HEART LIES

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DR CHAE

Six years later

“Doctor Chae, it’s time.”

Ji-Seong pushed back his chair and got up.

Chae Ji-Seong was an established surgeon, handsome and cold as an iceberg. One thought twice before calling out to him for any inquiry.

Ji-Seong disliked meeting patients before operating them because it meant he kept the image of someone who might not make it out of the operating block.

But almost no one died from or in his hands since Sa-rang.

Sometimes Ji-Seong thought it was a dream; he would toss it in his bed and find the woman staring at him with loving eyes. He tried not to blink, afraid she would disappear, but once his eyes got sore, the mirage evaporated.

Sa rang’s ghost was everywhere, haunting his daily life, but it wasn’t a bother Ji-Seong appreciated having her presence shadow his existence.

For Sa rang’s aura disappearing would force him to acknowledge the fact she was gone, and even years later, the man couldn’t accept that his Sa rang, his only love was no longer of the living.

Ji-Seong couldn’t see himself with someone else, but also, he was sure he could not love again. The man imagined having invested all the sentiments he was born within his relationship with Sa-rang.

Ji-Seong’s heart was as dry as the Gobi desert.

Sa-rang’s death carved deeper into his soul. Bottomless and hollow Ji Seong was an abyss.

Though Sa-rang told him to live and love again, Ji-Seong could not obey her last wishes.

Doors, Ji-Seong, opened many, but none opened his heart, which remained under tight locks.

The music spread in all of the wings, Ji-Seong, followed the light in the corridor, which led to the patient’s room. He thrust the door and exhaled. The doctor hated VIPs and their unmeasurable egos.

Korea’s most delicate flower, those were the hospital’s chairman’s words. Hu Eun Seol, a music prodigy. The hospital board told him she was a violinist.

Ji-Seong knew the name; she had already signed the scores of many hit films and commercials at the Korean box office.

Eun Seol had her back turned to Ji-Seong, and she held her violin. Her hair swayed delicately in the wind as she played The Rosary Sonatas or mystery Sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber in front of the open window. Ji Seong couldn’t tell exactly which part of the partition Eun Seol played, but he knew who the piece was by, and that was good enough.

The doctor stood motionless, listening to the music, her music. Ji-Seong, who never slept afraid to dream spitful dreams in which Sa rang died continuously, was swept away by slumber as he stood when suddenly the music stopped.

Eun Seol turned and smiled, “I guess it’s my lucky day.”

Ji-Seong frowned, “excuse me.”

“They told me you were handsome; I didn’t expect this,” the lady replied. Her eyes shimmered; her stare seemed to peer into Ji Seong’s soul.

“Eun Seol,” said a woman sitting in a chair who Ji Seong only noticed at the instant. “Please excuse my daughter, seongsaengnim and cover yourself up, Eun Seol.”

The woman got up and put a robe on Eun Seol’s bed on the violinist’s shoulders;

“The doctor will open my thorax and change my heart. One can’t be more naked than that, eomma. I doubt that a little shoulder affects the doctor, in it seongsaengnim?” Eun Seol said as she slipped under her bed covers.

Eun Seol had a rare heart condition, and she had undergone multiple operations, yet everything which emanated from her transpired life.

Staring at her, Ji-Seong didn’t perceive the void or the bitterness which cloaked patients in despair. On the contrary, it was as though the young lady didn’t fear death.

“What is it seogsaengnim. Has the cat got your tongue?”

“Eh, no,ㅡ I,ㅡyou, asked to see me, so I’m here to explain the detail of the operation.”

Eun Seol giggled, “I don’t care about that; I don’t understand a thing to all your doctor gibberish. The only language I speak is one of the sonatas. So all I want to know is, will you save me?”

“Eun Seol-ah,” her mother yelled with a Pusan accent; she seemed kind and stressed by her daughter.

Cheeky, Eun Seol smiled, “what, eomma, it’s a simple question, okay, let me reformulate, please save me, doctor, let me live another day so that I can fall in love.”

“Eun Seol-ahㅡ, I’m sorry, doctor, this child isn’t in her right mind. She lives in a world of her own. It’s the reason why no one wants to marry her.”

“No, eomma, you are wrong; no one desires to marry a girl who lies on a death bed. So tell me, seongsaengnim, are you married?”

The uplifted tone showed Eun Seol was playing. Her smiling eyes and fluttering lashes indicated she was trying to flirt.

“Eun Seol-ahㅡ,” her mother exclaimed once more, imagining the opinion Ji Seong could have about her daughter’s education.

Ji-Seong was taken by surprise. Still, he kept his composure as he answered, “It’s okay, madam, I don’t mind the question. It isn’t a secret. No, I’m not married.”

Eun Seol, undaunted by her mother’s threats, pursued, “would you take the risk of marrying someone on the edge of life like me?”

Everything stopped, the humming of the birds, the breeze, only the tiny tick-tocking of the wall clock attested that time had not stood still.

The edge of life, such a thing didn’t exist for the man who was like Orpheus, ready to go to hell’s gate to retrieve his beloved.

“Iㅡ.”

The door opened, and a nurse peered inside the room,” seongsaengnim, you have another appointment.

Ji-Seong looked at his watch between Eun Seol’s miniature concerto and chit-chat he had accorded the woman more time than he had.

“I’m sorry, I have to go,” Ji-Seong said, embarrassed.

Eun Seol got out of bed and walked barefoot to Ji-Seong’s position; they stood face to face as she whispered, “doctor, please save me.”

It was too much for Ji-Seong, who fled, slamming the door behind him.

“Eun Seol, how could you be so rude,” Ji Seong heard her mother scold the woman, who playfully replied,” I could die tomorrow. So why forbid me to live.”

“Save me, doctor,” Eun Seol’s words echoed in every cavity of Ji Seong’s void, clashing and colliding with Sa-rang’s last words.

Was she the one?

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