Published at 13th of November 2020 07:35:11 AM
“Wow! I feel so excited!”
As the airplane running on the runway slowly began to take off, Zemma smiled brightly, sticking her face to the window . Min-joon grinned at her as if he understood her feelings . As a matter of fact, he felt the same when he first got on the airplane .
Of course, he felt differently now . During the shooting of the Hunger Trip, he had to change several flights . Until now, he had been to lots of places so many times, so it would be weird if he still felt thrilled when he was on the plane .
Kaya felt the exact same way . As if she was sick and tired of it, she closed her eyes without even looking toward the window .
“I really don’t like flying . I’m sick and tired of it because I fly so often . ”
“Kaya, don’t throw cold water on Zemma’s excitement . ”
“I’m not going to do that, but…”
She pouted her lips while trying to say something then shut up as if she admitted that she dampened Zemma’s thrill .
Min-joon looked back . The three seats on the right were occupied by Kaya, him, and Zemma, and Grace and Bruce were sitting right behind them . Luckily, the seats next to Grace and Bruce were not taken .
Min-joon looked at Zemma . It was so good to see her rejoicing like a child .
He said, “Zemma!”
Although he spoke a bit loudly, she seemed not to have heard it because of the noise outside the window . He reached out and knocked on the window she was looking through . She opened her eyes wide and looked at him .
He asked with a smile, “It’s your first time traveling abroad, isn’t it?”
“Yeah . ”
“How do you feel?”
“She must feel great . Don’t ask her an obvious question . ”
Kaya, who was listening to him, replied cynically .
When he was looking at Kaya sharply, Zemma stuttered and opened her mouth .
“I like everything . It’s because our family members are traveling together, and…”
Zemma was trying to add something, but she smiled awkwardly as if she had nothing to say then shrugged . In fact, she didn’t like to talk long unless she had to . The longer she talk, the more she had to show her awkward pronunciation . She didn’t express her feelings, but anybody who had a speech handicap like her could not help but experience some sort of trauma related to it .
Min-joon could feel that Zemma was troubled whenever she mentioned something about her family . It wasn’t that difficult for him to guess why .
‘It will be a bit difficult for her to deal with Bruce . ’
Kaya and Zemma were in a completely different situation now . Kaya and Bruce had a kinship, but Bruce and Zemma didn’t . Kaya found his biological father, Bruce, while Grace found her ex-husband, Bruce . However, Zemma didn’t know how to call Bruce properly . In fact, Min-joon had never seen her calling Bruce her father .
Perhaps, Bruce must be experiencing the same difficulties . Even though he wanted to approach Zemma comfortably, he couldn’t be sure how she would feel . Above all, he had yet to reconcile with Kaya and Grace first . So, it was natural that he could afford to pay special attention to Zemma at this point .
Min-joon thought to himself, ‘What should I do? What can I do for them?’
Although he didn’t mean it, he found himself agonizing over it more than he thought .
Kaya fell asleep, but Zemma was absorbed in looking out the window .
It was when the flight attendant gave them meal options that he shook off such idle thoughts .
“You can choose between Mushroom Risotto and chicken steak . Which one would you choose?”
“Risotto, please . Zemma?”
“I don’t want it . I’m not really hungry . ”
When Kaya said that, Min-joon turned to her .
She murmured quietly, “The in-flight meal sucks . I don’t want to eat it . ”
“Yeah, I understand . You must be sick and tired of it . ”
“Well, even these days, I’m eating and eating it until it goes to my head . Yeah, every time I go abroad . ”
Kaya shook her head as if she was sick and tired of it . For a person with a keen taste like her, the three-minute in-flight meal must be quite a challenge . She might find it more delicious to grill the onion and eat it alone .
A little later, the meal came out . After tasting it, Min-joon could also share her feelings .
Kaya spoke to him gently, “How about the Risotto?”
“This isn’t far from Risotto . It’s just porridge . I can’t feel the unripe texture of Risotto at all . The sauce was just a regular prototype . ”
“What is the score?”
“It’s been a while since you asked me that . Well, only 5 points . ”
He replied with a calm voice . He missed the fantastic taste when he ate Jambalaya as an in-flight meal in the past . At that time, he was really surprised to know that they could serve such high-quality food as an in-flight meal .
‘If I eat it again now, will I feel the same taste I had back then?’
Honestly, he wasn’t sure because he was completely different from the old him .
He ate too many delicious dishes until now, and he could make them, too . In other words, the criteria he set for evaluating dishes was too high .
‘Since I have become accustomed to delicious dishes, I find the dishes I used to enjoy until now are not delicious anymore…’
That was so funny . He looked at Kaya slightly . Her case was a bit different, but it might be similar to his for now . She got better than before . She was successful as a star chef, which meant she no longer had to worry about the poverty that gripped her and her family for so long .
But did it really made her happy? Could she be happy with money only? Grace met her ex-husband again, and Kaya was continuing to pursue her career . But Zemma hadn’t even found her path in life yet . She hadn’t even overcome her disability yet .
Min-joon couldn’t even imagine how she felt about her disability . All he could do at the moment was just smile and respond cheerfully .
“Zemma, is it delicious?”
“Yes . It’s usually soft and it’s not sticky . It tastes good . ”
“I’m glad to hear that . ”
“You want to try?”
“No . This one is enough . ”
He grinned at her . She looked out the window for a moment after sticking the meat with a fork with an effort . She said faintly while looking at the blue and white world outside the small window, “I didn’t expect I would see this scene on a plane ride . ”
“Well, New York was my only world until now . I just thought I would end up living there for the rest of my life . ”
At that moment, he looked back at Kaya then let out a sigh of relief . Kaya was asleep .
If she had heard Zemma saying that, she would have stared at her sharply with an angry expression .
“Don’t say that . There is no meaningless life unless you don’t give up . ”
“How can you be sure about that?”
“Because I’ve given up, and I’ve picked up what I gave up . ”
“But my case is different from yours . I don’t speak as fluently as you, even though you are a foreigner . ”
He could feel in her sullen voice how low her self-respect was, let alone her self-mockery . He looked at her calmly .
But Zemma didn’t look at him . She just looked out the window as usual with her eyes welling with tears as if she was about to cry .
“Zemma, I can’t say that I know and understand all your hardships . I can’t even guess your suffering . But I can tell you this . I once gave up my dreams . And I justified myself with dozens or hundreds of reasons for it . But when I revived my dream, do you know how I thought of those reasons that made me give up?”
“It’s all bullshit . Actually, they were not the reason . They were only excuses that seemed to be the reason . The moment I decided to pursue my own way, I realized that all the things I thought were high walls that turned out to be just a little higher stairs . ”
“But I don’t even know what is my way . ”
“That’s why we are here . ”
He reached out . When she grabbed his hand after some hesitation, he smiled .
“Wherever you go, I’ll raise you up whenever you fall . When it is too hard for you to walk, I can carry you on my back . But you have to walk by yourself . It’s up to you to make up your mind and move your legs . ”
“Can I do it?”
“You’re a much better person than you think, Zemma . It’s not because you are Kaya’s sister that I like you . It’s because you’re a good person . So, stop hating yourself . Only bad people hate others . It’s bad even if they hate themselves . ”
Zemma did not answer for a long time . It seemed she had a lot on her mind at the moment . She thanked him briefly then closed her eyes . It was when she was breathing roughly that Kaya whispered into his ears, “Thanks for telling her that . ”
“Oh, were you awake?”
He looked back at Kaya . Kaya frowned for a moment as if the light was dazzling then replied in a small voice, “I couldn’t tell you that I woke up . If she knew I overheard her, Zemma wouldn’t like it . ”
“Don’t worry too much . Even if you worry, don’t take it too seriously . Zemma can make it because she is a good girl . ”
“Yeah, I believe so . But I couldn’t tell her about it because I am not the one who gives her advice but takes care of her all the time . ”
He didn’t bother to point it out . He knew what Kaya was trying to say . In fact, Zemma would have felt every day was suffering to her . Watching her day by day, Kaya would have felt it so painful to advise her and steel her mind . Kaya looked back at Zemma, who was fast asleep, then leaned her head on his shoulder with a smile .
“Thanks for being by my side . ”
“You don’t have to feel grateful for that . You’re with me anyway . ”
Kaya muttered in a heavily subdued voice, “In fact, Zemma has always been like homework to me, something I have to take care of and solve by all means . Of course, I’ve never hated her for that because I love her enough to share her heavy burden . ”
“I really appreciate your sense of responsibility . You know it’s not easy to feel it at your age . ”
“Well, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve given Zemma any chance for her to walk on her own . I think I’ve told her, ‘You can’t walk . You can’t run . ’ So, I think I used to carry her on my back . I think I made a big mistake indeed . I’m so sorry for her . ”
“Don’t feel sorry . You’re the nicest elder sister I’ve ever seen . You’re the nicest daughter and the nicest girlfriend I’ve ever seen . ”
Kaya burst into laughter at his praise .