Geomancy couple - Chapter 81
Arum strained it, but she couldn’t hide it, the symbol of the office worker’s occupational disease.
“This abdominal muscle is not the object of our coverage, but an industrial disaster. We don’t have enough time to exercise since we are involved in highly intensive mental labor. I got this disaster after I got hired here. They should take responsibility for this,” Arum said.
“Sure, let me take responsibility. Won’t you try it?”
Arum leered at her.
Manager Kyong seemed to trust the effect of the devil’s diet.
“I can guarantee you will lose 20kg in one month.”
Arum was swayed by her guarantee.
“Really? In one month?”
“There is a caveat. You should reveal your current weight and your abdominal muscles. You should also reveal the process of losing weight in our magazine blog. Is that okay with you?”
“Nope!” Arum shouted.
“You want me to reveal my abdominal muscles?”
“Why? What’s wrong with that?”
“If you don’t mind, why don’t you try it?”
“Me? I’d love to because it’s free.”
“Good for you!”
“But I’ve got a fatal scar on my abdomen,” said Manager Kyong with a serious look.
“What’s that? Any burnt mark?”
“Oh my! Did you see it?”
She rolled up her upper jacket on purpose and cracked a joke. There was no scar there.
“I just challenged you for a change.”
“I’m serious. When you’re physically fit, you can maintain a sound mind.”
Still, Manager Kyong seemed to be reluctant to give up the diet project.
“By the way, don’t you think a young woman’s abdomen looks better than an old woman’s?
“What the heck are you talking about again?”
“You do it, okay?”
Both of them heartily laughed. Arum felt better now.
Manager Kyong patted her on the shoulder and went back to her desk.
Her persistent persuasion skill was recognized by everybody in the company.
When she was an intern, she was really embarrassed when her face was revealed after she participated in a school cap event. She would never reveal her abdomen.
Arum wanted to get back to work, but couldn’t focus at all.
‘What’s the matter with me?’
She tapped on her smartphone that didn’t buzz. She sighed.
She thought she could get connected to Hojoon in a day or two. But his cell phone was turned off, and he didn’t reply in his SNS account. Though she called his company, she got the reply, “Chief is on a business trip.”
Hojoon disappeared suddenly.
He disappeared as if he were determined to do so. She was almost driven crazy because she couldn’t contact him, when he promised her that he would come back.
For the first several days, Arum was really worried.
‘Was Soran Cho’s condition serious? Was she living on an oxygen respirator? She seemed to have come to her senses, but did she get worse again? Did she injure herself?’
She imagined all kinds of scenarios about Soran.
But she abandoned herself to despair.
She realized something when she experienced this kind of situation.
‘I don’t know anything about that man.’
She couldn’t recollect any bar or restaurant, his friends or a place he frequented when he was alone. She didn’t know anything.
“Oh, that place!”
Just one place came to her mind.
After she got off work in the evening, she forcibly took Jina to the restaurant she and Hojoon visited before.
“Is that restaurant called ‘Mother’s Table’? That’s why you have come here to take me there?”
“Well, I’m not fond of Korean food.”
“That’s a special restaurant. Very famous.”
“Just trust me. Let’s go!”
Arum escorted Jina to the restaurant Mother’s Table, run by Hojoon’s mother.
As it was a weekday, the restaurant was not crowded. At this time, most of the restaurants in Downtown Seoul would be crowded, but Mother’s Table seemed to take customers only now.
“Please come in. Just the two of you?”
The kind waitress escorted them into a small room. The restaurant was a harmonious mix of the Korean and Western architectural designs. The room was so small that only two customers could get in. But it was cozy.
“Do I have to take off my shoes? No cushion mat here?” said Jina begrudgingly.
But her grumbling was fleeting when she sat down on the warm floor.
“Wow, I would like to lie on my back here. I feel comfortable.”
“You just told me you didn’t like any place where you have to take off your shoes, right?”
“I just feel comfortable once I am inside. It makes me comfortable, as if it were my house.”
“How can we get this kind of Korean house? You know how expensive it is?”
“You bet. As this is a Korean-style house, it must be expensive.”
While leaning on the wall, Jina tapped on the wall. She heard a dull and heavy sound.
“Is this a mud-plastered wall?”
“You look like an architect. Can you find out only by tapping it?”
Arum gave her a light scolding. In the meantime, a waitress served water.
Without asking Jina about the menu, she ordered lotus rice for two persons.
“Oh man! You won’t ask me about the menu?”
“This place serves only one menu, which is lotus rice.”
“Well, the perfect side dishes for this kind of atmosphere are fried green-onion pancake and makkolri alcohol. By the way, this place is really comfortable and quiet. Did you discover this place while covering something?”
“Oh, this restaurant is run by Hojoon’s mother.”
At that moment, Jina corrected her posture.
“What? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“What if I told you?”
“I wouldn’t have come here. Even if you have just one meal, you should have it comfortably. I don’t want to have an upset stomach, sandwiched between you and Hojoon. By the way, did you agree to meet him here?”
Arum shook her head.
Jina didn’t know that Hojoon didn’t contact her for the past several days. Arum briefed her about what happened on the day they drove to Kangrung.
“So, he hasn’t called you at all?”
“Were you stood up? Let’s get out of here. What the hell are you doing here when you broke up?”
Jina was about to pick up her handbag and stand up.
“No, we haven’t split up.”
Arum pulled on her arm and dragged her down.
“We didn’t even have any quarrel.”
“Then, what’s the matter? Did you call his company?”
“They said that he’s on a business trip.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. Has he really not contacted you?”
“Nope. Just imagine why I’ve come to this place. I’m so frustrated right now.”
“Have you come all the way down here to ask his mother about his whereabouts?”
Instead of replying, Arum put the spoons and chopsticks on the table neatly. Looking at her, Jina felt as if she would burst with anger.
“You’re so miserable!”
Jina wanted to shout at her, ‘How come every man you are dating puts you into trouble?’ but she held back the urge. It was not her fault, after all, because it was beyond her control.
It was Arum who understood Jina’s angst when the latter met the married guy.
JIna just kept drinking water, feeling stuffy.
The waitress served lotus rice.
Jina felt bitter in her mouth while eating the delicious food.
“How about it?”
“It smells fragrant,” said Jina, who complained only a minute ago.
“What is it? Are you hiding something from me?” Jina asked while picking up a fried pumpkin pancake.
“He just disappeared.”
“Do you think I can believe you?” Jina was sharp-witted. Arum put down the spoon while eating.
“Don’t you know why?”
Arum didn’t know what to do. How much could she tell Jina about Soran’s suicide attempt?
“What are you talking about?”
“Soran Choi made a suicide attempt.”
With astonishment, she spat out the pumpkin pancake that she just put in her mouth.
“Really? Soran Cho?”
“Hey! Tone down your voice.”
“When? Since when did you know that? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“That’s not good news.”
“So, did Hojoon go to her?”
“So what? He didn’t come back?”
“I thought he would come back in no time,” said Arum in a grumbling voice.
“Now, let me repeat. So, Hojoon went to see Soran, right?”
“He told me he would come back…”
“Do you believe that, you stupid girl?”
“What should I do? How can I stop him from going to see her, who barely survived after attempting suicide?”
“So, he stayed with you before going to see her, right?”
Jina confirmed that several times.
“Oh my god.. This guy is really incredible. He went back to her, leaving you behind?”
“I told you already. She barely survived. What if the same thing happened to Konsu? Do you think I’m not going to see him?”
“Nope,” Jina said resolutely. “Because I won’t let you go.”
Her ferocious-looking eyes showed that she was serious.
“You know, Hojoon and Soran loved each other in the past,” Arum tried to persuade Jian, but Jina was adamant.
“You are the woman whom he loves now. How can he go see her when he loves you? See! You haven’t received any call from him.”
No matter how hard she thought about the reason, Arum couldn’t.