Excerpt for Second Wind by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Second Wind



By Jennifer Park

Edited by Rachel Guerrero

Smashwords Edition



Copyright 2017 Jennifer Park



Smashwords Edition, License Notes



Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.



For my sister

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 1

“No!” Jeong Hoon slammed his fist down on the table, then reached up to remove his thick glasses. “We cannot take on one more charity patient!” Jeong Hoon rose and paced the room. “I have not been paid in three months. I have no idea the last time you’ve taken a salary.” Jeong Hoon ran his hands through his already messy hair.

“He’s eight years old,” Su Wan continued to plead, “Eight. Imagine losing a leg at the age of eight. How can I tell the family that we can't help them because we don't have enough money?”

Jeong Hoon looked in frustration at the 30-year-old woman that sat across from him. She was slightly disheveled, as she most often was. He wondered if she had remembered to eat dinner today. As he thought about it, his stomach gave a growl. Su Wan was not the only one who found it hard some days to remember to eat.

What do we have to eat?” Jeong Hoon asked in a surly voice.

Su Wan smiled. Her foe was weakening. “The grandmother of Jae Min brought in some snacks.”

Bring them here.” Jeong Hoon commanded. As Su Wan padded off to bring the food, Jeong Hoon held his tired head in his hands. He couldn’t give in this time. He always gave in. Su Wan had a way of making him forget reason and common sense. Actually, Su Wan had the power to make Jeong Hoon agree to just about anything. The 50-year-old Jeong Hoon thought of Su Wan like his own daughter. He found it almost impossible to tell her “no” even when it was obvious that “no” had to be said.

Su Wan presented Jeong Hoon with a package of crackers. He sighed. “I’m too old for you to feed me junk all the time,” Jeong Hoon complained.

Su Wan munched thoughtfully on her own cracker. She felt threatened. She could tell that Jeong Hoon was serious this time. How would she talk Jeong Hoon into taking on another charity patient? Jeong Hoon was not uncaring or selfish. If he was saying that they couldn’t do it, he was probably right. Still, Su Wan did not have it in her to turn Chin Hae away

Jeong Hoon interrupted her reflections, “You know I get it, don’t you? You know that I understand what drives you. I know why you don’t have the heart to turn that eight year old away. But Su Wan, for Second Wind to make it, you need more than compassion, or skill with patients. You need money, lots of money. Money comes from patients who can pay their bills.”

Su Wan shifted rebelliously in her seat. “I hate money.” Su Wan shouted childishly. “Why does everything depend on money? Rich man and poor man are the same if they have a stroke or lose a limb. They both have to work to be able to be able to live in the world again. Why should only rich people get the help they need?”

Because they are rich,” Jeong Hoon slowly stated the obvious.

“It’s not fair. I’m not asking for Second Wind to make a lot of money. I just want us to stay afloat. Why is this so hard?”

Because you won’t stick to your own policy. You have to actually work on fundraising. You also have to have at least one paying patient for every charity patient. Sometimes I think you reject the paying patients on purpose.” Jeong Hoon voiced a suspicion he had for a while.

I don’t.” Su Wan defended herself. “It’s just that many of the wealthier applicants don’t have the supportive relationships that we require. But most of the charity patients do. It’s weird, but it seems if you have the money, you may not have the family and friends that you’ll need to successfully overcome your limitation. The last case I turned down was a lady who had insurance and finances but she had no one who would participate with her in rehab. Her parents were too old, her siblings too busy, her significant other was disinterested. The only thing she had going for her was money. Our core premise to bring patients to full potential is to not only rehabilitate the patient, but to work with all the supportive relationships. I couldn’t accept her because she didn’t fit our profile of a patient we think we can help. I don’t want to knowingly go into a situation where I know that the only reason I am taking them on as a patient is because of the money. We said from the beginning that we would help families and communities of friends adjust to their new realities. We are in it for the families, not the money.”

Jeong Hoon sighed, “Su Wan, listen, we won’t be able to help any families without money. I know it seems distasteful or dishonest or like you are selling out on your values, but money is not a bad thing. It is a very necessary thing. It is okay to accept a patient just for the money. It is okay to say you’ll help them even if they don’t fit our profile. We need paying patients.”

“Even if they won’t have the help they’ll need after they leave Second Wind? We know how hard it is to recover and maintain functionality, if we send them back into a family and network of relationships that isn’t ready or willing to adjust to the new reality and limitations with them, it kills all motivation. How can I just take someone’s money, knowing that I can’t give them what they really need?”

Jeong Hoon sighed again. He knew he had been too soft for too long on his young partner. He was not going to win this one. “What is the eight year old’s name?”

Chin Hae.” Su Wan hoped Jeong Hoon was weakening.

Su Wan, I am begging you, stop being a purest. I love high ideals as much as any Mother Teresa fan. There are dozens of Chin Hae’s you can help, but you can’t save everyone. It is not your fault if families and friends can’t learn to adjust to the newly handicapped. It’s not wrong to take a patient just for the money. That is what most people do. You are still helping them. There is nothing to feel guilty about.” Jeong Hoon stood. He hoped he had made his point. Su Wan was slow to change her ideals. He wondered if there was something deeper in her aversion to accepting paying clients.

Get a paying client and you can bring in Chin Hae,” Jeong Hoon stated his conclusion.

“I’m the manager,” Su Wan reminded him somewhat rebelliously.

Jeong Hoon made no comment. He simply patted his manager on the head as he left the room.



Chapter 2

Su Wan was meeting with Park Sun Woo, the father of a possible new rehab patient for Second Wind Rehab Center. Su Wan knew she was going to accept this patient even before she fully read his file or interviewed his family. She needed a paying patient. And this patient had money, lots of money. Su Wan felt very unlike herself. She never looked at her patients as a means to an end. But she consoled her aching conscience with the thought that this was for Chin Hae.

Su Wan learned from reading the background sheet on their new patient that Park Tae Joon was a 24-year-old male. Two months ago he had been involved in a motorcycle accident. He had sustained multiple injuries; his pelvis was fractured, both legs fractured, and one arm had been fractured. His eye muscles had been stretched on impact and now his eyes did not align properly and he had double vision. For now, his double vision was being treated with an eye patch. With one eye covered, he did not need to worry about double vision, but when he had more fully recovered from his other injuries, then he would need additional surgery to correct his vision problem.

But by far, the worst of his injures was something invisible. The impact of the collision had damaged his brain. He had been in a coma for 9 days after the accident. During that time where he lay between life and death, the family had been prepared for the worst. If he regained consciousness, they were told, he might not be able to speak, to walk, or even to feed himself. Often brain-injured patients would experience personality changes. Sometimes they could even become violent.

Thankfully, most of the direst possibilities did not happen. When Tae Joon awoke from his coma, he could speak. He couldn’t walk, but that was partially due to his fractured limbs and partially due to balance problems brought on by his double vision. His main difficulty from his brain injury was his short-term memory. He remembered all his past, but his short-term memory was almost non-existent.

His mother had gotten her hair cut short while he was in a coma, and every time she entered his hospital room, he would say, “Omah, you got a haircut. It looks terrible.” Even if she stayed for several hours, when she returned, he would repeat, “Omah, you got a haircut. It looks terrible.”

The family had heard of things like amnesia, or people who forgot who they were, but how could you keep forgetting what happened just moments before?

The family was reassured that this was not uncommon amongst brain-injured patients. It was actually much more common than amnesia, though there are not many movies made about short-term memory problems. The doctors had said that it should get better with time and treatment. But what brought Sun Woo to this meeting with Second Wind was the fact that his son’s short-term memory was not improving as quickly the doctors had predicted it would.

Su Wan observed the gentleman seated across from her. He was obviously wealthy and equally obvious was the fact that he was uncomfortable. Su Wan thought that the hardest part of the job of rehabilitating patients was dealing with the family.

Su Wan pasted a professional smile on her face and asked, “Can you tell me how you heard of our center?”

Sun Woo replied, “My son has been in rehab at the hospital since he got out of intensive care. But he is not cooperating with the therapists. They tell me that he could be making progress, but he isn’t because he isn’t trying. Dr. Kim told me about your center. He said once you take a patient, you won’t give up until they have reached their maximum potential. He said that there, they become ‘one of the family,' not mere patients. My son has had the best physical therapists and access to the best equipment that money can buy and still there is no improvement. Dr. Kim thinks we need to take a different approach.” Sun Woo seemed uncomfortable talking about the problems with his son.

Su Wan set herself to give a speech she had given a number of times before. “Mr. Park, allow me to explain some key philosophies behind our center. Before we take a patient, we want the family and the patient to understand how we have designed our program.”

“We think that healing takes place best in a family-like atmosphere. Once we take a patient, we won’t give up on them, much like a mother wouldn’t give up on her child. But we also ask for that kind of commitment from our patients and their families. Rehab is a long and difficult process and we want assurance that the patient and the patient’s family will be committed to the process and will not quit when the process becomes frustrating and difficult.”

Sun Woo was already feeling more comfortable. This was sounding more and more like a business negotiation and business negotiations were his strong suit.

“I understand. If Tae Joon starts here, we won’t pull him out, no matter how much he complains.”

Su Wan was glad to hear that the first point had been understood. “Secondly, we have two kinds of clients, paying and non-paying. It is almost a 50-50 ratio. The fees for Tae Joon will help to cover the cost of clients who are unable to pay for their rehab fees.”

“That’s commendable. I have no problem helping other families who are going through the same tragedy as we are, and yet don’t even have the means to get the help they need.”

Su Wan continued, “And as patients become able, they work with other patients to help them with their rehab exercises. We find that when one helps others, they get the most benefit and they heal faster.”

“Yes, I understand. Actually, Dr. Kim thinks that is one of this center's unique strengths.” Sun Woo was hoping that his agreeableness would make up for his son’s contrariness.

“We recommend that the family also learn along with the patient. Many times a patient will continue to have significant deficits even after rehab, and the family needs to learn to adjust to the new reality.”

“We will cooperate fully. All I want is what is best for my son.” Sun Woo tried to sound committed.

Su Wan had long ago discovered it was best to overstate things rather than to assume that a point was understood. “Recovery is a family process. Patients that recover and live to their full potential have more than the monetary support of friends and their family. They need to know that they are still loved and wanted, that they can still make a contribution to their family.”

Once again Sun Woo was feeling uncomfortable. It wasn’t as if he didn’t love his son. He did. But theirs had been a difficult relationship when he was healthy. At this point, the relationship was basically non-existent. His wife's relationship with her son was even worse than his own. His beautiful wife was more than a little selfish and superficial. She was a very good showpiece to bring to office parties and she had dutifully presented him with two sons. But that was as far as her mothering went. His two sons, Tae Joon and Tae Sung, had been brought up in the care of nannies and tutors. Because of So Min’s love of all things beautiful, she had a distant appreciation of her handsome offspring. But the now scared and broken Tae Joon repulsed and terrified her. She found it hard to even visit him in the hospital and found every reason to leave these unpleasant duties to others.

Tae Sung, the youngest son, had always been in Tae Joon’s shadow. He lived with no hope of ever being in the coveted position of first-born son. Since Tae Joon’s accident, Tae Sung had suddenly enjoyed being propelled into the spotlight that being the only fully-functioning son gave him. Gone was the fear that Tae Joon would always outshine him.

Sun Woo shifted in his seat as he replied, “Nothing is more important to our family than seeing our son well again.” Sun Woo knew that, in a way, this was an honest answer. He would have paid any amount of money to see his son well. But Sun Woo hoped that Tae Joon’s wellness would not depend on the emotional support that Tae Joon was able to receive from his family. It was money that Tae Joon’s family could contribute in large measure to his wellness. The emotional support Su Wan spoke of was sparse and far more costly.

Sun Woo wanted to close the deal. He sensed that Su Wan doubted the existence of the family support that she said was critical to the success of Tae Joon’s rehab. “Our family believes strongly in supporting Tae Joon’s recovery, but we are very busy with our company. I feel if Tae Joon were a patient here, he would quickly be able to recover. Please, take my son as a patient.”

“Have you discussed Second Wind with your son? Patients do better if they participate in the decisions regarding their care and therapy.”

Sun Woo shifted in his seat. He paused as if considering how to phrase his answer. Finally he said, “Tae Joon is looking forward to coming to Second Wind.” Sun Woo hoped his lie sounded convincing.

Su Wan had a funny feeling that she should pass on this patient. But besides Chin Hae, they had two other patients on the waiting list. Those two also needed financial backers. They were not able to pay for their therapy fees. If she brought in a paying client, then she could bring in Chin Hae. And after the argument she had just had with Jeong Hoon, she hardly dared to pass on a paying client. Maybe this dad was telling the truth. Maybe he would participate in his son’s recovery. Su Wan knew she was fooling herself because believing the lie was the easier thing to do in this situation.

“Second Wind would be happy to take Tae Joon as a patient. We will do our best to see he gets the care he needs.” Su Wan's heart pounded as she said the words that seemed contrary to what she believed she should do.

After signing some admission papers, Sun Woo was soon walking out to his car. He looked around the grounds of Second Wind. This would be his son’s home for the next several months. Sun Woo had been told that his son would need full-time therapy for the next six months and then it may take another six months or more to transition Tae Joon back into his regular lifestyle.

It was hard to imagine that his son who could not even remember that his mother had gotten a hair cut from one minute to the next would someday return to doing all the things he used to do. When he had seen his son’s broken body after the accident, he had just hoped that he would live. But now that his son was very much alive, he had much greedier hopes. He hoped his son would regain all the abilities he had before his accident. Sun Woo didn’t want to think dark thoughts about his son, but more than once in these past two months, he had wondered if maybe it would have been better for everyone if Tae Joon had never woken up from that coma. What was a young man in his condition supposed to do? Was there any real future for Tae Joon?



Chapter 3

Tae Joon sat in his wheelchair waiting to be moved to the van. The nurse had told him that he should wait there. Someone would come to take him out to the van because he was going…where? Where did she say he was going? Tae Joon’s hand went to his head and he tapped the side of his temple gently. It was as if he were trying to loosen the stuck information. It had only been a few minutes ago; he remembered the nurse had said that he was being transported to…where? Where had she said he was going? Tae Joon thought hard for another few seconds, then he banged his arm down on the armrest of his wheelchair.

“Where am I going?” he yelled to the bustling hallway.

Several other patients and nursing staff turned at the sound of his raised voice.

“WHERE AM I GOING?”

His yell became louder and more frantic.

People who were close began to move away, a little frightened of his outburst. A nurse timidly approached him. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Tell me where I’m going.” Tae Joon repeated the question to the obviously clueless lady clad in white.

“Tell me your doctor’s name and I’ll check for you.” The nurse hoped she sounded helpful.

Tae Joon didn’t remember his doctor’s name. “Stupid lady,” he thought, “if I knew my doctor’s name, I’d probably know where I was going.”

“My name is Tae Joon,” he said with confidence. His name was something he knew with certainty. “You check where Tae Joon is supposed to be going.” Tae Joon demanded.

“All right, I’ll check.” The nurse tried a reassuring smile. “Just wait a moment.”

Tae Joon hated those condescending smiles. Those pity-filled smiles made him furious.

Just then, the van driver from Second Wind arrived. “I’m looking for Tae Joon,” he told the nurse at the information desk.

“I’m right here,” Tae Joon looked at the driver. He did not remember meeting him before. But several times a day, when he thought he was seeing a person for the first time, they would say things like, “I’ve been your nurse all day.” Or “We’ve been introduced 15 times already.” It was a horrible feeling. It seemed like the whole world knew something that he didn’t. Tae Joon continued to look at the driver with suspicion.

“Hello, my name is Eun Chul. I’m here to take you to Second Wind Rehab Center.”

Tae Joon nodded. “I’m Tae Joon. Park Tae Joon. But I don’t need rehab. I’m fine.”

Tae Joon had not understood exactly what all the fuss had been about these past two months. Some of it he could not remember at all. He had no memory of the accident or the first 3 weeks after the accident. The memories he had since then were mostly confused bits and pieces. He knew his legs and arm had been broken. He knew he had trouble with his vision. But the nurses and doctors didn’t seem to fuss about that so much. They were always asking him stupid questions like “What day is it today?” or “What is your name?” or worst of all, “Where is the cafeteria?”

Every day, they would take him out in his wheelchair and he was supposed to direct them to the cafeteria. And every day he couldn’t find that hated cafeteria. Tae Joon despised that cafeteria. They took him there 3 times in the morning and 3 times in the afternoon to help train his sense of direction. They had said that Tae Joon could leave the hospital when he could find the cafeteria. But still the cafeteria eluded him.

The hospital staff was always making him do weird stuff. They would list 10 different items and have him repeat back as many as he could remember. “Dog, cat, monkey, snake, bird, fish, bear, chicken, pig, bat,” the therapist slowly and clearly pronounced each word. “Now just repeat as many as you can remember.”

Tae Joon wanted to answer, but he really didn’t remember. “Dog…horse…cow.” Tae Joon smiled. This time he got three. Usually he only got one.

No, I don’t want you to list animals, I want you to repeat back the same list of words I said,” the therapist corrected.

Frustrated Tae Joon would just sit and sulk. “This is stupid. No one remembers this stuff.” Tae Joon thought to himself. To make sure the white-clad people did not ask him impossible questions, Tae Joon began to throw tantrums when he felt threatened.

One therapist showed a tray with 10 different objects on it. “Look carefully. I will remove the tray after one minute. Then you tell me as many of the items as you can.”

Tae Joon reached for the tray and threw it across the room. That was his method of dealing with his frustration.

Eun Chul stepped behind Tae Joon’s wheelchair, “Let’s go,” he said as he began to push the chair.

“Where am I going?” Tae Joon asked again.



Chapter 4

Tae Joon arrived at Second Wind in time for dinner. The Second Wind family all ate together. Able-bodied patients helped serve food and even feed other patients that needed help. Staff ate at tables with patients. No one wore hospital gowns or white coats. Everyone was dressed in regular clothes.

Tae Joon was wheeled up to a table. A man with thick glasses introduced himself as Jeong Hoon. Jeong Hoon was Second Wind’s physical therapist. Tae Joon had recently given up on trying to remember people’s names, so he just nodded and reached for his spoon.

What is my name?” Jeong Hoon challenged.

Tae Joon had no idea what the four-eyed fellow’s name was.

“Four-eyes?” Tae Joon ventured sarcastically.

Close. It’s Jeong Hoon. Try saying it aloud. It will help you remember.”

“I don’t need to remember your name.” Tae Joon said dismissively.

Jeong Hoon smiled sinisterly, “Yes, you do. You will want to curse me every night before you sleep, so you must remember my name. Say it, slowly three times, Jeong Hoon, Jeong Hoon, Jeong Hoon.”

“Why will I need to curse you before I sleep?” Tae Joon was curious now.

“Tell me my name and I’ll tell you.”

Jeong Hoon,” Tae Joon surprise himself by actually remembering it.

I’m the physical terrorist, oh, I mean, therapist, around here,” Jeong Hoon quipped.

“Where’s your white coat?” Tae Joon felt he might be being tricked.

I hate white. White makes me feel sick and a little stupid. Plus, white is altogether not fashionable. I like blue. One time, I met this foreign girl. She had porcelain-white skin and the bluest of blue eyes. They almost didn’t seem real. I couldn’t stop myself from staring at her eyes. I could hardly understand a word she said, but I just loved those eyes. And now, I wear something blue every day, in memory of my blue-eyed sweetheart.” Jeong Hoon sighed dramatically.

Tae Joon smirked. “Was she really your sweetheart?”

Jeong Hoon frowned, “No, but she would have been if I had better English.”

Tae Joon took in the odd-looking fellow before him. “I think it was the glasses, not your English. Girls don’t like guys with glasses.”

“What are you talking about? Girls love guys with glasses, because we look so smart. I’ll let you borrow mine if you have a hot date coming up.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I have any hot dates in my near future.” Tae Joon said bitterly, thinking of Si Young. Si Young was his fiancée. Tae Joon had hardly seen her since the accident.

After dinner, Jeong Hoon brought Tae Joon to his room. Tae Joon looked around his room. It looked like a normal bedroom. The walls were a cheery yellow, trimmed in beige. Tae Joon smiled to himself. He had not realized how much he detested white walls and white clothes. The decorator of Second Wind must have wanted to remove that signature hospital feel. He took a deep breath. The room smelled of apples and cinnamon. Missing was that characteristic antiseptic hospital smell.

The homey room contained two regular beds, two desks, and two storage cupboards. Tae Joon concluded that this room was for two people.

“I don’t want a roommate,” Tae Joon said decisively.

“That’s like telling your mother you don’t want a sibling,” Su Wan commented as she walked in to meet the new patient.

Jeong Hoon turned to greet his boss, “Howdy Boss, allow me to introduce you to our new resident. Tae Joon, this is Su Wan. Su Wan is Second Wind’s manager.” Jeong Hoon stressed the word manager as he smiled mischievously at Su Wan.

Tae Joon ignored the introduction and repeated, “I won’t have a roommate.”

Yes, you will. He arrives tomorrow. Chin Hae is eight years old. He was in a car accident. His leg was crushed and they had to amputate it. I hope you will take care of Chin Hae like a little brother.”

“I never took care of my own little brother. I broke his toys and ate his snacks when no one was looking. I always get my own room.” Tae Joon was trying hard to remember whom it was he was arguing with.

Su Wan seemed unfazed by Tae Joon's grumpy discourse. “In any and all arguments, the younger person wins, so you can consider Chin Hae the boss of this room.”

Tae Joon wanted to appeal to…what was his name? Who was that four-eyed guy that brought him here?

“Four-Eyes, tell this person that wherever I am, I am the boss.”

Jeong Hoon laughed.

“Sorry buddy, maybe in your world you are the big boss, but there is only one big boss of Second Wind and that is Su Wan. The sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.”

Tae Joon looked long and hard at the girl before him. She seemed too young and small to be the boss of anything. Tae Joon’s head hurt and he was tired as well as confused. He decided he would rest before trying to figure out what was happening to him.

Su Wan was watching the new patient carefully. It seemed like he was contemplating a rebellion. It was not uncommon for new residents to resent not only the terrible circumstances that brought them to Second Wind but also the staff who were there to help them. Su Wan was slightly surprised when Tae Joon gave up.

“Okay, I’ll sleep here for tonight and we can work on new rooming arrangements for me tomorrow.”

Su Wan knew that the arrangements tomorrow would be the same as today, but she didn’t push that point.

Well, it was nice meeting you. Jeong Hoon will help you get settled. I’ll come back tomorrow to go through your schedule with you.” Su Wan smiled her professional smile and turned to leave.

“Wait.” Tae Joon interrupted her retreat.

“Yes?”

“What is your name?” Tae Joon knew it was pointless to ask. He would forget it as soon as he heard it. But for the first time since the accident he wanted to know and remember something.

“Su Wan. Lee Su Wan.”

Tae Joon silently repeated the name to himself. “Su Wan. Lee Su Wan.”



Chapter 5

After breakfast, Tae Joon was restlessly wondering what to do with himself. No one had appeared to tell him what to do. He decided he wanted to take a look at his new surroundings. He wheeled himself into the hallway. It was wider than normal to accommodate wheelchairs and there were handrails along the walls. The handrails were wooden. The baseboards and crown molding were all made from the same oak-like wood. The wall was a dark forest green under the handrail and a creamy tan went from the handrail to the ceiling. The handrails weren’t an afterthought, but a beautiful, polished part of the décor.

Tae Joon saw a door to the outside. There was no nurse’s station. No one stood guard. He smiled to himself. Escape would be easy. He wondered how he would hold open the door and get his wheelchair through the opening, but as he approached the oversized door, it slid open. An automatic door, like one finds at the store, allowed him free access to the outdoors. He rolled himself down the ramp and out into the spacious gardens that surrounded Second Wind.

Looks like a run away,” Jeong Hoon commented to Su Wan as he came into her office. Su Wan was watching the security camera monitors. A camera monitored each door of Second Wind. Su Wan felt locked doors or doors with guards made residents feel like prisoners. Still, one had to keep track of them somehow, so there were cameras at the doors and around the grounds. Tae Joon's escape was brought to her attention as soon as the door opened. When a door opened a quiet buzzer sounded alerting whoever was watching the cameras to notice that someone was either entering or leaving.

He won’t get far. The freedom should do him some good.” Su Wan was standing and grabbing some papers off her messy desk. “I have a meeting with Tae Joon’s doctor and Chin Hae’s doctor this morning. I need to clarify some items on their rehab schedule. So, you’re in charge until I get back. There is a family coming in for a consultation.”

Su Wan was rifling through her papers. “The family’s name is Kim. The dad had a stroke 6 weeks ago. Their insurance would cover about half our fees, so we need to look for a sponsor for them. And Chin Hae arrives at 10:00. Have Eun Chul get him settled.”

Aye, aye, Boss,” Jeong Hoon saluted his agreement.

Su Wan smiled. Jeong Hoon was more than capable. He just let her rattle off commands because it helped calm her busy mind. He was aware of each patient and each duty at Second Wind. Jeong Hoon didn’t bother to remind his younger boss that he was the more experienced of the two.

I’ll see you later.” Su Wan’s phone was ringing as she gave a half wave to Jeong Hoon and quickly answered as she strode to her car. Su Wan was still talking to a prospective client when she passed Tae Joon on the way to her car. Tae Joon recognized her from the night before, but he could not recall her name. Tae Joon tensed at the sight of her, as he felt sure his escape would be thwarted now that he was caught. Su Wan smiled and waved and continued on her journey to her car.

What kind of manager is that? What’s-her-name doesn’t even care if her patients run away? I will tell Four-eyes on her.” Tae Joon was thinking to himself. Su Wan was looking at Tae Joon in her rear-view mirror. “I think he recognized me,” she thought to herself. That was a good sign.

Su Wan spent most of the morning going over her two new cases with their respective physicians. Tae Joon’s treatment thus far was standard for short-term memory recovery. Dr. Park thought there was no real physical reason that he was not improving faster. The doctor thought it was some type of psychological barrier.

“Tae Joon often does not cooperate with me. It seems to me that Tae Joon doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him. He says he doesn’t remember people’s names because he doesn’t need to remember them. People aren’t all that important. Or if I ask him to repeat a list of ten words he has just heard, he says he was never a great student. He just isn’t trying and I don’t think he thinks there is much of a problem.”

Su Wan took notes and asked a few more questions about what therapies had been tried and what effect they had. Then she was off to Dr. Ok’s office to hear about Chin Hae.

Chin Hae is a bright boy. Very energetic. All he needs is practice with his prosthetics. He should be able to pick that up fairly quickly.” Dr. Ok said, in a slight hurry to get to his other patients.

Do you have any other concerns for Chin Hae?” Su Wan hoped that Dr. Ok would focus on this patient before he turned his thoughts to other patients.

“Nope. I expect his to be a smooth transition.” Dr. Ok replied dismissively.

Su Wan hoped he was right.



Chapter 6

Su Wan returned in time to join the residents for lunch. As she quickly scanned the small crowd, she noticed that Tae Joon was not there. A small boy was seated at a table with Jeong Hoon. “That must be Chin Hae,” she thought to herself. She made her way to the small table in the corner and introduced herself. “Hello. You must be Chin Hae?” Su Wan greeted the boy cheerfully.

Yes.” Chin Hae answered even with his mouth full of food. Chin Hae seemed a cheerful sort and it was apparent that he was enjoying the meal before him. Su Wan turned her attention to Jeong Hoon. “Where is Tae Joon?”

I don’t know. He hasn’t come back yet.” Jeong Hoon had just realized he had no idea where Tae Joon was.

“He has short term memory loss. He can get lost.” Su Wan scolded.

I’ll go look for him.” Jeong Hoon was beginning to stand.

“No, eat your lunch. I’ll look for him. You call Eun Chul and see if he has seen him. Let me know if you find him.” Su Wan walked briskly to the roof of Second Wind.

She scanned the grounds. Second Wind was built atop a small hill. Su Wan could see most of the grounds from the rooftop lookout. Close to the pond, she made out what looked like a wheelchair heading for woods. She called Jeong Hoon. “I found him. Don’t worry. He is down by the pond.”

Tae Joon had gotten pretty far from the main building and it was a ten-minute walk for Su Wan to catch up to him. When Su Wan approached him, she noticed that he seemed relieved when he saw her.

“Have you had a nice morning exploring the grounds?” Su Wan asked cheerfully as she approached. Tae Joon didn’t answer.

“Which way is the building?” Tae Joon asked.

“Were you lost?” Su Wan wanted him to admit it. That would help him to face his deficits.

“I wasn’t lost. I just got turned around.” Tae Joon was apt at making excuses for himself.

“Well, I’ll give you a hint. Second Wind is built on a hill, so if you forget where it is, just head “up” and you’ll find it.”

“I’m hungry.”

“Okay, if you tell me my name, I’ll help you get back because they are serving lunch now.”

Tae Joon had been trying to remember the woman's name since this morning when he saw her leave in the car. But he had not a clue. He hid his forgetfulness behind his insulting reply, “You are not pretty enough for me to remember your name.”

Su Wan smiled at his bravado. “My name is Su Wan. Even ugly people have names. You should try and remember them no matter what they look like.”

“I can’t be bothered. Why would I remember an ugly girl’s name?”

“Because that ugly girl knows how to get you some lunch.”

Tae Joon was rehearsing her name under his breath, “Su Wan. Su Wan. Su Wan.” Four-eyes had told him to try saying names out loud. He hoped it worked.

On the walk up the hill Su Wan was working up an appetite pushing the wheelchair up the incline, and she offered Tae Joon a piece of gum. “Here, chew this and say my name three times while you chew gum.”

“Why?”

“Because they say that chewing gum helps your memory. If you think about my name while chewing gum, you won’t forget me.”

“Did you make that up?”

“No, I’m serious. There is tons of research about the power of chewing gum boosting brain power.”

“That sounds stupid.” Tae Joon said while chewing the stick of gum he’d been given.

“What’s my name?”

“Su Wan,” Tae Joon surprised himself by knowing. He smiled and blew a bubble. Maybe he would take up gum chewing.



Chapter 7

Tae Joon nervously stared at the boy that sat on the other bed in the room. He tried hard not to stare at the obviously missing limb. Chin Hae stared back at his older roommate. Neither spoke.

Chin Hae got up and grabbed his crutches. In a few deft movements, he entered the bathroom and closed the door.

Tae Joon was happy for a moment's reprieve. It was awkward sharing a room with anyone. It was awkward sharing a room with some strange kid. But it was more than awkward being in the same room with someone with half his leg gone. It made his skin crawl. Tae Joon liked beautiful things. He liked the best of the best. Everyone he associated with wore the best clothes, drove the best cars, and lived in the nicest homes. He did not personally know one handicapped person.

There were kids at school who wore glasses or had braces on their teeth. That was about as much exposure Tae Joon had with handicapped people. Lying back on his bed, Tae Joon mentally returned to a time when he felt much more comfortable than he did now. Often at night, before he fell asleep, he thought of life before his accident.

Back when Si Young was more than content to show him off as her boyfriend. Si Young’s family was nearly as wealthy as his own. But Si Young had more than wealth on her side. She was tall and model pretty. Si Young was the object of most of the other male student’s dreams. And that was what Tae Joon liked about her. He liked having what other people wanted but couldn’t have. He liked the look of envy on the other guys as Si Young walked by his side.

Si Young and Tae Joon were similar in that sense. Si Young also enjoyed the feeling that the other girls envied her relationship with Tae Joon. And so Tae Joon and Si Young provided each other with the due status that each believed they deserved.

Tae Joon had called Si Young only once since the accident. Their meeting had been short and awkward. It was then Tae Joon realized that Si Young was not the Florence Nightingale type. He hadn’t spent much time worrying about that. That wasn’t why he had liked her in the first place. Still, there were a number of times in the past two months where Tae Joon had wondered if he actually had any real friends. He knew he had many so-called friends, people who were quite willing to be included in his circle of acquaintances, but he had received noticeably few visitors since the accident, and none who came with regularity.

In the dark, when Tae Joon would allow himself to be honest with himself, he didn’t really blame the people in his life for ignoring him. If one of them were in similar circumstances, he would not be spending his free time at their bedside. In his world, people were pretty. They were healthy. They were wealthy. And if they weren’t, they just didn’t exist. That was normal and, strangely, it had always seemed reasonable.

Tae Joon was shaken out of his contemplation by the sound of Chin Hae struggling to get out of the bathroom. His crutches were slipping on the wet floor. “Careful! You’ll fall.” Tae Joon admonished the youngster.

Chin Hae grinned a mischievous grin, “Do you want some candy?”

“Do you have candy?” Tae Joon was surprised at the offer. The hospital and Second Wind had an annoying habit of only offering healthy food.

No, but watch this.” Chin Hae deftly “fell” on the bathroom floor and began to cry loudly. A nurse came running into the room as Chin Hae lay on the bathroom floor hugging his half leg to himself and rolling and groaning in pain.

The nurse got him back in bed but Chin Hae continued to writhe in pain. “I tried to get help to go to the bathroom but nobody came.” Chin Hae lied in a pitiful voice.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I was at the other end of the hall. I must have not heard you. I’m sorry. Does it hurt a lot? Shall I call the doctor?” the nurse was hoping that no serious damage had been done by the fall.

No, I’ll be fine.” Chin Hae whimpered as if he was trying to be brave. “My dad was going to bring me some star candy today, has he come yet?”

“No, no one has left anything for you that I know of.” the nurse replied.

Chin Hae slowly lowered his head and silently tears began to roll down his cheeks.

“Don’t cry. There’s some candy bars in the vending machine. I’ll be right back.”

As the nurse quickly exited the room Tae Joon gave his little roommate a look of approval. It might be okay having a roommate after all.



Chapter 8

Su Wan and Jeong Hoon sat in the office discussing the therapy priorities of each resident of Second Wind.

Chin Hae needs to keep up on his schoolwork so that he won’t be too far behind when he goes back to school. We need to get him a tutor.” Jeong Hoon mentioned.

“Can Tae Joon tutor him?” Su Wan asked.

“No, I don’t think so. His therapy schedule will be quite full and his double vision problem would be aggravated by that much reading.”

“But the eye doctor said it was okay for him to read.” Su Wan wanted to understand why reading would be a problem.

“It would be great if he started to read a bit, but he is not ready to read for long periods of time. At most he should read about an hour a day and he can see how that goes and work up from there. He should start with something light and fun, like a graphic novel. The short sentences and the fact that you have to turn pages often will give him a sense of progress.”

Jeong Hoon and Su Wan finished their run-down for the day, and each went out to face their busy schedules.

Tae Joon was working on kicking a ball when Su Wan entered Second Wind’s gym. He was in a body brace that was hooked to a wire that was suspended overhead. A handrail was on each side of Tae Joon’s body. With both hands he held himself up and the brace attached to the overhead wire ensured that even if he let go, he wouldn’t fall. A physical therapy assistant stood in front of him and slowly rolled a ball directly at his feet. By the time Tae Joon lifted his foot to kick the ball, the ball had already rolled past his foot. He had been working on this for some time before Su Wan got there.

“This is stupid! I told you I wasn’t the soccer type before the accident. Why do I have to kick this stupid ball?” Tae Joon bellowed, disturbing several other residents who were also working on various therapies that morning.

“What’s my name?” Su Wan greeted Tae Joon.

Tae Joon looked over at the woman he vaguely remembered from yesterday. She had found him and gotten him back to the main building. What was her name? “Su Wan” his mind obediently informed him. He smiled to himself.

“Ugly.” he said with conviction.

“What?” Su Wan asked.

“Your name is Ugly,” Tae Joon smiled.

Su Wan looked at Tae Joon. She was wondering what tactic she should use with him. She noticed a slight trembling in his arms. He must have been standing for some time and he was getting fatigued. Su Wan looked at Ma Ri, the therapist, and thought she also looked fatigued.

Su Wan ducked under the handrails and stood directly in front of Tae Joon facing Ma Ri. “Ma Ri, roll the ball to me.”

Ma Ri rolled the ball and Su Wan’s solid kick sent it across the room.

“Ugly is better at soccer than you,” Su Wan childishly mocked.

“So, you have to make up for being ugly with something,” Tae Joon countered.

“What do you have to make up for being,” and Su Wan slowly looked Tae Joon up and down, “ugly?"

Tae Joon was taken off guard for a moment. He was not used to being mocked by anyone. In his healthy state, people were afraid to offend him, thinking that they could lose their opportunity to make a friend with lots of money. Since he had become injured, Tae Joon thought people held back with him due to pity. Either way, when Tae Joon dished out insults, no one had had the guts to return them. In a strange way, though it hurt, it also felt good. “What did he have to make up for being ugly?” He wondered to himself.

“Money.” Tae Joon smiled. He knew money made up for almost every deficiency. He could be a bad student, a jerk, and bad at sports. He could even be ugly. It didn’t really matter all that much. He had in abundance what most people really admire. Still, deep down he knew that his money was not really something he could take credit for. He stood in front of Su Wan, his eyes daring her to challenge his all-powerful asset.

“Well, why don’t you use some of that precious money and pay your foot to kick that ball?” Su Wan’s reply was instant and severe.

“I don’t want to kick the ball,” Tae Joon lied, while the significance of her reply hit him hard. Suddenly, kicking that hated ball seemed infinitely important. And that fact that all his money couldn’t buy what he wanted made him furious in his already frustrated state.

Su Wan thought she had pushed her point far enough, she unhooked Tae Joon from the overhead wire and, holding firmly to the back of his body brace, she helped him walk to lunch.

“Why am I not using a wheelchair? It is faster and I can manage on my own,” Tae Joon’s awkward gait was making slow progress.

“You don’t need a wheelchair. Your broken bones have healed nicely, now you just need to get strength back into your legs. The hard time you have walking is mostly due to your vision problem. And walking will help your memory. Now that most of your injuries have healed. We can ask your doctor to schedule your eye surgery.”

Tae Joon was petrified at the prospect of having his eyes operated on. Even though it had been explained that it was not his eyes that would be cut, but the muscles that make the eyes move that would be cut and sewn back together to help the eyes work together. Those muscles had been stretched on impact and that is why he was having double vision. The surgery was not a guaranteed cure, but since Tae Joon was still young, it was likely that the surgery, with some follow up exercises would cure his double vision.

When Tae Joon sat down at lunch, he noticed an obviously healthy young man eating lunch with an obviously handicapped young lady. The lady looked to be in her late twenties and she wore a large bib that helped to catch the food that dropped as her twisted, unsteady hand tried to bring the rice and fish to her mouth. One spoonful missed her mouth entirely and the contents spilled on her bib. Without a moment’s hesitation, the young man carelessly took his own spoon and deftly scooped the spilled food into his own mouth.

Tae Joon heard what sounded to him like garbled grunts coming from the young woman, and heard the young man reply, “Don’t even try complaining about afternoon therapy. You know I’ll make you go no matter how much you complain. And don’t try flirting with the male therapist just to get out of your exercises. I know your tricky ways.”

Tae Joon thought he saw the young lady smile, but he wasn’t sure as her mouth seemed somewhat twisted like her arm. In fact, it seemed like one side of the girl was slightly twisted. Tae Joon wondered what had happened to her. Su Wan noticed Tae Joon watching the other lunch couple. “That is Baek Hyeon and Jung Ah. They were in a car accident one month before their wedding. Baek Hyeon wasn’t hurt very badly, but Jung Ah had swelling in the brain. She has limited use of one side of her body and it is hard for her to talk.”

“Did he still marry her?” Tae Joon asked incredulously.

“No. He wanted to, but her family wouldn’t let him. Maybe because he was driving or maybe because they know it will be a hard life, but they don’t want to give their daughter to him in this condition. He said that it wasn’t easy to get their permission the first time, and that he will prove his sincerity until they allow them to marry. He says he knows that Jung Ah still loves him. And that if the accident had happened after the wedding the family could not have said anything.”

“He comes here several times a week and helps her with her therapy. He has learned everything about her condition, and Jung Ah responds best to his teasing. If we can’t get her to try or to keep going, we just call him and put the phone to her ear. I don’t know what he says, but she always tries her best after that.”

Tae Joon continued to stare at the odd couple one table away from him. As he watched them he noticed that they seemed happy in each other’s company. The girl would sometimes laugh a strange laugh that sounded something like a high-pitched snort. Baek Hyeon seemed extremely pleased whenever he provoked that snort. As Jung Ah finished her lunch, Baek Hyeon gently removed her oversized bib, careful that no crumbs fell on her. After he wiped her face, he gently kissed her cheek and Tae Joon was sure this time that Jung Ah smiled. He saw Baek Hyeon return the smile and lean forward to kiss her again, but his girlfriend’s untwisted arm reached out and gently pushed him away. It was as if to say, “We are in the middle of the lunch room, knock it off.” Baek Hyeon, fully comprehending that push, looked around at the fellow lunch-eaters and said, “Right. You told me not to make them jealous. You are still a free agent and you want to keep me on my toes. You are a cruel woman. You should marry me and put me out of my uneasy misery.” Baek Hyeon was rewarded with two high-pitched snorts and the two left the dining room.

Tae Joon was wondering at the couple he had just watched eating their lunch. It was obvious that this young lady’s brain injuries were much more serious than his own. Yet her boyfriend seemed unbothered by her handicaps. No, that wasn’t true. Tae Joon didn’t know if they bothered him. It must be that they bothered him. But he also seemed to have accepted them. Tae Joon had not blamed his family or friends for ignoring him in these months since his accident. It made sense to him. He would have treated the other people in his life the same way. Tae Joon had never really questioned if he was loved or if he truly loved other people. Tae Joon was not the reflective type. But as he observed the young couple at the table across from him, he had visibly seen a love he could not comprehend. For a brief moment, he felt disappointed in the people that loved him. And to be honest, he felt disappointed in his own affection for others. Tae Joon realized that there was not one person on this earth for whom he would have acted the way he had seen that young man act. Tae Joon would not have done that for his own father, mother, brother, or girlfriend. There was nobody he loved like that. That was a slightly scary feeling, but what frightened Tae Joon even more was that there was no one who felt that way about him either.



Chapter 9

Chin Hae was in the library working with his tutor. His tutor was a patient at Second Wind. The silver-haired Jea Young had just had both knees replaced. In the daytime, he spent a few hours working with the therapists on stretching exercises until he regained his full range of motion. In his free time, he enjoyed his time of one-on-one teaching with Chin Hae.

Chin Hae was a bright boy and Jea Young was an experienced teacher, so although most of the day Chin Hae was working on adjusting to how to move with his new leg, he was also keeping up with his classmates with the one-on-one attention he was getting.

“Can I borrow your student for a moment?” Su Wan interrupted.

“Sure. It is getting late. Let’s call it a day.” Jae Young stood slowly and reached for his walker. He was able to walk back to his room now with the aid of his walker. Soon he wouldn’t even need that.

“Looks like you are moving pretty good these days,” Su Wan complimented Jea Young’s progress.

“Yeah, slow but sure. Seems to improve a bit each day.”

Su Wan turned her attention to Chin Hae, “I need your help. I need to get Tae Joon to try and start reading. But he doesn’t want to. So I am going to tell him that he should read to you to cheer you up. So, can you go along with that?”

Cheer me up about what?” Chin Hae didn’t know why he needed cheering up.

“Anything, you could be sad about your leg, or sad you are away from home, or you miss your friends at school. It doesn’t matter what. We just need to get him to try to read. And everyone here has to help the others, so this would be your way of helping Tae Joon. You will be the reason he has to read. Even if he reads really slow or mixes things up, you act like you are really interested and beg him to keep reading to you, okay?”

Can I pick the book?” Chin Hae asked.

“Well, let me pick the first one. I want the letters to be large and not a lot of words on the page. Turning pages gives readers a sense of accomplishment.”

Is Tae Joon retarded?” Chin Hae wondered why an adult would need encouragement to read.

“No, he’s been hurt in an accident, just like you were. You hurt your leg, but Tae Joon hurt his brain and his eyes. Mostly his reading is hard because of a vision problem, but if he reads, that will also help his memory problem… and try not to say words like ‘retarded’.” Su Wan gently scolded.


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