Chapter 8 - Out of his league

Unlike Suho and the other students, Hana would sit in silence and try to get the best seat in the house -- middle, in front of the teacher -- which kids avoid.  

During breaks, when students chatter, play or escape to a convenience store, the new girl buried herself in the books. 

Her voice is precious as a diamond, a rare commodity.  

Her effort to distance herself from others was futile.  

As boys would hover around her like bees trying to score nectar from the most beautiful flower in the garden. 

At night when the classes were over, she'd often walk the streets from the center to her house.  

Suho would pedal his bicycle tortoise-like, matching her pace. Sometimes she'd take the bus, and he'd follow the bus until the next bus stop. 

Days passed into weeks.  

The excitement and agitation crept through every vein in Suho's body.  

Downcasted at the thought of not seeing Hana every day to melodramatic anticipation of the new school year's promise. 

Suho wasn't after the academic come-back but the basketball tryout he'd been eyeing for the past few months. The basketball team had been Suho's motivation for coming to school for years.  

And the time has arrived. Hana's appearance was like a propeller pushing him towards his dreams. 

The mere thought of Hana made Suho's lips curve to smile.  

That he couldn't contain his emotion any longer and dialed Kwanghee's number on their home phone. 

"Hello," a grumpy voice answered on the other end of the line. 

"Hey!" Suho replied, recognizing his friend's voice. 

"Yo! What's up?"  

"Guess what! Someone's moving into Joo Ho's apartment," Suho's tone, perkier than usual. 

"Great! That means he is never going back, "Kwanghee replied sarcastically. 

" That's without a doubt," Suho paused. "But hear me first. You'll be surprised who moved in, though, and you'll be balling your eyes out. " 

"No, thanks, man. I wouldn't really care unless she's an angel." 

"She is..." 

"No way!" Kwanghee's tone changed. "I mean you don't normally say those things. So, if you say she is... man, that must be true. Have you met her?" 

"Yes and no." 

"Huh?! What do you mean?" 

"Yes, I met her in our hagwon1 class. No. I haven't introduced myself yet." 

"Wait...! What?!" a long pause, "you're not making any sense, man." 

Suho chuckled. 

"That's unthinkable. Wasn't it the other way around?" Pausing in between, "you never attended a hagwon, and you're a chick magnet, so how come you haven't introduced yourself yet?" 

"You'll know when you meet her." 

"Oh... The gods must be crazy!" 

"No, they are not. They must have heard my mom's cry." Smirking in between," oh, by the way, she's coming to school tomorrow." 

"Oh! I better sleep early then," Kwanghee mused. 

The loud sound of his burp broke Suho's reverie.  

After cleaning up his mess, he rolled on his bike to Donghwasa temple, offering prayer, summoning to the gods, and whispering to his father.  

He knelt down on his knees with incense in his hands, asking for courage and protection from her mother's evil ways who'd been opposing his basketball dream day one.  

For her mother, it was a hobby, but for Suho, it was a dream.  

Hana's presence has given him the renewed spirit to keep chasing for his goal, even if it meant going against all the odds. 

As he drove back to the school, the streets have transformed.  

Children in their school uniform filled the streets of Daegu as moms busy themselves cleaning after their kids.  

Some kids walked, others in cars or buses while the rest rode their bicycles to school.  

The hallway buzzed with students, each trying to navigate their new classroom, yelling and grumping once they found their way in. 

"Suho, hey, guess what! We are classmates again," Kwanghee shouted, patting him on the back.  

Chuckling, Suho's eyes wandered in every classroom, "As if that's something new." 

Kwanghee pouted, abruptly changing the topic, "Hey, do you think she's here now?" 

"Well, I guess..." Suho pointed to a crowd hovering in class 3 of Grade 10, the girl's section. For the first time in years, Suho realized why schools chose to separate boys from the girls.  

Given the surge of testosterone level in teenage boys, having a belle was a distraction, if not a cause of chaos. 

"Woah, she looks like a goddess," one of the older students exclaimed. Eyes popping, pushing the other kids aside. 

"Yah! Don't waste your time. She's mine", one senior blurted out, sneering at the smaller students, trying to hit them with his hand.  

A bunch of girls stood at the back of the boys, "she's not even pretty. Look at her dark skin and unruly bangs, do they not have a hair salon where she came from?" One of the girls retorted, her arms folded, chewing on a piece of bubble gum. 

"She's no comparison to our queen Baekhina here," another girl with a pig-tail hair interjected. She was wearing too much make-up; she'll pass as a clown. 

Then there was Baekhina.  

The girl who'd been driving Suho nuts for the entire year. The reigning goddess soon dethroned, not looking too happy with her pouty bloody red lips and rolling eyes. 

"Yes, that's right," said another, whose skirt was as long as her socks. "Look at her stuff, I bet they're all imitations while Baekhina's all genuine." 

"You know what...?" The three girls turned around. "I heard she's here because she was kicked out because of a scandal at school. They shouldn't have admitted someone as lowly as her," Baekhina added to her minions. 

"Forget it," Suho pulled his friend next to him.  

The door opened from the room that's driving curiosity, one student came out and left the door ajar.  

Suho peeked inside just when Hana looked outside.  

Their eyes met for a split second.  

But for Suho, it felt like an eternity. 

"Hey, I thought we're not going there anymore," his friend bumped his shoulder. 

"Oh yes," turning left to their homeroom. 


Everywhere, the students scrambled to their classrooms after hearing the school bell's sound echoing.  

"Hey, I want to see her." 

"No, don't bother. I am sure there's a bunch of other people who would do the same." 

"You're such a party pooper." Kwanghee objected, turning away from Suho, who sat behind him. 

"Okay, class," the teacher announced. 

Suho leaned forward. "You'll see her soon," he whispered confidently. 


"Mr. Lee, are you here to cause trouble in my class again?" 

"I am sorry, Ms. Yoo." 

"Okay, quiet everyone," teacher Yoo whipped the table with her long brown stick, signaling the start of their class. 

The day went by fast without them noticing it.  

At last, the sound of the bell marked the end of the day.  

It was an ordinary day except that everyone's buzzing about the new belle in town. Shaking the once quiet little city of Daegu. 

On that perfect spring day, the cherry blossom trees showered their way home.  

Suho biked his way out, scurrying away from the bunch of kids.  

He went straight to the convenience store to buy something for his sister while waiting for the kids to disperse.  

After which, Suho walked towards the biking parking area, mounted his bike when someone sat behind him.  

"Let's go!" a soft voice spoke behind him. 

Suho was caught off guard, frozen on his track.  

From out of nowhere, a group of teenage boys and girls descended the stairs chasing after them.  

When he turned around, he saw Hana on the passenger seat. Before he could fully grasp the situation, he pedaled hard with all his might, maneuvering along the street.  

"Move away, move away," shouting in Korean to everyone in their sight.  

Despite the chilly weather, he felt hot from pedaling his bike so hard for the first time akin to dogs chasing after them.  

"Go, Suho, go," Hana yelled.  

"Hold on tight," shouting back.  

Adrenaline surged in every little vein in Suho's body, fueled to zoom across the street, matching a jet plane.  

It was as if Forrest Gump possessed him, running for miles and miles away from it all without any reason.  

They breezed through each corner until they couldn't overhear voices behind them.  

From out of the blue, Suho heard a laugh, a scorching laugh.  

In a split second, he felt excruciating pain on his right thigh and bum.  

Turning around, he saw his bike on the ground, wheels spinning.  

The realization hit him like a raging car. His head started to spin, blinded by the lights, and his ears ringing from the sound of laughter surrounding him.  

Suho looked up and saw a bunch of kids on their bikes, laughing at him. 

"Ya! What were you thinking?" a stout kid shouted. 

"He thought he was superman, went flying like this... Woooo..." another chimed in gesturing with his hands flying in the air. 

For a second, Suho's mind went blank, and couldn't remember what exactly happened. 

He sat by the sidewalk, dazed and confused, his bag thrown on his side, food splattered on the floor, and a bike smashed next to him was a sight to behold. 

"Yah!" A high-pitch voice came from behind, "what are you doing?" A powerful and scary sound resounded coming from a girl. 

The boys ran away in their bikes.  

As they departed, Suho saw two feet in front of him.  

Feeling awkward, Suho pulled himself up together with his bag and bicycle to find himself face to face with Hana. He turned around, mumbling, "Thank you, thank you." 

Hana stopped in front of him, "do you need help?" 

"No. I am good," Suho averted her eyes, embarrassed to look at her. "Thank you again. I'll get going."  

He climbed on his bike, his face all crimson red wishing that the ground would split in half and bury him alive.  

Off he pedaled farther and farther away.  

Hoping this day never happened.


Hagwon (Korean pronunciation: [haɡwʌn]) is the Korean-language word for a for-profit private institute, academy or cram school prevalent in South Korea

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