"Your phone just rang," Hyun Su said the second I returned to our table. We were on our oh-so-important fifth date and things were looking good considering we'd only known each other for about four weeks.
"Really?" I said, getting back in my seat. The second I reached into my purse to investigate, it rang again. I looked at the caller-id and saw that it was Ji Tae. "What the fu...?" I said under my breath. Why in the world was he calling me? And why hadn't I deleted his number from my phone? I turned my phone off and put it back in my bag.
"You're not going to answer it?" Hyun Su asked curiously.
I pulled my hair behind my ear and shook my head. Why would I? Nothing good could come out of talking to an ex while on a date with another man.
"Are you sure? It might be important."
"I'm quite certain it isn't." I had nothing to say to Park Ji Tae and even if I did, it wasn't anything I wanted to say in front of him. We were still in the very early stages where we both pretended to be much better people than we could ever dream of being and I didn't want to scare him off quite yet. "So have you decided on your dessert yet?" I asked, picking the menu up.
He looked at the menu that he already had open. "I'm thinking of the devil's food cake," he said, pointing at the picture.
I scanned the menu. Practically everything on it looked so sinfully good that I was sure I'd feel guilty for days. Besides, it wouldn't hurt to at least look like I was watching my weight. "I'll just have the fruit salad."
"I had a good time," Hyun Su said as we walked towards my building.
I turned around and smiled at him. "You were hanging out with me – of course you had a good time."
He laughed and nodded. "True. True."
I shyly looked away as we'd finally reached the potentially awkward part of our date. "So I guess I'll be seeing you soon, then," I said.
"Yes. The show starts at 9 so we should be there at least 30 minutes earlier."
Apparently, his favorite band was the best one I'd never heard of so he wanted to introduce them to me. The concert was assigned seating and he assured me that the crowd would be very mellow so I planned to carry some smelling salts along.
I moved closer to my apartment complex entrance and put my hand on the handle. "Good night then."
"Good night," he replied before titling his head and leaning into me.
I tilted my head in the other direction and waited for him to cover the rest of the distance between us.
He kissed me softly on my lips and when he teased my bottom lip, I parted my lips and let him in. Our first kiss had been a simple kiss that piqued my interest so I was looking forward to discovering what he could do with a real kiss.
The kiss was warm and not quite tingly but he smelled good and I was definitely into it so when we broke apart, I asked him if he wanted to come in for coffee. And by coffee, I meant coffee with just a sliver of making out. He accepted my offer so I walked into the lobby and led him to the elevators.
"Where the hell have you been?" Yun Ah yelled the second I walked through our apartment door. She looked agitated and Han Bi's daughter, Eun Hye, was fast asleep on the couch.
"Didn't I tell you I was going out with Hyun Su?" I asked, pointing at him so that she'd see that he was present and save her hysterics for later.
She glanced at him uncomfortably then said, "But why is your phone off?"
I shook my head. "Someone called and I didn't feel like answering. Why? What happened?"
"Ji Tae and Han Bi are out there looking for you!"
I frowned. "Why?"
"Why do you think? Are you crazy or something! Why bother having a cell phone if you're going to turn it off! What the fuc.king hell is your problem? I can't believe you sometimes," she ranted.
I watched in awe and tried my best to calmly wait for her to explain what the hell was going on but instead, she bent over and picked up her phone and dialed a number. "She's back so you can stop looking for her." She paused. "Yes, I'll bring Eun Hye over to your place and meet you there. See you." Then she looked at me and yelled, "Why are you still here? Go to the hospital!"
Hospital? My heart started beating at a million miles a millisecond. "Yun Ah, what are you talking about?"
"Are you deaf or something? Your mother's at the hospital!"
I ran in the direction the nurse had directed. From what I could gather, as usual, my mother was having issues with her car so she'd been using a rental for the past few days. As she was driving down the highway, the car stalled and that ended in a four car collision. My mother and another driver were in critical condition.
I stopped running when I saw my family gathered in a corner. Mi Soo ran towards me and hugged me. "What's going on? Where's Umma?" I asked breathlessly. She was holding on so tightly that I could barely breathe. "Mi Soo, what's going on?" I asked as she slowly let go of me.
"They're operating on her now," my father said, moving away from the wall he'd been leaning against and walking to me. "Where have you been?" His face was dark with anger.
"I was out…." I couldn't complete my sentence. I looked around the room and it was just a picture of distress. If their faces weren't covered with tears, they were covered with worry. And all this while, while they'd been panicked in hospital, while they'd needed me, I'd been leaning against my door asking someone in for coffee. Sh.it couldn't even begin to describe how I felt. "I'm sorry I'm late, but how's Umma? How did this happen?"
"You're sorry? What were you doing? You weren't at work because I called there. We've all been worried because we didn't know where you were. Where were you?" my father yelled.
I glanced at Hyun Su who'd taken my hand to comfort me.
My father looked at him then back at me then shook his head in disgust. "Is this what you're doing with your time? Everyone's been going crazy looking for you wondering if something had happened and you were out having fun?"
Wasn't I allowed to have a life? And it wasn't like I'd been intentionally ignoring them! "Appa…"
"You've just shown that you can't be depended on. You were needed urgently and no one could find you. We found Mi Soo, we found your friends but where were you? Is this how a grown woman acts?"
I'd never seen my father's face so red and I could understand he was emotional but he was talking like I had something to do with the accident. Was it really fair to take it all out on me? "Appa…"
"You're the eldest child in this family! When will you grow up and take responsibility for your actions?"
What the…? Something snapped in me. "And what about you, Appa? When will you take responsibility for your actions? You know that Umma has problems with cars. She's had them for all my life so something like this was inevitable, right? Why haven't you ever thought of getting her a driver? I'm sure that if you bothered to look, you'd see that you can afford one or I could even chip in! What about that? So please don't talk to me about responsibilities! I'm so s--"
"Hee Soo, shut up! How dare you talk to your father like that?" Ji Tae interrupted.
It was only then that I really noticed that he was there. "AND WHO THE FU.CK CALLED YOU?" I turned to him. "Please, why are you even here? I don't understand this! Why is he here?" I walked around, asking the room.
I waited for an answer but nothing came.
"Is this like a hard question or something? Who called him here? He's not even family or am I missing something and he is my brother? What the hell is he doing here? How the hell is any of this his business? Mi Soo, did you call him?"
She shook her head and looked to my father.
"Appa, did you call him?" He didn't say a word so I took his silence as confirmation. "Why did you call him?"
"If you had answered your phone would I have had to call him? Yun Ah said you were out so I called him."
I hissed. "Why in the world would you think that I was out with him?"
He gave me a look. "We don't need to get into this right now."
"Appa, please tell me what is going on."
He sighed. "A few months ago, he came over to the house to apologize and ask for permission to start seeing you again."
"Wh—" I didn't even know what to say. I was just speechless.
"Even though you hadn't said anything about dating him, he was the only person I could think of. As we both know, you've never said anything about your young man," he said, looking at Hyun Su.
All I could do was shake my head.
"So why don't we all just calm down and wait for the doctor?" my father said, before sitting down next to Jin Soo.
I turned to Ji Tae. The sight of him was setting my blood ablaze. If he hadn't called me, I'd have been at the hospital a lot sooner. If he hadn't called me, I would have checked my missed calls and wouldn't have turned my phone off. If not for him, I'd have been there for my mother much earlier and not have to deal with my father's disappointment. I took a deep breath in. "Ji Tae ssi, thank you for coming but you can go home now."
"Hee Soo, just leave me alone," he murmured. "Go and bother someone else."
"This is a family matter so just go home now." Was it really so hard to leave where you weren't wanted? "This has nothing to do with you so you can leave. Thanks for coming but--"
"Unnie," Mi Soo pleaded.
"Am I saying something wrong? Isn't this a family matter?"
"Hee Soo," he said in an icy tone. He glanced at Hyun Su who was now holding me and shook his head. "Just ign—"
The sudden appearance of the doctor from the other side of the double doors cut his sentence short. We all gathered around him and wait for him to speak.
"The operation went as planned," he informed us.
"Does that mean my mother will be alright?" I asked hopefully. I put my palm on my chest in preparation for a sigh of relief.
"The next 48 hours are crucial so we'll be observing her closely." His face was covered in a thick layer of nothingness. If he had any additional information, he was definitely not sharing it with us.
"Can we see her?" my father asked.
The doctor shook his head. "Not yet but we'll let you know when you can. We don't anticipate any changes for the next few hours so you can all go home and rest."
When the doctor left, my father asked me to take my brother home.
"You're asking me to leave, Appa? I don't want to leave." Besides, I'd only just arrived at the hospital and hadn't even had a chance to catch a glimpse of my mother.
"No, as the doctor said, we can go home for a few hours. Go and stay with Jin Soo and get him ready for school. When you come tomorrow morning, I'll leave."
From his tone, I could tell that there was no use arguing so I walked over to my brother who'd been periodically nodding off and pulled him up. A few minutes later, we were on our way home.