and making her freeze, eyes wide.
“Huh?” she managed, suddenly feeling like her throat was too dry to even swallow.
“Have you ever been kissed,” Gwiboon repeated, shifting slightly though keeping eye contact.
Eunsook’s first thought was that she wanted to ask why. Her second was that she wanted to lie. Her third was that Gwiboon shouldn’t have even had to ask for two reasons. One, they’d promised to tell each other about their first kisses when they were ten and twelve and they had stumbled upon their first romance novel. Two, she lived on an island
. Who was she going to kiss?
“N-no,” she stuttered, looking down at her feet.
“Me neither,” the younger girl whispered. Eunsook’s head shot up, shock written on her face. Sure, they’d promised to share their first kisses, but the older girl almost figured that the other would have been kissed by one of her many admirers at some point.
“I want to know what it’s like,” she blurted out, her pink cheeks being the only visible evidence of her embarrassment. Eunsook didn’t know what to say. Did she want advice on how to find a boy to kiss her? Surely she wasn’t the one to ask…
“I don’t kn-”
“Will you kiss me?”
The words hung in the air, almost echoing in the silence that ensued. Gwiboon, shifted uncomfortably and Eunsook stared in shock.
,” Gwiboon spoke again, an almost frantic edge to her voice, “I-I want to know what it’s like.”
“I shouldn’t…I mean…it’s…we aren’t…what?”
“Please,” the younger girl pleaded, eyes open wide- vulnerability almost pouring from them. Eunsook could never say no to Gwiboon. And at that moment, saying ‘no’ was the last thing she wanted to do. Even if she knew that this was wrong on so many levels. Even though she was sure that it would destroy any rational thought left in her brain.
She could never, ever
“O-okay…” Eunsook stepped forward, unable to look away from the younger girl’s nervous face. She managed to make it to the other girl in one piece even though she did
stub her toe on the bed. But she got there and perched on the edge of the mattress, her heart hammering in her chest so loudly that she was positive anyone walking by outside the window would be able to hear it.
She looked into Gwiboon’s feline eyes, filled with sincerity and apprehension. The younger girl bit into her lower lip, dragging her teeth over the soft flesh as she waited. Her curls framed her face and her bangs brushed her eyelashes delicately. She had never looked so beautiful.
Without waiting to lose her nerve, Eunsook leaned forward and pressed her full lips to Gwiboon’s pout- the electricity that exploded under her skin at the contact was even more intense than she had ever imagined it would be.
The kiss felt perfect, like Gwiboon’s mouth was made to fit with hers. She could feel her skin tingling and her cheeks flushing as she pressed her lips more firmly against the other’s, a jolt going straight to her heart when she felt Gwiboon reciprocate the kiss.
But she had to pull away. She had to. If she didn’t, she’d be lost forever in Gwiboon’s essence- floating through time and space without being aware of anything but the younger girl’s scent and the way her lips felt against her own. She had to stop before Gwiboon pushed her away and told her that all she’d wanted was a quick peck. She had to pull away before she lost complete control of herself.
So she did, pulling back with a gasp and watching Gwiboon’s eyes slowly open- her expression dazed, but unreadable. She wanted nothing more than to lean forward and capture those perfect pink lips again, but she knew that she was lucky just to have had that one opportunity to see what it was like to kiss the other girl. She shouldn’t even bother wishing for any more.
“I should…um…go…” Eunsook mumbled, standing up from the bed and making her way to the door- careful not to trip over any furniture on her way out, “Um…goodnight. I’ll…I’ll wake you for breakfast tomorrow.”
And with that she let herself out of the room, taking a moment to grasp at her chest above her rapidly beating heart before she began walking back to her cabin, hands trembling at her sides.
She knew that she was done for- if she wasn’t before, she certainly was now.
It was bad for her, she knew. This would only lead her to a more painful heartbreak.
But for the time being, all she could do was smile in disbelief and reach up to touch her lips with shaking fingers. It had really happened. And it had been the best five seconds of her life.