One

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Three Twenty Five.

It was a perfect late summer afternoon.

I was leisurely riding my bike on the outskirts of the town, admiring the trees that stood on either side of the road serving as the entrance to the woods. I closed my eyes as I pedaled since the road was empty of other vehicles and also due to my confident balancing skills. And while I did this, I felt the cool breeze brushing my face while the friendly wind made my hair danced along with it. I definitely love moments like this.

I was at my mom's hometown and couldn't help but fall in love with it. This was where she grew up and I had a lot of memories here as a child. However, when I turned fifteen, my father's job was relocated to Australia, so our family composed of my dad, mom and an older sister, moved there.

I resumed and finished my studies in Australia. I took up Interior Design and immediately landed a good job. However, after a couple of years, I decided to quit telling my parents that everything was a bit too fast for me. I didn't have enough time to even take a good, deep breath and I somehow knew that if I didn't do this, I wouldn't have the chance to enjoy my life anymore. So I told my parents that I wanted to take a break and go back to Korea for the mean time. They didn't like the idea of course but I was able to save quite enough and made sure that I wouldn't even bother asking them for help. Well, edit the drama out, they eventually allowed their youngest daughter.

That's why at twenty six, I was finally back at my favorite place in South Korea. It had been three months since I came back and I couldn't ask for anything else. It's your typical Korean countryside. Unlike the frenzy-filled cities, I just love how it was so quiet down here and how less crowded the public places were. The people were quite approachable too.

I live with my Aunt Sunny and her husband Uncle Jin Woo with their sixteen year old, middle schooler daughter, Jihye. Aunt Sunny's my mom's younger sister and she's the one managing a flower shop called Areumdaun which was passed down to her by my grandmother. The flower shop had been here for about thirty five years and being in a small town, it's quite famous around here. Uncle Jin Woo's a famous mechanic in town who ran his own shop. He's kind and has a very jolly personality. My cousin Ji Hye's your typical teenager. She's sweet and smart.

I liked staying and spending time with them. They treat me like I was truly a part of their family. I also liked helping my aunt out at the shop. However, from time to time like right now, I ask her permission to go to the old hiking place which was thirty five minutes away from the town centre. Well, it was obvious that she was hesitant to allow me at first, probably afraid that I might get lost or something but I assured her that I would be careful all the time and eventually gave in.

***

I stopped cycling when I saw the familiar trail on the right side of the isolated road. There was a small cleared area that served as the entrance to what it used to be. On the left side was an old signage with faded and unreadable letters that I didn't bother figuring out anymore. I climbed down my bike as I walked entering the forest. Since I was prepared for the hike, I just wore a comfortable loose, white T-shirt paired with jeans and black sneakers.

It was my fourth time coming here since I arrived. I remembered my mom taking me and my sister here for a hike when we were young. I actually thought I remembered everything perfectly, which was what I insisted to my aunt, but then I was proven wrong when it took me about two hours and a half to get to the place the first time I got here. Of course, I blamed it to my direction challenged self which I intentionally hid from my aunt. The place changed a lot. The trails were not that neat anymore but they were still there. I needed them to be visible or else I'd get lost every time. 

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