When Lee Ji An arrived at Jeong Hui’s restaurant, it was yet to open its doors to the clientele, but the entrance, as always, remained invitingly ajar. She stepped inside. Unnie was nowhere to be seen downstairs. Thus, she called out, announcing her arrival, and when no reply came, she ascended the stairs with a tentative step to the familiar room above. There, she knocked and waited. From behind the door, a soft sobbing could be heard. She knocked again and gently pushed the door open.

„Unnie, it’s me, Lee Ji An. Are you there?” Yet, even as she inquired, she knew the answer. Jeong Hui was huddled against the wall, tears streaming down her face, oblivious to the presence of her visitor.

„Unnie! What’s happened?” she whispered, approaching her weeping friend. „Why are you crying?”

It was only when she was gently touched that Jeong Hui realized she wasn’t alone. Looking up at Ji An, her eyes were visibly red and swollen from prolonged crying. She attempted a smile for her guest, but it twisted into a grimace that bore no resemblance to her usual expression.

„Oh, Ji An, you came?” she asked in a whisper, grasping her hand.

„I’m here, Unnie. What’s wrong? Why are you crying? Has someone hurt you?” For a moment, Ji An thought these tears were again for Jeong Hui’s old flame, but she was quickly corrected.

„Ji An…” Jeong Hui looked earnestly at her young friend, whom she’d long known to love Park Dong Hun with a pure and powerless affection. „My dear Ji An… How do I say this?” She tightened her grip on the hand she held.

At that moment, Lee Ji An realized something truly dreadful was afoot. The air was thick with too many coincidences. Her legs felt weak, yet she bravely pressed for answers.

„Unnie, please tell me quickly what’s happened. I can’t bear this tension any longer. I came here for this reason. I can’t reach Park Dong Hun. We had plans, but he didn’t show. He’s not reading messages, and his phone signals he’s out of range. What’s happening, tell me quick!” By the end, her voice was no longer soft and gentle, but filled with panic and volume.

„Sit beside me, dear, I’ll tell you everything. Sit down.” Jeong Hui patted the floor next to her, sobered by the thought of having to deliver such tragic news to this poor girl, knowing it would be a tremendous shock. She wished to convey it as gently as possible, but that was no simple task.

Ji An sat, or rather slumped to the floor against the wall, her body tense in anticipation of something terrible.

„Tell me,” she said, her voice unrecognizable as fear constricted her throat.

„Our Park Dong Hun has had an accident. He’s alive! Alive!” she added hastily, feeling Ji An stiffen at the news. „He underwent a serious operation, which was successful, but he’s in critical condition. It’s still uncertain what will happen next…” she paused as Ji An curled into a ball, seemingly unable to breathe from the pain.

„Ji An… he’s alive… and he will surely live… it will be alright… you’ll see,” she struggled to find words of comfort and strength, for the girl seemed utterly numb and absent. She couldn’t even cry out her pain.

Turning to her, forgetting her own sorrow and tears, she embraced her. Stroking her head, she reassured that all would be well. Yet, Ji An was unresponsive. As if her soul had fled her body, leaving it empty and lifeless. Jeong Hui was terrified. It dawned on her that Ji An was in profound shock and she needed to call for help. Her first, instinctive thought was to call… Dong Hun. Then his mother, then one of his brothers. But likely, they were all at the hospital beside poor Dong Hun’s bed. She realized there was no one she could call for assistance…


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