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    Plum Candy Love

    Vol. 1 Chapter 1


    Translated by Springlila
    Edited by Springlila


     

    Rumor has it that Lim Dae-han is the son of a butcher in Jaecheon-dong.

     

    There was a large market in Jaecheon-dong, where the livestock market was particularly active.

     

    They said he lived at a place where animals’ limbs were cut, bones were smashed, blood was drained, and intestines were combined to fill human stomachs.

     

    When the other guys saw Lim Dae-han’s father, they started joking about butchers and other low-quality noises. It was funny to see the people who couldn’t care less about meat looked down on Lim Dae-han’s father because he was a butcher. What’s even more ridiculous was the fact that they were talking behind the scenes while remaining silent in front of Lim Dae-han.

     

    They were terrified of him because he was huge, being over 190 centimeters tall, taller than the members of the school’s basketball team.

     

    They acted like a stick that shrinks when baked in an oil stove in front of Lim Dae-han, and then giggling behind him that was not pleasant to see. When I looked at them closely, I couldn’t figure out why they were talking behind his back. But, in fact, I was no different from them.

     

    I was also uncomfortable with the overbearing and violent Lim Dae-han, but on the other side, I was terrified.

     

    ***

     

    The summer of my sophomore year of high school was uneventful. School was tedious, and it was the ideal time to be bored. Compared to the third year, where there is no room for boredom as the college entrance exams are just around the corner and a busy first year. Whether adjusting to school or becoming anxious for college, the sophomore year is… literally a sophomore. There was nothing interesting about it.

     

    As an ordinary student, I normally spend my time in class studying and looking at various things. But it was different today.

     

    I really wanted to go home. The air conditioner in the classroom was broken. There was wind, but it was not much different from the hot wind. Even so, I couldn’t even ventilate the room because of the classmates who insisted on closing the windows. The stinky smell of dust kept tickling my nostrils. I relied on the loud fan barely hanging from the ceiling, but honestly I was dying from the heat.

     

    I was weaker than my peers in handling the heat. Because of the heat, I was sweating profusely and my face had turned red. My lips were pale and dry as if I were sick, and I was squirming helplessly on the desk.

     

    “Hey, tell the teacher and go home. It’s a self-study after all.”

     

    My friend patted me on the shoulder and said that. I opened my eyes and gave a hazy response. I replied, “Okay, I’ll go to the teacher’s office then… I tried my hardest to pronounce it correctly, but I couldn’t.”

     

    “So… Then I’m going to the office… I will be back.”

     

    In fact, the voice that came out of my mouth was full of strange breathing sounds.

     

    I was allowed to leave as soon as I went to the office and met the teacher. It was because my face had turned a ripe red and I was breathing weirdly. I wasn’t the type of person who would normally be lethargic enough to go early. 

     

    “Oh, I’d like to go to the teacher’s office as well.” my friends murmured as I returned to the classroom. “Still, I can’t win over Ki Young-hyun. Take a look at that bastard’s face.” The same jealousy could be heard. I silently packed my bag while listening to that voice in the background. I couldn’t even answer since I didn’t have the energy. All I wanted to do was get home and take a rest.

     

    Comfortably in my space.

     

    *** 

     

    It wasn’t a long walk from school to my house. I walked for roughly 20 minutes after exiting the rear door to get to my home. Although the bus ride was only a few stations, it took longer than walking because the intervals were long and the bus going around. At the very least, walking down the alley from the back gate was better.

     

    There were no people in the alley as usual. It was awkward to walk on hot streets at this time because it was unusual to return home in broad daylight except during the exam period.

     

    Then I met Lim Dae-han in the alley.

     

    Dae-han was smoking near the lane in the parking lot on the first level of the villa. He wasn’t accompanied by his usual underling. The black half-sleeved shirt, which was worn under a school uniform shirt and had a button loosened from the top, stood out significantly. In the parking lot marked with four lines of paint, he was holding a thick pack of cigarettes in one hand and a lighter in the other and staring at me.

     

    “…”

     

    “…”

     

    I stopped for a moment when I saw him, and I continued my step forward.  My face darkened at the prospect of trekking uphill on the road ahead of me. The tearing sound of cicadas, the burning asphalt, and the blazing sunlight that seem to melt everything. Everything was inconvenient, bothersome, and killing me.

     

    I should have just taken the bus. How could I have imagined walking home through here would be peaceful?

     

    I regretted it, but I couldn’t help it. I wouldn’t be able to get home unless I passed through here. I walked away ignoring Lim Dae-han’s eyes following me. Think of it as a mural. I felt a little comfortable thinking that way. There was no reason for him to speak to me in the first place.

     

    Although Lim Dae-han and I were in the same class, we haven’t spoken to each other since the class started.

     

    It was the moment when I was about to pass by Lim Dae-han while thinking about him. Suddenly I heard a voice.

     

    “Hey.”

     

    Lim Dae-han voice’s was low, like if coming from deep within a cave. That didn’t mean he was humming, though. Lim Dae-han was not as talkative as those who rubbed their hands and feet next to him. If you’re wondering how I know, I just found out.

     

    But even though I heard the voice, I just ignored it. I thought Lim Dae-han was alone, but there was another person beside him. I must have misheard it. While thinking about it. Once again, there was no reason for Dae-han to talk to me.

     

    I pretended I hadn’t heard the voice and was going to continue my walk.

     

    Thud, thud, thud! With the heavy footsteps, the voice could be heard once more.

     

    “Hey, Ki Young-hyun.”

     

    It was then that I realized Dae-han was calling me. I was surprised, so I turned around and checked him. He looked at me and strode towards me after exiting the villa’s shaded parking area and standing on the same road as me.

     

    “Where are you going?”

     

    I looked at him with a questioning expression. Were we close enough for him to ask about where I was going? ‘Did you think that the teacher made me come out to find you?’ I wondered as I slowly rolled my eyes.

     

    There was something strange. Lim  Dae-han didn’t look like a person who was afraid of the teacher’s scolding. If he was afraid, he wouldn’t smoke around school or go out after class.

     

    Nonetheless, I responded to him just in case.

     

    “The teacher didn’t ask me to come to find you.”

     

    Lim Dae-han cocked his brows as soon as the words were spoken. Wrinkles appeared between the brows at the same time. There were a lot more expressions than I expected. Unlike me, who simply considers going home with a blank expression on my face.

     

    “Who asks that? Where are you going?”

     

    Lim Dae-han had a rough tone to his voice. I didn’t think my words were nice or delicate, but when I talked to him, I become a person who spoke softly. I responded with a sluggish voice as I looked at Dae-han.

     

    “I’m going home.”

     

    “Home?”

     

    “Yes…”

     

    “Why home?”

     

    “…”

     

    I don’t think there’s any reason to answer that, so I just stood in front of Lim Dae-han who kept asking questions. Lim Dae-han seems impatient to hear the answer somehow.

     

    “Why are you going?”

     

    “… I’m sick.”

     

    “Where does it hurt? Do you have an upset stomach?”

     

    He looked down at my lower belly as he spoke. Our eyes met once more as he raised his head. I shook my head. It’s hot… I want to go home… I thought to myself but didn’t get it out of my mouth.

     

    “Because of the heat.”

     

    “Really?”

     

    “Yes. Then I…”

     

    I’ve got to go. Before the sentence was finished, Dae-han said another word.

     

    “The hospital.”

     

    “I don’t have to go to the hospital.  I’ll be fine when I get home and rest.”

     

    “Eat something cold?”

     

    “Yes, I drink water, I take a bath… But I’m really having a hard time…”

     

    Dae-han scratched the nape of his neck. He also fiddled with his sideburns for no reason. The pack of cigarettes he was holding in his hand disappeared as if it had never been there.

     

    I made it clear that this was an awkward situation. I glanced sideways in the direction I was heading. However, Dae-han didn’t care at all about where I was looking. And after a while, he grabbed my wrist without hesitation.

     

    “Let’s go get a drink.”

     

    Then he strode forward, leading me and taking his own steps.

     

    ***


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