Picked Up In Winter

 
 
 
 

Picked Up In Winter Chapter 1


겨울에 주워지다 – <1>

Winter of my second year in high school.

I ran away from home.

< 겨울에 주워지다 >
< Picked Up In Winter >

-by Arashi

When I think of it, it is not like there was any special occasion. It is also not like there was a sudden burst of anger that overcame me, to the point where I could no longer surpress all of my pent-up frustration.

I merely felt suffocated back then…….

Dark night. Time did not cross my mind. I was sitting alone at the desk while studying.
Depending on only the light of my worn-out desk lamp, I was diligently solving problems and taking a mock test from the home-study materials I received a few days ago.
I was in good condition and could focus very well.
My speed of solving questions was faster than usual.

But from a certain point, I suddenly felt suffocated. From a spot deep in my chest, I started having trouble breathing.

I dropped the mechanical pencil I was holding and clenched my chest. Heok-
The sound of my breath getting stuck leaked out. I laid my head on the desk and tried to breathe out. It was painful.
Tears even formed in the corners of my eyes but it was still extremly difficult to exhale.

Am I going to die like this……

Ironically, I indifferently had thoughts like this coming up in my mind during that short instant.

After a few seconds, my chest cleared up with a pop. My windpipe opened up.
I made ‘heok heok’ sounds while roughly panting and sat upright with much difficulty.

What entered my field of vision was the cup of coffee I left there a few hours ago after burning myself on it. After staring at the cup that was clearly cold already, I reached out my hand and hastily drank it.
And I could not even drink half before spitting everything out.

It was a night where everything suddenly seemed to go awry in that manner, a night that did not appear to be normal…….

A mock test workbook stained with coffee.
My insides that still felt stuffy.
A night that seemed to be abnormal somewhere.

I hurriedly started packing my bag. There was(is) no reason. It was simply impulsive.
In an unorganized manner, I stuffed a few sets of clothes into the bag and took my wallet and money.
Because the weather was particularly freezing at that time, I located a thick coat to put on and tightly wore my white woolen hat. I did not pack any textbooks, nor did I pack the school uniform.

Holding in my hand the bag that was filled with things I would need to live from now on and that definitely could not be called heavy, I left the house like that. As soon as I stepped outside, the cold wind blew.
The wind that brushed my cheek was unusually chilly.

Without knowing where to go, I ran out on the night streets.

Hah, hah.

When I stopped the feet that had been moving busily as I let out white breaths, I was already standing on a familiar street.
While catching my breath and straightening my back, I looked around my surroundings. It was Bupyeong downtown 1 . Usually whenever childen who lived in this place got the chance to go out to play, this was the place they visited the most frequently and also the easiest to reach. For youngsters who went astray, this was the place they enjoyed hanging out at as well.

Why did I come to this place? No, more than that, why did I leave home?
I could totally get into some real trouble, yet my instincts still refused returning home.
Although it was something I did on the spur of the moment I did not want to go back. I was really strange that day.

I just walked. The hands on my wrist watch indicated that it was a little bit past midnight. Despite the late time there were many people out on the streets.
They mostly stood together amongst their own groups and chatted while making a lot of noise. Those people were heavily drunk, sometimes there was someone who would strike up a conversation with me.
For the most part it was impossible to make out what was being said and since it seemed like that person also was not talking in order to be understood by me, I just ignored it.

Because my feet hurt I sat down on a chair for a moment. Maybe due to the cold weather, the chairs were empty for the most part.
I put down my heavy bag next to me and used my hand to pull my hat down to cover my freezing ears.

What should I do now.

After grabbing a seat my heart settled down and, all of sudden, I started worrying about the future. I had seen what kind of path adolescents who run away from home mostly turn to through the usual documentaries, to the point of getting sick of it. Would I also have to do that? Would I also become like that?

I did not want to become like that. Nonetheless, I did not want to go home.

Due to my unsociable personality I had pretty much no friends to contact. I do not know why at this moment, I was longing for the kind of thing I felt no need for during regular days.
In a way, this was quite amusing. Right, I have been a self-centered being ever since I was young.

In any case, the me right now needed a place apart from home to live immediately at least for a short period of time.
I do not know why I got this kind of feeling but my mental condition right now was awfully unstable, so I needed a place that helped me cut off reality for the time being in order to gain control of this. However, the fact that that kind of place did not exist at all for the me right now made me helpless and also somewhat sad.

No solution came up, I only got more frustrated. I raised my head which I had bent down a bit nervously before.
And at the same time as him, I happened to meet eyes exactly with some guy who stood in a group of people at a short distance from me.
The guy apparently subconciously had turned his face to this side and seemed to be a bit startled to have met eyes with me because his eyes widened.
What was he so surprised about? I was in a state of pulling down my hat with both hands and carefully lowered my hands while staring at him.
The guy did not turn away his eyes. We looked at each other face to face for quite a while in that manner.

The group of five or six students who were gathered together in a corner were all dressed in my school’s uniform. As the school was situated at a place not far from here, this was not such an unusual occurrence for it to be worthy of mention.

“…….”

“…….”

Why does he keep looking at me.
Even if I wanted to take off my eyes first, with that fellow bluntly staring at me I could not do that. The way he kept staring at me was almost as though he knew me.
However, since his face did not seem especially familiar, that guy did not have any reason to recognize me either. He was a someone living in a totally different world from me.

While we were competing 2 about who would look away first, one of the guys surrounding him noticed something and looked over to this side.

“What’s going on, where are you staring at so much?”

“…….”

At those words, I turned my eyes away first. I unconciously happened to look at the guy who said something.
Therefore I met eyes with the guy at the side this time and he wore an intimidating frown on his face. It looked like he was trying to threaten me or something. But the me right now could not feel much interest for what I was seeing.

“From the looks of it, it seems like a middle schooler who ran away from home, why? Someone you know?”

“…….”

Without replying to his friend’s question and wearing an expressionless face, he started walking towards this direction with heavy footsteps. This guy was seriously excessively expressionless.
People were often concerned about the fact that I had no expression when they looked at me, do I give off this kind of feeling?
Having the feeling of looking at a mirror, in no time, I found myself looking up at the guy standing tall in front of me.

“What are you doing here?”

A question more ordinary than I thought popped up.
I had thought of him as a fairly unusual fellow though.

“You can’t tell by looking? I’m obviously taking a rest.”

“Then go home and rest.”

“I don’t wanna.”
“I don’t wanna go home.”

“…….”

I thought we were having a normal conversation but apparently that was not the case for the guys behind us. They were eyeing the two of us with faces that seemed to say “there really are all kinds of crazy people”.

“What you’re saying is you don’t want to go to your home, right?”

The guy in front of me made an earnestly troubled face for a moment and then asked this question. I nodded my head in silence.

“Then do you wanna go to my house?”

“Ah……”

“Yeah. Do that. I’m going to pick you up. 3

“…….”

From a certain point of view, these were words that should have hurt my self-esteem considerably, but the me of that time did not think much of it. Above all, my whole body was a block of ice and I was exhausted.
I needed a space that could promptly cut me off from reality.
And this guy was offering me that sort of space right now. His suggestion made me feel like the space that was only a fantasy before was stretched out in front of me.
I once again quietly nodded my head.

Then, to my amazement, the fellow’s originally expressionless face lit up instantly. He innocently laughed like a young child.

That was how, on one severely cold winter day in December.

I was picked up by a human with a child-like smile.

TN:

1 – Bupyeong District is part of Incheon.

2 – (lit. wrestling)

3 – This is the same expression used when picking up trash/ a wallet on the street. It’s along the lines of “I’ll do you this favour”.

There you go, this is one of the chapters I translated some time ago in order to improve my Korean. I’m not going to continue translating this novel, so if you like it, feel free to pick it up or ask someone else to pick it up.