Sweet like lemon
They weren't blood-related, but Jiyong thought of her as his little sister. He wanted to protect her and help her throughout her problems but somehow things escalated in a different direction. He was getting possessive and protective which wasn't like a brother would for his sister.
Dara on other hand had always had a little crush on him but never realized until her friend showed some interest in pursuing him. she was jealous.
Rain was pouring harder than before when he was peacefully sleeping on the floor of their small worn-out apartment, the floor heaters hadn't been working for a few months now and his father was too busy getting drunk to care. Jiyong was curled up on the mattress with a thin blanket, he was imagining the summer, he could go out in the brightest daylight, eat some spicy ramen, and play at the playground, dripping sweat from his forehead.
But it did not help, not even a bit when the wind blew through the cracks of their window. Water was leaking through the ceiling, he was alone and scared, and every time the thunderstruck he would flinch. What can he do? He was just 12. Somehow got a job at a neighborhood noodle shop, the grandma felt sorry for him and agreed on hiring.
She had been nothing but caring towards him, she considered him like her own kid, would give him food, she even raised his wages. "Poor kid. must life have to be hard on you this much" she would say every time she spots a new bruise on his body or torn clothes. He just grew up that way. None of it seems to make a difference for him. His mom left them due to sickness and now his father was walking down the same road to death.
He had been studying and working nonstop, saving up for college; if he'd decided to go to one in the first place.
The next day arrived pretty slowly for him when he woke up only to find out their water will be cut off, though the water bill date would expire in a few days. "Can I have the salary in advance this month?" He had asked grandma carefully as soon as he got the chance. knowing this had been the third time in a row he had asked for it, she is not the kind of person who would question him or would straight out say no, but each time his heart beats louder and his hands fumbled, it was embarrassing but their electricity and water bills are stacking up, and one day delay can cut off their supply and it’ll be hassle to visit the office, He can’t take any more day off from work and school.
Grandma looked at him, and without another word, she disappeared inside the kitchen, and walked out holding some bills in her hands, then even pulled out some bucks from the cashier machine, and handed them to him. “I have this much only with me now, if you need more I’ll go to the bank to withdraw some tomorrow”
Words, Jiyong wasn’t sure if those could help him express how grateful he was feeling right at that moment. He wanted to let her know she could trust him with the money she had given him, that he is gonna pay her twice once he becomes a fine man. But he just couldn’t let it out. So he just muffled a thank you to her.
“Oh, Jiyong” Grandma waved her hand toward him. He instantly went for the luggage and dropped them in the trunk. As they drove by not once he asked about the little girl who was now gazing out of the window in the back seat, or why she stayed in Seoul longer than expected. He just didn’t feel right to ask her those.
By the time they reached home, Grandma lead Dara inside but after a second stepped out, she grabbed Jiyong's arm as he was about to bring suitcases in. she pulled him away and said in a hushed tone, “Jiyong, you have to help me with my granddaughter, Dara will be staying with me from now on. Her father..” the pause was long “She needs to get enrolled in school here”
Soho, her father had died from cancer, and by the time they learned that it was too late, he never actually went to the hospital for a proper consultation and was taking some illegal medicines. He went to the city to find a job but it didn’t work as he had expected. Things were hard for both of them there, maybe which is why he never went for treatment.
Jiyong nodded, “I’ll look for better schools around”
But little did he know in midst of helping his friend in need, he'll end up exposing Dara to a filthy society, which he left a decade ago in order to be able to assist grandma and accompany Dara and help her to settle in this entirely new town. and for that, he was guilty, and above that scared.