"WHAT'S THE MEANING OF THIS?"
Yunjae flinched as her coach screamed at her. In the man's hand was her medical certificate, the poor piece of paper nearly crumpled as her mentor held it with shaking hands, obviously furious with his face red.
"I'm sorry," Jae said softly as she bowed.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN SORRY?" If anything, the man's voice only became louder. "YOU FUCKING SLUT!"
The coach yelled as he completely crumpled her medical certificate and threw it at her face. He looked mad enough to kill, and when he advanced on the shaking young woman in front of him, she had never felt more terrified.
"YOU DID THIS ON PURPOSE! YOU'RE SO JEALOUS OF HIM YOU SET OUT TO RUIN HIS LIFE!"
"No!" Jae's eyes widened as she shook her head in denial. "This was an accident. I would never ever do anything to hurt him," she sobbed, her hands wiping her tears away as she tried to plead with her coach. "I would never destroy Jinho's dream," she continued as she picked up the crumpled paper at her feet. "This is the reason why I haven't told Jinho about our baby yet."
Her words might have calmed the coach a little as his nose had stopped flaring, though his eyes remained narrowed at her. There was silence for a few minutes and she knew the man was trying to think of ways to fix this problem.
Their coach was a shrewd man. She knew that even if she couldn't make it to the competition tomorrow, he already had someone lined up as a substitute.
"Quit," he said afterwards, and Jae nodded silently. She already expected this.
"I'll hand in my resignation tomorrow," she said softly but the man shook his head.
"I'm not just telling you to quit the team. Quit the university," the man told her ruthlessly and Jae's eyes widened in shock. She planned on leaving the team but never the school. "But –" she protested, but the coach waved her off.
"You said you don't want to destroy Jinho's life right? Prove it," the man bit out harshly and Yunjae started crying again.
"Why? I don't want to leave school too. I promise I won't tell Jinho during the competition. I won't tell," Jae pleaded but their coach glared at her. "Are you stupid Kim? Do you think his career would end at the nationals? After that event, I planned on having him join bigger competitions. You will just be a hindrance."
The coach's harsh words sent Jae's mind reeling. If what she understood was right, the coach was telling her not to tell Jinho about their child at all.
"You understand what I'm telling you, right?" the coach asked her with a sneer. "There's no room for you and the brat in Jinho's life. Swimming is his dream. If you truly love him, if you don't want to destroy him, go."
Yunjae felt drained of life after her talk with the coach. She marched out of the gym in a trance, her lips trembling in anguish as her tears continued to fall silently. She was pregnant and miserable. She didn't want to be separated from her lover but their coach's words had some truth to them.
Years ago, Jinho had told her of his ambition with a happiness Yunjae couldn't explain. Over the years, she had watched how her lover worked hard to achieve that dream. Regardless of how painful it would be for her, she knew she couldn't bear to be the one who'd cause Jinho's failure.
She looked up to see her brother, and Jae felt her strength leaving her. There was nothing in this world she wanted to have right now but someone else's shoulder to cry on.
"Yihan…" she whispered as she ran into her brother's waiting arms and sobbed. "Yihan…" she cried as her brother enveloped her in an embrace, murmuring words of comfort and placing a kiss on top of her head.
"What's the matter?" Yihan asked her just as she felt a pair of eyes on her back and she turned around.
Her lover who was obviously furious was looking at her and Yihan stood there. His almond-shaped eyes sharp as they stared at each other, and Jae knew Jinho misunderstood the situation.
"Jin…" she called just as her lover turned his back on her, marching blindly ahead away from her.
"Jin, please wait," she called as she went after him, but her lover just walked faster. "Please wait, Jin…" she sobbed as Jinho sped past the busy streets, unmindful of the cars and Jae felt desperate to reach him. But her legs failed her…
"Jin!" Jae screamed just as she sprawled in the middle of the road where cars screeched into a halt except for one. When she looked up, a huge truck was coming her way and she closed her eyes, hopelessly submitting herself to the inevitable.
But it didn't come.
"Jae!" she heard Jinho call her name and she just found herself being pulled back onto her feet and then pushed back towards the isle into safety.
In her horror, right before her eyes, the truck hit her lover, sending Jinho catapulting several feet away, his back slamming against a car's windshield which shattered as he landed.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! JINHOOOOOOOOOOOO!" she screamed as she ran towards him, cutting her way into the crowd. "JINHOOOOOOOOOO!" she cried as she tried to reach her lover who continued to look at her with those pained eyes, his body covered in blood.
"NOOOOOOOOOO!" Jae screamed once more as she reached him, but then, she felt a pair of strong hands pulling her back. When she turned, Yihan was looking at her with alarm.
"Jae… you're bleeding," her bother said and when she looked, there was blood soaking her pants, pooling at her feet and her eyes rolled backwards as she welcomed the darkness.
Yunjae shifted on the bed as she tried to find a more comfortable position. Her memories always gave her pain regardless that they happened years ago.
That time, Jinho wasn't the only one sent to the hospital. Jae was too. She had lost a lot of blood due to shock, and she nearly lost her baby because of it. She had spent almost a month at the hospital on bed rest while on hormone therapy so her baby could cling onto life.
She had sent her poor brother on a string of errands that time, mostly asking him to search where Jinho was brought, but her brother came empty-handed. In desperation, she asked Yihan to go to the university to ask their coach, but instead of giving Jinho's whereabouts, the man sent her a message which she read in her tiny hospital room.
Closing her eyes, she could still remember the message clearly. She could remember each and every word it said as those were the very words that condemned her.
"Don't look for him anymore. He doesn't need you. Because of you, he can never swim again. You ruined his life. Leave and don't show your face ever again."
With a mirthless laugh, she pushed away from her memories and decided to focus on the present. When she did, she noticed the entirety of the room, and her brow knit with concern. The place looked very expensive and her worry over money came again. Even with Yihan's help, there was no way she could pay for this, and there's still Yuan's medicine and checkup.
"Oh God…" her worries flooding her, she began to sob. She cried and cried her hopelessness until she exhausted herself to sleep, not seeing the man who stepped into the room as soon as she closed her eyes.