It was the first big snow day. They say snow days are warmer, it was true. The air was cold but not unbearable, so Eun-Ha opened the window early in the morning. The whole world had turned white. The neighborhood scene made Eun-Ha's heart flutter.
From time to time, snowflakes fell on the windowsill. Eun-Ha pulled a chair towards the window and stood on it. Then he put his head out the window and stuck out his tongue. But eating snow wasn’t as easy as he thought. It was snowing a lot, but no snowflake simply fell on his tongue. Soon he stood on his tip toes. He thought if he stayed like this, snowflakes were bound to fall on his tongue at least once.
"Young man, that’s dangerous!"
When his grandmother came up, she grabbed Eun-Ha by his arms and pulled him down. Then she closed the window and locked it. The window latch was rusty and difficult to unlock once locked tightly. Eun-Ha was disappointed and followed his grandmother downstairs to eat breakfast.
Suddenly, he wondered if Su-Yeon also ever tried to eat snow. Eun-Ha decided he'd ask her when he meets her today.
"Have you ever eaten snow?”
Su-Yeon said. The dumpling, presumably still hot, caused clouds of hot steam to appear when she opened her tiny mouth.
"I ate snow today.”
Eun-Ha said excitedly. Su-Yeon gave a rough nod. Su-Yeon's sole interest was in the meat dumpling she was eating. Eun-Ha felt awkward, so he kicked dirt for no reason.
"Does snow taste good?"
Su-Yeon abruptly asked as Eun-Ha was about to change the subject. Then she gazed carefully at the pile of snow on the street. It was snow moved by the snowplow.
"Should I try it?”
"No, dumplings taste better.”
Eun-Ha waved his hand.
“I know that.”
Su-Yeon said with a smile.
"But I want to try it too."
"But you can't eat the snow piled over there. It's dirty."
"That's right. Then what should we do?"
Su-Yeon put the remaining dumplings in her mouth and mumbled. Unlike Eun-Ha, Su-Yeon took a while to eat a dumpling. She took small nibbles and chewed it for a long time before swallowing.
"Hmm, then follow me."
Su-Yeon nodded. Eun-Ha really liked when Su-Yeon focused on him.
"Once it snows, look up at the sky."
As Eun-Ha looked up at the sky, Su-Yeon followed. It was dazzling.
"Put out your tongue."
"It looks foolish.”
Su-Yeon laughed as she followed Eun-Ha and stuck out her tongue.
"It's very funny."
"Yes, because it's not snowing."
Su-Yeon said looking at Eun-Ha, unable to hold back her laughter. Eun-Ha laughed after Su-yeon. In fact, Eun-Ha hadn’t thought this was funny until now. He simply thought it was necessary if he wanted to eat falling snow. However, Eun-Ha was amazed that because Su-Yeon found it funny, he started to think so too.
Thinking about it, Eun-Ha was mesmerized for a moment, as he watched Su-Yeon take out another dumpling from the paper bag, it was as if the moment was moving in slow motion. Su-Yeon quickly took a big bite of a dumpling to avoid acknowledging his gaze. Su-Yeon's cheeks blushed.
Then, Eun-Ha recognized a blurry figure behind Su-Yeon. Eun-Ha's eyes got bigger. It was Seung-Jae. He was hiding behind an alley a little further away, but Eun-Ha was able to recognize him immediately. Seung-Jae, without a chance to even be called, swiftly turned and ran as soon as his eyes met Eun-Ha's. At that instant, Eun-Ha completely forgot about Su-Yeon and started running after Seung-Jae.
Because Eun-Ha ran much faster than Seung-Jae, no matter how hard he ran, Seung-Jae was bound to be captured by Eun-Ha in no time. Eun-Ha grabbed Seung-Jae's clothes. He wanted to say something, but with Seung-Jae holding his own head down he couldn’t think of anything right away.
Eun-Ha released the tight grip he had on Seung-Jae's clothes. Seung-Jae looked up and scarcely looked at Eun-Ha. Eun-Ha was surprised. This was because Seung-Jae's eyes were filled with tears.
"Why, why are you crying?”
Eun-Ha asked, at a loss of how else to respond. Seung-Jae kept his lips shut and shook his head.
"Are you not going to play with me anymore?”
Eun-Ha asked again. Tears welled up.
‘If I cry too, Seung-Jae won't tell me and he'll run away again.’
Eun-Ha tried very hard not to cry in front of Seung-Jae. Seung-Jae was a coward. Eun-Ha could only assume there was something scaring Seung-Jae again. Eun-Ha waited until Seung-Jae opened his mouth.
A while had passed before Seung-jade spoke.
"What? It's okay."
Eun-Ha answered carefully. Internally surprised and unsure of what he was apologizing for.
"…But why are you sorry?”
"Just… sorry I didn't play with you.”
"Then let's play together.”
Eun-Ha was fine with everything, but Seung-Jae seemed to be sorry for something else as well.
"I'm sorry I lied.”
After spouting the words, Seung-Jae eventually shed tears.
‘When did you lie?’
Eun-Ha contemplated for a moment while Seung-Jae sobbed.
"I actually don't live here."
Only then could Eun-Ha remember. The look on Seung-jade's face when he saw Eun-Ha on the of the bucket incident. It wasn’t a look of surprise because of the water. Rather, Seung-Jae was baffled by Eun-Ha's appearance in the back alleyways behind Duryu Park.
"What's wrong with that?"
"Well, I live in a redevelopment town...”
"What happens if you redevelop?"
"I don't know, but... I think it's something bad.”
Seung-Jae's voice gradually trailed off. Eun-Ha's endless questions might have left him puzzled. Eun-Ha was also a little surprised to see a side of Seung-Jae he’s never seen before. Eun-Ha recalled the phrase on the banner. But as always, redevelopment or whatever it was, was irrelevant to him. Perhaps not for Seung-Jae.
"It's okay because you're not bad!"
Eun-Ha said as he squatted down and looked at Seung-Jae.
Eun-Ha took a moment to select his next words.
"We are friends."
Eun-Ha took Seung-Jae's hand. A white snowflake fell on the hand that he grabbed tightly. As well as on Eun-Ha's cheeks and Seung-Jae's shoes.
Seung-Jae murmured. Eun-Ha then came to his senses and realized something that he’d been forgetting.
Eun-Ha took Seung-Jae's hand and started running toward the market. Because it was after noon, there were more people and it wasn’t going to be as easy to find Su-Yeon. Eun-Ha looked everywhere. Then he found Su-Yeon squatting by the street near the market entrance.
Eun-Ha shouted. Su-Yeon looked back and pouted out her lips.
“Where did you leave me to go?”
Su-Yeon still looked sulky and Eun-Ha didn’t know what to do. However, he did think it was fortunate she was there and hadn’t gone far. If Su-Yeon had disappeared and gone missing, there wouldn’t have been a more horrifying situation.
"Wow, it's well-made."
Seung-Jae said, glancing at what Su-Yeon made. Su-Yeon let Seung-Jae sit next to her as if she had been waiting.
"Wow, it's a snowman. And two snowmen at that?"
"Yes, I made it earlier.”
There were two snowmen standing on a road that people rarely reach. It seemed to be made of the pile of snow in the corner.
"This is Eun-Ha snowman and this is Su-Yeon snowman. Mine has buttons on too. Because I'm wearing buttoned clothing and Eun-Ha's clothes doesn't have buttons."
Su-Yeon chattered with excitement. Seung-Jae looked at Eun-Ha with envy. Eun-Ha's face suddenly turned red. Su-Yeon and Eun-Ha snowman, standing side by side!
"Let's make Seung Jae's snowman, too.”
Eun-Ha said. Then he sat down and gathered snow. Despite the cold wind, his heated face did not cool down and his heart continued to pace. Whether they knew or not, Su-Yeon and Seung-Jae each crouched by Eun-Ha's side and gathered snow. Large snowflakes began to pile up in the village including the bustling market.
저작권자 ⓒ 한국소비경제신문, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지