“Hey Dr. Jo.”
Come to my house tomorrow night…
“Dr.Jo?” The nurse gently patted on Jo Kwon’s shoulder.
“This is the patient’s file that you asked for.” The nurse placed the file in front of him.
“Ahh..thanks a lot.” Jo Kwon randomly flipped through the file.
“Dr. Jo, are you alright?” Her voice was full of concern. She has been working for Jo Kwon for the past three years. Jo Kwon is just like his younger brother.
“Nothing. I am just thinking about a patient.”
“I see. If there’s nothing else, I’ll go and finish up my work.” She turned around and was going to leave the room when Jo Kwon called her again.
“Hey noona…“ Jo Kwon has been bottling up a question that has been bothering him since morning.
“Since you are married..I want to ask you a question. D-Do you have very close male friends?”
“Very close male friends? I have a few male friends but not close though… My husband can get very jealous at this matter.” The nurse chuckled.
“So, it’s kind of clear that it’s inappropriate to have close friendship with opposite sex when you are married?”
“Of course…I don’t believe that there exist normal close friendship between man and woman. Even there is, I bet something must be going on between the two.”
“Ahh…Thanks for the advice, noona.” Jo Kwon replied with a smile.
“Something’s fishy…Is it about Lizzy? She’s getting popular in the office is it?” The nurse walked nearer to Jo Kwon.
“Nothing of that sort, noona. Really.” Jo Kwon’s voice was filled with anxiety.
“Alright alright. I am just joking. Don’t need to get so tensed up.” The nurse smiled and walked out of the room, leaving Jo Kwon ponder more about his problem.
He knew there’s nothing wrong going over to a friend’s house but some part of him felt like it was wrong - because it doesn’t sound appropriate for a man who is going to be someone else’s husband visiting another woman whom he barely knows at night. Though he might just be going there to have a cup of tea and say a thank you but still...
Like what his noona nurse just said, getting involved in this kind of thing might jeopardize his marriage between Lizzy. All he wanted was a stable family and focus mainly on his career.
He brushed off that thought and focus back to his work. He spent the rest of the day treating his patients with full attention.
Soon, it was time to close the clinic for the day. When he was about to leave the clinic, Ga In’s invitation hit his mind again. Once again he hesitated. This morning he has decided to ignore her invitation but the little part in him wants to make that trip despite making him feel guilty.
Going there wouldn’t hurt right?
He paced around the road below her apartment. He looked at the wristwatch on his right hand. It was 8 o’clock and it was time for dinner back at home. He heaved a sigh and called back.
“Omma, I would be late home tonight. Tell Lizzy not to wait. Start the dinner without me.”
“O-Okay, busy at work?”
“I..I am meeting up some college friends for a drink.”
“Ahh..with Seul Ong and the gang?”
“Seul Ong? Ah…Yes w-with them.”
“Alright, don’t drink too much.”
Jo Kwon ended the call and looked upwards to her apartment.
She helped me. So I return the favour. It’s just that simple. Why are you thinking so much?
He pressed the lift button to go up her house. Nervously he walked up to her front door and knocked gently.
After a while, the door opened and the owner stood there wearing an oversized top with no bottom and an apron strapped around her waist.
“You are here. Come in.” She said with a smile. She opened the door wider to let the guest in.
“Y-You have been waiting?” Jo Kwon stepped slowly into the house.
He looked around the apartment. The wall was finely decorated with flower paintings. Small pots of flowers filled the floor along the wall. The apartment looked very cozy with a dimmed yellow standing lamp beside the couch.
He walked more and turned to his right and saw a bar with all kinds of wine behind the bar. There was even a bar and a wine refrigerator. He stood there amused with the scene in front of him - it does not fit the norm of a single lady’s home.
“You want a drink?” Ga In noticed Jo Kwon looking through the bar in her house.
“N-no... So, h-how do I repay your favour?” He looked at her curiously.
“Come here.” Ga In stepped forward and guided him to the dining table. She made him sit down on the dining chair and she occupied the chair beside him.
In front of Jo Kwon was a spread of local cuisine. The food looks appetizing and made Jo Kwon stomach grumbled.
Hearing the loud grumbling, Ga In can’t hide her laugh and laugh out loud. Jo Kwon looked away to hide his embarrassment.
“Tuck in.” Ga In stuffed the chopsticks into Jo Kwon’s hand.
“Eat the food to return your favour?” Jo Kwon’s eyes widened.
“There you go.”
“Thanks.” Jo Kwon took the glass of Gainism from Ga In’s hand. Both sat together on the couch in the living room. The duo sat there for a good ten minutes before Ga In finally talked.
“Thanks for coming over.”
“…I-I should be the one thanking. The dinner was delicious. Taste like my mum’s.”
“Does your fiancée cook?” Ga In asked suddenly.
“Lizzy? Sadly, she doesn’t cook…She’s too busy to get herself in the kitchen...” Jo Kwon voice trailed off as he swirl the glass in his hand.
“You sound disappointed.”
“Let’s not talk about me…Why are you living alone?”
“I am sorry if I’ve just asked a sensitive question. It’s okay if you don’t wish to talk about it.”
“I came from a broken family. My father was always drunk and he rarely comes home. He comes home only when his money depleted. He would ask money from my mother who was critically ill. If he doesn’t get any money he would beat up my mother. I grew up watching my mother beaten up by my father. I hate him. I detest him to the core.” Ga In was clenching her fist tightly all the while telling about her dark past.
Jo Kwon could feel her pain when he saw the tears forming at the end of her mono-lid eyes. Jo Kwon scooted closer and gently patted on her back.
“It’s alright… It’s over… Aren’t you are doing very well now?” His voice was soft and warm, full of concern.
“I’ll never forgive him. That man caused my mum’s death.” Ga In continued. She wiped off the tears that were flowing down her white cheek.
It has been a long time since she broke down in front of people. The last time she cried her hearts out was when she told her stories to Changmin.
“Where’s your dad now?” Jo Kwon asked softly.
“Police found his body behind the alley three years ago.”
“…I-I am sorry to hear that.” Jo Kwon heart aches when he thinks about Ga In’s life having to face all these hardship alone. He was glad that his parents were loving and he had a happy family.
“Hush…Don’t cry anymore.” Jo Kwon brought her head to his shoulder and lent her his shoulder to cry on. Jo Kwon gently brushes her hair as she weeps on his shoulder.
Both stayed there in that position for awhile till Ga In fell asleep on his shoulder. Jo Kwon didn’t nudged a bit; afraid that would wake Ga In up. Unconsciously, Jo Kwon found himself wiping the dried up tears of her cheek.
You seem so strong but you are actually so vulnerable. Would there be anyone wiping your tears away in the future?
Soon, an hour passed and finally Ga In woke up from her sleep. She looked up from her position and saw Jo Kwon sleeping too. Her eyes trailed from his brown eyebrow, to his nose and finally to his lips.
Why do you have to belong to someone else?
Suddenly, Jo Kwon nudged a bit and Ga In quickly placed her head back to his shoulders; enjoying every last bit of it.
Jo Kwon woke up and finds Ga In sleeping soundly on his chest. He looked at his watch and it was nearly midnight. He gasped and gently shook Ga In up. Ga In woke up looking shock and embarrassed.
“S-Sorry. I dozed off. I-I am sorry that I wet your shirt with my tears.”
“It’s alright. I slept too. It must be the cocktail. But…it’s kind of late right now. I- I need to go back. My parents and Lizzy would be worried about me.”
The mention of Lizzy’s name brought Ga In back to reality. Jo Kwon belonged to Lizzy and now she is actually sleeping on someone else’s husband’s shoulder.
“Sorry that I made you stay so late.”
“It’s okay. I came here to return your favour.” Jo Kwon stood up from the couch and adjusted his clothing. He walked over to the dining tables and get his coat. Ga In followed Jo Kwon to the front door before calling him out.
“Yes?” Jo Kwon stopped his track and turned around.
“Thanks for keeping me company on my birthday. It was the best birthday I had.”