35 Woman in White Pt.1

    "Oh, no!" Gulnar shouted. "The ball!"

    "Someone get it before it goes to the river-" Taehyung stopped midway his sentence as soon as he witnessed the ball fall into the water. "Too late" he muttered.

    Gyuri, Taehyung and the orphans gathered around the edge of the river bank as they eyed the worn leather ball that was slowly drifting farther and farther away from them.

    "What do we do now?" Taehyung heard Chun Chun say.

    "I'm sorry, Papa" Gulnar murmured guiltily. "It's my fault we lost the ball."

    Taehyung looked down at the small child whose eyes looked mournful. "Worry not, Gulnar. It is just a ball."

    "But it's the only one we got, Tae!" Chun Chun protested. She furrowed her brows at her brother as she scolded him. "Thanks a lot, Gulnar! Now, we have nothing to play with."

    Taehyung felt Gulnar hold onto his sleeve tightly as he cowered away from a furious Chun Chun.

    "That is enough" Taehyung ordered. "You must not fight over something like this, it is just a ball-"

    "But it's not just a ball!" Chun Chun shouted exasperatingly. Taehyung was startled by Chun Chun's sudden outburst. She eyed him with tears welling up in her brown eyes. "We don't have many things, Tae. That ball was given to me by an old friend before he-" she averted her gaze as she wiped her tear away hastily.

    Seeing his sister start sobbing, Gulnar too, started tearing up. "I'm-I'm sorry, Chun Chun..."

    The sound of sniffling filled the silence amongst the group. Taehyung exchanged looks with Gyuri who was also unsure on what to do to cheer the orphans up. He shifted his gaze from Gyuri and stared intently at the ball. It had floated a little further away from them again and was approaching deeper waters. Currently, it was wedged in between two rocks.

    What if I reached in and grabbed the ball quickly? He inspected the murky, green river water, trying to gauge how deep the river was. It does not appear to be that deep, he thought. And the ball is not too far away. As long as I am careful, I can reach for it and-


    Taehyung turned to face Gyuri who was shaking her head at him. "Don't you dare do what I think you're planning to do."

    "What are you, psychic? How do you even know what I am thinking-?"

    "I can see it in your eyes" Gyuri answered sternly. "And it's a bad idea." She pointed to the ball which was still caught in between two rocks but had shifted slightly further away. "It's too far out now and the current is quite strong. You should just leave it be."

    Gyuri turned her attention to the orphans who she attempted to cheer up by distracting them with another game. While she did this, Taehyung resumed observing the ball. The sound of snivelling could still be heard as the orphans reluctantly let Gyuri lead them away. Seeing the orphans so visibly upset made Taehyung regretful that he couldn't prevent the ball from escaping. And perhaps it was his paternal instincts but, suddenly, he felt the urge to do something to alleviate their woes.

    Taehyung set his eyes on the ball again.

    I can do it, he thought. I will get the ball and the orphans will be cheerful again.

    With Gyuri distracted by the orphans, Taehyung sneakily crept away as he searched for a long branch. He will use it to try and steer the ball towards his direction so that he wouldn't have to go too deep in the water. When Taehyung finally found one he could use, he proceeded with his plan.

    Taehyung approached the edge of the river bank and took one cautious step into the river. A sharp and cold sensation shot up his leg as the cool water soaked into his skin, making him shiver. Despite the chills climbing up his body, Taehyung willed himself to go deeper as he didn't have much time before the ball disappeared for good. With a determined gait, he continued to wade in, his scrawny body quickly being submerged into the cool water. Taehyung winced as the water reached past his waist, forcing him to bite down on his bottom lip to stop himself from crying out in surprise at the sheer cold. It would be bad if Gyuri overheard him.

    With his arm outstretched, Taehyung tried to manoeuvre the long branch to free the ball loose and draw it closer to where he stood. The water level, just below his shoulder, constantly warned him to be careful. After a third unsuccessful attempt in reclaiming the ball, Taehyung huffed out of frustration and decided to edge a little closer.

    Just a little bit more...

    With one mighty flick, Taehyung managed to free the ball while also drawing it closer to him. He smiled triumphantly. The ball was within his grasp! All he had to do now was reach out for it and-

    "Young Master!"

    Taehyung twisted his neck around only to be greeted by a panic-stricken Gyuri who was watching him from the safety of the river bank. She shouted at him, "What are you doing? Get out of the river immediately!"

    Taehyung offhandedly replied, "I am fine. I have almost got the ball!" He turned his attention back to the ball which he was guiding with the branch. With his two hands battling the current from sweeping the ball away again, Taehyung pushed with all his might to swivel his body around so that he could flick the ball towards the river bank for Gyuri to reach.

    Everything had been going smoothly until suddenly, a strong surge of water swept in, overpowering Taehyung.

    "Young Master!"

    Taehyung lost his footing as the strong current knocked him backwards, carrying him downstream with nothing to stop his course. With the water so much deeper, Taehyung thrashed his arms about as he desperately tried to keep afloat. A wave of panic overwhelmed him as he gasped for air, gulps of water invading his opened mouth as he screamed for help while also trying to breathe. He choked and spluttered with every struggle.

    "Help!" his voice was raspy and gruff. "Help!"

    His vision darkened as he sank into the river, immersing him into the dark depths of the unknown. Taehyung frantically struggled as he fought for air. Was he going to die? Will he see light again? So many thoughts flitted across Taehyung's mind as his life seemingly flashed before his eyes.

    He thought it was the end. He thought he was going to die. But suddenly...

    He managed to pull through.

    Taehyung gasped for breath. He had managed to get his head above water.


    With aching limbs, Taehyung flailed his arms about, exhaustion quickly creeping up on him. From the corner of his eye, he spotted Gyuri dive into the river and was curiously gliding across the water like a sea creature. He had never seen anything like it but he didn't have time to spectate. She was still a good distance away from him and he was already drained from desperately trying to keep afloat. In danger of being immersed into the darkness again, Taehyung struggled to keep himself from sinking further.

    "Tae, hang on! Gyuri will save you!"

    "Mama, be careful!"

    The orphans' voices were being drowned out by the gushing of the river. Taehyung gasped for breath as he fought to stay above water. With his last ounce of strength, he managed to stay afloat long enough to notice Gyuri drawing near. However, his remaining energy wasn't enough: Taehyung was exhausted.

    He wanted to surrender.

    And with his has last breath, Taehyung called out Gyuri's name before his world dimmed and he fell into a painless slumber.
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