”I’m off to school!” I yell over my shoulder and wait for my mother’s reply. Her head appears around the corner from the kitchen and she waves. “Have a nice day,” she says and I step outside the house. My name is Jung Heejin and I’m 17 years old. I live with mother who is Korean and my father who is Swedish. My father is originally from Sweden but his family moved to Canada when he was 5 so he is raised there. As an adult he moved to Korea because of work and he fell in love with my mother. I’m born and raised in Korea so I feel more Korean than anything. But I’m still a mixed race and I can speak Korean, English and some Swedish. I look more Korean than Scandinavian though so not many people know about my mixed genes. I’m attending high school at the moment and I’m in my second year. School is a little difficult these days. My best friend Oh Sehun moved recently and had to transfer schools so I don’t really have anyone to talk to. Worse is that I’m struggling with my homework. I didn’t really focus during my first year and now I’m behind the other students in my year. My grades have hit rock bottom in almost every subject except English. School has never really been my thing and I have never been smart. But I need to step up this year and get good grades so I can make my parents proud.
When I arrive at school there are still a couple of minutes before class starts. I walk down the hall towards my classroom when five boys turn around the corner in the opposite end. All the girls in the hallway turn their heads and call the people inside the classrooms. Suddenly the hallway is very crowded because of these five boys. I know them very well but only by their names and talents. The one on the right is Kang Dongho but everybody calls him Baekho because he resembles a white tiger with his bleached hair. He has a lot of muscles and even though he looks tough he is actually a very good singer. Next to him is a blonde guy with very feminine features and a slender body. His name is Choi Minki but is called Ren because he looks like a pretty Japanese anime character. On the left is a brown haired guy with a lot of piercings in his ears. His name is Aron Kwak and he is born and raised in L.A. California. He is the smartest student in the whole school and he always gets perfect grades without even trying. His family is very rich so he is always wearing the newest fashion and he has a sports car. Besides that he is also the school’s biggest player and he flirts with every girl that shows an interest in him. Next to him is a very tall guy with brown hair and always with a smile on his face. His name is Hwang Minhyun and he is a basketball player. Actually he is the best basketball player in the entire school. He is 6 feet tall and has played since he was 9 years old. But besides that he also likes to sing and he sounds like an angel.
Last but not least is JR. His real name is Kim Jonghyun and he is the leader of this “group”. He is the most popular with girls but he is also the most rude. He has a cold facade but can also have an aggressive attitude. He is a boxer and because of that he is a strong fighter. No one dares to provoke him because he is not going to hold back. He is known for being a troublemaker.
I have never talked to any of them but I used to have a crush on Minhyun. He is nice to everyone and when he rejects a girl who confessed to him he says that she deserves better than him. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and because of that he gets along well with everyone.
The boys split up and enter their different classrooms. None of them is in my class and Aron is a year older than the rest of us so he is in his third year of high school. When the boys disappear from the hallway so do the girls and I enter my classroom. I find my seat and sit down. It’s by the window and I enjoy looking outside. I can see the outdoors basketball court and from here I used to watch Minhyun practice after school. It’s been a while since I have done that though. I turn my head when I hear the teacher ask for silence and class starts.
When last period ends my classmates leave the classroom and I end up sitting alone. I have decided to stay here and study for a couple of hours. Here I don’t get distracted or disturbed. But unfortunately that doesn’t change much. I still can’t get my homework done. I don’t understand anything. I don’t even know what I don’t know and there is no one to help me. Maybe Aron could teach me a thing or two if I had the courage to ask. But I feel stupid enough already and asking for help will only make me feel worse. After staring at my homework for two hours without having made much progress I suddenly hear something. I straighten up in my chair and listen. It’s the sound of a piano. Or rather the sound of someone playing the piano. I stand up and leave the classroom. Outside on the hallway the sound increases and I start to follow it. I end up in front of the music room down the hallway from my classroom. I carefully open the door and look inside the room. I’m very surprised to see the person sitting by the piano. It’s JR. The toughest guy in school is playing the piano. The hands that are usually used for boxing are now gracefully dancing over the keys of the piano and making beautiful music. I feel drawn to it and without even realizing it I step further into the room. I don’t realize I’m standing right next to him until he suddenly stops playing. He looks at me with a mad expression on his face.
“What are you doing here?” he asks with the husky voice that is one of his trademarks. “I just heard the piano and wondered who was playing,” I say and he squints a little. “Well now you have seen it and don’t tell anyone. If you do I don’t know what I’m gonna do to you but it’s not going to be pretty. Do you understand?” he says and I nod. “I understand. I won’t tell anyone I promise.”
“I can’t use your promise for anything because I don’t know if I can trust you,” he says and stands up. “You can. If I break my promise you can break my nose. Deal?” I say and reach out my hand for him to take to seal the deal. He doesn’t even look at my hand and just snorts. “Whatever,” he says as he turns away and leaves the room. I wave with the hand that I wanted him to shake.
“Okay bye,” I say really pathetically and lower my hand. I look at the piano and think to myself that even the toughest guy has a soft side that no one can know about. But now that I know about it something is changed. Before I didn’t really pay attention to JR but now I’m curious. Is he really as bad as he wants people to think? Maybe he has more soft sides than just this one and does everything he can to hide it. I didn’t really care before but now he intrigues me. I’m not saying I want to get to know him or anything. I’m just going to observe him for a little while. Maybe I will discover something interesting.
The next day I wait in front of the school. I wait for JR to arrive and when he does I observe him. As soon as he steps onto school grounds a girl walks up to him. He stops and looks at her with an indifferent expression. They are too far away for me to hear the conversation but from what I can see it looks like a confession. The girl looks very nervous as she says something to him and he rolls his eyes. He only says two words and then he walks past her. From the expression on the girl’s face he turned her down and he didn’t do it gently.
I hear someone call JR’s name and when I turn my head I see Minhyun walk past me. His shoulder bumps into mine and he quickly apologizes before he runs over to JR. I look at them as they come my way and they are very different. Minhyun has a big smile on his face and talks enthusiastically while JR doesn’t say a word and looks like he couldn’t care less. When they pass me I hear Minhyun say that he is excited about moving to a new house. I frown and look at him over my shoulder. Is Minhyun moving? Does that mean he has to transfer schools too, like Sehun did? No he wouldn’t say he is excited if he had to leave his friends. But I wonder where he is moving. Even though it has nothing to do with me my biggest weakness is my curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat and someday it’s probably going to kill me too. I always stick my nose where it doesn’t belong and one day I’m going to be in serious trouble because of that. It’s only a matter of time.
Suddenly the bell rings and I have to hurry to class if I don’t want to be late.
After school I just walk straight home. I don’t want to sit at school and try to do my homework because I know I won’t get anything done anyway. When I enter the house I hear my mom’s voice from the kitchen. She asks me to come see her so I walk to the kitchen. She turns around to look at me with a nervous expression on her face.
“Something wrong?” I ask and she bites her lip. Something she always does when she is anxious. Something is definitely wrong.
“Heejin there is something I need to tell you,” she says and hesitates. “Well then tell me already. Stop beating around the bush,” I say and she nods. “Well, you know that we have had three empty rooms since your brothers moved out. And your father and I were thinking that we could put them up for rent to earn a little extra money,” she says and looks at me with scared eyes, “and three people have already rented the rooms.”
I look at her confused and ask: “Who rented them?”
She bites her lip again and hesitates before she answers. “Three boys from your school.”