D Minus Chapter 14

Author: nicotine

After returning to the hospital room, Jonghwa knelt on the floor and held out his back. A long umbrella handle was attached to his back, tapped with blue tape. Hajin was looking down at Jonghwa who was wrapped in tape from neck to chest as if he were wearing a cloth and eventually burst into laughter.

“Did you fix the umbrella in you?”

“Yeah. If I carry you, then I can’t hold the umbrella.”

“I could have held it, you idiot…”

“Umbrella is fucking heavy. What if it tires you, now hurry up and get on my back. Before the rain stops.”

Jonghwa was not as cool as a hero in a movie as he waved his hand and urged Hajin to put on the umbrella in a similar way. Hajin continued to burst into a helpless laughter and got on his back. Jonghwa held Hajin’s thighs and strode out of the hospital room and caught everyone’s eyes while climbing down to the first floor.

“Open the umbrella.”

Hajin decided to have fun. In the past, he would have pretended to be reserved but now that he was about to die, everything seemed fun. When I pressed the button on the wooden handle like Jonghwa asked him to, a large umbrella opened with a sound. Hajin, who was caught off guard because of the unfolding umbrella, made a strange sound. He could hear Jonghwa laughing at him.

“Are you okay? Should we go back?”

“I’m okay, you are getting wet?”

“Hm, not at all.”

The time spent was pretty fun even though it looked ridiculous. Although it was a little uncomfortable seeing how he was carried on Jonghwa’s back because of the long handle, Hajin managed to be fine if he put enough strength on his legs. No matter how tightly the tape was wrapped, the umbrella didn’t budge at all and became a strong shield despite the strong rain and wind. Hajin was worried that Jonghwa might be thirsty and secretly stroked Jonghwa’s neck. He could feel the latter flinching.

“Aren’t you thirsty?”

“I’m fine.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re thankful for everything.”

“No. Actually, I didn’t have the confidence to come out alone.”

“Just watch the rain to your heart’s content.”

There was no destination. Jonghwa walked aimlessly just as if he would let Hajin watch the rain which he loved so much to his heart’s content. Patients dressed in the same clothes left the hospital where they could see them and Hajin and Jonghwa walked along the sidewalk lined with large trees and stride across the road where the wind was especially strong and circled the park with a small pond. Hajin listened to the sound of rain on his back.

The sound of rain pouring on the floor and beating on the umbrella was pleasant. Sometimes when Hajin was splashed with the water droplets, he was happy, and hearing the cool sound of water that pounded whenever Jonghwa’s feet touched them, was also good. He was really glad he came out.

“Can we look at the pond for a bit?’

“As you wish.”

As soon as Jonghwa was about to go around the park, Hajin asked him in a small voice. Jonghwa stopped in front of the pond. If they looked closely, there might be fish in there, however since it was raining, it wasn’t clear.

Hajin stared endlessly at the waves of the water with his arms wrapped around Jonghwa’s neck. Whenever raindrops fell, the water’s surface vibrated widely. Hajin’s heart was dry and nauseous for no reason. He felt like he was going crazy because of the tingling in his nose.

Hajin hurriedly took his eyes off the pond and buried his face in the back of Jonghwa’s nape. The latter walked silently as if he knew everything.

“Shin Jonghwa.”

“What?”

His breath was a bit ragged. No matter how much weight Hajin lost, it was too much to walk almost for an hour with a grown man on his back. Hajin pressed his forehead against Jionghwa’s nape.

“I’m going to stop the treatment.”

“….”

“Let’s go home.”

“…Why?”

Jonghwa’s voice was heavy. So Hajin cried. Hajin hid his tears using the sound of rain as a pretext.

“You know that. It’s hopeless…”

“…I don’t know.”

“It’s not like I can live longer by getting treated and I just want to be sent off comfortably.”

“…”

“Let’s go home.”

“…”

“Let’s go home.”

Hot tears flowed down Jonghwa’s neck. Hajin bit his lips but he was too sad to hide it. Jonghwa walked forward without answering, managing his pace, without walking faster or slower.

Not long ago, Jonghwa heard a conversation between the doctor and Hajin. The doctor said chemotherapy was useless so he should go to a hospice or an airy place and spend the last moments of his life comfortably. Jonghwa pretended not to hear it but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a fact. Jonghwa’s eyes were shaking as he walked with his mouth closed.

“I’ll get the luggage so stay here.”

“…Thank you.”

The place where Jonghwa headed was home but not hospital. The house Hajin stayed in and would end up in. A small house in a peaceful rural village where street cats scratch the door.

Jonghwa laid Hajin on the bed tore off the tape that was on his own body and left the room. Hajin had no energy to wash up so he stared blankly at the ceiling without changing clothes. Shortly afterward he heard the front door closing. Seeing the sting in his eyes, it was clear that his skin was burning. Hajin didn’t know he had so many tears.

“Ugh…”

Again. Tired tears fell again. Hajin covered his eyes with the back of his arms and cried with his shoulder moving up and down. Cancer was so cruel. It might have been better to die in the blink of an eye without having to count how many days were left until his demise. People who were alive and probably didn’t know what it felt like to die day by day would never know.

“Ah…”

Hajin was afraid. His heart was pounding because he was so scared. He felt sorry for his life and that it would not be strange if he ended up dying lying down like that.

Hajin sprang up from his bed and went to the room. He paced around the house lit up the lights and turned on the TV. He thought it would be better if it was a little brighter and a little louder but it wasn’t. He was the only one quiet as if he was far from the world of the TV. There was still a creepy silence hanging around him.

I’m sorry I told you to get treatment.

Once again tears burst right after seeing the whiteboard in the living room. It had been long since he learned Korean but he still mixed up his ‘h’ and ‘n’. Hajin covered his eyes tightly and covered his face before he cried for a long time. In the middle, he raised his head and laughed at the misspelled sentence before he cried again with his lips trembling, laughed again, and cried repetitively. Until the soaked Jonghwa opened the front door.

“What are…”

Raindrops dripped down the end of the soaked Jonghwa’s sleeves. After he rubbed his eyes roughly with his hands, he furrowed his forehead when he saw Hajin sitting on the floor of the living room. Hajin’s eyes were swollen with how much he cried and sobbed as soon as his eyes met with Jonghwa. Jonghwa opened his eyes wide and roughly took his shoes and approached Hajin. Everywhere he passed, there were puddles of water.

“Hey, why are you crying? Are you hurting somewhere?”

It was a series of strange things. As soon as Jonghwa entered the house, the figures of death, which Hajin thought was around the corner, gradually blurred. At the same time, the fear that held tightly to his heart also faded away. Hajin was struggling in pain, knocking himself down towards Jonghwa who sat in front of him.

“What’s wrong?”

Jonghwa quickly caught Hain and the latter buried his face on his shoulder. Soon his cheeks were wet and it smelled more like rain than tears. Hajin suddenly hugged Jonghwa and the latter froze, embarrassed, and soon began patting his back awkwardly.

“Want to go to the hospital?”

“…”

Of course, there was no answer. It was too much to swallow the boiling tears.

Perhaps, thanks to the body temperature of Hajin, Jonghwa, who was soaked in the rain was gradually warmed up. While patting Hajin, who was growing thinner as days went by, slowly raised his hand and stroked his forehead. Hajin trembled at the sensation to which he was not used.

“‘S alright.”

It was a comfort that was indifferent yet warm enough to melt away his tension. Hajin was leaning against Jonghwa, straightening his upper body. His red eyes stung. Hajin slowly blinked and came closer until their noses touched. Jonghwa was flustered but didn’t avoid his gaze.

“…”

Hajin tilted his head back. He raised his chin and kissed Jonghwa’s plump lips. The hardened brown eyes moved a beat late. Hajin’s lips dropped again after a short kiss. Heavy sobs leaked through the open mouth. Jonghwa stared at Hajin’s head moving up and down with a stiffened face and put his hand under Hajin’s arms and lifted it.

“Ugh…”

Jonghwa put Hajin on his lap. Hajin’s body was damp but fortunately;y he wasn’t cold.

“Hugh…”

That time, Jonghwa held the back of Hajin’s head. A careful touch that seldom mingled with him. Jonghwa kissed Hajin a little more softly than Hajin just did. It wasn’t a violent kiss with their tongues tied but their hearts couldn’t help but run fast enough to burst. When their lips parted, Hajin struggled with the breath held back and Jonghwa rubbed his cheeks with his hand before lowering his lips again…

“Haa…”

Jonghwa finished the kidd and hugged Hajin. He locked him in his embrace with so much strength, suffocating him, so that he couldn’t escape. The tears that barely stopped burst again and Hajin sobbed as much as he wanted while being hugged by him.

“I’m scared…”

As D-day approached, the peaceful attitude of emptying one’s mind and accepting death wavered. When the symptoms were accompanied by extreme pain, Hajin was terrified of death and assumed he would be taken away without notice. It was unjust and sad, but he didn’t expect it to be so frightening.

“‘S okay…”

Jonghwa soothed Hajin with the same words. Perhaps that was the only consolation that he could offer. It was alright. Hajin was consoled more than anything with that short and calm word.

“…I don’t want to die.’

“…”

There was no answer at that time. It was clear Jonghwa also knew. For him, who suffered every day, the unnecessary hope was torture.

“I don’t want to die…”

Hajin only tried to accept death but he never wanted to die. There was a reason to not want to live but there was no reason to want to die. From the day he was diagnosed that he had limited time, the heavy emotions that he suppressed under his belly button exploded one by one, and came out of his throat.

“What if I die suddenly? What if I can’t wake up tomorrow? What if I die by not knowing that I died?”

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nicotine

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