By Rebekah Ihn, 15, Crescenta Valley HS
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Rebekah felt inspired to start writing her own online love story.

“Living without you is like breathing without air.”

My heart pounded as I read those lines from the fictional Internet love story, Fists and Lipsticks. I sighed while placing my hand over my heart. Meanwhile, I overheard my mother whisper, “What are we going to do with her?! Those damn love stories of hers are time-consuming. This has got to stop.”

“I KNOW!” my grandmother fired at me. “Go read some books, EURHI!” (Eurhi is my Korean name.) I nonchalantly made the OK gesture and resumed my story. My mom and grandma both sighed.

I read these Internet love stories every day for at least a couple hours. A typical story features Asian characters and they are usually written by teens. The writers usually release a chapter per week. Sometimes while listening to sappy music I daydream about a hot guy changing my life just like in these stories.

Illustration by Michelle Paik, 16
Palos Verdes Peninsula HS

I discovered Internet love stories in 2006 during a trip to see family in San Francisco. When I ran up the stairs to my cousin Gina’s room, I peeked inside and saw her staring at her computer like a zombie. I rushed into her bedroom and exclaimed, “GINA! I MISSED YOU BABY!”

“Uh … yeah … hey,” she responded while scrolling down with the mouse. Ouch. I looked at her monitor and saw all these italicized words.

“What are you up to?” I asked.

She got out of her chair and motioned for me to sit down. “I’m reading an Internet love story called My PingPongBoy. Go take a look.”

I was instantly addicted

I scanned the first few lines: “I’ll tell you how I met my boyfriend. My boyfriend isn’t your typical pretty boy with a mysterious past. No.”

The words “typical pretty boy” and “mysterious” screamed out to me to read the rest. Eventually, I had to move back from the screen because my eyes hurt from reading. Gina was kneeling while staring at the screen. “Gina … Sit with me!” I said. She sat down on the chair’s arm.

My PingPongBoy is about how a gorgeous 17-year-old Korean girl named Lee Ji Won meets cold-hearted pingpong champ, Park Jung Sang. The story starts with a heart-broken Jung Sang instant messaging the girl who dumped him, Shin Hye Min. At least he thinks it’s Hye Min, but it’s really Ji Won, who was using Hye Min’s picture for her AIM photo. When he finds out that she was pretending to be Hye Min he cusses her out. But later they end up at the same school and they get to know each other. Ji Won starts melting Jung Sang’s cold heart and turning him into a gentleman. Eventually through a really complicated love square (involving four people, unlike a love triangle), they end up together. I had thought something called My PingPongBoy would be kind of stupid, but as I got through the story I thought it was really, really good.

It was worth missing dinner to find out if they’d end up together

It was silent while we had read except for when one of us asked, “Are you done with that page?” Two hours later my mom interrupted us, but we were not pleased. “EURHI AND GINA, EAT DINNER!”

“OK MOM! We’ll be down soon!” I shouted back. But we didn’t go immediately. We waited like half an hour and then ran downstairs to find the table cleared. We quickly fixed ourselves a cup of noodles so we could rush to see what happened next in the story. As I read the last word, I thought “Man, I wouldn’t mind slurping Cup Noodles every day as long as I get to read a good love story like My PingPongBoy.”

Gina told me about,a website that has a lot of these stories. Before I left she wrote me a list of 10-15 good ones to read. I felt like I had the world in my hands. Once I got home, I started reading them every day.

My favorite, Fists and Lipsticks, is about a 17-year-old Japanese top fighter guy named Yamazaki Kosuke and his rival, a beautiful 17-year-old top fighter girl named Miyazawa Aya. The two inevitably fall in love, but there are problems. Miyazawa isn’t Miyazawa. She’s actually another girl, Yoshida, who is pretending to be Miyazawa so that the Spectra gang won’t kill the real Miyazawa, who is in a coma. Yoshida even lives with Miyazawa’s blind mother. As Yamazaki tries to protect Yoshida from the Spectra gang, he learns things that expose the secrets of the Spectra gang. Now there’s a sequel, Fists and Lipsticks 2: The Silver Crescent.

I read them in my brother’s room and he eventually got pretty pissed because it was his computer, which we shared before he went to college. I would plead with him to let me read another chapter. We made a deal—I had to fold his laundry and wash the dishes (usually his chores), in exchange for me taking up his computer and his bedroom.

My dad doesn’t really say anything but my mom always says “stop reading it,” “it doesn’t benefit you,” “they don’t use correct grammar” and that “you’re going to start writing like them.” My grandma doesn’t like how I seem to live at the computer.

But I keep reading because some of the writers are really talented and my grades haven’t gone down.

I don’t know why these stories appeal to me so much. Is it the forbidden love that amuses me? Or is it the fearlessness of the characters that intrigues me? I’m not sure. They ditch school. They escape from arranged marriages. The main female character might get kidnapped by her lover’s enemy, but prince charming always saves her one way or another. Their lives are so exciting unlike my dull life. I go to school. I come home. I practice flute for an hour. I do homework.

But as soon as I’m done, I rush to my brother’s computer and slip into another world as I read another Internet love story.