As he observed both of them with his mouth agape, Woo Jooin’s voice erupted in a bout of fury.
“Mama, did Hwang Siwoo do this?”
His words lowered the temperature inside the space to -40°C in a flash. When Ham Donnie remained silent, Woo Jooin’s negative energy turned even more savage. After a moment, Eun Jiho saw that Ham Donnie’s eyes were reddened as he glimpsed at her face.
As long as he remembered, they would seldom see Ham Donnie crying in front of them. Ban Yeo Ryung and Ham Donnie were both tough cookies, so they rarely cried over trivial things.
Once, they all went to see a tragic romance movie but the two girls just ate their popcorn without shedding any tears, which looked so frightening to Eun Jiho. When he later asked them if the movie wasn’t sad Ban Yeo Ryung replied, ‘it was, but it was not something to cry about,’ and Ham Donnie said, ‘my life is sadder than that,’ with a strangely crooked smile–it was still unclear to Eun Jiho what she meant by that.
Anyway, the point was that Ham Donnie barely shed a tear even if they were watching a drama, seeing a movie, or going through something in real life.
The reason Kwon Eun Hyung became so violent to those who made Ham Donnie cry at the senior trip was because of this. The only time Eun Jiho saw Ham Donnie crying was at the barbeque party they held the day before the opening ceremony. In this regard, something serious might have happened to them earlier.
Eun Jiho’s face hardened. Eun Hyung patted Ham Donnie’s back and let Ban Yeo Ryung take care of her. Then he tapped Woo Jooin’s shoulder and gestured Eun Jiho with his chin. It was a sign suggesting that he wanted to have a secret talk.
Eun Jiho nodded as a response to that signal and woke up Yoo Chun Young, who was still deeply asleep on the couch.
Yoo Chun Young’s bluish lashes flickered twice before they could see his eyes. Eun Jiho faced Yoo Chun Young’s half-awake and out-of-focus eyes before he opened his mouth. This seemed to be the best way to gather Yoo Chun Young’s senses.
“Dude, Ham Donnie got beaten.”
It was not the exact truth, but the overall situation did not differ much from the facts, so bending the truth a bit did not affect the gravity of the situation. Eun Jiho decided to be a little shameless and waited for Yoo Chun Young’s response.
Indeed, he replied immediately.
Yoo Chun Young asked in a rather husky voice before he frowned as if he was feeling a headache. He, however, lifted himself to sit up straight instead of collapsing on the couch.
Kwon Eun Hyung helped him sit back up since he knew that Yoo Chun Young had the habit of bumping into telephone poles once he got tired and drowsy. Yoo Chun Young soon raised his head and asked again.
“What did you just say?”
“Yeah, Kwon Eun Hyung, tell us. What’s going on?”
It was when Eun Jiho asked back did Kwon Eun Hyung began to talk. Woo Jooin, who was sitting face to face with Eun Jiho, had a keen glare in his eyes.
Kwon Eun Hyung spoke in a gentle but flat voice.
“A truck nearly hit Donnie.”
Yoo Chun Young’s tone grew higher. It rarely happened but rather than getting surprised, Eun Jiho just swallowed his moan. The situation was more serious than he expected. He thought earlier that someone must have hit Donnie and pushed her to the ground.
Kwon Eun Hyung dropped his red lashes before he looked at the people in front of him again and continued his words.
“She said, it wasn’t that life-threatening, but she looked very frightened. She cried for quite a while.”
“Those guys had some debt left unpaid to us ever since he touched Yeo Ryung before, and now they did this. What should we do?”
Kwon Eun Hyung asked them all in a calm voice as he always did, but Eun Jiho had a dumbstruck look on his face when he found a flame of rage within Eun Hyung’s dark green eyes, which looked frozen up until now. Eun Jiho shortly forgot that Kwon Eun Hyung was more proficient in sorting out his feelings than Woo Jooin.
It was obvious to Eun Jiho that Kwon Eun Hyung asked, ‘what should we do,’ to him. When he read the blade-like anger inside those words, Eun Jiho asked back immediately.
“What would you like to do?”
Eun Jiho thought the answer already existed inside Kwon Eun Hyung’s head. Eun Hyung usually avoided to take the initiative but rather than standing back up and giving advice to people, his demeanor was different this time.
There was indeed no hesitation within Kwon Eun Hyung’s head when they asked him. Soon his eyes sharpened after a moment of consideration. Then he responded with a smile.
“If I’m leading the way, I would do my best.”
Eun Jiho then recalled Kwon Eun Hyung’s life-long creed.
‘Every man for himself. Once I take the lead, I do the best I can to let them know who among us is untouchable.’
Eun Jiho’s heart began to shiver for Hwang Siwoo and his clique, who stirred up Kwon Eun Hyung to step out and do something he was great at doing.
* * *
“Your hand is all scratched up.”
I winced with the pain while frowning. Yeo Ryung, however, rubbed the antiseptic on my palm with a determined face. Then she soon showed a gloomy expression.
Since she looked more in pain than I did, I couldn’t act like a crybaby anymore. Instead, I just patted her hand. When she saw my actions, her face then displayed her wrath. The incident happened to me, but it looked like Yeo Ryung was the one who was more affected by it all.
Ban Yeo Ryung bit her red lip a few times and got up from the bed with a bloody-red face. I asked her in wonder.
“Where are you going?”
“Living room. I need to ask them something.”
“Okay, sure,” I responded while feeling a little dumbfounded as I remained silent.
Yeo Ryung, who stayed beside me with a concerned look on her face as she asked me for the details of the accident I had suffered, just left the room, so I felt quite disconcerted.
Honestly, I wanted to spend some time alone right now. Jesus, I lifted my hand and swept my hair. My hand was shaking still.
I was afraid. It truly scared me to death.
A bunch of thoughts came across my mind and harassed me one after another: I nearly died and the regrets I still had after fighting with my parents haunted me. I would imagine their grief at my funeral. Then many things flashed into my mind like the things I wanted to do and things I hadn’t achieved yet.
At one time, I had a suicidal thought because of the existential dread I had been feeling for, which I could not seem to find the meaning of life; however, when I nearly got hit by the truck, I realized that I didn’t wish to die yet.
I slowly burst out my breath after holding it for a second. It was fortunate that I couldn’t seem to shed a tear.
It was true that I was too surprised to ease myself when I saw Eun Hyung lying on the ground while gasping. However, as time went by, I had pretty much found my footing once again.
I held my hands tight as if praying to put all of those sad thoughts out of my head. How long had I been crouching like that? I heaved a sigh slowly.
I wasn’t sure if I could see Eun Hyung’s face yet. Although I complained about how bitchy this author was, I was worse than them.
If I was far from Eun Hyung, such a thing could not have happened to me. By putting all the blame on Eun Hyung, at least, I could feel better. These thoughts showed how selfish and bitchy I was.
Although I tried to avoid these thoughts, Eun Hyung might be putting the blame on himself now.
His mother’s death and my accident had nothing to do with him; however, he burdened himself with the responsibilities bestowed upon him in the duration of this incident. This proved how strong he was even after torturing himself, but he was not strong enough as evident on how he collapsed earlier.
I was such a weak person for thinking that I would have not involved myself in a car accident if I was not there with Eun Hyung.
Therefore, the shame I felt made it hard for me to look at Eun Hyung.
All I could do was just to sit like that with my eyes tightly closed.
‘I hope to become an adult soon,’ I murmured while clenching my hand with an antiseptic reddened with blood. Even the pain couldn’t stop me from my desperate wish.
Once I become an adult, I would no longer fall into the tedious thought of when this novel will end; besides, I would not be facing the weak me anymore. I was desperate to attain that wish.