The sky that day looked cloudy and seemed ready to spill raindrops in the midst of humid air like this. In contrast to the cloudy atmosphere before the rain fell, the tiger lily and daylily blooms continued to cheerfully decorate Hwaniwon Hill. White abelia also adorned the stone walls around the hill.
Jung Won opened her eyes wide as if she was looking at the most beautiful scenery in the world, while Geon Hyeong just watched his surroundings with a deadpan face. This soon- to-come summer air was really humid, hot, and made him short of breath.
“You’re not going to the office?”
“It’s okay if it’s just for a while.”
After dropping Jung Won off at the campus, Geon Hyeong said that he would continue his journey immediately after taking a short walk. He then parked his car in the parking lot and walked with Jung Won down the path in Hwaniwon to the wild grassland hill.
“The meadow in summer is the most beautiful.”
“You really like this place,” Geon Hyeong chuckled casually while looking at Jung Won who looked happy.
“Because I feel closer to my dreams when I come to this place.”
“What are your dreams?”
The woman who looked hesitant for a moment then looked around her with a nervous face.
As if she didn’t want her secret to be discovered by others.
She then approached Geon Hyeong. Geon Hyeong was really hot at that time. He felt his body temperature increase by about 10° as Jung Won’s body got closer to him. Even so, he still didn’t move away from her. It’s normal to feel hot like this in the summer.
“That dream of mine…”
“What was it? You want to break into a bank? You have such a secretive attitude.”
Jung Won stood on tiptoe and whispered something in Geon Hyeong’s ear. He could feel her breath in his ear. Geon Hyeong thought he heard her wrong because of the sound of his heart beating hard.
“What? What do you want to be?”
“You heard right! Isn’t it cool?”
Geon Hyeong just exclaimed in disbelief to Jung Won whose eyes were shining with happiness. Kim Geon Hyeong is usually not someone who easily shows his surprise. In fact, he usually never showed any expression on his face. However, this woman’s dream was completely out of her mind.
“Why are you reacting like that? Does that mean you’re jealous or are you making fun of my dream?”
“It means I really can’t figure it out. Gardening? Do you want to become a Nolbu?”
[T/N: Nolbu is a character from a Korean fairytale, ‘Heungbu and Nolbu’. Nolbu is a selfish person who kept the entire family inheritance.]
Geon Hyeong checked what he had heard from Jung Won. The woman had said that she wanted to work in a garden and live like a Nolbu. That was her dream. Although Geon Hyeong had heard old people say they wanted to work in a garden when they retired, this was the first time he had seen a 26-year-old nutritionist dreaming of becoming a Nolbu.
“Yes. So what?”
“It’s okay, it’s just that this is the first time I’ve met a woman whose dream is to plant rice and pull grass like you.”
“You’ll see. Anyway, I’d rather work in the garden than in the fields. Growing beans and chili peppers. Oh yes, I’ll also plant wild flowers. So you can see them every season.”
“Do you know how much labor it takes to winnow beans? How hard it is to pick chili peppers? Then, the wildflowers will grow on their own too, so why plant them?”
Geon Hyeong warned the woman who was busy imagining about her dream with annoyance. Without even trying, Geon Hyeong knew that the work the woman wanted to do was hard and labor intensive. Among many other jobs, why would that woman want to do such hard work?
“Do you want to tease me like this? Why do you like ruining people’s dreams so much? Did I tell you to do all that?”
“You’d better say that you want to be a good and wise housewife. If that’s the case, maybe I can help you.”
“Never mind. I can work in the garden while still being a good housewife.”
Jung Won glanced at Geon Hyeong while walking down the quiet street in Hwaniwon. Then she stopped her steps as if she remembered something and turned her body to face Geon Hyeong.
“Do you know what this is?”
Jung Won said as she pointed at the small flowers growing near the chair under the zelkova tree.
“What? What are you talking about?”
“You don’t know. Give me your hand.”
The woman suddenly pulled Geon Hyeong’s wrist and invited him to sit on the chair. The woman’s quite cold hand seemed to take away his body heat. In return, a small fire seemed to ignite in his heart. His heart started pounding, even though their hands only touched briefly. Like someone who had never held a woman’s hand before.
Without caring about Geon Hyeong’s heart, Jung Won picked up the celandine flower and looked at Geon Hyeong proudly.
This woman, what exactly is she doing? Geon Hyeong could have let his hand, which could have conveyed the beating of his heart, remain in her hands. Or, he could have pulled his hand out of her grip. However, he simply could not guess what the woman who was now smiling at him would do. One thing was for sure, Geon Hyeong didn’t hate Hwaniwon which wasn’t even shining with a little sunlight at the moment. Jung Won then let go of Geon Hyeong’s hand and picked the yellow flower leaves.
Geon Hyeong suddenly felt empty. Since when did this woman’s cold hands feel warm to him?
Geon Hyeong hesitated for a moment. Should he hold her hand again, or should he think that he and his feelings were crazy and leave the place immediately.
As if reading Geon Hyeong’s mind, the woman held his hand again while holding the light green flower stalk in one hand. Immediately, his heart started beating again. As if he was coming back to life. As if he was really coming back to life.
Whether she knew Geon Hyeong’s feelings or not, Jung Won was busy pressing the tip of the yellow flower stem onto Geon Hyeong’s nail. Then, the yellow liquid that came out from the tip of the stem seeped into his nails.
“What are you doing?”
“Manicure. When I was little, my mom used to do this to me. Isn’t it pretty?”
A manicure for a man was already something ridiculous, now she was asking whether it was pretty or not?
Geon Hyeong looked at Jung Won with an annoyed face, but the woman’s eyes were full of longing and vague memories. Also her light jokes. Why was she looking at him with such a face? As if remembering something, Geon Hyeong then immediately directed his gaze at the finger that Jung Won was holding…
“Hey, isn’t this…”
“That’s right. This liquid will absorb. It will turn yellow.”
Jung Won raised her neck and smiled jokingly. She then held Geon Hyeong’s hand tightly so that he couldn’t let go.
“That’s why I only colored your pinky nails.”
“You want all of them?”
Geon Hyeong raised his eyebrows with a creepy face while Jung Won remained unconcerned as usual. She kept smiling sweetly while holding Geon Hyeong’s hand tightly.
“They say yellow is the color that signifies the beginning of something. Like forsythia flowers. My mom once said that nature will turn yellow when spring comes, instead of ‘blue’. This yellow color will definitely be a lucky color for you too.”
Jung Won explained at length about the meaning of the color yellow, while Geon Hyeong’s face grew more and more serious and somber. Nonetheless, Jung Won hoped that the man would also feel that he needed to escape from his routine this way once in a while and hopefully he wouldn’t mind.
“I’ve heard stories about the color yellow in America until I’m sick of it.”
“But you haven’t heard these stories in Korea, right. Don’t take it to heart like that.”
The woman murmured as if to comfort the man, but the man didn’t say anything. Jung Won who felt bad then let go of Geon Hyeong’s hand, and the man raised his eyebrows at her again.
“If you wash it with soap, it will disappear. Maybe.”
Jung Won finally relented and muttered quietly to Geon Hyeong who was now silent.
However, Geon Hyeong was acting like this not just because of his yellowing nails. He doesn’t care whether the yellow color can disappear or not. Right now what he’s thinking about is the feelings of his heart that he can’t even understand.
Why did he not mind when she held his hand? Why did he feel like holding her hand again as soon as she released her grip? Today’s weather is hot and it seems like Geon Hyeong’s brain is also heating up.
“Oh, yeah. Don’t you know what this celandine flower means?”
“This flower symbolizes mother’s love.”
Although Geon Hyeong looked upset, Jung Won tried to cheer him up and smiled cheerfully while holding a celandine flower. However, Geon Hyeong’s face still looked tense.
“Are you angry? I’m sorry. I was just joking.”
Jung Won who felt guilty then apologized while placing her hand on Geon Hyeong’s hand who just looked back at him blankly. Apparently, Jung Won’s joke this time was too much. Come to think of it, how dare that woman dye the fingernails of a Goryo Group successor with that yellow liquid. Did I really do something stupid, Jung Won thought.
She really just wanted to share her childhood memories with that man.
“Never mind. It’s nothing. I’ll be patient this time.”
“Yeah, right? It’s nothing, right. But, if I color the nails on your right hand, will you get angry?”
Jung Won, who didn’t expect Geon Hyeong’s friendly reaction, immediately tried to hold Geon Hyeong’s right hand without waiting for his answer. But this time, she lost to the man’s speed.
Geon Hyeong’s big hand held both of Jung Won’s hands and made her unable to move. They could feel each other’s body temperature and heat through their touching hands. Regardless of how they wanted to feel, the lighthearted joke of the day had turned into something serious.
Raindrops slowly soaked the ground on the hill. Meanwhile, Geon Hyeong’s gaze that had always been cold and rigid now looked fiery. As the man’s beautiful lips approached, Jung Won didn’t know whether to close her eyes or take a step back. Her rational mind had warned her to take a step back, but her body that was already locked inside his eyes only remained silent.
Then, something broke the silence between the two of them. It was the sound of Geon Hyeong’s cell phone. Jung Won didn’t know whether she should be grateful or feel sad. She also began to be unsure of her own feelings and just stared pensively at the celandine flowers. As soon as she heard the name that came out of Geon Hyeong’s mouth, she felt that she was very pitiful because she was confused about her own feelings for this man.
“Shin Hee? Where are you?!”
Kim Geon Hyeong, who had returned to his old self, shouted on his cell phone.
Jung Won froze and lowered her head after seeing Geon Hyeong’s eyes that seemed to be filled only with the woman named Yoo Shin Hee.
Kang Jung Won, are you crazy? What were you thinking in your brain just now? It was clear that she had gotten carried away.
The sky was slowly turning gray and getting darker. The raindrops seemed to be getting heavier. Geon Hyeong’s cell phone rang at the right time. His woman had come back.
Jung Won looked at the back of Geon Hyeong who left her alone and went to meet his woman at lightning speed with a blank look. She then turned her gaze to her surroundings.
For some reason, the wildflowers that adorned the Hwaniwon now didn’t look as beautiful as when she saw them earlier.
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