I headed to the warehouse with my coffee. There was of course plenty of coffee in my office, but I simply preferred having a relaxing cup of morning coffee with those two women. Even if we could no longer take our morning coffee break, O-dong’s mom or I would not complain if Yang-mi found a decent guy to marry.
Yang-mi had a tough life. Since she graduated from high school, she has worked hard for nearly 20 years to support her family and send her younger siblings to school. I thought it was about time that she thought only about herself.
나는 커피를 든 채 창고로 향했다.
커피야 사실 내가 근무하는 창고 사무실에도 얼마든지 있다.
단지 두 여자와 함께 하는 느긋한 아침커피가 좋았을 뿐이다.
아침 커피 시간이 없어지더라도
양미가 좋은 남자를 만나 결혼한다면
나나 이천댁이나 불만이 있을 리 없다.
양미는 그동안 고생을 너무 많이 했다.
여고를 졸업하고부터 근 20년동안 그야말로 몸을 바쳐
동생들 학비에 가족들의 생계를 책임져왔다.
이제라도 제 살 궁리를 하는 것은 당연하지 않은가.
This story features three main characters – a woman simply called O-dong’s mom working in the side dish section of a food mart; Yang-mi manning the fried chicken shop; and Hyeon-su who heads the packaging team in the warehouse. They are close enough to eat breakfast together every day, but Yang-mi, determined to shed some weight, has been skipping breakfast for four days now.
“I even said hi to her. It was so awkward. She quickly blew out the candles and put the cake back in the box and left. Isn’t it weird? Why would anyone sit in a park alone with a cake?”
I became troubled as I remebered something O-dong’s mom told me a few days back.
“I think something is wrong with Yang-mi. She talks to herself and sometimes laughs out loud even when no one is around. She would look under the frying machine as if she were chatting with someone. She was acting so strange that I checked to see if anybody was down there. Is she seeing things because she starved herself too much?”
“아, 손양미씨한테 인사도 한 걸요~
영 어색해하더라고요. 얼른 촛불을 끄고 상자에다 케이크를 넣더니 가버렸어요.
희한하죠? 세상에 누가 공원에서 혼자....”
조 군에게 눈을 부라리면서도 나는 한편으로 이천댁의 말을 떠올렸다.
“아무래도 양미가 이상하다니까. 혼잣말하는 건 보통이야.
어떤 때는 혼자 몸을 배배 틀면서 웃기도 하거든.
누가 옆에서 간질이기라도 하는 것처럼.
치킨 기계 밑을 내려다보며 누구랑 시시덕거리기도 하고.
오죽하면 내가, 양미 화장실 간 사이에 기계밑을 들여다보았겠어.
양미 걔 너무 안 먹어서 헛것이 뵈는 거 아냐?”
Yun Young-su (Born in Seoul, Aug. 26, 1952)
: Debuted with short story “Ecology Observation” in 1990
Won the 23rd Manhae Literature Prize in 2008, etc.