Woo-hyun’s expression, as he pushed through the door at dawn, sank heavily.
His long eyes were longer today, and his body was slower.
He quickly grabbed a seat as he roughly tidied his messy hair.
After showering in cold water, he dried himself with a towel.
He had washed himself in cold water since he was a child.
He couldn’t tell whether it was because he was surprised and got burned when he went to take a shower on the day he first moved into the house that had hot water, or because his stepmother scolded him at the hospital for using hot water.
Whatever it was, he didn’t shower with hot water.
Although he had a lunch appointment, Woo-hyun moved earlier than usual, at dawn.
He couldn’t sleep all night.
The sound of the rain was so loud that it was hard for him to sleep.
A cat meowed occasionally, followed by the sound of cat steps on the roof.
He had a headache because he couldn’t sleep at all, but Woo-hyun didn’t think it was important.
It was normal to be in pain somewhere.
He still had time after getting ready, so Woo-hyun sat leaning against the wall and picked up the hot pack he had put aside.
He could feel a slight warmth.
He rubbed it around, but the hot pack couldn’t emit any more heat.
The temperature increased because he held it in his hand, so Woo-hyun held it tight.
“Oppa is also a part of our family.”
A long time ago, Eun-soo said that while crying.
In fact, since before his father passed away, Woo-hyun felt out of place.
Woo-hyun knew that his stepmother was uncomfortable with him.
She didn’t usually show it, but she couldn’t hide her feelings at important times.
When he and Eun-soo got injured, when he got burned and they had to pay the hospital bill, when the whole house was shaken by an earthquake and she escaped only with Eun-soo, and so on.
It would be a lie to say he was not disappointed at all, but he too did not like his stepmother enough to crave affection.
He was struggling because he had considered her a member of his family for a long time.
Then, when his father, who was the pillar of the family, passed away, Woo-hyun had no more reason to stay at this house.
He said that he would be independent, as he had just reached 20 years old.
His stepmother replied calmly, but without properly hiding her expression of relief.
It was Eun-soo who objected to it.
Eun-soo chased him around for a few days and begged him not to leave the house.
“It’s nice living together like when we were kids.
I’ll be lonely if you’re not here.
I need you here.
Even for Eun-soo, their childhood memories were like hot burn marks, so she rarely talked about them.
Eun-soo tried to hold him back by mentioning their childhood.
As she did so, the stepmother stopped her and gave hints to Woo-hyun.
Telling him to leave even if Eun-soo stopped him.
Woo-hyun was not sensitive enough to be hurt by such a hint.
He just did his best to make Eun-soo let go of him.
Then one day, he woke up to the sound of crying late at night.
Eun-soo was hugging her knees and crying, in his room.
As he quickly woke up and asked her what was wrong, Eun-soo answered with her face all wet with tears.
“Don’t leave, oppa.
Let’s live together, okay Oppa.”
“I’ve been living with you since I was a child, so how can I live without you If you’re not here either…”
His father had just passed away, and his stepmother was busy working, so she wasn’t at home a lot.
Eun-soo wept, wondering if it was a burden to be left alone like when they were young.
“Oppa, if you leave the house like this, you won’t be returning anymore!”
“Do you think I don’t know you”
Eun-soo shouted as if telling him not to comfort her.
Woo-hyun was speechless.
He had a vague hunch too.
That there would be a day when their relationship would get cut off, and even the name of the family would fade.
His stepmother felt uncomfortable with him, and he also did not consider her a family member, so Eun-soo was the only middle bridge.
He thought that he should call Eun-soo from time to time and meet her separately.
However, he knew that he would naturally become estranged from Eun-soo.
It bothered his stepmother, so there would be fewer and fewer contacts.
However, Eun-soo spoke as if she already knew everything he was thinking.
“So let’s live together.
We’re family, family.”
“I’ll convince Mom.”
“You and Mom are the only family I have now…”
Eun-soo was exceptionally affectionate and cherished the word ‘family’.
She believed that the relationship that existed from birth was mysterious and precious.
She was a pretty child who thought that even though she had lived an awful and empty life.
She was the kind of person who could not become like him in her whole life.