Chapter 7 – The Meltdown
“No, I’m sorry!”
We swing to and fro with our muttered apologies. Yuri seems to be miraculously anger-free which I’m thankful for but I’m genuinely sorry for tossing the entire plate of spaghetti on her—even if it was beyond my control.
It took a while for me to regain my sanity and for her to break out of the shock but after that, I had hastened to explain my irrational fear of cucumbers (I can’t stand the way they smell). She seemed to take to my explanation very well. Too well, perhaps, for she began apologizing for putting cucumbers in the spaghetti. It’s not her fault, she couldn’t have known, I told her but she can’t stop apologizing for it.
Desperate to make amends, I grab the nearest paper towel in sight and try to wipe her clean. Only some strands of spaghetti are on her face while the bulk of the sauce landed on her chest and I’m focused on dabbing her clothes with my paper towel when she shifts away from me and clears her throat uncomfortably.
“Er thanks…but I-I’ll do that by myself,” she says.
I blink, not understanding why she seems to be awkward about it until she adds, “I know that this is technically your body but…” She trails off, face blushing, eyes averted and only then do I realize that I’ve been dabbing her breasts with the paper towel repeatedly.
I blush at the realization and a sheepish grin is all I can muster up as I stand stupidly beside her with a dirty paper towel in my hand. She stands up after a while and flashes an equally sheepish grin.
“I should take a shower,” she says and I can only nod. I don’t know what has come over me but I am taken over by wave after wave of awkwardness that stops me from speaking intelligently. “Don’t worry, I won’t do anything weird when I shower,” she adds, trying to joke a little to break the awkwardness between us.
“You’d better not,” I reply as wittily as I can, but in reality, my heart is suddenly pumping a lot faster at the thought of us showering each other’s bodies. Gosh, what is happening to me? Why am I thinking of things like that?!
The only reason I can come up with, is that this has been a very out-of-the-world experience so far. Waking up to find my body transformed into Yuri’s, finding out that her body transformed into mine, meeting Hyoyeon the fairy, meeting Yuri’s friends, kissing Yuri…(which was a nice kiss, by the way) and now, unwittingly rubbing her chest, albeit, unintended.
All of these things come crashing down together and I find myself overwhelmed by reality catching up on me.
“I’ll be real quick.” She turns to smile at me just before stepping into the bathroom for the third time today.
“Okay,” I reply before heading to the couch to sit and bury my head in my hands. The enormity of our problem is beginning to dawn on me. How am I going to be a lifeguard? And how is Yuri going to do my job? It all seems incredibly impossible to me and I find myself on the verge of tears when Yuri emerges from the bathroom and sits beside me.
“What’s wrong?” she asks me gently.
“EVERYTHING!” I wail and my tears begin to fall like the Niagara falls.
“It’s going to be okay,” Yuri coos as she wraps her arms around me. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
“No, it’s not!” I continue to wail.
She doesn’t say anything more after that. She simply pats my back soothingly until my tears subside and I calm down. Only then does she say to me, “I’ll help you and you’ll help me. Together, we’ll get through this.”
Embarrassment is beginning to surface as I come to the realization that I had just cried in Yuri’s arms but her words are very touching to me. Somehow, those words manage to calm me down and I can smile again.
“No problem, Sica.”
And for a moment, I’m reminded of the suave, cool lifeguard who saved my life just a few days ago, before things became as wacked up as they are now. Oh, how I wish things would return to normal.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll wake up tomorrow and I’ll be myself again. I hope. I wish. I pray.
Hyoyeon jerks and jolts into an upright position on her fluffy cloud bed. Then she panics when her mind registers her father’s voice. She isn’t supposed to be sleeping! But it isn’t her fault really. It hadn’t been easy for her to escape from Jessica’s clutches and watching the lives of pathetic humans isn’t the most interesting thing to do when she’d rather be conjuring up things like cloud beds (which is forbidden by her father, because it affects the weather if it is done too many times).
“Yes, Dad?” She stands up straight, willing her eyes to look more alert and less sleepy.
Her will is too weak, however, as she soon finds out when her father hollers, “Why are you sleeping when you should be watching over Yuri and Jessica!”
“I am!” Hyoyeon defends herself gallantly.
“You were sleeping. Don’t lie to me. Do you know that Jessica is crying?” Her father shows her his iPhone which currently shows what Jessica is doing. “She’s not supposed to be breaking down. You’re supposed to be by their side, helping them out!”
“I was watching them on my iPhone but I fell asleep…” Hyoyeon mumbles, fearing for her welfare. There’s no telling what her angry father might do to punish her.
“And why is there a cloud bed in your room!” Her father is absolutely livid and she knows she has to find a way out of this or else…
“But Daddy! It’s a good thing! Look!” Hyoyeon points at his phone when she sees Yuri hugging Jessica. Yuri had just shone a speck of light at the far end of the deep, deep tunnel of trouble she’s in. “Yuri’s hugging Jessica! They are helping each other!”
Her father looks at his phone and frowns. Hyoyeon knows that the clockwork is cranking up in his mind and the way his eyes soften tells her that she is nearly out of trouble. Just a little more…
“Nubeso reverteco!” she mutters quickly and her cloud bed disappears with a poof, leaving a regular looking bed in place of it.
“I’m sorry, Daddy. I won’t break your rules again. But something good has come out of this, hasn’t it? Yuri and Jessica seem to be closer now. And if they’re closer, they’ll understand more of each other. So we’re one step closer to breaking the spell!”
Hyoyeon flashes her brightest smile, knowing that deep down, her father has a soft spot for her smile and it works. Instead of blowing up at her, he simply frowns and says, “Don’t do it again. You hear me?”
“I hear you!” Hyoyeon answers with glee and her father knows that he’s been defeated by his cheeky daughter once again.
“Get your wings down there and help them,” he says with a resigned sigh and a shake of his head.
I am fast asleep when I vaguely feel a cold sensation zipping through my body from head to toe. I’m too tired to wake up fully from this, however, so my mind dismisses the thought of waking up and continues to sleep. Investigations can wait. Sleep is more important.
When I wake up in the morning, I have this nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten to do something. But I can’t remember what it is. I just can’t. It is the most irritating feeling in the world but there’s nothing I can do about it so I try not to think about it as I eat my breakfast. I have to be ready by seven. Yuri is going to pick me up and I’m going to show her my work place and I want to do it before my colleagues start appearing.
Yuri arrives punctually and rings the doorbell. It is odd but I actually feel comforted when I see her (even though it’s as good as looking at myself). Seeing her reminds me that I’m not alone in this, that I have a friend who is in as much crap as I am. Misery shared is misery halved.
“Mornin’, did you sleep well?” she asks me.
I nod and say, “Yes. You?”
She smiles and nods too. “Your bed is very comfortable. I had a good sleep.”
“Did Soojung see you this morning?”
“No, I got up real early to dodge her and had breakfast at a shop before coming here.”
To which I groan.
“What? What’s wrong?” she asks with wide open eyes.
“Soojung always wakes me up in the morning. She’s probably wondering where you are.”
And sure enough, Yuri’s phone (which is actually mine) rang just then.
“Unnie! Have you gone to work already?” I can hear my sister’s voice blasting through the phone.
“Y-Yes. I had to get up earlier to pick my friend up. I forgot to tell you about it. Sorry!” Yuri hastens to explain.
The explanation seems to be good enough and Yuri is able to end the call without raising any suspicion. I am relieved but a quick glance at my watch makes me anxious again.
“Let’s go. We need to get in and out of my office before anybody arrives. And if they see you in the office this early, there’s gonna be more explanation to do.”
So the plan is to get in, show Yuri around the office, and get out real quick. That’s the plan.
“Where’s the bag I asked you to bring?” I ask with my hand outstretched.
Yuri reaches for the back seat of the car and hands me the bag. It’s my work bag and I love it to bits but I won’t be able to use it until I get my body back. Just the thought of it gets me down but I don’t have the time for self-pity right now. I rummage through the bag and fish out my staff pass.
“This allows you to use the elevators in the building,” I explain. “And you’ll need to tap it on the security system to get into the office.”
We get out of the car and I show Yuri the way to the elevator.
“Jessi! What are you doing here this early in the morning?” a loud voice pierces through the peace and quiet and I can’t help but groan in my head. That is a voice that I would love to hear on another day but not today. I nudge Yuri and most fortunately, she remembers who Tiffany is.
“Tiff!” Yuri smiles and gives Tiffany a hug. Tiffany looks a little taken aback to see me as she hugs Yuri and I have to act as naturally as I can as she shows signs of recognition.
“Jessi, isn’t this…the lifeguard…?”
“Yes, it’s Yuri, the lifeguard.”
“Oh! What a pleasant surprise! It’s great to see you again!” Tiffany smiles brightly before giving Yuri a conspiratorial wink. “Your date must have gone well.”
I suppress the urge to bury my face in my palms as Yuri smiles, nods and says, “It went well, to say the least.”
She stops talking but upon seeing Tiffany’s curious expression, she continues to explain, “I’m going to show Yuri around a little. She’s interested in seeing what our office looks like. I told her that it’s nothing special but she insists on taking a look.”
Tiffany giggles and nudges Yuri. “Of course she’s interested in our office. She’s a smooth player, this one,” she whispers to Yuri but of course, with her being so loud and all, I can hear every single word. However, I can only smile and pretend that I’ve heard nothing. I’m better off quiet, I decide.
We get into the elevator and Yuri whips out my staff pass before realizing that I haven’t told her which level our office is on! Her sudden look of panic has me on the verge of breaking out in cold sweat too as I try to think of a way to tell her that it’s the ninth floor. But as soon as I think that thought, Yuri reaches for the ninth button and presses it. I am surprised, but she looks even more surprised than I am as the elevator doors close on us.
“So, Yuri! Did you enjoy Jessi’s company last night?” Tiffany asks way too cheerfully.
“Yes, I did. She’s great company,” I reply, taking to chance to compliment myself a little.
Tiffany giggles again but thankfully, the elevator doors open before she has a chance to say anything else. Unfortunately, my relief is short-lived as yet another loud voice calls us as we enter the office.
I don’t have to look to know that the owner of that voice is Sooyoung. The only thing that doesn’t make any sense is the fact that she is here. In my office. What is she doing in my office?! She doesn’t even work here! What in the world—? It is all I can do to stop myself from questioning her presence in this place.
Yuri looks positively clueless as Sooyoung waves happily to her but she is able to smile and wave back.
“Surprised to see me, aren’t you!” Sooyoung grins widely as she claps Yuri on the back. “Well, guess what? Your editor-in-chief has just roped me in with an irresistible offer!”
“What is it?” Yuri asks hesitantly.
“She’s got me a spot on radio in exchange for a food critic column! And guess which show it is?”
Yuri looks even more clueless than before but Sooyoung only laughs. “Guess it’s too early in the morning for your brain to work, right? It’s the Dandy Duo show! Ain’t that great?”
“Dandy Duo…? Isn’t that…DJ Taeng and Sunny’s show?”
“Bingo! At last…I will have a chance to meet Sunny! My dream come true! I’m going to meet her! I’m so excited! WAHAHA!”
Yuri looks like she’s on the verge of hyperventilating as Sooyoung engulfs her in a hug but there is nothing I can do to help her. Yet, nothing can be worse than what Sooyoung announces next.
“And! That’s not all! You’re coming on the show with me!”
“WHAT?!” Yuri splutters in shock.
“Yeah! The editor-in-chief wants you and Tiffany to go on the show to give fashion advice. The radio show is creating a ‘Girls’ segment just for us! It’s gonna be great!”
I can only blink and try to breathe normally.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?!?!?!