A single knock was all it took.
I ran before the second knock came and I punched out the screen of the window and hastily threw my backpack out onto the roof and repeated the same process with my body. The cold, night air attacked me with biting teeth, and I momentarily tried to rid myself of the feeling by rubbing my hands together. I then heard frantic yelling. No doubt the noise of me dislodging the screen from its place had signaled to them what I was doing. They started to pound on the door.
Good luck getting that open.
I crouched on the roof and lifted my head to see how the bookshelf I pushed in front of the door was holding up.
Meh… Not as well as I hoped.
Some books had fallen to the floor and the bookshelf looked ready to follow suit. I returned my attention to the problem at hand, getting down. I was immediately dismayed to find that my father had moved the car fall down the driveway, so I could no longer hop onto the top.
A crash came from behind me and I winced visibly. I didn’t even try to see if the gutters would hold before I swung my backpack onto my back and grabbed the edge of the gutters and tried as gently as possible to let myself down. The gutters creaked and bent a little, and subsequently I panicked and let go, which was less than wise.
I hit the ground. Hard
I looked up to see my father waving his hands frantically at me, his mouth moving but no words seemed to come out. I guess my head had hit the concrete a little too hard, but I scrambled to get up, fearing my mother would be running out of the front door to grab me any second. I stumbled and nearly fell again, but instead used the momentum to propel myself forward into a full-out sprint. As I ran down the driveway to the gate I began to hear my father’s yelling voice getting louder as I began to be able to hear again. For a moment, I thought he was chasing after me and gaining ground, and my legs must have looked like a blur after that.
I flew past the cherry blossom trees, and I soon reached the gate and yanked open the side door and practically threw myself into the sloped street. My mother’s voice joined my father’s. I didn’t stay to hear what the had to say.....or scream.
I once again began to run, following the slant down, using gravity to aid my flight. The street lights glowed a soft orange-y yellow as I sped past them. My heart hammered in my chest and my breathing was slightly painful, but I felt a smile on my face. The road’s slope evened out and I slowed to catch my breath.
The three-way intersection was devoid of life. Cars parked on the sides of the already narrow road shone in the moonlight and streetlamp light. Houses, built on the side of the hill, barely surpassed the edge of the street I faced in height, while the houses behind me stood like colossal fortresses. I could see a large part of the city from here.
A gleeful laugh filled my lungs. If anyone had passed me, they would probably think that I looked like a maniac. A schoolgirl with extremely disheveled and wind blown long black hair laughing in the middle of the street at 11 at night. Definitely weird looking.
I reached up to try to fix my hair and get it out of my face, but pulled my hand to my face suddenly when I felt something wet. My fingertips were lightly painted with crimson blood. I swayed a little bit.
Bile rose up in my throat.
If the human body didn’t have blood in it I would surely become a doctor and none of this would have become necessary.
I felt sick as I stared at the blood on my hands. My head didn’t even hurt and all I thought about was getting the disgusting bodily fluid off of my hands. I quickly turned to see if I had any pursuers. The relatively dark street was empty as it wound up and around a corner. Thankfully, my brain had had the decency to think to hide the keys of all the vehicles we owned, which was a grand number of two.
Wait a moment. What if my father found the keys? Thinking back to when I was trying to escape, father had moved the car, hindering my escape unintentionally. Obviously, he needed the keys for that.
I shook my head.
No, I hid the keys too well to be found. He must have moved the car before I hid them.
I should have checked to see where the car was before I hid the keys.
I moved to knock on my own head with my fist in act of self-censure.
Well that was dumb. I lightly clutched the area of my head and squeezed my eyes shut. My brain definitely needed scolding.
I quickly formed a plan in my untrustworthy brain to accomplish two things in one action. I primarily needed to get farther away from my parents and secondly needed something to patch my head up. I was slightly dizzy. So, I planned to go to this street corner shop I knew of that was open 24/7 and five miles away at least. Walking quickly, it would take me about and hour and a half, but my only friend, Hana, lived near it. I told myself I could do it, and off I went.
As I walked down the dimly lit streets, dogs barked near me and a few cars passed. I made a silent thankful prayer that I was born into a country with a low crime rate. Despite this fact, I still felt jumpy. My meager training in Taekwondo and my slight 163 centimeters wasn’t going to be able to beat off a criminal any time soon. Dark alleys gradually became more foreboding as the night wore on. I turned on the flashlight application on my phone and shone it at my feet. It made me feel more secure.
Occasionally, I passed an unguarded bicycle, and I’m sure it brought out the worst in me. Thoughts of “borrowing” one of them nearly overtook me, but I abstained. I told myself I didn’t actually steal it because I knew that it was wrong and I was a good person, and not because my father had never taught me how to ride one.
About halfway through my short journey the wind picked up. I brought my fluffy olive green coat closer to my body and once again, reprobated myself for not thinking to grab a scarf of some sort. My ears felt frozen and I reached up to put my hands around them. However, this meant I had to put my phone in my pocket and it also meant obstructing my sense of hearing. I grew paranoid that someone would come up behind me while I couldn’t hear as well, so I soon just braved the weather. I turned a corner and began walking towards one of the wider streets that is usually busier than the streets closer to my house. If I took that then I would be at the shop in ten minutes.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to turn on my light once again, and was surprised at the time. 12:04 A.M. I had been walking almost an hour and was closer to the street corner shop than I had originally thought I would have been at this time. I was almost twenty minutes early. Perhaps fear spurred me faster? The second thing that caught my attention was the amount of calls and texts that I had missed. I almost laughed out loud. Eighty-three calls from my father and sixty calls from my mother. Both of them seemed to share similar feelings in the 50 odd cumulative texts they sent me as well. There weren’t near as many last time I turned the flashlight on.
I was completely consumed with reading and deleting their texts and calls and voice messages. Actually, I was so distracted that I didn’t realize I had made it to the wider street until I heard the sound of car engines and suddenly...a loud screeching.
I turned my head and realized I was in the middle of the street.
A white car was coming barreling towards me.
I stood frozen and clamped my eyes shut as fear gripped me.
The impact felt as if a grown man had thrown his entire weight at me and I hit the ground for the second time that night.
It took what seemed like years to get my senses working again. My vision faded in and out. My hearing was as absent as the warmth of my ears. I tried to move my hands to my face to see what was obstructing all these senses, but something held down my arms. I shook my head and my eyes started to focus.
Well, I guess a grown man had thrown his whole weight at me, because there looking into my eyes were another pair of eyes framed by dark fringe. He let me go and rose to a crouch.
“Are you okay?”
My hand shot to my head the minute my arm was free. It hurt even more now. At least my hearing came back. I didn’t want to see the blood on my hand so I didn’t pull it away this time. This night was ridiculously repetitive.
“Miss?! Are you okay?” the man persisted.
“I-I’m fine. Thank you.” I replied and turned to look at the car. The owner had gotten out and after hearing that I was okay started lecturing me....loudly.
“I’m sorry, sir. I will be more careful.” I got up slowly and brushed off my pants with one hand. “I’m very sorry, sir.”
The owner looked appeased at my apology and maybe a little guilty. He sighed a word of exasperation and said, “Well....as long as you aren’t hurt or anything. Just be careful.”
And with that he got in his car and drove away. A little abrupt, but who could blame him? It was past midnight.
I had almost completely forgotten about the other man who had saved me. I turned to him and realized how lucky I truly was. Not only was I saved from a crash during a time when practically no one is walking around, but I was saved by a very handsome man.
“Thank you very much for saving me. I am very, very grateful to you,” I said with a huge smile. “If you hadn’t been there I would probably have to go to the hospital.” I shuddered at the thought. Not only is the hospital filled will blood and needles and sickness, but it means that my parents would have to be contacted.
“I think that we should still-”
“NO!” I shouted. I put my hands out in protest and his eyes widened in shock. “I mean...No. That would be an inconvenience to you and I wouldn’t want you to do that. Don’t worry about it. I really am fine.” I even smiled to show him.
“But what about your head? It’s bleeding.” His tall frame moved closer to try to examine my headwound. I moved away.
“It’s just a scratch,” I said, “Look, there is a shop on the corner ten minutes that way,” I pointed eastwards with my free hand.
“I know the one you’re talking about,” he said, following my finger’s direction, shifting a backpack on his back.
“I was already on my way towards it, so I’ll just get a bandaid or something from it.”
“Okay, but I would feel much better if you would allow me to go with you...”
I looked at him, trying to judge his character. He wore a simple grey t-shirt and jeans and carried a black backpack. His shoulders were broad, his face kind, and as previously stated, handsome. His features also seemed similar. But looks were deceptive.
“Okay, sure. Feel free. I appreciate it,” my mouth spoke before my mind could edit anything. I would just have remain cautious.
“Alright. Let’s go.
I took my hand from my head and held it behind me under my backpack so I wouldn’t have to look at it and off we went. The ten minute walk seemed short and soon we stood in front of the shop.
I took the lead and entered. The person at the cash register look extremely bored and tired and didn’t even bother to greet us.
“Are you hungry?” my hero asked.
“What? Umm..no? I’m fine?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll get us some ramen, on me,” and with that he made a beeline to the ramen selection and I did the same to the bathroom to wash off the blood on my hand. There wasn’t that much, but it still made me uncomfortable.
After, I found a small selection of bandages and purchased it. My hero set his bag down and sat at one of the tables with bowls of ramen waiting. I gestured that I would put the bandage on in the bathroom and he nodded. It wasn’t easy, putting the bandage on. Even though the small laceration was on the side of my forehead it was still partially obscured by hair and I struggled to put it on. Finally, I gave up and settled for the mediocre application I had achieved.
The guy still sat at the table. I took the chair opposite him and set my bag down.
“Thank you again for rescuing me.”
“Is there a name I can call you by? I don’t think I should keep calling you my hero, haha.” I immediately regretted saying that and mentally kicked myself. Now was not the time to flirt. It was beyond late and I needed to get to Hana’s.
He laughed. It was a good, hearty laugh that made me smile. “I don’t think I would mind if you did call me that even after I tell you my name. It’s Hanjae.”
That name sounded ridiculously familiar. I frowned.
“Is there something wrong with your ramen?” he asked.
I softened my face and smiled. “No, no, no, it’s fine. Thank you.” I took some noodles into my mouth and drank some broth. Warmness seemed to spread throughout my body.
He didn’t ask me for my name. I was relieved by that.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking but...” Hanjae started.
My chest seized up in the beginnings of panic. Maybe I spoke too soon.
“....why are you running away?”
My heart raced and my head throbbed slightly. That question was even worse. But when I looked up into his eyes and saw honest to goodness concern. So I told him.
“My family...parents, I mean. They want me to be something I am not, something I can’t be,” I breathed out.
“It was to the point where I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I ran away.”
I made it seem frightfully simple, but it wasn’t. My family tree was made up of mostly doctors. The one person I know who is still living who isn’t a doctor in our family is my aunt, and she is an outcast. I suppose she did something similar to what I was doing at the moment. I don’t want to be a part of that family anymore. I want to do what I want to do. So I ran away.
I envy people who have good families. They don’t know how lucky they are. Money doesn’t matter, just acceptance and support. People like my friend Hana who have great parents and siblings.....
My eyes shot up. Hanjae! I knew I recognized the name.
“Do you have a sister?” I asked tentatively.
“Why, yes, I do. Actually, you look like you are around her age,” Hanjae said, surprised.
I grew more confident. “Is her name Hana?!”
“Y-Yes. What’s going on? How do you know Hana?”
“Ha ha!!!” I laughed, gleefully, “Hana is my friend...well, actually, my only friend. Oh wow, I can’t believe I didn’t realize it sooner! You guys look a like, too. Oh wow. I am the luckiest person alive.” I laughed again. Hanjae just sat there, slightly shocked.
“I was actually planning on going to Hana’s after this. It is really good to meet you. It’s strange really that I’ve never met you before. Is it because you go to college or...?”
Hanjae found his tongue. “No, I’m not that old. If you were born in...I’m guessing ‘98, then I am just a year older than you. This year is my last year of mandatory school.”
It was my turn to be unable to speak. He looked so mature. How could he only be a year older than me?
He laughed at my speechless face. “I know, I look older. But anyways, it is really late, and you need a place to stay. I’m sure Hana will be thrilled to have you at....” he checked his phone”...1:00 in the morning. But you should probably go back home in the morning.”
“Th-thank you so much! I understand. But my parents....”
“Are probably reconsidering their family ideals. We can talk about it the actual morning, too.” Hanjae finished.
I nodded my head in agreement, smiling. We both rose to leave.
“Wait, why were you walking around this late at night.”
He grinned crookedly and shouldered his backpack.
“Maybe we both have family issues.”
I gasped slightly in realization.
“Can I ask you a question?” Hanjae asked.
“What is your name?”
I grinned back.