HEART LIES

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WARNING SIGNS

Her legs no longer trembled on her heels as Sonmi entered the office, nor did she blush when she took a seat in front of Ji-Seong.

“Annyeohaseyo, Seonbae.”

Ji-Seong ushered Sonmi towards a chair and went to take a seat behind his desk, “Sonmi, how are you?”

“I’m fine, for someone walking about with metastasized cells,” the woman said with a weak smile.

Sa-rang saw right; no woman from their family escaped the mandatory passage of Cancer.

“The cells aren’t active; your state is stable.”

Ji-Seong could tell his words did no have a positive impact on the woman who gripped the handle of the handbag on her knees a little tighter, “I know, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling like a walking time bomb, I’m not even thirty, and I have this weighing on my head like a Damocles sword.”

“Sonmi, you might stay like this for years.”

“And then one day, when I’m not ready, this disease will wipe me out, let’s do it, seongsangnim [doctor/professor].”

Ji-Seong acknowledged the young woman’s determination. On this point, Sonmi resembled her mother. The only difference was unlike Sa-rang, she desired to live. Sonmi was willing to try any option which would allow her to stay alive.

Ji-Seong sat adjusted his position on his chair, “are you sure?”

“Yes, Chae Seongsaengnim, you are the surgeon I respect and trust the most. I am aware of the risks, and this seems the most effective prevention method.”

“Did you tell Jae?”

Sonmi smiled; hearing Jae’s name always had this effect on her,” he says I count more; I told him not to propose to me. That I will not be able to carry children, but he’s stubborn, you know. I feel as though he’s a collateral victim, and perhaps he’s suffering more than me. It’s hard for me to bear any longer; he deserves better. Jae deserves a healthy fiancée.”

Sonmi wiped the tears streamed down with the sleeves of her beige Burberry coat, which became dark brown as it dampened.

Ji-Seong leaned forward to hand the crying woman a tissue, “Jae loves you.”

“I don’t know why,” Sonmi wiped the tears away and pursued, “he loves me so much I don’t know how it can be possible it’s frightening sometimes, I treat him-,” she paused before continuing, “I’m more like my mother than I thought.”

“You’re her daughter, of course; you have a part of her,” Ji-Seong said.

The once fragile Sonmi was now a resourceful young graduate and fiancé, thought Ji-Seong.

Jae forced the doors to her heart, making Sonmi his. Still, a shadow loomed over their happiness.

Cancer invited itself into Sonmi’s life, but the woman anticipated and took a shocking decision. The illness had chosen her womb as an inhabitance. So Sonmi decided to remove her ovaries and kept her mind open for a breast mastectomy or any other intervention if the infected cells were to spread.

Sonmi feared losing Jae in the process. She didn’t want him to live in suffering to see her undergo massive surgery.

“Don’t shut Jae out, Sonmi. Don’t do make that mistake,” Ji Seong advised.

Sonmi stared at Ji-Seong; he was exactly how her mother predicted he would be. A talented surgeon, the worthy inheritor of the title, the hands of God.

Ji Seong was plentiful, more handsome than ever, yet one could see the sadness behind the curtains of his eyes. The man still partied but didn’t fall into excess, he spent a lot of time hiking or mountain climbing, and he traveled a lot during his free time. When at the hospital, his peers were forced to kick him out to rest the workaholic.

Of course, Ji-Seong did all these activities alone.

For a year, Nam Soo Hae tried to console him, but even she fled. Ji-Seong was too dark and lost. Attempting to save him was tiresome, but above all, Soo, Hae hated how the man ignored her. The woman was invisible; all the love she had was not enough. Even her high IQ was unable to analyze the man’s abyss. The woman did not have the man; all Soo Hae received was an empty shell, a man’s package.

Finally, Soo Hae left Korea.

Ji-Seong knew he did wrong; Soo Hae deserved someone who would give her love, affection, and attention. He was not the man of the situation.

“Are you okay, Ji-Seong seonbae? You seem far off.”

Using their names was a habit of separating the professional subjects from the conversations relating to their private lives.

“Dr. Kyeong, you’re the patient here. I see your mentor has done a good job teaching you her ways, but I’m fine.”

Not liking the turn of the discussion, Ji-Seong closed it. He preferred to keep his distance from all acts of empathy people offered. The man did not need any; he was well, at least that’s what he thought.

Ji-Seong’s priority was saving lives, now Sonmi trusted hers in his hands, and he was going to do his best as always.

A thought timidly crept into his head.

Was this what Sa-rang meant when she told him to save her?

Was this the quest and purpose Sa rang left Ji-Seong?

Was he to save Sonmi from her mother’s fate? Even if it wasn’t, this theory was what Ji-Seong was privileged to believe. The man preferred to think this, then allowing himself to imagine Hu Eun Seol, and he was connected in any way.

Sonmi was like family; after all, which happened, she stood by him, and Ji-Seong stood by her when the torrent of Jae’s grandfather blew. The older man disliked Sonmi, whose background luggage was not what he wanted for his grandson.

Divorced parents, Cancer history, Sonmi was not the ideal daughter-in-law. Arguments and threats flew everywhere, but with Hyeon Ju’s trial, the older man stepped down from his position and revised his standards as all the chaebol children’s secrets were revealed in the press.

“By the way, how is Doctor Moore?” Ji-Seong asked.

After Sa-rang’s death and the birth of her son Yoona resigned to dedicate herself to her loved ones.

Her best friend’s death gave her a great lesson. Sa-rang was a woman with ambition; she ran after different goals all her life, a family, money, and a job. Sa-rang lived by a checklist, never stepping out of line a perfect model of society, for Yoona Sa-rang only enjoyed the last to years of her life. The sickness was there, but she thrived to her heart’s content.

Yoona refused to waste time on futile things. She wished her memory to be filled with images of her family and not the diplomas which decorated her office or the sound of squeaky clogs and trolleys in the hospital’s corridors.

Life was too short, and the time to live was now. Everyone advanced by their convictions, but somehow Ji-Seong felt he was stuck in time.

“Doctor, doctor?”

“Oh, sorry, Sonmi.”

The woman slicked the left side of her hair back just as her mother did, “It’s okay; you must be tired.”

“No, I’m good.”

“Can you tell me when we can do this? I want to get this over with as quickly as possible.”

Ji-Seong linked his hands, “I want you to come to the next consultation with Jae. We’ll fix a date then.”

“Seongsangnim.”

“I told you, Jae loves you. Please don’t shut him out. Also, you need him; you can’t go through this alone, Sonmi. Everyone needs someone.”

Sonmi smiled, “tell me, Ji-Seong seonbae, who do you need?”

Ji-Seong placed his hand on his heart; he felt as though someone had hammered a nail in his heart.

Why did the woman keep redirecting the conversation?

“Eh, Sonmi, I’m not the subject here.”

“You’re wrong, Ji-Seong seonbae. You’ve always looked out for me. You’ve helped so many people in the past, and you help to cure so many patients daily. Why don’t you let us lend you a hand? You can’t go on like this; you need to let go. You need to let mom go.”

“Sonmi.”

“I know you don’t want to listen to me, and you must have heard this so many times, but you need to live, Ji-Seong seonbae. You must live for yourself. You have the right to find happiness. I’m not telling you to forget; I’m just asking you to move forward. You know as well as I do how stress and worry can also be the starting point of illness. Don’t invite death in your heart.”

In other circumstances, Ji-Seong would have laughed, hearing the lesson Sonmi gave him. Here the man couldn’t do so, for he knew she was right.

“Eh, think it’s enough for today, doctor Kyeong.”

Sonmi got up and walked to the door when suddenly she turned,” thank you, Ji-Seong seonbae, for staying with her until the very end. Mom didn’t want us to be with her; I’m glad she wasn’t alone during her last days. The other day, Dr. Moore gave me a letter. Mom told her to give her to me if and only if I had a tough decision to make. Do you know what mom wrote?”

Ji-Seong gulped, his heart pounded, afraid to hear what sort of words Sa rang left her daughter.

“Sonmi-ah, I hope the years will appease your heart. I will not ask for your forgiveness, but your resent. Resent my choice; reject the life I chose. Choose the other option, choose life, love, friendship, people. The toughest battle is life itself; don’t be a loser like me. Never give up, my child. I love you, Sonmi. She said she loved me.”

Sonmi smiled” I wish I could tell her how much I loved her.” She threw her head back to push the tears away; Sonmi sighed, “I guess I have to live to show mom I heard her last words, please do the same, Ji-Seong.”

The woman pronounced his name just as her mother did years before; the man found himself fighting tears as nostalgia-filled him.

They never spoke about Sa rang’s last days. All Sonmi and In Sung knew was that Ji Seong stayed with Sa rang until the end. Sonmi was thankful, though she didn’t understand Sa rang’s choice or her actions. The woman was glad to know her mother left in peace. And now, it was her mother’s words that gave her the courage to fight.

“Bye, Sonmi.”

“Bye, Ji-Seong seonbae.”

Warning signs, death enters by any space one leaves, sadness leading to depression, stress leading to stomach burns which merge into an ulcer, degenerated cells, and before you know it, someone is telling you that you might not be here next Christmas.

Health, both mental and physical, is essential.

Ji-Seong was left wondering which of the two between him and Sonmi just had an appointment with a doctor.

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