Remember The Name - Chapter 41
From up close, Lucid was much more radiant than in the advert. More mysterious, in a way. Had Somi been attracted to this kind of face? Dong-in frowned. He was angry.
“Hey.” he said curtly.
The boy looked at him with a face that was all but feigning innocence, as if he didn’t know why Dong-in had called out to him. The weight at his chest only grew.
“Did you just give me side eye?”
“I’m sorry?” Lucid asked, incredulous. He had no idea what was happening. He had never seen, much less spoken to, Dong-in before, and here he was now, talking nonsense.
“Little prick. I just asked why the hell you were looking at me like that.” Dong-in stepped forward, eyebrows knit, forehead wrinkled in anger.
“I didn’t.” Lucid took a step back.
He was talking back now, was he? Dong-in couldn’t handle it any longer.
“Look at you, all tough. You think you’re so tough? You think you can take me on? Huh?”
Dong-in jabbed his finger against Lucid’s shoulder as he spoke and stepped closer, and Lucid relented, stepping back each time Dong-in touched him. He saw no reason to fight back.
“I saw you looking at me funny, when you were walking past me. You’re just gonna deny it? Are you, little bitch? Fucking lying through your teeth, aren’t you?!”
More and more children gathered at the commotion, watching the situation unfold with both curiosity and worry.
“I’m older than you! You think you can just look at me like that? I’ll rip your fucking eyes out!”
Lucid knew that this was commonly referred to as “picking a fight.” The issue was that, now that he was experiencing it for the first time, he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t even know what to think. No words came to him. All that came to him as he watched the older boy’s face, wrinkled and scrunched up as it was, was “why?”
“Look at you. Look at you. You think I’m trash? Huh? Do you?”
Now Dong-in was jabbing Lucid’s forehead, and the boy had enough. He no longer wanted to understand. All he knew was that he couldn’t just let this boy step all over him like this.
“I don’t think you’re trash, and I didn’t look at you at all. I don’t know what you saw, but whatever it is, I think you misunderstood.”
In a moment, Dong-in turned bright red. He looked rather like a goblin now.
“Misunderstood? Fucking dickhead. Think you’re so eloquent? Where the hell did you learn to speak to your elders like this? I’ll fucking kill you.”
None of the children had ever seen Dong-in so angry, and they were too afraid to step in. That’s when a voice rang out from the stairs, clear and high-pitched.
“Dong-in Seo! What are you doing? What’s going on here?!”
It was Yun-jeong, followed by Myeong-su. She had turned back when she realized Lucid hadn’t come with them. All this had unfolded in the short time it took for her to reach him again.
“This asshole just glared at me, and he refuses to apologize. Now he’s talking back to me.”
“Did you really?” Yun-jeong asked Lucid.
“I didn’t.” He wasn’t going to lie about this.
“Fucking lying again! I saw you glare at me! Admit it!”
Dong-in’s fist shot out, hitting the unsuspecting Lucid squarely in the face. Yun-jeong’s scream rang out.
Lucid hit the ground, taken by surprise, but Dong-in’s attack didn’t stop there. He kicked the defenseless boy, over and over again. As more and more children screamed out in horror at the one-sided violence, Ki-woong, a high schooler, intervened.
“Dong-in! What the hell?! You know violence is against the rules here! What are you thinking, hitting a kid?!”
Dong-in kicked his feet again, unable to control his anger. Why had Ki-woong interrupted him?
“God, fuck. This dickhead keeps lying. Of course I’m mad.”
Ki-woong stared blankly, his disbelief clear in his face.
“Watch your mouth, Dong-in, I’m older than you! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Whatever. Fuck everything. Pissing me off…”
“What did you just say?”
Dong-in looked up at Ki-woong, staring daggers at the older boy.
“I said, fuck it all! Who the hell do you think you are, anyway? What, did you fucking… Are you in with this prick? Why are you all coming after me? I told you, he’s at fault here! He is! Why aren’t you listening to me? You think I’m lying? Do you? You think this is my fault? Do you?!”
No one could quite say anything. Dong-in’s screaming and shouting was so full of anger and hatred that no one, not even Ki-woong, quite knew what to say.
“Hey! What is going on here? Children?!”
A teacher appeared, moving through the crowd as the children stepped back one by one. In one glance, it was quite clear what had happened. Lucid was on the ground, supported by Yun-jeong. Dong-in was huffing and puffing as Ki-woong, tall as he was, stood between the three, physically blocking futher violence.
“What happened here? Ki-woong, explain.”
Ki-woong did as he was told, describing what he had witnessed.
“You two,” the teacher said, addressing Lucid and Dong-in, “follow me. The rest of you, back to your rooms. Now!”
And so the children all flocked to their rooms, like mice scurrying from a cat.
“Tell me what happened. You first, Dong-in.” Prompted the teacher. Still, he didn’t say a word. As the saying goes, he was apparently choosing to “plead the fifth.”
“Fine. You explain, then.”
Lucid’s cheek had already begun to swell out of proportion, but he had yet to shed a single tear. He simply stared at Dong-in. The teacher, however, found it very difficult to read his eyes. He wasn’t glaring at Dong-in for hitting him, but neither was he scared of the older, stronger boy. How to put it? Yes, his eyes were expressionless. It was as if he were watching a wall. As he stared and stared, Lucid finally explained.
“… So Yun-jeong noona and Myeong-su went up to get permission to leave, and I was going to go with them when Dong-in hyung called me. So I turned back, and he said that I glared at him, so I should apologize. I told him I didn’t look at him.”
He had made no mention of violence or who had instigated the fight, but all the necessary information was there. Still, in this short explanation of the events, the teacher couldn’t help but feel a bit strange. It had been closer to a briefing than a personal recollection of events. It was hard to believe that this child was only a first grader. What first grader talks like this? Is it even possible for a child so young to only provide facts, without showing the slightest emotion? She briefly recalled that the child’s homeroom teacher had mentioned something about “prodigies.” Nevertheless, that wasn’t the main issue here. For now, she would have to check the facts with Dong-in.
… Still, he didn’t say a word. It was hard to determine who was in the wrong just from Lucid’s story. Had this “prodigy” caused Dong-in’s anger? Or had Dong-in started it all? Or had it all been a huge misunderstanding? Though she couldn’t tell for sure, she knew that a line needed to be drawn.
“Dong-in Seo. Right now, it doesn’t matter who started it. What I need you to know is that it was very, very wrong of you to resort to violence, especially against a much younger child. Do you understand that?”
Dong-in was still as quiet as ever, but the teacher went on regardless, explaining the institute’s rules again and reiterating on the fact that violence was never to be used under any circumstance.
“And you.” She turned to Lucid. “Remember to always be respectful towards people who are older than you. Alright?”
Lucid gave no excuse nor further explanations, which in turn rendered the teacher speechless. With nothing more left to say, she simply told them to not fight and sent them to their rooms.
On the stairs of the third floor, outside the counseling room, Dong-in spoke in a low voice.
“I’ll kill you.” He said. “I really will. One day, I’ll kill you.” Then, he left.
Lucid stood in place, watching as Dong-in went up the stairs. Only when the older boy completely disappeared from his line of sight did he make his way to his room. Myeong-su screamed as Lucid joined him, asking him if he was alright, if it hurt, if he was really, really okay, fretting so much that Lucid had to calm him down.
“I’m so glad! Well then, I’m going to the bathroom. I held it in so long waiting for you!”
And with that, Myeong-su ran to the restroom. Lucid smiled bitterly and sat at his desk when he saw Myeong-su was gone. And he thought and thought. He had many questions, and he needed answers. He went over the facts he knew.
1. Dong-in had lied.
This was the most obvious truth, as Lucid hadn’t even known Dong-in was there until he called out to him.
2. Dong-in used violence first.
This was also a certain truth, but Lucid had to go over it. Dong-in had used violence against him separately from the argument they were having. Lucid wanted to know the reasoning behind it. No matter how much he thought about the conversation they’d had, he couldn’t quite figure out why Dong-in had suddenly turned violent. That was why he had been uprepared to defend himself and had gotten hit.
3. Dong-in stayed quiet in front of the teacher.
Was it to conceal the truth, because Dong-in knew that if he told the truth, then everyone would know he had been lying? Lucid found this hard to believe. Why didn’t he simply lie, as he had to that high schooler?
4. Dong-in had threatened to kill him.
This was the clue that provided some insight for some of the earlier questions. For starters, Lucid understood that the first lie had been purposeful, all to “pick a fight” with him. He also understood that Dong-in hated him enough to use violence against him, but he didn’t want others (especially teachers) to find out about this hatred, nor the truth. Was this a reasonable conclusion? Moreover, Dong-in’s threat showed that he had hated, or at least disliked, Lucid from even before today’s incident. Yes, this seemed like a reasonable conclusion. But it brought up one more question.
“Why does he hate me?”
He thought about possible instances in which they had met or interacted, anything that might have lead to hard feelings. Then he remembered the courthouse, and he remembered Somi. Somi and Dong-in. And himself? From Lucid’s perspective, there was nothing connecting the three of them. He hadn’t been particularly close to Somi, so it felt strange to even say they had any sort of connection.
“Should I go ask him?” He wondered briefly, when another thought struck him.
“Why am I thinking about this so hard?”
He wondered why he wondered in the first place. If anyone else had been in his place, how would they have acted? What would they be thinking? And so, Lucid reorganized his thoughts.
“I was hit for no reason by someone who hates me for no reason, and he has threatened to kill me.”
Thinking of it again, he had reached this conclusion through his own subjective perspective. Therefore, saying that it was all “for no reason” wasn’t quite correct. All things have a cause and an effect. There was no effect without a cause. As such, Lucid wanted to know the cause. But even if he found the cause, could he change the effect? The more he thought about it, the less likely it seemed. No, he knew for certain that he couldn’t. He had already been hit, already been threatened. Changing the effect wouldn’t make that go away. What had happened had happened, and that was it.
Lucid thought back to his resolution a month ago.
“Mosla died because I was weak. If I grow stronger, will Mosla come back? No, he won’t. Then why should I grow stronger? So that when faced with a similar situation, I can stand up for myself.”
Realization hit him then.
“The goal is wrong.”
The right thing to do wasn’t to defeat the angry scrofa and protect people in danger. Indeed, the right thing would be to get rid of the scrofa and eliminate the danger in the first place. Yes, that was it. He didn’t just need power. He needed to right the wrongs, and if he couldn’t do that, he had to eliminate them completely. That is what true prevention is.
Even now, trying to find the cause for the wrong and correcting it to prevent further danger was the wrong approach to take. He had to instead get rid of the cause altogether and prevent any negative effects before they could manifest. That was the correct approach.
In other words, Dong-in Seo was the “cause” that would bring negative effects into Lucid’s life, and as such, was the subject for “elimination.”
Lucid stood from his chair.
lt;Misunderstanding (5)gt; End.