Suhyuk made the rounds for each patient’s room, checking their conditions as usual.
Inside one room was a 32-year-old man.
With an IV on the back of his hand, he was snoring heavily on the bed.
Smiling gently, Suhyuk looked down at him.
He was a patient who underwent laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
“You’ll get better soon.”
Then he moved to another patient’s room.
She was suffering from a traumatic diaphragmatic hernia due to an accident caused by falling.
She was also fast asleep, with her eyes closed.
She could have had a chest wall incision caused by the fall, but she was very lucky.
If she had arrived at the hospital a bit later, she might have been in a dangerous condition.
Adjusting the IV fluid hung on her arm, he soon went out of the room.
Suhyuk kept taking care of patients like that, and soon he was done with the day’s work.
Walking through the hallway, he took out his cell phone.
He leaned against the wall. The cool feeling of the wall he had on his spine seemed to cool off his head.
Suhyuk then called someone.
“Looks like you’ve made your decision.”
“Ok, then. What do you want to do? I’m not forcing you to do this.”
“I’d love to go to the United States.”
There are many patients over there who are in need of a doctors’ care.
In his mind he thought of his father getting into a taxi, moving with a limp, and his mother who tidied up his gown.
“I thought you would say that. You had better get a passport first. You have to go directly to the Immigration Office. You have to prepare many things. Therefore, you don’t have to come to the hospital starting tomorrow. Let me tell the hospital director in advance.”
After calling him, he went back to the lodging.
Arriving there, he touched the door knob all of a sudden.
It was a resting place for him where he could take a nap.
When he entered, he saw the double bed first.
His room mate was not there. Most likely he would still be taking care of the patients.
Suhyuk perched on the bed, and touched the mattress as if he was caressing it.
It was soft. Once he lay on the bed, he fell into sound sleep just like a log.
Everything in the room seemed afresh to him.
One single gown hung on the hanger, and the stethoscope before the bookshelf, and a pen next to that.
With these accessories, he met a lot of patients.
Suhyuk smiled at that. He would not be leaving for forever.
He would come back in one year, which in of itself, was not that long a time.
Suhyuk began putting his stuff into a box.
As for his things, he had only a few.
One box was enough for his stuff.
The next morning he left his lodging.
Holding a box, he went to the cardiothoracic surgery department.
“I already heard about it. One year?”
“Yes, sir. Thanks so much for your help.”
Im patted him on the shoulder.
“It was me who felt thankful to you. Don’t hate me too much.”
Actually Im found it troublesome to deal with difficult patients. So, he let Suhyuk take care of them instead.
Though he was worried about Suhyuk, since he was in his first year of residence, he did his job so well.
“As you know, I’m not leaving this place forever...”
“Well, I will miss you from time to time.”
During his absence, Im would have to do all the unpleasant work.
And the two interns said, “Goodbye, doctor. Please come back when you’re done over there.”
They bent their heads, and so did the nurses.
Suhyuk was going around the buildings to say goodbye to the medical staff.
And then he headed to the elevator to move to other buildings.
At that moment, someone called him, “Sir!”
Suhyuk turned his head at that voice.
It was Park Sungjae, who ran up to him, short of breath.
“I heard that you’re going to the United States.”
With a smile, he nodded.
“When are you coming back?”
“I’m not sure, but I’ll stay there for about one year.”
“By the time I come back, I guess you will have become a good doctor.”
The elevator arrived, and Suhyuk got on it.
“I’m going to apply for the cardiothoracic surgery department, sir.”
Suhyuk’s smile was no more seen when the elevator door closed.
Binna, gasping for breath, was pacing around in the lobby.
He was seen nowhere.
Her eyelids were red.
She kept moving her head to look for him.
“I might not see him…”
Binna now moved out of the lobby further and further away.
She could not find him there, either.
Was he on the bus now that just departed from the bus stop? Or was he inside the taxi disappearing in the distance?
She took out her cell phone to find a text message.
<Are you available on Wednesday evening?>
Today is Monday, so it’s the day after tomorrow.
Looking at the phone, she nodded her head.
Her tears dropped onto the LCD of the phone.
<Sure, I am. Yes, I am>
When Suhyuk opened the door of his house, his father’s eyes became wide.
He should be very busy at this time of the day.
And what about the box in his hands?
It seemed as if he was fired.
Suhyuk crossed over the porch, saying, “I’m going to take a rest for several days.”
His father, who was lying slantly on the bed with one of his legs plastered with cast, lifted his upper body and said, “Why? Did you make any trouble?”
Suhyuk smiled, saying, “No, daddy...”
Suhyuk explained to him about his plan.
His father made a quiet smile.
He could not help but be happy when his son was going to a large hospital in the US.
Though he was usually brusque, he did not hid his joy this time.
“Yes, how nice! Come on in, and take a rest.”
Suhyuk looked at his cast.
“How do you feel now?”
“Well, I wonder if the bone fracture has been healed already. I feel like I can already walk…”
“You have to stay like that for four weeks without moving,” said Suhyuk.
“Ok, got it. Did you eat?”
Shaking his head, he looked at the wall clock. It was already 2pm.
He did not eat breakfast, either.
“How about you, dad?”
“Oh, I have to eat, too. Let me check if there are any side dishes…”
When he was trying to move, Suhyuk quickly rose from the seat.
“Let me do it, dad.”
“Suhyuk, let’s boil ramen.”
“You don’t like it…”
“Well, I’d like to eat for once after such a long time.”
Suhyuk nodded his head.
He poured water into a kettle, and took out two ramen packets from the kitchen cabinet, and kimchi cabbage from the refrigerator, too.
When the water was boiling, he put in some chopped kimchi cabbage for better tasting soup.
Then he put in ramen, along with some hot peppers for a spicy taste.
When he put the boiled ramen on the dining table, his father sat uncomfortably and said,
“Just sit and let’s have it together. You don’t have to take out any side dish except for Kimchi.”
Suhyuk put on the table roasted potatoes, along with some kimchi.
The mysterious mix of the aroma of the ramen soup and kimchi stimulated their appetite.
“Let’s eat then.”
Though his father did not enjoy ramen usually, he enjoyed it this time.
Was it because his son made it?
Suhyuk was heading for somewhere after he went out of the house.
He got out of a taxi in a main street. It was crowded with people.
Suhyuk moved to a restaurant where a yellow light was coming out.
The restaurant specialized in stir-fried beef tripe.
When he came in, Dongsu smiled at him.
Kim Hana was there too, and said, “Long time, no see!”
The three met like this after such a long time.
Suhyuk had contacted them in advance for this get-together as he was leaving soon.
As he sat at the table, Dongsu offered him a soju cup and said,
“Are you now going to get some experience in a foreign country?”
“When are you coming back?”
At Hana’s asking, he smiled.
She was really beautiful whenever he saw her. Even other customers drinking alcohol at other tables took a glance at her from time to time.
“I think I have to stay there for about one year.”
Nodding her head, Hana drank a cup of soju in one gulp.
“Hey, slow down.”
Suhyuk turned to the side at Dongsu’s words.
There were already two empty bottles of soju next to him.
They drank that much even while the stir-fried beef tripe was tenderising.
Suhyuk asked, looking at Hana, “When did you get here?”
“About 30 minutes ago.”
And she refilled some soju into her own cup.
“Hey, you’re going to be blackout drunk if you drink like that. Anything bad happened to you at the company?”
“Don’t you know that I’m a good drinker to being with?”
“I know your drinking capacity is one bottle of soju. I’m going to take you two to other places for drinks. So stay sober.”
“You had better not fall asleep at the table”
While Dongsu and Hana were squabbling like that, the beef tripe was becoming nice and tender.
And the atmosphere was getting more and more ripe for drinking.
Emptying his cup, Dongsu knitted his brows.
“Yeah, soju is the perfect match with stir-fried beef tripe. By the way, introduce me to a nice girl at your company. I’m lonely these days.”
With her face in a blush from drinking, Hana shook her head, saying,
“As you’re a prosecutor, there must be lots of girls following you, right?”
“Nope. Such girls are not pure in their motivations...”
Hana nodded as if she agreed with him.
“Yeah, it might be hard to find a girl like me who is pretty and pure.”
“What the heck… hey, you’re already drunk, Suhyuk?”
Suhyuk shook his head at their conversation.
Then Dongsu cast his eyes at Suhyuk, asking, “If you leave, who should I play with?”
Suhyuk offered a cup without saying anything.
They touched their cups in the air.
They soon could hear the sound of it raining outside.
“Was there any weather forecast saying it would rain today?”
Dongsu’s voice scattered into the air, when Suhyuk suddenly came to think of what his mother had said to him, namely that on rainy days she wants to have mung bean pancakes.
Suhyuk checked the time. It was 10:52pm.
As his mother usually went to sleep after 12 am, it was not too late.
“Let me go home early.”
With wide eyes Hana looked at him, and so did Dongsu.
“Hey, it’s still too early for you to leave like that. Where are you going?”
“Sorry, sorry. Suddenly I’ve got something to do.”
He was going to buy some mung bean pancakes as he never bought it before for his mother.
“Let me contact you once more before I leave for the United States.”
After paying the bill, he went out of the restaurant, nd he bought an umbrella at the convenience store nearby.
When he was about to pass by the stir-fried beef tripe place again, someone dashed toward him.
He dropped the umbrella. It was Hana who was hugging him.
She did not answer when Suhyuk called her name.
She just buried her face into his chest like that.
Raindrops soaked both of them.
While others were running around to avoid the rain, it seemed like the time was stopped for Suhyuk and Hana. A soft light coming out of the restaurant was illuminating them.
“You won’t stay there long, right?”
He stroked her small shoulder, saying, “Only a short time…”
Nothing was heard in his ears except for the sound of falling rain… No, he could not hear nor see her weeping and tears at that moment, though she did cry.
Dongsu, looking at them from inside the restaurant, downed his cup of soju and murmured,
“You guys look great together.”
He smiled at them.