Chapter Two: Losing and Finding

“Last two rounds, Hyung-nim?” Mi Nam asks Tae Kyung as they faced each of their instruments in the ANJELL practice room. Jeremy couldn’t resist to blurt out loud, “Ya, Mi Nam! Mwo? Waeeee?!? Last two rounds?!” He holds up his hands all red from beating the drums endlessly.

They have been like that since they came in from a long day at a photo shoot. Not counting the few minutes they took as a break to gobble up dinner, they were practicing new songs for a special mini-album they will release, a mini-album collaboration of both Mi Nam and Tae Kyung’s compositions. And boy, isn’t this ANJELL maknae quite something. President Ahn tapped Mi Nam to songwrite alongside Tae Kyung after realizing that he brings another vibe to their music. As luck would have it, the new vibe requires more rhythm, thus working Jeremy to the core.

“Aigoo. Are you complaining now Jeremy? Just two rounds more is all we need.” Mi Nam says teasingly. “Okay, okay!” Jeremy raises his hand up in the air in submission. Pouting, he taps the drumsticks 3 times to signal the beginning of the song. Shin Woo chuckles as he strums the bass with the opening note. Mid-song, Jeremy loses grip of one of his drumsticks sending it flying to the air, landing on Mi Nam’s shoulder. Tae Kyung blares “Jeremy is tired, guys. Let’s call it a night.” The leader laughs looking at the perplexed Mi Nam still wondering if the flying drum stick was done on purpose. “Beware Mi-Nam-a, Jeremy’s drumsticks are like boomerangs. Do you know boomerangs, dongsaeng?”

Jeremy shakes his hands from the pain and walks past Mi Nam sticking out his tongue. “I will get you someday, Mi Nam-a. Your overachieving tendencies is getting to my nerves. Look, see!” he holds his swollen hands up for Mi Nam to see. “You will be responsible what happens to these hands,” he warns the maknae. “Mianhae, Jeremy. I was just too excited. I will be more reasonable next time.” Mi Nam says apologetically, realizing the pain he’s making Jeremy endure. “But hey, you did well and your drum skills are getting better.” Mi Nam quips teasingly. “Aish! Hmph.” Jeremy walks away. “Ah! If not for his sister, I can really whack this dude hard”

In his room, Jeremy observes his hand. The skin of the ridge between his thumb and forefingers are thinning out from the friction. “Ouch, this will be tougher next time. I probably should start wearing gloves in practices. Mi Nam, I really dislike you right now,” he mutters to himself. “So, you’re talking to yourself now Jeremy?” Shin Woo, entering quietly and unnoticed by Jeremy, says aloud. “Shin Woo hyung! Ani! I’m just in pain,” Jeremy responds rising up to go to the medicine cabinet. Shin Woo holds him back, “I got it dongsaeng. Sit and let us check those hands out.” Jeremy looks flustered at this, remembering Mi Nyeo and Shin Woo’s bandaging session on the patio. Shin Woo understands the look. “Ya! Don’t be thinking silly things. Pabo!” Shin Woo exclaims whacking Jeremy’s head gently. “Here, do it yourself. Jashik!” Shin Woo says bouncing off the bandage roll and handing out the ointment. Jeremy picks the bandage up and takes the ointment, “Hahaha! Look what exhaustion can do, hyung. Komowo.”

Mi Nam is in his room chatting with his sister online. He tells her of the commotion at practice and he got scolded by her for not taking good care of Jeremy like she had asked him to. “Mi Nyeo-ya, I did that as a way to take care of your dear friend” he types on his computer. “He had been keeping to himself lately so I thought working him hard will somehow help take whatever he is worrying about away from his mind.” Yes, Mi Nam meant that. All of them knew that Jeremy was undergoing something he would not dare tell anyone about. And even though they are not the best of friends, Mi Nam holds him dear, especially with how highly and lovingly his sister regards Jeremy. “I hope he will be okay. I will suggest to Hyung-nim for us to just do the ballads tomorrow so Jeremy’s hands could rest.” Mi Nam decides before closing his eyes to sleep.

“Wake up!!!” Tae Kyung’s voice is heard over the intercom the following morning. After the previous long day, Jeremy could use a snooze button. As he turned over his bed after hearing Tae Kyung’s wake-up call, he mutters “Two minutes more Hyung-nim.” But of course he doesn’t get that as Tae Kyung was already by his door and in a matter of moments was already shaking him to rise up from slumber. “Jeremy, no excuses today. We need to get to the studio by 11 AM. Take a shower and get going, eat breakfast on the road,” prickly Tae Kyung says while shaking Jeremy. “Ahrasso, Hyung-nim. Rising up now.” Jeremy tried to assure their leader. Tae Kyung continues to stand by the foot of his bed waiting for him to really get up. When he had fully risen from his wobbling attempt at waking, Tae Kyung leaves him to get ready. “Ah, this life. I wish for better mornings,” Jeremy says while scratching his head and grabbing for his toothbrush.

The day went by uneventfully, at least in the life of an idol. They did a pictorial and an interview for a Japanese magazine and then went straight to the studio to do the stage blocking for their live performance in a music variety show that weekend. They were back at their dorm by mid afternoon. Upon returning home, Jeremy checks his email inbox and finds one marked high importance from his mother. He reads its contents and immediately changes color.

On Yu-ya,

Your father had lost a lot of money in his recent venture, and your godfather, whom you haven’t seen since you were a child, had paid for his debts again. It is a substantial amount and we have been benefactors for way too long now. I know we said we’ll let you live your life freely and find someone you love, but the situation is different now, dear son.

Your godfather had said that if you don’t have a girlfriend then perhaps it makes sense for you to marry into their family. That way, our debt can be repaid in service, unless of course we come up with money to repay them back soon.

Don’t worry your godfather is someone that can be reasoned with. He will understand if you are already in a relationship and we can just repay them over a long period. Their family is a good one. Maybe you should even get in touch with them while you are still in Korea.

I’m sorry, son, if this startled you. Just wanted to let you know the situation. Please do not worry yet. At the right time, things will fall into place.

Take care of yourself.

We miss you and are always thinking of you,
Omma

“Aish, Omma, you tell me not to worry. But you’re just informing me that my life could possibly change any minute now?” he exasperatedly says talking to himself. “I think I deserve a phone call for these things.”

So, he grabs his mobile and dials a number in the UK, not minding the time difference. His mother answers sleepily, “Onyu? Hello!” “Omma, what is with this email?” he asks right away. “Hmm?” his mother still tries to gather her senses. “Ah, mianhae Omma. I woke you up, didn’t I? he says remembering his manners. “It’s okay Jeremy. I’m about to wake up soon too anyway. Email. Ah, nae. What about it, son?”

Pacified by his own mother’s voice on the other line, he meekly asks, “Is it probably possible that I just work hard and help you pay back the debt, Omma? That’s an option, too, right?”

His mother replies, “Nae, that’s true, but we didn’t want to take it on you to help us pay for it out of something you love to do. We thought that maybe while you’re still at the peak of your idol career, you can keep your earnings to yourself and we pay for the debt. And when it’s time for you to settle down then maybe you can do your share and consider your godfather’s daughter. That’s all we thought, Jeremy. So, as I said, not yet time to worry. But for the spirit of being transparent with you, we let you know of the situation.”

He felt his heart almost breaking hearing this, he ponders whether he was being selfish as his family still tried to have him pursue his passions, while they were already in dire situations. “Ani, Omma. I will help you pay for it back. It’s the least I could do. Please let me do this. And it’s not so I could escape from considering godfather’s daughter later. It’s because you are more important than my passion. Please, Omma?”

“Whatever you want to do, son. We’ll respect that. What about your godfather’s suggestion?” His mother inquires.

“Ah that, well if I must consider her, it’s because her family is also mine. I hope I’ll like her enough by then to make it less torturous.” He tries to kid his mother. She laughs on the other line and says, “Trust me. If your godfather’s personality is the basis, then you will like this girl. Shall I give them a call, so you can meet them in your free time, in Korea?”
“Omma!” he exclaims, “Anyway, I have to go. Take care of yourself too, okay? Have a great day today!” he bids his mother farewell.
“Annyeong, Jeremy. Till next time,” his Omma said to him before he ended the call choking up the tears lumping in his throat.

“Time for a magic bus ride,” he told himself, grabbing his notebook where he was writing his latest pieces.

On the bus, he just kept writing and erasing, writing and erasing, unable to put into words the fears, the frustration and the longing that he had been feeling. Submitting himself to exhaustion, he falls asleep pen in hand and notebook by his side. Unknown to him, a girl had sat across from him, facing the other window in his sanctuary in the back of the bus. She looks at him curiously while he was sleeping. “Wow, so pretty boys now ride buses?” she thought to herself. She takes her own sketch pad from her backpack and began to draw.

Upon nearing the end of the line, she wondered if she should wake him up to get off the bus. She decides against it. When the bus halted at the end of the line, Jeremy wakes up like clockwork. Startled from his nap, he grabs his backpack and gets off hurriedly. The girl across him, sees a notebook on the seat beside the one he left and a pen on the floor. She picks it up and inside the front cover, it read,Property of A.N.JELL, Jeremy, please return to A.N Entertainment. She leafs through a couple pages and finds lyrics and meters. “Hmmm, a drummer writes songs. Interesting. The words convey something. There’s a beat. But there’s no melody.” She silently thought while thumbing through her find. She takes the notebook and pen, puts it in her backpack and whispers into air with conviction “I will return it in time, Jeremy-ssi.”

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