Remember The Name - Chapter 51
Myeong-su headed inside the institute to find the suddenly missing Lucid. He had checked their room, in the hopes that Lucid had simply gone back to rest, but there had been no one there. Dejected, he had gone back out into the hallway when he bumped into a teacher, accompanied by a man and a woman.
“Miss!” Myeong-su called out. “Have you seen plaster face?”
The utter lack of a greeting irked the teacher, and she frowned as she looked at the young boy, which went completely unnoticed. Myeong-su wasn’t the type of child to catch such clues and apologize for his behavior, after all. Knowing this, the teacher simply sighed before answering.
“No, actually. I haven’t. I thought he was out in the courtyard with you.”
“We were! But now he’s gone!” Myeong-su explained, impatiently tapping his feet on the floor.
“Is that why you’re looking for him?”
The woman who had been walking with the teacher stepped forward. She was wearing a purple two-piece suit, and the lapel was adorned with a silver brooch. She was an altogether stylish middle-aged woman, and her neatly set hair only added to her graceful appearance.
“My, aren’t you a cute one!” she said, bending her knees to meet Myeong-su’s eye level. “Tell me, who is this plaster face?”
“He’s my friend.”
“Plaster face is just a nickname.” The teacher quickly explained. “His roommate. He seems to have gone elsewhere, which is why Myeong-su here is looking for him. Right?”
“Yeah! He was our goalkeeper, but then he was gone, so Hyung-geun hyung scored a goal.”
“So you want him to come back and goalkeep?” the woman asked again, smiling warmly.
“Maybe he ran away because he didn’t want to goalkeep.”
“That can’t be!” Myeong-su shook his head vehemently. “He likes being goalkeeper.”
And with that, Myeong-su went off again in search of Lucid, but not before the teacher reminded him to say goodbye properly. Myeong-su froze in his tracks, turned around, and bowed once, running off as soon as he straightened back up. The woman watched him leave, her eyes full of warmth, and turned to the teacher.
“He’s adorable. How old is he?”
“Eight this year.” The teacher answered, making sure to inform her of how much of a troublemaker Myeong-su was. She hesitated for a moment, but resumed speaking. “The boy he’s looking for, the one he called plaster face… He’s actually the child you’re looking for. He wasn’t in the courtyard, so I brought you here to his room, but it seems that he’s not here either.”
The woman seemed quite disappointed. They had come all the way to the third floor for nothing. Noticing the woman’s noticeably soured mood, the teacher pondered over a solution.
“Well, maybe we should head back to the counseling room and wait there.” She proposed. “I’ll ask the other teachers to look for him. He’s somewhere in the institute, there is no doubting that, so we’ll find him in no time.”
“Alright, then. Come, darling.”
As soon the woman addressed him, the man who had been standing behind her nodded once and turned towards the stairs again. As they walked, the woman was hit with a sudden curiosity.
“The boy we’re looking for. Is he… Similar to the boy we just saw?”
“Oh, not at all. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Myeong-su is one of the most playful children here. He’s very cheerful and a bit naive. The boy we’re looking for is the opposite. He’s quite serious. Oh, I don’t meant to say he’s brooding or anything like that. He’s just smarter and more mature than most other kids his age, so he’s… Well-behaved. Yes, that’s the word. He’s not playful, but you’ll see that he’s quite clever and much brighter than he appeared to be on TV. Oh, and he’s not that wary of strangers.”
The teacher tried her best to explain that Lucid was a good child with as many details as she could muster, and in a way that would please the couple. Of course, Lucid didn’t need any embellished description, as he had skipped the diamond-in-the-rough phase and had gone straight to the polished-diamond phase. The more one got to know him, the more he shone.
“I’m glad to hear that. It’s always good to get along as quickly as possible. Isn’t that right, dear?” She asked her husband, smiling widely and waiting for him to agree.
“Sure.” The man answered. The anticipation was clear even through his rough voice.
Myeong-su had run all the way to the back of the institute. Though it wasn’t mealtime yet, Lucid could have headed to the cafeteria early, so he wanted to check. It wasn’t a completely unfounded theory, since Yun-jeong sometimes dragged Lucid to the kitchens to give him food.
“Hello?” Jiwon’s voice rang clear across the whole kitchen, and Yun-jeong and the cooks peered out to find its source.
“How can we help you?”
“Oh! I’m one of the volunteers, and I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help out! Perhaps the dishes?”
Though Jiwon had tried her best to sound cheerful, in an attempt to shake off her own discomfort, the cooks only looked at each other, sharply aware of the institute’s rule of not allowing volunteers and residents meet if they were peers. However, it was Yun-jeong herself who turned towards Jiwon, waving her hand excitedly.
“Hey! Welcome. You’re just in time for meal preparations, and we’d love an extra hand. Right?”
“Oh. Well, yes. Of course, of course. Welcome.” Said the cooks, grateful for Yun-Jeong’s implicit permission.
“How old are you?” Yun-Jeong asked as Jiwon stepped into the kitchen. “Sorry, am I being too familiar? You just look so young.”
“I’m a freshman in high school.”
“Oh, really? I’m older than you, then! I’m a junior. Hey, we should be friends!”
“Sure! I’d love that.”
“You’re just in time, actually. We’ll do dishes later. For now,” Yun-Jeong said as she pushed Jiwon towards where the cooks were sitting, “you wait here!”
Seeing Jiwon’s confusion, the cooks laughed heartily, patting her on the back. “Yun-Jeong’s a great cook.” They explained. “So we’ll grab a bite to eat before getting to work. We have plenty of time.”
“Yun-Jeong!” Another cook called out. “How much longer?”
“Oh, I’m done!”
A white soup was boiling rapidly inside the wok, and when Yun-Jeong ladled some out, the delicious sweet aroma of crab wafted through the air.
“Wow! What is that?” Jiwon asked, completely taken.
“Crab soup! Looks good, doesn’t it?”
Just then, the cafeteria doors swung open. Lots of visitors today, Yun-Jeong thought, and when she peered out to check who it was, she burst out laughing.
“Hey! Hey!” Myeong-su shouted as he approached the group. “Has anyone seen plaster face? Whoa, hey. What’s that?”
Before Yun-Jeong could answer either question, Myeong-su ran to her side and clapped excitedly.
“I want some! Can I have some?”
“I was just about to get you some, silly.” Yun-Jeong said, chuckling. How typical of him.
She handed him a steaming bowl, making sure to remind him to not burn himself, and watched as he ate. “How is it?” She asked. Myeong-su only nodded, much too busy shoveling spoonful after spoonful to form a coherent sentence. Fully satisfied with his answer, though, Yun-Jeong pat his head and looked over to Jiwon.
“Do you like it?”
“I love it!” Jiwon exclaimed, and Yun-Jeong smiled all the wider.
“Just as expected from you, Yun-Jeong. How did you get so good, learning alone? You’re a genius, that’s for sure.”
“There you go again, overreacting about everything! I just eyeballed it and it worked out.”
The cooks all laughed merrily at Yun-Jeong’s modesty, and the girl grumbled as she ladled soup into her own bowl to try it out. She had made it herself, but she had to admit it really was quite good. Cooking was such an artform! She could never get tired of–
“More, please!” Myeong-su said, completely interrupting Yun-Jeong’s train of thought and making her laugh again. Just as he was about to dig into his new bowl of soup, Myeong-su gasped and looked at everyone again.
“Have you seen plaster face?” He asked hurriedly.
“No, we haven’t seen him here.” Yun-Jeong answered, puzzled by the sudden change in subject. “Why? Did something happen?”
“We were playing soccer and he disappeared.”
“Well, where did he go?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is that why you’re looking for him?”
That just meant that Myeong-su had been looking for his friend and gotten so side-tracked by food to have requested seconds. A bit exasperated, Yun-Jeong ruffled his hair wildly.
“We really haven’t seen him, or I’d have kept him here to eat.”
Confused by the conversation, Jiwon tilted her head and quietly asked, “Who is plaster face supposed to be…?”
“Oh, it’s this kid’s friend.” Yun-Jeong answered, telling Jiwon Lucid’s name.
“Is that the boy who was goalkeeping?”
Jiwon’s whole complexion has changed, growing paler and paler, though she herself had failed to notice.
“Yeah, it is! Have you seen him?” Myeong-su asked, his eyes wide. Could this complete stranger have some information about his friend? But earlier emotions flooded over Jiwon again, and she felt a little more than reluctant to answer.
“I mean… I saw him at the goalpost.”
“Aww…” Myeong-su slumped against his chair, kicking his feet dejectedly.
“But…” Jiwon started again, remembering what she had seen before coming to the cafeteria. “Do children here often go to the mountain at the back?”
Yun-Jeong shook her head at this. The incident back in summer had been huge, and everyone had been instructed to never utter a word of it in front of outsiders.
“They don’t. It’s completely off-limits. There’s even a fence around it. Have you seen it?”
“Really? I saw a boy going up earlier. Looked like a middle schooler?”
“What?!” Yun-Jeong shot up from her seat and grabbed Jiwon by the hand, dragging her out of the cafeteria. The cooks had already heard her, but Yun-Jeong thought it best that they didn’t hear any more details. As she had said, the mountain was strictly off-limits, and it was a serious breach of rules to go up there.
“Who was it? Did you see his face?” Yun-Jeong asked once they were outside.
“I didn’t. He… He had short hair, and he was a bit shorter than me. That’s why I thought it was a middle schooler, but…”
Jiwon was completely taken aback by Yun-Jeong’s behavior, and she was afraid she had done something wrong yet again. However, the older girl was too preoccupied to notice Jiwon’s anxiety. The face that someone, one of the residents, had gone up the mountain was too big of a deal to brush aside.
“Did plaster face go, too?” Myeong-su asked, running towards the girls.
“No, not plaster face.”
This was a solid deduction to make, since Jiwon would have recognized Lucid after already having seen him in the courtyard. The fact that she described the boy’s looks meant that she didn’t know this child. However, it wasn’t as simple as going to look for Lucid elsewhere. Someone had gone up to the mountain, which made this an emergency above all others. An emergency that Yun-Jeong couldn’t take care of by herself. Usually, when something like this happened, there was someone else that the children turned to. Someone she knew all too well.
Yun-Jeong instructed Myeong-su to stay put and ran towards the institute. Jiwon watched the older girl leave, wondering whether she should follow her or stay with the young boy, or even go back inside to do dishes. She had no idea what to do.
lt;Lucid Dream (2)gt; End.