Life, Once Again! - Chapter 249
He thought that he would never have to come back here again. After all, he considered that he had finished his job here by telling his father of his success that day. In one sense, it was a proof, one that he was right and that his father was wrong. Geunsoo was able to smile back at his father when his father saw him off with a smile. If it was before he had matured, his father’s smile might have churned his innards. He might have shouted at his father to admit that he was wrong. However, ever since he had experienced what society was like, he realized that becoming angry was supposed to be reserved for something precious, and judged that becoming angry at his father was just a waste of time since the relationship between the two was pretty much meaningless. That was why he gave back to his father the cheapest smile he could make. Seeing his father’s smile become stiff, Geunsoo felt that everything was over.
‘And yet here I am.’
He pressed the passcode into the door lock. The passcode hadn’t changed. His father’s meaningless obstinacy could be felt here as well. He was probably waiting for his son that he believed one day would lower his head to him and come back.
He opened the door. The first things he saw were a pair of trainers tidied up neatly, and the second one he saw was Geunseok who hurriedly exited his room. Geunseok, who clearly seemed nervous, looked at him with a dazed expression for a while. Geunsoo waved at him first.
“Long time no see.”
“…Why are you….”
“I think you know the reason better than I do.”
Geunsoo took off his shoes and entered. He pushed aside Geunseok who attempted to block his entry and opened the main bedroom. He could only see the neatly tidied bed.
“What about father?”
“He’s not here yet. Rather than that, what are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it about time he comes back?”
Seeing Geunseok so restless, Geunsoo smiled bitterly on the inside. This was the first time he saw Geunseok so restless since middle school. At that time, he took Geunseok to Daehak-ro while holding his hands.
“F.u.c.k off from this place.”
That shout didn’t contain any tyranny but just desperation and unease. Geunseok kept looking at the door with shaking eyes. It was as though he felt that the world would end once the door opened.
Geunsoo opened the refrigerator to take out some cold water. Meanwhile, Geunseok walked towards the veranda with uneasy steps. He was tiptoeing to look outside. He was probably looking for their father’s car.
“Hey, are you crazy? What are you going to do if father comes home?”
“Don’t get excited and drink some water. You look pale.”
Although Geunsoo offered Geunseok a cup of water, Geunseok did not accept. In fact, he swung his arms and hit it away. The cup left Geunsoo’s hand, hitting the refrigerator before shattering into pieces. Geunseok, who was panting in anger, became shocked when he found the shattered glass pieces and water all over the ground.
“I, I need to clean it before father comes home.”
Geunsoo stopped Geunseok who was about to pick those shards with his bare hands. Just what made him like this? Geunsoo felt as though Geunseok was really standing on the edge of a cliff. He was practically struggling to come back to life.
“Are you still going to keep living in this house?”
Hearing those words, Geunseok flinched. He raised his fear-stricken eyes to look at him for a while before shaking his hands off him and started picking the shards up again.
“Get out. Don’t get your hands cut.”
Geunsoo brought a dishcloth and gathered the shards up before dumping them into the trash can.
“If you’re here to bully me then just go. I’m miserable as it is.”
Geunsoo then asked his brother while looking at him in the face.
“Did you get beaten by father?”
When Geunsoo himself told his father that he would continue the acting club, he received a slap on his face. When his face was turned against his will, he felt a sense of defiance welling up inside him, and revealed those feelings to his father without restraint. After that, there was no violence. Rebukes and reprimands became harsher, but there was no physical beating.
Geunseok started taking steps backwards with a fearful expression. This was a reaction he saw frequently since young. This impolite brother has splendid judgement in situations that were under his control, but the moment anything escaped his plans, his thought process just stopped. Usually, people at least try to take action in situations that were beyond their control with tenacity and get through the matter, but Geunseok had nothing like that. The moment he encountered a barrier, he would go into a groggy state. It was as though he was a car engine. An engine was perfectly capable of handling what was within its RPM limits, but the moment that limit was breached, it would immediately start failing.
Geunsoo realized that his brother’s reaction was not normal. This wasn’t at a level he would be from just a few rebuking remarks. He was stricken with fear. He scanned Geunseok from top to bottom. He was wearing a long sleeved shirt and full-length pants. As Geunseok was sensitive to heat since young, he would wear short sleeved shirts and shorts starting May. The fact that he was wearing long sleeved clothing meant that…
“Why are you wearing long sleeves?”
“Is it bad to the point that you can’t tell me?”
“Please, just don’t ask anything and just f.u.c.k off!”
Geunseok ran away to a corner and screamed. To Geunsoo’s ears though, it sounded like a desperate plea for life.
Geunsoo’s expression stiffened as he approached Geunseok and grabbed his arm. Both he and his younger brother were around 180cm tall. Although Geunseok’s physical stature was larger, Geunsoo won in terms of pure strength. Taking down his struggling brother, Geunsoo rolled up his younger brother’s sleeves. Although the forearm didn’t have any wounds, he could see blue bruises on his upper arm.
Geunsoo frowned. Even if his father decided to have the kid lie down and stomped on him, this kind of injury wouldn’t be here. Moreover, there were also long bruises as though he was hit by something thin. At that moment, Geunsoo’s eyes caught a golf bag right next to the air conditioner.
“Did you get hit by that?”
“No, I didn’t.”
Geunseok was about to cry. Geunsoo then had a look at Geunseok’s back. He could see bruises underneath his clothes. The moment he saw those blue and black wounds, he felt his mind go cold.
“He actually went all the way.”
This went beyond discipline. Geunsoo considered his father to be capable of restraint despite being authoritarian, but it seemed that he was mistaken. Geunseok swore at him and tidied his clothes. He could practically see the strands of rage emanating from his brother.
“Don’t put your nose in my business and just f.u.c.k off!”
His younger brother really wasn’t cute. However, he couldn’t just let him be.
“Hey, you should leave the house.”
“Come to my house. You can take care of the food and the laundry.”
“Are you crazy? If father finds out, I’m dead. F.U.C.K.I.N.G DEAD!”
“You’ll die even if you stay here. I don’t want to see a news broadcast telling me that a kid died from domestic violence. He crossed the line. Beating up a kid with a golf club? He’s out of his mind.”
“Go alone. I have to stay here.”
Geunseok shook his head and did not move from the spot.
“You’re staying here?”
“Don’t pretend that you care about me at this point. He does not like you being with me, so just please, just ignore me like you always did! I’m f.u.c.k.i.n.g disgusted by you pretending to be a brother after all this time.”
Geunseok expressed his animosity. Seeing that, Geunsoo was reminded of a violent dog full of injuries. A pitiful fighting dog that wags its tail to its owner despite being pushed into a dog fight arena; the dog that thinks that it’s easier to obey its evil owner rather than biting him and running away. He was pitiful. If it was not for the fact that Geunseok was his brother, he would have called him foolish, rather than sympathize with him.
‘But he is my only brother after all.’
He couldn’t let Geunseok live and die like a dog without being able to express his own opinions. Geunseok had never defied his father before. His father was also human. He stopped once he felt that it was risky. That could be seen from how he himself just ended with a slap. His father never risked himself by pushing someone that might endanger him into a corner. How devious was that? And that devious man must have seen Geunseok’s true nature. He was his own son, it must have been easy to figure out what kind of person Geunseok was. An obedient dog that will never escape his hands. Their father should have evaluated Geunseok as such.
“He might beat you up with a golf club again tonight. Tomorrow, and the day after that will be no different. It might not end. And you’re telling me you’ll endure all that?”
“If you can’t resist, then at least you can try to run away. Father will not keep beating you up. That man detests a nick in his reputation more than his death, so he won’t go that far. However, I can assure you this. You will have to continue eating the food that that man gives you and continue living the life that he wants you to. You should be used to that kind of life right now, but you still have the energy to resist. Right now, you can still do it.”
Geunseok clenched his teeth and stared at him.
“If you don’t do it now, you might have to wait for his orders for you to even breathe. Is that how you want your life to be?”
“What do you know about me…”
“I don’t. But I can clearly see how things will go in the future. You’ve already started submitting to that man, so he’ll see you as some kind of doll that he can play around with as he wished. The bruises on your body are proof of that. His control over you will only rise in the future. You’ll eventually find yourself lucky to be just beaten up with a golf club.”
Geunsoo then sighed.
“When I took you to Daehak-ro when you were in middle school, I thought you’d change. I believed that you had developed your own dream. However, you didn’t change at all. You only listened to my words instead of father’s for that brief moment. And now, you’re an obedient kid that follows his father. Geunseok, the only things that don’t express pain are dolls. The less you express yourself, the more father will treat you like a doll.”
“…Just what do you want me to do then?”
“Leave the house. If you can’t resist, then you have to run away. I’m capable of supporting you. Though, you’ll have to support yourself once you’re twenty.”
“Father won’t let me be.”
“You can do what you’re good at.”
“What I’m good at?”
It was at that moment that the door opened after a few beeping noises. Their father entered as he loosened his tie. Geunsoo greeted him with a smile.
“I’m here to visit a little.”
“Father, Geunseok has something to say to you.”
Geunsoo grabbed Geunseok’s shoulders and pushed him front. If he wasn’t able to say anything here, he was planning to take him by force.
“Something to say?”
Taking his shoes off, their father slowly approached Geunseok. Geunsoo felt Geunseok shaking. Although Geunseok was more than 10cm taller than his father, his mentality seemed to be younger than a three-year-old’s.
“Hong Geunseok. What is it that you have to say to me?”
“I, I, I….”
“Hong Geunseok, what did I teach you? You should always say your words clear and loud.”
Hearing those words, Geunseok’s shakiness disappeared like magic. Geunsoo smiled bitterly. Their father’s shadow that was cast over his younger brother was too thick.
‘But still, it worked in a good way.’
Ironically, it seemed that their father’s supreme order made Geunseok regain the courage to speak. Though, whether it was indeed ‘courage’ was another story. In any case, it was a good thing that Geunseok was able to speak now.
“I’ll stay at big brother’s place for a while. If you don’t allow it then….”
Geunseok had a really hard time saying those words. It was as though he was confessing a crime. At the same time, he was rolling up his sleeves. Geunsoo glanced at his father. He could predict the answer.
Before Geunseok even finished his words, their father interrupted.
“I said go ahead.’
Geunsoo pushed the still surprised Geunseok’s back.
“You’ll see my car once you get down there. You can get on it.”
Geunseok staggered as he left. Geunsoo then closed his eyes and looked at his father.
“You’re quite something. Now that he’s all grown up, you have the thought of beating him up with a golf club?”
“I don’t know what you’re saying at all. Rather than that, why don’t we have a drink after all this time?”
His father took his coat off with a clear smile. Geunsoo felt as though there was a disgusting stench within the house.
“It looks like telling the police won’t do anything good since Geunseok will not admit anything. You know, now that I think about it, you wouldn’t know how glad I am to have defied you back then. If I kept staying here, I would have the same eyes as him.”
“Geunsoo. I really don’t get what you’re trying to say for a while now. I did pat Geunseok a few times because he didn’t obey me. That’s something that occurs in every household, isn’t it?”
“Really now? I did sometimes see the news telling me that the South Korean domestic disciplinary methods were fantastic, and I see now. So that’s what’s happening in every household. Good to know.”
Geunsoo made the thickest smile he could towards his father. When he did, his father’s smile thickened as well.
“I hope we don’t see each other in court. I mean, I was called a lunatic once, so even I don’t know what I might end up doing once I’m into something.”
“You’ve gotten good with your jokes. Why don’t you join me and my friends for a drink one ti….”
Geunsoo held up his middle finger to his father before leaving the house.
The door slammed shut. The next moment, a loud noise could be heard behind the door. Geunsoo deemed that it was the ceramic vase on top of the shoe rack that just shattered to smithereens. After all, it looked like the perfect shape to throw.
He took the elevator down. He saw Geunseok obediently sitting inside the car. Getting in the driver’s seat, Geunsoo started the car.
“You can wear that to school tomorrow. And get your clothes while father isn’t home. If you don’t want that, then you can just buy them anew. I leave the house a lot, so clean the house and do the laundry. Also, you’ll have to make your own food.”
“…Why do you care about me?”
“Because I don’t want you appearing in my nightmares. I do feel a bit of responsibility as well, and I’m very slightly worried about my foolish little brother. The biggest reason though, is that I don’t want things to go as that man wishes. Put your seatbelt on.”
The roads were dark. Geunsoo gave glances to his little brother while driving. Thanks to the tension leaving his body, he was sleeping. Geunsoo sighed before speeding up, all this while, thinking about what to do with this new little brother of his.