An unsettling gray Monday loomed over the sandbox playground, prompting children to be called back inside to their classrooms in case of a possible storm ahead. Yumi caught a glimpse of those visibly upset children on her way back from an inventory check— some of which were even acting out. She was quick to notice a lone soul, who watched his peers on the side despite appearing just as somber. Taeho’s introverted nature peaked through the abundant of restless children at the scene.
With a few hours to spare before lunch, she wondered if an improvised treat will cheer the kids up. Yumi raced back to the kitchen, gathering all her ingredients together for a simple batch of fudge brownies. She figured a little sweetness might compensate for the loss playground time. Soon after removing the baked goods off the cooling rack, children began filling the dining area. Without a certain meddling janitor by her side, Yumi managed to sort out everything in a timely manner; although, it felt strangely empty without Sehun’s constant nagging.
Shrugging off her distracted thoughts, the girl proceeded to serve her hungry critics. To her relief, the kids were ecstatic.
“Ms. Jung.” A teacher assistant halted the line momentary. She was seen eyeing Yumi’s off-menu dessert choice in a rather spiteful manner.
“Does our main cook know that you’re doing this?” She continued to question the puzzled girl, “You can’t prepare something that is not on menu. Some of our children are allergic to certain ingredients. Yerim can’t have gluten and Taeho is allergic to cacao.”
Taken back by the new information, Yumi grew somewhat speechless and overall embarrassed over an innocent gesture. She failed to take precautious when it should have been the first thing on her mind.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t know—“ Yumi stuttered as she hurriedly store away the remaining brownie bites. Complaints became to spiral through from those who were still waiting in line for their treat, while the lucky batch before had the chance to enjoy theirs. Rules are rules. Yumi just felt horrible for letting the kids down twice in a day.
Yumi luckily managed to finish lunch rush without jeopardizing her job further. Just when the guilt-ridden day could not get any worst, an ominous siren distracted the girl from clocking out of her shift. Yumi halted her steps as a frantic teacher scrambled around the room.
“Ms. Jung, have you seen Sehun today?”
Shaking her head, Yumi asked for clarification to see if she could help with anything. Witnessing the fear in the staff’s pale complexion, she figured it was best not to waste their time any longer.
“Taeho— he broke out into an allergic reaction to something his friend had given him. We can’t reach his parents and Sehun is his only relative here,” the staff hurriedly explained.
Oh God, Yumi came to a sudden realization. The brownies she served up halfway must have reached Taeho somehow. Without another word, she bolted out of the room to check on the boy. At the chaotic scene, she found the boy in a paramedic’s arms on their way out.
“MS. JUNG! HAVE YOU SEEN SEHUN?!” Another teacher hollered.
With his uncle no where to be found and parents nearly impossible to reach in the middle of lecture, Yumi refused to take any chances of leaving the kid alone in a foreign space. Knowing very well that the attending teachers can’t leave their classrooms either, she decided to follow the paramedics instead.
Yumi forgot how much she hated the hospital setting, just stepping foot into the place again brought back brutal memories she tried to forget. They rushed her to the ER where she was told to stay put in the waiting room until further notice. It was bad enough that she spent the whole ride here blaming herself, but the very last experience she had here did not help the girl ease her worries one bit. Yumi paced back and forth, nails digging into the palms of her hands nervously as she waited. Every minute felt awfully long in this disclosed white room to the point where it became suffocating. With trembling hands, she reached for her phone— this time, scrolling through her contact list for a number she promised herself to delete but have yet to take action.
Pushing aside her mixed feelings, Yumi decided to go through with the call. She had little expectation that Baekhyun will actually pick up in the middle of his lecture, but she needed to give it a shot at least. By the second ring, an unsteady voice answered the call, prompting Yumi to quickly gather her thoughts.
“Mr. Byun! I-I’m at the hospital, Taeho—“
“Stay where you are. I’m almost there,” Baekhyun cut her off breathlessly. The familiar background noise echoing through their call had Yumi scanning the waiting area for her former teacher.
At last, she spotted the man rushing in from the front desk— his presence alone washed out majority of the crazy scenarios in her head. She was thankful he made it here before her anxiety took over but that gratitude only lasted so long before a wall of guilt climbed its way back up.
Yumi brought her hands together as she b