As you can see, our Dong Hoon is getting better by the day. Were it not for the wounds and bandages to which he is still consigned, he would likely have schemed to leave the hospital by now. However, the loss of skin and the time required for healing, along with the impending grafts and plastic surgeries, effectively kept him confined to this room. He implored all his caretakers to cease their round-the-clock vigilance, asserting that he was no longer in danger and that they had plenty of other work to attend to. Yet, no one was willing to heed his requests. And so, the shift schedule, albeit slightly adjusted from time to time, remained in effect.

Tonight, his mother appeared. Naturally, she brought with her bags of food for him and those on duty. After unpacking everything and arranging some in the refrigerator, she sat by him and, stroking his arm, she said:

„When you’re hungry, just tell me. I’ve made various dishes that you’re now allowed to swallow. Arrasso?” she asked firmly.

„Arrasso, omma!” he murmured in quiet agreement, squeezing her hand.

„Oh, my son, how glad I am that you can talk a bit now, that you can move your arms.”

Dong Hoon wanted to smile at her, but the area around his mouth was still sore, and instead of his once charming smile, a strange grimace appeared, partly obscured by bandages. But his mother noticed it nonetheless. She stood up and gently stroked his bandaged cheeks before sitting down again. She noticed he seemed sleepy, so she remained quiet. After a moment, she stood up, turned off the overhead light, leaving only two small lamps on by the bed and the sofa. She adjusted Dong Hoon’s bedding and arranged things on the cabinet. She noticed he had pulled out his phone from the drawer and kept it on top, which pleased her as it signaled improving conditions. A few minutes later, she heard his steady breathing, so she moved away and sat down on the sofa. Exhausted, she drifted in and out of sleep but chose not to lie down, instead covering herself with a blanket and remaining seated.

At one point, she awoke to find Dong Hoon tossing and turning as if troubled by something.

„Poor thing,” she thought, „he must be having nightmares.” She fully woke up and watched him, ready to call for help if it seemed necessary.

However, Dong Hoon soon settled down but began to mutter in his sleep. His mother approached, thinking he might want to say something, but saw that he was still asleep.

„Ji An…” she heard an unfamiliar name, „Ji An… I’m sorry… I couldn’t come… don’t be angry,” he was evidently speaking to some woman.

She sat back at his bedside, somewhat startled by his restless sleep.

„You look so lovely now… Dong Hoon,” he continued his conversation with someone entirely unknown to her, „how beautifully you can smile… You’re finally happy, Ji An,” he repeated the name. His mother was so surprised that all her fatigue and sleepiness vanished. She listened to her son as if he were a stranger, someone she barely knew.

Dong Hoon eventually stopped talking in his sleep and rested peacefully until morning. When he woke up, his mother was bustling around the refrigerator, pondering what to offer him for breakfast. She did not mention his nighttime ramblings, but she planned to ask his brothers about this Ji An at the next opportunity. Her intuition suggested this was not just an insignificant dream.

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