WHERE DREAM AND REALITY MEET (4)
She seemed to have had a strange dream. Lucia squinted her eyes and tried her best to recall the dream, but she couldn’t remember anything. She felt like it was a very pleasant dream. She dawdled for a bit, feeling down then she got up. As soon as she left her blanket, which was heated by her body temperature, the cold air in the room covered her entire body.
She placed her feet down beside the bed and the sensation of the cold wooden floor on the soles of her feet made her shiver. She used her feet to grope for her slippers and put them on. The inside of the slippers was cold as well, but it was made of soft wool so it quickly grew warm.
She dipped her hand in the water that she had left out last night in advance. The chill from it made goosebumps rise till the crown of her head. ‘Ueeee’, she groaned bizarrely and quickly finished washing herself with the cold water.
Lucia looked at her blurry image in the mirror. Clear mirrors were very expensive items, so unfortunately, the mirror she had was stained with black.
This sort of mirror also had its advantages. Because it showed no blemishes or wrinkles, it had the effect of making the reflected image pretty. There wasn’t anyone to show herself to anyways, so it was enough to just check that there was nothing on her face; that’s what she thought, but nowadays, the blurry mirror irritated her.
Fixing a stare at the mirror, she brought her face close to it. And with that, she could see a small wrinkle that wasn’t very noticeable.
‘My life has just gone by without me even noticing. I’m already so old…’
She had already gotten older than the age her mother was when she passed away. As she grew older, she realized her mother was actually very young when she gave birth to her. She couldn’t help but wonder how many nights her mother secretly cried to herself while raising a daughter at such a young age. She felt sorry to her mother for not living a good life despite her efforts.
“This isn’t the time for this.”
After sitting absentmindedly for a while, she suddenly sprang to her feet and threw on her clothes. As she left her bedroom, she found the door of the opposite room open. She used to use this room for storing miscellaneous things, but now, there was a guest staying there for a while.
Lucia quietly approached and glanced inside the room. As expected, it was empty. The guest was an early riser so he always woke up earlier than Lucia, then he would leave the door open as if to indicate that he was already up.
‘I didn’t think he’d stay here this long.’
She was seized with a strange feeling. Someway or the other, she had been living together with this guest who suddenly appeared for a little over a month.
‘It’s amazing how it doesn’t feel uncomfortable.’
Even though a stranger had butt into the space where she had lived alone for many years, it didn’t feel out of place, as if she had lived with someone for a long time.
The man probably couldn’t even imagine it. That the bumpkin living in this little rural area knew his identity. Lucia had heard a banging on her door at sunset and when she opened the door, she couldn’t even begin to describe how surprised she saw to see the man standing in front of her. When he asked if he could rent a bed for the night, she had quickly nodded her head like a fool.
‘Don’t even dream about it. He’ll be leaving soon.’
Lucia chided herself. He was someone way out of her league.
‘When he leaves, he’ll quickly forget about an old peasant like me.’
He wouldn’t even remembered her as a woman he passed by. Even though she knew that, she was aware of the changes in herself as these days, she kept looking in the mirror. The gentle breeze blowing in her heart kept making her excited.
Lucia went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She chopped the ingredients and lit the fire. She habitually reached out to scoop water from the water jar that was filled to the brim, but then she paused. The water jar that was half-full from yesterday’s use was now filled to the brim as always.
Even though she had never asked, he filled the jar with water, every morning without fail. And in his spare time, he chopped firewood. Her storage was filled with so much firewood that she felt like they could last all winter.
Lucia suddenly laughed. She wasn’t sure why such a precious personage was so stringent in doing this kind of unpleasant tasks.
When the soup began to boil, she stepped out to look for him. She checked his room first since he might have come back while she was cooking but it was empty. Next, she checked the backyard where the firewood was usually cut. But there was no sign of him there too. She walked around the house several times, but he was nowhere to be found.
‘Did he leave? Without even saying goodbye?’
Her heart felt a bit empty. She went to the backyard again and stood, vacantly staring at the pile of wood that was yet to become firewood.
“What are you doing?”
Lucia spun around in surprise.
There he was, looking at Lucia with a particularly indifferent expression. In his hand were a few wriggling rabbits bound up together by a vine.
He often went hunting in the morning. Lucia’s face grew hot. She felt so embarrassed of herself because she had completely forgotten about it and gotten all sad on her own.
“Ah…breakfast is ready.”
“I guess I’m late.”
“Well…please come in and eat.”
Lucia nodded to him in greeting and hurried into the house. She couldn’t look back because for some reason, she felt his gaze on her back.
*T/N: If you’re confused, the next chapter explains everything.