He grabbed my hand that was grabbing his collar strongly, but I endured it.
I started shaking because my arm was so tense.

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After a brief power struggle, Lee Sugeol raised his hand that did not hold my hand.
His palm fled toward my head.
I lowered my head and he missed, and even though he missed, a huge pain struck my head.
I strongly grabbed Lee Sugeol’s collar.
Then indiscriminate violence began.
Despite being hit on the head and getting my cheeks torn, I kept holding Lee Sugeol by the collar and tried to knock him down somehow.

I pushed him again to the closet, and then I was pushed back against the door.
My shoulder blades throbbed and now, there was a strong blood taste in my mouth.
The more I got hit, the more painful it was.

The rice and food for a month, also electricity and gas bills that must not be exceeded.
We weren’t robots that could keep it all sharp every time.
The children who were supposed to eat a lot for their ages were wary of each other.
In the middle of winter, the floor was as cold as ice, and we chose to warm the room over hot water at the fixed gas bill.
Everyone got dirty in winter because no one wanted to wash with cold water.
On the day Lee Sugeol came to collect money from me, the kids stood on tippy toes.
Everyone had to laugh even if they were hit on the head.

The fat belly that protruded out, the gold ring on his finger, and crisp clothes that must have been bought from a good place.

Why can’t we kill this kind of bastard?

I didn’t know where the power came from.
Gritting my teeth, I desperately pushed Lee Sugeol.
Lee Sugeol stepped back as he couldn’t endure my weight and then his body leaned backward.
His head bumped against the drawer along with a dull sound, and he completely fell.

“Ack, fuck!”

The moment Lee Sugeol turned his body while holding his head, I grabbed his collar again and punched him.
I sent my fist to his face.
One, two, three, four… Blood splashed with a strangling sound.

My fist twitched.
My chest puffed up as though I had just run at full speed.
The abnormal excitement engulfed my head.
The sensation of hitting felt on the back of my hands was like cheerful music.
Protruding cheek bones, hollow flesh, the hard touch of teeth.
My hands were lighter than ever.

Lee Sugeol’s movement stopped.
I knew I had to stop, but I couldn’t stop.
Then, when I was about to send another punch to the disfigured face.

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“Hyung…”

Following the faint sound of the door being opened, a familiar sound called me.
The swinging hand instantly stopped.
When I turned my head, the kid was looking at me.

The round eyes were shaking.
My heart, which had been running wild, finally subsided.
I turned my head back to look down at Lee Sugeol.

“Ugh…”

Lee Sugeol, whose face was completely crushed, tried to push me with a faint movement.
He was just like an insect.
A big insect.

My hands were as tattered as his face.
Red color.
Only red.
My fingertips were trembling.
Only then did I see what I had done.

I let go of his collar and stood up.
As I turned my body and headed to the door, the kid looked up at me without being able to say anything.
The fear that bloomed on the black and innocent pupils permeated into my skin.
I wiped the blood on the corners of my lips and walked past the kid.
One step, two steps.
The more I moved, the more my heart began to beat fast again.

After putting on my shoes, I kicked the door as I walked out.
I ran down the stairs.
When the strange feeling that swelling on my chest disappeared, fear jumped in.
Lee Sugeol might come after me.
I would die if I got caught.
I would never be able to escape ever again.

I ran without looking back.
My whole body throbbed and my feet hurt, but I didn’t rest even for a bit.
I had to leave this place as soon as possible.
So that I would not get caught ever again.
To the place where Lee Sugeol couldn’t find me.

I felt like fainting while running.
It wasn’t different from feeling wanting to die.

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I didn’t know how far I ran.
I stopped when my breath literally blocked my throat, and my feet were on the verge of stumbling—didn’t feel like mine anymore.
It felt like my heart was about to come out of my mouth.
I felt like throwing up.
I spitted out the overflowing saliva.

The sound of my heartbeat and breath rang loud in my ears as if I was alone in this world.
Finally, I raised my head and looked at my surroundings.
It was a quiet street, and I didn’t know where it was.

I looked behind.
There was someone walking this way, but they were woman.
I looked around absentmindedly, then walked to the alley and plopped down.
Leaning my back to the wall, I calmed down my breath.
The abdominal region that was hit tensed.
I felt like I was going to vomit everything I ate, so I raised up my knees and buried my forehead in them.

Thoughts slowly filled my empty mind.
When my hands and feet got cold and my reason returned, the first thing that came to me was the sense of violence on the back of my hand.
The joints of my fingers tingled.
I repeatedly clenched and unclenched my fist to erase it, but it didn’t disappear easily.

Eventually, I hit a person. 

The feeling of hitting was vivid.
A feeling of excitement rose.
A burst of joy.

My body trembled finely.
The first was hard, but the second would be easy.
I should have held myself because I knew that…

He was a bastard that deserved to be beaten.
I only returned the things that bastard had done.
Yet, the reason for my feelings not getting better was…

I stared vacantly across.
The dirty walls.
A fishy smell that spread from somewhere.
The stinging air that froze the skin.

Being immersed, I rummaged through my pocket for something that I suddenly remembered.
It wasn’t there.
I looked around and stretched out my neck to look over the alley, but nothing was there.

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The present that I planned to give to Yeon Woojeong.
I left it behind.
I tried to look through my memory, and I never brought anything with me when I left the facility.

Ah.

My whole body was drained of strength.
The funny thing was that even at that time, I thought about going back to take it.
43,000 won.
It was never a penny to me.

I, who returned to hell for 43,000 won.
How funny.
But that wasn’t for the money only.
I was curious about Yeon Woojeong’s expression when I gave it to him.
Though it has become meaningless now.

I couldn’t go back there.
I had to wish that at least the other kids would use it, not Lee Sugeol.

The sun had set.
I thought it was a short time, but it seemed like I sat here so long that my butt was cold.
I dusted off my pants as I stood up.
Still, if there was any comfort, it was that I had a place to go back.
Yeon Woojeong’s home.
The place Yeon Woojeong lived.
The only remaining… shelter for me.

Perhaps because I suddenly ran for a long time, my ankles were tingling.
I hobbled to the bus stop.
There was no bus that went directly to Yeon Woojeong’s house from this place.
It seemed like I had to transfer. 

I could have taken a taxi, but I decided to just get on the bus.
I took a seat and I practiced emptying my head, just like Yeon Woojeong told me.
But it didn’t work like before.
Just as the burn marks stuck to the pot, there were thoughts that followed even if they were emptied and discarded.

Things like this wouldn’t only happen to me.
But I also felt like I was bringing this on myself.
Just like the idiom, you reap what you sow.
Would it have been different if I had been a little more gentle, obedient, and compliant, if I had been smart and clever?

Yeon Woojeong might be unable to stand it.
I was just lucky last time.
The day when he got sick of me would surely come.
As I thought about it, I felt frustrated and dizzy.
My body ached as I lost the tension.
It looked like there was still a long way to go.

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As some time had passed after changing buses, I saw a familiar officetel.
A laugh burst as I couldn’t believe that I got used to that kind of luxurious house.

I didn’t know that I would return empty-handed.
Is Yeon Woojeong home? It’d be good if he works overtime and returns late today.
And tomorrow, also on Christmas… If he doesn’t know about me looking like this.
Later, when the wound is slightly healed, I will be able to cover up the story roughly.

My body felt heavy.
I got off the elevator and opened the front door.
Yeon Woojeong’s shoes were at the entrance.
I had no luck except for meeting Yeon Woojeong.
I stood for a while and then slowly walked inside.
He was sitting on the sofa.

“You are… late.”

Yeon Woojeong’s face immediately turned stiff when he saw me.
I headed to the stairs while lowering my head.
A voice came again from behind.

“What about dinner?”

“… I have eaten.”

“Alright.”

That was the end.
Yeon Woojeong didn’t ask anything while I went upstairs.
Although I felt relieved, I felt emotional.
This owing to the thought that, after all, this ended as such enjoyment and interest.

I had to clean myself, and I wanted to take a shower, but I didn’t have any strength left for that.
I took off the coat and then lay down on the bed.
The soft feeling of the navy scarf on my fingertips lingered.
As I closed my eyes, I felt like my body was going to break just like that.

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