D Minus Chapter 26 - The End

Author: nicotine

“Liar.”

Hajin laughed, but Jonghwa did not. His eyes, staring at the fire, shimmered wildly.

“You knew. The D-day I decided.”

“…”

“It was December 31st.”

A vein stood on Jonghwa’s neck. Even his jaw, which was full of strength, was gripped with muscles. Hajin stroked his cheek gently. Every time the wind blew, Jonghwa’s hair fluttered here and there.

“Congratulations on turning 31, Jonghwa.”

“It’s  still on December 31st, so I’m thirty-one too.”

“… … .”

“Can you look at me?”

With her eyes fixed on the front, Jonghwa did not budge. Hajin grabbed his forearm and shook it as if pleading, but he didn’t even budge. As time passed, the wind blew. Even the bonfire died in the biting cold. Jonghwa, who had been silent the whole time, took Hajin into a hug and headed home.

“You will catch a cold. Go to sleep.”

“Come on.”

Hajin, who was lying on the bed, stretched his arm out to the side. He could feel the trembling in his sigh as he squeezed his lips.

“This is the first time I made you an arm pillow. Right?”

“…I know.”

The back of Jonghwa’s head touched his bony arm. My skin was pressed and he felt a stinging pain, but it was okay. Hajin, lying down looking at Jonghwa, tickled his cheek with his finger. Somehow, Jonghwa’s pupils wandered without finding a place to go.

“Jonghwa.”

Hajin whispered into Jonghwa’s ear. He could feel Jonghwa flinch in the dark.

“I love you.”

“It was the first time I loved someone in my life, so I was very clumsy, but I was still happy.”

Hajin’s voice reminded him of the day the two first met. The first meeting of two people who didn’t really get along and didn’t fit in. Jonghwa hurriedly bit his lips. Hajin rolled her eyes and smiled mischievously.

“Thank you.”

“You should be happy. You promised.”

Hajin had a vague feeling. The fact that after today he would never wake up again. From the moment he woke up in the morning, from the moment his body felt light…

“Go to sleep.”

Jonghwa also knew. He knew that the day had come to let go of the one he loved. When the morning comes, he wouldn’t be able to hold him anymore, I wouldn’t be able to see him anymore…

“Sleep tight.”

“You too.”

“I love you.”

“Me too.”

When Jonghwa spoke, Hajin answered. The two people facing each other in the dark burst into laughter at the same time. They decided to pretend we didn’t know each other as the tears flowed silently down the corners of our eyes.

I hope I can leave with a smile.

Stupid Jonghwa did not know that his heart was breaking and tried to grant Hajin’s wish.

“Good night…”

You can’t fall asleep. Jonghwa hugged Hajin, who was getting more and more breathless and said ‘Good night’ countless times. Hajin nodded faintly in Jonghwa’s arms, but even that movement disappeared as time passed.

“Good night…”

The gurgling breathing gradually became more comfortable. Jonghwa grabbed Hajin’s cheeks and breathed on his hot lips. As if he had waited, tears rolled down his cheeks.

Jonghwa released his pursed lips forcibly lifted the corners of her mouth and smiled. He couldn’t hear any more breathing.

“…Goodbye.”

It was the last greeting he feared so much.

Jonghwa, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, stayed for a long time, hugging Hajin, who was lifeless. There could be no cremation of the body without his death certificate. In the end, the place Jonghwa found was the crematorium which he cleaned up when he was working under his hyung. Coming here was similar to exposing his existence to them, but he didn’t have time to pay attention to that part now.

They said he would be cremated at 5:00 in the morning, but Jonghwa couldn’t get out of the car even after 6:00. He hugged, stroked, and touched the motionless Hajin. He couldn’t believe the reality that the person who had just smiled at him had died like this.

“Hey.”

A hoarse voice resounded in the car with the ignition turned off. Jonghwa held onto Hajin’s face which dropped softly. Light brown eyes twinkled. Jonghwa thought he would answer ‘yes’ right away, but even after a while, he couldn’t hear his voice.

“Are you really dead?”

In front of the corpse, he also asked funny questions. It seemed as if he could choke on his own breath and die. It was the first time in my life that he felt such a dark feeling.

“It was the first time I loved someone in my life, so I was very clumsy, but I was still happy. Thank you. You should be happy. You promised.”

Jonghwa recalled the last conversation he had with him. The person he loved for the first time in his life. It was the same with Jonghwa. He never learned what love was, but he learned it through his feelings for him. To Jonghwa, Hajin was his only love.

“Let’s go now.”

Jonghwa, who rubbed his face, mumbled to Hajin, who didn’t respond. He couldn’t procrastinate any longer, as he was certain that the people sent by his hyung would come by daylight. Jonghwa’s eyelids trembled as he tugged his hand between Ha-jin’s drooping shoulders.

“Ah…”

A little bit more. The car door did not open this time either. He couldn’t even set foot in the crematorium for several hours. He wasn’t ready to let the Hajin in front of him go. Jonghwa hugged Hajin again and shed tears on his shoulder. Hajin’s body, which was getting colder, hurt his chest and he choked up.

“Wait.”

There was not even the slightest respect for the dead. The man in glossy padding chewed gum and turned around. Jonghwa held Ha-jin’s hand as he entered the wooden coffin. The thick door blocking the crater opened.

“He could be alive now. He might not be breathing and what if he wakes up while you burn him?”

“What are you talking about? He’s dead just by looking at it.”

A man getting ready to cremate him snorted. Jonghwa, who popped a vein around his neck, touched the hand of Hajin, who was lying on his back. It was not easy to let go because he knew that if he burned him, he would not be able to see Hajin’s face anymore.

“Can’t you wake up?”

Jonghwa had vain hopes for the dead. Actually, he might be asleep, not dead. Jonghwa hoped that it would happen like that.

“Are you going to do it or not? I have to close the door at seven.”

“I will.”

They couldn’t wait any longer. Finally, Jonghwa, who stroked Hajin’s cheek, gestured toward the man. The man twisted his lips and sneered, and closed the lid of the coffin.

Jonghwa’s face turned white as he looked at the coffin entering the crater. Eyes filled with dark emotions, twisted lips, and a reddened neck. Hajin, who had been with them a while ago, was engulfed in flames.

Jonghwa wanted to hold a funeral in a big hospital and cremate him in a cleaner place. He was sad that he didn’t learn anything. Hajin was cremated at a place where victims of thug play were burned. Jonghwa gave him to such a messy place. A person who told him that his useless life was worthwhile.

It was because he wasn’t educated. He knew nothing. No one told him how to prepare for a funeral. Jonghwa shouldn’t have avoided Hajin’s approaching death, and he should have learned the procedures before that. Jonghwa was stupid.

After quite a while, Hajin came out of the crater as a white ashes. His smiling face was nowhere to be found. His soft voice could no longer be heard. As if he hadn’t been there from the beginning, Hajin left Jonghwa’s side like that.

The winter sea was very beautiful but bitterly cold. Clinging to the round pottery containing Hajin’s bone powder, I sat on the sandy beach and stared blankly at the sea. It was the beach in the rural village where Hajin and I often came.

“What was it?”

My eyes were swollen. I endlessly touched her urn as if I was petting a stray cat. Suddenly, I remembered a poem Hajin had read to me, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember the title.

“You must love all dying things…”

I looked up at the sky. There was no way the stars would rise during the day. At that time, there were stars and Hajin, but now there was nothing.

“I will walk the path given to me.”

The dying said to the living:

“Remember all the way to the last paragraph. After loving dying things, you must go the way you are given. After I die, you will walk the path given to you. got it?”

Now nothing is dying, only surviving.

“You must be happy. Even after I die.”

Hajin was dead.

My heart was pounding, but strangely, I didn’t shed any tears. Maybe it was because I didn’t realize it yet. I pressed my heart with my fist. I felt stuffy as if my stomach was clogged.

“When I die, mourn for me for just one day, remember me for just one day, love me for just one day, and then forget me.”

“Answer me. Promise me that you will remember me for just one day.”

He made a very difficult request until the end. A dejected laugh escaped from my lips.

Park Hajin. Do you know something?

I was abandoned without knowing who my parents were, and I lived without a warm meal for the rest of my life.

I was so envious of the children who wore a board around their necks and went to the subway all day and fell asleep in their parents’ arms while selling chewing gum. I couldn’t even register myself, so I couldn’t make a bankbook or buy a cell phone.

I lived in the shadow of my big brother. I was beaten and knocked out, and when I opened my eyes, there was no one around. When I came to my senses by myself and went home, there was always hyung at home. I went home alone after I collapsed. I was hungry, so I cooked ramen alone and slept. I lived like that. That’s been my life. I’ve never been sad or depressed. Because that’s what life is like.

“Learn as much as you need. Just as much as you need in life.”

Come to think of it, I don’t think I thanked you back then. I didn’t say it because I was shy, but that night I wrote my name over a hundred times on the floor. It was the first time I wrote my name with my own hand, so it was so amazing.

“You can hold the chopsticks the same way. Jonghwa. There’s no shame in not knowing. So, if you have any questions in the future, feel free to ask. You are always welcome.”

 

There was a day when I was stabbed by a nail in a wooden log and my entire fingernail fell off, and there was a time when I was beaten to death by my hyung while eating side dishes with my hands because I couldn’t grip chopsticks. My hyung was in a bad mood that day, and he said he was angry. Hey, you sick bastard, you dirty bastard, get out and die. I’ve lived my whole life listening to those words, but since you said that, I felt like I had become something.

“Your life is important too. You were born because you have to live.”

Would my life have been a little better if the kid who sold chewing gum on the subway had met you?

“Stay by my side when I die.”

I wish we could have met a little earlier.

“Why do you make me want to live?”

You said you wanted to live because of me, but what do I do? I want to die because of you. Life before I met you was pretty good. It wasn’t until I met you that I realized that the past 30 years had been hell. But this time, I knew ahead of time. It’s hell again now that you died.

“You will find someone you really like. So learn from them, not me. I really love you, Jonghwa.”

You were wrong. I didn’t learn anything, but I learned one feeling. It is love. Park Hajin, I love you.

“When I die, you must go abroad. Go abroad and live happily. Don’t do dangerous things like you did in Korea and eat a lot of delicious food. Drink cocktails while swimming in the pool at night, and go snorkeling during the day.”

I know. I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know how much fun it is. If we had met a little earlier, would we have been able to do it together? Like you said, even if we met a little earlier, would you have loved me?

“You are the best gift I ever received.”

It’s not true. You are the first gift that came into my life.

“Stay by my side when I die.”

Do you remember the first request you made to me?

I hope I can leave with a smile.

What was the wish written on the ribbon?

I listened to both. I sent you away from my arms, and I forced myself to smile until you closed your eyes, but I don’t know if you realized that.

“When I die, mourn for me for just one day, remember me for just one day, love me for just one day, and then forget me.”

I’ll listen to your last request. I’m the only one in the world who will listen to you. If I don’t listen, no one will listen.

“Remember all the way to the last paragraph. After loving dying, you will go the way you are given. After I die, you will walk the path given to you. Got it?”

I loved dying things so I will go the given path now.

Jonghwa slowly raised himself. Grains of sand clinging to his clothes were blown away by the wind. Not a single person was seen on the deserted beach. Jonghwa, who had been watching the waves crashing into the sand and receding, slowly stepped toward the sea.

The water was so cold that it chilled him to the bone. It seemed that someone was shouting from afar. Jonghwa opened the lid of the pottery he was holding dearly in his arms and sprinkled the ashes into the seawater. Some were blown away by the wind, and some were mixed with the sea.

Jonghwa thought of going to a foreign country. But he didn’t know anything, so this was the best for him. Jonghwa let go of the pottery that was now empty and took one step forward. The rolling waves felt comfortable.

“Let’s meet one more time in our next life. So let’s meet just once. Just once.”

The water was up to his chin. A small smile spread across Jonghwa’s face.

“Let’s love each other just once, to our heart’s content.”

Hajin’s voice seemed to reach my ears. Jonghwa plunged his face into the water as if he was diving. As he walked a little further, his feet went numb. They submerged together in the vast sea.

Thirty-one-year-old Hajin was sentenced to a terminal illness with only 180 days left to live.

His D-Day of death was December 31st.

January 8th. It was the day Hajin closed his eyes.

Jonghwa lived just one more day than Hajin. He was very satisfied with his life.

The End.

 

Notes:

  • I translated the last few chapters and shed some tears. D Minus was a guilt project that I wanted to do for myself because when I read it for the first time, it remained a meaningful story to me. I hope I could get across the same meaning to the readers who read the translation as well. Last, but not least, I hope Hajin and Jonghwa can meet in the next life as they had wished. 
  • There is no news of a side story as of yet. If it comes out, I might translate depending on whether I can procure the sides. 
  • No ebooks/pdf allowed. The chapters are still very much unedited, in terms of whether I am pleased with the turnout, and I don’t want it to be spread around. No sharing on social media as well. If it comes across me, I will not only take down D Minus but my other projects as well.
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nicotine

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Comments (2)

  1. My heart hurts after reading this novel.. My tears won’t stop.
    What a beautiful and painful love, I hope they will spend the most beautiful and best moments together for a long time in their next life. They deserve happiness💙😭
    Thank you for the translation✨

  2. Thank you for translating the chapters and sharing this story with us. ❤️
    As for our main characters, I hope they will reunite and be together for much longer time.
    My biggest mistake was reading this while listening to “My Love Mine All Mine” on repeat, but I don’t regret it. 😭
    Thank you again for this beatiful story, and I look forward to your other projects. 🫂❤️