Chapter 3 - The Final Hope
Yiyoung’s mother had to undergo medical treatment for a long time. She was declared to be terminally ill, and was informed that she would die soon. However, like a courageous warrior, she battled against cancer. Now each day was like a miracle for Yiyoung’s family; they got to be together for a while longer.
But the medical bills had put a strain on their financial situation. So they ended up selling their house, choosing to rent a house instead. However, when Joongho’s company shut down permanently, their situation became worse. He used to be an ordinary office worker, and his age made it even tougher to get a new job.
Left without a choice, Joongho settled with working at construction sites. From then on, Yiyoung had to spend all her time alone; there was no other choice. Joongho needed to work constantly in order to keep the family afloat, and it was difficult to find any other decent job in Seoul. He considered bringing Yiyoung along to the construction sites, but it wasn’t a good idea.
The people around them had supported her family financially as well; their landlord, Joongho’s friends, Yiyoung’s school teacher… But, despite their help, Joongho soon reached a point where he could not even afford to pay their rent. The landlord had forgiven them a few times for missing payments, but eventually, they were evicted.
Unable to bear the sight of Joongho struggling so hard, his friend found a rooftop room with a cheap rent for him. After that, all Joongho had to do was plan for Yiyoung’s college tuition. But he had no idea where to start. They were in dire need of every penny.
When Joongho had attempted to convince Yiyoung to transfer to another school, he said,“Treat it as mom and dad’s dream. Let us be proud of you.”
“It’s not realistic. On top of that, the school you want me to transfer to is an elite private elementary school. They’ll definitely bully me there,” Yiyoung had replied.
Joongho had looked down in disappointment. Yiyoung was correct. Even if he persuaded her to transfer to the school her teacher had recommended, it would have cost a lot of money.
But Yiyoung was not an average child. Compared to others her age, she was much more mature, having learned how to cook, clean, and get ready for school all on her own. She had endured a lot by herself, but still managed to maintain her perfect grades. Everyone pitied the brilliant child.
Back then, Joongho recalled the conversation he had with Yiyoung’s teacher.
“Yiyoung is a bright girl. But if she transfers to that type of school, I’m concerned she would feel dejected,” Joongho said at the time, expressing his concern.
“You’re talking about Yiyoung, right? No way, Mr. Yoon. Whenever she faces a challenge, that girl only grows stronger. I’ve taught for 25 years, and I’ve never seen a girl like her before. I’m looking forward to her future. Mr. Yoon, I think you can afford to be a bit more greedy.”
At that moment, Joongo had lifted his head, eyes shining with new-found determination. ‘Dejected? Who? Would my daughter ever be dejected? Absolutely not. I know my daughter the best.’
“I’ll take care of your fees, no matter what happens. So why don’t you focus on what you need to do? Go and show off grades to everyone, okay? That’s all I need.”
Still, Yiyoung did not give Joongho an answer until after she visited her mother. When she returned, she finally gave him the reply he had been waiting to hear. “Okay. It might be alright.”
“Just alright? It’ll be great.”
“Yes, indeed,” her father had encouraged, and Yiyoung nodded along.
When she had visited her mother at the hospital along with her father a few days prior, she watched her father force himself to smile as he stood next to her mother’s weak figure, and thought, ‘Is there any hope? How long will this miracle last? Do we… have the strength to endure it till the end?’
A sudden confidence had surged in her in that moment. Whatever chance that came their way, they desperately needed it. They couldn’t give up the hope for a better future.
‘Alright. Let’s just listen to what dad says,’ Yiyoung had told herself. No matter what obstacle stood in their way, she had been determined to overcome them.
“You are truly my daughter,” Joonho had praised her when she finally agreed.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m your daughter.”
Luck had been on their side. An exceptional opportunity had come up for Yiyoung: a school that recognized her brilliance and decided to sponsor her as part of the school’s promotion.
And so, Yiyoung was finally able to transfer into the elite private elementary school.
Yiyoung took out her phone the moment she stepped into the house and called Joongho. He picked up immediately, as if he was waiting for her to call.
“Oh, yes. My daughter. How was your day?”
“Listen to this…”
At the age of 13, Yiyoung met Muyeol for the first time, and entered a new world. But she would never be able to tell how much that affected her future.
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