Chan-seong discovered a dog chained to the fence. That evening, when he returned to the truck stop for an errand, he found the dog still there.
Chan-seong has seen such dogs before, the dogs that hysterically ran after their owners’ cars after they were dumped on the roadside in the middle of the night. He knew where the dogs abandoned at the truck stop were taken.
Chan-seong finished up the soda left in his cup and put his hand in the cup to grab an ice cube.
The white dog smelled Chan-seong while circling him. As if he made up his mind, he then sniffed at Chan-seong’s palm before licking the ice with his tongue.
Something supple, cold, warm, ticklish and soft swept through Chan-seong. It was a sensation he had never felt before.
The ice cube was gone, leaving only a slight water mark. At that time, a strange mark appeared in Chan-seong’s heart. He couldn’t understand what it was.
전에도 찬성은 그런 개를 본 적 있었다.
한밤중 갓길에 버려진 뒤 앞차를 향해 죽어라 달려가던 개들이었다.
찬성은 휴게소에 남겨진 개들이 어디로 가는지 알고 있었다.
찬성이 컵에 남은 콜라를 끝까지 쪽 빨아먹고 손을 집어 넣었다.
흰 개가 찬성 주위를 빙그르르 돌며 찬성의 몸냄새를 맡았다.
그러곤 뭔가 결심한 듯 찬성의 손바닥에 코를 대고 킁킁대다 혀를 내밀어 얼음을 핥았다.
그 순간 물컹하고, 차갑고, 뜨뜻미지근하고, 간지럽고, 부드러운 뭔가가 찬성을 훑고 지나갔다.
난생 처음 느껴보는 감각이었다.
찬성이 손바닥은 얼음은 사라지고 손에 엷은 물자국만 남아 있었다.
동시에 찬성의 내면에도 묘한 자국이 생겼는데 그게 뭔지 몰랐다.
Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong
The story doesn’t directly refer to economic inequality, indifference, selfishness, and marginalization that rendered the lives of Chan-seong and Evan so tragic. But readers come to ask the following questions as they read Chan-seong’s last moment, walking along the dangerous expressway shoulder. Why did this kindhearted boy have to endure poverty and loneliness all alone? Why was the friendly dog abandoned and why did it choose to die? We come to realize the world’s cruelty that took away Chan-seong and Evan’s happiness.
Evan’s wet eyelashes quivered lightly. Chan-seong carefully looked at Evan’s mouth, whiskers, nose, and each one of the eyelashes.
“You know what, Evan? I was always curious. How painful do you have to be to wish for death? Evan, are you in that much pain? I’m sorry for not realizing how painful this is for you. If you can’t bear the pain no longer, if the pain grows too much, please let me know. Okay?”
에반의 젖은 속눈썹이 미세하게 파들거렸다.
찬성이 에반의 입매, 수염, 콧방울, 눈썹 하나하나를 공들여 바라봤다.
“있잖아, 에반. 나는 늘 궁금했어.
죽는게 나을 정도로 아픈건 도대체 얼마나 아픈 걸까?....
에반, 많이 아프니? 내가 잘 몰라서 미안해...
있잖아, 에반. 만약에 못 참겠으면...
나중에 너무 힘들면 형한테 꼭 말해. 알았지?”
Kim Ae-ran (Born in Incheon, 1980)
: Debuted with short story “No Knocking in This House” in 2002
Won the 38th Hankook Ilbo Literary Award in 2005, etc.