This is an excellent place to die.
Sa-rang’s thoughts swayed like the ocean in front of her.
The woman had no more strength, she held, fighting off the sickness with her mind.
Sa-rang had not let go, but the disease claimed most of her.
What she dreaded was happening; Sa-rang was living in an instant that people struggled with for years.
The woman knew death delayed its visit, for she was too aware. The element of surprise was absent, and so Sa-rang was a living soul in a dead body.
She thought no more of her present life but of the limbo which laid behind her.
Sa-rang wondered if there was an afterlife.
Would she meet her mother and grandmother?
Or would she be reincarnated?
If she could, she wished to be a lotus flower or Sonmi’s child.
Perhaps she would be a better daughter than she was a mother.
Sa-rang wished to live again, but having been selfish all her life, she would feel lucky to be a silkworm in the next.
Perhaps even a silkworm was above her league now.
Whatever, it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except the fact that she had no force in her legs to walk back to her house.
Never did 500 meters seem so far; in moments like this, she wished a handsome man would pick her up and carry her away from tragedy. Like in the movies, he would kiss her, she would heal, and they would live happily and forever after.
No such thing was going to happen. No, she was going to die alone. This was what Sa-rang desired and worked to gain. How come she had childish thoughts about a saver, a prince, or a knight.
She chased away everyone. Still, she expected.
Because blood still rushed through her veins, and her heart still beat 60-80bpm.
The sunset, Sa-rang, watched the passers-by. Families, couples, joggers, time was still running clockwise while her clock slowed down.
A silhouette walking in her direction caught her attention. Dressed in black, it approached.
Had the time come?
Was she really to die on the beach?
The reaper’s figure grew taller. Sa-rang’s eyes narrowed to see clearer. Death was more appealing than she imagined. Sa-rang’s heartbeat began to rise as the sand shifted with each step, which led the stranger to her.
Not one night she hadn’t dreamt of him, the man haunted her. Every time she closed her eyes, Ji-Seong was there. Even now, as she blinked, the vision of him didn’t disappear. Instead, it intensified.
It was his voice; even his scent was in the air.
Death was crueler than she thought. How dare he play with her last sentiments.
“I’m so tired,” Sa-rang whispered.
Without a word, Ji-Seong lifted her and carried her back to her house.
Sa-rang wasn’t difficult to find on the island; everyone knew her.
There too, the professor was a superstar, Ji- Seong found out more about Sa rang from the locals who indicated the way to her house than at the hospital.
The locals talked about how she used to go there with her husband, then with Sonmi, and finally how she traveled alone sometimes. It seemed Sa-rang began to leave her family behind long before her illness.
For everyone, the message was clear, Sa rang needed no one, but here the woman clung to the man as though he were a lifeboat.
The door of the house was open; from inside, one had a beautiful view of the sea.
Not knowing where Sa-rang’s room was, Ji-Seong laid the woman on her couch.
Now he took a good look at her, and it was a shocking sight.
How could someone lose so much weight in such a short time?
Though the man had seen the state more than once, it was still something he couldn’t bear. This couldn’t be happening, not to her, not to his Sa- rang.
Ji-Seong promised to stay with her until the end, but was he strong enough to go through the ordeal?
As his gaze swept over Sa-rang, who heaved as though she had run a mile chased by a pit bull, Ji-Seong wondered if he would make it.
Finding Sa-rang filled the void in his heart; losing her would probably destroy him.
At this instant, the man found himself unable to breathe as he realized what was at stake and what he was about to inflict himself. Once more, he was to be the witness of someone’s end. If the first time he had no choice, here, Ji-Seong chose to be present.
“Ji-Seong-ah, waé[why], otoké[how]?”
“Ssh, don’t speak, rest,” the man said as he took strands of Sa-rang’s hair away from her face to tuck them behind her ears.
“Ji-Seong, I told youㅡ.”
“You can say what you like. I’m not going anywhere.”
The woman shook her head, “I don’t want you here.”
“I won’t leave.”
“I’llㅡI’ll call the police.”
Sa-rang’s eyes swept the room, and she saw where her phone was. The coffee table appeared to be in another country from where she was.
Her body held no power; it was a weird sensation; she couldn’t feel her limbs.
It was as though she only had her head, and even that wasn’t easy to control.
Sa-rang fixed Ji-Seong, she didn’t want to accept his presence, yet some cells in her mind hopped with euphoria.
Death was handsome if only people knew, Sa-rang thought.
“Do you want something to drink, doㅡ?”
“No, I just want you to leave, ka [go].”
Sa-rang tried to use her general tone of authority, but breathless, her threats sounded hollow and without effect.
“Never, never, you hear me, Sa rang.”
“Look at me, Ji-Seong; it makes no sense.”
“Being with you is the only thing that makes sense to me.”
“Why, Ji-Seong, why are you hanging on? It’s over. I won’t heal; you can’t do anythingㅡ.”
“I’ve been unconsciously in love with you all my life; I searched for you. Now that I’m consciously aware of my feelings and that you are no longer the woman of my dreams but my reality. I can’t walk away from you; I just can’t. I love you, Lee Sa-rang, and if you ask me, I will go with you.”
Ji-Seong didn’t notice the tears which slalomed down his cheek and dotted the floor; all he saw were Sa-rang’s.
The woman couldn’t hold back her grief; she did everything to push Ji-Seong away. Young, handsome, and intelligent, the man had his whole life ahead of him while hers was coming to a stop.
Sweet words, Ji-Seong was full of them, but Sa rang wished to live for the man who stood willing to die for her for the first time.
“Ji-Seong, I’m scared; I don’t want to die.”