Why did she do that?
Why did she think that she was the only one who was getting older and sick for the last ten years? There was nobody who could be free from the effects of time.
Rachel, who was standing upright because she could not sit down, fell onto the couch as if she had lost all strength in her legs. Jack looked at Rachel with tears starting to form in his eyes. Rachel shook her head in disbelief.
“That’s not possible. You were clearly selling bread……”
“Lisa is now thirty years old. If you start counting from when she was young, it’s been over twenty years that she’s been working with dough. If you are looking for talent, there should be nobody better than her.”
The conversation stalled. Rachel could only stare at the empty fireplace with a blank expression. Her thoughts were jumbled. No, actually, there were no thoughts in her head at all. There was just a terrible sense of helplessness and guilt surrounding her. It was at that moment.
A short and chubby girl started to speak in a drowsy voice. Rachel slowly turned her head. At the end of her eyes was a young girl wearing pink pajamas. Thick eyebrows, curly brown hair, and her small lips that were covered by her hand that looked like a tiny dumpling, the girl was letting out a cute yawn. Jack smiled gently as he reached out his hand.
“Ella. You woke up.”
The girl named Ella fell into Jack’s arms. Rachel felt strange watching Jack’s hands gently tapping Ella’s back. His hands could not mold dough anymore, but could hold his granddaughter. That truth was warm……but also felt cold.
“Is she Lisa’s child?”
“Yes. Ella. Say hello. This is Rachel. Grandfather’s……”
Jack stopped talking for a second. He briefly made eye contact with Rachel before looking at Ella again and smiling softly.
There were no grandfathers who could say negative things in front of their granddaughters. Well, as long as they had love in their heart that is. At Jack’s words, Ella looked at Rachel and smiled brightly.
“Nice to meet you! My name is Ella!”
“Yes. Nice to meet you. You look just like your mom.”
“Heh, my mom is pretty. Oh, grandpa, I need to go to the restroom.”
“Okay, go ahead.”
Ella swiftly ran towards the restroom as if she was being chased. Rachel, who was looking at Ella from behind with a smile slowly started to talk.
“I don’t know either.”
Rachel looked towards Jack. Jack started to mumble in a sad voice.
“No matter how much I ask Lisa, she won’t tell me. Maybe even she doesn’t know who the father is.”
“……Lisa is a good kid. That’s not possible.”
“Hmph. Where in the world would you find a good girl who lives without her husband and tears her father’s heart into pieces. But more than that, Rachel. You didn’t see how that kid has been living for the past ten years.”
“But I saw the 20 years before that. The Lisa I watched grow up is definitely not immature. Even now, she is taking good care of you by your side. She’s also followed well in your footsteps.”
“Don’t act all gentle after all these years. I don’t want my heart to falter again.”
“……The debt I owe you, I promise to pay it back.”
Jack quickly asked. However, Rachel did not know how to answer that short question. Jack did not get angry and started to speak in a calm voice.
“If you don’t know, I will tell you the way. Whether you follow it or not is up to you, Rachel.”
She did not worry about it. She did not have the qualifications to worry about it. Rachel answered.
“I will follow it. No matter what it is.”
“……Is it that you can’t read the mood or won’t read the mood?”
Table. Jo Minjoon had finished all the bread that he had ordered, and had bought more things, such as tortillas, hot dogs, and sandwiches as he continued to eat. Anderson could not understand Jo Minjoon right now. He’s not the type to be oblivious, but seeing Rachel being serious like this, how could he still be so calm?
Jo Minjoon opened his mouth in a relaxed voice. However, he did not open his mouth to answer, but to take a bite of the tortilla filled with tomato sauce and cheese. Anderson spoke in a harsh tone.
“Answer my question.”
“What is there to answer? It was neither can’t read nor won’t read.”
“Then how are you so relaxed?”
“There’s nothing that’ll change with me being serious. How do you act when your parents fight? Will you also become serious and start to raise your voice?”
“……I wouldn’t do that.”
“It’s the same thing. Rachel teacher and …… ah, Mr. Jack Hudson. Regardless of what they talk about, us going up there and throwing around our weight won’t do any good. FYI, when adults are fighting, the role of the children is to innocently smile brightly.”
“I understand what you’re saying……”
“So eat. I’ve seen you eyeing the bread since earlier. Be honest. You want to eat it too.”
Anderson turned red at Jo Minjoon’s words. The breads truly did look delicious. Since he skipped breakfast, the smell of carbohydrates and butter felt sweeter than normal. (TL: What kind of smell does carbohydrates have?)
In the end, Anderson grabbed a sweet potato cake. Just like that, he emptied his plate two more times, and when he went up to make a purchase for the fifth time, Lisa stared at them like they were strange.
“Our store does not want to make a customer suffer from stomachache. Are you sure you’ll be okay eating more?”
“Do you think delicious food will harm a person?”
“I’m not sure. They do say that medicine is bitter while poison is sweet.”
“I’m not sure because I’ve never eaten poison.”
“……I’m not speaking from experience either. That’ll be $4.40.”
Around the time they started to head back to their table, the number of customers started to dwindle down. The reason was simple. They were already running out of bread. Earlier, there was so much bread you couldn’t help but wonder if they could sell it all even if they were open all day, however, being able to see the bottom of the stands already, Jo Minjoon started to shake his head.
“Do all US bakeries do this well?”
“Of course not. You must know since you’ve tried their bread. They’re different than normal bakeries.”
“Now that you mention it, you must come here often. Do you know Miss Lisa as well?”
“We recognize each other. But we aren’t close.”
“Not surprising. You’re not the type to be friendly with people.”
Anderson frowned but did not reply since it was the truth.
Rachel’s conversation ended up going longer than expected. When the door soon opened, Anderson and Jo Minjoon both turned their heads at the same time, but only Amelia came out. Amelia sat down next to them before speaking.
“Huuuu, it’s tiring. Can I eat one of these breads?”
“Of course. Please eat it. How’s the situation?”
“I’m not sure. It’s neither good nor bad. Reconciliations are always like this. The feeling of abandonment is always like this too.”
He understood reconciliation, but could not understand what she meant by abandonment. As if she could read what Minjoon was thinking, Amelia started to nibble on the rye bread with cream cheese while speaking.
“Ah, you probably don’t know about it yet. Mr. Jack has already retired. Not because he wanted to, but because his body could not handle it anymore. He’s no longer in a state where he can bake.”
“……That’s such a sad story. Then just why……?”
Jo Minjoon stopped in the middle of his question as if he figured it out. His gaze was on the bread in Amelia’s mouth. Amelia nodded her head.
“Lisa is a brilliant baker. Jack is no longer able to stand in front of an oven. In that case, there’s some meaning for the daughter to fulfill her father’s last dream in his place. Plus, past that, the two had to meet at least once. ……Right? Lisa.”
Amelia smiled brightly as she turned around. Lisa approached them and looked down at Amelia with a dull expression. She started to speak.
“Amelia. You can’t do this.”
“Even you knew this was homework that needed to be completed at some point.”
“……My father is very tired.”
“Once he can get past today, he might actually end up gaining some strength.”
“Minimally, you could have given me a call beforehand about the situation.”
“I guess that’s true. Sorry. That was my fault.”
The apology was too fast. Lisa looked like she had something else to say, but she was unable to say it and just ended up sighing. Amelia put the last piece of bread in her mouth and looked behind her. There were no customers and there were no breads left on the stands. She started to speak in a disappointed voice.
“Do you have anymore spare bread?
“I have some dough. Should I give that to you?”
“……I’ll just fill myself up with some jam.”
Amelia grumbled in a disappointed voice. It was at that point that the door opened and a small girl, Ella, walked quickly as if she was alarmed. Then, she bent over so much she looked like she was falling down, before hugging onto Lisa’s leg.
“……Ella. Mommy told you that you can’t walk around in your pajamas.”
“Yes……but I like my pajamas.”
“You have a pretty daughter.”
Jo Minjoon spoke honestly. The little girl was very cute and adorable. She would be comparable to the child models on TV. Ella peeked at Jo Minjoon after he spoke, and with a look of embarrassment, she laughed before hiding behind Lisa’s leg. Lisa let out a sigh.
“Ella, please don’t pull on mommy’s clothes. Mommy’s clothes will stretch.”
Although Anderson was not the type to like children, even his gaze was quite gentle while looking at Ella. It was at that moment that they could start hearing footsteps heading towards them. Jo Minjoon’s smile was gone from his face as he stood up from his seat.
“The conversation……did it go well?”
“It did go well, but……”
Rachel stared at Jo Minjoon with a strange expression. Jo Minjoon could not understand the meaning of her gaze. At that moment, Jack reached out his hand after staring at Jo Minjoon.
“My name is Jack Hudson.”
Jo Minjoon shook Jack’s hand. Did he have arthritis? Although his hand was shaking, it was not odd. Once they let go of their handshake, Jack started to speak.
“Rachel says you are her new hope?”
“Teacher does say good things about me.”
“Then, do you think it’s misplaced hope?”
It was a casual question, but not one that could be casually answered. Jo Minjoon vigorously opened his eyes before answering.
“No matter what kind of expectation teacher has of me, I will make sure to live up to those expectations.”
“……Even if she asks for some unrealistic expectation such as bringing her a star from the sky?”
“She’s not the type to have such unrealistic expectations.”
“No, that’s where you are wrong. I am being extremely serious when I say this, but this friend is crazy.”
Rachel’s lips moved for a second. It looked like she was about to say something, but since she was guilty for how she acted the last ten years, she could not say anything about it. Jo Minjoon held back his laughter before speaking.
“I know that teacher used to be pretty bad in the past.”
“……The only one who this bad girl could not stand up against was Daniel. Daniel had something Rachel didn’t have. I don’t know whether to call it intuition or whatever. But anyways, I hate this selfish old lady, however, I have to admit one thing. She’s one the top five chefs in the world. You……will need to fill the area that such a person is lacking in. Even then, are you still confident that you can meet her expectations?”
Jo Minjoon did not hesitate even for a moment. Jack started to frown. However, it did not sound like Minjoon was speaking with arrogance from a youngster’s lack of knowledge. Jack started to speak.
“I’ve heard that you have absolute taste. Yes, that is definitely a special talent. I’m sure that one day, you will be a chef that everybody will know about.”
“Mr. Jack. I’ve never considered my absolute taste to be special. It’s a little more sensitive than average. However, that is it. The reason I am not worried about meeting teacher Rachel’s expectation is not because of my tongue.”
“……Then what is your reason?”
“The fact that dishes taste better the more you devote yourself to it.”
After saying that much, Jo Minjoon looked to his side. There was about a finger-length bit of a brioche still remaining. It was an 8 point dish. Jo Minjoon immediately put the brioche in his mouth. Then he slowly started to read the system window that slowly opened up in front of him.
“I can tell a lot of things by just eating this brioche. After making the dough, every time you spread the butter, you let it rest for three minutes. I can also tell that you used four egg whites and five egg yolks when you made the dough.”
Instantly, Jack’s eyes started to shake. It was the same for Lisa who was next to him. They had heard plenty of rumors about Jo Minjoon, however, for him to prove it with bread that they had made, it was a weird feeling. Even Ella, who was still hugging Lisa’s leg, had a look of shock.
“However, all this does is give me some information. In the kitchen, as a chef, the things I need to think about are not much different than anybody else. Absolute taste? I can see a completely different world with the power of my absolute taste? Of course it does give me some help. However, the customers that we serve are people who have a regular sense of taste. I’m not much different than any other chef.”
“……Fine. Let’s consider that to be the case. Then what is the reason Rachel should trust you and rely on you? If there really is no worth to the special nature of your tongue, which part of you is it that Rachel must find worth in?”
It was an unexpected answer. He thought there was some special talent Jo Minjoon would bring up, but that was not the case. Jo Minjoon could not do that. If talent determined everything, if your limit was determined from the moment you started……he could not stand such a reality.
He did have some talent. Even without the system, his tongue was sensitive, and his intuition when it came to recipes was creative, but still realistic. However, that was not an overwhelming talent. Overwhelming talent, that was something that Kaya had.
That’s why talent had to be a wall you could overcome. Kaya’s rival. He could not accept that it could all end without him ever getting there. Jo Minjoon continued on in a boiling voice.
“I’m sure many people live by putting sincerity on their plate, however, I also have the vitality, youth, and desire to push forward. Just as a dish taste better the more time you put into it, I believe it must be the same for chefs.”
“But you must know that that is not the reason Rachel likes you.”
He felt his heart clench. Yes, although Rachel was looking at Jo Minjoon, she was not looking at the real Minjoon. She was looking at the Jo Minjoon with absolute taste that was drawn in her mind. Jo Minjoon briefly bit his lip. At that moment, Rachel put a hand on Jo Minjoon’s shoulder.
“No Jack, you’re wrong. Minjoon’s tongue is not what I rate highly.”
“Then what is it?”
“Minjoon. The person.”
At this unexpected answer, both Jo Minjoon and Jack were at a loss of words. Ella, who had been looking at the three of them with wide eyes, pulled on Lisa’s clothes. As Lisa turned her head, Ella motioned for her to bring her ear closer. She quietly whispered in Lisa’s ear.
“What is it, Ella? Are you hungry?”
“Mommy, how was that mister able to guess how we make our bread?”
“……Yes. He did. Were you surprised?”
Ella vigorously nodded her head. Six years old. It was a very young age, however she had seen many people who came to look for Lisa to ask about the recipe and returned without any success. The recipe for bread was a mysterious question nobody could solve. To her, Jo Minjoon, who was able to solve that question……
“Is that mister a fairy?”
“Mommy said that nobody could find out our bread recipe. Since he can figure out something nobody can find out, he must be a fairy. Right?”
She didn’t know what kind of logic was going through Ella’s head, but it would actually be weirder for a child’s deduction to be realistic. Lisa just nodded her head. At that moment, a non-realistic conclusion was formed in Ella’s head. Jo Minjoon is a fairy. There was only one fairy she knew about. That led to a conclusion. Ella asked with a shocked expression.
“That mister…… is Tinkerbell?”
<Party Members Wanted (3)> End
Translator : Miraclerifle
Proofreader : Miraclerifle