| CHAPTER SEVEN |
His footsteps kick up in speed as he arrived at his father’s porch, sweat trickling down his forehead. Despite the short-lived distraction Kim Jiwon had managed to bring him along with the one hour and fifteen minute-train ride to his destination, the anxiety he was bottling up inside only brutally intensified. He had lived his life caring for his father who had permanently hurt his hip, also from a fall accident, many years ago.
It was an accident that will forever haunt him down, the same traumatizing scene from way back when he was only twelve replays in his head over and over again, once in a while, or more so often when he’s drunk.
He sighed in much relief once he got into the house and saw his father standing up, with his cane on one hand and a glass of milk on the other. “Appa.” He briefly bowed to his aunt, barely gazing into her eyes, before rushing to his father. “Son, what did I tell you? It wasn’t so bad, I’m quite sore though. But I was given medication by Dr. Na, X-ray came out okay.” The father chuckle, not seemingly in great pain at all. He had his body lowered down a bit as he takes support from the cane. Baekhyun placed his hand on the kitchen counter, exhaling heavily as if he hadn’t done so for the past two hours or so since he got the call. His eyes scanned his father from head to toe, still checking one last time if he was really okay.
Jooyoung walked over to them, chuckling. “Aigoo, your son is so sweet to go all the way here, I can’t blame him though, Saeho Oppa. You’re too careless sometimes, stop worrying the busy man.” The old lady tapped her brother as she walks into the kitchen and towards the fridge. Baekhyun nodded, frowning at his father as if the tables have turned and he’s the parent. Mr. Byun walked to his living room letting his son follow behind. “I’m fine, son. I told you.” He slowly and carefully sits down the couch, receiving extra support from Baekhyun as well.
His father looks up with a calm smile. “I’m sorry I worried you. Did you leave work just for me? Now, I feel bad. I will give Kyungsoo a text message, should I?” He suggested, an eager nod persuades Baekhyun into nodding in agreement. “Sure, but he won’t mind though.” Baekhyun sat down beside his father and his left hip, checking for any dislocation, still. “My goodness—I said, I’m fine though?” Mr. Byun squirmed away, lightly tapping his palm against his son’s forehead.
“No—you need my hug first. I have healing power.” Baekhyun yelped like a child, leaning to his father and hugging him sideways. His father laughed; it was music to his ears to hear his laughter all the time. Jooyoung went back out of the kitchen laughing, watching the son-father moment. Mr. Byun sighed, glancing at his sister. “I am supposed to be mad at this kid, he made me upset the last time we met but look at this—how can I get mad at this? Baekh—yah, I can’t breathe. This kid, tsk.” he laughed, holding into his son who’s latching on him like a sloth on a branch.
Baekhyun pulled away, giving his father a satisfied grin. “You almost killed me in worry, you know? I told you, no falling ever again.” He warned, lifting a pointed finger to his father to emphasize his point strongly. “Well, at least no one pushed him this time.” Jooyung mocked casually while shaking her head. Baekhyun lost his smile as he lowered his head, anger suddenly building so quickly up in his head. “Jooyoung, that was many years ago and like I always say, it was an accident, no one wanted that. I don’t know why I’m explaining this all over again. Come on, you can’t possibly be still bitter about it. She’s already gone, let’s just—let’s not bring that up please, my son is here with me.” Mr. Byun weakly chuckled, his eyes cautiously looking at his son out of concern.
He put a hand on the younger man’s back and smiled widely again. “What about we have dinner together? Obviously, I was not all prepared for your visit so maybe we can order chicken at Yeoreum Chicken? Give them a call, see if your employee’s discount still works. They gave me discount like five years ago even after you left, check.” Mr. Byun laughed while nudging his son. Baekhyun tried his best to put on a smile as he gave him a light nod. “I’ll call, I don’t think we’ll get a discount Appa—we don’t need that anymore, come on.” He chuckled before taking his phone out.
“Why not, oh?” Mr. Byun insisted making his sister laugh along. “Oh, Baekhyun … maybe you can, uh, wash some dishes for them again maybe they will give us a free bucket of chicken.” His aunt joked making him laugh, more genuinely this time. “Gross, old days. I don’t like remembering that, aunty. Please don’t.” Baekhyun cringed with his whole body as he looked at his phone contacts for the fried chicken house.
“Aigoo, give me the phone then. I know how to work wonders.” Mr. Byun snatched the phone from him as he called. Baekhyun shook his head in second-hand embarrassment. He watched silently as his father bluffs about his son’s little visit back in town from Seoul and reminisces about the free buckets of chicken they used to get when Baekhyun worked there as their trusted dishwasher; persuasive almost demanding tone sings through the phone making Baekhyun laugh in amusement. His father is a very social man, he really knows how to market himself and befriend even the strangest strangers out there. “Oh, five percent off? Hmm, not bad Taesuk. Yeah, of course! I will make him take pictures of your food and spread the word to Seoul, he’s very popular in the internet because of his pictures and magazine—I told you I always make him do that whenever I buy chicken there. Aigoo, believe me Seoul people come to you every time they visit Daegu because of his influence!”
Baekhyun looked at his aunt in disbelief, the two of them laughing in defeat.
To him, his father is one of a kind – he can never get another one like him. His only ever flaw, at least in Baekhyun’s eyes, is his undying love for his late ex-wife. Never in a million years would he ever understand how his father could keep that kind of love for her after everything, even after death. He’s a martyr of love, as he would mock him often times. Other than that, he’s everything a son would ever want for a father.
If there was a way to have his father forever with him, he would do anything.
This mild accident that happened today just made him want that even more.
Jiwon never thought she would ever have to microwave a cake before. She laughed at herself as she placed the cake down her empty kitchen island and lit up a scented candle right beside it, she didn’t have any real birthday candles at all – that should do, she thought. “Ha—happy birthday to me … happy birthday to me—” She paused from the song, weakly clapping while staring down at her grocery store-bought cake. “Happy … birthday, dear Jiwon.” Not being able to help it, she laughed some tears away. She never had to do this; it was definitely something new to her.
She felt pathetic, lonely, wrecked in plenty of ways.
“What am I doing?” She weakly sits on the high chair, her eyes still glued to the cake. A sharp emotional pain tickles the back of her head as she looks around. Between being lonely and being alone, whe