“Aigoo, Iseul-ssi! Long time no see.”
Mrs. Do pulled me into a tight hug as soon as she came into the house. I awkwardly hugged her back and bowed right after pulling away. “How was your travel, Mrs. Do?” I politely ask. I gaze at Kyungsoo as quickly as possible, he was standing there by the entrance while looking back at me. Since I left him in the room a few hours ago, I haven’t really said a word nor explained why I declined the kiss, and he went back to work after that. He just came back for his mom a couple of minutes ago. “It was fine, I was asleep on the whole ride anyway. But you~ how have you been. I’ve only met you once until now and you’ve gotten even prettier.” Mrs. Do compliments making me smile shyly. “Aig—thank you.” I bow again while scratching the back of my neck.
I snap a finger. “Oh, by the way. I actually cooked Bulgogi and there’s still some leftover. You must be tired and hungry, I will prepare the table for you, Mrs. Do.” I grinned before skipping to the kitchen. To my dismay, Kyungsoo followed. “Let me help you.” He offered and started taking out the bowl for the rice. I glance at him to figure out if he’s mad or not. He doesn’t look like he is. “Uh—Oppa, about earlier.” I clear my throat to finally speak up.
He turned to look back at me and smiled. “Don’t worry about it. I didn’t mean it, I just got carried away. It was my fault.” He assured me even before I could actually mention it. I shake my head strongly. “No, it’s not your fault. Stop taking faults all the time, it w-wasn’t like that. I just kind of. . . panicked.” I explain to him so he wouldn’t blame himself like that. “I understand, aigoo. Stop overthinking.” He chuckled and ruffled my hair before walking to the table with the bowl of rice and utensils.
I stare down at the side dishes I’m preparing. A heavy sigh came out of my mouth as I recollect the scenes from earlier, the words that I’ve read from his notes.
I really need to be gone. I don’t have any right to be called his good karma. I’m so far from being good.
“So, where’s that woman?” I hear Mrs. Do’s voice going near. I turn and see her coming into the kitchen. “I heard she met up with some old friends.” Kyungsoo answered right away. “Or more like, she’s trying to avoid crossing paths with me. She knew I was coming over, doesn’t she?” Mrs. Do hissed and I could see how stressed out she looked just by thinking about Lee Seul. She would probably act the same, if not worse, if she finds out my original motive towards her son. “Eomma, relax. Let’s not try to bring up the past anymore, even if she was here.” Kyungsoo calmed his mother down. “You can’t tell me to relax, she made your life miserable. You think you’re good at hiding it all those times? I’m your mother, Do Kyungsoo. I see right through you. I don’t understand how you can welcome that woman again. Tell me, what’s her new strategy this time? And why did you fall for it again? Haven’t you learned your lesson enough, son? You get used by people because you let them.” She started scolding the man.
I put all the side dishes on the table before walking off the give them privacy, I don’t think I should be a part of it.
I went into my room and just sat on the bed. I don’t know how I’ll ever forgive myself of ever doing this, all of these. I don’t know how to fix it without hurting anybody. If I knew it would turn out like this, I wouldn’t have done it. I wish I could take back the time. I close my eyes and let the tears stream down my face. Just the mere thought of not ever meeting Do Kyungsoo if it was really possible to turn back time already hurts me so bad but at the same time, if I do stay and prolong this lie, it would hurt him. He has gone through so much more than I did, there is no excuse on my side.
I take my phone out to call my father.
I wipe my tears away while waiting for him to answer. In just two rings, he did. “My dear, oh I’ve missed you so much. How come you rarely answer my calls and texts?” He asked, his voice filled with longing and delight. “Y-yea, Abeoji. Uhm, I’ve just been busy, I’m sorry.” I mutter and clear my throat to supress the urge to burst out of tears. “That’s okay, I was busy too anyway. I actually just got home from a business trip. Tomorrow, I’ll play golf with my buddies.” He chuckled on the other line making me smile solemnly.
If I just listened to my father right from the very beginning, I could have avoided getting Do Kyungsoo involved in this selfish plan of mine.
He doesn’t deserve it.
“Uhm. . . I was thinking.” I muffle while fiddling with the hem of my shirt. “I-it’s been taking so long and I haven’t. . . I haven’t succeeded on manipulating this man. I think. . . I think I might have to g-give up soon.” I manage to finish my sentence. I close my eyes tightly as I wordlessly cry. Just hearing myself say that felt like needles stabbing simultaneously into my chest. “Oh wow, did something happen?” My father asked, concern evident on his tone. I cover the phone to let the sob come out of me for a few moments before getting back to it. “N-not that something happened, I’m just starting to. . . to lose patience on this man. But I don’t know how I can leave quietly without getting caught of my real motive, I mean I don’t want to get in trouble as much as possible, that’ll be a bad image on our company. Abeoji. . . do you have any ideas?” I ask.
He was silent for a few seconds before responding. “Well, if you still haven’t gotten along in any way with this guy, he shouldn’t mind if you just quit the job and come back here like nothing ever happened, right? It doesn’t sound that hard. When you come back, we’ll start searching for a new area to plan your business.”
I cover my mouth. I wish it was true, I wish it was that easy.
I ended the call rather quickly because I I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my sobs for much longer. I don’t want my father to hear it at all. I wipe my tears as I stare down to my lap. “I regret all of these, why did I do all of these. I’m a horrible person.” I hush to myself, as if reprimanding myself. I let out one last sob before finally holding it, attempting to completely stop crying. I sit up straight while breathing deeply in and out. “You’ll be fine, Iseul. Just. . . be your old self. That’s it. I-if you just get back to your old self throughout this process. . . y-you won’t get hurt.” I whisper to myself, actually repeating it a couple of times.
I wipe my tear-stained cheeks before looking down to my phone. I open a picture on my gallery. It’s a candid picture of Kyungsoo. One busy afternoon, I caught him taking a nap in the pavilion. He looked so peaceful and handsome that I just had to take a picture of it. I automatically smile. “You know, if I was a better person. . . I would never be ashamed of letting everyone in the world know how much you’ve grown in me. . . I’ll let everyone know that you taught me h-how to love myself again. The self that I kept inside me for such a long time.” I talk to the picture as if it were a real person.
The Han Iseul that I have kept hidden inside me to protect it has been brought back out by Do Kyungsoo. I started hiding it with this tough façade when my mother left. It was my coping mechanism. I need to be heartless and tough so no one will be able to hurt me and if they still do, it’s just easy for me to hurt them back and that used to make me feel so much better. Now I realize how miserable being behind that façade all this time. Kyungsoo made me realize how good it feels to forgive people and forgive one’s self, they do wonders in your outlook in life. It even came to the point that I’ve been thinking of searching for my birth mother someday, if not soon. Something I haven’t really talked about to anyone yet.
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