On that night after dinner, Lucas told his story bitterly to Jo Minjoon. It was really honest to tell to someone he had just met, but maybe it was easier to do so as they were only related for a day.
Lucas said he was the CEO of a jelly factory. When you heard the word factory it was easy to imagine a low quality food, however Lucas was someone who tried his best to get away of that prejudice. And his efforts returned as a rather good sale.
The downfall of a factory that was doing well happened on a morning. An american program that seeked safety targeted Lucas’s factory. They went to the broadcast with a jelly that contained soil, something that could never happen in a refining process, and claimed that it was a jelly from Lucas’s factory. Also that made up broadcast got popular as it got more than 10% of rating.
Lucas immediately sued the broadcast, however, as the trial took really long the factory was already in a state of downfall. It was Lucas’s dream to manage a jelly factory since he was small. However they say that since then he has lost all of his will. That’s why he became a vagabond and roamed from here to there.
He spent almost three months as a vagabond. After those three months he came back to the 92nd street, but Lucas didn’t have the courage to get inside his house. At that time, it was Jo Minjoon who gave him those 5 dollars. When Jo Minjoon was holding the 5 dollar bill, there were many things Lucas was thinking in his head. The embarrassment of his shabby form to the point people treated him as a beggar, and a strange feeling he got when he was given the 5 dollars. It was a complicated feeling, but thanks to that Lucas could return to his house.
“Jessie won’t forgive me.”
Lucas mumbled bitterly. Jane went upstairs to soothe Jessie, the results were the noises of Jessie crying and Jane’s pissed voice. Lucas sighed and said.
“I’m sorry. To bring a guest to this mess.”
“……A small child will be like that. When you stop feeling sorry, you will be able to go back to before.”
“I wonder…. Would I be able to do that? I left everything behind and left. I had a kid and a wife. I could only think of my sufferings. I’m a bad father.”
“No father in the world can be a perfect superman.”
Listening to that, Lucas replied while smiling.
“But all the children wish their father was superman.”
Jo Minjoon couldn’t reply back. Lucas’s mood was really down to try to console him.
The conversation ended there. Lucas walked sloppily to his bedroom, and Jo Minjoon went to his assigned room. His head was a mess. Lucas’s problem was also his problem, and this house’s problem. Of course it wasn’t a problem he could intervene in because he thought that it was a sensitive family problem.
The problem was the schedule he had after. First, he had to go downtown. He had to get reissuance of his lost card, and needed a proper place to stay that wasn’t Lucas’s house.
“…….Should I ask if they can get me there.”
There wasn’t anything harder than to say something he would regret. It was even more in a situation like this family. It was when Jo Minjoon was sighing and was covering himself with the blanket. It could be heard that the next room’s door was opening with a creak. The next room was Jessie’s room. Where could she be going at this night? Maybe she is running away?
At the moment’s worry, Jo Minjoon opened the door quietly and went out. Jessie was walking sneakily almost to the point that nothing could be heard. And the steps those feet were directed to was the kitchen. Looking at Jessie eating the cold mac and cheese, Jo Minjoon let a sigh inwardly. Right. She’s at the age she should be hungry. If she didn’t eat dinner, then even more so.
Jo Minjoon hesitated a moment and went downstairs. Jessie was startled and stared at Jo Minjoon. Jo Minjoon laughed awkwardly and her eyes were filled with wariness.
“……What is it?”
“Are you hungry? Should I make you someth…. Oh, it’s not my kitchen.”
He couldn’t just use another person’s kitchen. However Jessie could so Jo Minjoon said.
“After pouring some water, put some vinegar and boil it again. Then it will be edible.”
“… … …”
Jessie didn’t reply but she did as Jo Minjoon told her to. She poured water and vinegar in a pot and put it on fire. The vinegar would save the macaronis elasticity at least a little. Of course there was some sour flavor left so it was best to pour just a little.
After sloppily resuscitating the macaronis, Jessie started to eat her late meal without any words. Jo Minjoon just stared at Jessie. In the end Jessie opened her mouth first.
“Why are you looking like that?”
“Your father. I heard the story.”
“……I’m just trying to leave it like that so stop it.”
Jessie replied with a mean voice. It was a rebellious attitude but he didn’t mind. Still, his body was one which had lived as a teacher 2 years ago. He was rather accustomed to dealing with an adolescent going through puberty. He shook his head.
“I’m not thinking of lecturing you. Just to congratulate you.”
“Congratulate on what?”
“That your father came back. Don’t you think it’s a reason to celebrate?”
Jessie didn’t reply. Her long eyelashes, characteristical of white people, pointed down. He could tell with that. That she didn’t hold a grudge against her father unlike what she was showing. Rather she was quite longing for him.
“I’m leaving soon.”
“What does that mean.”
“That you can tell me everything without being embarrassed. That your father came back, honestly you are happy. You have to be happy. If you want to eat something but can’t you keep remembering it. It’s the same.”
“What should I do then.”
Her words were mixed with crying sounds. Jessie was biting her lips. It seemed like she didn’t want to show her weak side. Jessie continued talking while crying.
“Whenever I see Dad I get angry. In the past, he was proud and cool. Why did that kind of person… Why did he get so small? Why did he get that miserable?”
“……It’s not that he got small. Your father aged to the point you can see his small back.”
How many fatherswith broad backs were on the world. Every father is afraid of his back not being big enough in front of his children, but it couldn’t be helped for that day to come. Except he got healthy enough for his age, the children will end up knowing that their father’s back is small. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth.
“I said that I won’t lecture you so instead I will ask you a question. Do you want to hug the small back of your dad or do you want to stop looking at it?”
“It’s not that I don’t want to look at it.”
“So it means that you want to hug him.”
Jo Minjoon smiled after saying that. Jessie turned her head with her eyes flushed. It was a good idea. At least, she was a kid that didn’t know how to hate her parents. It was precisely that she was that kind of kid, that after all that revolt she ended in her room which was in the 2nd floor. If she was a kid that wasn’t fond of her parents then she would have immediately ran away from her house. Jo Minjoon undisturbed, opened his mouth.
“I will cheer for you, do you want to do it?”
Jo Minjoon replied.
“With the things your dad loves the most.”
For example jelly.
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Maled