Chapter 19:

Drowned In A White Void

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

Dancing snowflakes filled the gray clouds as I watched in awe. Because it was Sunday, the roads outside around Febai City contained less traffic, and thus less honking that disturbed a quiet winter evening. The country rarely got snow in the first place; its winter seasons were usually packed with rain and gray skies. I poked my head out from a brick corner of a building next to the entrance of Gio’s clinic. I promised him I would no longer show up, but since I managed to get Lily a research job there, I couldn’t help myself: I decided to follow her and watch from the shadows after our day shift at Muller’s Blend was over to ensure everything would start without an issue.

Man, I’m no different than that Elias guy, aren’t I…

“Are you Lily Meyer?” Gio asked.

“Y-Yes!” Lily answered. “Thank you so much for letting me help out on the weekends.”

“No worries at all, I hear you’re really passionate about becoming a doctor, right?”

“T-That’s right!”

“Our physio clinic here used to be quite general, but recently, more athletes who recover from muscle injuries have been coming in. Be ready to learn a lot!”

“Of course!”

The door slammed shut, leaving me by myself in the winter cold; albeit only momentarily, because:

Ring ring!

My girlfriend called me.

“Hey Kai, since it’s only two days until Christmas, do you want to visit the Christmas market tomorrow at Febai park?”

I couldn’t stop smiling; my heart burned in warmth, and suddenly my body was no longer cold in the snow. I uncovered my red scarf to speak.

“Sure thing! What time do I meet you tomorrow?”

It had been a few weeks since Rin and I encountered Elias at Febai College. Not only did we manage to save Sesame, but perhaps we saved my job too, since Lora and Julian didn’t suspect a thing once they returned from their honeymoon. However, because of exams and her busy training schedule, we never got to date or hangout since that night.

“I’ll run over once you’re done with work at 5!”

Rin and I had to keep our relationship a secret, since my poor reputation with the public and her starlit reputation as Febai’s soccer ace were opposite ends of the spectrum. Imagining what everyone’s reactions would be - if they found out we were dating - made my stomach turn.

“Sounds good, see you then!”

I closed the call and began my way back home by trudging through the snow in my boots. This was going to be my first date with her in public; that’s why, once tomorrow arrives, I’ll prepare the most discreet outfit imaginable - not even the country’s most fearless detectives would smell me out.

Once I arrived at my apartment door, the same white envelope as before appeared, stuck between the door and the wall as if someone shoved it in. On the front read nothing but “To Kai Darak” in small writing, but the ink appeared fresh.

“Hmm? Another one of these?” I muttered to myself. Because of what happened with Eleanor and Leo when they lived at my place, I had completely forgotten to open the first envelope, which I could no longer even find in my room.

Unlocking the door to my place, I stashed my clothing and bag away and ripped open the paper to see what was inside:


meet me at the playground tomorrow once you arrive at Febai Park.

I stared at the message for what was probably a solid 10 minutes.

Doesn’t this have the same writing as the envelope I received before? I thought, and scrunched the paper up in my hand subconsciously. If it was, then the letter wasn’t from Rin.

“Must be from Elias. Ugh…”

I sighed and tossed the crumbled paper into the trashcan near my kitchen. My apartment was as silent as a grave; perfectly befitting that of a snowy, Christmas night, even though it was still two days away. I hopped onto my bed, lying flat with my arms spread out like a butterfly.

What should I do? I thought. Should I tell Rin that Elias will be there to confront us?

Perhaps jumping into my blankets wasn’t the best idea, as the moment I closed my eyes, my mind dozed away.

The next day, I managed to drag myself out of bed earlier than usual to pack the right clothing for my date with Rin. Since I still had to work, I dressed up in my usual café attire first, and threw my other clothes into my backpack. Alongside those were a few face masks and a beanie, as I had to make sure my face was well-hidden among the crowds.

I couldn’t help but think back to that message from the envelope. What does Elias plan to do? The man oozed nothing but trouble; his constant stalking and habit of leaving letters at my place was already worth calling the police for.

But would the police even be on my side, given my history and my father?

All I could do was shake on this eerie pinch within my chest, and head to work like usual. The weather throughout the day changed like the country had gone through all four seasons: the morning featured a blanket of gray across the sky, but once afternoon hit, the cold air outside drifted away as if it was merely a mirage. Peering out from the window of Muller’s Blend could make one believe it was actually spring, and the snow had mostly melted.

However, once it was time to clock out, my eyes gazed out the window once more, and that same, depressing scene from this morning returned like a boomerang; if I closed my eyes, I could’ve pretended the weather never changed in the first place.

“Hey! Did you wait long?”

I trudged my brown boots across the crosswalk which led to Febai Park. Since the café was basically in the same block, my trip to see Rin this time was barely a trip at all.

I waved my hand above my head once her eyes caught mine.

“N-No! I just thought I’d get here early,” Rin replied, making me blush instantly.

Rin was not dressed up like her usual self: her burgundy hair was curled and wavy, her black jeans replaced the leggings, and she wore a cute, black sweater coated in white stars under her brown coat. Dangling from her ear were a new set of diamond earrings, and I could tell she had more make-up on than usual.

Holy shit, she’s gorgeous…

I stood there in the middle of the crowd, mesmerized by her appearance.

“Earth to Kai?” She poked my cheek, causing me to twitch. “You alright? You look so dazed.”

“Um…” I shook my head and slapped my face, startling Rin. “I’m alright. You look beautiful.”

Rin blushed and offered her hand, which was covered in brown mittens. “You’re not too shabby yourself. I’m sorry we couldn’t do much these past few weeks, it’s just been so busy.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I grinned while taking her hand. “Let’s go check out the market!”

Seeing Rin again after a million years put my mind at ease, and the letter from Elias completely left my head. We walked around the large crowds and other couples who came to checkout Febai Park’s Christmas Market, jumping from stand to stand, and trying out the various foods.

“You came awfully prepared,” Rin chuckled while adjusting my face mask. Even I was barely able to recognize you when you arrived, with all this stuff you’re wearing.”

“Hahaha, sorry it had to be like this.”

“No problem at all! You’re still cute as is.”

If only this could last forever.

“Hey, Kai, there’s something I wanted to tell you,” Rin sat down on a nearby bench close to the playground, and padded the spot next to her, prompting me to sit.

“Oh sure, what’s up?” I replied, sitting down while wrapping my arm around her waist. Rin placed her hands on her lap and glanced down at the snow in front of us. It had been snowing all night, and even the playground was coated in a shiny and smooth white blanket.

“We…” She gulped but continued. “We actually had an encounter before, five years ago.”

My eyes blinked a thousand times trying to process her words.

“We did?! Where?!”

“Well, it was actually -”

Before Rin could continue, a pair of dark shadows emerged on the snowy white ground in front of us, prompting us both to look up. Because of the bright streetlamp which sat next to the playground, the two figures who approached us appeared as dark silhouettes.

Well, let’s just say that what transpired next became the biggest nightmare of my life. If one’s past mistakes were to always come back to haunt them in the future as karma, then what happened next was the epitome. The two people I least wanted to see had arrived.


“Oh, wow! Weird to see you lovey-dovey folks here!”

My eyes widened into the size of lemons, and I dropped my arm from Rin’s waist.

In front of us, standing like parents in front of their children, was Elias, and…

“Mila?!” Rin was the first to confront them. She pointed at Elias with a trembling finger. “What are you doing here with that man?!” Her voice echoed throughout the park, bouncing off tree canopies and causing magpies to fly away. A few folks from the market turned their heads.

“H-He told me he had something special he wanted to show me,” Mila explained while darting her eyes back and forth between Elias and me. “But anyways, are you and Kai…”

“Yeah, sorry I forgot to tell you. This is my new boyfriend. Wait, how do you already know his name?! Do you two know each other?!”

I bounced up from the bench with my fists clenched so tightly that they turned into red punching gloves. My eyes were only on Elias. “So this was what you were planning with that letter!”

“Let me explain, Kai,” he laughed; his eyes sharpened and pierced into the back of mine, only screaming words of trouble. “Rin and Mila are best friends, and have been that way, ever since starting university at Febai College.”

What?! I took a step back, almost tripping over the bench behind me. A gust of wind blew off my beanie in the process.

“To be quite honest, I was as surprised as you are now!” Elias continued. “I bet you’re thinking: ‘If Mila and Rin were best friends, why didn’t Mila tell Rin about what you did to Mila in the past,’ right? I couldn’t believe it either when I dug out that piece of detail in my research!”

Another strong breeze of wind loosened my red scarf.

“You were doing research?!”

“Rin, why didn’t you tell me you were seeing this guy?!” Mila held her hands against her chest, and then glared at me like I was an alien. Just seeing me probably gave her bad flashbacks.

“I-I was going to tell you soon!” Rin argued. “But why are you so upset, Mila?”

“I’ll tell you why she’s so upset you’re dating this loser,” Elias chimed in, looking down at me. “Kai cheated on your Mila back when he was in high school and treated her like total trash! In fact, he bullied her into dating him, and even intentionally kissed another girl in front of her very eyes, Isn’t that right, Kai?!”

Just hearing those words caused every cell in my body to evaporate. All eyes were directed at me for an answer as I stood there in the center; it’s as if time had momentarily froze, and the snowflakes drifting down from the sky stopped in their places.

Before I could open my mouth, Rin stood up and held Mila’s hands as if they had been physically hurt.

“Mila, why didn’t you tell me this happened to you?!” She screamed.

“I didn’t want anyone, even including you, to know about this,” Mila explained with tears flowing out like a fountain. Her sniffling grew as loud as her own voice. “It was so traumatizing. I didn’t know how to bring it up.”

Elias chuckled, but then burst into a full-out laugh and grabbed my scarf, pulling it off to expose my full face. “But that’s not all. Guess which girl he cheated on Mila with?”

He pointed a finger at Rin, leaving all of us stunned. “Rin Miya of all people kissed him while Mila was watching from the balcony in secret during that high school trip you guys had!”

My entire body was already as numb as a rock. Even my sense of smell disappeared, and nothing but the sound of my own rapid heartbeats remained within my ears. It’s true that I intentionally kissed another girl in front of Mila while I dated her – but because I hadn’t gotten laser eye surgery yet, my vision was terrible, so I couldn’t tell who the girl was until Elias brought it up.

“Kai, I…” Rin muttered, but then faced Mila instead and burst into tears. “Mila, I’m so sorry… but why didn’t you tell me that I was the one that Kai ended up cheating on you with?!”

“Because it was Kai’s fault to begin with! It’s not your fault, Rin.”

Meanwhile, Elias continued clutching his stomach while laughing like a clown.

“I can’t believe you left me for this guy!”

Rin turned her head at me; her beautiful chestnut eyes, which were covered in a layer of tears, glistened from the lights around us. She had her own hands held against her chest, as if hoping for a “No.” Trust me, it made me want to truly die in a hole, here and now.

“Kai, back then, that was my first kiss. And to have hurt my friend like that…”

My heart only thumped louder as the truth spilled out like a broken dam.

“Yeah, I know. I was a douchebag back then. I fully admit that.”

There was no point in protesting or denying it.

“HAHAHAHAHA!” Elias dropped to the ground and began rolling around in the snow. “You actually admitted it! This is what you get for stealing my women! AHAHAHA!

My stomach couldn’t stop turning, and my eyes couldn’t bear to meet Rin’s. All I could do was direct my gaze at Elias, who continued rolling around laughing. Even Mila, who looked down at the snow around us, stayed silent to let Rin and I have our conversation.

“Kai…” Rin, who had her hair fall forward to cover her eyes as she looked away, displayed a mouth of gritting teeth. I already knew what she was about to say next. With one last heartfelt glance of despair toward me -

“I… I can’t be with you anymore, I’m sorry!”

Rin Miya dashed away, leaving footprints in the snow that were more spread out than your average person. Elias got back to his feet and placed his hand on Mila’s shoulder.

“Mila, let’s get out of here too,” he suggested. “My plan has succeeded. Let’s go back to my mansion, shall we?”

The two of them began their stroll away, leaving me alone in front of the bench and the playground. All I could do was stand there, begging that a shower of rain would fade me away into the depths of hell. Instead, my hair was soon blanketed by a layer of snow.

Wow, that really did just happen, didn’t it?

Perhaps it’s all deserved.

I poked my tongue out, catching some falling snowflakes as I finally began my walk back to the bus station after an hour or so of just standing lifelessly at the park. Not a single thought clouded my mind; I was a dead zombie, sapped of all energy and life from within.

As I reached the station and lined up to enter the bus which had just arrived, a few eyes glanced in my direction. My beanie and scarf had blown away with the wind, and my hair was covered in snow. My jacket remained unzipped, and truth be told, every cell of my body was probably shivering, begging for warmth. However, I was as numb as a statue, and my eyes probably appeared dead inside, constantly gazing up at the sky to count unicorns.

“Mama, that guy looks weird,” a young girl laughed while pointing at me.

“Don’t stare or look at him! Stay away from people like that, you hear me?!” The mother lectured. Perhaps she was right. I was the pinnacle of human scum.

The rest of the trip was pretty much the same - constant stares pierced me from all directions, but I paid not a single ounce of care; I was completely out of it. The only parts of my body which managed to move were obviously my legs, trudging forward through the thick snow from the bus stop all the way to my apartment staircase. At that point, my socks were completely soaked, and my face was probably as crisp as an ice cube.

I finally managed to reach my home, and just as I closed the door behind me, my back slammed against it, and my body slid down to the floor.

“Merry Christmas to me…” I murmured, acting like a robot.

But that’s when the corner of my eyes discovered it: the original white envelope which was stuck in my door almost two months ago, under my bed. I reached in to grab it; on the front was my name written in large capitalization, and nothing else.

“Wait,” the life in my eyes slowly faded back. “This isn’t from Elias!”

Elias’ handwriting on the second envelope was slightly different, and not all letters were capitalized either unlike the older one. I ripped open the envelope, desperate to find out who the sender was.

Dear Kai,

It’s me, Rin! Surprise! We just hung out today at the bubble tea shop. I’m sorry that I found your address, I hope you don’t mind. I got it from the manager at the café. I believe her name was Lora.

Anyways, I’m writing to you because I wanted to let you know about my feelings. Truth be told, I’m not interested in having a relationship with you. I know we have things going on pretty well! It’s not that I dislike you. It’s because I just broke up with Elias, and I wanted to give myself some time to recover. I don’t think it’s fair for you to continue seeing me if I have any lingering feelings. Also, I don’t know if you remember, but I was that girl whom you kissed five years ago back at a hotel, when our high school went on a class field trip to Dosa!

Even if you don’t remember, that’s okay! I remembered you said you were pretty blind without glasses back then.

Hope we can continue being friends at least!

- Rin

As I finished reading the letter, I glanced up at the ceiling, pretending the night sky was still there in plain sight. The only choice left was to close my eyes and succumb to my tiredness, hoping everything was nothing but a dream once I woke up the next morning.