Jeong Hui composed herself as best as she could, lifting Ji An into a sitting position, bracing her against the wall, and, while holding her, reached for a pitcher of water she kept on a shelf. She poured a bit into a glass and handed it to the girl to sip. Throughout, she spoke to her in a gentle voice, trying to soothe her and bring her back to her senses.

Once Ji An was sitting steadily by herself, supported against the wall, Jeong Hui quickly descended to the bathroom to soak a small towel in cold water. Returning, she also brought a bag of ice and a bottle of soju with glasses, thinking they might yet be of use.

Lee Ji An still sat almost motionless, but the progress was such that she began to weep softly, a sign that her emotions were finally finding their outlet, which, of course, was a good sign.

„Drink some more, dear,” she offered the water again, placing the soju and two glasses on the floor before her, hoping the alcohol might help her friend release her pain, emotions, and perhaps words. This would bring at least a small relief, for in that moment, she was a bundle of suffering.

„Thank you,” Ji An whispered almost inaudibly. „Can you tell me what happened and how serious my boss’s condition is?” she added with a trembling voice.

„I’ll tell you everything I know, but how about we take a shot of soju first? Might loosen you up a bit, huh?” She poured into both glasses and handed one to Ji An.

Ji An lifted the alcohol to her lips and drank indifferently, as if merely following her friend’s commands. Jeong Hui took the glass from her hand and refilled it.

„Don’t hold back,” she added. „It will ease a bit—go on. I’ll drink too.”

After those two shots, Jeong Hui waited a few moments for the alcohol to take effect and then began to explain to a shocked Ji An what had happened and the procedures Dong Hun had to undergo. She herself had to wipe her eyes and nose from time to time as tears flowed again, although she desperately wanted to keep her composure for Ji An’s sake.


Ji An sat still against the wall, her gaze dull but attentively listening. Not single tears but two streams flowed down her cheeks, dripping onto her knees pulled up to her chin. Suddenly, her whole body began to tremble, and then a terrible sob burst from her chest.

Jeong Hui was terrified again, for this time Ji An had fallen into another extreme and was difficult to soothe. She decided to let her cry and at least partially release the immense burden of suffering. Ji An alternately sobbed:

„I’m sorry, I wanted to call earlier, I really did, I’m sorry! Don’t die! Stay with me! What will I do without you? I’m sorry!” – and so for a long while.

Jeong Hui passed her more tissues, stroking her head, her back, shedding many tears herself.

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