< — The Beginning and the End — > (1)
Lucia was walking through an unknown forest. The forest was dense with towering trees, but the surrounding wasn’t dark at all. She treaded barefoot and the soft moss touching the bottom of feet was ticklish.
She walked through the forest like she was bewitched. With every step she took, the dense thicket and branches moved aside, as if making way for her. But she wasn’t amazed or fascinated by this. She just kept moving forward.
Lucia exclaimed, seeing the open space in front of her. It was a space in the shape of a small circle, like a cozy nest. Shallow vegetation that barely passed her ankles was spread out like a carpet. And in the middle of it all was a single tree, standing under the bright sunlight. It shone with a sacred radiance as if it were the only tree in the world.
Lucia approached the tree. Upon drawing nearer, she saw an unfamiliar red fruit, hanging appetizingly from the tree. She couldn’t take her eyes away from it because it was so beautiful. She wanted to pluck it and put it in her pocket but couldn’t because it looked too precious.
She circled around the tree for a moment then she stretched out her hand to the exceptionally red and beautiful smooth fruit. She took hold of it and pulled. The moment the fruit left the tree and was completely in her hands, bright light suddenly burst out from the fruit.
Lucia’s eyes flashed open. The view around her was her familiar bedroom, with the morning light seeping in.
It was a vivid enough dream that she felt like it was right in front of her eyes. Lucia was captivated by an inexplicably strange feeling on the morning of New Year’s Day that for a while, she just lay down on the bed with her eyes open.
* * *
Lucia opened her eyes. Her maid was standing next to the bed. She willed her heavy-lidded eyes open and asked the maid for the time. It was late in the morning, with only two hours left till noon.
These days, she overslept practically every day. Today, it was three hours past her usual wake-up time. She had a lunch scheduled with the Queen today, so yesterday, she had asked her maid to wake her up if she slept in.
“Shall I bring water for you to wash your face?”
After the maid turned around and left, Lucia stretched while yawning widely.
‘Why am I so tired?’
She usually woke up early even if maid didn’t wake her up but nowadays when she opened eyes, it was always late in the morning and despite that, she didn’t feel like she had slept well. In addition, she had been taking naps for several days in a stretch. The number of times she was sleeping had increased too much so she couldn’t think of it as just spring fever due to the changes in season. Moreover, she was not the type to be sensitive to seasons.
Lucia was about to get up from the bed but then she froze, grabbed her stomach and leaned over. She was riddled with sharp stabs of pain in her lower belly as it tightened heavily. The pain quickly disappeared after a while, but Lucia’s expression was not good as she straightened up.
Her stomach ached in this manner for the last few days and she had no clue why. The pain didn’t last very long but it kept bothering her.
‘I should call the doctor once I come back from the palace.’
She didn’t have much time to prepare to go to the palace because she woke up late, so calling the doctor was pushed to the afternoon. She didn’t think it was really necessary to call the doctor since she wasn’t particularly ill, but her husband was very sensitive to her health. If she ignored the symptoms and it grew into something serious, the doctor would lose their job.
‘But Anna was a good person.’
After letting go of Anna, Lucia got to experience several doctors and found that not only was Anna capable skill-wise, but she was different from the others in that she was actively trying to treat her patient. The doctors that were brought in afterwards, whether it was in their diagnosing or prescribing medicine, it was obvious that they were trying to play it safe. With these doctors, Lucia maintained a formal, employer-employee relationship, nothing more, nothing less.
While Lucia was changing her clothes after washing up, the maid waiting on her said to her.
“Milady. Before Master left in the morning, he asked for the doctor to be called to take a look at you.”
Lucia recalled what he had said to her last night and chuckled.
[I think you’ve had a slight fever for a few days now. Get looked at tomorrow. You might be coming down with a cold.]
“I’ll get looked at as soon as I come back from the palace, tell the doctor that.”(Lucia)
“Yes, Milady.” (Maid)
 I’m sure many of you are like ‘wth’ for the first part. Although I am not Korean, I’m pretty sure the dream was a ‘tae-mong’ aka a conception dream. They usually involve fruits.