translated by Chi-Young Kim
HIS WIFE was like a roe deer whose leg had been cut off while alive. She writhed in pain, her entire body twisted.
Sang-ho was envious. The right to be tortured, shaking as much as she wanted, the right to cry out their daughter’s name through heavy sobs – his wife had that privilege. He didn’t. He didn’t dare mimic it.
‘I know how you feel, really. But there is a procedure to everything. Please just wait a little longer.’ Pleading didn’t work. ‘I’m not useless. You know that. You think I’m just sitting here not doing anything? Please, just trust me. Just once, just this once.’ Imploring didn’t work either.
That morning, she had shaken him awake. He was jolted out of light sleep. Nothing had changed. He must have been dreaming of a faint hope that he could almost grasp. Miserable and embarrassed, he slowly rubbed his eyes. Had she spent the whole night sitting next to the phone? Her eyes were steeped in fatigue and anxiety, shadows of misery and pain crashing to the surface like waves. He could sense her desperate will not to fall into the deep hole of despair. Sang-ho searched for his pack of cigarettes in the trousers he had flung to the floor the previous night.
‘Listen to me,’ she said, looking straight into his eyes. She enunciated each word clearly. ‘I can’t trust the police anymore. They don’t care about one small child who’s gone missing. I guess that makes sense.’
He broke a cigarette in half. He could already taste bitterness. ‘So what do you want me to do?’
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