Chapter 3 - Her Birthday
From that moment on, the job of putting on his tie before work every morning gradually became hers to do. Whenever he didn’t need to leave early like today, it was also her role to choose the right tie to match his suit as well.
“You should have told me right away.”
If it were like usual, she would have just nodded her head and moved on, but her quietly suppressed disappointment had leaked out a bit. “I’ve already cooked breakfast and everything.”
“It doesn’t matter if I eat or not since you needed to have breakfast as well, right?”
Before they got married, Do Ook had said he didn’t usually have breakfast properly every day. After their marriage, she had persuaded him to eat breakfast by saying that she would do her best to make it every morning, so he should try to sit and eat a bit before he left.
She had worried he might think she was weird for wanting to pretend like she was a normal housewife when the marriage wasn’t anything normal in the first place, so she had lied and said that she had a habit of eating breakfast every day as well.
At first, Do Ook had felt it was a bit of a chore since he had developed a habit of not eating breakfast, but now as long as he wasn’t particularly busy, he wouldn’t need to be prompted to sit and have the breakfast meal she did her best to prepare.
“But I’ve already made your portion as well…”
“Don’t you just need to put the soup and rice back in the pot for later? I didn’t even use the utensils so you can put them back in as well.”
Though she had expected him to say those kinds of cold and indifferent words to her, it still didn’t stop her from being upset. “It’s not that putting away the food that’s the problem, it’s that you’re going to leave with an empty stomach. If you had told me beforehand I would have prepared some juice at least and…”
“I don’t need it.”
If it was her fault for loving a man whose way of speaking was rude, then she admitted fault. Even though there were plenty of ways to softly decline her help, he would never be generous enough to say anything like ‘it’s fine.’ Instead, he’d rather just be cold and to the point, which made her feel like her heart was cut into pieces every time.
“You know that I don’t eat breakfast usually.” Do Ook lifted up the black briefcase with his hand and put on a shiny dress shoe.
It was clear there was a setback at work since he’d had a frown on his face the entire time. It was also clear from his unhappy expression that he was busy thinking about many other things and he wasn’t focusing on their conversation. Of course, it wasn’t like he would stay back and be generous in listening to all her worries even if he did have some time to kill.
“I’ll be late today.”
It meant that he wouldn’t be able to have dinner with her tonight. Do Ook was busier than ever after being promoted, and it wasn’t like it was rare to see him come back late from work. Nevertheless, Sun Ha couldn’t hide how upset it made her as her face cast a shadow. She had just wanted to have at least one meal together today. It seemed that even that was too greedy of her. Even though she was sick of spending her birthday alone…
“Will you be very late?”
With his tall stature of over 180cm, Do Ook looked down at the much shorter Sun Ha as he asked, “How late is ‘very late’ to you?”
She kept her eyes on his face to study his reaction as she answered, “Mh… 12 a.m.?”
“I think I’ll come back home earlier than that.”
Hearing Do Ook’s answer, Sun Ha gave a small nod. She felt glad knowing that he would come back home before the end of the day, but on the other hand, she was also upset since he didn’t have a single idea about what day it was.
“All right. Have a safe day.” Sun Ha gave her best effort in giving him a clear smile as she swept away a single speck of dust laying on his shoulder in a friendly manner.
“I’ll be going then.” He then left the house without any eye contact nor sincerity in his words.
Sun Ha was dozing off while sitting at the table in the dead-quiet home when the sudden sound of the doorbell jolted her awake. Her eyes opened wide and she checked the clock on the wall to see that it was quarter to eleven. There was still a little bit of time left before her birthday ended.
The sound of drizzling rain could be heard from between the balcony’s slightly ajar doors. The heavy autumn rain had been going on for a long time late into the night, and even after waking from her brief nap it still hadn’t ended.
That morning, after forcing herself to swallow down the birthday meal she made for breakfast, Sun Ha cleaned the dining table and left it spotless the whole day. She didn’t feel any particular appetite throughout the day, so in order to just fill her stomach she ate some plain white bread for lunch without even putting any jam on it, and she only drank a single glass of milk in front of the kitchen sink for dinner.
She felt a bit hungry after only eating a little all day, but she didn’t particularly want to sit alone at the table to have a meal. The reason why was definitely because, when she was swallowing down the seaweed soup she made herself that morning, her stomach had felt full but her heart had felt even emptier.
As she spent the whole day wallowing in depression, Sun Ha suddenly had the thought that she was being silly about this. She realized that she’d been dreary like the weather all day long because Do Ook didn’t spend her birthday with her. He hadn’t noticed even a little bit that it was her birthday. He’d left the house as if she was just some acquaintance. She’d realized that she was way too reliant on him.
She didn’t know when it started, but she was definitely very sensitive to every little word and action he took.
Perhaps it was because her feelings of love for him had only grown over time rather than dying down. Or perhaps it was because she and Do Ook had married right after graduation, and she had followed the wishes of his grandfather, Chairman Choi, by living as a housewife instead of getting a job. Now her whole life had ended up revolving around Do Ook.
Perhaps it was both of those reasons.
Realizing why she was feeling this way too late, Sun Ha shook her head to focus herself and put strength into her shoulders. She then suddenly looked as if she’d decided on something as she took an umbrella and left the apartment at around 8 p.m.
Running through the somber dark sky and its heavy rain, Sun Ha entered the local famous franchise bakery and, her eyes sparkling, she chose the cake that she liked the most.
“Is it someone’s birthday today?” asked an obviously innocent teenaged part-timer who had glanced over and walked up to her.
As she couldn’t bring herself to tell them that she had come to buy a birthday cake for her own birthday, Sun Ha replied with a smile instead.
Sun Ha realized that feeling sad from his actions was silly. Her husband was ignorant of everything not work-related. He was someone who couldn’t be bothered to remember his own birthday, so it would be even weirder for him to remember her birthday.
On top of that, she hadn’t even told him that it was her birthday, so she shouldn’t really blame him for being his usual indifferent self and not having breakfast with her nor have any proper eye contact. He must have thought that today was a day like any other, after all.
‘You just need to say it to him. Tell him to congratulate you.’
Sun Ha did her best to be confident, saying to herself that it was an extremely easy thing to do. If she were to ask him to eat the cake with her, he might look slightly annoyed for a moment, but he wouldn’t decline to join her. After all, it was extremely rare for her to request something like this from him.
It was definitely not a weird thing to ask. He definitely wouldn’t get any clue about what she was really thinking from this trivial request of hers. Though, he still wouldn’t understand why she would buy her own birthday cake just to ask someone to congratulate her.
Sun Ha carefully picked up the cake, along with two long candles and eight short ones, then headed back home while avoiding the rain as much as she could. She put the cake in the corner of the refrigerator and blankly waited for him to return.
She’d fallen asleep while wishing for the rain to die down before he got back, and when she woke up the rain was falling even harder than before.
Sun Ha, still in a stupor that took a little while to recover from, heard the doorbell ring twice more before going silent.
She hurriedly stood up and went to the front door, where she saw Do Ook already stepping inside. As he rested his long umbrella on the front of the shoe rack, she saw the ends of his hair were moist with rainwater.
“I thought you were sleeping since you weren’t opening the door. Did I wake you up?” Do Ook looked over at Sun Ha. Though there was no evidence on her face that she had just woken up from a deep sleep, her loose, long hair was still a little disheveled.
Even on the days where he couldn’t come back home until after midnight, she would always wait for him to arrive before going to bed. Do Ook wasn’t enough of a romantic to look forward to someone welcoming him home. Instead, he just thought that she was wasting her time by doing this.
He had kept telling her there is no need to wait for him like this. However, Sun Ha would always nod but not follow his wish, making up silly excuses like saying she wasn’t waiting for him but rather just didn’t sleep until he came back.
It seemed like she had a great ability to detect his presence. No matter where she was in their large house, she would always immediately notice when he’d come back and hurriedly come to greet him. It became such a routine that, one day, he started to push the doorbell and wait for her instead of opening the front door himself to get in.
A few minutes before, as he pushed the doorbell and waited like usual, he noticed that the house was still quiet and suddenly felt a strange sensation. The daily routine of having someone at home ready to welcome him whenever he arrived suddenly felt unfamiliar to him.
He quickly hid his unexpected feeling of agitation by frowning and quickly typing the password to the door to go in.
“No, I wasn’t sleeping.” Sun Ha shook her head, denying it, but her eyes were slightly relaxed, evidence of her still feeling a little drowsy. Seeing her in a defenseless state with a sleepy expression made Do Ook bite his lips hard to suppress his urges.
It had already been ten days since Sun Ha’s time of the month started. She’d said it lasted around a week, so it must have been over by now.
Often, Do Ook would think about how much it tested his patience that he could not embrace his wife as often as he wanted a whole week out of every month. When he finished work after a few days of consecutive long shifts or came back from a business trip, he would be immediately aroused to no end from not being able to satisfy himself for a week. If his arousal coincided with her time of the month, he would immediately fall into a deep despair that practically broke his will to live.
Sun Ha would react as if thunder had struck outside from just the touch of his fingertip, so Do Ook couldn’t even do anything sensual to her body let alone attempt to insert his rod into her.
They said that women got very sensitive when their time of the month came, and it seemed like that applied to Sun Ha as well. Though it was difficult making sure he didn’t touch even a hair on her head until her period was over, he was also thankful that she never refused his advances towards her after it ended.
His pupils narrowed as he looked up and down her body.
He felt the sudden urge to rip off the white, transparent nightdress that so nicely matched her skin tone. He made sure to take his fiery eyes off of her before he did anything, taking off his jacket and stepping quickly inside.