TAKE II: CHILD'S PLAY
The words remained suspended in the air.
A small breeze shook the pujang’s tent, followed by a silence where the man focused on the woman’s eyes, trying to read her expression. Sa-rang softened her face, Ji-Seong’s lips started to twitch before curving and letting out a loud laugh, which made him grip his ribs, “good lord, you have the most twisted sense of humor. You almost got me.”
Seeing no reaction from Sa-rang, he stopped. The woman gulped down the rest of her beer and paused, “it’s getting late; maybe we should leave Sa-rang said, remembering they both had to be at the hospital at 7:00 AM.
The car was parked not far off Sa-rang wondered what the driver did during the hours while he waited, but also she thought about all the women he encountered as the chauffeur drove them back.
They got out in front of her residence; the night was still.
Sa-rang looked at Ji-Seong playfully, “so the end of n°2.”
The man lifted one finger, “Still have one to go.”
“You’ll be rid of me,” Sa-rang said while her eyes darted on both sides of Ji-Seong.
“I never said you were a burden,” the young man replied and mimicked her motions by looking around.
“And you’ll move on to the next.”
Ji-Seong gave a lopsided smile, “I guess.”
It was the moment to say goodbye, and Ji-Seong approached, making Sa-rang’s breath hitch as he placed his hand on her back.
Sa-rang closed her eyes in anticipation while internally slapping herself for showing such eagerness.
Guess you’re a woman, after all, Ji-Seong thought.
Ji-Seong approached, Sa-rang’s heart halted. She realized Ji-Seong was life-threatening. Every time she met him in these circumstances, she menaced her lifespan. Now there she stood, expecting and wanting despite her reasoning.
Ji-Seong leaned over, Sa-rang only to felt the pressure of his lips on her forehead. The woman’s eyes sprung open; she blinked twice under Ji-Seong’s amused eyes. He had a hard time concealing his teaser smile, everything was such a game for him, and Sa-rang fell straight into his trap.
Why did she wait for a kiss?
Was it because he kissed her once, or because Yoona asked for the knight to surprise Sa-rang on the remaining outings?
In reality, Ji-Seong fulfilled his mission, the kiss on the forehead was a definite surprise, which left the woman with the same wave of emotion as the cinema kiss of the first date. Perhaps she was even more shocked by her foolishness and hidden desires.
“Good night, Sa-rang.”
“Uh, yes, goodnight.”
Ji-Seong stood to wait.
Sa rang blinked in dismay, “what are you doing?”
“You have to leave first.”
“Ah, eh, okay, bye,” Sa-rang did a robotic wave and once again tried to enter her building flawlessly. At her building’s door, she looked back, Ji-Seong was already climbing in the car.
“Huh, what kind of a knight is this?” She huffed, nostrils flaring in anger. The journey in her lift did not calm down her nerves. Frustrated, Sa-rang frantically tapped on her door code, knocked the door open, and threw her handbag on the couch before sinking into it herself.
“Sa-rang, what’s wrong with you? He’s a kid, your student, and your pouting lips at him for a kiss you should be ashamed of yourself, I’m ashamed of you.”
She got up and went to the bathroom, where she started to brush her teeth, and the burns began. Lately, they were frequent; Sa-rang had calmed down on the alcohol, but she was anxious, which stirred her, causing the stomach irritation.
Dizzy sat down, trying to analyze her state of health. The painkillers were still efficient apart for the fatigue, dizziness, burns, hyperventilation, and Sa-rang.
She stood up; this was better than chemotherapy; images of cancer patients flooded in her head. There were not many things that scared her in life, but that treatment was worse than anything else she witnessed. Staring at her reflection, she motivated herself, “you made the right choice; going this way is better.”
For Sa-rang, her death was inevitable; her grandmother and mother died of it. Cancer was a family tradition.
“Sonmi,” Sa-rang muttered, consumed by herself, egoist she almost forgot her daughter. Sonmi had every right to hate her. She only thought of herself; the woman had to warn her somehow, “God, Sa-rang, you are the worst,” she muttered, entering her Italian shower where she stayed under the water for what seemed hours.
Skin wrinkled by the water, Sa-rang took her robe and started to towel dry her hair.
Her phone vibrated message from SK:
Congratulations on participating in your second Rendez-Vous.
Please confirm the end of your outing by clicking on SERVICE ACCOMPLISHED.
SK thanks you and hopes you had a memorable night.
“Memorable, museon [what]? Memorable, who are they kidding? No, who are you kidding, Sa-rang? Don’t get caught up.”
The woman stopped her rumblings and dashed to the bathroom; the popcorn and the bulgogi wanted out. The food dived from her mouth to her toilet; this was her punishment for having committed a Nimis.
Vomiting, too, was becoming a daily routine. The painkillers had some side effects. If it was not constipation, it was either flood of vomit or waves of poop, but once again, Sa-rang thought it was a little pain compared to chemotherapy.
The woman was like a child fearing to go to the dentist; treatment frightened her though she was a grown woman and a physician, she was afraid to fight and lose. At this stage, the prognostic wasn’t in her favor; all she could do was soothe her pains the best way she could till her final clap.
On the floor, exhausted, Sa-rang pushed back against the wall and heaved her vision was blurred she felt drowsy enough to sleep on the spot. She knew abused. In the last year, she overworked the body, which she once protected as if it were gold. Now she tossed, bruised, and stained it with drugs, yes it was medicine, but still, they were drugs.
There was that and the nightlife.
Ji-Seong was right; Sa-rang didn’t see her body as a shrine either. It was a weak respectable devoured by disease.
Why didn’t she just end it there and save herself the hassle?
In a final effort, she got up and walked to her bag; she had enough drugs in her pockets to send her to the moon. If she took her prescriptions altogether, she would die of a heart attack in less than 45minutes.
The thought was tempting her body hurt so severely that death appeared to be the ultimate painkiller.
Sa-rang’s phone vibrated:
It was short and direct, yet it brought Sa-rang back from the abyss where her thoughts were heading. She staggered go to brush her teeth again before throwing herself on the bed where she stared at her phone screen.
What was Ji-Seong thinking?
Every student had her phone number, which they could use to beg for a delay concerning an assignment or ask questions if they were absent. Students never crossed the line. Like many, she did receive a few threats from unsatisfied graduates for their marks, but apart from that, no one crossed the line getting familiar.
Sa-rang tossed her phone to the side, hoping Ji-Seong didn’t expect a reply. Their situation was already complicated; there was no need for her to knit more connections between them.
She stopped herself from starting an in-depth analysis of her behavior as she remembered the anxious desire she had to be kissed by the young man.
Guess she won’t answer, Ji Seong thought as he gazed at his phone screen, almost feeling relieved. If she did, Ji-Seong did not know how he would react, Sa-rang made him nervous, and the knight wondered how he maintained a flawless poker face in front of her.
The woman with whom the Ji-Seong shared a meal was so different from the impassive professor. Sa-rang was like a child lost and curious. She was different from the impulsive doctor he met 12 years ago and the nightcrawler at L’hexagone, every time Ji-Seong met a different Lee Sa-rang.
What amazed him was she didn’t remember. Not once did she place his face or express a latent memory of their encounters.
This saddened him, but at the same time, it was reassuring, he would offer her the best of what he had become.
The thought lingered till professor Sa-rang struck the next day again, for Ji-Seong, the professor was like dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde.
Seeing how the woman treated him during rotations, there was no way one could flare anything else from them except constant conflicting opinions.