Reunion Chapter 24
My mother was hospitalized on the VIP floor of Taewon Hospital. While heading to the hospital room, Gunwoo happily explained to me that our mother received various support for signing a research agreement.
“Isn’t it good, hyung?’
It was an excuse anyway so there was no need to ask what the research was about. I nodded and admired Jang Myeongsoo and his aides a little inside. I didn’t have to make any more excuses to my mother or Gunwoo so that the process could be finished carefully. I didn’t know if it was out of consideration for me or to keep their secrets.
“Hakyung, you came?”
When I opened the door of the hospital room and entered, my mother who was sitting on the bed, greeted us and tried to change her tone.
My mother was always like that. She was afraid that we would feel burdened so she wouldn’t say she was glad even if she was, never showed her sufferings and didn’t show her pain even though she was hurting. But I was good at reading my mother so I quickly sat on the bed.
“Yes, your oldest son is here.”
“Did you have your lunch?”
“Do you worry about that even after seeing my face? Here, look at how chubby I am.”
I added that I was doing well, by stretching my slightly fleshy cheeks. It was obvious but my mother smiled anyway. While I was peeling the fruit I bought on the way, Gunwoo told mom about the ‘good person’.
“Your boss’ son must be a really good person. Since hyung said he was going home, he even gave him many things to eat…”
My mother, who was silently listening to Gunwoo talk, asked me to confirm.
“Yeah, the people there are all good people.”
I replied like that and peeled the fruits.
Gunwoo continued to talk unlike usual, perhaps because he felt good after having all three family members together. Was it because he had a lot of curiosity, he moved from topics to topics. The story that started with school life moved to the story of a cat living in the neighborhood, the appreciation for the hospital and the curious life of his brother and finally to the story of being on the way home. Gunwoo, who had been talking for a long time, gulped down water as if he was thirsty.
“I am going to sleep here too.”
“For what? Go home and sleep comfortably there, go to school and come back tomorrow.”
“It’s more troublesome to go home. We can sleep together over there, right?”
Gunwoo begged as he pointed to the long sofa that was attached like an ‘L’ shape. I told him off so that he could be more comfortable but there was nothing I could do if he didn’t want to do it.
We laid down with our head on the edge. Gunwoo continued to say something in a drowsy voice as if he still had things left to say, and eventually fell asleep muttering nonsense under his breath. I covered the strayed blanket again and charged my phone and thought of the work cell phone that was in my bag. It was a phone that didn’t ring much but I still thought I should charge it.
There was a message on the screen when I took the phone out of the bag and turned it on inadvertently. Don’t tell me Jang Myeongsoo said something about my vacation but Jang Yoonsung’s name was floating on the top of the message box.
[I was wondering if you got home safely. I don’t mind even if it’s early in the morning, call me.]
I was not a child that I would not be able to find my own house.
My mother and brother were sleeping next to me and the hallway was so quiet that I was reluctant to talk to Jang Yoonsung on the phone there. I was thinking about answering by text that I reached home well but I ended up leaving the hospital room because I thought it would be too insincere towards the person who helped me that much.
The rooftop was closer than the first floor so I went up to the rooftop and called. Jang yoonsung answered the phone in a place which was a little noisy so his voice was being cut off at times.
It was a very welcoming tone but I was embarrassed and finally opened my mouth after the short greeting and the ragged breathing sound.
Then he hesitated a little and added the name “Jiyoung”. I could hear him chuckling over the call.
– I know. That’s why I received your call.
“I came back home safely…”
I called him thinking that he was curious if I went home safely but somehow I got a weak answer, “Okay”. As he said so, a loud noise came back and his voice was cut off again. Not very loud music but bustles of people.
“Are you outside? It’s noisy.”
– I came out to meet my friends.
There was no reason for Jang Yoonsung not to have friends but I didn’t know why I sounded so awkward. It might be because I assumed I knew Jang Yoonsung very well.
The rising curiosity poked my consciousness uncomfortably. What kind of people they were, how close they were and how nice he was to them as he was to me and whether he enjoyed his time with them more than with me…But I couldn’t say a word so I just said what I had to say.
“Right, thank you for the gift. I enjoyed the meal with my family.”
– If you tell me your address, I’ll send you one everyday.
“You don’t have to.”
– I’m not asking for you, but for your family
It was when Jang Yoonsung was trying to say nonsensical words that a voice could be heard from behind. It was a casual tone that said, “Hey, Jang Yoonsung!”
When Jang Yoonsung stopped talking, the same voice continued from afar, “What are you doing, it’s your turn!” Jang Yoonsung replied as if he was annoyed.
– Do it without me. I’m busy on the call.
I listened to the voice without realizing it. There was a clear difference in the tone and I guessed by how much.
– Who is it that you are going to leave a winning game? Is it a girl?
Whether they were playing a game, his friend asked him as if it was pity. I introduced my brother, Gunwoo to Jang Yoonsung but Jang Yoonsung couldn’t introduce me to his friends that easily. When Jang Yoonsung couldn’t answer, the friend asked again in a slightly surprised voice.
– Don’t bother and go ahead.. I’ll be there soon.
Only then Jang Yoonsung responded with a sharp voice. But his friend teased him in a playful voice as if it was interesting.
– Hey, don’t you feel sorry for Hyejin. She only looks at you though.
Hyejin? When the name Hyejin came out, all the sound from the other side of the call became deafening. Jang Yoonsung seemed to have blocked the microphone with his hand. I put my ears close to the speaker but I couldn’t hear any more of the conversation. What is it? I’m curious too.
The area around the villa was cool at night, but the night air in Seoul was warm. Even though it must be the same sky, as I looked into the air where the stars disappeared, I waited for the sound of words to be heard again.
– I’m sorry, my friend was bothering me.
Fortunately, Jang Yoonsung’s voice was heard again and perhaps because the scuffle with his friends was too long.
“Who is Hyejin?”
Seeing how he blocked the microphone in a hurry, it seemed like they weren’t anything. I was just trying to tease him but Jang Yoonsung asked in a curious tone rather than being embarrassed.
– Does it bother you?
“No, not at all. Why should I be bothered?”
I felt he was spitting his words too curtly. He sounded too serious. Fortunately, instead of laughing bitterly, Jang Yoonsung replied in a friendly tone.
– I wanted to tell you not to bother but I would like it if you did.
Without being serious, a while before sleeping. A low chuckle followed after the voice that even kindly guided me. If he showed me all his money, I wouldn’t even care. Even I, who had a poor relationship experience, knew how to push and pull but that was not how it was done.
– Think about it. If you are bored, I’ll try harder. I should head back. You can go, too.
“Right. If you have time tomorrow, call me.”
– That too, I’ll think about it.
In the end, we hung up the call after saying goodnight to each other several times.
Somehow, I came back to the hospital room feeling blank and laid down on the sofa. In the quiet interior, only the breaths of my mother and Gunwoo could be heard. The room was so dim that I couldn’t see anything even when I opened my eyes.
Yet I blinked my eyes open and close. It was because the name of the woman, the face of whom I didn’t even know, came to mind clearly in that blue darkness.
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