Chapter 16 – Mistake (2)
“Sir?” Have I done something wrong again?
“Give it to me.”
Surprised by his fierce look, Mr. Lee handed over the small ornament to Tae-jun without even asking why.
“What kind of woman was she?”
“Huh?” This assistant was on a confusion spree thanks to his boss’ volley of questions.
“What did the woman look like?” Tae-jun was getting impatient now. Left to him, he’d shake the answers out of this dimwit called assistant.
Mr. Lee stuttered and described the woman as her image came to his mind. “She was tall and fair… I think she had big eyes.”
It was Tae-jun’s turn to bolt now. Getting out of the car, he made it straight into the building. Mr. Lee, stunned, chased after him.
Arriving in the lobby on the first floor, Tae-jun scoured the surroundings, his sharp eyes darting in all directions. His heart was beating fast, blood gushing through his veins wildly. Like a hound in search of a hidden prey in a deep thicket, he felt his senses heightened.
After a long time, his senses as a hunter had come alive. Amidst the crowd, Tae-jun snatched a woman’s arm out of the blue.
The woman held up by him looked at him in surprise.
No. This isn’t her.
God damn it! He muttered under his breath. The energy he felt right around here was gone. He felt as if his life was sucked out of his mouth, helplessness, dejection, and grief suffused his dark eyes.
The woman slipped out of his grasp… a second time.
Tae-jun, who’d changed his schedule to visit the company and thereon his parents’ home, did a u-turn and went straight to his place. All along, he held the ornament between his fingers and examined it closely. It was not branded nor a ready-made product.
As soon as he reached, he went directly to his study and opened the drawer. Taking a picture out of the paper bag in the drawer, he put it on his desk. It was a picture of CCTV footage of the Hotel Seoin.
“Hye-yeon! It is you!”
Tae-jun contrasted the ornament in his hand with the ornament on the woman’s bag in the picture. There was no way he could miss this unique design. It matched! Then he poured out the contents of the paper bag onto the desk and picked out all the other pictures that featured the bag and compared them again, just to be sure. Match again! He glared at the photo to the point he got goosebumps all over his body.
Then, in frustration, he banged his fist on the desk. The pictures laying atop sprang in the air and scattered all over the floor… mirroring the master’s mood at the moment.
Tae-jun, who’d smoked two cigarettes in a row now, called Jin-wook.
“How are things in Jinseong?”
-Sir, I think there was a mistake, just like you said.
Jin-wook’s voice sounded urgent.
Tae-jun ran his tongue over his dry lips to moisten them. In the back of his mind, he was swiftly surmising. Dead Hye-yeon Jin and a living woman. All personal information–false. Right now, his conjecture was leading him to a terrible conclusion, the one he hoped against hope would be untrue.
-I found someone who used to work at the Hotel Jinseong. Her name is Hyun-ah Kim, and she worked at the front desk for a long time. She knows the Jins very well. During her time there, she often saw the family visiting the hotel. But… Hyun-ah says the woman in the picture is not Hye-yeon.
Tae-jun closed his eyes, feeling dizzy. It was a different person. The woman who he believed was Hye-yeon for years was a completely different person!
From the moment he saw the girl walking in the hotel lobby, to the time when he received Jin-wook’s report, a tiny assumption had crept in his mind, the kind he had hoped would be proven wrong and sooner.
Alas, it had been quite the opposite.
Upon returning from the department store, Yuri made an international call to Dr. Davis, ignoring the time difference.
When the half-asleep doctor received the call, he knew the reason without needing to be told. However, he was reluctant to give more medicine.
Listening to his worried voice, Yuri realized she was still a pretty troubled patient, still under observation.
– Your problem is memory loss. If fundamental trauma treatment is not preceded, taking medicine will not solve the problem. You’re not going to eat it all at once, like last time, are you?
No… She didn’t mean to, but she couldn’t get herself to say. The last time it happened, she didn’t do it because she wanted to.
Heck, she didn’t even remember doing it.
It was like she was stuck between the passing time of reality and some parts of the past, and when the gap closes, she explodes.
Davis’ soothing voice wafted from the other end, seemingly aware of the turmoil she was going through at the moment.
– As I’ve said before, this medicine is quite dangerous. I gave it to you because you’re in so much pain, but you shouldn’t keep relying on meds. You know it is not good for you.
After some more advice and soothing, the worried Davis hung the call.
It was not like she was oblivious to his concern, she too was helpless. As his worried voice rang in her ears, Yuri fidgeted with the part where the bag ornament had fallen off. It was only when she was in the taxi that she realized one of the ornaments had disappeared. It seemed to have fallen off when it was caught by a man’s cuff in the elevator. She felt bad for losing it because it was handmade from agate stone.
The headache, which started from walking around the department store, was still tormenting her. When she put one hand on her head, she was able to feel the heat. It was a recurring symptom. Davis said she shouldn’t rely on medicines, but Yuri crawled to take medicine and lay in bed after downing one. Her eyelids quickly became heavy.
Somewhere between dream and reality, on the hazy threshold, someone called out to her.
Yuri, Yuri Han.
The voice was friendly. It was only then that Yuri knew who was calling her.
Little chubby cheeks, eyes that squinted when she smiled, deep dimples… such were the features of the person who first came across her mind when she heard the voice.
Yuri was dragged into some time in the past. A time which remained a hazy memory. Instead of answering the voice, she opened her eyes and called out her name.
It was Hye-yeon Jin.