The news of Park Dong Hoon’s accident spread through Hoogye with the swiftness of lightning. Every acquaintance from the football club and school expressed a desire to visit him in the hospital, but Jeong Hui, around whom they usually congregated, advised sending only three delegates.

„Dong Hoon is in a medically induced coma, so you won’t be able to talk to him anyway,” she explained patiently to each new arrival. „Besides, visitation is limited since he’s in intensive care, where only immediate family is allowed,” she continued. „Buy some flowers and something nice for his mother and brothers, who are vigilantly keeping watch. Assure them that all of Hoogye stands with them in this sorrowful time. For now, that will suffice,” she concluded with a firm voice.

The group deliberated who should make the hospital visit. While everyone was eager, they eventually chose the first delegation to visit Dong Hoon the following day. Then, as was their custom, they drank and the room filled with noise.

Jeong Hui slipped away for a moment to her room upstairs. She wanted to check on Ji An, as she hadn’t allowed her to go home alone. They had agreed to go to the hospital together the next day, after stopping by Ji An’s place so she could freshen up and change. Jeong Hui had taken a few days off work over the phone, so she needn’t worry about that. She had prepared a bed for her friend, placed some light food and a drink on the nightstand, and checked on her periodically, just like now.

This time, she found Ji An nearly calmed. She was lying on her side, though not asleep.

„Do you need anything?” Jeong Hui inquired.

„No, thank you,” came the soft reply.

„Does the noise from downstairs bother you?”

„Mm,” Ji An negated.

„That’s good because, imagine this, the whole gang from Hoogye wanted to crash Dong Hoon’s place tomorrow—all at once,” Jeong Hui aimed to lighten the mood with a more casual conversation, „but I talked them out of it. They agreed to send just three of their number.”


„I’ll find out when they’re going, and we can head there after, to avoid the crowd, alright?”

„Yes, unnie. Let’s do that…”

„I’ll head back downstairs then, they’ll be looking for me soon,” she gently closed the door and returned to her guests below.

Left alone, Ji An began to cry again. How much she would give just to hear his breath and the beat of his heart… She would be much calmer then. Instead, she feared a phone call might come at any moment with… no, she didn’t even want to think about it. And the tears flowed anew. Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, all converging on the regret of wasted time when she could have been in contact with him, talking over the phone, exchanging texts, emailing. Yet, she had decided to respect Park Dong Hoon’s decision to maintain his marriage and family, unwilling to forcefully continue their acquaintance, despite the pain and longing it cost her.

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