There was an eerie silence in the house, almost like everyone who lived here had left the house for some haunted reason. Sehun frowned at the atmosphere, pouring himself a glass of water. The electronic devices his daughters used laid abandoned on the rug in the living room. He picked those up and kept them away, wondering where the girls were.
A little further into the living room and he caught the light chatter in the air, Minji's voice. It was true that he usually didn't return this early, so he shouldn't be surprised by the house that had greeted him this afternoon. A little more mulling over the situation and he realized it was their study-hour, as outlined by their mother.
Sehun lightly tapped on the slightly closed door. "May I come in?"
There were some collective gasps and one of them belonged to Sarang. They must have been deep into their text books to be surprised in such fashion. Sehun grinned, opening the door of his daughters' room, ready to hold Minji because she always jumped into his arms every time he came home from work. But to another one of his surprises, it didn't happen.
"W-What's going on?" He found himself asking as he eyed the scene. Minji was crying for some reason. She broke free from Sarang's arms before running towards him to hug his legs. "What...Sarang, what's up with my big girl?"
Sarang's face remained gloomy, she didn't speak. Sehun studied her expression before kneeling before his little girl, cupping her face, "Hmm? What's wrong?"
Minji's tear-stained face spoke a large volume. She didn't usually cry so much because she had said crying was Misun's job now and that she was a strong girl. Sehun wrapped her in his arms and stood up, carrying her. Minji hid her face in his shoulder as he went ahead to sit before Sarang who was very absent-mindedly feeding Misun. Something was definitely wrong. And it was something big.
When their eyes met, Sarang's eyes sagged at the corners, "Minji, dear...come here," she tried to tear her away from Sehun, "Papa needs to take a shower."
Sehun shook his head lightly, saying that it can wait. "Where's Minhye?"
Sarang sighed deeply, "She's sleeping in our room. Periods."
"But it's not the twelfth yet," his brows narrowed at Sarang who nodded to his words. "Irregularity is common..." Sehun then remembered what she had told him once when her own period came a week earlier than expected. "What's the matter, Sarang?"
She swallowed the lump in before looking away. "I'll tell you later."
Sehun looked into her eyes, not intending to place any kind of pressure on any of his girls' little shoulders. Sarang lowered her gaze to the half-sleeping Misun. A little frustrated over the hidden details of the off mood in the room, Sehun cleared his throat. "I'll try to come home earlier than this. Everyday, I promise," his promise sounded very exhausted but Sarang knew for a fact that he always kept his words. He traced Misun's temple, her pitch black hair. He helped shove the text-books aside so that Sarang could stretch her legs. It was strenuous for her to move even an inch because she was pregnant now, six months through.
"I'll check up on Minhye," she announced, cutting the silence that had descended upon them. Sehun nodded. Sarang laid Misun down on the bed, took a hold of his shoulder to push herself off the sitting position.
"Will you be able to go alone?"
"Yes. Don't worry about me," she replied. Sehun watched as she disappeared down the hallway, waddling like a little penguin.
Minji sprang to life, wiping her tears from her face as she met his eyes. Sehun prepared himself to listen. "What happened to you? Why are you crying?"
"It's Mommy," she said, near to hiccups now. Sehun narrowed his brows, patting her back. "Mommy is feeling sick. She fell and there was blood and she cried..." His eyes widened at every detail she uttered. Sehun tried to connect the dots in his clouded anxious mind. "Minhye Unnie said that there is no baby anymore, Papa!" she heaved in her place on his lap, tears streaming down her eyes as she looked to him for confirmation. "But you said there will be a brother. What we do now?"
Minji nodded. "In the bathroom. She slipped."
Sehun's face grew pale. For a second, it felt like his blood flow had stopped. But then all the brain gushed into his brain, making him see a distorted image for a moment. Minji shook him by the shoulder with her little hands. Sehun met her eyes with his own trembling pupils. Sarang was just a little more than twenty three. For a second, he regretted everything.
"There was blood?"
"A lot of blood, Papa," she shivered as she said. Sehun could see it in her eyes, the pool of blood and Sarang was lying there on the now red tiles. Minji seemed to be very scared. She was the collars of his shirt in his hand, demanding answers, being as patient as possible. "Papa, my brother?"
"I'll check on Mommy. Can you stay here with Misun?"
Sehun didn't wait for her answer. She climbed off his lap and kissed his finger to tell him that she will be fine. Sehun swallowed a hug lump of displeasure down his throat. He didn't know what to tell her. When he had entered the room, Sehun did think something was up with Minji, perhaps some trouble at school. Sarang had seemed so serene, too serene. He should've known. Something was wrong in that. This...will change them forever.
He hastily walked towards his own bedroom in the end of the corridor. Quietly, he stepped inside, watching her little figure curled beside Minhye. She wasn't sleeping, of course. She was seeking warmth and comfort in the only daughter who understood her situation. Carefully, he sat on the edge of the bed, tilting his head to take a look at her face. Sarang caught his stare and smiled faintly. There was a distant gaze in her eyes as she patted Minhye's back.
"Shh," she stopped him. Because Minhye was sleeping. These days, Minhye had a lot of homework. She would stay up late at night, studying. Sarang told him Minhye also wrote this and that on the internet and many people had praised her for her natural hand at writing. And they were pretty much sure they had figured out Minhye's favorite activity. So none of them complained if she stayed up late at night updating her creations. They were a little afraid only because without them around, Minhye had access to the dark side of the world through internet too so they had sat her down one day and explained to her that once she reaches a certain age, they would disable the parental protection on her computer. Sleep was crucial and Sarang wouldn't let him disturb her when she was sleeping.
But now was not every other day. Sehun's shoulders fell. She hadn't thought of giving him a call. It weighed on his heart. He had seen his little son inside Sarang's belly in the ultrasound pictures. He was carrying him as much as she was. Sehun felt like he was floating in a dark cloud. He touched the bump of her stomach, his eyes growing watery.
"Minji told you?"
Sarang sighed. lying on her back now. Sehun tries to gulp down the pain in his throat. It has been a long time he had felt that. That feeling of being beaten to pulp without carrying a single scar. She stared at the ceiling so that her tears stayed in her eyes. She didn't blink, incase it appeared that she was crying. He sat beside her on the bed, taking her hand in his.
"She got scared," she told him. "She cried so much." Sarang wasn't talking about this matter as heavily as he had imagined. But Sehun knew, she was breaking inside as she pronounced each of those words. "Minhye helped a lot today. We had to clean the floor. You must be wondering why I didn't let them call you, Sehun. I didn't want you to panic. You are a terrible driver when you panic."
Sehun heaved an enormous sigh, almost a whimper as he crushed her fingers in his. Sarang tried to sit up, propping herself on her elbows. Sehun pulled her up with a shaking hand. She was just a girl. It wasn't time yet. It wasn't time yet for her to grow up. Sehun wanted to shove pain away from her life. He loved her too much, but he still felt as if he wasn't loving her enough. Sarang smiled at him, "Don't cry."
He stared at her. The tear stains ran down her cheeks, fading almost. She spread her legs to rest the weight of her large tummy on the bed. Soon, it will be all gone. Sehun cried the more he watched her. If she had cried along with him, perhaps he wouldn't cry so much. But she was only staring at him with a gray in her eyes, the gray of sadness. She appeared to be lifeless. Every bit of warmth was gone from her face. She stared in such a manner that Sehun was left wondering if she was really looking at him.
"I...thought it was the toilet seat. But it wasn't the toilet seat," she tried to tell him, in her fragile breaking voice. Sehun listened to the details. Each word mercilessly clenched his heart. "When I realized that...it was already too late. In that little moment, Sehun...I panicked and I slipped. I hit my head. And I couldn't see anything but then...I saw blood...it was all over by then. I screamed."
Sehun brought her closer to himself and let her rest her chin on his shoulder. Sarang remained in his arms like a cold stone, so rigid, as if she was living those seconds again, the seconds in which she had realized that her son wasn't there anymore in her body. Sehun rubbed his cheek against her hair, biting his lips to keep himself from crying. But his lips began to bleed. It was too hard.
"I'm sorry, Sehun," Sarang said after a second of silence. "It's my fault."
"You're hurt, right?" She broke away from him to ask. Sehun looked into her eyes with his blurry ones. She placed a hand on his chest. "It hurts here, right?" He nodded. "It was the same for me. It hurt everywhere but the pain here...was the strongest."
"He wasn't meant to be with us, Sarang," He really was trying to convince himself more than anyone else. Sehun wished he would wake up from this nightmare soon. It was too horrible. Sehun hugged her tightly, praying her wound will heal one day, praying to the sky for her soul to be returned. Sarang held him but there was no life in her. Much like his unborn son, she was dead too. "I'm sorry I wasn't there. I can never forgive myself for that."
Even though he made it seem like he had accepted what had taken place, the twisted ends of fate made him feel like he was doing something wrong. As if...this whole thing was wrong. Sarang traced the lines in his palm, her loose bun laying on her shoulder peacefully. He put her hair behind her ear, bringing his lips closer to her forehead. She flinched when he kissed her skin. Wordlessly, she wrapped her arms around him and laid her head against his chest.
"Sehun...I'm sorry too. I couldn't give you Minhyuk. I remember...you were so happy when we found out."
Her words were like shards of glass to his already wounded heart. Sehun wondered, which sin he was paying for. No matter how many times he kissed her hair, he couldn't scrub off the guilt he felt. And the sense of loss didn't leave his body. Sehun didn't know how to comfort her when he was drowning in the reality of the most bitter truth himself. But perhaps it was because he wouldn't be able to offer her any vocal comfort, she was keeping her tears at bay. Her uneven breathing against his chest made him more and more aware. The girls had settled on the name Minhyuk. Sarang told him that she liked it. Now their dreams were lying on a toilet floor, shattered.
"It doesn't matter. We will remember him, Sarang. We will have him where it hurts the most." He said, placing his own hand on her chest, caressing the spot he believed her heart was in. Sarang blinked once, twice. One single tear slid down the smoothness of her cheek. Only one.
After that day, Sarang became a person he struggled to recognize. She was back to looking like the most exhausted women in the world, just as she was when he had met her at a small cafe one day to go over the terms of a fake marriage. The loss was prominent in her. Minji asked around for Minhyuk for months but never received any answers from her mother. Sehun told her, that Minhyuk was a star in the sky now. Minji corrected him, saying that he was wrong. Minhyuk lived in the stars now, like her mother's parents, her grandparents. Sehun had nodded, patting her to sleep that night.
When he was crossing the distance from his daughters' room to his own, Sehun couldn't help but notice. There was a fog in the house, a gray fog. So far, it had been a year since that cursed day, almost a year. He wanted to leave this place, go somewhere brighter but Sarang refused. She wanted to be where she had begun. Where she had raised her kids, where she had found warmth when she was at her worst. Sehun understood her. It was why he was alright with it all. He let the water run in the shower in case she heard him crying inside. And he hated to waste water in this way but every time he imagined Sarang slipping and bleeding on the very floor where he stood. He imagined how harder it was for Sarang to face the spot everyday, be reminded of a scarred accident every morning. Yet, she wanted to stay here. He did it for her.
She was her own person, she always was. And it made him the happiest when she was behaving like herself. But Sar