From the night he returned home, Eun-Ha became very ill. He had a cough as he complained of chest pains and his fever rose to 38 degrees. One day, he had a dream. He arrived at school early in the morning to find nobody there. He searched the courtyard, classrooms, and the entire school but not a single person was seen. On his way out, the door is locked and it becomes completely dark, night time. A peculiar sound was chasing Eun-Ha, so he covers his ears as he runs down the hallway. Wherever Eun-Ha ran, the lights would go out. He continued to run in the dark until he twisted his steps. There was no floor where he fell. Eun-Ha screamed as he fell endlessly. He awoke from his dream in a cold sweat.
Eventually, rushing to the hospital brought his fever down but it took some time to regain his energy. Even eating porridge caused mild stomach cramps. No one knew why Eun-Ha was so ill. Only Eun-Ha knew the reason. He regretted going to school. After dreaming about school, his body would feel heavy all day.
Unable to do anything, Eun-Ha stayed in bed all day. Sometimes Seung-Jae stopped by and dropped off any chocolate or candy he received at school. However, Eun-Ha could not eat any. This went on for about two weeks. Grandmother stopped going to the senior citizens center to nurse Eun-Ha all day.
Even after fully recovering, the amount of time spent at home increased. Seung-Jae stopped by Eun-Ha's house several times to see how he was doing. However, that also became less frequent and now rare. Seung-Jae's school was a bit far to walk. Eun-Ha did not know exactly where Seung-Jae's aunt lived so he could not visit him. Hence, though frustrating, Eun-Ha could only wait for Seung-Jae to visit.
While Eun-Ha waited endlessly, Seung-Jae seemed to have made many new friends. One day, Eun-Ha came across Seung-Jae on his way to the market. It was where he held hands with a sobbing Seung-Jae, promising to be forever friends on a particular snowy day. Seung-Jae was surrounded by many friends unfamiliar to Eun-Ha. Seung-Jae, who swung his shoe bag as he played, seemed happy. Therefore, Eun-Ha couldn’t bring himself to even call his name.
The same went for Su-Yeon. Eun-Ha wandered around the school several times to see her. But not once has he met her. Eun-Ha was growing weary. Now, in spite of his feelings for her, he hoped to see her simply because he missed the times they played together. However, each time he failed.
Eun-Ha went to Duryu Park once more. He didn’t have any particular plan. Only the thought that he was bound to catch her on her way home if he waited long enough.
As he climbed up Duryu Park and looked towards the building, Eun-Ha was shocked. This was because a construction notice board bigger than Eun-Ha himself stood in place. The sign read an apology for any inconvenience of the construction site. There were no barriers, protective shields, or iron barriers where the sign pointed.
Although covered by construction screen fences, they were considerably low enough to notice. There was no building. Duryu Barbershop, the Gristmill was not there. The walls that lead to the back alleyways and the houses that made up the neighborhood all seemed to have disappeared. Eun-Ha tried to guess where the entrance to the back alley was. However, he could not remember no matter how hard he tried. The soil had been overturned and the place was merely scattered with construction equipment. Eun-Ha staggered over to a wooden bench and collapsed. He couldn’t take his eyes off the scene for a while. Then, he clenched his fist in agony.
The sun set on the mountain, and darkness fell. Eun-Ha felt sick to his stomach. Eun-Ha steadily suppressed his pacing heart and turned away.
저작권자 ⓒ 한국소비경제신문, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지