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    It was the first time in my life that I looked forward to getting out of bed in the morning. I woke up before the alarm went off. Even though I still couldn’t open my eyes, I dialed Director Lee’s number. These days, the beginning of my workdays has been the same. As soon as I open my eyes, I call Director Lee. Director Lee received the phone call with a clear voice while I was half asleep.

    – Did you sleep well?

    I laughed and couldn’t answer quickly.

    “Why is your voice so fine? I’m still groggy.”

    Director Lee laughed softly.

    – I woke up early waiting for Joo-hyuk-ssi’s phone call.

    “You’re lying.”

    I buried my face in the pillow. I’m not even a fifteen-year-old kid. I’m excited. I lifted my face from the pillow.

    “See you later.”

    – Are you going to hang up this early today?

    “I have to get ready.”

    – Are you getting ready to meet me?

    “Ah, you’re so cheesy.”

    I beat the pillow silently. I clenched my fists tightly. Let’s calm down. Let’s calm down. I shouldn’t get excited about each and every one of these things! My heart! Stay strong! Let’s eat!

    “I’ll hang up. See you later.”

    – See you later, Joo-hyuk-ssi.

    I rolled off the bed. My body fell to the floor. I feel like I’m floating. I never thought the day would come when I would love to go to work. I shouldn’t have chosen to retire. Then I remembered the computer screen. Nope, let’s retire.

    I went through my workday in a dreamlike state. I checked the messenger once every 30 seconds. Director Lee stated that he will be busy until lunchtime. Thanks to him, I talked a lot with Deputy Kang. We chose our lunch menu with care. Deputy Kang insisted on conquering all nearby restaurants after learning of my resignation. I agreed.

    [Department Head Lim said she found a restaurant that was aired on TV again. Shall we go there?]

    [What do they feature?]

    [Kimchi stew.]

    [Today is not stew day. I feel today is western food day.]

    [We’ve been going to traditional restaurants for years. The portion is very large, and it is delicious.]

    [Let’s go for now.]

    Lunchtime is the same as usual. Department Head Lim and Ha Won are waiting for us, and Ha Won whispered to me, “This time I lost to Si-hyun hyung, but if you don’t like hyung anymore, come to me anytime.” I stroked Ha Won’s head. I’m not going anywhere. In my eyes, Ha Won is just cute.

    The kimchi stew restaurant that Department Head Lim found is a place we had visited before. A place run by a boss who behaves harshly. I checked the internet images and ratings dozens of times because the customers didn’t have a clue. We decided to relocate. While wandering through the alleys like a bum, I got a call.

    It’s mom.

    “Hello, Mom?”

    – Son, did you have lunch?

    “Not yet, I’m on my way to eat now.”

    – Okay. Son. Joo-hyuk.

    “Yeah, Mom. What’s the matter?”

    – I’m in the hospital. Joo-young fainted again.

    “What?”

    My steps stopped. Everyone looked at me. I motioned that I need to go first. All three remained in their seats.

    “It’s been fine for a while, but why suddenly? Has she woken up now? Is she okay?”

    My heart is pounding. Kim Joo-young fainted so often, so it might feel familiar, but it’s not. Every time I hear the news that she had collapsed, it feels new. It feels new, always.

    – It’s not good. Both mom and dad were surprised while working. Your dad is crying like a ghost over there right now. Hey, be quiet! Go out and cry. Hey, get out, get out. It’s so distracting.

    “I’m coming.”

    – Go eat lunch, son. When you come, Kim Joo-young will wake up from the IV.

    My mother’s voice is calm. Thinking so, I answered bluntly.

    “Where is the hospital? I have to go at lunchtime. I will go.”

    – Okay.

    “Mom, Joo-young will be fine.”

    – It should be fine then. Kim Joo-young. She said that this time she will be a straight-A student. She will never take a leave of absence. She always talks about that grade every day.

    I should have laughed, but strangely, I couldn’t.

    – Come slowly.

    “Yeah.”

    – It will be fine.

    “Yeah.”

    – Don’t worry too much.

    My mother hung up the phone, leaving no trace of who she was speaking with. Deputy Kang approached me.

    “What’s up?”

    “My sister fainted. I’m going to the hospital. Please tell Director Lee later. I’ll go to the hospital soon.”

    “Okay. Go ahead.”

    “What about your meal?”

    “No, it’s okay.”

    I ruffled Ha Won’s hair once more, who was looking at me blankly.

    “I’ll be back.”

    Should I run? My legs were trembling as soon as I stepped out onto the street. Something felt different this time. There is something called intuition. My mother’s voice sounded unusual as well. No, everything was as usual, so it was strange. In reality, there was nothing strange or unusual about it. Kim Joo-young. Are you awake right now? Have you opened your eyes? Do you want some juice to get up and drink? My hand trembled as I took out my wallet.

    “Deputy Kim.”

    Ha Won grabbed my arm.

    “Won-ssi, what are you doing here and not eating?”

    There was a car key in Ha Won’s hand. It’s Director Lee’s.

    “Let’s go.”

    I followed Ha Won, who dragged me away. As soon as I got into the car I was used to, my heart started pounding even more. It’s gonna be okay, it’ll be ok in a day or two. In a day or two.

    Ha Won, who started the car, asked me.

    “Don’t you need to call Si-hyun hyung?”

    “Director, he is having a lunch meeting right now.”

    “I guess you know his entire schedule now.”

    Ha Won’s gentle voice echoed in my ears.

    “Sit still and fasten your seat belt.”

    As soon as I fastened the seat belt, the car was thrown forward. My body bounced up and down and then fell. Ha Won’s expression is serious.

    “I’m going to drive a little faster, so get ready.”

    Today is the day I will be violating the Road Traffic Act for the first time in my life. I should prepare something for it.

    The sedan moves as if it was about to move into other dimensions. I’m glad I didn’t eat lunch.

    ***

    “Well, as you might have expected, this is often the case.”

    Kim Joo-young is pale as she lies down with an oxygen respirator on. She also looks yellow. Her eyelids have turned red once more. ‘She isn’t dead, right?’ I asked the doctor. My mother smacked me on the back. Her lips are purple! Ha Won grabs my arm. I need to calm down. I bit my nails.

    “I’ve given her a sedative, and she’ll soon feel better, and her fever will go down.”

    “Then, now, she has gotten better, right?”

    Mom asked. Dad sniffed a lot. We were almost like a drama cast. An old woman lying on the bed. The parent hits the child. Ah, it’s serious over here. My intestines are in serious trouble, too.

    “I see it that way. It’s not your first time here, right? I told you back then, but now, prepare your heart and…”

    Ha Won paused. No surprise. I wrapped my hand around Ha Won’s shoulder. Maybe I wrapped my arm around him so I could lean on him.

    “It happens often even in Beta families. Don’t be too surprised. The manifestation of an adult child.”

    “Then Joo-young…”

    “I’ll have to look at the blood test results to know, but maybe…”

    The doctor was looking through the charts and made eye contact with me.

    “She is an Omega now.”

    My father blew his runny nose. Suddenly, the TV in the hospital room turned on. ‘Hey, I need to watch the drama.’ ‘Have some oranges.’ ‘Sun-ah, give it to them later.’

     My mother’s voice is serious.

    “Is there any possibility of her being an Alpha? It’s very difficult to live as an Omega.”

    “You’ll have to wait and see. Based on the symptoms, I think she’s an Omega… We can’t tell for certain if she is an Alpha or Omega right now because she’s a woman and hasn’t been tested yet… This is because the pheromone has been suppressed, causing the body to react similarly to an allergic reaction.”

    Someone handed an orange to my sniffling dad. Dad accepted the orange while crying. The conversation between my mother and the doctor continued. It didn’t sound right to my ears.

    I left the hospital room with Ha Won. I slumped down as if I were falling on a chair. Ha Won patted my back.

    “Deputy Kim, are you okay?”

    “It’s fine, what?”

    Ha Won seemed hesitant and took my hand. Ha Won’s hands are smaller and softer than mine. I clenched my hand.

    “I wish Kim Joo-young could live a normal life.”

    Words flowed out like a sigh. It had been expected. She doesn’t get sick on a regular basis for no reason. I wonder if I will manifest as I get older. I hoped I wouldn’t though. It won’t happen, I’ll be healthy, it’ll be better. I can live a normal life. I can live as a Beta.

    Ha Won tightened his hand that was holding me.

    “It’s not like you can’t live normally as an Omega.”

    Ha Won was looking straight ahead.

    “Alphas and Omegas are the same. They just live. There’s no such thing as being normal or not. Just living.”

    “…”

    “When the heat cycle comes, you just have to take an inhibitor, learn to control your pheromones, and if there is a problem, you can solve it. If you are sick, you can go to the hospital.”

    “You’re right.”

    “There is no need to divide the world into two or three. Alpha World, Beta World, Omega World.”

    This time, Ha Won made eye contact with me. His smile resembled Director Lee’s. I want to see Director Lee.

    “There’s nothing special about being normal.”

    Living like this is a continuation of a normal daily life.

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