… … …
She felt something cold hit her face. Her eyes fluttered open, and realized droplets of water fell upon her cheeks. Everything was cold, and wet, that she could smell the earth all around her. She didn't need to be a genius to know that she, Yoona, had been lying on the ground, and the rain was pouring down all over her.
She closed her eyes once more and felt the rain hit her skin. It was nice to be drenched in the rain, but it was nicer to be home quick, throw off her dirty clothes and just wrap herself in soft blankets to warm her cold, shivering body.
As she moved to get up, flashes of what happened suddenly came to her.
She could remember everything. The infinitesimal pain, the warm blood, and the laughing face of the man filled with joy as he watched her die.
"Right, I died… stabbed by a knife."
She mumbled dryly, but as soon as she said it, she jumped up in shock and began to feel around her body, looking for that particular wound.
"I, I'm fine…"
She whispered in disbelief.
"I'm alive… I'm alive!"
She exclaimed, laughing like a lunatic in joy.
She was almost certain she had indeed been stabbed back there, but there was no wound, or pain. If anything else, she felt more alive than ever.
Was it a dream? She thought.
"It must be."
She told herself.
"Thank you God! Buddha!"
She laughed in delight. Oh she was so grateful and happy. But despite her joy for her survival, she slowly looked around her in a reluctant manner, hoping to decipher which way was home.
"What is this place? Where am I?"
She wondered as she continued to look around. Her surroundings were unfamiliar, and not a building was in sight. Instead, it was all greenery and bushes and rain.
She had ended up in a forest and the most notable part were how the trees were purple. There was a small pond, not too far away from her as well. Try as she might, Yoona couldn't figure out where she really was.
She also was just realizing that there were some splinters of wood digging at her back ever since a while ago.
"Well, this - "
She paused for a moment.
" - this is a coffin."
She pointed out to herself. Curling herself, she looked at the coffin she was in. As she did so, she finally noticed there was a tombstone nearby, but there was no name. Her eyebrows furrowed as she realized that.
"This is crazy. Maybe I didn't survive. Maybe this is the afterlife."
She mumbled to herself once more. This was clearly not Korea. It was so strange.
Suddenly the previous joy she experienced dampened to despair as she buried her face into her hands. Oh you're so dead.
She had so many questions. Is this how a soul goes into the afterlife? Was she in hell? Heaven?Yoona, who had been stupefied for a moment, finally decided to rise from her seat, and looked around.
The forest was quiet. And there was not a soul in sight.
Was she alone? Did no one live here?
Suddenly, there was a sound. It broke her from her thoughts as she whipped her head to the general direction of where she heard it. The noise grew closer, the branches snapped, and a figure suddenly appeared from the bushes.
Surprised at the sudden appearance, Yoona had lost footing, causing her to slip pathetically back onto the ground. She let out a grimace as she felt the pain from her hips.
The man stepped out, and their eyes met.
The first thing she noticed was red. His pupils were a glistening blood red. It looked beautiful, captivating, but also screamed dangerous. As he continued to stare at her coldly, Yoona felt a shiver run down her spine, causing her to make a shaky retreat whilst still on the ground, just to keep a safe distance from him. Never once did she avert her gaze, scared of what would happen if she were to look away.
He was a handsome boy, she noted next, but she never saw anyone with red eyes like he did. Human as he looked, there was an ephemeral charm he held that seemed other worldly, like a character in a fantasy book. And just as she couldn't look away from him, he never broke eye contact either.
Then she finally noticed the blood stains on his clothes, and some blood which had dried upon his skin, which made her even more nervous.
He said in his baritone voice. With one stride, he was beside her and yanked her roughly towards him.
"Why are you here?"
He demanded, the anger in his voice seeping into her nerves making her even more tense.
What the hell!?
Yoona couldn't comprehend anything that was happening to her. She tried breaking free from his grasp, but he had held it in a vice-like manner, which made it painful for her to yank back her own hand.
Who is he and why is he angry at me?!
"Arrogantly doing as you please."
He was seething at her, but Yoona remained confused and still unable to form an intelligent response. She was positively certain she was wearing a look of bewilderment, but what he said next had spooked her to her very core…
"You ran away from me and got yourself killed."
She didn't know what to answer him, and for a moment, she remembered the terrible chase and once again feared for her life. After all, it was only natural to fear a man, who might be deranged for all she knew, who had blood staining his clothes!
With whatever strength she had, she managed to voice out a few concerns, hoping reason this time, someone would save her.
"Look mister, I don't know who you are, but you must have mistaken me for someone else."
She said, her voice trembling with each word. It was incredibly difficult for her to talk properly when she was scared and when he was stopping blood circulation to her wrist with that grip. She could feel herself beginning to hyperventilate simply because of her fear of him.
"You just love messing with me don't you?"
He stated dryly, glaring at her in the process.
"Cut the act!"
"Please let me go."
She whimpered out, she wanted to cry.
Suddenly, he crouched down closer and stared into her eyes.
His proximity did nothing to lessen the growing intimidation she felt towards him.
He told her, the serious look in his eyes had not gone unnoticed.
"Just as you did before."
She stared at him with wide eyes as she continued to stare at him. But then she realized there was a hint of amusement behind those eyes, like he was toying with her.
He said. As if given hope, Yoona thought he would finally release her. But instead of letting her go, she felt his grasp tighten on her wrist making her cry out in pain. She swore she heard her bones crack at the pressure.
"Look, I really, really don't know you!"
She pleaded, tears coming out of the corner of her eyes,
"Please, I don't even know where I am right now!"
But he remained stoic. His eyes kept staring at her unblinkingly.
"I don't know what's happening so please just leave me alone!"
She struggled to break free, but as she struggled, the painful his grip got. Suddenly, his calm demeanor changed from that to confusion, almost mirroring her expression.
"Are you just pretending to not know me?"
He asked, tilting his head slightly, before he narrowed his eyes.
"Or did you lose your memory?"
Yoona blinked at his question.
"What the hell have you been up to Ribbon?"
He asked exasperatedly and Yoona finally had the guts to stare at him once again.
She asked, but when he looked at her at an even more confounded expression, she could feel her heart begin to pound harder against her chest.
He called her Ribbon.
The witch burned at the stake was named Ribbon.
Now that she thought of it, this purple forest looked awfully similar to the place she saw in her dreams…
Her eyes widened at the sudden realization. Of course, she wasn't mistaken! She's been hearing that same name over and over again!
She chanced a look at the puddle of water in front of her and felt the ground beneath her disappear. It was impossible, and improbable, but somehow, she finally understood just what was happening around her…
She still found it difficult to believe or rather she didn't want to acknowledge it.
But the evidence was unmistakable. That puddle of reflection was the answer to her questions. With a shaky breath, she stood up as she remained staring into what she assumed was her own reflection. And she laughed.
It was a sudden response, but it was the only response she could give, hoping everything was a cruel joke, for right in her reflection was a woman of silvery hair, who had only ever plagued her dreams.
"How is this even possible?"
She whispered to herself.
The man's actions finally made sense to her; why he acted so familiar towards her. She still didn't know how she ended up in a body that wasn't hers, but it was also clear now she wasn't dead. Or rather, she had not reached the afterlife.
She didn't survive the attack, yes. She had not entered a new world, but rather she became one with her dreams.
In which case she started to inhabit the body of this woman, this… Ribbon, the woman who was mercilessly burned alive at the stake in her dreams.