Chapter 194: Chapter 194
His last question struck down my ears sharply. I closed my eyes and opened them back. The fluorescent light above my head seemed to fade and brighten again.
‘Weird,’ I said to myself. When Jooin spoke like that, the things that had happened clearly got rearranged one after another and went by my sight. My heart throbbed at the same time.
Frankly speaking, I, of course, wasn’t okay yet at all.
Just by a few weeks, the happening wouldn’t be forgotten as if nothing had happened. The wounds engraved by them were left as pale scars on my heart.
Ignoring those bruises, I raised my head to look at Jooin.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked him.
Jooin then looked as if he was smashed on the back of his head. Regardless of his reaction, I continued my words nonchalantly.
“I wasn’t trying to toss the question to you. It’s just that… I want to know how you feel right now.”
“Are you mad at me? Or are you mad at them? Which side are you? I’m just curious… that’s all.”
I wanted to hear Jooin’s response so that I could get more familiar with his character right now. He was, however, still dropping his blank gaze at me at a loss of words. He then put a faint smile. His dry flat reply went after.
“Which side am I? Well, yeah… I’m angry and annoyed at them that if I could, I want to get rid of them to somewhere else. And you…”
With a pause, Jooin heaved a short sigh.
“Mama… you scare me when you’re like that.”
I lifted my eyes and directed them on him. Jooin continued his remark yet with a feeble smile.
“For real, it’s scary. Back then, when you forgave Choi Yuri as well as this time too. If you were out of strength that you decided to endure what happened, I would’ve not been this frightening. Those who are frail would, instead, turn the guilt arrow to themselves and persuade that they deserve the pain. You, mama, however, aren’t something like that either.”
“If you asked, at least, either me or Jiho… no, not even us. If you asked Yeo Ryung or Eun Hyung, they could’ve easily changed the public opinion into something positive to you. You knew that it wasn’t a difficult thing for us to resolve the Choi Yuri incident. Mama, it’s been over three years. You’ve gone through as much as you could about what we can do and will do for you. Three-years is such enough time for you to realize that, isn’t it?”
Biting my lips tightly but not avoiding his gaze, I listened to Jooin’s words in silence.
He finally finished his remark and fetched a deep sigh. He then took a step forward me which was as close as his body casting a shadow over my face. His murmur clearly reached my ears.
“Mama wouldn’t understand a person like me, who doesn’t know what forgiveness is.”
“I tried to spread rumors about Choi Yuri to the school she transferred to, but I refused to do so because you would hate that.”
Until now, I just heard what he said with nonchalance; however, my eyes opened wide when he talked about spreading rumors about Choi Yuri. I looked up at him in surprise, and at the same time, he put a crooked smile on his face.
Our eyes met in the air. A deafening silence swept the space. None of us tried to avoid each other’s gaze. The fluorescent lamp above our heads still shed sharp light on us. Everything remained still except the speckle of dust fluttering around.
I slowly released the tension on my face. I furrowed my brows, closed my eyes, opened them, and diverted my gaze back onto Jooin, who had a straight face until then.
A tranquil bare look… what he was displaying on his appearance would be the closest to Jooin’s true nature. It was then when I fixed my stare up at him.
There was a sound suddenly ringing around our ears. Jooin, at the same time, pulled my wrist. Hiding me behind him, Jooin placed his index finger on his lips. I quietly nodded my head.
I could read his mind. If someone broke into this place, a shut-down school for over three years, we could’ve thought about the person trying to test out his or her courage; however, we weren’t just at a normal closed-down school.
A strange place that coincides with the boundary between unreality and reality… while I had that thought, Jooin made a sign with his eyes at the same time. This time, he pointed at the large lecture desk in front of the classroom. A sound of a soft footstep was getting closer from the hallway in the distance.
Dragging me quickly, Jooin walked through the desks that were scattered around out of order. As he opened the janitorial cabinet, he switched his gaze to me. Thankfully, it was empty inside. As soon as I went in, Jooin also strode inside and stood next to me. He then closed the door.
The janitorial cabinet was all the way back in the corner of the classroom. Thus, it had a wide range of views. Jooin was too tall to fully close the cabinet from inside that we could clearly see the overall scenery of the classroom through the gap.
Messy desks, collapsed chairs, and dusty blackboard with random students’ names written in uneven handwriting… It was the moment when we had those in our sights.
From a far distance, the light that we turned on in the class next door suddenly disappeared.
Someone turned the lights off. Cold sweat ran down my neck. Who on earth was turning off all the lights with a quiet footstep in this surreal place?
Would it even be a person? The moment when I rambled those thoughts, someone stepped inside the classroom. Jooin, beside me, grasped my hand tightly. I looked down at his hand involuntarily then grabbed it more firmly. My heart seemed to jump rope inside my ribcage. My vision turned so blurry that I felt like vomiting.
He was a man in a black suit; however, he only had a gray circle on the facial area instead of an actual face, which differed from a regular human being. His white hand moved to touch the wall. Having no eyes, I couldn’t assume where he was even looking at.
His hand then moved to press the switch, and at the same time, the space turned dark. Inside the classroom, nothing was visible now. His silhouette gleamed through the bluish moonlight.
The man didn’t look in this direction. As if turning the lights off was his only intention, he just left the classroom.
Clomp, clomp, clomp… the sound of his footstep receded to the place he came from. As I drew in my breath too deeply, his footsteps sounded as if he was jumping up the staircase.
‘Originally, he might be wandering around here, the second floor,’ I thought. It was still unbelievable what I just saw right now.
When I turned my head, I saw Jooin, beside me, glowing a dim light in his eyes through the bluish moonlight. I quietly pushed the cabinet door to open it and stepped outside. So did Jooin, who walked out of it after me. Sweeping his hair back, he heaved a sigh.
“Did you just see that?” I flung the question like a whisper.
“He was faceless.”
After my response, he, at last, smiled as if asking me what he saw wasn’t a trick of the moonlight. He then almost collapsed on the chair and fetched another sigh. I, at the same time, perched on the desk and drew a long breath.
Oh, it was… it was so surprising! Breathing in and out for quite a while, I finally realized I was still alive. It was then that I turned my head to look at Jooin. Unlike earlier, he didn’t display any malice on his face. He, right now, had his usual, kind and everyone’s sweetheart-like look as in the bright afternoon classroom.
Jooin then suddenly glanced at me that I struck dumb for a second. He waved his hand in the air with a smile. What he said afterward made my jaw drop in perplexity.
“No, never mind. Forget what I said earlier. It was bullshit.”
How could you say that it was just bullshit when you spoke those words in a very serious, not manipulated, sincere face without any veil of bright glow you always had?