1. The Return

The Last Summer

The last university class is finally over. It is indeed the final year of her study. Perhaps, this year’s summer would be the last summer she will spending as a student. The lecturer was still explaining about the holiday homework and wishing the students a great time during the summer, but the room is already half empty as the psychology students are roaming out.

“Son Jii yaa~, wait for me” the high-pitched Ah Roo’s voice was heard from behind. Some students even turned their heads to Ah Roo. It's embarrassing for Son Jii but not to Ah Roo. She is just thick-faced and got Son Jii to her nerves. Son Jii, as fast as she could, ignored her call and exited the room.

“Yaaa~, I said wait”, Ah Roo grabbed Son Jii’s shoulder as they both stood in the corridor hall. “What? You still managed to get me anyway”, Son Jii answered nonchalantly.  It is actually countless for how many times Son Jii had been rude to her. However, no matter how annoying Ah Roo is to Son Jii, she will always be the one who can cope with Son Jii’s temper. They are meant for each other.

As they enter the elevator, “So, you have any plans for this summer? You haven’t told me anything” Ah Roo asked. Both of them are cramped to the very back of the elevator, enclosed by three giant blonde guys standing in front of them. “Well, I’m going back to Korea in two days”, Son Jii whispered. “What, two days?!”, Ah Roo shouted and a few people turned their heads. Son Jii quickly glared at her. “You don’t tell me anything at all lately”, Ah Roo finally whispered while exiting the elevator.

“Son Jii ya~, is something wrong?” Ah Roo noticed that Son Jii has been quiet the whole time. They stopped walking, in the middle of a busy entrance area. “I’m just not feeling like going back. I have too much on my plate right now, but my mother insisted me to go back”, Son Jii answered quite solemnly. “That’s why you need a refreshment! You always have too much on your plate, take a break. Your mother must have missed you so much”. After hearing that, Son Jii stayed quiet. “At least your mom misses you”, Ah Roo added quietly. Son Jii quickly circled her arm to Ah Roo’s shoulder and say, “Shut it. Let’s go eat some burgers”.

Son Jii knows that Ah Roo’s family condition is not the best either.  But Son Jii wouldn't let their family's problem ruin their day that day. Not when Son Jii only has two days left to spend with Ah Roo.


“I’m going to miss you! Please come back soon” Ah Roo hugged Son Jii in front of the gate. “It’s only for three weeks, Ah Roo. I’ll go back with lots of my grandma’s kimchi”, Son Jii buried herself in to her best friend while laughing. “Kay, bye now”, Son Jii lets herself go and flashes a smile before she entered to the gate.

The Netherlands would not change without her for three weeks, right?


The sound of plates and spoons clinking can be heard from another room, together with her parents' chatter. Thanks for being a light sleeper and having a jet lag, Son Jii was forced to wake up. The morning could not be felt any weirder. It was apparently odd after not returning home for three years.

Her childhood room however remains the same. Self-motivating post-its here and there and her high school schedule is still present on the wall. After looking at them for a while, she could not believe how ambitious she was in high school. Or how ambitious her parents want her to be.

Son Jii reached for the door, walked down the stairs, and found a large living room that stretched before her. Living abroad made her realize how well-off she actually is in Korea. Her living room in the Netherlands is not even a third in size of what is in front of her. Everything is in the shade of brown with minimalistic touch, just like how her father wanted.

Behind the living room to the right is the kitchen and dining area. Son Jii saw a helper picking up the dirty plates on the dining table. There, on one side of the dining table, seated her father with his favourite leather journal. He scribbled and jotted down his notes. Honestly, he was the last person she wanted to see that morning.

“Ah, there you are”, her father noticed as Son Jii approached closer. He lifted up his head to look at her, gave her a questionable smile and then went back to his journal. He acted as if nothing had happened between the two of them. 

“Morning, Dad”, Son Jii replied rather coldly and took a seat in front of him.

Son Jii knows it is an awkward situation for her and her father. But if her father decided to act as if nothing happened, so would she too. 

“Finally you met. Your father got back late yesterday, you were already asleep”, said Son Jii’s mother’s cheerful tone blared in to the dining room. Now, the family is complete.

Son Jii’s father is a neurosurgeon in one of the most famous hospital in Seoul. ‘The Miracle Hand’ is what the fellow doctors like to call him. He had done, more than enough, almost impossible surgeries. Countless families were grateful for him. However, to bear a title in such a top hospital did not come easy. There were times when he needed to stay until the morning in the hospital, worked for multiple shifts, gulped down bottles of medications only to stay him up. All the hard work surely paid off. He could furnish his home with marbles, fine leather, and artists' statues. Nonetheless, he could never buy the time he had lost with his family, with Son Jii.

When the dreadful breakfast was finally over,  Son Jii could not wait to return to her room and to just spend her time there, alone.

The emptiness of her room embraced her as she comes in. A notification on her phone popped up as she laid down on her bed.

Tomorrow 11 PM : Exchange Students Introduction

The responsibility of an undergraduate haunts her wherever she goes. Son Jii’s long sigh was followed by a car engine starting. And that’s her father, getting back to the hospital even only after a 4 hours sleep. Just like usual. After all, nothing changes after three years of being away. 

Son Jii went out to her balcony, watching her father’s car going away.  As the road emptied,  she reminded herself of what a difference it is to her childhood memories. Many children used to play on the road, chasing after each other. They would never return home until the helpers called out their names.

A lot of them had grown up and started living abroad, some moved to nicer neighbourhoods, and some just grew apart. It will never be the same again.

A loud thud woke Son Jii from her daydream. She saw someone across the street, 20 meters away, who angrily threw a trash bag into a bin. He has a tall figure and topless, openly showing his ripped abs-- the perfect ones. Son Jii did not realize that she stared at them for too long until the guy realized he was being watched.

He looked up to Son Jii, at her balcony, and met her at the eyes. After a second, Son Jii looked away and heads back to her room.

She knew for sure that the guy was coming from the Choi family’s house. But he's new, Son Jii thought. His face was not familiar at all. 

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