“I have to find some seed money so that I can go back there.” (Seol)
Seol wandered around the front of the Nonhyeon Station for a while, trying to figure out what to do next, before finally making his move.
He was seemingly surrounded by enemies and obstacles from all sides, but there was one little hill he could still climb for help.
The alarm went off. It signaled the hour – half-past five in the morning. Yu Seon-Hwah slowly opened her eyes, and as if the night’s rest had refreshed her soul, she let off a pleased yawn and grandly stretched her limbs out.
The early morning sunlight, managing to seep past the curtains, brightly illuminated a small photo frame resting on top of the bedroom bureau.
It was an old photo of seven people, including Yu Seon-Hwah and her younger sister. A thin smile slowly bloomed on her lips as she gazed at the photo.
On the photo…. there was Seol ahjussi with his stiff, uptight expression, who possessed a caring heart second to none; his wife who always treated Yu Seon-Hwah and her little sister as her real daughters, making sure the siblings had all their daily necessities well taken care of.
It wasn’t only those two, though. Three Seol siblings were in it too; the eldest boy, Seol Woo-Seok, who resembled his father the closest with that stiff, cold expression, but also possessing a genuinely warm heart; the last born girl, Seol Jin-Heui, with her open and outgoing personality. And then….
And a gentle-looking youth with a soft smile in the middle of the two. Then, there she was, leaning her head on this young man’s shoulders and smiling so radiantly.
As she gazed at the photo, a shade of darkness crept into her complexion. And when she lifted her phone to take a look at the time, the shadow cast over her expression became ever so darker.
“You’re leaving already? Why don’t you at least have a cup of coffee before leaving?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“I wanna do that too, sis. But, I really gotta go now. I need to hand in that darn project before the end of the day.”
“Okay, okay. You haven’t forgotten anything, right?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“C’mon now! I’m not a little kid anymore, you know! Okay, I’m going now! Bye!”
The front door closed shut, and the little sister’s hurried footsteps echoing in the corridor gradually became distant.
Left alone, Yu Seon-Hwah’s face carried a small smile as she finished her share of breakfast. Perhaps infected by the sister’s energy and that positive attitude, she felt motivated more than usual this morning. Also…. for the past few days, things were going so well that she often had to pause to wonder if she wasn’t living in a dream or some such.
But regardless, she was definitely happy. If she were to disregard just one minor thing, that was.
After finishing up the breakfast, she began packing her lunch box with the leftovers. But then, she heard the gradually approaching footsteps in the corridor, and couldn’t help but giggle. There was a hurried knocking on the front door. She had a hunch something like this would happen, so she quickly unlocked the door and opened it.
“I told you. Didn’t I ask you if yo….” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Yu Seon-Hwah was about to lecture her little sister, only to freeze up on the spot.
“You thought I was Seung-Hye, didn’t you?” (Seol)
The person standing in front of Yu Seon-Hah wasn’t her little sister. The man was wearing a worn-out and dilapidated set of old clothings, and as if he hadn’t washed up in weeks, he reeked like a blocked up sewer, as well. And there were dark bags under his eyes, as if he had endured yet another all-nighter.
“You…. Why are you here?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“Hey. How are you? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Oh, wowsers. No matter when I show up, this place is always kept so clean and neat.” (Seol)
Seol pushed his way inside the flat and took a look around, before spotting the leftover breakfast on the dining table. Then, he reached out with his dirty hands, shoved some down his mouth and nodded his head in appreciation.
“Tastes really great. I was starving anyways, so this is perfect. Hey, gimme breakfast.” (Seol)
“I told you, gimme breakfast.” (Seol)
“Who told you to come in?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
The young man, Seol’s eyes opened wider after sensing the undisguised hostility in her voice.
“What’s the matter?” (Seol)
“This is my house, not yours. You just forced yourself into someone else’s home, don’t you get that?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“What are you talking about? Besides, since when did this place become yours? I know full well that my dad paid the security deposit for this place.” (Seol)
“I’ve already paid that back in full, yet you come here talking about ‘security deposit’ only now? Don’t you know how long it’s been, since I took care of that debt? Besides, even if that was still the case, you don’t have the right to be here.” (Yi Seon-Hwah)
“….Hey, hey. Why are you acting like this? Especially with our shared history and all?” (Seol)
“Our shared history? Really?” (Yu Seon-Hah)
Yu Seon-Hah’s voice became even colder.
“Stop daydreaming. We no longer have any history. I don’t have any form of relationship with you. None at all.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Her words eventually went beyond the cold and into venomous territory.
His eyes slowly rolled inside his sockets, before he grandly sighed out. Then, with a slight Oopsie, he lied down on the living room’s floor.
“Just gimme something to eat, will ya? I’m dying of starvation here. It took a lot out of me to walk all the way here, you know.” (Seol)
“Hey!! I’m not going to humour you anymore, so get up! Get up and leave! Before I call the police!” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
The young man, Seol, snorted out derisively. However, when Yu Seon-Hwah really pulled out her phone to call the cops, he hurriedly stood back up.
“L, let’s not overreact like this and talk. Just talk. I came here because I’ve got something to say to you. Honest.” (Seol)
“I’ve got nothing to say to you. If you really want to speak to me, then before that, go to that stupid casino right now and ask their security to ban you from entering that place first. Only then, I’ll think about talking to you again.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“Oh, come on now~. Why are so serious?” (Seol)
She felt like her heart might explode from all the pent-up frustration and anguish. Yu Seon-Hwah squeezed her eyes shut. She lowered her head, and drew in a long, heavy breath.
“….Get out.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“Wowsers. You really gonna keep acting like….?” (Seol)
Before he got to the end of his sentence, she screamed out, loud enough to puncture his ear drums. Finally, she could no longer hold back the repressed rage and it exploded out.
“You think I don’t know why you’re here?! You came here to beg for more money, didn’t you?!” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Seol flinched as she accurately stabbed him in the mark.
“Hey, hey. What are you even….” (Seol)
He sheepishly tried to smile and mumble his way out of this. Unfortunately, an event similar to this one had happened before already. And not just once or twice, either.
It only had been a four months ago, when he came to see her. He got on his knees, desperately rubbed his hands for hours and apologised. She decided to trust him back then.
Seeing that ugly and perhaps even cowardly smile on his face, the feelings of revulsion Yu Seon-Hwah previously didn’t have suddenly welled up inside her.
“I can’t and I won’t give you a single dime. Not anymore. What did you say to me back then? ‘Let’s start again, together’. Really? You think I’m an idiot? What’s the matter, isn’t blowing away our security deposit from last time not enough for you?!” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Yu Seon-Hwah relentlessly shouted at him, before drawing heavy breaths. Dry heaves and coughs came out of her throat, now hoarse and cracked after a short burst of angry shouts.
Seol stood there, totally dazed. Outwardly, he seemed to have forgotten what he wanted to say thanks to her angry attitude, but upon a closer inspection, there was a thin but cruel smirk on his lips.
“You know, I’ve been a nice and patient guy until now, but you start acting like this? You ungrateful little b*tch….” (Seol)
Yu Seon-Hwah’s guilty thoughts of ‘Did I go overboard just now?’ lasted for only a brief second after hearing that. She even doubted her own ears for a moment there.
“What…. what did you just call me?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“Huh. Are your earholes all blocked up with wax or something? Hey, you. You think I’m some damn pushover? F*cking hell….” (Seol)
This was her very first time hearing him swear out like that. This sudden mental shock caused her mind to blank out.
“You know, you shouldn’t be acting like this to me. I mean, when you were going through so much sh*t and hardship, you clung to me like an annoying fly, yet now, you’re like this? I ain’t trying to sound like a petty b*stard or something, but have you forgotten about me taking care of you during the middle and high school? Hmm? You forgot those days when you’d aimlessly waste time wandering around the streets late at night, all crying and sh*t about wanting to see your dead parents? I still remember those days when your little sis came to me, crying and asking where you were and I’d go out looking for you whole night long.” (Seol)
A vile, disgusting taste clogged up Yu Seon-Hwah’s throat. She tried to hold it back down, but in its place, her eyes became wetter and hotter from this feeling of betrayal punching her in the gut.
“You remember when you had no money but still wanted to go overseas and study? Didn’t I postpone going back to school, just so you could use my admission fee as your own, instead? And after you left the country, didn’t I keep sending you more money that I earned from the part time jobs I took on, so you wouldn’t starve over there?” (Seol)
Those did indeed happen.
To pursue her dream, she wanted to study abroad, but the reality was, she was strapped for cash and it was an impossible dream.
She couldn’t tell anyone about her problems and continued to suffer in silent agony everyday. But this youth in front of her stepped forward to help back then.
She was so thankful for his sacrifice. And she also felt terrible about it, too, him having to delay going back to school himself, and using that money to help her out instead.
He was that kind of a person. He was dependable, he cared about her the deepest, and he was basically her most important pillar of strength, too. When they entered the same university together, and when he confessed to her shortly afterwards…. she felt like she was walking on cloud nine.
She loved him so much. When they promised to spend the rest of their lives together, she thought nothing could go wrong for them in this world and that their happiness would last forever.
How could a person end up like this? Just what conspired to ruin a man to such a degree?
Yu Seon-Hwah stood there and trembled like a lone leaf on a tree. She sniffed softly, before abruptly raising her head. Her expression showed that she had managed to regain some semblance of calm, but her nostrils and eyes were moist and swollen still.
“….You son of a b*tch.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“W, what?” (Seol)
Seol stopped feigning anger and began stuttering his words, then. Rather than getting angry, he was dumbstruck, instead. Why? Because, he knew just how much she hated swearing. She had never once uttered a single curse word in her entire life.
“How much was it?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Her slightly-tearful voice sounded determined. It was as if she had finally made up her mind.
“How much was it? The money you gave me when I went overseas.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“Uhm…. The admission fee was like, 500 thousand? And from the part time jobs, probably around 200 thousand?” (Seol)
T/N: In Korean currency.
“I’ll pay the admission fee back to your dad. You might have given me the money, but it was your dad’s money to begin with. As for that 200, here it is.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Yu Seon-Hwah spoke curtly as if she was spitting out flames with each word and immediately switched her phone on.
“I sent it. It’s exactly 200 thousand, so check it.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
Seol let off a fake cough, and cautiously pulled out his phone. And after checking out his bank balance, he couldn’t help smirk in delight.
“Wow, you have a lot of money now, don’t you? Just how much do you make a month?” (Seol)
“Are we finished now?” (Yu Seon-Hah)
She somehow squeezed out the voice, now wet with even more tears. Hearing her ominous-sounding words, the feeling of delight fled from Seol’s mind almost immediately. But, he still shrugged his shoulders after shifting his gaze over to her.
“Hey, now. I never asked you for money, no? If others hear you, they might think I’m trying to steal from you or something.” (Seol)
“….I’ve finished repaying all the debt with this. Right? Every dime?” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“Well….. uh, I guess?” (Seol)
“If you’ve confirmed it, then get out. We have nothing tying us now. Not even debt.” (Yu Seon-Hwah)
“You’re starting this again?” (Seol)
In the end, Yu Seon-Hwah couldn’t hold it anymore, and collapsed to the floor on her knees. Seeing her desperately rein her tears back in, Seol roughly scratched his oily and unkempt hair.
“Fine, fine. I’m leaving.” (Seol)
Seol still had his shoes on; he hurriedly left the flat as if he was a thief escaping from the crime scene, afraid of his wrongdoings being exposed. However, his sense of accomplishment after getting the cash only lasted for a brief few seconds.
*SFX for a sorrowful wail of a woman*
When he heard the restrained yet heartbroken wail coming from behind the closed door, Seol suddenly felt like sh*t.
He ran outside the building and glared at the heavens above. As usual, the morning sky was blue. It was such a clear and cloudless day, it managed to rouse a deep sense of irritation in his heart.
Then, all the accumulated fatigue he had forgotten rushed in.
He filled his empty stomach with food bought from a convenience store, and returned to his rented room. After switching on the light, he fell straight down on the dusty blanket, and closed his eyes.
….An unknown amount of time passed by.
The midday Sun had eventually moved westward, and the amber glow of the horizon was just about to be swallowed up by the encroaching darkness.
Suddenly, an indistinct vibration buzzed in the air, and then, circular ripples formed in that very spot.
The ripples gradually gathered to a single point, then in an instant, transformed into a blue object. And as if it was a lover kissing the precious one goodbye, it fell gently on the sleeping Seol’s forehead.
It didn’t take long, but the blue object slowly sank in below his skin as if it was sinking below the surface of water.
And then, it happened.
His dead-still sleeping body suddenly quivered and flinched.
Seol abruptly opened his eyes.