“Harsh, man. And then she stopped talking to you?”
“Yeah. I mean, what the heck. I played nice, I sat with her in all our classes together, even sought her out in their college fair the whole day, just to be around her. And she had this really confused look when I gave her that gift. I mean, didn’t she see all the signs?”
The two boys talked animatedly as they returned books from their cart to the library’s shelves. They laughed and joked around about the girl, not expecting the subject herself to appear as they rounded on the corner.
“Oh sh- Hi, Maven.”
Maven gave the two boys a steely look, but did not say anything. They glanced at the book she was clutching against her chest. Culture and Engagement of Companies, one of the boys groaned inwardly. They were in the Business section.
“Have you, I mean, how are you?” his friend asked pleasantly, trying to dissipate the atmosphere. She stared at him blankly. “I mean…well, have you been here long?”
Maven seemed to snap out of it, and glanced at them both, lips pursed. The boys couldn’t help but feel the chill as she nodded slightly and started to walk past them.
Kyungsoo jumped slightly as Maven banged the plastic cups she took from the overhead shelf on the kitchen counter. He stopped whisking the fresh batch of cheese mixture to stare at her as she proceeded to wash the glasses angrily, plastic and sponge squeaking as she went.
“Uh…can I help you…?”
“NO.” Maven half-filled the glass with tap water and swirled it round; unfortunately, in her anger she spilled most of if around the sink, on herself, and on Kyungsoo.
“Watch it, oh,” Kyungsoo stepped back as a fresh wave of soapy droplets hit his face. “Dude, stop. You’re gonna get soap in the cheese.”
But Maven paid no heed, so Kyungsoo nudged the cheese away and walked up to her.
“Maven.” He grabbed her shoulders and turned her towards him. “Leave. My cheese. Alone.”
Maven’s eyes snapped up to meet his, and scrunching up her face, sighed loudly. “Sorry.” After a beat, and looking remorseful, she added, “Are they ruined?”
Kyungsoo made a face. “The customers will live.”
“Shut up.” Maven punched his arm, one hand still holding a glass. She chuckled slightly and Kyungsoo grinned. He took the glass off her hand and set it on the countertop. He then went back to his station and inspected his work.
“What has gotten you annoyed this time?” He asked as he turned the mix over and over to check for soap suds. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to have been affected.
Maven leaned sideways on the counter looking at him. “That boy I’ve been telling you about.”
“Ah, necklace boy? What’s your problem?” Kyungsoo nodded and made his way to the small fridge, sticking the new mix in with the others. He turned around as he shut the door of the refrigerator to see Maven twisting her face in a mixture of annoyance, embarrassment, and frustration.
“I heard him talking to a friend about me. Like how he showered me with attention but totally folded when he gave me that…thing.” She shuddered. “I mean, it wasn’t even my birthday. And it was a necklace. I thought to accept but it was too much. I didn’t even know what he WANTED.” She huffed, and a lonely look crossed her face. “I thought he was just being nice.”
“Like the ten thousand others?” Kyungsoo teased. Maven rolled her noticeably misty eyes. “I thought we had talked about this. He went out of his way. You could have already asked what his deal was.” Kyungsoo stated, but made a face. “Then again, these boys don’t know what it’s like to be a real man. And you, you’re so bad at confronting things.”
“Okay, so maybe I am, and maybe I should have done something about it too. But,” she rubbed her palms on her face. “Again? Why couldn’t he just have said something before freaking me out with that kind of gift?? And all his niceties are those just, like, test drives? To see how I’d respond? To see if he has a chance? Did he think that I’d accept readily then, I’d be his girlfriend? Is it that easy? Is this a joke, or some kind of game to you guys?”
“Whoa, leave me out of it. I’m not the type,” Kyungsoo held up both hands, and Maven had to laugh. It’s true; Kyungsoo never made a pass on any girl even though they’ve known each other for a year and a half in this tiny fast food, even though he looked like girls would probably find it hard to say no to him in the first place.
Another thing Maven liked about Kyungsoo, was that he was a genuine friend. A walk home is a walk home, a phone call is a phone call, a help with the dishes is a help with the dishes.
Maven never had to feel like there was something else lying underneath Kyungsoo’s nice guy act; else, Kyungsoo never put himself forward in that way. He kept a comfortable distance; enough that he showed his good manners, and not too much for any girl to think there was something else. She always thought that was admirable; and she blessed the girl who would make Kyungsoo happy.
“I just…if I don’t respond nicely, I’m a jerk. If I do, I lead them on. What gives? I don’t NEED their attention. I just want an honest confession.” Maven pursed her lips and shook her head. She turned back to the glasses she was washing and proceeded to rinse them for the customers outside.
“What would you have done, Soo?”
“Well, yeah. You’re just…genuine.”
Kyungsoo grinned, “Well, thanks. But, I dunno. After hearing you say this a lot, I would have just told her outright. No balloons or flowers or anything. Gosh, I’m so unromantic.” He said sardonically. Maven looked at him and laughed. She loaded a tray with the glasses and turned to the door.
“Maven? What if I told you, that I do like you?”
She turned back around to see Kyungsoo standing in the middle of the kitchen, looking at her, looking serious for a change. There was a hint of something in his eyes, but otherwise he looked determined. Determined of what? Maven wondered.
It seemed like a long time has passed, and Maven laughed. She smiled at Kyungsoo. “Like this? You’d say it, like this?”
Kyungsoo shrugged, slightly looking relieved. “Yes, like this. Unromantic, but like this.”
Maven laughed again, and this time the glasses shook and reminded her that she should be outside. “If you’re kidding…Talk to you later. We have work.”
Kyungsoo watched her leave with a huge grin.
The two worked steadily, not discussing what happened earlier. But as Kyungsoo watched, Maven looked happier, forgetting her annoyance. Maven saw that Kyungsoo still had the biggest smile on his face as he attended to the orders.
When 11 o’clock came, the two closed up shop and said goodbye to everyone else. Maven waited as Kyungsoo leaned down to tie up his shoelaces. He stood up, stomped his feet in the cold, and glanced at Maven.
“Ready?” she asked. He was walking with her to the station. Kyungsoo nodded.
Maven turned and started walking, but Kyungsoo stayed put. When she noticed he wasn’t following, she turned to him with a quizzical look.
He only shook his head and smiled. “I wasn’t kidding.”
“Earlier. I wasn’t kidding.” He stepped closer to her until he was a foot away from her, looking closely at her face.
“I like you. You didn’t need attention, you want a confession. So, I say, I like you.” He smiled. “I don’t need anything else. I won’t wrestle for your attention unless you want to give it to me. That is what I will tell you.”
Maven marveled at his face, his eyes that told her that he was, as usual, being sincere. But she couldn’t help but confirm it, hear him say it again. “Really?” and she watched as Kyungsoo shrugged and nodded. She broke out into a smile.
They stood like that for a while, until Kyungsoo took her hand. “Walk you home?”
Maven glanced at their hands, heart thudding, and looked up at Kyungsoo’s dancing eyes.
I posted this somewhere else and I thought of sharing this here. Fun fact: This is a constant discussion for girls. When is being nice, too nice? (meaning, with agenda)
To be honest, sometimes, we still don’t know exactly. Kyungsoo is a typical well-mannered guy here; I personally know many well-mannered men who I can undoubtedly say that they have zero agenda when they do nice stuff for me and our other friends. Number one tell-tale fact? Friendship and consideration.
What Maven was peeved about in here was the abrupt change in behavior towards her. It was telling enough for her to become uncomfortable; until the guy sort of expected that she already knows what he wants (she kind of does) and will respond accordingly. Guys. Please. There are still some women who would appreciate a formal laying down of intentions before you overwhelm her with things that only boyfriends do. (Like, ask her if you can actually date her and treat her like you would a girlfriend.)
Why is clarity important? It’s because relationships that are clear on intentions communicate exactly within those intentions. Maven says Kyungsoo was just clearly nice and helpful as a friend and co-worker, and until he said that he liked her, his actions aren’t going to be colored by a different meaning.
Girls, when confused, it’s okay to ask.
So, that’s it for my commentary on my own story, lol.
Image, from pixabay as always. (I love pixabay now.)