NO MORE WHAT-IFS
by Tari Gwaemir
What if he had met her first? Would it have made a difference? He doesn't believe in chance or luck, not anymore; love, he now knows, is a function of fate. Even if he had met her first, she would not have loved him, and their meeting would merely be an alternate trajectory towards this same point: him, leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe, watching her watch herself in the mirror as she awkwardly fiddles with the flowers in her hair. The veil is lying on the floor, a limp river of gauze and silk, and there are hairpins strewn about on the carpet. Yurin looks up at him with a tired, ironical smile. "Don't say it. I look ridiculous."
He shakes his head and gathers the veil in his arms. "Need help?"
"Nah. Leave it." She studies her reflection again, her mouth skeptical. She crosses her arms and slouches; the flowers slip precariously below her left ear. "Look at Ju Yurin, playing at Cinderella. A pretend-bride at a make-believe wedding. Even now, I look like a fake."
"You look dazzling," he says simply and positions the veil gently, on her head. The silk falls over her face, opaque enough to obscure her expression.
She jerks away, and the flowers fall out of her hair. She gives a little exasperated snort. "Drat those things. As if there weren't enough of them at the wedding already."
He laughs and hands her some more hairpins. She grins at him and turns back to the mirror to fix her hair. He suddenly can't bear to look at her, so he turns back to the door. "Hey," he says, keeping his voice lighthearted, "promise you'll be happy. Because if you aren't, I won't hesitate to steal you away." She can't see his face, but he straightens and smiles anyway, to persuade her that it's just a joke. Lies are most convincing if you believe them yourself. He learned that from the master herself.
If he had met her first, would he have fallen in love at all?
But there are some lies that he can't tell; his heart too followed a predetermined direction, a path meant to collide with hers. Step by step, he walks away from her, down the hallway to the entrance lobby where the guests are already starting to arrive. "No more what-ifs, Suh Jeongwoo," he tells himself, and with that, bids regret goodbye.