Love Is More Than Skin Deep

"I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! " Jeanne's eyes were wide and filled with tears. She was afraid of what he would say to her.
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Jeanne was a nerdy girl with thick glasses. She was a junior in her middle school. She was in love with the hottest guy in the entire school.

And now, she told him that she loved him.

"Haha! Shut up. Nobody would like you! Who do you think I am?"

Jeanne had feared he would say something like that. She was devastated. She started running. She didn't want to face him ever again. All these thoughts and feelings ran throughout her head. Until, she bumped into something.

"Hey, whats up?"

She had bumped into James.

"WHAT?! I'll GO TELL HIM! WHERE DOES HE GET THAT NERVE! SOMETIMES, I DON'T KNOW WHY I'M HIS BEST FRIEND! THAT'S IT! i'M GOING TO GO BEAT HIM UP!"

"NO! James! Don't do it! It's not his fault. I was the foolish one to think we can ever date."
"But Jeanne!"
" No, it's OK! I should go."
" JEANNE... James grabbed her by the wrist as she was getting up. Don't go."

Jeanne stared into his eyes and felt so warm and fuzzy; a feeling she didn't feel for a long time. But, she looked away. She saw in such a long time, it felt awkward to feel it again. And then she gently took her wrist out of James' grasp and slowly walked away from him with tears in her eyes.

"Dammit, James! You really did it this time! Jeanne just left you! And why are you trying to hit on her?"

James walked back home with his hands stuffed in his pocket. Thoughts of Jeanne ran throughout his head. He didn't want Jeanne to be hurt by a jackass. He wanted to show her that he loved her. He wanted to show her he cared. But Jeanne just seemed to ignore him. And then, something ran into him. He crashed on the ground and saw Jeanne was on top of him. She seemed to not know whom she crashed into. James smiled.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm very, very sorry. I should have been more careful.. I'm sorry. Can I repay you somehow?"
"Jeanne", James said, lifting her chin and brushing her bangs. Jeanne looked through his soft eyes and almost melted.
"James..." said Jeanne. Suddenly, she started crying. James was shocked.
" J-Jeanne? What's wrong?"
"I' m s-s-such a f-fool! H-How c-c-can I th-think t-that G-Gyung H-Hoon c-can love me?"
"Jeanne.. I would not call that foolish.. I actually admire you going up to him and confessing. However, crying about him is indeed foolish. Jeanne, Don't cry about that jerk. Here, let's go to my house. We're right in front of it!" Jeanne nodded.

James led her to the bathroom.

"Take off your glasses. We need to wipe those tears off." He said with a smile. Jeanne took them off without a word. James turned on the water and wet a washcloth. Then, he gently wiped her tears off her face.
" James.. Do you love me?" James was startled by this comment.
" Why do you ask me that?"
" Because.. it seems like it. Do you?"
" Haha! Jeanne, you are my friend."
" Oh.. OK. I think I'm not so teary now. Thanks, James."
" No Problem. Do you want something to drink?"
" Um... OK." She followed James out the door.
He handed her a glass of orange juice and they sat down outside on a bench.
" Are you going to be all right?"
" Yeah.. Thanks. But I don't think I'll be able to face him again."
" When he calls you something bad, just yell my name. OK?"
" OK." she said with a small laugh.
" But what are you going to do when I call you?"
" I'm going to beat him up!"
" What if everyone starts hating you?"
" It doesn't matter. As long as the one girl I love is happy."
" Ooh, James! You like someone?"
" Yeah.. Guess. I'll never tell you until you get the right answer."
" Hmm... is it Amy? She's pretty! What about Lauren? She's nice and quiet. Or is it Becca? She's generous. Or maybe it's Courtney! She's not all that nice though..."

After a few tries, she gave up.

"Who is it? I'm dying of curiosity!"
" Let's see.. she has glasses.. she's in love with Eric, she's sitting right next to me! Jeanne let out a small gasp."
" M-Me?" James nodded. Jeanne almost passed out.
" James! I have declared you crazy." James started laughing.
" Why won't you believe me? I like you.. I want you to be my girlfriend."
" But you're the second hottest guy in school! What if everyone criticizes you for bad taste in girls?"
" I don't care¦ I told you. As long as the one girl I love is happy." he said, smiling.
" No, really, James. No games this time. All serious.. all right?"
" Yeah.. I know."
" Oh my god..." Jeanne said, covering her mouth with her hand.
"Jeanne, I just want to be the right guy for you." he said while putting his arm around her shoulder. She leaned against him and for the first time, she felt accepted by someone special.
"But, James! Why did you say I was just a friend before?"
"Umm! I didn't feel like it was time yet." Jeanne nodded. She knew how hard it was to say, "I love you." She knew how nervous you would feel. And she knew how hard it was to feel the reject.
"I understand, James. I'm just glad you told me. I'll think about it."
"Jeanne, do you still like Eric?"
"Yes!"
"What has he got, that I don't?"
"I just don't know! I mean! you two look the same! you guys wear things all similarly! but! I like Eric better."
"All right! I'll make him like you. He knows he's not going to win in a fight." Jeanne wrapped him in her arms.
"James! I'm all right. You don't have to do all that." And then he wrapped her in his arms.

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"Eric, can I see you for a moment?"
"What up, dude?"
"It's about Jeanne!"
"Oh no! don't tell me about that ugly! I just barf when I hear her name!"
"SHUT UP! DUDE, YOU JUST HAVE TO GIVE HER A CHANCE! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?"
"Hey! I have other girls who want me. The least thing I need now is another girl who is ugly and slow liking me."
"She's not ugly and slow! She's kind and beautiful in the inside when you get to know her!"
"Wait! do you!?"
"Yes! I do!"
"Haha! Then why don't you date her?"
"Because! she's in love with a jackass!"
"STILL? Haha! Man, she's hilarious! After I rejected her like that?"
"Hey! please! it would mean a lot to me! just say that you at least like her as a friend and apologize for what happened last time. Man, she came running all the way to my house and started crying! She was just! out of control, man! Just tell her that! please?"
"All right!"
"You're the best!"
"Hey, Jeanne! I'm sorry for what happened last time. I was sort of tired and grouchy. I wasn't in a good mood. I never wanted to say it that way. I like you as a friend. And I want to keep that relationship. All right?" Eric let out a hand for a shake. Jeanne nodded. She let out her hand and they had a friendship shake, which made James smile.

"See? Eric likes you! He just wants to keep the relationship just as friends! All cool with you?"
"Yes.." she said softly. James took her hand and walked away with her.
"You all right, now?"
"Yeah!" she nodded. "But he only wants us to be friends! because I'm a nerd!"
"Jeanne! Why don't you ever think about me? You know he's a jerk! Why do you mope around for that! So what, if he doesn't like you! Everyone is different, Jeanne. To my eyes, you are a beauty. You can't always think about him! There are other guys out there for you! Not just Eric and me! I really don't want to see you like this."

"James! Do you really love me?"
"I don't think I need to answer that!" They stared at each other for a long time.
"James!" She tried to push him away and he staggered a little.
"Jeanne! answer this for me! do you love me?"
"James, I never intended to be your girlfriend. I just want to be your friend."
"Oh, I see! you're treating me like how Eric treated you. You don't want to be my girlfriend because I'm way different than you. You don't want to be my girlfriend because I'm better looking than you and you're afraid that people will jeer you because of that. Well, you know what? I don't care about any of that!" And with that, he grabbed her and locked her lips into his. After a while, he moved away.

"Oh, you really do love me!" She hugged him.
"But, Jeanne! do you still have feelings for him?"
"Yes! I always have, and always will."
"Do you want to be pretty? Like those girls over there?" James pointed to a group of girls. They all had big hoop earrings and what Jeanne noticed was that they did not have any thick glasses like her. Jeanne nodded. She was pretty ashamed about it.
"It's all right, Jeanne. All girls want to be good looking. Even they were ugly once. Everyone is."
"Really?"
"Sure! I used to act like a girl once. I always thought about my appearance, my clothes, and my hair ; just like a girl."
"Haha! That's funny!"
"It's good to see you laugh. Now, Jeanne. I'll help you become pretty'. Then will you be happy?"
"I don't know. I've never been attractive in my life.." she said innocently.
"Well, it's time you are!"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ "OK! we'll start off with your hair. It's nice and curly. I don't think it's right to put it up in a hairdo or anything. Something needs to go with it. And I have just the perfect thing."
"What is it?"
"Jeanne! we need to pierce your ears."
"WHAT?!"
"AAAAAAAHHH! OUCH!"
"Well, that wasn't so bad! right?"
"Yeah right," Jeanne said, rubbing her ears. "James, it's even painful to touch my ears!"
"Then just leave them alone before you get an infection!"
"All right! Geez!"
"Now, we need to focus on your clothes. You can't always have a blouse with a tight sweater squeezed over it, you know. It looks like our school has a dress code. You should have a tight shirt with a miniskirt. That would look good on you."

"OK! now that we have all the clothes and jewelry, all we need to fix are your glasses. We need contacts for your eyes."
"How are we going to do that?"
"I know someone who can get us contacts. I knew my eye doctor for a long time. He can help us with it."
"So you want to give her contacts for these glasses?"
"Yeah. Can you help us?" "Well! the lens are really thick! You must be studying really hard, student," he
looked at Jeanne. She smiled and nodded.
"So! will you take them?"
"Yeah, I guess. I really like the design. It can be a display. And whoever wants it, can get it. All right, let's get you some contacts."
"That was pretty easy, right, Jeanne?"
"But it's pretty weird not pushing up some glasses every 10 seconds."
"Haha. But your new blue eyes look marvelous."
"Wait a minuet! You got blue contacts? BLUE?!"
"Yeah. And the extra pair is just regular hazel... the same color as your eyes."
"I want the hazel ones. I don't want to be a Caucasian."
"No. Don't you want to be matching with Eric? Eric has blue contacts, too, you know!"
"Fine!" Jeanne pouted. But James knew inside she was happy. He knew he was going to have to let go of her.

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On Monday, James brought Jeanne to school. Everyone gathered around them and agreed that James and the new beautiful girl was a good couple. James put his arm around Jeanne and took her to Eric.

"What up, man? Who's the chick?" Eric asked.
"You'll never know."
"So tell me!"
"You want to tell him, girl?" James asked Jeanne.
"Hi! I'm Jeanne." James and Jeanne smiled when they heard him gasp.
"The! the nerdy! nerdy girl?"
"The same, Eric! the same."
"Can I talk to you, James?" Eric took James away from Jeanne. "Dude, what the hell is happening here? That's not Jeanne, right?"
"It is Jeanne! How can you live like that? How can you live with one spontaneous idea stuck in your head? Can't you ever think about Jeanne being beautiful and attractive?"
"Well! no."
"See? I knew this was a bad idea. But she loves you! Can't you believe that? And I love her! so I'm letting her go to the one jerk she loves. Peace, man," and with that, James walked away. "Good luck, Jeanne." He stuffed his hands into his pants pockets. He tried to stop the tears from streaming down his face. Jeanne! if you love him that much! I'll let you go. I hope that jackass won't hurt you.

"So! You're Jeanne! The one I rejected?"
"Umm! Yeah."
"Well! I've thought about it, but I think I want you to be my girlfriend."
"Your girlfriend?"
"Yeah." Jeanne couldn't believe her ears. Thank you, James. "So! do you accept?"
"Of course I do! It's always been my dream!"
"Gosh! you have pretty weird dreams! Hey, you look cold. Here." Eric took off his sweater and wrapped it over Jeanne. Jeanne was so happy she was crying. Eric wiped her tears and comforted her.

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After school, Jeanne called James to thank him.

"Hello?"
" James! Thank you so much! It went so well between Eric and me!"
"That's! that's great, Jeanne."
" I owe it all to you. Let's go out for lunch or something sometime. I'll pay." Jeanne sounded so happy.
"Jeanne, I don't think that'll be possible."
" Why not?"
"I'm leaving! to Korea."
" What about your parents? Why are you going? How are you going? I just don't believe this!"
"My parents were dead a long time ago, Jeanne. I have enough money to get on a plane to Korea."
" But! what about me? I thought you loved me!"
"Yes, I do. But you're in love with someone else and I don't want to burden you. I want you to be happy with the one you love and not be pressured by me. Tell Eric that I congratulate him and tell him good-bye please. Bye, Jeanne."

Click!

Jeanne couldn't believe it. She was able to date because of James. She was able to get attractive because of James. She was always comforted because of James! And he was leaving her out by herself in the big, hateful, hideous world. She felt suddenly so scared. She dialed James's number again, but he disconnected the phone. She finally knew who was important to her now.

She quickly dressed into the clothes James had bought for her and ran outside. She was running for dear life to James's house. When she got there, he was right there, in front of her.

Jeanne was so happy she cried out, "JAMES!" He turned to face her. "James, how can you leave me like this?" James looked at her with his soft eyes.

"I'm sorry, Jeanne. I have to leave. My cab's here. Bye, Jeanne." James gave her a peck on the cheek and disappeared into the taxi. She watched the taxi disappear into the curve and watched her James gone! forever. She started crying and crying as if her life was over. But it was! she was now alone in the world, with no one to support her.

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-15 years later-

James came back to America as a successful lawyer. He came back to America in search for the girl he had loved 15 years ago. Everyone in Korea had questioned him. And now that he was back, he was able to search as much as he wanted. But, little did he know there was a problem with that.

"Eric?" James had called Eric. They were in touch the whole time James was in Korea.
" Hey! What's up?"
"I came back to America, dude!"
" Oh! Umm! OK!"
"I want to ask about Jeanne. Is she all right?"
" You see, James. There's something about that you should know."
"I'm getting a bad feeling about this!"
" Well, I guess you can say she's happy and well."
"What do you mean?"
" She's with God, man. She's gone."
"Haha. Nice joke. I'm not kidding. Tell me where she is."
"DUDE! I'M TELLING YOU! AFTER YOU TOLD HER YOU WERE LEAVING HER, SHE STARTED GETTING DEPRESSED AND GETTING STRESSED! IT WAS HORRIBLE, MAN! WHY THE F*CK DID YOU LEAVE? SHE WOULD STILL BE ALIVE! BECAUSE OF YOU, SHE HAD TO SUICIDE! WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU DUMASS JERK! I THOUGHT YOU LOVED HER! I DON'T THINK THAT'S WHAT GUYS WHO FALL IN LOVE DO TO THEIR CRUSH! SH*T! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. REMEMBER WHEN YOU CALLED ME A JACKASS? You'd better think again.- Click! The phone fell from James's hand. He dropped to his knees in disbelief. He just couldn't believe it. He felt like everything was against him. He felt so angry with himself. He felt like ripping himself up. He wanted to follow Jeanne up to heaven.

For days and days, James didn't eat a morsel of food. He started getting so much stress.

-20 days later-

James was buried right next to Jeanne's grave. His tombstone read:
R.I.P.James Park
1980-2005

THE ONE MAN WHO LET GO OF A WOMAN AND LOST HER.


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