HEART LIES

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PRETEND GAME

“Gong won, Dae jun, please turn the patient,” Professor Lee said.

Nothing changed in Sa rang’s behavior even though her relationship with Ji-Seong took a 360° turn.

At university, they carried on according to their social status as teacher and student, whereas in the intimacy of Sa rang’s apartment, they were in a world of their own.

One thing bothered the young man more now that he crossed all the lines to live his story with Sa rang.

The doctor’s health worsened, and Sa rang quickly switched conversations when Ji-Seong attempted to talk about it.

There were too many signs Ji-Seong could not ignore; he found himself fighting the tears when he saw her last exam results.

Sa rang’s body was a sieve, with too many holes to patch up. Despite that, the man preferred holding on to hope. And he needed Sa-Rang to do the same; Ji-Seong hated the way she accepted death, the woman invited the reaper to stay for tea in her body.

Ji-Seong despised quarreling with Sa rang outside of the university or rotations. He wished the moments alone with her to be peaceful, but the subject of her health was a trigger that spoilt both their moods.

It was something they had to talk about, no matter the cost.

SK received Ji-Seong’s break request. Ji-Seong no longer desired to offer himself to anyone else, but also the man wished to take care of her.

Sa-rang was one of those people who said the contrary things of her thoughts.

She liked to think God molded her differently, but she was like every woman, even if she did not state things in the open. Sa rang, too, desired to be held and hugged.

For Ji-Seong, nothing seemed more natural than giving her affection, for he wanted to do it for free.

“Ji-Seong, Ji-Seong”

“Ah, nae.”

“Are you daydreaming?” Sa rang, asked with a curious stare.

The other students were staring at him.

How long had he reflected?

“Maybe you want to go outside and count the tiles on the floor to finish off your daydream?”

No, Sa-rang had not changed one bit. At this moment, the student knew she was not role-playing. The woman just did her job.

The professor seemed even harsher than before with him; it was as though Sa rang granted herself the mission of making Ji-Seong her successor. Instead of feeling honored, the young man detested the intention because it signified she planned on ditching him for the afterlife.

The stage of Sa rang’s Cancer was almost at the point of no return, and Ji-Seong wondered how she managed to carry on as though everything was fine. She controlled all the spasms of pain without even releasing a lip twitch.

No, a discussion was in order. Pretending everything was okay was no solution. Ji-Seong was no longer a helpless 12-year-old.

There were things he could do, though Sa rang’s condition was advanced, Ji-Seong knew that’s a patient’s mental condition influenced the disease’s evolution.

Sa rang had the willpower to control her pain; this meant she could do the same with her will to live.

Ji-Seong desired Sa-Rang to live because he loved her, and at this moment, just like all the times before, he was not ready to let go, even if it meant facing the doctor’s wrath as she closed to all discussions evolving around her health.

After a hard day filled with lectures, it was in the still of the night Ji-Seong decided to attempt to talk with Sa rang shot her condition.

“Let’s go out for a stroll,” the man said out of the blue as Sa-Rang stacked the files on her desk.

The professor furrowed her eyebrow, “now?”

“Yes, now.”

Sa-rang looked at her wristwatch, ” it’s 11 pm.”

“And it’s a right moment for a walk,” Ji-Seong replied.

They took the lift together. Sa-rang did not bother looking to see if neighbors watched anymore, for their eventual opinion became futile to her.

Sa-rang knew better than anyone when she had left; she did an excellent job covering the suffering. No one knew how it seized her at times. How she would go through the staircase doors to crumble or how the ulcers created acid burns.

Through all this, Sa rang smiled because this was how she chose to go.

Many would not understand why such a brilliant, educated woman like her refused to fight the evil.

The truth was, Sa rang feared the disease.

For many years the woman who knew it was hereditary in her family studied the beast, praying and hoping for a breakthrough, but there was none.

People were scared of AIDS, but for Sa rang, Cancer was worse.

There were more solutions for AIDS and HIV than they were for Cancer.

Most people don’t understand AIDS is a defiance of the body’s immune system; it’s not it that kills you but the diseases which enter your body because your defense systems are down. Many die of pneumonia or even Cancer because of their body’s absence of defense.

For Sa rang, the big bad wolf of all diseases was Cancer, the savant she was kneeled admitting defeat.

Yoona did not comprehend her either, but she respected her friend. No one could put themselves in Sa-rang shoes. She had lost both grandmother and mother to the malicious disease. Sometimes, patients she operated on and who were in remission died a little after.

What was the point of going through all that?

Yes, one gained a little time, but everyone ended up in the dead zone in the end.

Sa rang’s reflection was pitch black, but depression was also one of the side effects painkillers gave. The woman tried to shake off the thoughts as she felt Ji-Seong’s hand slip along her arm to grasp her hand.

“What are you thinking of?” Ji-Seong asked.

“I’m wondering who I should pick to scrub in for Mr. Oh’s operation.”

Ji-Seong smiled, though he knew it was a lie.

Sa rang had no idea of how many things the man knew about her as he observed her daily.

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