The rumors circulated in every place she struggled to get a job.
The rumors spread faster within the same industry, making it impossible to work.
After changing jobs ten times, there was little left that she could do.
It was even more difficult to find something because she tried to do things that did not require her to face people as much as possible.
Yoo-hwa was only able to deliver the newspaper at dawn, but even that was cut short as demand for delivery declined.
After that, she got a job at a factory that did separation, where she put on a protective suit that looked like a spacesuit, and worked expressionless all day long, without saying a word.
She managed to save her job for one month before rumors quickly spread and she had to quit.
The last place she worked was a mart.
She was really in need of money.
She had a toothache and went to get treatment, but she needed more money than she thought.
She went to an interview with the mindset that she would pass, and she unexpectedly did.
When she started working, she was determined to work until the rumors spread.
However, unlike before, rumors did not spread until two months had passed.
Yoo-hwa tasted hope for the first time.
The sweet hope that people had now forgotten about her.
It was a small mart in the neighborhood, but the people were friendly and kind, and above all, the owner and his wife had a sense of humor and were nice people.
They said it was a pity that she was always alone and would always give her this and that to take back home.
When Yoo-hwa bowed down to thank them for everything, the owner and his wife said, ‘Why are you thanking us for something like this It’s embarrassing.’, and laughed.
It had been a long time since someone smiled at her, so Yoo-hwa lost her mind for a moment.
However, she knew shouldn’t look forward to it.
She knew well how a person that was once sweet and kind to her could change…
Her heart was broken countless times.
But her mind flowed like sand slipping through her fingers, and she dreamed.
Of the ordinary life she longed for.
Of a life where she socialized normally with people and set up a small home with the money she earned.
Perhaps… It would have been possible that time…
But, as always, the dream did not last long.
As soon as she went to work, she felt a cold atmosphere.
People were gathering with troubled faces.
The embarrassed owner and even his wife, who was holding something that looked like a letter with an anxious expression.
Her heart sank endlessly.
The sound of something falling somewhere far away with a thud made her dizzy.
As soon as they saw her, the whispering stopped.
The moment she felt the uncomfortableness in the air, she knew that the day she wanted to postpone with all her strength had arrived.
“Miss Yoo-hwa, can we talk for a moment”
The owner, who called her to the storage room separately, asked her a few questions after hesitating for a long time.
Whether the rumors were true, whether she was living alone, whether she had any relatives, etc.
There was no coherence in his questions, but, unlike usual, she didn’t notice it because of the shock.
“You know, Miss Yoo-hwa, I’m sorry.”
The owner talked about her quitting with a troubled expression.
Yoo-hwa just nodded, as if she were familiar with the owner’s words that sales would be affected if the locals found out.
“Miss Yoo-hwa, you also don’t want the locals to find out and become an attraction for them.
Isn’t that right”
Those words sounded even more cruel, but Yoo-hwa did not answer.
That day, Yoo-hwa returned to her goshiwon room 30 minutes after leaving for work.
(T/N: Goshiwon is a type of accommodation (a small room) usually rented to students preparing for examinations, for a cheap price.)
The whole world was quiet as if it were dead, but her heart was boiling.
What did she do so wrong Was living a normal life that hard to achieve Why was she not allowed to do these things
Yoo-hwa erased all employee numbers, including the mart numbers, from her phone.
The numbers she looked at for a long time when she first added them disappeared in an instant.
Yoo-hwa looked at the empty contacts list and then looked at the only remaining number.
The number she called on days when she wanted to cry like crazy, just to say, ‘Mom, Mom.’.
The eleven-digit number that proved that she was someone’s daughter, whom no one approached, and that had once connected to someone.
Hearing the mechanical voice saying that the number did not exist, Yoo-hwa shuddered and cried.
After crying for a long time, she fell asleep; and after repeating it, she got up.
Her whole body was as heavy as cotton soaked in water.
When she checked the time in the room without a window that looked like a small tomb, it was already dawn.
She sat down on the bed and laughed silently for a while.
It was ridiculous that she was hungry and wanted to go to the bathroom amid all this.
She went to the convenience store on the first floor with her hat tightly pulled down, and bought a triangular gimbap and a bottle of soju.
When she was getting out, someone stood in front of her.
When she reflexively raised her head, the owner was standing there, hesitating, with an awkward expression.