Less Than a Hundred Days of Summer

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Chapter 17

"I decided I won't go," announced nonchalantly Tae Soo in the morning over breakfast.

"Go where?" Giselle was busy crunching her crispy toast. The eggs were particularly delicious today. Unfortunately, the more heartache she experienced, the better was her appetite. It was a curse, actually. Her waistline instead of dwindling was dangerously close to sliding up to another size just when she was supposed to maintain her curves in perfect proportion for the last few days she had with Tae Soo.

"Back to Korea." And he took a sip of tea with a self-satisfied grin.

"Come again?"

"I'm not going back. I've decided. I won't let others make choices for my life. I will go when I am ready and I'm not ready yet." He added determinately.

Giselle still thought it was a particularly poorly planned and thoroughly unfunny joke. So she decided to go along. "Ahh. So you can say 'no' and your million dollar contract will be annulled?"

"No. But I called a lawyer earlier and we set up a phone conference to discuss my options." Tae Soo was chillingly calm, taking yet another sip of his drink.

"Have you gone nuts?" She pulled her brows and threatening lifted her fork. "You think you can pull this off when there are millions invested into you, and you have responsibilities? How convenient for you – do as you please whenever you want it. Are you that rich to throw millions around? What about your family?"

"Why are you getting all riled up?" He was genuinely surprised. "I thought you'd be pleased."

"Pleased? Why would I be pleased to have an idiot for a boyfriend?"

"Idiot? That's harsh." He pouted with a cute smile, but his charm had no affect and acted further as a catalyst to get her even more wound up.

"I know how you feel. Sure. I get it. But you have a life and a career that you love. You worked hard for it. All those fans you talked about – they are waiting for you. Do you want to throw away all your hard work over a few extra weeks with me? Your mother came, for Christ's sake! - Will you really be happy and relaxed?"

Tae Soo sighed loudly and demonstratively. "Well, I can try."

Her argument was constructed skillfully and she had a natural flare for debate. Fighting against her would be an uphill and very likely losing battle. Unfortunately, he had not prepared a defensive strategy, naively believing that she would be kissing him, not barraging him for the news.

Since he was not trying much to hide his disappointment, his defeat was clearly spelled all over his face. Giselle smiled triumphantly. Her competitive spirit was something Tae Soo appreciated and one of the many things about her that he found unique and loveable.

"Ay bendito! Try, try and see." She got up, her hands to the hips and staring down at him. "Trust me – you won't get one night's good sleep. - Even if you stay longer, you will have to leave eventually. Only you will return to the mess you've created with your own hands. Your manager, your agency, your family, even your fans – they all rely on you and trust you to do a good job. Don't disappoint them. You are an actor, Lee Tae Soo. A damn good one! You are adored for a reason, and I'm not talking about your good looks. I won't let you. I can't. I don't want you to regret being with me. If I had chances and opportunities that you have, I would grab them and hold onto them with all my might."

"I lo..." She quickly covered his mouth with a palm of her hand. "Don't say it!"

Tae Soo nodded with a dim smile. "I was not going to. I was just saying I love our time together. And I love that my life here is so different. I love to be treated like a person, not like an expensive commodity with high earning potential."

He fixed his expression to be less disappointed and more contentious, just to tease her further. Only then she realized that there was nothing to be smug about. She just shot herself in the foot by letting her mouth run before she gave herself time to weigh all the pros and cons. It would be incredibly embarrassing, not to mention stupid, to switch 360 degrees and declare that she supports his decision wholeheartedly. "Aish!"

"Look at you, if I did not know any better, I'd say you were Korean," said obviously pleased Tae Soo.

"Your stupid saying rubbed off," she darted back teasingly, but the intensity in her posture dissipated, substituted by something subtle that made her whole appearance soften. In her eyes there was a calm assuredness and they misted with a strong feeling. "One thing I learned about being with you is that you don't really belong to yourself, not all the way. You are loved by many and you have to give back. What me and you have here – will be our own, nobody can take it away."

Tae Soo had no coherent reply to offer. She had this way of disarming him with her honesty and her big vulnerable eyes that stared down at him, filled with love he desperately wanted to keep receiving, not for the next three days, but for many more days to come.

She finally sat back at the table and glued her eyes to the half finished plate. Giselle wondered if she was certifiably crazy. There was something seriously wrong with her, probably some genetic predisposition passed down from her nutcase father. Even in her thoughts she managed to make fun of her own misfortune! If this was not a sign of some mental disease, than was she actually too sane? Too rational?

Why did she try to push Tae Soo with her own two hands, instead of clinging to him for her dear life? Giselle was no stranger to confusion, but her own behavior was puzzling. What she said was not wrong. She might even had done such a good job that she convinced him to leave, removing his doubts. And then...

Her inflamed mind stopped running in circles and her heart trembled – Tae Soo's warm hug came to the rescue. His arms wrapped tightly around her, his cheek pressed to hers. He had a way with back hugs that made her melt into a puddle of goo and forget everything – all the worries, all the pain, all the confusion.

"Maybe, you are right, but it does not make it any easier," he murmured pensively sad, rocking her lightly in his embrace. She gripped his arm tighter and closer for her own protection and reassurance as much as his.

Tae Soo was ready to cut his heart out and give it to her, if this would make it better. He would gladly mold to her and lose himself completely, becoming one with her - like this, enchanted to stand in this spot forever till the end of days. He would forsake his life and his family only if she asked him, but Giselle never did. He understood why. He would never ask her to do such a thing either. He was a whole sum of various parts of him, an idol mega star and a shy boy, silly and dorky - he was Lee Tae Soo, a man who could not be in two places at the same time.

To live in the moment, they said.

Let's not make any future plans, they decided.

We won't define who we are... But he was defined by how he felt – he was a man in love with a woman. A summer could not last longer than a hundred days, and even that was stolen from them. Even if he only had three days left, he was determined to love her every last second.


Everything happened too suddenly; the decisions had to be made in a matter of hours. They were deprived from the basic luxury to process and accept the rapid succession of events, all leading to the one already predestined outcome – Tae Soo's departure.

The way they separated was not dramatic; there were no movie worthy scenes. It was painful and sad, but honest and with grace.

Their last kiss was short and light, tasting bitter with salt from the tears that dropped on their lips.

They hugged and their fingers intertwined as the two lovers looked at each other with smiles of encouragement.

Their hands refused to detangle till the very tip of the fingers, clinging onto the last touch; and when they finally separated, the man and the woman stood silently taking in the image of the loved one.

Corners of Giselle's lips trembled in a soft smile and she waved at him. He waved back awkwardly, then turned and walked with measured steps, his suitcase rolling smoothly behind, his back stiff. She waited for another second and turned away. She did not want to remember his defeated back. Giselle closed her eyes and recreated Tae Soo's portrait – an irresistible charismatic smile, shine in his eyes, sassy hair and stylish outfit – that was the man she loved.

Tae Soo walked all the way without turning back. He was well aware that if he turned, he would stop, and if he stopped, he would return. And if he returned – he would have to leave eventually again, only to cut Giselle's heart with such a deep wound that it may never heal.


The landing strip offered a nice view of the sea. Lavish greenery and azure skies touched the waters of the Caribbean, bidding goodbye to the visitors to the island.

On the airplane, Tae Soo peered out of the illuminator but unlike the rest of the tourists, he was not focusing on the pretty landscape; he was trying to cut through the glare of the airport's windows and find a lone figure lost somewhere in the corridors. He buckled his seatbelt, needing something to hold him down from running out to catch that illusive silhouette he believed was hidden somewhere under the flat brimmed roof of the terminal building.

Tae Soo bit his lip, tearing his eyes away, unable to find what he'd been searching for, and slammed the visor down loudly, making the neighboring passenger give him a dirty look. "I'm sorry," he acknowledged his inconsiderate behavior apologetically.

He looked at his watch. There were still a few minutes before he would have to shut down all the electronic equipment for take-off. Tae Soo pulled out his phone and plugged in his earphones. Scrolling through the latest videos, his attention stopped on the short MV from a currently airing drama: a boy and a girl sat on the opposite sides of the sick wall, separating them. She was clearly unaware of his presence, while he was consciously hiding from her. The girl turned on a song and they both listened. There was longing in their eyes, and Tae Soo could tell immediately they were longing for each other. If they got up and went around the partition, they would meet – but the physical wall was a sign of bigger divide, something that was not easy to overcome, even if they were to face each other.

The words hit him painfully at the very core. He closed his eyes, letting the memories well and take over; moist tears offered comforting release, slowly gliding one, then another - reserved tears of a man who did not cry easily, unless required for a role. They contained his regrets and hopes, and his love that was cut short and never lived to blossom fully.

I did not ask for much. I only wanted to be happy, like a regular person. Am I not allowed to be in love?

He whispered the most sensual name in the world – Giselle - as the last accords of the song faded into the steady hum of the jet engine running.


Giselle opened up her computer. There was nowhere she could hide from herself, but at least writing was a way to escape from her crying in anguish heart, even if for a minute. She was overcome by a kind of stupor she imagined people felt when somebody died. Everything was muted and the world appeared monochromatic.

She went through the motions, clicking on the notification for the new email. Her vision blurred immediately as she recognized the sender. Her first thought was to delete it immediately without a trace, stop herself from touching this link to him, even if electronic. But her fingers, disobeying the order, already opened the message. There was no subject, only an MP3 attachment and a link for the lyrics. She hesitated...

Her heart beat loudly in her ears and tears started to flow, making her angry. Why was he doing this to her? He promised! It was not fair! She already said goodbye. But the anger was quickly overshadowed with hope. Against her better judgment, she yearned for another fragile and momentary connection, if he offered. She only hoped it was not Tae Soo's voice. He would not record some kind of love letter, would he?

He must have had a good reason or maybe, he needed to say something he could not before? She noticed the time stamp was right before his flight, so he had sent it from the airplane. Somehow this knowledge gave her comfort. It was not a premeditated gesture, it was a spontaneous one. She will accept whatever it is as his final farewell. Because it was Tae Soo, after all, he would not hurt her.

She was instantly relieved not to recognize the vocalist. A guitar strummed melancholically as the singer gently ran his voice up and down, softly rolling on the waves of the notes, stringing the verses with soulful ease. It's about love – she guessed.

Giselle read translated from Korean lyrics as the song played through the speakers, filling the room with the sound of Tae Soo's heart speaking to her with a borrowed voice. Yet it was him reaching out to her – sincere, sweet, loving, the most beautiful and wonderful, her "king of chemistry" Lee Tae Soo.

The exhausting day passes and under the moonlight two people become one shadow.

A faint happiness is still there as if you can grasp it if you close your eyes.

Even if my broken heart overshadows your dreams,

Do remember a person, who loves you till it hurts, is by your side.

Even though at times this road might seem too far, and tears fall in sadness,

Until the day everything becomes memories,

We, two people, will be each other's resting place.

When I am walking with you and I can't see the road we have to take,

I will remember the world of that day when it shined just because of you.

Although I am still clumsy and lacking, I will always be by your side.

Even if we lose our way during a dark night,

We, two people, will be each other's light.

Even if in the future the dream we were searching for is not over the rainbow,

The time I am spending with you right now is more precious.

Even though at times this road might seem too far and tears fall in sadness,

Until the day everything becomes memories,

We, two people, will be each other's resting place.

Although I am still clumsy and lacking, I will always be by your side.

Even if the cruel wind will blow, we will overcome the tough times together.

We, two people, will be each other's strength.

She felt warmed by the gentle music, there was consolation in the words, lessening the pain she had resigned to live with. She smiled glancing over to the picture of Tae Soo she had framed. Her smile grew bigger as she drifted into the memory land, scrolling through the many moments of love they had shared.


Giselle cozied up with her laptop and a freshly made cup of coffee. She opened up a new document and started typing:

He said to himself, "I only wanted to be happy. I wanted to be normal, like everybody else. Is that a crime? The kind of thing people take for granted – the right to love who they want – a person like me has to fight for it."


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