Nine

4 1 0

"Papa, how are you?" I made my way to sit beside his bed, cupping his hands within my own. My eyes caught a glimpse of the electrocardiograph machine that read his slow heart rate. With a sigh, I looked back to him.

I rubbed at his cold hands to make them warmer. "Don't slow down now, Papa. You still have to see me in my wedding dress. We are coming straight here after the ceremony." I kissed the top of his hand and bit back tears. "So wait for us, okay? We are doing this for you; don't you miss it."

I felt mother's presence even before she laid a hand on my shoulder. "He is going to wait, Lilla. He has been staring at that door for you two, waiting for the day you come wearing your dress." She shakes her head with a small laugh.

"Papa," I start, watching as he struggled to turn his head. He seemed weaker the more I visited him. "I'm sorry I haven't been here often. I got distracted with Jae-won and school."

He squeezed my hand.

"But we will visit together, him and I, from now on." I nodded my head to confirm my words, sucking in a sharp breath. "Just wait for my wedding."

I held him closely to me, feeling my heart starting to break again. My eyes stung as I stared blankly, trying to hold onto tears that always seemed to fall. My chest heaved up and down, slower than ever. The world was stopping again.

"It will be okay."

I looked away from Papa to see Jae-won. I frowned, not expecting him to show up. He hand flowers in his hand and a soft smile resting on his face. With one look to my mother, she was replaced by him and he sat down behind me.

"Lilla, be nice. The wedding is right around the corner," mother warned.

I sighed. "Papa, it's Jae-won. The kid you liked."

It wasn't the first meeting after so long, but it almost seemed like it. Papa's heart rate sped up a little as he looked to Jae, squeezing my hand tighter. His eyes widened as well.

"Hello, sir. I came here to see you today," Jae proudly stated, putting the flowers off to the side on a table. As if it was a usual movement, he easily slipped a hand over top of my free one that rested on the bed.

Papa finally took a breath. He loosened his grip, but didn't lower his eyes as he stared at the both of us. He seemed happy as he did so.

"The wedding is soon. So please be patient for us to come to you." I flipped over the hand Jae rested on, feeling my strong wall slowly crumbling. He intwined our fingers and I held tightly, my heart dropping by every second.

I hated seeing him like this. Being strong before him was even harder then crying my eyes out. I couldn't cry to Papa so I had no one to lean on. My only rock was weakened and I didn't know what to do.

"You are making her cry," Jae laughed suddenly. "You can't make a girl cry, sir. You told me that." He lifted his hand up, tucking a strand of my short brown hair behind my ear. He kissed my temple, surprising me. "Treat them like princesses and they won't starve you."

It looked as if grandfather was making an attempt to smile for him. It was different to see him react to Jae, although he was just here the other day. He was trying even harder to show emotions again.

But why?

"You can lean on me," Jae whispered to me after awhile of silence. Papa had his eyes closed but he still squeezed my hands whenever we spoke to him. Jae-won never backed away from me or let go of my hand. Instead, he had gotten closer.

"What?"

"When you need to cry, hold my hand." He started to play my fingers as he talked. "Don't hold onto the sadness because that hurts worse."

So I did. When we left Papa after several hours, I never released his hand. I held onto it for dear life until we were no longer in the hospital. Even after, we stood outside of his car, doing and saying nothing.

But, without warning, I suddenly crashed. The tears I fought so hard to keep from falling, fell down my cheeks in quick, rapid movements. The sobs escaped my lips and wouldn't stay mute. Even my body began to shake. My control was switched off in a matter of seconds.

"Lilla," Jae called in a slightly stern voice. He reached out behind my head, pulling me into his chest to shield me from others. His arms wrapped around my head as held me closely, letting me cry. I quickly adjusted to the hug, gripping his large back with my arms.

"I can't do it, Jae-won," I sobbed loudly, but it was muffled by his shirt. "I can't be strong."

He spun us around so his back was up against the car and hugged me tighter. "Don't say that. You just have to wait for him."

I cried. "He can't leave me! Make him stay here, don't let him leave me here alone." I clenched my fist, his grey tee in between my fingers. "Don't make this my last memory."

Jae dropped his head onto mine. "How did you do it?" He asked. "How did you hold it in all this time?"

I have no idea of how I held myself together. I barely could register that I would loose my papa. Having to watch him struggle for his life was even harder to swallow. At my age, I did not believe I would have to grow up.

A sob got stuck in my throat, causing me to pull back quickly and try to breathe. It only took me a second before my head shot up to look at Jae-won, surprising him. "You," I whispered. "You can't leave me either. Even if you find someone your age or your soulmate, you can't leave me, okay?"

Jae furrowed his dark eyebrows. "Lilla," he started, but couldn't finish his sentence.

"Promise me, Jae. Please, don't leave me. I don't want to loose everyone."

I guess he could tell I was tearing myself apart thinking of the pain the future held for me. He didn't reply, but he did hold me close again and allowed me to cry on him, just as he said he would.

"You are too young for this pain," he gently told me. "So I will take some of it for you."

------

가슴은 뛰고 있어
여전히 널 보고 있어
자꾸만 숨이 막혀서

아직은 멀리에서
너를 지켜보고 싶어
내가 또 왜 이러는지

The New BrideRead this story for FREE!