Looks like it’s going to begin - she thought as she sat in front of the sitting table with the bread and coffee she bought from the bakery. She put down the laptop, which was her first treasure, before putting a plate and the cup of coffee on the table.
She opened the paper bag with the bread in it. The savory smell of freshly baked bread wafted upwards. She grabbed the bread before pulling it apart. The bread was split apart while showing off its spiderweb-like insides.
She munched on the bread as she turned on the TV. She would usually download most of the programs she wanted to watch on her laptop, but she always watched this specific program on TV, though, it was a re-run.
The title popped up on the screen. That family is suspicious. That title was good. Choi Haesoo thought that she should take note of it. She turned the volume up with the remote.
“It’s the last episode.”
She did hear that sitcoms were on the fall these days, and it seemed that they were discontinuing this series just half a year after it began airing. Considering that Soonpoong Women’s clinic, which started off in 1998, had nearly 700 episodes now, sitcoms had gotten really short as of late. As the days changed and people’s consumption patterns changed along with them, those long-running sitcoms might reach their ends.
“Is this country going to go with seasons now like other countries?”
Haesoo thought that it was still too early for that, but she did believe that things will start to change into season-based programs like foreign dramas. That was because ads earned more money that way. There was also less investment risk, so the investors should shift towards seasonal programs. Although there were loyal watchers right now and not that many channels, so they could still make a profit, but it was likely that the throne would have to be handed over to the internet soon. There were all sorts of videos floating around web storage services. When she saw the news that those websites that violated copyright laws earned tens of millions to even hundreds of millions of won, Haesoo believed that capital would start flowing into that place.
Sipping the cooled coffee, she watched the sitcom. When about 4 minutes had passed, a girl appeared, holding a spoon while knocking on her neighbor’s door with an awkward smile on her face. Haesoo’s smile thickened. Her daughter was cute today as well.
Her daughter had gone to the afterparty not too long ago. She looked rather disappointed and didn’t say anything when she got home. When she said that she wanted to act in middle school, Haesoo told her to go ahead without the slightest hesitation. She also told her to do it properly if she was going to.
Her daughter surprisingly did it earnestly. It was to the point that Haesoo was worried that she was going to ruin her body. As a result of that, she was picked for a sitcom and managed to safely finish the last shoot as well. She was proud of her. What was so bad about being a single mother? It was okay as long as she raised her daughter properly - that was what she had on her mind as she raised her child, but in one corner of her heart, she always wondered if her daughter lacked something because she was raised by a single parent. Thankfully, her daughter grew up properly. Haesoo didn’t raise her, she just grew up. Perhaps her dream was to become an actress from the moment she visited Daehak-ro with her dad.
The coffee tasted a little bitter. Her daughter, who had briefly appeared on TV today yet again, left the scene with a grain of rice around her mouth. That hadn’t changed until the end, so that felt rather unfortunate. She was a cute girl if she put on some makeup, though, that look of hers was cute as well. Haesoo was pretty sure that her daughter took after her when it came to her looks.
Looking at the ‘thank you for your support until now’ on the TV, Haesoo switched the TV off. It was time to work now. She put down the plate and the mug before turning on the laptop on the table. She ran the messenger program and the word processor.
“It’s time to do work now.”
The stain on the window, the laundry, the floor she hadn’t cleaned since yesterday, as well as the rather bland-looking wallpaper had to all be ignored. The main enemy of a writer was not traveling that took a long time, but trivial jobs like that. Once she started on one thing, she would not be able to work that day anymore.
She exercised her fingers before starting to write the scenario. The romance novel she released at the end of last year had pretty good responses, so she decided to make a spinoff. She didn’t know that a supporting character could be loved so much. Just as she was tapping on the ctrl key meaninglessly and cursing the white paper in her head, her messenger ringed. She usually turned the notifications to silent when working, but she had forgotten to do it this time. She could just ignore it, but Haesoo ended up clicking on that notification. Perhaps the fact that she hadn’t turned the notification to silent was her subconscious trying to stop her from working.
“That’s a name I haven’t seen in a while.”
A familiar name had a light next to it.
-Unni, can I see you?
She checked the message before replying.
-What’s up for my dear famous writer to message a housewife with a kid.
-Are you busy?
She got a rather shy-sounding reply. Haesoo’s eyes twitched. This person usually didn’t act like this, as she was usually filled with confidence. Seeing her so careful with her words, Haesoo felt rather complex.
-What is it? Did something happen?
-Nothing. I just wanted to see you, unni.
Haesoo looked at the clock on her laptop. 12:40 p.m. She had eaten some bread, but she didn’t feel full.
-Have you had lunch?
-Come out. Let’s go get something to eat.
-Thank you, unni.
-Why are you being so cheesy? Where should we meet?
-I’ll go down to Suwon. Unni, you still live in Suwon, right?
-Yea, but since we haven’t seen each other in a long time, let’s meet somewhere good. I’ll drive up to Seoul, so you treat me to some food, okay?
Haesoo changed her pants before putting on an indigo-colored cardigan. As for make-up, some sunscreen was enough. She had been living as a writer for 20 years and had become a woman who didn’t care much about making herself look good.
“My girl, mom’s going out to meet a friend. As for dinner, eat out with Maru. You know that mom’s cheering for you, right?”
She muttered as she sent a text. She got a reply as soon as she sent it.
-What cheering! Are you going to be back late?
-Why do you ask? Were you going to do something with Maru if I’m late?
-Forget it, I shouldn’t have asked.
Haesoo put her phone in her bag before leaving the house. She drove her car out of the apartment complex and started driving towards Seoul.
“I haven’t been here in a long time.”
It had been around 2 years. Haesoo smiled as she thought about the kid who cried a lot while writing when she was still a secondary writer. That kid had now become a well-known mini-series writer in the drama industry. Matters of the world were really unpredictable.
Haesoo drove all the way to Cheongdam-dong and got off in front of the place they promised to meet before calling her. It had been quite a long time since she called this number. They had been so close before, too. She felt that becoming negligent happened in a short time.
She took her phone off her ears when she heard the voice behind her.
“Lee Hanmi, haven’t seen you in a long time, eh?”
“Unni, it’s been a long time.”
“Are you on a diet these days? You’re so skinny. Though, you always have been.”
“Unni, you look as healthy as always. That’s good.”
“That’s one thing I’m good at. But hey, are you really feeling ill?”
Haesoo touched Hanmi’s cheeks with both of her hands before pushing left and right in a joking manner. She thought that she would feel awkward, but it didn’t feel like that at all. She found Hanmi familiar as though there wasn’t a 2 year gap at all. She even felt rather embarrassed that she hadn’t called her first.
“Why are you so obedient now? You should shout ‘stop it!’ like you used to do.”
“Unni, I’m over 40 now.”
“Already? Nah, let’s not talk about age. I’m kinda scared of the fact that I’m 42.”
“Unni, you really haven’t changed, huh.”
Hanmi smiled faintly. Haesoo felt a little relieved when she saw that smile.
“Let’s go in.”
Hanmi guided the way. Haesoo lifted her head to look at the building. She was somewhat overwhelmed by the exterior of the building which was pitch black. After glancing at the signboard that said ‘House H’, she followed Hanmi inside.
“This place looks expensive.”
“I haven’t seen you in a long time, unni, so let’s get something good.”
“So big-time writers are different, huh.”
“Don’t put me on a pedestal.”
“Are you afraid that you’re going to fall?”
“Well, I might feel at ease if I actually fell.”
Haesoo stopped walking and looked at Hanmi. Hanmi became flustered and said that she was speaking nonsense.
“This place is really good. Unni, you should like it as well.”
Haesoo felt that she was trying to switch the topic. She decided to stay quiet for now. If this girl she hadn’t seen for a long time was not speaking about something, there should be a reason for it. And that reason should also be related to the reason she called her here today.
‘I just need to wait.’
She would probably talk about it if they ate some good food. It was probably her duty as the elder to calm down this uneasy-looking little sister. Haesoo stood right next to Hanmi.
“I’m going to eat a lot. You know how much I eat, right?”
“Go ahead. It’s fine even if you eat a lot.”
They were guided by the waiter to the 2nd floor. The tables on the 1st floor could be seen as she climbed up the stairs. The tables, which were placed regularly throughout the restaurant, were occupied by couples who looked their best, as well as middle-aged people who boasted their mature beauty. Haesoo looked down at her clothes. Perhaps she should have changed her clothes. She came here thinking that they were going to eat pig skin and drink soju like the old times.
They were led to a room with a curtain door around. She could see a bar on the other side. Although there were separate rooms here, it wasn’t that the rooms were soundproof. In the first place, that was to be expected from how there was a curtain instead of a door.
“Order anything you like.”
“Hey, you know I’m weak with English. You do the order. It’s been a long time since I came to a place like this, so I don’t know anything.”
“Then I’ll leave it up to the house. What about drinks?”
“I brought a car you know.”
“But we haven’t met in a long time.”
“Looks like you really set your mind on it huh. Alright, I’ll have to tell my daughter to sleep by herself tonight.”
After ordering, Hanmi spoke again.
“I still can’t believe that you got married and even had a kid.”
“You feel jealous because a tomboy like me got married?”
“I thought you’d stay single your whole life.”
“Hey, you are being quite strong even though we just started. Though, that’s more like Lee Hanmi to me.”
“Is your girl obedient?”
“Of course. I wonder who she takes after to be so smart. She does everything by herself and makes me sad at times. I wonder if I’m really a parent.”
“You are way too blessed. A friend of mine told me that she regrets marrying every day.”
“At times like that, she should just split up.”
“You are really cool when it comes to things like that.”
“Not as much as you, though.”
Haesoo laughed as she looked at Hanmi. It felt like 20 years ago all over again. Haesoo was a senior in the creative writing department in college, while Hanmi was a freshman. Haesoo took a liking to Hanmi at a glance and dragged her semi-forcefully to her club, and they stuck together until they graduated. Everyone in the creative writing department knew the two alcoholic sisters of Dongchun university.
“What are you saying? I told you you peed on the blanket that day.”
“Hey, let’s set things straight. Was I the only one? What about you?”
“Like hell. Should we gather everyone from the class of 83? Everyone else remembers except you.”
Haesoo laughed as she talked about old events. The tired-looking Hanmi returned to her bright expression as soon as they started talking about memories. When they were in a heated conversation, the food came out.
“I was just feeling hungry because of all the yapping, nice timing.”
“You still use the word yapping huh.”
“I blurt it out from time to time.”
After eating the pieces of complimentary bread, she ate the mysterious appetizer. It seemed like some fried jellyfish or something, and when she dipped it in sauce and ate it, the crispy texture and the slight acidity tasted good.
“Unni, you still write, right?”
“I do, every day. Magazines, magazines again, and then some novels, and sometimes congratulatory speeches.”
“A congratulatory speech?”
“You are good at writing after all.”
“You are mocking me, aren’t you?”
Haesoo drank a sip of water before looking at Hanmi. Having returned to talking about reality, Hanmi was just fidgeting with her fork as though she had lost all of her appetite. Haesoo felt frustrated from just looking at her.
“What happened to you? I was waiting for you to say something, but this won’t do. I can’t wait.”
“Do you know what my girl used to say when I tried to take her to the dentist when she was young? I’m fine, it doesn’t hurt - that’s what she said. Your expression right now looks the exact same as hers. Didn’t you call me because you wanted to talk about it to me?”
Haesoo nearly pulled out her hair before moving next to Hanmi. She saw Hanmi closing her mouth firmly.
“Is it a man?”
“No, I don’t have a man.”
“Then what is it? Did you get scammed?”
“I would’ve gone to the police if that happened.”
“Then what is this problem that made the almighty Lee Hanmi so shy?”
After hesitation, Hanmi eventually spoke.
“Have you seen my drama?”
“New Semester, was it? I did. Now that I think about it, that annoys me. You didn’t even tell me about this one, did you? When did things get so cold between us.”
Hanmi lowered her head.
“I’m just joking. It’s my fault for not calling you when I'm the older one. Oh, and I’m enjoying the drama. It was good, you know?”
“Yeah. It’s just what I expect from a youth drama written by Lee Hanmi. Why are you talking about it all of a sudden? Don’t tell me you….”
Haesoo stared at Hanmi’s lips. A while later, those lips started moving again.
“What do I do? I can’t write anything.”
“This isn’t the first time, is it? Just think about the number of manuscript sheets we wasted trying to write a short story when we were young. A slump is just….”
“I ended up copying.”
“Copying? Copying what?”
Haesoo looked at Hanmi who closed her eyes.
She had an idea, but Haesoo intentionally suppressed that idea.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Uh oh, Maru's premonition was right...
Oh, boi. I wonder if Haesoo knows Maru is acting in her drama.