Maybe she was just blind, or maybe she just didn’t want to see the truth as it is, ignoring the one thing she had always known would come. Or maybe, she was just willingly ignorant. Seulgi didn’t know. But when she saw Irene turn her back on her and walk towards that man at the bar realization slapped her in the face as if she was the one in the wrong.
Even at the start, the two had agreed that it was no more than a playful relationship. A little break from their actual lives and Seulgi should’ve guessed as much. People have always said that there’s no such thing as a friends with benefits can’t last. That at some point in time one would start liking the other. Even the movies would portray as such and here she was, foolish that she still had a shot even though it was always obvious that Seulgi would go back to her “home”. The husband that is successful, loving and caring. It was almost too perfect. And perhaps it was that perfection that led Irene to look for that extra excitement.
“Do you have to go back?” Seulgi couldn’t hide the disappointment in her voice.
Irene braced her cheeks with her hands and gave her a little peck on the lips.
“You know I can’t do that, baby.”
Tears began to well up. Despair shot through her heart like an arrow. She didn’t want that. She didn’t want whatever this was. They were practically partners, lovers by definition, doing everything that lovers would do but not the legal entitlement that real lovers should have. Instead, Seulgi was tied to the person she shouldn’t have. A married woman she met at the bar during a party of one of her friends. Cliché. She knows.
“What do you think we are?” Seulgi said, her voice louder this time.
Irene shook her head. “I think you are wrong.”
Anger began to boil inside the younger girl.
“What? What’s so wrong about us? If you really loved your husband you wouldn’t have been with me, right?! Then why? I know you’re unhappy! I know that you don’t really love him!”
Seulgi couldn’t contain her feelings anymore. She felt the injustice punching through her heart like a dagger.
“Stop, Seulgi. Just stop.”
“Why?! Why should I stop? I love you Seulgi. I want to be with you and I know you do too with me!” she cried.
“That’s not how we work, Seulgi, and you knew that from the beginning. This wasn’t what we agreed on.”
Every word Irene said stung. Seulgi felt badly hurt. She knew the truth and yet she didn’t want to accept it. She wanted more. She needed more. Her relationship with this woman had gone too far to back off now.
“I don’t care what we agreed on! Irene, I’m in love with you. You and I. We are perfect for each other. We fit together like puzzle pieces. I can take care of you, just like your husband can. Can’t you give us a chance?”
Irene clenched her fists. She didn’t want to argue any longer.
“I only promised to be your part-time lover! We were never gonna be anything else! Don’t you get it?! We! Us! We would never work. We do not belong together. It’s wrong.”
“What’s so wrong about us? Tell me!” Seulgi demanded. She wanted answers. Things aren’t making any sense. Nothing made sense right now.
“I have a husband. We are married. I love him.” Irene said.
“Don’t you love me then?”
Irene’s heart dropped the instant she saw the other girl fall down to her knees, her eyes red and puffy from the constant stream of tears.
She knelt down and held the younger girl in an embrace.
“I do, Seulgi, I do.”
“Then why? Why can’t we be together?” Seulgi sobbed.
“Because sometimes when people are in love, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be together,” Irene said as she brushed her hands over Seulgi’s head. “Sometimes when people are in love, it means that they need to let go and let the other person find their own happiness.”
Seulgi didn’t want to agree to it, but she knew Irene was right. She always had been. Even when they were together, Irene would teach her everything in life. Seulgi loved that about her. She would sit there and listen to the other speak for hours and hours about life and how things could be always be better. Smartiepants. That’s what Seulgi would call her.
Irene slowly let go and cupped her hands around Seulgi’s face before sharing one final passion.
“Remember to find your own happiness, okay? You deserve better than this.”
Seulgi slowly nodded. Her conscience settling with the mental decision that what is happening is the right thing to do.
The two stood up and time began to wind down quickly. There were only a few moments left. Moments that were now filed with silence.
Seulgi looked at Irene’s beautiful lips move in a set of gentle, but soundless motions followed by the sweetest trademark smile.
Irene turned her back and began to distance herself from her Seulgi’s presence. Memories replayed with every step Irene took away from Seulgi’s life. Her presence replaced with an empty void of nothingness.
In the distance, Seulgi could see her now ex-lover tap her hand on a man’s shoulder, her sadness now replaced by that gorgeous smile that Seulgi had grown so accustomed to. The man nodded to her words and stood up holding onto her hands and leading her away from the bar.
From the moment Irene turned her back and walked back towards that man, Seulgi knew. The two were no more. Irene’s words rang clear in her mind still.
Find your own happiness.
Seulgi never did think about her own happiness, but maybe this would be a good time to start.
She wiped away her tears and picked herself up. With her head held high and a smile on her face, she walked out the door.