Chapter 12 – Bizarre Obsession (2)
Without the memories, Yuri always felt she lived in a weightless state. That fine line between real and surreal seemed to have faded. And as cracks piled up one by one every day, something popped through the cracks. In her case, self-harm or suicide attempt.
After going through it twice, alarmed, her uncle inquired around and took her to Dr. Davis.
Dr. Davis added another name to Yuri’s psychogenic memory illness. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was one of the leading doctors in the PTSD field.
Davis had urged her to tackle the psychological trauma first. In order to do so, it was necessary to know where the whole thing stemmed from. He’d tried hard to bring it out, even going as far as creating traumatic scenarios to stimulate her latent memory. In turn, this would trigger her auto-defense mechanism and she would be able to at least share, if not get rid, of the harrowing experience.
But treatment had repeatedly hit a snag. Yuri’s rejection was beyond his expectation. Whenever she tried to recall even a little bit of memory, she would have severe pain and vomiting after which she’d faint.
Thus, Davis took a step back, saying, “Let’s take our time and go slowly.” He then introduced “Roy Jean”, saying that someone had shown interest when Yuri was undergoing art therapy.
Roy Jean, a famous installation artist, was also a close friend of Dr. Davis. At the time, he was a kindred spirit— down in the dumps, taking a long break from work and under his friend’s professional care. Yuri was offered the position of his assistant. Thereon, he went on to become a teacher, boss, and benefactor to her.
One by one, people started to appear on the empty street. The sun was gradually rising, the day had officially kickstarted.
She was looking out the window, a cup of coffee in hand, when her cell phone rang. It was Roy. Putting her cup down, a surprised Yuri answered the call.
“Roy? How are you doing?”
-I got your email.
“You didn’t sleep?”
-I can’t sleep because of the rain. It’s been raining here since last night. And you?
“I just woke up.”
-Are you uncomfortable at the new hotel?
“No, it’s not. I just had a bad dream.”
Her first stay was at Hotel Seoin. Since the Daejin Department Store had offered to take charge of accommodation during her stay in Korea and made the reservation, she had no say in it. It’s not a standard, but a deluxe room.
At first, she was excited by the unexpected luxury. However, her joy was short lived. She had hardly stepped into the room when Yuri felt her head spinning; her hands and feet began to tremble, she felt her chest tightening. It was a feeling similar to a panic attack. It was a miracle that she’d managed to leave the room without a complication. She had no choice but to ask Daejin Department Store to cancel her stay.
Roy’s voice calmed her thoughts. Somehow, he always reassured her. Ever since he’d saved her from being stuck in that room… dying, she’d developed an uncanny relationship with him.
She could never forget Roy’s face from that day, his eyes that were looking at her when she’d opened her eyes. They held… regret. Since that day, time and again, she had seen Roy look at her with the same emotion.
– When will ‘heart’ get there?
“Well, it’ll be delivered in two days.”
– I see. I checked your email and I think you should change the tone of the main light in the showroom to darker—to bring out the feeling of the abyss. Make the surrounding brighter.
“Yes, I will forward your opinion to Daejin Department Store.”
– How does it feel to be visiting your home country after a long time? Davis said it might help you with the memory.
“To be honest, I don’t know.”
– Is that so?
After talking a while more, as she tried to wrap up the call, Roy suddenly asked…
– Yuri, do you still draw ‘The Man’?
She was speechless and suddenly felt out of breath. She tried to compose herself by taking a breath.
“No, I don’t draw anymore,” she said.
Davis’ art therapy included a session of painting in which she was bizarrely obsessed with one object. No matter the hour, no matter the scenery around, her hands would always end up painting the man. And should she defy this coercive cycle by refusing to draw altogether, the man would visit her in her dream. Simply put, there was no way she’d escape this man.
After she’d hung up, Yuri simply slumped on the bed. She felt like someone had sucked the life out of her. For a long time, she kept staring at her own hands. These were the very hands that had once created masterpieces. They were her magic wand, doing her bidding and leaving everyone mesmerized. Their partnership made for stellar shows.
But now, all that felt like another lifetime. For these hands could do nothing now. They were just that, hands; the magic seemed to have been… lost. They felt soulless… dead. She wondered how it had come to this. She wondered if she were cursed.
Yuri closed her eyes feeling hopeless.
By the time Yuri had wrapped up her meeting with the planning team of Daejin Department Store, it was lunchtime. She was hungry. She, who was thinking of going back to the hotel, rode down the escalator and into the food section of the department store for a simple meal.
Even as she neared the food court, she could smell the delicious aroma wafting from its direction. What greeted her when she entered was a spacious and lively area lined with a variety of kiosks. She was not new to this concept, however, she was intimidated by the food which looked spectacular.
It was a dumpling shop called “Seohwadang” where Yuri circled around and stopped at.
As soon as she checked the sign, she had a slight doubt.
Huh?! Seohwadang… in a department store?!
Seohwadang was the oldest dumpling shop in Jinseong. The ‘shop’ was actually an old hanok that lent a warm touch to its homestyle food and ambience. It was also a popular place to steam dumplings. In the large hanging cauldron in their courtyard, anyone was welcome to dump a few dumplings on their own. Patrons loved the idea of creating their own dumplings and as it gained fame, this cauldron came to symbolize this quaint place. Anyone who was remotely aware of this joint, would recognize the pot at a glance.
Although it was different from how she remembered it to be, right now, in this modern setting, the cauldron was the only item serving as evidence of authenticity. What’s more, the steam rising from it assured her that neither was she mistaken nor delusioned. Indeed, this was her favorite dumpling place!
[T/N: Hanok is a traditional Korean house. They’re quite pretty, take a peek.]
Standing by the order counter, a pleased as punch Yuri, ordered chicken and chives dumplings without further ado. She’d loved this in the past and couldn’t wait to taste. However, the staff who received the order looked troubled.
“I’m sorry, but the item you ordered will take a long time, so why don’t you change it to something else please?”
Ouch, what a disappointment! But… that was something she wanted to eat the most!
Just as she was considering waiting until the staff made a fresh batch, a voice stopped her in her thoughts.
“Minus a serving from my order please. I’ll change it to shrimp.”
Yuri raised her head.
A tall guy, with bright brown hair and beautiful eyes, was looking down at her.