Chapter 19 - A Secret Requestor
‘But what’s the point of mentioning it to Dad? It’ll only make him sad,’ she thought.
All she could do was persevere. She could either keep a low profile at school and avoid being seen by him, or she could pick a fight with him like a crazy person.
Yiyoung thought about it, and soon her face brightened as she made her decision. ‘Let’s just be crazy. Why should I become invisible because of him? Only another psycho could fight against a psycho like him.’
No matter what, she wouldn’t just sit still and wait for him to attack her, knowing that if she became a sitting duck, then it would only become worse. She needed to become stronger.
Hot steam condensed into droplets as it touched her face. As the water boiled, she put the dry noodles into the pot containing the soup base that she had so painstakingly emptied into it. After five minutes, her meal would be ready.
“I wish I had something else to eat.” Yiyoung licked her lips, fantasizing about all the tasty meals she wanted to devour.
It was a good thing that her school provided lunch. The meals were always delicious, so mouth-watering that she wished could have all her meals at the school cafeteria. The food was nutritious too, so she would also grow taller if she could do so.
“I must learn some killer moves from the instructor soon,” Yiyoung muttered as she stirred the pot.
Soon, the ramen was cooked, and she served it on a plate on the portable dining table along with a plate of kimchi. But just as she was about to take the first bite, her cell phone rang.
Yiyoung couldn’t help the smile that bloomed on her face. “Dad?”
“Yiyoung, are you doing well?” her father asked.
She giggled like a small child. “Of course! Who am I? Am I not your daughter? But, Dad, where are you? Have you eaten yet?”
“I did. What about you?”
“Oh, I ate with my friend,” Yiyoung said nonchalantly as she poked around the plate of ramen in front of her. There was no need for her to mention how lonely she was; it would just worry him.
However, Joongho wouldn’t be deceived so easily. He already knew that she had done no such thing, yet he decided not to push it further. “Hey, Yiyoung…”
“This time… I’ll have to stay in the suburbs for a while,” his hesitant voice echoed through the phone speaker.
At this rate, she would forget his face. She desperately needed him by her side, but she held back. “Dad, you’re having a tough time making money, huh?”
Her father chuckled. “You sound like an old lady.”
Yiyoung smiled. The food was starting to grow cold, but she didn’t mind it one bit; talking to her father was much more important to her. It filled the void inside her with warmth, and she needed this warmth to keep going.
“Yiyoung,” her father’s calm voice grabbed her attention.
“Do you remember my friend, Sangsu? The one you used to call your uncle? He used to come over to our house pretty often.”
“Uncle? Sangsu?” She was not familiar with the name. “No, I don’t really remember.”
“Oh, Sangsu would be upset if he heard that. He was really fond of you when you were little,” said her father, voice tinged with nostalgia.
Yiyoung tilted her head in confusion. She usually had a good memory. It was weird that she couldn’t recall who this Sangsu was. “What about him, though?”
“He called me recently. Turns out he actually lives close by. He found out about our situation and is going to look after you whenever I can’t come home. I just wanted to give you a heads up. He doesn’t exactly look the friendliest, so…” her father explained.
No, she could not recall who her dad was talking about. Not even the faintest memory popped up in her mind.
“How old was I when I met him?” Yiyoung questioned.
“You were two years old.”
“Dad. Stop lying,” she said sternly.
“I’m not lying. Just don’t be startled by his looks when you meet him. He’s not a criminal, I promise. He and I are really close. You’re only thirteen, so I’d feel much better if there was someone to look after you when I can’t.”
“I’m doing fine by myself.”
“I know. But you’re all alone, and sometimes I can’t go to sleep because I’m so worried about your safety.”
“Dad…” Yiyoung poked at the ramen again. “Fine. I know you’re lying, but I’ll let you fool me this time.”
Joongho fell silent for a moment, then smiled. “I’ll let you fool me once too. You’re actually having ramen for dinner, aren’t you?”
Yiyoung only huffed in response.
“I ordered a bunch of things for you, so don’t just eat ramen all the time, okay?”
“Don’t you know how good ramen is? But now they’ve become soggy because of you, Dad.”
Her father laughed. “Alright, alright. I’ll call you soon.”
“You’re coming home in three days, right? We have to see Mom.”
“Alright. I won’t be startled when I meet Sangsu who looks like a criminal.”
“Yiyoung… I’m really sorry.”
“Let’s hang up. Aren’t you just going to cry again,” she teased.
“Hey! Dad is allowed to be emotional, too.”
“Is that so? Okay,” Yiyoung joked around like always, trying to put on a front.
Her father wouldn’t cry in front of her, no matter what. But she could still feel them, those silent tears falling from his eyes as he held back sobs.
“Let’s just hang in there for a bit longer,” said her dad.
“Enjoy the ramen!”
“They turned soggy because of you, Dad! It’s enough to serve two people now!” she complained again.
“That’s good then!” Joongho insisted, causing Yiyoung to huff indignantly in response.
“I’ll call you again soon. Stay safe,” said her father, his voice tinged with affection and concern.
“Okay,” Yiyoung replied, and then hung up the phone.
She finally started eating the soggy ramen noodles. It was still good and the kimchi was a perfect combination. For now, this was enough for her. Joongho had ordered more food for her, and she couldn’t wait to try something other than ramen.
‘I can’t wait to taste them! And I don’t have to spend any more money on food now,’ she thought.
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