I woke up to a voice calling my name.
“Sierra, Sierra, are you alright? Can you hear me?”
I strained to open my eyes to see who it was. My whole face hurt, my body hurt, I could feel someone pick me up.
“God!! She’s bleeding!” Another voice said.
“Call an ambulance!” said the person carrying me. I could recognize it now. It was Jae Joong’s voice.
“Jae Joong,” I whispered.
“Shh… don’t talk. You’re going to be okay.”
“We can't wait, let’s send her to the hospital ourselves,” I heard Yun Ho say.
“I’ll get the keys,” I heard Jun Su say.
“Sierra, can you move?” I heard Jae Joong say as he set me down on the ground while waiting for Jun Su. I still couldn’t see very well from this crust covering my eye. What was it?
“Sierra, please be alright.” I heard Yun Ho say as he held my hand.
“Yun Ho,” I whispered and I drifted back into darkness.
I had a dream, a dream where Yun Ho and Jae Joong were there and they were disappearing, slowly disappearing. I called out to stop them, they couldn’t hear me. Why couldn’t they hear me? I tried to run after them, but I couldn’t move. Just then I heard Shoei’s voice.
“Nuna,” he said. I turned around and around, but I couldn’t see him. My head felt dizzy.
“Nuna,” he called again and I woke up. I turned my head slowly and I could see a figure. But I couldn’t make out if it was Shoei as I had a thin layer of bandage over my eyes.
“Nuna, you’re awake,” he said. “Skye, call for the doctor.”
“Where am I?” I whispered; my voice hoarse.
“You’re in the hospital. You’ve been sleeping for 2 days.”
“Someone attacked you.”
“Who?” I whispered.
“It was a fan. I’m sorry I made you leave the apartment, nuna,” he said as he brought my hand to his face.
I touched him weakly. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “Can I have some water?”
“Sure,” he said as he got me a cup with a straw to sip from it. My lips hurt just from holding the straw between them.
The doctor came in and started to examine me. My whole face was bandaged and I was shocked when I realized. “Shoei, why, what happened to my face?”
“You were assaulted pretty badly. You had to have stitches on your eye area, your forehead and your lips,” the doctor explained. “You were lucky your vision had not been impaired. We’d done our best to fix the injuries. Once they heal, you will be subjected to the necessary treatments as stipulated by your company to repair your face.”
“Plastic surgery?” I said in disbelief.
“We prefer the term ‘reconstructive surgery’,” the doctor replied, “You should rest now. I will come and see you on my next rounds,” and he left.
“Nuna, how are you feeling,” Skye asked.
“Skye, was my face really that damaged?”
“You were bleeding all over the place, nuna. You were lucky you didn’t lose too much blood, or you would’ve died. That gash on the back of your head was pretty serious.”
“Whoever assaulted you was probably some psycho,” Shoei said.
“But why did I have to have plastic surgery,” I asked weakly.
“If you didn’t, it would be the end of your career,” Shi Kyung hyung said as he entered the room. “SM was generous enough to offer to pay for the treatment. You will be here for the next month till your face heals.”
“Yun Ho,” I suddenly remembered. “Where’s Yun Ho?”
“He’s not allowed to see you,” hyung said.
“Why?” I said as tears started prickling my eyes. My eyes stung from the tears because of the injuries.
“Don’t cry, nuna,” Shoei said, “It’ll only aggravate your wounds.
“He’s been sent back to Japan. SM released a statement yesterday saying that both of you have decided to split up and go your separate ways.”
“Yun Ho…” I sobbed, “Why didn’t you wait for me? Hyung, Yun Ho wouldn’t agree to that statement.”
“He didn’t object.”
“He didn’t?” Yun Ho. Did I mean so little to you? How could you betray me like this? You promised you wouldn’t give up. How could you just leave without saying a word and cast me aside? I continued sobbing.
“Nuna, please stop,” Skye said.
“I’m leaving now, you rest and get well soon. We still have an album to record,” hyung said and he walked out. Why was hyung being so cold? Didn’t he care about me too? What’s going on? Skye and Shoei left shortly after and I cried myself to sleep.
For two weeks, only Skye and Shoei would visit me. Where was Jae Joong? Where were all the guys? Didn’t they care about me anymore?
One day, I grabbed Shoei by the arm and interrogated him, “Shoei, something is going on, tell me what is it? Yun Ho wouldn’t have left without saying a word.”
“I really don’t know, nuna,” Shoei said. “Don’t get too excited, they’d just taken your bandages off, you might aggravate your wounds.”
Just then, we heard a commotion outside. A very angry male voice was shouting.
“What do you mean we can’t see her?”
“Sir, only the people on this list may see Sierra-shi. You’re not on the list.”
“To hell with the list,” the voice said as it approached the door of my room. The door was flung open. It was Jae Joong, and Han Kyung and Jun Su were right behind him.
“Jae Joong!” I exclaimed.
“Sierra?” he said, a little shocked, “What have they done to your face?” as he came to sit on the bed beside me.
I’d not been allowed a mirror the whole time I was in the hospital. Jae Joong’s expression confirmed my fears, that they had done substantial surgery to alter my face.
“What’s wrong with my face, Jae Joong?” my voice quivered.
“It’s… it’s a little different.”
“Sir, you need to leave,” the nurse said.
“It’s okay,” Shoei said as he ushered the nurse outside and closed the door. Behind the closed door, I could hear him having a discussion with the nurse.
I turned back to Jae Joong. “What’s different?” I asked. Jae Joong kept quiet.
“Your eyes,” Han Kyung replied, “and your lips.”
My hands immediately went to my eyes, my lips.
“How could they do this to you?” Jae Joong’s voice shook, as he gently touched my face.
I grabbed his hand. “Jae Joong, where’s Yun Ho? Why didn’t he come and see me?”
“I really don’t know. He came home the day after your operation, packed and left for Japan. I still can’t reach him.”
“Shi Kyung hyung said that he agreed to break up with me and went back to Japan.”
“He didn’t say anything about it. I was really surprised when the statement was released. I keep trying to call him but he’d hang up on me and he hasn't answered any of my messages.”
“Why would he do this?” I said and started to cry.
“Don’t cry, Sierra. I’ll keep trying. We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
“Yes. Sierra, don’t agitate yourself. You need to get well soon. Once you’re able to leave the hospital, we’ll be there for you. We’ll help you all we can,” Jun Su said as he came to sit at the foot of my bed.
“You need to be strong,” Han Kyung said to me in Mandarin.
There was a moment of silence as I tried to stop crying. Then Shoei spoke.
“Guys, you need to leave now. The nurse is gonna call the company if you don’t.”
“We’ll come by to see you again another day,” Jae Joong said as he got up. “Take care of yourself,” and he touched my hair lightly.
After a month, I was finally discharged from the hospital. Jae Joong had been sneaking in to visit me throughout the month I was there. There was still no sign of Yun Ho.
“Let’s go, nuna.” Skye said as he picked up my bag, “Jae Joong hyung is waiting at the entrance.”
We walked out and got into Jae Joong’s black VW.
“Where to now?” Jae Joong said as he pulled out of the hospital grounds.
“I just want to go home,” I said.
“Come on, nuna. There must be something you want to do? If I were stuck in the hospital for a month, I’d be craving for pulgogi (marinated barbequed beef).”
“I want to go home,” I said firmly.
“Okay,” Jae Joong said, “I’ll send you home.”
As we walked into the apartment, I stopped at the full-length mirror installed at the corridor leading to the front door. We’d always do a final check of our appearance in front of this mirror before we went out. I studied my face. My eyes were now a little bigger; my eyelids now double and symmetrical. Before, they’d been different sizes from each other. My lips were more defined. I marveled at how much difference a little surgery could do for my face.
My hair had been cut short. They’d to shave part of it to administer the stitches at the back of my head, so I guessed the management had no choice but to allow me a haircut. My head feels light from losing all that hair I had. I now had a long layered fringe, with short layered hair at the back, sort of the length my hair had been when I’d first arrived in Korea. I had a hair appointment tomorrow morning and they are going to dye my hair.
“Kwaench’ana?” Jae Joong said as he came up from behind me.
“Oh…” I said and walked into my room. Skye had put my bags on the chair in my room. I started unpacking. Just then, Shoei knocked on my door.
“Nuna, do you need any help?” he asked.
“No, I’m fine. Thanks.”
“Well, call me if you need anything,” he said and went out to join Skye.
After unpacking, I lay on my bed. I wonder what Yun Ho was doing now. As devastated as I was that he’d left without a word, I couldn’t help wondering if there was some hidden reason for it. I still missed him and I’d waited for him to visit me every single day I was in that hospital.
“Sierra…” Jae Joong called as he knocked on my door.
“Come in,” I said as I wiped away a tear which had rolled down my cheek.
“You’re crying again?” Jae Joong said as soon as he saw my face.
“I’m fine. What’s up?”
“Let’s go out for dinner.”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“But you must eat. Think of your gastric problems.”
“Shiroyo…” I said and buried my head in my pillows. They smelled fresh. Shoei must’ve washed them before I came home.
“Come on…” he said as he dragged me from my bed. I was powerless against Jae Joong. I felt really upset at that moment. Here was Jae Joong, trying his hardest to make sure I was fine, and where was Yun Ho? Did he even care about me anymore? I hugged Jae Joong. He stiffened for a moment, and then put his arms around me.
“I know,” he said as he stroked my hair. “I’ve still not gotten in touch with him. I’ll keep trying.”
How could he have known what I was thinking? The way Jae Joong always read my mind baffled me. It was as if we shared the same brain or something.
“Come on, let’s go for dinner,” he said as he lead me out.
We went out for a small celebratory dinner since I’d been discharged from the hospital. Han Kyung and Hee Chul came along.
“You look so pretty now,” Hee Chul said when he saw me. I glared at him and he quickly added, “Not that you weren’t before the surgery.”
“It’s good to see you smiling again,” Han Kyung smiled. “You were crying almost every single time we visited you at the hospital. It must’ve been a really depressing experience.”
“I guess I was just lonely and sick of being stuck there,” I said.
“You’re out now, so let’s celebrate, nuna!” Skye said. And celebrate we did.
The guys drank and ate, and this time, I decided that I’d drink as well. I didn’t bother keep track of how many bottles I’d consumed. I just kept going until Jae Joong had to snatch my glass away.
“That’s enough for you,” he said.
“Why?” I drawled. “I’m supposed to be celebrating, remember?” I hiccupped.
The events after that were a blur. I remembered someone carrying me to my room. Then I’d fallen asleep.
The next morning, I woke up with a horrible headache. I clutched my head, groaning, as I sat up. I was still dressed in yesterday’s clothes, but my skirt was gone. I only had on my t-shirt and tights. I heard something move on the floor and I looked down. Jae Joong was sleeping on the futon beside my bed.