Three

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My hands sat between my lap as I twiddled my thumbs. My head was bent down and I listened to my parents speak to Jae-won. I couldn't wrap my mind around the situation, so I let it be and just waited.

We all sat in the hospital room, surrounding Papa's bed. He looked at us with an expression that made it seem like he was happy again. Although he couldn't speak, when asked a question, he answered through his movements.

"Dad, are you sure about this?" Mother asked again, staring at Jae-won with mixed emotions. "Can't they wait?"

I looked to Papa. "Squeeze her hand for yes, don't move for no."

He didn't move. Mom let out a breath. "He made his final decision, Lil. Just bare with it, my baby. Jae-won will take good care of you."

I glanced to Jae-won before reaching over to Papa's other hand. "I'm doing this for you, okay?" He squeezed my hand tightly, and I smiled, knowing if I didn't tears would start to fall.

"The wedding is next week," mother tells me, watching my reaction carefully.

"So soon?" My heart raced as I thought of it.

"You know your papa isn't doing well, dear. He wants to see photos and such, too." Her free hand came up to my hair and she combed it back. She cupped my cheek and forced my attention onto her.

My eyes looked into hers. "Yes, mama."

The couple in the background came up, greeting my mother and I. According to Jae-won, it was his parents that I had met when I was younger. I could only manage a light smile in the situation, but I assured them I would be a better person to talk with at another time.

While my parents chatted with the couple, I took it upon myself to leave the room. I headed towards the office around the corner, knowing water and other refreshments were available. With each step I took, though, my heart felt heavier.

I grabbed a cup of water off the cart hanging around the second waiting room. A large hand reached out beside me as well, grabbing the cup next to mine. I moved so I could look at the owner of the arm.

"Lilla, you don't drink coffee?" Jae-won asked curiously, sipping his drink lightly and following me towards the seat area.

I sat down. "No, I can't. It makes my stomach sick. Almost all caffeinated drinks do."

Jae-won raised his eyebrows in surprise. "I didn't know that."

I sighed, taking a gulp of my water before speaking again. "You can speak freely with me. You don't have to talk in English."

"That would be easier," he laughs, his eyes shinning brightly as he looked to me. "But I have to practice more if I want to live here."

I nodded. Through the silence after the short conversation, my mind grew clouded with other questions burning to come out. "Do you want this?"

He turned, his brown spiked up hair moving slightly in the process. "Want what?"

"The marriage."

I frowned at the empty response I was use to receiving from papa. Jae-won didn't say anything to my question, but instead stood up to throw away his cup. He came back and sat next to me again, his lips sealed shut.

"Aren't you going to regret this? You're only twenty-two," I say quietly, hoping I wasn't pushing my limit with the questions. I lifted my gaze up to him, his attention already on me.

"And you are only fifteen," he countered, his gentle eyes fluttering as he spoke. I pouted my lips and furrowed my eyebrows, wishing his answer was a bit different. "Cute," he said suddenly, reaching out a long finger to poke at the section between my brows.

I pulled back, rubbing the spot with a deeper frown. "Don't do that," I slightly whined. I could hear his laugh above my head, making my face form into a scowl. "It's not funny."

Jae-won calmed himself down, his lips turning into a bright smile instead. "You're cute."

I shook my head with a sigh. "First thing we need to do is work on your vocabulary. It's quite minimum." I drank the rest of my water before we both headed back to the room.

"Jae-won, when are you starting work?" Mother questioned the moment we entered again. She lost her focus with his parents and had moved onto the child instead.

"Tomorrow, actually," he responds proudly, smiling happily at her.

Mother clapped loudly. "Oh, how exciting! Lilla can make you a lunch box for your first day!"

Jae-won disagreed. "It's alright Mrs. Jax, I can make it myself."

I was thankful that I wouldn't have to make him something, feeling a bit nervous on how he would think of my cooking skills. But mother insisted that I was to make him lunch and deliver it before school started. "It's okay, Jae-won," I tell him after a minute. "I'll make you a lunch box."

"What is it?" Jae-won's mother asked in Korean. I realized then that she didn't understand a word we spoke and felt a guilt seep in.

She must not have learned English with her son.

"Lilla has decided to make a lunch box for your son," my father translates, smiling at me.

Chang-Seong butted in, looking at me with a disgusted expression. "Her cooking is gross, though. She always burns the food!"

My eyes widened as I stared at my brother, trying to hold back my words. I raised my arm quickly as a warning that I would hit him, making him flinch. "You little-"

Jae-won's chuckle made me pause. "I am sure she will do a great job."

I faked a smile in agreement, a light laugh escaping from my lips. I immediately looked to Chang-Seong, a dark glare forming. "Right."

"When is the wedding?" Jae-won's father asked, looking towards anyone who would answer.

"Next week, honey," came his wife's quick reply. They both glanced at me, to which I smiled gently in hopes they would be satisfied. "Does she know how the ceremony works?"

Mom nodded. "Dad liked to teach her the traditional ways. Chang-Seong is the only one who doesn't understand."

"I heard my name," Chang-Seong yelled. "I understood that."

I faked a smile. "That's the only part you understand."

He mocked me, pouting his lips and making noises. "Yeah, whatever. I don't need to learn anyway."

I rolled my eyes. "Dad learned for mom, you should learn too."

Chang-Seong argued. "Why should I?"

"Then you can understand when I call you stupid," I yelled back quickly. Mom threw a harsh glare my way and I took a step back, lowering my head.

Jae-won's mom seemed impressed. "She is..." She struggled for a moment, searching her brain for the right word. "Good. She is...good."

Mother smiled. "She is a good child?"

Mrs. Bak nodded. "Ne(yes)"

"She really is," mother agreed. Her eyes turned to my husband. "Take good care of her, okay?"

"Yes."

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가슴은 뛰고 있어
여전히 널 보고 있어
자꾸만 숨이 막혀서

아직은 멀리에서
너를 지켜보고 싶어
내가 또 왜 이러는지

My heart is racing
I’m still looking at you
Because I keep running out of breath

I’m still watching over you
From far away
Why am I being like this?

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