D Minus Chapter 23

Author: nicotine

“Hey. Wake up. What’s the matter?”

It was a very cold day. Waking up from a chill, Jonghwa realized that Hajin was soundly asleep for the first time in a long time, and he smiled heartily. But his joy was short-lived. There was something strange about the sound of his breathing coming from him. Jonghwa narrowed his brows and pressed his ears closer.

Hajin, who closed his eyes tightly…there wasn’t the sound of even breathing, but the sound of a motor wringing, and pain. Jonghwa’s eyes went black. He immediately grabbed him by the shoulder and shook him, but he didn’t budge.

“Hey! Park Hajin! Open your eyes!”

Hajin’s eyelids trembled as Jonghwa shouted. Jonghwa hugged Hajin and shook him wildly with a rather rough hand. He didn’t look particularly bad when he went to sleep last night, but he was terrified at the strange appearance.

“Hey…!”

Jonghwa knew very well that he shouldn’t do this to a sick person, but there was no way he could remain rational. Jonghwa shouted into Hajin’s ear, who was hanging in his arms. He thought his thin body flinched, and Hajin slowly opened her eyes. His body purred and purred like a cat.

“Hey. Are you okay? Where are you sick? What’s wrong?”

His voice trembled. Jonghwa’s eyes wide open and it moved around in fear. Hajin, who had been staring blankly at Jonghwa with cloudy eyes, tilted his head to the side as if in distress.

“Let’s go to the hospital. get up. Let’s go to the hospital.”

There was nothing in Hajin’s eyes. It was like looking at a painting without light. Jonghwa’s face twisted. When he looked at me, Hajin always had his eyes twinkling, but now they were just black.

“What’s the matter? Huh? Why…”

There was impatience in his voice. Jonghwa lowered his ears to the faint voice as he held Hajin in her arms, ready to rush to the hospital at any moment. An incomprehensible murmur reached me.

“What?”

“…Hey.”

“What?”

“Who is this…”

“…What?”

“Who are you…”

It was painful enough to just listen to the breathing which sounded like metal. Hajin licked his pale lips and asked calmly. Jonghwa didn’t think it was because he was really curious, and maybe he wasn’t in his right mind. His face and eyes, devoid of any emotion, seemed to be dreaming. The movement of Jonghwa stopped abruptly.

“Get…me down. It hurts…”

Quite a long time has passed since the symptoms of hoarseness appeared. Jonghwa, who clenched his teeth so much that the muscles in his chin stood tight, put Hajin back on the bed. He pulled the blanket up to his neck and he turned hastily to hide his expression.

Hajin stared blankly at the ceiling like a doll who didn’t think about anything. Every time he breathed in, a strange gurgling sound rang out. It was so different from normal breathing, and Jonghwa was afraid of even that, so his hands trembled.

“Jonghwa.”

“I’m Jonghwa…”

Hajin didn’t even look at Jonghwa, who answered as if he had forgotten that he had asked the question first.

Hajin’s eyes were twinkling with stars until last night when he hugged me and said goodnight. Jonghwa quickly raised his eyes and looked at the ceiling. Tears welled up in his trembling eyelids.

“Not yet. I am not ready yet.”

“I can’t send you yet. Fuck. Don’t go. Not yet.”

No answer came back from Hajin. Occasionally, only the sound of a gurgling breath echoed through the house.

“Park Hajin. It’s snowing outside.”

Hajin, who was sitting by the bed, turned his eyes to the window when he heard the fuss coming from the living room. Hajin didn’t even know how time passed these days. When he opened my eyes, two days flew by, and three days flew by. He couldn’t even count the time. Maybe it was fortunate that he didn’t even remember being sick. Hajin’s serene eyes stared at the snowflakes clinging to the window.

Jonghwa bought him a cup of warm water and sat down on the bed. A chill flowed from him as if he had been outside. Hajin didn’t even have the energy to blink, so he just stared blankly at him without answering.

After the day he suddenly couldn’t recognize Jonghwa, Hajin’s condition deteriorated rapidly. Some days he couldn’t wake up and Jonghwa rushed to the hospital with him on his back. The doctor who rushed out with a serious expression shook his head when he heard the name of the disease, “stomach cancer’s last stage” There was no other way now, except to say that he should let him leave in peace and breathe clean air in a nice place.

“Fuck, whatever you say, say something. I will forget your voice.”

“You said you like snow.”

Jnghwa opened the palm he was holding on to tightly. The water droplets that pooled in the palm of his hand seemed to have been snow crystals from a little while ago. Hajin traced his palm lines with trembling fingers. He felt like he was wandering around, trapped in pitch-black darkness. He opened my eyes, but he couldn’t see straight ahead. He couldn’t tell if he was thinking the right way or not.

“…Do you feel sick?”

Hajin couldn’t open his mouth. Scratching his neck to make a noise made his head throb. Hajin couldn’t even reply to Jonghwa’s words. He wrote on the palm of his hand with his skinny fingers instead.

Jonghwa.

I’m sorry.

That’s what he really wanted to say. Even as he blinked several times, he kept imagining Jonghwa’s face in his mind. Now that he knew that his time to go was really near, he really wanted to convey it when he had the opportunity.

“Fuck, you’re sorry about everything.”

Hajin laughed at his blunt tone, but it didn’t show. Hajin blinked his eyes slowly and managed to move his fingers.

I love you.

The last letter he struggled to write down was a love that he acknowledged a little late. Jonghwa, who was about to say something, closed his mouth. After some time had passed, Hajin noticed the sobs reaching his ears and he shed tears inwardly. He didn’t even have the strength to let go.

“Uh…”

Hajin, holding the pen, rolled his eyes and pondered. Today, at least, was a good day. Jonghwa, who had gone out to the grocery store, had to finish his work quickly before he returned, so he strained himself a little and sat down at his desk. His bare arms, like withered twigs, had already begun to tremble as he wrote just a few words. Hajin clenched her fists and pressed the ballpoint pen into her notebook to write down her handwriting.

Buying a mobile phone, booking a flight

It was Jonghwa’s job to be left alone after I died.

Hajin had a vague intuition. That he could die right now, even tomorrow. That he could leave so suddenly that he wouldn’t even know he was dying. So, he was in a hurry. He wanted to teach Jonghwa, who had more things he could do without me, how to live a happy life, even if it was small.

300 million. It was not a huge amount, but it was enough to live on his own. Jonghwa was fearless and tenacious, so he would be able to quickly adapt to going abroad. Hajin was worried though. Hajin, who had been pressing down on his lips with the end of her pen, slid across the desk as if he had reached his limit.

“Ah, fuck…”

Hajin didn’t know how many more days had passed. He hadn’t eaten much today, but his nausea welled up and chills ran through her body. Painkillers didn’t work either. He seemed to have gone as far as he could. Hajin, who barely managed to reach the bathroom holding on to the wall, vomited on the floor without even opening the toilet lid. Every time his lean body moved, a foul-smelling vomit poured out of his mouth.

It was only natural that the urine leaked out now. The gastric juices that ran down his throat and the urine that flowed down her thighs were painfully hot. Hajin, who knelt on the floor while holding on to the washbasin, sighed for a long time, unaware that his body was stained with vomit.

“Ugh…”

When the vomiting stopped, what immediately followed was terrible pain. It seemed roughly similar to the feeling of holding the organ with both hands and twisting it like weaving a rag. Tears streamed down the corners of Hajin’s eyes as he groaned and covered his stomach. He couldn’t even erase his tears.

Hajin was not crying because he was sad. It was so painful he couldn’t stand it. Even when he was beaten with a cane by his teacher when he was young, or when he got into a car accident and broke his shin, he didn’t cry. Humans were so weak in the face of an incurable disease.

“Ugh…”

A gurgling noise came from his mouth. Hajin’s eyes, as he had been moaning with his face distorted, opened up. He spat out the hard foreign substance that lay on his tongue into the palm of his hand, revealing his teeth covered in bright red blood.

With trembling hands, he fumbled with his fishy gums. Sure enough, the place where the teeth used to be was empty. The habit of biting his teeth whenever he endured pain eventually led to this result. Hajin, who had been looking down blankly at the teeth with flesh tangled in the roots, closed his eyes tightly.

“Did you throw up?”

After vomiting for a long time, Hajin didn’t have the strength to lift a finger. Hajin sat on the cold bathroom floor and waited for Jonghwa with his back leaning against the wall. It didn’t happen once or twice, and now he was used to it.

After returning from the grocery store, Jonghwa walked around the house calling Hajin by name, and finally opened the bathroom door. It smelled of sour vomit and a musty smell, but he stepped inside without a single frown.

“Are you in pain?”

Jonghwa was used to not being able to hear an answer. After taking off his pants and throwing them out of the bathroom, Jonghwa picked up the shower head and adjusted the temperature of the water, constantly asking questions that were no different from talking to himself.

“Tell me if it’s too hot.”

The backs of Jonghwa’s hands were red, probably because he had held them under the water for a long time to adjust the temperature. Hajin was worried that he might have been burned, but Hajin could not open his mouth, only moving his eyebrows slightly.

“Your hair has grown a lot too.”

Jonghwa sat cross-legged on the floor and placed Hajin on it. He didn’t even think about the foam on his body and washed Hajin’s hair diligently. His large hands brushed through his thin hair and scratched his itchy scalp. Then it was his turn to wipe his body. Jonghwa used her palm as a towel and rubbed it all over Hajin’s body. Hajin was just quietly in his arms, like a corpse with only eyes open.

“Why are you so sick all of a sudden? You were fine before.”

That was what cancer was in the first place. People seemed to be fine but suddenly died, and they looked like they were getting better, but their health suddenly deteriorated. Hajin was the same. He ate well, walked well, and slept well until his death was less than a month away, and his condition suddenly deteriorated. The doctor said it was natural and said it was not a big deal, but the two still couldn’t accept it.

“Hey. What do you think it would have been like if we had met earlier?”

The warm water soaked my body just right. Hajin blinked slowly and let out a quick breath. Jonghwa continued by gently wiping the skinny parts of her body.

“I think I would have liked you. Actually, my heart raced from the first day I saw you. You’re so fucking pretty.”

This time, a toothbrush entered Hajin’s mouth. As I kept biting my toothbrush out of strength, Jonghwa pushed his finger between his lips. Thanks to that, Jonghwa ended up brushing his teeth cleanly with his fingers instead of using a toothbrush.

“But you wouldn’t have liked me. You would be wasted on someone like me.”

A towel was wrapped around his head. After taking out another towel and wiping her body, Jonghwa lifted Hajin and held him in her arms. Water droplets still dripped from Jonghwa and soaked the floor.

“You’re right. Hyung is not a good person.”

“Thank you for telling me that. If it wasn’t for you, I would have lived my whole life like an asshole.”

A soft blanket landed on his back. Hajin, who was lying back on the bed where he spent most of the day, stared at Jonghwa with unfocused eyes. Jonghwa pulled the blanket up to his neck, raised his elbows, and stared at Hajin with her cheek resting on his palm. The difference in the speed at which his eyelids rise and fall was evident.

“Thank you for teaching me Korean.”

“Thank you for becoming my family by preparing my family register.”

“Thank you for liking me, too.”

Jonghwa gently patted Hajin’s chest. Hajin’s eyes were moist. Hajin licked his soft lips as if he wanted to say something, but he still couldn’t make a sound. Jonghwa wiped away the tears that ran down his cheeks with the back of his hand and raised the corner of his mouth.

“But can’t you hold out a little longer?”

“It hurts, I know you’re sick, but I’m sorry for telling you to hold on. But that’s because I’m not confident. It’s because I’m scared, I…”

Tears flooded his face more and more. Hajin’s eyebrows drooped. Even though Hajin wanted to soothe the crying Jonghwa, he couldn’t even raise my hand, so he felt like he was burning inside.

“If you vomit, I’ll clean it up like I do now. I’ll wash you, feed you, put you to sleep, and I’ll do it all. So can’t you just hold on a little longer? I don’t wish for much. Really, just a little bit.”

“It hurts. The time I spent with you was so fucking short.”

Krrung. The sound of breathing like an animal would fill the room. This time, Jonghwa’s mouth fell. Hajin clutched at his chest as if in pain.

“…Aa.”

“…What?”

“So…rr…So…”

A faint voice came from Hajin. Jonghwa narrowed his eyes and put his ear close to his lips. The words he barely managed to spit out with his hardened lips were “I’m sorry.”

Jonghwa, who had been frozen for a few seconds, forced his eyes closed and smiled, pressing his lips against his lips. The hot flesh, as if about to burn, touched very briefly and then fell. Jonghwa smiled with her mouth while shedding tears. Hajin also struggled but smiled along. A faint smile spread across his stiff face.

“What? Are you saying you love me?”

The sobbing voice was mischievous. Jonghwa kissed Hajin on the cheek and laughed out loud. He tried to laugh the same way this time, but he didn’t have the strength to do so, so he just imitated him, distorting his face.

Don’t go Don’t go Don’t go

Sing a song for me just once

Nana- Nana Nana- Hugging my bitter heart.

I cry like that tonight and fall asleep.

Today, Hajin went to sleep listening to Jonghwa’s song. What happened to the lonely fireflies after they fell asleep exhausted from crying? Were you happy after waking up from your dream? Hajin had a sudden thought.

Every time Hajin inhaled, a gurgling sound came out of Hajin’s teeth. Jonghwa gently patted his chest and stayed up all night with his eyes open. It had been ten days since he couldn’t sleep properly because he was afraid that Hajin would leave while he was asleep, or that he would disappear to a place where he wouldn’t be able to reach him.

“What day is it today?”

Today Hajin was fine again. Hajin, who was lying on the sofa and sipping the water Jong-hwa brought, asked. Jonghwa moved her gaze to the calendar hanging on the wall.

“20th”

“December?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s Christmas soon.”

Hajin spoke a bit slowly, but he decided to be content with being able to talk. Hajin stubbornly raised his body since he was too thin to even walk on his own. Jonghwa quickly ran up and helped him.

“Is it snowing outside?”

“Hm. Do you want to go see it?”

“Yeah.”

Until he was 30, he had never liked snow, but after his death was right around the corner, he had a lingering attachment to it. Hajin climbed onto Jong-hwa’s back and went outside where the cold wind was blowing. It wasn’t too cold or difficult because he was wrapped in a padded coat and a scarf.

“It is snowing so much…”

“I thought the house would collapse. Can you see the snow on the roof?”

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