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“Otoké appa, mom is dying?”

The words kept ringing in In-Sung’s ears; how could she?

How could Sa-rang be dying?

Confused thoughts collided in In-Sung’s mind:

Did Sa-rang just find out about her illness?

How long has she been aware?

Why did she not tell him?

No, it was impossible; Sa-rang could not die, In-Sung was aware of the cancer history in her family, but this could not happen to her.

In-Sung was in total denial as he turned the key to his house door that night. Despite the hurt, Sonmi said she preferred finding a way to be with Sa rang though she had cut ties with her. Sonmi felt guilty, and she refused to live with it; reconciliation was the only option left for her or In-Sung. They had to put their pride aside.

“Oh, honey, you are home early,” In-Soo said as she came to kiss him, “waéguré, why the grave expression?”

The woman grasped In-Sung’s face with both hands. The man’s visage looked like someone had buttered some extra years on it.

“In Soo-ya.”

“What? Why are you like this In-Sung? You are scaring me?”

“In-Soo-Ya,” the man repeated without realizing he cried until he felt In-Soo wiping his tears with her hands.

Yes, Sa-rang hurt and humiliated him, but she was the woman who gave birth to his child. And the woman he had almost spent two decades with. In-Sung had loved Sa-rang, and at this instant, perhaps he loved her still.

In-Soo’s facial expression became filled with empathy and concern, oh, jaegi wae?”

“She-she is sick,” In-Sung muttered while In-Soo wiped his tears with her fingers.


“She’s dying, In-Soo,” In-Sung said in a trance.

“Nugu?” [who]

“Sa-rang, Sa-rang is sick. She has stage 4 cancer.”

In-Soo stepped back in shock; tears filled her eyes as her mind raced as it immediately linked the dots of the enigma surrounding Sa rang, a sickening feeling filled In-Soo.

In-Soo ran to the toilets, where she vomited while she cried tears of frustration and anger. Sa rang’s state did not occur overnight. The woman knew, and this was the reason she hired In-Soo to be In-Sung’s painkiller. Sa-rang placed the pieces on the chessboard. There was nothing uncalculated by the woman who meticulously organized those around her.

The pregnant woman loathed Sa-rang and herself for having been so cupid and blind jumping on the bone Sa rang left her like a scavenger. She who dreamt of a better life did not hesitate one second to grasp the experience the woman offered.

In-Sung followed his fiancée, “In-Soo-Yah, are you okay?”

In-Soo’s gaze turned to the man whose face harbored the stigmas of the shock. Guilt burned inside In-Soo’s stomach as she turned away once more for a second salve of intensive puking. A dreadful thought came to mind; she wished she could vomit her baby out.

How could she give birth to a child conceived in such circumstances?

Hence now more than ever, In-Sung was not to know the truth about her deal with his ex-wife. The news would break the man if not destroy him.

Every one of Sa-rang’s words came to In-Soo’s mind. The woman’s disease was at least one year old. In-Soo imagined how Sa rang must have fought to conceal such a thing from her family.

How cruel and yet how admirable Sa-rang’s actions seemed, In-Soo thought as she felt the damp texture of a handkerchief wiping her mouth.

“Don’t put yourself in such a state, darling; I shouldn’t have told you,” In-Sung said as he dabbed the In-Soo’s mouth with the tissue.

In-Soo sobbed in her lover’s chest; there he was with all his consideration and kindness. Unaware of the Makaveli ploy playing under his nose, he felt guilty of telling her about his ex-wife’s illness when he was immaculate of sin, whereas In-Soo felt dirty and deserved divine punishment to wash away her faults.

In-Sung didn’t know what he should do, a part of him wanted to confront Sa rang, but something in the story was off.

Like In-Soo, In-Sung knew Sa rang’s health didn’t decrease overnight, since when did she know?

In-Sung tried to recall things, but there was nothing, no signs.

Sa rang often complained about stomach burns, but she constantly ranted about that. Thus the man could not pinpoint a moment a particular moment. This made him realize he had stopped taking notice of her.

Up till then, he had no goals. In-Sung contented himself with pampering wife and daughter who were the pinnacle of his life.

Once he began his business plan, he indulged himself in bringing his project to life. In-Sung gave his all, forgetting the rest, and he didn’t feel guilty as he thought he had done enough for his foyer. Sonmi was no longer a child, and Sa rang had her job, but now culpability hammered itself into his head. How come he did not see this?

The images which came to mind were of tipsy Sa rang coming home from her night out.

Was she aware then?

Was the disease that ate and pushed her to do all these outrageous things?

In-Sung wanted to hang himself somewhere, Sa rang sent warning signs that he overlooked because he consciously desired her to carry on. This way, the shame of being infidel burdened him less.

This reflection was his sin; In-Sung’s mind was clotted with thoughts of In-Soo 24/7. And so when Sa rang went through what he thought was a middle-age crisis, all In-Sung hoped and searched for was a way to be with his mistress full-time.

That night neither In-Sung nor In-Soo found sleep. They tossed turned. The pregnant woman ran back and forth from the toilets, where she emptied herself.

A few days past and here came Friday night. In-Sung left the shop early and stopped to pick up In-Soo’s favorite cakes at Paris Baguette before heading home. The last three days were a nightmare; he would take care of In-Soo tonight, In-Sung thought as he opened the door.

To his surprise? In-Sung found his fiancée waiting in front of the door. It took the man a few seconds to realize the woman had her trench coat on, and she held a suitcase.

In-Sung frowned, “what are you doing?”

“I’m leaving,” In-Soo’s face was without makeup. The young woman seemed to have gained in age. She was pale, and her eyes were bloodshot from tears.

“What do you mean you are leaving?”

In-Soo lowered her eyes like a scolded child, “I have no right to be here.”

“What do you mean?” In-Sung asked.

The man entered and shut the door. They both stood in the apartment’s corridor, In-Sung with his gifts of cakes and roses and In-Soo with her very stuffed suitcase.

“In-Sung, you are a good man, the best a woman can ask for, but I don’t deserve you. I don’t have a right to be your wife, and I don’t have a right to carry your child.”

“In-Soo what on earthㅡ.”

The man took a step to approach In-Soo, but the woman stepped back.

“You don’t know; you don’t know, In-Sung, you and me, this is wrong. I tried to forget, but I can’t pretend that our relationship is a setup, and now I know why I can’t carry on, this relationship Sin that the heavens will never forgive, ” In-Soo said, voice fading in a whisper as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

“A setup,” In-sung advanced and grabbed her by both arms, “what set up? Speak, SPEAK,” In-Sung yelled while he shook her.

“I didn’t know, In-Sung. She said it was our fate, and I wanted to believe her.”

“Who, tell me who?”

The woman seemed in a trance, transfixed, muttering random explanations as if she was under hypnosis. In-Soo spoke, one could not distinguish whether it was inner reflections or if her intent was to be heard as she pursued, “I should have known, something like this couldn’t be, I should have known.”

“IN-SOO WHO,” In-Sung yelled.

In-Soo stopped, eyes like a void; she whispered, “Sa-Rang, she told me.”

For the first in his life, In-Sung was breathless; he stepped backward, gasping for air, face burning with anger and confusion. He fell against the wall and sunk to the floor as his heart failed him. At least that’s how it felt. In-Soo came and crumbled to her knees in front of him.

“I’m sorry, In-Sung, I love you. I swear my feelings are real. I gave her back all the money she gave me.”

“Money, what money?”

In-Soo remained silent as she realized her error.

“You mean she paid you? My ex-wife paid you to seduce me, and you did?”

The man barely had the time to assess that his idle was a setup that his fiancé threw another bomb. It was too much if he were another man; he would have strangled In-Soo to death with his bare hands at this moment where every screw in his brain exploded. But he was not a man of violence.

Instead, he fixed In-Soo with a gaze the woman had never encountered in his eyes, “get out.”


“You wanted to leave when I entered, ka, daga [go, get out]. Get out of my house.”

In-Sung tried to save the woman as he no longer had control over the murderous pulsions that evaded him.

In-soo Knew there was no use talking to him; neither of them was in a state to have an intelligible conversation. The woman got up, pulled her suitcase standing in front of the door, she said.


In-Soo’s words fell in closed ears; even the slamming door didn’t reach In-Sung, who remained on the floor.

The number of hours In-Sung spent in his hall was unknown, but it was 3 am that he banged on Sa-rang’s apartment door, ready for a face-off, which could be mortal.

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