Sungyoon had a blank expression on his face as he looked at an apartment building. It was a large 1,800 sq. feet apartment building in Mok-dong. Normal people couldn’t even dream about living in these luxury apartment buildings. He looked out of place like an alien that had just drifted onto Earth.
Before meeting Miyun, he had cleaned and groomed himself. He looked presentable. But now, he looked to be in worse shape than the time when he had been flung to the ground by Jaeho’s security guards.
His face looked gaunt before, but now he looked emaciated. One could see his cheekbones. His hair was tangled every which way, and he had a rough-looking beard. His clothes were crumpled and emanated an odd smell. It was unknown as to when he had washed his clothes. However, Sungyoon didn’t care. He had lost everything. He had been betrayed, and he had fallen to the bottom. His eyes were empty.
However, a little bit of life suddenly returned to his eyes. His eyes reflected everything he had lost, but he had one thing left. She was his greatest and most precious treasure.
A small girl ran towards Sungyoon as she chirped like a bird. Sungyoon’s face lit up when he saw her. There had been sadness, despair, and grief on his face up until that point. But, it all disappeared in one moment. Love appeared in place of those emotions. There was so much love in him that it was overflowing.
The little girl was Woo Shinhae. She was Sungyoon and Miyun’s daughter.
“Aigo! My cute daughter!”
Sungyoon tightly hugged Shinhae. Shinhae didn’t hesitate as she hugged her father. He was shabbily dressed, and there was a moldy smell to him. Yet, she didn’t hesitate to rub herself against him. He could feel her body heat. It was a unique warmth that was special to little children. It was as if spring winds were sweeping through Sungyoon’s withered heart.
“Have you been doing well?”
Sungyoon looked into her eyes as he spoke.
Shinhae was the child produced between a handsome couple, so she was really cute. The child actors who appeared on TV couldn’t hold a candle against her. This wasn’t the rose-tinted opinion of a parent. It was an objective truth.
Her eyes were large and bright. She still had her baby fat, so her cheeks were chubby. Her hair had a bobbed cut, and it reached down her neck. It really highlighted her cuteness.
“Mmm. Not really...”
However, Shinhae was unenthusiastic as she gave her answer. When his daughter's face fell a little bit, Sungyoon’s eyes turned sharp.
“What is it? What happened”
Did something already happen? Sungyoon unconsciously raised his voice.
“Nothing happened. Stop trying to nitpick everything.”
He heard a cold voice and raised his head. The warm love, which had been written all over his face, was gone. The only thing left was cold anger that raged like the arctic winds.
“Why would she react this way if nothing happened?”
She had been his loving wife, yet she was now a hateful bitch in his eyes. He growled towards Miyun, but she didn’t even blink an eye.
“I just stopped paying attention to her. She is no longer my daughter.”
Sungyoon was filled with anger, so he was about to stand up.
He felt a light pressure on his sleeve. Shinhae, who had been in his arms, had grabbed his sleeve. Sungyoon, who had been ready to stand up, stopped. He was put in an awkward position, so he sat down once again. Then, he hugged Shinhae.
“It’s alright. Everything is alright.”
He lightly patted and rubbed his daughter’s back. As he was doing this, his eyes remained trained on Miyun.
“Does your father and mother know you are acting this way?”
He took a quick glance at the residence behind her as he asked the question. The large apartment was owned by Miyun’s parents. It was their residence.
Maybe, he was grasping at straws. He had no love for Miyun anymore. However, a small part of him expected better of the people he had called father-in-law and mother-in-law.
However, the daughter had taken after her parents.
“Of course. The two of them were a big fan of my plan.”
“I see. Your whole family is trash. You guys aren’t even human.”
This was their last chance to see their granddaughter, yet they hadn’t come out. He could already guess their stance on this matter.
“You can think whatever you like. Even if we are all trash, it is better than being a beggar without money.”
It was as if she was choosing to say the worst possible words to him. She was disgusting. It was almost a talent. It really was a mistake to leave Shinhae with her. Even if it would have been tough on him, he should have kept Shinhae by his side.
“Let’s go home, Shinhae.”
He grabbed his daughter’s hand as he stood up. When she saw them hold hands, Miyun spoke as if it were an afterthought.
“Keep your promise.”
Sungyoon whipped his head around to glare at her. But she was unperturbed as she moved her mouth. She didn’t vocalize it, but Sungyoon could tell what she was saying by reading her mouth.
If Sungyoon moved to harm either Jaeho or Miyun, she would immediately move to get the custody rights to Shinhae as her mother. Sungyoon unconsciously balled up his fists.
“Dad, it hurts!”
Sungyoon became surprised at his daughter's voice. He loosened his grip. It seemed it had been quite painful for Shinhae as her face had crumpled. But despite her pain, she didn’t let go of Sungyoon’s hand.
Sungyoon bit his lips as he turned his back to Miyun.
“Don’t worry. I’ll never associate myself with snakes. In fact, don’t you dare come close to us.”
“You should worry about yourself. You have nothing I want. Why would I hang around you?”
Miyun turned her back on the father and daughter.
“Ah! Didn’t you say this when you proposed to me? You said you’ll make me happy. Congratulations, you kept your word. You allowed me to acquire enough money that I’ll be happy for the rest of my life. I want to thank you for that.”
Sungyoon didn’t reply to her. Miyun didn't plan on hearing his response in the first place. She turned around as soon as she said all she had to say, and walked into the apartment.
The divorce papers had already been sent out. This was the final straw that finalized the separation between Sungyoon and Miyun as a married couple.
Sungyoon quickly walked away. It was as if he was escaping a filthy location infested with bugs. Shinhae was a child, so his pace was a bit demanding. However, she didn’t complain. She stuck close to Sungyoon. She almost ran as she got out of there.
Shinhae should be sad since she was being separated from her mother. However, she didn’t turn back even once to look at where Miyun resided. She already knew. The person, who was supposed to be her mother, had abandoned her.
* * *
The building was a two-story single house. It was located at the outer edge of Seoul. This place was quite cheap compared to the rich neighborhoods at the heart of Seoul. Still, it was a house in Seoul. It was quite expensive compared to houses in the countryside. Moreover, this was a single house with two floors. It meant the owner of the house was wealthy.
However, Sungyoon was no longer the owner of this house. He was the former owner. He was in a worse situation than most average Joe now.
He had taken Shinhae from his former in-laws' house, which had been a den occupied by demons. In the end, Sungyoon took her to his old house. Even though it was no longer his house thanks to his debt, he still had time before his house would be auctioned off through foreclosure. Above all else, he had no other choice. His parents had already passed away, and he had no relatives. He could entrust Shinhae to no one.
When he entered the front door, he saw that the interior was clean. Miyun had always cared about outward appearances. So, she had used cleaning services quite often. Miyun’s fingerprint was all over this place. If one went by appearances, this place looked like a model house.
A lot of fancy furniture and fixtures decorated the place. However, red stickers for bankruptcy were all over them. It really ruined the elegance of the house and created a gloomy atmosphere.
Shinhae had not been to this house in a while, so she was happy. She took off her shoes and ran into the house. She jumped up on the sofa in the living room, and then she started rolling around.
Sungyoon looked pleased when he saw this.
However, the good feeling didn’t last too long. His head started to hurt when he thought about the future. He had a mountain of debt, yet he had to provide food, clothing, and shelter. Moreover, there was something Korean parents worried about, above all else. It was the expenses incurred when educating one’s child. Sungyoon pressed down on all his worries. It felt as if a heavy weight was pressing down on his shoulders.
He was looking blankly ahead as he thought about the life to come when Shinhae called out towards Sungyoon.
His daughter was clutching her stomach as she looked up at him. Sungyoon decided to push away his worries to a later date.
“Yes, let’s eat.”
When he looked outside, the sun had set. It was dark outside. It had been a while since he had seen his daughter, so he wanted to buy her something delicious. He brought out his wallet and rooted through it. He found a couple of ten-dollar bills crumpled within. He also had credit cards, but they were basically useless plastic. When he checked his pockets, he only found a couple of coins.
It wasn’t too long ago that he always had 500 dollars in his wallet. Many credit cards used to be at his disposal. This made his current situation that much worse.
“Dad, I want a fried egg! I want to eat a fried egg!”
Shinhae pulled on Sungyoon’s sleeve as she spoke. Sungyoon just stared at her.
From what he knew, Shinhae didn’t like to eat fried eggs. She was like every child her age and loved eating pizza, galbi, and chicken. However, she currently had a bright smile on her face as she asked for a fried egg.
It was said that children were quick on the uptake. Shinhae was only five years old, yet she was worried about him. He was very thankful to her. He also felt very miserable for putting his five-year-old daughter in a situation where she had to make such choices. His eyes reddened.
However, he couldn’t shed tears in front of his daughter, who was acting mature for her father.
“... yes. Let’s cook some fried eggs.”
“Yes, yes! Sunny side up! I like it sunny side up!”
The fact that he was in bankruptcy didn’t mean everything had been repossessed. At the very least, he had enough food to not go hungry for the near future. He took out the remaining eggs from the refrigerator and stepped into the kitchen.
The kitchen was clean. If he thought about it now, it was rare for Miyun to cook. She sometimes made rice, but that was it. They ate out most of the time, or they bought side dishes from stores. Most of the cooking utensils inside the kitchen were basically new.
He put oil into the frying pan and put the heat on high. At the same time, he took out the side dishes from the refrigerator. Shinhae was already sitting in front of the table, and she was watching her dad set the table. He cracked open two eggs and placed them into the heated frying pan.
The clear egg white turned white in an instant, and savory smell emanated into the air. He broke open the yolk and sprinkled some salt on it. When one side was done, he flipped it. Soon, two scrumptious fried eggs were ready. Sungyoon put them onto a plate.
Shinhae raised both her hands in the air when she saw the fried eggs put in front of her.
“Huh? Aren’t you going to eat, dad?”
She asked the question when she saw both fried eggs placed in front of her. Sungyoon just shook his head from side to side.
“Daddy likes side dishes. Shinhae can eat both of them.”
Shinhae hesitated for a moment. She wondered what she should do in this situation. However, Sungyoon urged her to eat the eggs again, so she started eating the fried eggs with rice.
Sungyoon picked up his spoon, and he ate a spoonful of rice. As he did so, his gaze remained on Shinhae. He was chewing the food in his mouth, yet he could barely taste anything.
‘Yes. I didn’t lose everything. I still have Shinhae.’
He had lost his company, his house, his wife, and his friend. However, he still had his daughter, who smiled for him. She believed in him.
‘I’ll only live for this child from now on.’
Sungyoon made a promise as he watched his daughter energetically eat her food.Previous Chapter Next Chapter