HEART LIES

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FORTY CANDLES

Forty, how do you imagine yourself at forty?

Sa-rang stood in her underwear in front of her mirror; she was thin with A-cup breasts, a flat stomach, which made her wonder if she did not dream of giving birth to Sonmi. Tiny yet present buttocks and firm skin. If she had to judge herself, the answer would be looking good; her face still appeared stuck between 34-38.

Youth did not obsess Sa-rang. Health was what she worried about all her life. The reward of the healthy lifestyle vendetta she reeked was her youthful appearance, and that’s where the magic ended because, underneath her skin, the disease spread like a tidal wave.

Sa-rang pouted her lips a little and slung her hair from side to side.

“chukahae [congratulations] Sa-rang, you’re forty,” she blew a kiss to herself in the mirror before going to get dressed.

If Sa-rang were off work, she would opt for her ripped jeans and a t-shirt, but she had to take her brats on their hospital rotations. Of course, Mr. Chae, the Know-it-all, would try once again to bring on his science.

The professor hurried; it was 6: 00 AM, and she had to be there before the kids. Once again, Gong-Won almost vomited on a patient. Apart from that, the morning of Sa-rang’s 40th anniversary was calm with elementary visits.

At lunchtime, it was with her best and only friend Yoona she ate.

“Here.”

Sa-rang frowned and displayed a nervous smile, “what is it?”

The black wallet envelope scared Sa-rang, who hesitated to open it.

“Don’t be scared,” Yoona leaned to look too.

“No, Yoona, what is it? It looks like some death note.”

“It’s your gift, I said. Come on, Sa-rang, don’t play the ahjumma suspicion.”

Sa-rang carefully broke the seal and took out the black card, “there’s nothing on it,” Sa-rang said with a hint of relief.

“You have to sprinkle three drops of water on it to see the message.”

“Igeat mboya, what’s with all this James Bond stuff?” Sa-rang laughed nervously in front of the envelope, which seemed booby-trapped.

“ㅡHurry, Sa-rang,” Yoona was impatient to see the result too.

Sa-rang opened her Sam Da Soo bottle and sprinkled a few drops. The card began to reveal the message:

“Yoona, what does it mean?”

“Okay, don’t get mad.”

“YOONA.”

“Okay, I know someone who knows someone who has tried this out.”

“What is it?”

“Silent Knight service. it offers women the opportunity to spend some time with refined and handsome young men.”

“OMO, Yoona, don’t tell me your present is an escort serviceㅡ.”

“It’s not an escort service; it’s the best escort service ever,” Yoona made a rainbow in the air with her hands.

“I can’t believe this. Yoona, ask for a refund.”

The doctor crossed her arms, “I can’t.”

“Then you go. I’m not doing this.”

“I can’t; it’s nominative. If it’s not you, then the deal is off, and remember I’m a married woman.”

“Why, Yoona, why?” Sa-rang fell back in her chair.

“I thought it would be fun.”

“What’s fun about going out with someone paid to be with you?” Sa-rang replied cocking her eyebrow at her friend.

“No, listen to me, Sa-rang,” she took both of her friend’s hands. “You’ve lived your life like a robot. Sa-rang, I know what you want, and I respect that I just want my best friend to have fun in the last round of her life,” Yoona held back her tears, but she hoped the image would sway Sa-rang.

“Yoona, but it’s still an escort service. What if someone finds out? My reputation will be ruined.”

“There is no way on earth someone will find out. I mean, did you even know it existed?”

Sa-rang shook her head.

“That’s my point; the company doesn’t have a website. Every mail they sent disappears ten minutes after you read it.

“Then how did you get the info?”

“I told you, I know someone who knows someone who sponsored me.”

“It sounds like a sect. No, it sounds like Stanley Kubrick’s eye’s wide shut ploy. OMO, you are sending me as a sacrifice in an orgy?”

“Do this for me, Sa-rang. It’s a gift; all you have to do is show up. Please, how hard can it be to spend three evenings with a charming young man? The acquaintance I have told me the man she met was Mr. Korea material.

“If that’s the case, Yoona, the guy would be on TV entertaining the world and not with some old crotch scratch granny.”

“Wow, you’ve got some more edge in your mouth today.”

Sa-rang gave Yoona a wink, “you know it’s because it’s you.”

“Yes, Sa-rang, that’s the spirit. Apply what you just said to this invitation,” Yoona took hold of the cards and pointed a hand towards it as if she was selling it on a home shopping website.

Their break ended with Sa-rang promising to give it some thought.

And the woman thought thoroughly about whether she should go or not.

“A-te-te-te,” Gong Won said as he tried to contain the pain which traveled from his feet to his ears, which also became crimson red as the blood rushed to them.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Gong-Won,” Sa-rang tried to keep a straight face.

The professor was coming back from her lunch with Yoona, and Gong Won, the shoe fetish, didn’t notice she did not wear clogs but YSL Anja 65 pumps, which crashed into his foot.

“Come with me. I’ll take a look at it,” Sa-rang said.

Gong-Won followed her to her office, which had a room for patients, “sit down, take off your shoe.”

“Professor, don’t tell me you are going to check yourself; I feel honored.”

“I wouldn’t want you to miss your rotations and assignment because of this.”

“Always work first, right?” The student said, looking at her with a mischievous grin.

“Of course,” Sa-rang replied without lifting her head from Gong-Won’s toe.

“Is it a serious doctor? I’ve always wanted to say that.”

Sa-rang glared at him, “don’t worry, you’ll still be able to dance.

The professor was unaware she pressed Gong-Won’s trigger.

“Speaking of dancing seongsaengnim, when will you give me mine? You owe me one.”

Sa-rang looked up from his feet to face him.

Gong Won displayed a wicked grin, one that said I know what you did last summer.

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