Author: 난기류 Editor: Flo

#112

 

General rubbed his small head against me as if he was very happy to meet me as usual. I petted the cute head and back of my familiar puppy while feeling puzzled.

 

“General, why are you here?”

 

“Woof woof.”

 

“Am I really dead?”

 

Seeing General here made me wonder if I was in heaven, but at the same time, I strongly felt that couldn’t be the case. General wasn’t dead. Was this an illusion created by my subconscious not wanting to be alone?

 

I clinged onto the fluffy General and asked, but there was no response. Watching from behind, Seong Chan-young, who had been watching me from behind, mocked me.

 

“Do you expect an answer by holding onto that dog that doesn’t seem real? You idiot. Do you think he’d answer just because you ask? Never!”

 

With that, Seong Chan-young tried to stagger away. In the desolate, white space where there was nowhere to hide, I grabbed onto Seong Chan-young’s collar as he tried to flee.

 

“Hey! Let go!”

 

“Where do you think you’re going? I can’t let you go because it seems like I need you to get out of here, even though you’re annoying and hateful.”

 

“Woof woof!”

 

General barked as if agreeing with my words. Seeing General chasing after Seong Chan-young, I frowned even more.

 

“I’m sick of this dog.”

 

“And I’m sick of you.”

 

“Then let go!”

 

“Don’t understand Korean? I won’t let go until we leave here, and until you’ve paid for what you’ve done to me.”

 

“Who do you think you are?!”

 

“I’m the victim here, you jerk.”

 

“Argh!”

 

Thud. In the end, I couldn’t bear it and swung my fist again. Seeing Seong Chan-young’s unrepentant attitude only fueled my anger. I was not a violent person, but whenever this guy opens his mouth, all the past grievances flood back, and I couldn’t help but swing my fist.

 

Of course, Seong Chan-young, despite being hit, remained the proud owner of an admirable character.

 

“I’m the victim! You’re the thief who took away my happiness by stealing my body…!”

 

Seong Chan-young was so immersed in his own self-pity that he didn’t even bother to look around. How could someone so true to the original character exist in real life?

 

“I’ve suffered just because of a guy like you…”

 

“You better keep your mouth shut.”

 

“Who are you to say that!”

 

“Sigh…”

 

Yeah. Even Chairman Seong couldn’t ultimately stop Seong Chan-young. It was painful.

 

“If only I could shut him up and tie him up to drag him around…”

 

I’ll say it again, I’m someone who avoids violent behavior. It’s just my principal to give back what I received. It’s astonishing how Seong Chan-young, who could make a simple and humble person like me happy just by quietly farming, could make me so angry.

 

Then, General’s slightly wet nose touched my leg.

 

“Woof woof woof!”

 

“Huh? What’s wrong, General… huh?”

 

“Woof!”

 

General had something tied to his mouth. It was a blue tape and a long rope.

 

Seeing that, neither I nor Seong Chan-young could close our mouths.

 

“…General, where did you get this? There’s nothing around here…”

 

“What? Wasn’t that dog just an illusion you created? Is he real?”

 

“Could you please be quiet?”

 

“Argh! You’re worse than this damn dog!”

 

“Thanks for your introduction.”

 

I don’t know by what principle the necessary items appeared, but I used the blue tape and rope to restrain Seong Chan-young.

 

“Mmph! Mmph!”

 

“Now you’re finally quiet. Seems like I might survive.”

 

“Woof!”

 

As I relaxed a bit, General happily circled around. He growled a few times at Seong Chan-young, who was tightly bound like a sushi roll.

 

“Now what?”

 

In the endless white space, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I was dead or alive, and it felt frustratingly similar to the nightmares I had experienced before.

 

“I can’t expect to get any answers from Seong Chan-young…”

 

When I was thinking about it while combing through my hair, General nudged me.

 

“Huh? General, what is it?”

 

“Woof woof!”

 

General grabbed onto my clothes with his mouth, indicating he wanted me to go somewhere. I recognized this behavior as his way of asking for a walk.

 

“Do you want to go there?”

 

“Woof!”

 

His white tail wagged fiercely, urging me to follow him. I stood up as if in a trance and grabbed the end of the rope tied to Seong Chan-young.

 

“General, if I follow you, can I understand why these strange things are happening?”

 

“Woof!”

 

General’s confident bark sounded like a definite “Of course!” to me. Strangely, I felt compelled to follow him.

 

“Mmph! Mmph!”

 

“Let’s go, General. Will you lead the way?”

 

“Woof!”

 

Ignoring whatever Seong Chan-young was trying to say with his mouth covered, I followed General, who happily wagged his tail and moved forward.

 

I followed General while dragging Seong Chan-young like a burden with the rope tied around him. Strangely, he didn’t feel heavy at all, and I could easily pull him along.

 

“Mmph! Euk!”

 

Throughout the journey, Seong Chan-young protested with his mouth sealed shut, but I silently followed, only looking at the back of my beloved puppy.

 

Then, suddenly, the previously pure white unknown space ended, and I saw a place colored like the real world.

 

‘Ah.’

 

That was my memory.

 

⚝ ⚝ ⚝

 

Beep beep beep—

 

I saw a hospital room filled with the sound of machines and the smell of medication. On the hospital bed, a weak person with an oxygen respirator attached to their arm and a needle inserted lay. It was me.

 

“It’s different from my memory…”

 

Since I was young, I suffered severely from an unknown illness. However, thanks to a new treatment, I was cured of the disease by the time I became an adult, allowing me to think about my life like a normal person.

 

‘But that’s my memory…’

 

The person before me, with a corpse-like impression, was unmistakably me as an adult, looking frail as if unable to get up again.

 

“…It’s a lie. Is this also an illusion?”

 

I felt scared being in this place. As I tried to run away, General held me back.

 

“Woof! Woof!”

 

Due to General’s seemingly shouting “Don’t go!” I couldn’t bring myself to run away. Helplessly, I looked around the hospital room, feeling like I couldn’t do anything, reminiscent of a nightmare, when suddenly my family and the doctor entered the room.

 

To them, we seemed invisible. At the same time, we couldn’t speak to them either. We could only watch from a completely parallel line.

 

The expressions of my family and the doctor as they entered the room looked uniformly grim.

 

An older version of my mother, more aged than in my memory, asked the doctor, “Doctor, is there no hope for recovery for Yeo-woon?”

 

“I’m sorry, but… it seems that Yeo-woon is unlikely to regain consciousness at this rate.”

 

“…Are you saying he’ll have to live in a vegetative state for the rest of his life?”

 

“Unfortunately, yes. With the current medical technology, there is no way to awaken Yeo-woon.”

 

“This can’t be…”

 

“At this point, it might be best to prepare yourselves emotionally to let the patient go.”

 

It was a despairing verdict. However, among the family, there were no tears shed. Their expressions grew even gloomier, but it was tinged with anger.

 

In my father’s hand was a document. I quickly recognized what it was. It was an advance directive for medical treatment.

 

“…Maybe it’s best to let Yeo-woon go at this point. For us, for Yeo-woon’s sake.”

 

“Dad?”

 

“Yeo-woon agreed to this before it came to this. If the disease recurs… So if he becomes unable to wake up again, then he will want us to let him go.”

 

No.

 

I never said such a thing. I… 

 

“Dad is right. Considering the cost of Yeo-woon’s treatment alone, how much have we spent?”

 

“You’ve sold off the orchard and the fields we used to save up for Yeo-woon’s treatment. We hardly have any money left at home.”

 

“Yeo-woon was aware of our family’s situation and signed those documents. Yeo-woon will agree to this.”

 

What are they all talking about?

 

I don’t have any memories of the disease recurring. I wanted to be discharged and help my parents with their work even a little bit. Before possessing Seong Chan-young, I lived a peaceful life in my everyday routine.

 

‘But did that routine collapse because of me?’

 

What happened? 

 

“Doctor, we… want to give up on Yeo-woon’s life support treatment.”

 

“We can’t afford to do this anymore, not even for the sake of other children’s futures. Yeo-woon wouldn’t want to only have futile life support. It’s even more difficult for us given our circumstances.”

 

Mom, Dad. What are you saying? I’m alive. I want to live. Why is everyone speaking incomprehensibly? Why are my siblings looking at ‘me’ with such cold and sharp eyes?

 

“If that’s the guardian’s decision… I understand.”

 

No, no, no.

 

“No……….”

 

I sank to the floor in agony. In the hospital room where the doctor and my parents, along with most of my siblings, had left, only my older brother and sister just above me remained. My sister’s voice, reading a book to comfort me, sounded sorrowful.

 

As my fingers twitched for a brief moment, my sister noticed.

 

“Oppa, he…..”

 

“You must have seen it wrong.”

 

“What? But Yeo-woon clearly…”

 

“Whatever it was, you saw it wrong. We’ve already decided to give up on life support, and Yeowoon agreed to it beforehand.”

 

Silence.

 

The pages of the novel she was holding crumpled in my sister’s hand.

 

“You wanted to stop taking care of your younger brother, too, Yeo-ri. Let’s both be free. This is what Yeo-woon would have wanted.”

 

Words that were barely audible in the nightmare resonated clearly here, without any filter.

 

“No…”

 

Tears fell incessantly. I was desperately denying it, but deep down, I knew.

 

This was the ‘truth’.

 

I was dead.

 

And I was abandoned by the family who couldn’t afford the enormous medical expenses.

Author's Thoughts

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Comments (4)

  1. There’s so many people in this story that deserve a good slap 😤

  2. How could they not even shed tears for him 🥺 they treated him as expendable when he missed them so much

  3. Did someone in his family forge his signature on the medical directive? Or has he, in the trauma of his death/illness, forgotten parts of his memory relating to that directive?

  4. Aaaaand now I’m sad. T-T on the flip side, I can’t think that SCY would even be moved by the sight of this uncaring family, even if he should be… according to his current character design he might even take this as evidence that Yeo Woon would want to attempt to take SCY’s body, as GYW’s body was in danger…