Chapter 10 - A Touch of Radiance
“Are you okay?” Yiyoung asked Muyeol.
Muyeol hadn’t come to school for the past week. Yiyoung heard that he had been really sick, and from the gaunt look on his face, it seemed to be true.
Muyeol did not respond and silently prepared for the next class. Yiyoung pulled out a bottle of orange juice and put it on his desk. Muyeol stared at Yiyoung in return.
“Drink it. I drink orange juice when I’m sick, and it makes me feel better,” she explained.
It was absolutely ridiculous. Yiyoung meddled in everyone’s affairs, and the only thing she could offer was cheap things like her own self. Muyeol stared at the bottle in discomfort.
Meanwhile, Yiyoung took out her notes. “Here, these are my notes. I’ll let you borrow them so you can copy them.”
Yiyoung’s intelligence was not just an exaggeration. Even though she smiled like an idiot all the time, she scored the highest marks on her first exam. But Muyeol wasn’t interested in any of that.
“No need. I can take care of it on my own,” Muyeol finally spoke.
Instead of feeling disappointed by his rejection, Yiyoung giggled. “Oh, look at you! You’re still so mean. I read in a book that a serious illness can sometimes change a person’s personality, but I guess that did not happen with you.”
Muyeol believed she was spouting nonsense, so he ignored her. But Yiyoung did not stop at merely offering her notes. She walked with him whenever they had to move to a different classroom, talked to their PE teacher ahead of time on his behalf, and a lot more. He couldn’t be bothered to talk to her, so he didn’t try to stop her, and Yiyoung kept herself busy by taking care of him.
Eventually, Muyeol even drank the orange juice she had given him. He thought Yiyoung would stop bothering him if he drank it, but he regretted the thought when Yiyoung flashed him a bright smile the moment he took a sip.
‘What’s wrong with her? Why is she smiling like that?’ Muyeol wondered.
He couldn’t understand her intentions at all. She was being nice to him for no reason. He even wondered if she was secretly plotting something.
“Why are you smiling?” Muyeol asked.
“Just because.” Yiyoung shrugged.
There was no reason for her to smile like that. Muyeol couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Her smile was radiant, just like the sun.
A few days later, Muyeol went to meet Madam Kang like usual. Normally, they would have gone to a Korean restaurant, but Madam Kang had changed the plan this time, wanting to go to an Italian restaurant instead.
“I’m sorry, but Mom was suddenly craving a pasta dish from an Italian restaurant. You’re okay with it, right?” his mother had explained.
“Do what you want. I don’t care,” Muyeol had replied.
“You are so brusque.”
His parents divorced when he was at a young age, and it deprived him of the chance to be a normal child. Because of that, Muyeol couldn’t bring himself to act friendly toward Madam Kang.
He arrived at the restaurant that Madam Kang had told him about, but the woman still hadn’t shown up. Muyeol leaned into the chair as time passed by. His mother never showed up on time, probably because instead of actually wanting to talk to Muyeol, she only treated these meetings as an obligation.
Madam Kang didn’t love her husband, so maybe she didn’t love Muyeol either. After all, she had completely left him in the nanny’s care. After their divorce, he did meet Madam Kang from time to time, but he never received any affection from her.
He had asked her a question one day.
“Why don’t you ever hug me?”
“I fulfilled my duty by giving birth to you,” she had replied.
It was accurate. Perhaps Madam Kang could see the future because before her marriage with Mr. Cha, she had insisted that she receive a share of the company stock if she birthed a son. She had known that Mr. Cha wanted a son to succeed him.
And that had been a brilliant idea on her part. No one had warned her what kind of person Mr. Cha truly was. She had almost been kicked out without receiving a single cent, but giving birth to Muyeol allowed her to receive a part of S Corp’s stock, which people often referred to as non-perishing gold. Her family business did not hold a candle to S Corp, but the establishment was successful enough, and the stock she got after Muyeol’s birth only made her richer.
Muyeol stared out of the window as he continued to wait for Madam Kang. He only got to meet her once a month, and yet he had to wait like this. There were not many things to talk about, given the nature of their relationship, but he still felt sad when he was unable to see her.
After a long wait, Madam Kang finally showed up. Her face was bright like the sun had blessed her. But the glowing sight reminded Muyeol of Yiyoung’s smile, and for some reason, he felt his heart flutter against his will.
“Hi, Muyeol. Sorry, Mom got late,” Madam Kang smiled and took a seat, and Muyeol could not say anything in reply. He was too busy looking at her face. It made him happy, but at the same time, he felt like something was lodged in his throat.
‘What kind of feeling is this…’ Muyeol wondered.
The feeling was similar to the tender warmth that Yiyoung’s smile had filled him with, but there was something different about this.
Muyeol stared at Madam Kang. ‘What is it that’s making me so sad?’
Madam Kang busied herself with the menu, seemingly oblivious to the stare directed at her.
“What should we have? They have a great pasta dish with spring parsley. Do you want it?” she asked. Madam Kang seemed like she had already made up her mind, so Muyeol just nodded.
Madam Kang called for the waiter and happily ordered the food, “Today, we’ll have the spring parsley pasta and…”
From the way she spoke, it seemed like she came to this place often. Muyeol observed the interior of the restaurant. It was a pretty place, but didn’t look like somewhere Madam Kang would frequent; she preferred something fancier.
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