Book Reader (Part 1)

.

.

” Woohyun-ah, why are you being like this? Eung? ”

.

.

His mom looked down with a disappointed expression at Woohyun who was laying in bed. He didn’t even act like he heard her and was laying with his back to her. His mom let out a sigh seeing him like this and just went out. At those footsteps, Woohyun just wanted to fall asleep and he closed his eyes.

.

He was born into a family that everyone envied. Mom, dad, and hyung. His relationship with his brother was deep. Woohyun never had to worry about money and his parents always allowed him to do anything he wanted. And in those days, he wanted to be a proud son under them.

.

That peaceful world of mine flipped over in just one day.

.

Like always, I returned home and grabbed the doorknob to greet my parents when I heard them talking on the other side of the door.

.

.

The unintentional eavesdropping of their conversation made Woohyun freeze in place. Woohyun’s adoption story.

.

At the unbelievable truth, I searched all over the house when they were out. And when I finally found my adoption papers, I just dropped to the floor and despaired. The unspeakable feelings spread all over my body.

Endless feelings of disbelief. Something I thought I was far away from– the main character of a story I only heard in dramas was actually me.

Woohyun jotted down the address and phone number of the adoption center in his notepad and put back the papers in its place.

I wish this was all a dream. Until I certainly confirm it, I wanted to reject it all. And a few days later, I found that adoption center. I hesitated outside the center for about an hour before making up my mind and asking.

I…. want to check something. The advising noona explained very nicely to Woohyun of every single thing, but for Woohyun, that kindness came as knives to him. I wanted to hear it wasn’t true even if it was a lie.

.

.

– Ah, here it is. Infant Nam Woohyun. Ah, you’re an adult now….Sorry.

– This…. is this correct?

– Did you come here without knowing?

.

.

Oh no, the worker’s face read. Woohyun’s hand that held the papers trembled as he scanned the pages. At that moment, Woohyun felt like he was born again– Not like a dream-filled 20-year-old college student trying to live kindly or perfectly, but as someone that was the blood of a person he had never seen before and was forced to live a false life all this time….

He thought he knew himself better than anyone else, but the fact that the person most clueless was Woohyun himself… it was a shock. And the additional shock that he had been lied to until this time brought forth an unexplainable flood of betrayal.

.

.

…… My heart disappeared.

.

.

.

Book Reader

.

.

.

.

.

Woohyun continued a directionless life. First, he stopped going to school of which he once attended regularly, and he enjoyed roaming around drunk. He realized a person could be destroyed this much.

Even as his parents saw him like that, they must’ve received a call from the adoption center and couldn’t really say anything. Starting from some time, a chilly breeze flew over the house and the secret that was no longer a secret became a taboo.

The person most upset about Woohyun’s changed personality was his mother. Every time he saw his mother’s slouched backside Woohyun’s heart throbbed, but he couldn’t help this rebellious feeling. No one seemed to be able to stop Woohyun now.

.

.

.

He sat alone by himself in a café and fumbled with a piece of paper he had taken out from his wallet. The address to his birth parents that he got from the adoption center. The rage of why did they abandon me and a wave of longing deep inside his heart made him want to go look for them some time, but that determination wasn’t easy to make. Shaking his head from side to side, he sighed and pushed the piece of paper back into his wallet.

.

.

” Nam-goon, what do you think you’re doing nowadays. ”

.

.

The face of Dongwoo who had placed his backpack on the table looked pretty mad. Woohyun tried his best to ignore his glare and replied back. How’ve you been? Dongwoo did not answer. The uncomfortable silence wrapped around the two.

This was why I ignored Dongwoo’s calls for so long. Woohyun let out a regretful sigh.

What are you going to do about your graduation. Do you know how many people are worried about you? Woohyun couldn’t say anything at Dongwoo’s questions and just fumbled with the Americano in his hands. Dongwoo seemed frustrated as he tapped on Woohyun’s arm to get him to look up. But at Woohyun’s unchanging behavior, Dongwoo kicked a couple of times at the ground.

.

.

” You can’t be like this thinking of the parents that raised you up till now. ”

.

.

It wasn’t like Woohyun didn’t know that. As I was growing up, I never felt like I was an adopted child. I knew this was all disrespectful behaviors but I couldn’t stop. A situation where himself didn’t know anything about him…. He was in a state of panic.

Dongwoo couldn’t do anything but watch Woohyun being like this. Woohyun was so smart that he swept clean of all scholarships and because he was raised in such a nice household, he was full of manners and was popular. He was an envious and an encouraging friend. And seeing his friend getting slowly ruined made Dongwoo burn with despair. He snatched Woohyun’s ice Americano from him and chugged it all down before continuing his words.

.

.

” You can’t be like this. Think of my friendship with you and do as I tell you just this once. ”

” …… ”

” Promise? You need to get your head straight. ”

.

.

Dongwoo threw the empty coffee cup at Woohyun’s chest. Woohyun looked at the cup that rolled on the floor after hitting his chest, and helplessly nodded.  The unbearable pressure was holding Woohyun’s shoulders down. He still couldn’t take his eyes off of the cup on the floor.

.

.

Rolling away it goes….

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

” Sunggyu-goon. Why are you in such a hurry today? ”

.

.

The doctor looked at Sunggyu hurrying to gather his clothes after the check up and asked. A calm female doctor. Sunggyu turned his head to the direction of the voice and smiled as he answered. A guest is coming today.

A guest? At the surprised voice that asked, Sunggyu replied with his signature friendly voice and continued. A volunteer is coming today. Someone that reads books, something like that. It’s almost time, I have to go quickly.

Sunggyu slowly gathering his things. The doctor put away her sympathetic expression and looked at Sunggyu. Only after patting his way a couple of times with his hands, he was finally able to find the door and bowed 90 degrees. At that, the doctor smiled awkwardly again and greeted back.

.

.

Sunggyu couldn’t see.

He had lost his sight when he was young due to his abusive parents but he never downgraded his own life or blamed others. He lived in a room and worked in a Welfare Center, both of which his sister got for him, but he was just happy that he could still do something without the help of others.

Reversely, the ones that really pitied him were the people around him that knew of his heart. Sunggyu didn’t resent his blind eyes. But because of being blind, if he didn’t pay attention for one second and moved one more step than needed, he would get lost– or, get in an accident like he did a couple of days ago.

Thanks to that accident, Sunggyu received several wounds and was getting treatment in the hospital and recovering at home. Sunggyu walked with caution not to get into another accident and retraced his memory.

Three steps from here, until I can hear the store music from here.

If he arrived home like this, he would crash due to mental tiredness. But since a guest was coming today, he diligently prepared to greet the guest. His heart beamed with anticipation even as he was moping the floor. I wish it was a kind person.

Today, out of the crevasses of the single-room compartment, a rare hum of a tune came flowing out.

.

.

.

Following that tune to the other side of the building, Woohyun was standing with a piece of paper looking despaired.

It was a first time being in such a run-down neighborhood. Together with the thought of what kind of people lives in this place, he hated himself standing here. He regretted not turning down the volunteer work of reading books.

He tousled roughly at his hair. The alleyways were like a maze twisting and turning every which way, so Woohyun was lost in the same spot for the past 30 minutes.

A rough terrain. He had specifically heard that a blind person lived here but seeing the ground that showed no mercy, he was quite impressed of whoever it was. After getting lost a few more times, Woohyun worked up a competitiveness and began searching everywhere for the right house.

Finally after going up the narrow and uneven stairs, he was able to recollect his breath in front of a semi-transparent glass door that was close to breaking down. And he stopped the hands that were about to knock on the door.

He thought about just heading back, but he remembered Dongwoo’s face, his brother’s face, and the parents that had raised him. After a short sigh, Woohyun’s hand touched the semi-transparent door three times. Knock knock knock. There were scurrying noises on the other side, then the door opened and a pale face showed.

.

.

” You’re the sunsaengnim that reads books, right? ”

” Ah, yes. ”

.

.

At the face that looked quite normal than what he had expected, Woohyun was surprised and ended up stuttering a little. And two awkward dry coughs afterwards. Sunggyu smiled. He moved to the side to let Woohyun in. Woohyun passed by him and let his body enter the small single-room.

A chilly breeze that entered in the month of March, and worn-out furnitures. I guess no fancy furniture is needed for a person that can’t see, he thought, as this scene aroused a sympathetic feeling.

Please sit wherever you’re comfortable. It was like Sunggyu could see Woohyun standing awkwardly in the middle of the room as he said so. Woohyun quickly sat down. And he looked at Sunggyu’s backside, who was moving busily in front of a creaking sink.

.

An awkward silence flowed. But Sunggyu’s backside looked happy for some reason and seemed like he was smiling happily. Woohyun just fumbled with the book he had brought. He figured it would be too much on the reader and the listener to have a long book, so he had picked up any prose that was long past its published date.

A book that he himself didn’t read yet. When he actually came here, he worried if he had chosen the right book. He was flipping through the pages when Sunggyu carried a steaming mug with a missing cap and a plate of fruits, then sat next to Woohyun.

.

.

” Excuse me? ”

” Yes? ”

.

.

Ah, there you are. Sunggyu pushed the mug forward to the sound of his voice. A coffee-mix coffee. And he began cutting the fruit with unpracticed hands.

Seeing him living such a diligent life, Woohyun’s mind was moved more than he could feel. In the middle of silence, the sound of cutting fruit was louder than usual. Woohyun looked carefully at Sunggyu’s face.

The eyes were ones that could not see, but he felt like they were focusing hard on something. Looking even closer, he saw a few scars due to accidents. On the wrist that held the knife, there were various wounds. But Sunggyu was smiling like he didn’t think of it much. How would it feel to live like this. If I were this person, would I be able to smile and live like this?

.

.

” Do you do these kinds of volunteer work often? ”

.

.

At Sunggyu’s question that came out without warning, Woohyun became surprised from examining him and flinched back before answering.

” No, this is my first time. ”

.

.

I placed my gaze on the ceiling for no reason. There were no bulbs in the lights. That made me feel bitter once again.

Sunggyu cut the fruit and placed them on the plate as he smiled sheepishly. It’s awkward isn’t it? It’s a first time for me too so it’s really awkward. At those words, Woohyun showed a small grin. Me too.

Afterwards, they did a small introduction. Kim Sunggyu, 24 years old. Nam Woohyun, 23 years old, college student. And Woohyun took a sip of the coffee. At that sound, Sunggyu let out a small laugh. Woohyun raised one of his eyebrows.

.

He started noticing Sunggyu who reacted to every little sound of his.

.

.

” Oh right, I should read the book to you. ”

” Take your time. ”

” I don’t think I can read it when the sun goes down. ”

” What? ”

” Um…… there seem to be no bulbs…… ”

” Oh! Right. ”

.

.

Ah, I forgot that there aren’t any lights. I’m sorry. Sunggyu’s face soon turned sad. His face obviously showed his feelings clearly. Since he couldn’t see other people’s faces when he conversed with them, Sunggyu seem to show every emotion as it was.

It’s okay. Should I read now? Sunggyu excited mind showed very clearly. Woohyun smiled softly seeing that face. This is a prose to Indonesia, so the words are separated like a poem. The title of the prose is 「 It was pouring rain 」.

After a short explanation, he placed the book on top of his lap and began reading after taking two long breaths.

.

.

” The train going from Delhi to Varanasi continued to go and stop till midnight. The rain that poured down all through the night did not think about stopping. ”

” …….. ”

.

.

Woohyun glanced at Sunggyu to the side. Sunggyu seemed to be trying to look at Woohyun’s eyes by following his voice and was actively listening with a serious face. Woohyun smiled seeing him like this and resumed reading the book.

.

He felt sorry that the book was mostly pictures. For that reason, Woohyun paused from time to time to explain the pictures to him. Sunggyu listened very carefully with a ready face in case he might miss anything that Woohyun said, and him being like this felt so new to Woohyun.

.

.

I lived a false life and I trembled at the betrayal thinking that everyone had lied to me.

.

But Woohyun looking at Sunggyu, who received a stranger so innocently yet so seriously, was different from himself. In this moment, he felt like he had become a special existence to Sunggyu.

.

.

Sunggyu’s ears seemed to be twitching as he listened. Woohyun’s voice was awkward reading at first, but his voice started to enjoy this after a while. When it got to a conversational part, Woohyun’s voice would slightly change, and every time he did so, Sunggyu laughed like he was having fun. And with that reaction, Woohyun gained even more strength.

.

.

.

……….

……….

.

.

.

The sun started to set. As I looked at the setting sun, I felt disappointed.

How much time passed by? Sunggyu felt disappointed by the passing time, too. He had longed for a warmth of a person and had a feeling that this person had a kind heart that he felt the time was passing by too quickly.

At Sunggyu’s question, Woohyun looked down at his wrist. I should get going now. Woohyun dusted his butt as he stood up. At that sound, Sunggyu stood up together.

Air full of slight lingers. Because of this lingering in the air, both of them did not know this about each other but…. Woohyun was getting cured by Sunggyu, and Sunggyu was getting cured by Woohyun.

.

.

” I’ll come back on Wednesday. ”

.

.

At Woohyun’s words, Sunggyu said, Okay, and quickly nodded his head up and down. Woohyun headed out, and Sunggyu followed from behind him and went out till the front door.

The fresh outside air could be felt. Woohyun breathed in deeply once and twice. At that sound, Sunggyu thought that Woohyun must’ve been tired and smiled shyly. You’re tired, right?

Woohyun quickly looked at Sunggyu and yelled, No! No! They both awkwardly smiled. Woohyun again said, I’ll get going. Sunggyu nodded and replied back, Okay, see you next time.

.

.

Woohyun began descending the uneven, crooked, and narrow cement stairs again. He felt like this neighborhood reflected his own life right now. As time approached for Woohyun to return home again, the recent comfiness completely disappeared and he felt like he had stepped into reality again.

.

.

I don’t have a dream.

I don’t have a hope.

I don’t have a …..hear..t….

.

.

Right then, when Woohyun was moving his steps while lost in deep thought, Sunggyu’s urgent voice was heard from behind him.

.

.

” Woohyun-sshi! ”

” …… Yes? ”

.

.

Sunggyu was recollecting his breath as he looked around, then fixed his eyes to the direction of Woohyun’s voice. Wiping the sweat that broke out on his forehead, Sunggyu smiled happily.

Sunggyu unconsciously tried to meet eyes with Woohyun out of habit, and Woohyun walked over and leveled eyes without Sunggyu knowing.

.

The moment their eyes met, Woohyun felt a strange feeling rising from his chest. He felt like Sunggyu’s eyes were really, truly, looking through him.

.

.

” Woohyun-sshi. I know you’re going and I’m sorry. But there’s something I didn’t hear. ”

” …..? ”

” Um…. What’s the title of the book you read to me? ”

” Sorry? ”

” The name of the book. ”

.

.

Woohyun remained blank, then looked down at the book cover again. I didn’t tell him the name of the book.

Woohyun quickly looked at the cover and suddenly scanned around the neighborhood. He heard distant sounds of construction work. And maybe it was because the sun was going down, but he also heard sounds of drunkards fighting in another alleyway.

The surroundings covered with closely-stuck houses all with shabby appearances with its paint nearly rubbed off. The ground was made of cement– which a person could easily trip if not careful.

And lastly, his eyes went to Sunggyu, who was smiling at him and did not match with any of these things at all. Woohyun leveled eyes with Sunggyu and spoke as if it were a confession.

.

” If You and I Were to Meet at a Good Place. ”

.

.

A cool breeze blew over. Sunggyu’s hair sparkled in the red sunset. Woohyun thought Sunggyu looked pretty.

.

.

” Ah, If You… ”

Sunggyu’s red lips meditated on Woohyun’s words and moved. Woohyun’s eyes did not know how to leave Sunggyu’s face.

.

.

” and I…. ”

.

My heart…..

.

.

” Were to Meet at a Good Place. ”

.

.

…… came back.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Woohyun painstakingly waited for Wednesday to come. It’s not that I specifically like the guy or feel good doing community service or anything, but I kept waiting for Wednesday to come. I liked his little behaviors trying to understand me as he felt my voice. I liked his innocence of his emotions clearly showing up on his face. I want to enjoy that peacefulness that I felt in the moment I was reading the book to him.

.

Woohyun peeked at the book whenever he had free time. He read it again and again. He thought about ways of how to read a little more smoothly. At the same time, Sunggyu’s face suddenly popped up in his head and he unconsciously closed the book. Why am I like this.

.

As he began thinking about Sunggyu, all kinds of emotions poured out from within him. No matter what kind of food Woohyun ate, Sunggyu’s unsteady hands cutting the fruit was suddenly drawn in his head, and when he drank coffee, the broken mug that Sunggyu handed him suddenly came into his mind. Woohyun felt weirded out, surprised, and frenzied by himself being like this.

.

.

Wednesday morning. Woohyun woke up earlier than anyone else and was the first one to get ready. There wasn’t much time left till the promised time, but those few minutes seemed to be unusually long.

The one time of a short meet had started a small light in Woohyun’s heart and the soft wind lingered around his chest. He came out of the house earlier than the actual time. His mom worried that he might be doing mischievous things, but Woohyun tried his best to block her out.

.

.

On the way to Sunggyu’s house along the stone pathway, a patch of lilies had bloomed. When he walked along the path with the lilies, he felt like he could grasp spring in his hands.

.

Even if the sky falls down, the time passed and spring had come by my side.

.

.

Woohyun was walking along, but suddenly paused in front of a store. He felt disappointed of having to depart before the sun had to set. Only twice a week. The only time to see Sunggyu was before the sunset, and if he thought about just that… he felt his breath suffocating him.

.

.

” Do you sell fluorescent lights? ”

” Of course. What kind you want, kid? ”

.

.

There were a lot of different sizes of lights than I thought. Woohyun reminisced the lights he had stared at that day. Was it this big?

When he roughly estimated the size with his hands, the clerk showed a kind smile. Then take this one with you for now and bring it back if it doesn’t fit. Woohyun stuck the light between his waist and arm and walked along. He had no idea that a continuous smile was on his own face.

He got lost on the first day, but he found the right direction and came straight to the house today. He knew that Sunggyu couldn’t see, but he dressed cleanly anyhow. Knock knock knock. After a few seconds of suffocating silence, Sunggyu’s face appeared.

.

.

” Woohyun-sshi? ”

” Yes. ”

” Ah, please come in. ”

.

.

Woohyun wanted to tell him that he bought some lights and showed a bright smile as he came in the room, but when he did so, he froze in his spot.

There were light tubes in the corner of the room. Woohyun looked back and forth at the light tubes in his own arms and the light tubes in the corner. Woohyun felt flustered and couldn’t make out his words, then Sunggyu showed a shy smile as he said:

” Ah, you see? I bought some lights….. but I don’t know how to change them. Could you do me a favor? I’m sorry. ”

.

.

Woohyun slowly turned his head and looked at Sunggyu’s face. Sunggyu was smiling like he was embarrassed.

And seeing that soft smile, lily flowers appeared in my heart that was once scarily frozen, and they began blooming up.

.

.

.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Book Reader (Part 1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s