It was like that. Jae-won, wearing his high school uniform, grumbled. He complained that we didn’t have money to buy a new uniform and that he could just wear the hand-me-downs from the seniors. He was annoyed with Jae-hee for the first time and asked why she had to buy him a new uniform. He also asked what the point was in studying hard when he wasn’t going to go to college. He said he would work right after graduating from high school and that he wanted to skip high school altogether. But when he saw his older sister, who only had a middle school education, struggling to find decent work, he raised his voice and said that he would at least graduate from high school.
“It seems like he wanted to break your expectations. He said that you were being stubborn, even though the two of you could pay off the debt twice as fast if you both worked.”
“He can’t live like I do. Jae-won needs to experience college life. How can he just struggle under a pile of debt like me?” Jaehee said.
“I heard that you were secretly saving up for Jae-won’s college tuition. He saw it,” added Jae-hee.
Upon hearing Young-joo’s story, Jaehee could pinpoint the exact moment when Jae-won began to feel suffocated.
“Did I make it too hard for Jae-won?”
“You fool. He worries about you so much. He’s afraid you’ll die before he can make any money. He calls me, scared to death.”
Young-joo couldn’t do anything about it. She thought that if she talked to Jae-hee about Jae-won’s feelings, her brother would worry less and just work harder to repay the debts as soon as possible. Jae-won would call her once in a while, asking her to tell his sister to take a break from work. All Young-joo could do was suggest to Jae-hee to reduce her workload.
“I can’t live without Jae-won.”
Her four-year-old brother didn’t cry when their parents passed away. It was only after seeing his sister crying that he started to cry too. He hugged his sister, wiping away her tears with his tiny hands, saying, “Don’t cry, Noona, don’t cry,” and she vowed to protect him no matter what. From that moment on, nothing scared her anymore. She could easily brush off debt collectors who grabbed her by the hair or threatened her with knives.
Because she had a younger brother to protect.
“But I won’t let him know about this harsh reality. We just need a little more time to pay off everything. He’s better at studying than me. He’s smarter than me, Young-joo.”
“But you still have to pay for the Benz repair costs.”
“Did you contact Jaewon? Where is he now?”
“He asked me to lend him some money. He said it was a mistake. A cat suddenly popped out in front of him, and he tried to avoid it, but there was a Benz in front of him. He said he thought he would fly away and die if he didn’t hit the car.”
Jaewon’s face, which was lively and talkative in the emergency room with his friends, passed through Jaehee’s mind. Although he said it casually, her innocent and kind younger brother. He must have felt sick with remorse and regret inside.
“Don’t cry, Jaehee.”
Jaehee didn’t pay attention to Jaewon’s feelings. She just froze when she heard about the repair costs.
“My brother is so kind, isn’t he?”
The fact that he changed course to save a cat gave Jaehee some peace of mind. Her younger brother was still as kind and nice as ever.
“I don’t know why things like this keep happening to you guys. Did it cost a lot to repair?”
Jaehee’s tears fell onto the yellow floor. It was the same that day too. When she was too overwhelmed by the repair costs and started crying, Jung-hoo appeared.
“I can pay it all back.”
Since she had nowhere to lean on, Jaehee always tried to handle things alone. Even when she was chased by loan sharks and wanted to borrow money from Youngjoo, she couldn’t bring herself to ask.
“I managed to persuade him to not do any manual labor. He’s at a friend’s house now.”
“Thank you. He has to study.”
“Sigh… I don’t know.”
“I’ll talk to him again. Thank you. I think Jaewon is starting to avoid me. Honestly, I was so scared. What if he never came back home? I felt like I was going to die of fear.” Jaehee said.
Tears streamed down her face non-stop. Nevertheless, Jaehee was still smiling.
“Either laugh or cry.”
Youngjoo, whose eyes became teary while watching her, intentionally said in a blunt tone. Jaehee sat there with her pretty face in makeup and it was unfamiliar to her. However, if her life had been more normal, she would not have appeared so strange. Lost in thought, Youngjoo suddenly stiffened. Her nails, which were now bare, had been manicured. Her expensive clothes.
“Wait, are you… no? You’re not going to strange places because you need money, right?”
Translator’s note: Follow the link to discover more enthralling stories today.
The next chapter will be updated on May 13, 2023, Saturday.
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