Chapter 19 - Why Don’t You Join Us?
Sun Ha ended up having to resign herself to the situation and keep going to school anyways, all the while telling herself that she only had one year until graduation. Her final semester would be ending soon, and once she graduated and got a job, she’d be able to start somewhere new. It wasn’t like she had an awful personality or was disfigured. She also hadn’t done anything wrong, so when she finally went on to somewhere new, everything would definitely be better.
Sun Ha’s face grew shadowed. ‘Can it honestly go that way?’
Even if her environment changed, nothing would be solved. It wouldn’t matter that more people would come to like her because of her smile. Regardless of how many people she surrounded herself with, she would be lonely and unable to open up to any of them. If her past was ever exposed like before, she would lose all their goodwill and be ostracized again. Everyone would just tell her that she’d been the one lying to them the whole time. As a final twist of the knife, all the people who hurt her would go on living happily.
‘Perhaps I did fool them.’
Though she tried her best not to resent her parents, it was also true that she didn’t try to learn about them, either. She kept making excuses to herself, like that she wasn’t embarrassed by them, it was just that reality was cruel. If she was honest, though, Sun Ha didn’t really know what her true feelings were. Still, she had never lied about them, but whenever talk of family came up she just kept her mouth shut. She knew all too well how people’s expressions would change once she revealed her background.
Kyung Min’s cruel words kept echoing in her head. Though she’d gotten angry at him and told him not to carelessly say such terrible things, she was starting to think he might be right.
Just like he had said, there might be no one in the world that would acknowledge and love her without any prejudice aside from him. Perhaps the person that she’s destined to be with didn’t exist in the first place.
Lost in thought, Sun Ha entered a small, comfortable-looking dive bar quite far from campus. The owner looked up from where she was serving appetizers to call out to Sun Ha, “Goodness, what’s a schoolgirl like you coming to this place for? Only old middle-aged men come to this kind of place.”
She finished serving the dishes and gestured Sun Ha to a seat. “Sweetie, you look like you’re dyin’. Something happened, I’m guessin’? Well, even youngsters have their worries, and sometimes you gotta have some drinks alone. How about you go sit next to the heater over there. If there’s any old geezer who tries to harass ya, I’ll give them a talking to and kick ‘em out.”
Sun Ha greeted her back with a slight bow of her head as she went and sat down.
There was a reason she’d come to this out-of-the-way dive bar: she was worried that if she went to any of the fancy bars near campus, she might run into some of her former classmates.
Given how many bars were around there, it probably wouldn’t happen, but that wasn’t good enough. Sun Ha wouldn’t be able to drink in peace if there was even the smallest chance she’d meet a classmate. She was already quite infamous at school. There was no way she could let herself be seen drinking alone and crying about her problems, too.
She really wanted to just get drunk and not think about anything else tonight. It would be great if she wasn’t bothered by anyone and didn’t have to keep up appearances in front of them, either.
After ordering some udon and a bottle of soju, she pulled the plastic chair closer to the table and sat down. She had been worried it would be cold because of the winter weather, but the inside of the bar was more comfortable than she expected thanks to a large heater.
“Phew…” Sun Ha rubbed her hands together to try and warm them up as she started defrosting. Not long after, her steaming hot order arrived at the table.
Sun Ha was not a fan of drinking, and she wasn’t very good at it either. Early in her first year of college when she wasn’t used to alcohol, she’d kept getting dragged to parties where she had to force herself to drink. Probably because of that, she never really drank on purpose unless she had no other choice.
It was the very first time that she had decided to go somewhere and drink of her own volition. She would have never guessed that she would be one day sitting alone and drinking a whole bottle by herself.
Sun Ha didn’t really expect that drinking would soothe her wounded feelings. She simply wanted to get rid of all the thoughts that had begun to flood her mind after Kyung Min’s call.
“…Just as I thought, it just tastes bitter and nothing else,” Sun Ha said to herself after drinking some soju.
People said that if your life was bitter then alcohol would taste sweet, but that wasn’t even the case. If anything, Sun Ha’s bitter life made her hate the taste of alcohol even more.
Sun Ha had only told Professor An she hated sweet things so she could decline his offer. In fact, she had always loved them. Whether they were lollipops, chocolate, or cotton candy, her mouth would start to water as soon as she saw them. As soon as she got a taste, a smile would spread across her face, and all the while she’d jokingly think to herself how great it would be if her life could be as sweet.
She felt herself frowning, but decided that it was fine so long as the alcohol clouded her too-clear head. Really, shouldn’t she be thankful to Kyung Min for calling her on a day she had off? If it was any other day she’d be too busy working to have time to mull over her problem with a bottle of alcohol.
As Sun Ha kept wallowing in self-pity, suddenly two men who seemed to be escaping the cold came into the mostly empty bar, which made her drop her chopsticks in shock.
Professor An noticed her right away and gave her a friendly smile. “Sun Ha, is that you?”
“Ah… Professor. Hello,” Sun Ha greeted him awkwardly, standing up from her seat. Though she was looking at Professor An, her attention was completely focused on the tall handsome man standing next to him.
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