The Country of Juliet Chapter 3
Three. The Wind Blows In My Heart (01)
Half an hour had passed when the two returned from the gondola ride. Ryu Hwan stepped off the gondola and waited for the woman. She was an interesting individual. When she spoke, it seemed distant and cold yet also soft and angelic. Nevertheless, Ryu Hwan adored her voice.
He wished to pay for her fees and listen to her speak just a little a bit more. When the woman lifted her feet to step on the platform, the wind blew in her direction and her skirt rose to the air revealing her snow white skin. The woman gasped and quickly fumbled her fingers to hold the skirt down while losing balance in the process. Ryu Hwan who bore witness to what happened blushed slightly as he pulled her arm preventing her from falling in the sea of water.
“Heh, nice catch.”
Ryu Hwan shamelessly boasted. Shortly after, the woman straightened her waist straight up, removed herself from his grasp and looked up at the tall figure, her two cheeks tinged with peach.
“No problem. Oh, and I will pay for the both of us.”
Because the woman spoke in English, he also spoke in English.
“No, it’s okay, I was going to pay for it anyway. “
“No, let me. Besides it’s only a small amount.
“It’s okay. “
“Well… okay. Do you have a lot of money?”
Ryu Hwan was basking in delight when the woman chose to converse with him rather than the usual silent treatment he’d received. He took pleasure in hearing her voice but first, he thought he needed to explain the misunderstanding. Ryu Hwan tilted his upper body towards the woman, his head leaning down.
“I was looking for a person. She’s a Korean women in her late 20s and thought you were her from the back. I made a mistake and I’m sorry if it made you uncomfortable.”
“You already apologized earlier. It’s okay, I’ll forget it. “
“And I’m thankful for that.”
“Why did you come to Venice?”
“I have to go. Thank you for the help earlier.”
The woman slipped from his sight and quickened her pace, afraid the man would follow suit. Ryu Hwan who watched her leave from the distance sighed with a troubled heart. His mind, heart, and soul in an inner turmoil. He wondered if the woman was worth it. If he let her go and walked in the opposite direction, chances of seeing her once more would be slim and he was unsure when they would meet again. After some time, he lifted his foot and started to walk her direction. Along the way, he tried to turn around but some unknown force seemed to prevent him from doing so.
The woman sat on the outdoor table of a cafe and placed her mask on the table. The blue feather stood firm and swayed gently in the wind. The cafe which looked outdated at first glance boasted hundreds of years of history and a long tradition with an old fashioned atmosphere. Although the weather was chilly, she refused to go inside opting to sit on the outdoor table finding it more entertaining to watch the costumes and masks of the people passing by.
She pulled her phone from her purse and called her father currently residing in Japan. It should be midnight over there where various residents are sleeping or currently prepping to sleep, but she knew her father was wide awake awaiting her call.
“Dad? Yes I’m in Venice. What I did today? I took a ride on the gondola and now in a cafe to have a drink.”
She began to speak in the Korean language fluently. Although she was born and raised in Japan, her environment dictated her to be well versed in the Korean language.
A well dressed employee brought out a cappuccino and dessert she ordered on a silver tray and placed it on the table. She finished her conversation, ended the call, and wrapped the cup of cappuccino in her hands, raising it to her lips. The cappuccino warmed her insides.
“So you’re Korean?”
Taken aback, the woman cast a look at the man pulling a chair with ease as he sat in front of her.
“Nice to meet you. You’ve seen me before.”
Ryu Hwan took off his mask and laid it on the table. No wonder the woman seemed familiar, her voice and rear view he had seen before in the airport.
“I’m not Korean.”
The woman put down the cup of coffee, her voice sour. She could no longer pretend not to understand his words because he seemed to hear her speak in Korean during the phone call.
“So it’s Japanese? I heard Japanese yesterday. “
“Near the airport.”
“Oh! The airport guy.”
She pressed the edge of the cup on her lips and took a sip.
“You also speak Japanese, so are you Japanese?”
“I told you that I was a Korean person during the gondola ride, did you not hear it?”
“Which Korea? South and North? “
Ryu Hwan raised one eyebrow up and bit his lips, trying to contain himself from laughing. A woman who wasn’t a foreigner and spoke Korean fluently asked if he was North or South Korean. He found it rather amusing.
“Hehe, South. So you’re born in Japan? For someone born in Japan, you’re pretty good.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m waiting for someone.”
The conversation was flowing in the direction she did not wish to happen. A conversation of getting to know one another.
“Oh, you’re waiting for someone?”
Ryu Hwan scoffed at the woman who blatantly lied with a determined face. She seemed to have forgotten that Ryu Hwan had hear the entirety of the earlier phone call.
“I see, then I will wait till this person arrives. I have a lot of free time.”
He nodded his head coolly.
“No, it’s okay. Don’t.”
Ryu Hwan smiled cheekily, leaned back in the chair, legs crossed and picked up the bill.
“I will pay this time. You didn’t give me a chance earlier.”
He continued to smile and called the employee.
“A cup of cappuccino, please.”
The woman set the cup down, her face irritated to some extent. Ryu Hwan turned a blind eye to her piercing gaze as he sipped on his coffee. He found her voice soft and subtle and seemed to find talking and conversing with her enjoyable and peaceful.
“If you’re here with me the person you’re looking for will misunderstand.”
“Misunderstand? Why would the person I’m looking for misunderstand?”
“Did you not say you were looking for your girlfriend?”
“I said I was looking for a woman in her late 20s. I did not say girlfriend.”
The woman who failed to get rid of the man sighed in defeat. No matter what she said, the man ignored or seemed unconcerned.
“Since you were here yesterday, did you see a person called Hanul anywhere?”
“Do you know the actor? I know he’s quite famous in Japan. “
The woman pressed her index finger on her temples and thought for a moment. If it was the Korean actor which appeared in a drama as the male lead, then she knew the name. The drama was quite famous in Japan and she’s seen posters of his face hanging outside the walls of department stores.
“I know the person but I haven’t seen him. But why are you looking for him? Did you not say you were looking for a girl?”
“My sister is with him.”
“You’re looking for your sister?”
For the first time, the woman’s eyes shook with interest. She thought he was looking for his lover who might have ran away but it seemed she miscalculated.
“Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Why did you come here to find your sister?
“I heard she was here so I came to find her.”
His words tickled the insides of her heart. The voice of a man who spoke of his sister lovingly and warmly made her think he wasn’t a bad person. After all, he was looking for his sister he had not seen in ages.
“I’m sure you and your sister had a good time together.”
“Yes we did but I’m not sure about the present. It’s been a while since I last saw her and we have some stories between us.”
While in the military, Ryu Hwan had little chances to see Jae Hee but it didn’t bother him much however the woman looked at him with sadness.
Ryu Hwan who did not understand asked.
“Are you sure she’s in Venice?”
The woman felt a deep sense of sadness for him. Having not seen his sister since childhood, it must be tough. And now having to search for her whereabouts is much more difficult. She could not fathom the hurdles he had to cross in order to meet her.
“By the way, can you recognize your sister even now? In the meantime, she may have forgotten you and the Korean language. Did you bring a photo or something to remind her of you two’s childhood? It might help you find her.”
Ryu Hwan tilted his in confusion, his brows furrowed.
The direction of his narrative was flowing towards the stranger side and the woman’s eyes were slightly reddish.
After some thinking, Ryu Hwan who finally understood the woman’s unhappy eyes and wild imagination sharply narrowed his eyes and gasped.
“Oh my god! She’s not my long lost sister!”
Seeing her eyes red and shining, Ryu Hwan hurriedly moved his lips.
“She’s not adopted?”
“Adopted? What!? I think you misunderstood.”
Ryu Hwan gulped and looked straight at her.
“I do not know what you thought, but my sister is very good at Korean. It’s just that I haven’t we haven’t seen each other in a while during my time in the military, and she’s currently travelling with her boyfriend and ignoring my contacts. Which is why I’m looking for her.”
The woman’s body shook and grew stiff. It seemed she was mistaken.
“Thank you for your concern anyway.”
She grew flustered and wished to leave this place in haste. The woman jumped out of her seat as she grabbed her bag.
“Whoah! Hey! Where are you going?”
“It’s getting late, I’ll go first.”
“Ok? Before you go, will you recommend me to a clean hotel? If you don’t mind the hotel you’re staying at, can you take me there? Matter of fact, let’s go right now.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
The woman emphasized. Ryu Hwan stared at her in puzzlement. He asked her to suggest a hotel and she replied that she had a boyfriend. She was truly an interesting being.
“Okay? But Miss, I’m looking for a hotel and I want you to help me.”
“Why should I help you?”
“I need a place to sleep and I asked politely. Did I not ask politely?”
“I don’t know the hotel’s name and if you don’t like the hotel, I cannot be held responsible.”
He who was oblivious to her cold speech was grinning widely and quickly stood up, standing beside her.
“I think I know why you’re sister is avoiding you.”
“You’re a stalker.”
“How rude. Moreover, why are you here all alone?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Those men across the table were ready to pounce on you. If it weren’t for me interfering, who knows what might have happened.”
“So you were deliberately sitting at my table because of those guys? Why?”
“Hmm, I wonder.”
“I’m providing protection for your safety.”
“I’m old enough to fend for myself.”
“How old are you?”
“A girl is never too old to receive protection. There’s a thing called bodyguards.”
The woman sighed, turned around and walked quickly. While walking a distance she noticed the disgusting looks of the men from the cafe earlier slowly approaching. She swallowed her pride and turned back out of growing fear.
“Come quickly if you want to go to the hotel.”
She gestured Ryu Hwan. Although she found her behavior irritating and shameless it was at least better than the pack hungry wolves.