I grabbed a newspaper and walked to the counter to pay. The girl at the cashier turned around. My eyes widened in shock the moment I laid eyes on her. She was Lucy! So I guess she worked here.
“It’s you…” She shifted her gaze outside and looked at me again. “You’re out and about at this weather? Don’t tell me you came out on purpose to soak under the rain again.” She took the money I placed on the counter. After a few clicks, she issued a receipt.
“Then why are you out?”
“At the café next door?”
“But the food there sucks! It’s expensive and the service is very bad. I heard that they have a very stingy boss. Do you still want to go there?” I nodded again.
“Wow… this guy is tough.” She shook her head staring at me. She looked like she was studying me. I felt awkward so I left.
At the café, I ordered myself a set of delicious-looking pork chop. Can’t be that bad, I thought to myself. I sat down at a comfortable corner and had my meal.
It turned out that what Lucy said about the food was actually true. The pork chop was indeed bad. The meat was chewy and tasteless. I felt like I’d been chewing for hours. But I had no choice. This set cost me 20,000 won. I would feel sorry for my thirsty wallet if I had wasted the food.
Just as I was about to force down the last few pieces of the rubber-like pork chop, I saw a figure standing next to me all of a sudden. I turned around and found myself looking at Lucy, soaking wet. Her silent and sudden appearance scared the wits out of me.
“I was about to head home. But there’s something wrong with my car. It won’t budge. I can’t get a cab to stop for me in this crazy weather. Could you give me a ride back to my apartment?” She shivered a little from the cold. Why wasn’t she holding her weird umbrella again?
“Oh… Uh… okay, I guess.” I replied, looking at my almost-empty plate.
“Oh! I’m sorry. It’s okay you can finish eating your… um… lunch? I’ll just wait outside.”
“I…” She marched out right before I could finish my sentence. I took a quick look around and continued eating.
“Gosh… why is it pouring so heavily suddenly?”
“Yeah. It’s freezing!”
Two girls brushes past me carrying their respective set meals.
I thought of her all wet standing under the rain and waiting alone in the cold outside, while the selfish me continued eating in the warm café.
Without much thought, I rushed outside only to see her arms wrapped around herself, squatting in a telephone booth, trying to keep herself warm.
“Let’s go.” I walked into the booth.
“You’re sure a fast-eater!” She grabbed her bag and stood up. Her brown eyes met mine. Her lips curled into her usual bright smile.
For a moment, my heart stopped beating again.
I walked out towards my bike without saying another word. I opened the compartment and took out two helmets. Then, I realised I didn’t have a raincoat because I’ve never had the need to use one. But it was raining very heavily. What about her?
“What’s wrong?” She noticed me panicking.
“I… I don’t have a raincoat.” I replied apologetically.
“Oh… So?” She didn’t look surprised or upset at all.
“What about you…” I thought she was used to being sheltered from the rain?
“Oh, you meant me? It’s okay! I brought a jacket.” She broke out into a sweet smile again, as if reassuring me that I didn’t have to take care of her that way.
How can you cover yourself from the rain with a jacket? I began to worry a little.
“Wait a sec, I’ll buy one.” I couldn’t watch her soaking in that jacket under the heavy rain with the risk of catching a cold. I ran into the convenient store where she worked and bought a raincoat. Thank God they still sell these in a regular store.
I rushed out and handed it to her. She reached out her hand and took it shyly smiling. “You’re such a nice person.”
I climbed onto my bike and started the engine. She got on and lightly wrapped her arms around my waist. I felt my cheeks heat up. I look around awkwardly before realising that I should probably get going.
You’re just giving a girl a ride home. What’s the big deal? I shook my head to senses.
Throughout the journey, I felt a little vibration from time to time. But that came from her arms around my waist. I glimpsed at her through the side mirrors. She had her head down the whole time, squeezing her neck deep within her shoulders.
“Are you very cold?”
“I… I’m okay…”
Really? She didn’t sound okay. This was the first time I’d ever heard her stutter.
Suddenly, her arms around my waist tightened. Sigh. Why do I feel so weird again? This feeling lasted all the way to her apartment.
“Thank you so much for the ride. I will return your raincoat when it’s dry.”
“You don’t have to. I don’t use it.”
“Oh.” She nodded. “I’ll use it then. Thank you! Bye!” She headed straight to her apartment the moment she finished.
As she walked closer and closer to her doorstep, I gathered my nerves and finally gave in. “Hey…” She turned around and looked at me. “Make yourself a cup of hot tea once you get inside. It’ll help prevent a cold.”
“Hot tea?” She didn’t know what else to say. She seemed a little puzzled. “Oh. Um… okay. Thanks!”
I watched her silhouette slowly fading away from my vision as she went in. I smiled faintly. Today was the first time I had actually spoken to a girl like this. Not because she asked me a question. Not because I was forced to say something. Not because circumstances made me do so.
But because I wanted to.