“Long time no see.”
Even at his greeting, Yoo-hwa didn’t move.
Yoo-hwa, who had been looking at Woo-hyun silently as if she had lost her senses, hurriedly turned her gaze towards the floor.
It was only when Woo-hyun waved the bill again that Yoo-hwa accepted it as if she had only then realized it.
An awkward atmosphere flowed between the two.
“Why… are you here”
After hesitating for a while, Yoo-hwa opened her mouth and asked.
“Do you recognize me”
Instead of answering, Woo-hyun asked with a refreshing smile.
“There’s no way I can’t recognize you.”
It was an answer with many meanings.
Woo-hyun’s smile faded in response to that answer, but soon returned to its original form.
We are middle school classmates, I would be disappointed if you didn’t.”
“I moved here.”
Yoo-hwa’s eyes widened a little.
Woo-hyun nodded his head lightly.
And then, Yoo-hwa frowned.
“But this is a redevelopment area, you don’t know when you will have to leave…”
She slurred her words while speaking with a tone that seemed to ask, ‘Did you pay the deposit and move here without knowing that’.
“It is said that the redevelopment was in progress and stopped.”
The construction company that was doing the redevelopment was on the verge of bankruptcy due to internal corruption, tax evasion, and embezzlement.
Naturally, the projects that were in progress fell through.
One of the projects that fell through was the reconstruction of this place.
Even though the redevelopment was halted, the damaged neighborhood was not restored.
After people moved out, the windows in the empty houses were broken, and the houses were ruined.
The walls of some houses collapsed, and the houses at the entrance of the neighborhood were pushed and destroyed.
There’s no way that people who had already settled in other places would spend money obstinately to return to this place.
This is not a place for people to live.
“I was living well, but something happened, and things got worse.”
As if he had been waiting, Woo-hyun let out the answer he had prepared.
Hearing that something happened, Yoo-hwa kept her mouth shut.
“Just in time, this was the only house that fit the price range.”
Woo-hyun pointed to the house next door to Yoo-hwa’s.
It was a studio, so it was awkward to call it a house.
The bathroom was shared, and one flight of stairs down from the room was a very narrow kitchen with a sink on a cement floor.
There were five houses like that standing in a row, far worse than a one-room apartment.
And the only houses that had lights on here were Yoo-hwa’s and the house of a neglected grandma with dementia.
Yoo-hwa looked at the house with an awkward expression for a moment, then looked at Woo-hyun again.
“… I see.”
Yoo-hwa, who was staring at Woo-hyun like someone trying to confirm something, finally answered, but he didn’t know what she meant.
After answering, Yoo-hwa turned around and headed to her house.
There wasn’t even a greeting like, ‘How have you been It’s been a long time.’.
Woo-hyun stared at Yoo-hwa’s back as she moved away.
He could see the strength in the hand holding the bills, but there was still no strength in her walking body.
Woo-hyun first met Yoo-hwa when he was in middle school.
They became a pair as soon as school started.
Yoo-hwa, who stayed by his side, was quiet and docile.
She spoke very little, to the point that she only answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the teacher’s words.
She wasn’t alone though.
She was an ordinary girl who interacted with a couple of friends.
Her clear, white skin and brown eyes, which were exceptionally shiny when exposed to light, attracted a bit of attention.
At that time, Woo-hyun was also normal.
Of course, he was still in a situation where he had to work hard to make a living, but it was a neighborhood where he could easily find people in need.
Above all, Woo-hyun considered them to be an ordinary family just by escaping from the inn room and living in two rented rooms in an apartment.
Back then, the situation he knew in Yoo-hwa’s house was similar.
Although she lived alone with her mother, he knew that her mother worked, so they could make a decent living.
Anyway, time passed, and the poor but ordinary middle school students met at the end of the world.
It was an unexpected and confusing situation, but he had no intention of changing the plan.
A lot of time has passed since the middle school kid who was trying to learn and practice ethics sold all his values for money.
It is said that you can’t ignore a classmate when you meet them.
Even if that classmate is a bit memorable.
Woo-hyun leaned his body and looked at the old wall, taking in the cool breeze coming in from the small window next to the door.
The wallpaper had been stained deep yellow as rain leaked and dried repeatedly.
The carpet was a yellow color that was hard to find these days.
While staying in this house for several days, the thing he saw the most was that wallpaper.
The landlord said that although he couldn’t change the wallpaper and floorboards because the rent was cheap, he asserted that he wouldn’t stop him from changing them with his own money, perhaps because he was aware of the condition they were in.
No one would change them with good feelings after hearing the sharp words of that stubborn old man.
In particular, living in a place like this means that you are short of money, so there is no way someone would change the carpet.
As a result, this house, which had been pushed around half-assedly for a long time, gave off an old air no matter how much it was ventilated.