“Your eyes are very pretty.
Uncle really likes brown eyes.”
“Oh my, that’s a relief.
Yoo-hwa’s eyes are brown, like mine.”
“It seems so.”
Her mother greeted the man’s son in a tone higher than usual.
The whole time he was saying he had seen her pictures, heard a lot of stories about her, and wanted to meet her, his son’s eyes were facing somewhere else.
He was so unreactive that it was impossible to tell whether he knew or not about today’s meeting.
“He’s a shy guy.”
The man let out a laugh, saying it was because he was shy, but it didn’t seem like that in Yoo-hwa’s eyes.
It was closer to giving up and indifference than shyness.
The conversation was led by her mother and the man.
The two talked naturally, as if informing about when they would start living together and where they would move.
It felt like she was squeezing a crumpled piece of paper into her mouth.
It was ridiculous like that.
She felt like she had to keep the piece of paper in her mouth because she would get scolded if she chewed it, swallowed it, or spit it out.
During the conversation, the man’s gaze occasionally turned towards Yoo-hwa, and Yoo-hwa felt her mouth dry every time he did so.
Yoo-hwa’s wandering gaze turned to his son, who was sitting across from her.
6th-grade elementary school student.
Name, Kim Yi-woon.
A tiny boy with white skin and light brown hair.
Then, when she was reflecting on useless information.
Yi-woon raised his head.
Yi-woon, who was sitting by the window where the sunlight was pouring in, had light brown eyes, like herself.
When their eyes met, Yi-woon gave her a very startled expression.
After staring at her for a moment, Yi-woon shook his head slightly.
She didn’t know what it was, but Yi-woon, who had been shaking his head for a long time, turned his head somewhere else when his father looked at him.
At that time, Yoo-hwa saw a black bruise beyond Yi-woon’s fluttering sleeve.
On that day, Yoo-hwa left more than half of the jjajangmyeon she had longed to eat.
On the way home, after opening and closing her mouth more than ten times, Yoo-hwa talked to her mother.
Her mother seemed to be in a good mood for the first time in a while.
Her steps were exhilarating, and her face was filled with joy.
Although she wanted to protect her happy mother, she didn’t have a good hunch to just let it go.
“That marriage… Can you not do it”
At Yoo-hwa’s courageous words, her mother’s expression changed.
Her mother looked down at Yoo-hwa with a firm expression, like someone who had heard something unexpected, and then wiped her face as if it was embarrassing.
“Why are you saying that all of a sudden”
“It’s just… We can live happily together, both of us.
I will study harder than I am now and make you happy.”
She couldn’t even say that the man’s gaze was unpleasant and that she had a bad feeling.
No, she didn’t have the opportunity to say that.
“It’s good for my daughter to be successful and happy, but won’t Mother be too old by then Mother wants to be happy now.”
“Yoo-hwa, you’re still young so I can’t tell you the details, but if we live with Uncle, we can live more comfortably than we do now.
I no longer have to pay off my debts… Uncle is a better man than you think, Yoo-hwa.
So I hope you can trust me and follow me.
Is it difficult”
Saying that she wants to be happy now means that she is not happy now.
Even if she was with her, her mother was unhappy.
Unlike herself, who was happy enough.
Yoo-hwa remembered a passage she had once read in a book.
When two people are together, if only one person is happy, it is because the other person has sacrificed their own happiness.
The realization was instantaneous.
That realization made her shut her mouth.
She also realized that this time, it was her turn to make a sacrifice.
It didn’t take long for her to know that that choice was the seed of unhappiness.
The kind and gentle man became a different person within a month of remarrying.
He became a different person when he drank, broke things in the house, and punched her mother.
Her mother tried to stop him somehow, but there was nothing she could do to stop a man who worked at a construction site.
When Yoo-hwa, who could not watch it anymore, wrapped her arms around her mother, she too was beaten up.
Yi-woon was at a distance, not sure what to do.
“Go inside! Yi-woon!”
Thinking that it was not something that Yi-woon, who was younger than her, could handle, Yoo-hwa always pushed him inside the room.
She tried to ask the police for help, but they were not happy that she was reporting the same thing every other day.
When Yoo-hwa asked for help, the policeman answered with a sigh.
– You again
Yoo-hwa trembled at the voice filled with annoyance.
After frequently reporting to the police, her father took away her cellphone.
Unable to bear it, her mother ran away with her.
With help here and there, they were able to hide in a shelter for women suffering from domestic violence.
But that freedom was short-lived.