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Prince of Food Ep 25: Grilled Cheese Sandwich


❈Kun Jung-Hee



It was almost eery even to myself how calm I was. My eyes were still glued to the notice, I didn't move or even react to Racheal's worried calls. Hell, I could barely register them. But I didn't feel angry.

I felt nothing at all.

It was a weird out-of-body experience like whatever was happening was happening to someone else and not me. I read the sign over and over, for what felt like hours until finally.


Racheal's voice finally cracked through my trance and she bodily turn me to herself. I could just barely see Amy's worried face just out of the corner of my eyes but Racheal made me face her. She looked ..upset which given how I usually react to this kind of situation was warranted. But after a few moments of not getting a verbal response from me, her anger slowly soured to worry.

"Jung-Hee..?" She called again.

"...I'm fine Racheal.." I said in an oddly calm, neutral tone.

It really wasn't but at this point in time, I felt calm. Not a single negative or destructive thought in my mind which for me at the time was unheard of. I will be the first to admit that my mind is never a good place to look for positivity in dire situations.

I'm a brutal realist with a heavy dose of pessimism.

"You don't look fine!" She said, not letting go of my face.

I let out a sigh before gently grabbing her hands and slowly pulling them away. She let me at seeing how calm I still was. I look between her and Amy, both still looking at me with extremely concerned faces.

"Serious guys, I'm okay... New beginning right?" I said with a smile.

Although the words came out without even a change in pitch, they felt like ash on my tongue. It wasn't the right thing to say as Racheal's face then morphed again back to anger. No doubt assuming I was going to do something stupid which honestly at this point I don't even know myself.

This calm within myself is something new. I don't know if it was the happiness from the weekend still affecting me? Or maybe the silly promises I made to both my mother and Racheal?

"You guys get home okay? I see you guys tomorrow and let you know what happening?" I said casually.

The tension seems to seep out of Racheal all at once from that. She even looks shocked at what I just said. Normally in this kind of situation, I don't vent.. at all. Not until shit gets really bad and people find out on their own.

"You better Jung-Hee. I swear to god... please don't shut us out..." Racheal said with a sad look.

I smile at her and nod again as a promise. Slowly Racheal and Amy got back into her car and disappeared down the street. Now alone I was expecting the rush of anxiety but nothing. I slowly climbed the stairs to my unit, each step feeling heavier than the last. The door looked daunting as I stared at it for a few seconds. Entering the unit to utter silence how does brings a small squeeze to my heart.

Since it was around noon I wasn't too surprised. The twins probably wanted to go see some movie and mom brought them. Jae-Yun was maybe out with her friends or something? Everyone was fine.

When did the room get so hot? A stay thought scrapped through my mind.

I didn't even realize as I wander almost aimlessly around the house how out of breath I was. An unset of panic that I wasn't prepared for in the slightest was coming on fast and nothing was stopping it. I luckily got to the couch before collapsing on it as I proceeded to have a full-blown panic attack.

My skin felt like there were a million ants crawling all over, a small tremor shook my body and I felt like every bit of the failure I knew I was.

Time just slipped away at that point. I only broke out of my panicked trance by the sound of the front door opening.

I quickly forced my body up even as the panic was still crawling all over my skin and mind. I kept my head down as I didn't have the strength to keep it up. The apartment was dark since I didn't even turn on a light when I got back. I could hear the happy laughs of the twins and my mother speaking. Jae-Yun which I thought had gone out was her friends was actually there with them as well.

I never so nervous at hearing their footsteps coming closer and closer.

"Yeah! And then it exploded!! BOOM!" Shin loudly retells.

"Yeah yeah! That was cooolll!! Yu-Ri mirrors her brother excitement.

"Haha, well I'm happy you both like the move- OH!"

Unfortunately, it would seem I was discovered. I didn't look up but I could feel their eyes on me.

"Big brother!!! we went to go see Sonic!! It was soo cool!!"

"Yeah, yeah!"

"Oh...? That great guys." I said with a weak smile on my face, just turning my head enough to see them.

Their happy face fell a bit at seeing my face which made my panic flare up again.

"...Are you okay? You look sick, Jung-Hee." Yu-Ri asks me tugging cutely on my shirt.

"Yea! Do you want some juice? It makes me feel better all the time!" Shin says as he looks at me.

I couldn't help the laugh that came out. It was bitter as my heart at this moment. I'm usually an expert at hiding my stress, but now? Even the twins can see how fucked up I am...

How pathetic...

As if taking mercy on me, but I know for sure it wasn't the case, mom comes over and ushers them away.

"Your brother's probably just feeling tired from his trip. Remember he was away this weekend right?"

The twin's response was muffled as they disappeared with mom down the hall towards their room. She mostly likely was going to put them to bed since it was probably late. That and the conversation that is more than likely going to take place wasn't going to be a good one. That left Jae-Yun who I knew was still in the hallway just before the living room. She was probably looking at me, trying to figure out what to say. But I was quicker.

"...Why didn't you call or text me about the building?" I said in a tone colder than I meant.

I didn't have to look to know she was hurt by it but I did anyway. Her face was a mix of hurt and a bit of anger. She opened her mouth to respond but couldn't build her words.

"Jae-Yun. Why didn't you tell me?" I said again this time with bitter anger that was building slowly.


"I told her not to."

We both turned to see the return of mom. She looked calm mostly, there was a bit of weary glance in my direction but that was all.

"Why?" I said, trying hard not to yell when every bone in my body was wanting to.

"...Because I spoke with the landlord.."

Whatever I had planned to say died in my throat as a rush of anxiety greeted me.

"He asked me to talk to you. Saying that in regards to your previous deal, since the building is being sold he would alieve you of it. As a 'consultation' to having to move."

I wanted to say something, anything to ease the pained look on her face but knew that nothing I said would do that.

"...I obviously didn't know what he was talking about so I asked. And he explained how you've been giving him extra every month since he been wanted to raise the rent formally for about 2 years now."


"I'm still speaking Jung-Hee." She hissed out with a stern look.

My mouth shut quickly, as my eyes wanted to avert the floor badly but I keep eye contact with her.

"And then suddenly eventing made sense... Why you've been working so hard?" She said with a bitter smile.

"So yes, I told her not to tell her. Why? Because for once you were out with your friends to just have fun. Not having to worry about what happens at home or at your job."


"..You don't go out more than an evening if you allow it. I haven't seen you bring anyone home, outside of Racheal or that other girl. You don't talk about any dream you may have or wants."

"Mom, are you serious?!" I said now with a glare.

She looked at me with a deadly calm that wasn't something I'm used to.

"...You don't even look at me that same way as when you were younger..."

That caught me off guard as I looked at her a bit shocked.

"W-what are you talking ab-"

"Jung-Hee, I wanted you to enjoy yourself. And I think you did, so I don't regret not telling you." She said with a tone so at peace that I just didn't know what to do with.

The room was quiet for a while after that. She continued with a smile.

"... I've already started looking for a new place. There were a few that were in even better spots that make it easier for all of us."

"Yes mom, I know. I've looked before. Those places however are way out of our price range!" I tried to urge her from this.

"Right now yes, but if I get another job-"

"Absolutely not! We've already talked about this Mom!" I rejected it immediantly.

The rage that flashes over my mother's face at my last statement catches me by surprise.

"'We've talked', no Jung-Hee, we didn't 'talk' about anything! You just continued to choose for me! And I let you!" She said, tears welling up in her eyes.

"I let you because... I was weak and a coward. I let what happened with your father break me... And I was .... ha.." She trails off letting out a bitter laugh.

"I was fooling myself into thinking that it wasn't going to happen with you."

I wanted to say something, my mouth opens but no words come out. I just stood there like an idiot watching my mother crying face.

"I allowed my son to give up any symbolization of life to just work his way to death. And I just pretended that that was okay."

"You were sick mom. You almost died..."

"And being sick doesn't excuse what I did. After I got better, I should have stopped you. I should have talked to you about this. You didn't deserve to have your life taken away from you!"

"It was fine mom! I wanted to!-" I said a bit louder than I meant to.

"Of course, you wanted to Jung-Hee! You didn't think you had an option!!" She yells back.

The room was silent after that. A heavy tension just hung over us like a knife. Jae-Yun who had been utterly silent the whole time finally pipped in after a few long moments of silence.

"...I-I started a part-time job. So I can help." She said nervously looking between the two of us.

I looked at her in surprise which quickly morph to anger as I remember distinctly the conversations we have over and over again about that.

"Jae-Yun -"

"As long as it doesn't interrupt your studies, then it's fine sweetheart." Mom interrupts me.



We had a bit of a stand-off while Jae-Yun's expression darkened.

"I'm not a kid Jung-Hee. Stop treating me like one. I can make my own decisions!" She yells, unshed tears welling up in her eyes.

I stare at her for a few seconds trying to find the words to say. To make her understand how important her future is. To make them both understand that this is the best option!


My head snaps back to my mother as she looks at me with almost a whimsical expression.

"....Your father made his choice a long time ago. His decisions are with him and you are not him."

The room was dead silent as I just stared at her. Mouth open and eyes wide in shock, my heart that at one point felt like it was being crushed suddenly felt a bit lighter. My sight suddenly became blurred as unexpected tears filled them. Jae-Yun and mom looked at me with equal looks of surprise.

I haven't cried in front of them in what felt like ages.

Mom however was the first to recover as she slowly walked over to me, placing a gentle hand on my face.

"...We will get through this sweetheart, okay? Just trust us?" She said softly.

Words were beyond me as I just jerkily nod to her. She then pulls me into a hug, and I just broke. I don't really remember much more about that night after that.

The next few days passed by in a blur. Racheal and Amy have been treating me with kid gloves and I was at the time too numb to really be bothered. Nothing outwardly had changed over the few days. It did feel different now talking with my mom about stuff. Stuff that I usually kept to myself and she could tell given how I kind of turtle whenever I disagree with something she said.

It was an adjustment for sure.

And for a little while, it was working...

That is until it wasn't.

A few of the extra jobs that I had, unfortunately, had dried up work-wise. Mom, no matter how much she was denied it, was starting to get sick, though fortunately not as bad as before. Jae-Run was struggling in class, no matter how much she lied to mom and me on a daily basis. Days became weeks and before long a whole month and a half had passed. Our building had been slowly being emptied and every so often construction workers would be coming and going. Racheal and Amy could see how everything was affecting me and I tried to be a fourth coming to them about everything.

I tried so hard to stick to the promise we made, to not hold everything in. Rely on other people.

I tried and failed.

It was during my lunch break at the groceries that I finally made the decision that I should have made months ago. A cigarette hanging precariously from my lips and a sad half-eaten grilled cheese sandwich in one of my left hands as I hid in the back alleyway. Racheal wanted to follow me as she was concerned as usually given the dark look on my face but I refused her. After finishing off my sandwich, I finished out my phone, taking a deep drag off my cigarette. For a few moments, I just stared at my phone in silence, eyes burning at the number that I had refused to answer so many times ago.

During this month, I realized that I finally understood my life.

My life is always going to be a mix to brief happiness and long-winded struggle as is with everyone else in the world. Life doesn't care that you are trying your best or doing everything right.

Life is just a coin flip at the end of the day.

It is just a matter of where you land each day.

The sound of the phone ringing echoed in my ear as I stared blankly ahead. I was oddly at peace at this moment.

The phone answers on the 2nd ring.

"...Oh~? Well well, look who finally decided to call~?"

I look down at the ground as Ryan's voice filled my ears. His tone was playful with a hint of madness creeping just beyond.

"..So hermano, what can I help you with?"

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