"Oh dear, what occasion makes you want to do an errand?"
his grandmother asked with her back crouched over. Eun-Ha was standing on the door frame, barely keeping his balance. Something he did frequently whenever he was bored. He often wobbled on his tiptoes and caused the door frame to make noise.
“Huh? Just because.”
“In case you’re having a hard time grandma."
"Don't step on the door frame.”
Eun-Ha came down from the door frame and clung to his grandmother’s clothes. He didn't have much time.
"I'll be back, ok?"
"Don't be too late, buy it quickly and come home.”
As soon as grandmother's words came to an end, Eun-Ha grabbed the bills on the table and ran outside. Eun-Ha recalled the little girl’s face as he passed by the meat dumpling store. Although he only saw her once, he already missed her. It could have been his first and last encounter. But the girl was out of reach for him to stop her. He had thought about this several times. Regretting ever letting her go without any promise only led him to believe they’d never meet again. On the other hand, even in despair he could not understand why he wanted to see her again.
At this rate, he thought his heart might be sick. Thus, Eun-Ha wandered the neighborhood frequently for more things to do. Even on days when he had no plans with his friends, he went to the market and bought meat dumplings. Then wandered around the market munching slowly.
In spite, the girl never appeared. About two weeks had passed. Repeatedly certain he’d see her again one moment and anxious he never would the next. As days went by, his memory of the girl was gradually fading. He felt like he was going to forget soon. He wondered if this was for the better.
Duryu Barber Shop. Eun-Ha recalls the rusty old sign. He also recalls the small but needlessly flashy mill house next to it. His grandmother was most likely thinking of the cheap grocery store near the market when she sent Eun-Ha on the errand. This was because it was where they bought most of their groceries. His grandmother was familiar with the owner so they’d sometimes also get discounts. However, Eun-Ha passed the market and headed to Duryu Park.
The park was quiet and secluded. The atmosphere was completely different during the day. Perhaps it was the fair wind swinging the trees or the high and blue sky that made it seem rather peaceful. Eun-Ha took a deep breath. Even from a distance, he could see the sign of the barber shop.
What should I say when I meet her? Should I call on the girl? Should I say that she popped in my head on my way to buying red chili powder? Or should I use the money to get a haircut? Do I have enough?
His grandmother’s errand has already been long forgotten. As he approached the barber shop, Eun-Ha's felt his heartbeat pacing. He couldn’t help but look down as he walked, like the girl that time, but managed to raise his head and pace forward. He decided he’d peek through the window first.
But there was no need. A faint ring of the doorbell. The barber shop’s door opened. Without time to think, Eun-Ha scurried behind a tree.
It was the girl. Eun-Ha blinked his eyes. It was an unexpected scenario. Who knew the girl would come out! Anyhow, approaching her has become easier. Since he does not have to be suspicious. However, Eun-Ha couldn’t nonchalantly call or approach the girl like he thought. On the contrary, the moment he saw her his body froze.
To be exact, he surely grew stiff when he saw a boy following behind the girl. It took a while to figure the situation. Eun-Ha swallowed his saliva. He briefly looked down at his old slippers and looked up. Even at a glance, the boy seemed cooler. From the looks, he seemed to be the same age as Eun-Ha or maybe a year older. The boy had a slightly larger physique. His well-combed hair was neat. His clothes also appeared quite nifty.
The girl smiled brightly. Eun-Ha could hear their voices but he couldn’t make our what kind of conversation they were exchanging. The girl looked happy in his company, Eun-Ha thought to himself. He lost confidence. He was too embarrassed to appear in front of the girl and thought he might be disturbing them.
Eun-Ha crouched down. He could no longer hear their voices.
‘I shouldn’t have come’ He sighed.
Then, hovered over Eun-Ha's shadow, appeared another long shadow.
"What are you doing here?"
Eun-Ha, caught by surprise, stopped in a chair pose to look back. The face he’d been missing was in front of him. It was the girl. Eun-Ha momentarily turned his gaze behind the girl. The boy was staring at Eun-Ha with wary eyes.
"Huh? I just..."
Eun-Ha brushed his knees as he stood up.
The girl stepped closer. Eun-Ha unconsciously took a step back.
"Yeah, I was on my way to buy chili powder for an errand...”
"You were headed to my father's store, weren't you?"
The boy abruptly interrupted Eun-Ha, in what felt like an arrogant tone of voice. He was the gristmiller’s son. Feeling small, Eun-Ha simply nodded. The miller's son grinned.
The boy commanded and swiftly turned around. Eun-Ha trudged behind. The girl ran ahead of Eun-Ha to walk beside the boy. Even during the brief walk the two managed to chit chat along the way.
Eun-Ha recalled the grin that the miller’s son had made towards him. In that short moment, he was almost certain of how the boy feels about the girl. It was similar to Eun-Ha's feelings towards the girl. He was sure. Eun-Ha became nervous. He couldn’t remember how much he paid for the chili powder from the mill or how he returned home.
저작권자 ⓒ 한국소비경제신문, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지