Do You Still Dislike Pickles?

His personality was like the best coffee one could taste. It was of the right balance- not too sweet; he was capable of acting tough and serious in the appropriate situations- and not too bitter either; when it came to casual hang outs or taking me to the coffee shop, he was always loving and cute. He was perfect.

His curiosity was like a Cortado- very open and straightforward, but with a touch of angelic innocence, a topping of cream.

His conscientiousness was like a Macchiato- always with a strong base, filled with different levels. It was a maze, but he utilised it well.

At the same time, he was very extroverted. His ability to socialise and draw energy from any atmosphere was never inconspicuous. It was like a perfectly brewed Pharisaer. Everyone loved him.

His embrace was like a hot cappuccino on a cold, wintery day.

His scent gave off rich aromas of spiced coffee, matching his personality, which was made of a dramatic, adventurous, but humble and gentle spirit.

The feel of his lips had an air of Vienna Coffee. He was never one to make a kiss feel uncomfortable, but eventually, as you think of pulling away, he will end with a smart kick, rendering you completely breathless.

Regardless of his warm spirit in kissing, his ability to make love was purely Americano. He could lead you for days, and would never feel like stopping. And it was never slow or gentle, but very erotic and wild.

Bang Yong Guk was the best brew of coffee.

And he was the very same man who took me to the Coffee Shop on our first month anniversary and introduced me to the different coffees.

The Coffee Shop was a sophisticated café that Yong Guk had apparently visited during high school for ‘relief’. It housed a vast menu of coffees alone- exotic names that a normal Korean would have never recognized.

I was never into coffee- I more or less hated milk based beverages, and stuck to fruit juices and the likes. But since I loved him, I thought trying wouldn’t hurt.

And it didn’t. I literally dragged him to the same café everyday to try out a new coffee. Each drink was different, just like him. Each time we met, he showed me different levels of trust, adventure, friendship and most of all, love. Regardless of my newfound love for coffee, I loved going to The Coffee Shop with him. It was a place that made him open up the most. The Coffee Shop seemed to create an energetic rush in him, causing him to happily converse with me, before leading me to my house. Though the cafe had a warm, earthy vibe, Yong Guk interpreted it differently-it was his place to be fun, happy, and most of all, loving.

The Coffee Shop was what made our love blossom, was what made us descend to different emotions together, and what ultimately made it crash as well.

As we graduated from college, which was about two months before, Yong Guk refused to go out as often as we did before. He only seemed interested in dates at the Coffee Shop. Every time I invited him for a hang out or a casual meet, he declined it, unless it was planned in the Coffee Shop. It seemed like he was more in love with the place than with me. I found myself waiting in the Coffee Shop every time we decided to meet. He was never open for after the date either. He would always disappear after we stood up, and kissed, and parted ways. Though very unrealistic, dates, for him, meant cuddling up with The Coffee Shop. I was merely a messenger.

I, of course, figured that infidelity using The Coffee Shop was not something Yong Guk participated in. Though he declined meeting at any other place, he always acted as sweet and loving as ever when we did meet at the café. Like always, we talked, but unusually, je wasn’t as enthusiastic before. we never professed pur secrets, or talked about our problems. It was like he had cloned himself to meet with me, and his real spirit was dead.It was confounding, because he never did tell me why he preferred dating there. We talked for hours together over warm or cold coffee, but whatever the drink, he never talked straightforwardly. He always showered me with praise and never stopped talking sugar. But we never talked like a real couple of four years. It seemed too amateurish, and he didn’t seem to be ready to tell me why it was like that. So, after weeks of consulting my mind, I decided it was time. I could not last in a relationship where a surreal image of happiness was drawn. We had to split.

But of course, I didn’t have the heart. I starkly remember one instance before college graduation, when we had had a small fight and I refused to talk to him. He took me to the café and bought me my favourite coffee, Ethiopian, and sat me down on his lap. He didn’t care that it was an open place where other students thronged to. He sat me down with no reluctance and held me tight, before gently turning my face towards him. His eyes seared through mine, yet he didn’t let me move.

He said, with a deep breath, “I’m so sorry, Kyung Min. I truly am, from the bottom of my heart. I can’t believe I would cause a fight between us, and I can’t believe I lived with myself knowing that I caused you to ignore me. I love you, and I always will. I promise to never cause any trouble. Please, forgive me.”

I looked at him and observed his straight and unwavering emotion. His feelings were so deep and true. At that point, I couldn’t say no.

“I love you,” I whispered after a kiss, to which he replied, “I also have one more request.”

“Please, never say you’ll break up with me. I’m having so much fun with you; my life is never complete with your smile. I don’t think I’ll be able to cope up with losing you. If you ever suspect me of anything, throw those thoughts away. I’ll never cheat on you, and I’ll never stop loving you. Never split up with me. Promise?”

I nodded slowly. At that time, even I couldn’t think of ever needing to break up with him.

This was why actually telling him that our relationship was void was impossible.

But how much ever I reasoned, I still felt a hole. It was the only way to release myself from that endless feeling of being locked up.

Ever since these negative feelings arose in me, I observed that the meetings with Yong Guk became less in quality as well as quantity. We met less by the day, and each time we did, he seemed to have grown weaker than before. His voice slowly grew soft, and his bright complexion went duller and duller. It was like he was disappearing with my love for him. But didn’t that usually happen with hallucinations- where one dreams of the spirit of a loved one, and that which slowly fades away with memory? Obviously, these weren’t hallucinations. I couldn’t have gone mad- there wasn’t enough evidence for that. And it seemed too  sappy  to be true. It was like an old novel, where the heroine notices changes in her life as she breaks away from her prince.

I was clearly acting childish. I had to end this once and for all, even if they did mess with my mind.

For help I texted our long time friend Yoo Youngjae. He stuck with us ever since we were a couple, and he was one person who understood me. If I couldn’t confide in Yong Guk, then he could.

However, when I requested for help, he replied negatively.

His text said:

“Kyung Min! What is wrong with you! How many times do we have to tell you!? Bang Yong Guk is GONE. He has been gone for two months together now. I can’t think of any way to make you remember that except shout at you each time. Stop mentioning him, as if he still exists. You’re just causing us more hurt.”

That was Youngjae’s problem. I don’t know if the two had an altercation, or something of the sort, but he always denied Yong Guk’s existence as a whole. He kept telling me that he was gone, which clearly was wrong because I met Yong Guk at the Coffee Shop almost every day. Something obviously happened between the two of them, but they never mentioned it, if it ever did happen. I was left with no information on their relationship at all. Youngjae’s words never made sense to me.

So I turned to another friend, Daehyun. He was someone I hadn’t contacted in a long time, so starting anew with something negative would obviously render me to expect the same reaction as Youngjae. So instead, I just requested him to come with me to the café. When we got there, I figured I would explain it to him and he would subsequently execute my wishes.

Thankfully, Daehyun replied positively, and I was already set to meet Yong Guk the next day.

At 2:30, the day after, we all met at the café. Interestingly, Yong Guk and Daehyun didn’t exchange greetings. But it wasn’t of concern to me.

I pulled Daehyun to a corner as Yong Guk went in to order coffee, and pleaded with him to help me out with the break up.

Daehyun looked very puzzled, and scared at the same time.

“Kyung Min, what- what are you talking about? Yong Guk- he’s- oh, so this is what Youngjae was talking about. Kyung Min-“he muttered, before vigorously shaking his head and looking at me.

“I’m sorry, but I need to go. I’ll be right back in a few minutes.” He said, without waiting for a reply. I watched as he ran out into the road and stopped at a phone booth.

I went and sat down at a free table, waiting for both of them.

Yong Guk sat down and gave me my cup.

“I got you your favourite. You know, because I lo-”

And that was when the biggest turning point of my life happened.

As he froze, he looked toward the back of me. I could hear someone approaching me, and looked back to face a tall, sturdy looking man, with a uniform on. On his right chest pocket was a golden emblem that read ‘Hongdae Psychiatric Ward’. I turned back to see him slowly fade away, like he was an apparition all the while.

Ever since then, I have been sitting in a hospital ward. But unlike usual hospital wards, this one is dreary and cold. They never check my temperature or give me injections. All they do is talk to me, and I detest these sessions every day, aside from engaging me in useless things like gardening, and sewing. I’ve been admitted in an asylum.They keep telling me the same thing that Youngjae was reinforcing- that Yong Guk is gone. He apparently died two months ago, and I have been claiming to have met with him. Like a psycho.

Was I really hallucinating? No. These sessions haven’t had any effect on me.

I am confident that Yong Guk is alive and kicking. I can still feel his breath, and smell his scent, as if I slept with him yesterday.

 

I now have started planning how to meet with Yong Guk later, after they discharge me. I’m thinking about trying to patch things up, because he never meant to hurt me- I can see that. As I lie on this stone cold bed day- they day he took me to The Coffee Shop. It was glorious, just him and myself.Yong Guk isn’t gone- I’ve been dating him for the past four years. As I lie here, I can’t help but smile. The day they discharge me will be a new lease of life, in both finding my spirit, and finding my love. I can’t wait. I can’t forget the last words he tried to say- I love you. I will set out and regain that feeling of love. The perfect concoction: Park Kyung Min + Bang Yong Guk.

Youngjae’s words have never made sense to me, and they never will.

 


Yaay! First story entry for the Sky is the Limit contest! Please check it out- its really cool.  To be clear, Daehyun and Youngjae admitted her in a mental institution because she was hallucinating about Yong Guk, while he really died two months ago. I’m sorry I’m making everyone die, but you won’t see that it my other feature stories, I promise!!

This story was inspired from the song Coffee Shop, as you would have guessed. It was something I thought they should have done for the video.

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