Chapter 37: Misunderstanding (1)
News spread quickly, not only through the city of Inpyeong, but throughout the whole nation. A poor excuse of a father, scum among scum, who sexually abused his daughter for the past three years. He had left her at the institute so he could work overseas, but he had suddenly started molesting her. The heartwrenching tale of a girl who spent all that time alone, hurting, unable to rely on anyone, until a fellow institute student bravely reported it to the authorities.
Then came the TV programs and reports.
<What happened that day at the courthouse?>
<Her pain went unnoticed by all at the institute>
<A closer look at the institute’s lax standards>
The chairman of the institute crumpled up the newspaper he had been reading and angrily threw it at the ground.
“We’re still getting reporters asking for an interview, but we’ll keep refusing them, for now…” The executive secretary said quietly, but quickly shut his mouth when the chairman whipped his head around to glare at him. Though he had already gone through four cigarettes, the chairman lit up another one as he addressed the director of administration.
“What do you think we should do, director?”
All things considered, all the director wanted to say was to leave him out of this, but he simply rolled his eyes and thought carefully. Besides, this was the perfect opportunity for him. He could blame everything on the chairman and the executive secretary to get them fired from their jobs. At least, that’s what he had planned on doing. If only the top hadn’t given him orders to lay low, he would have grabbed every document, every file he had collected on the two and begun the job already.
“I believe that we should… Find the relevant people and have them take responsibility. We should also revise the whole system in terms of supervision.” He said, which was a very long-winded way of saying they should use common sense to deal with this. Of course, it’s not like the chairman had any common sense to begin with, hence the need for explaining everything.
“The relevant people would be the teachers who took attendance, no? Are you really suggesting we fire them all? Seriously?”
It took all the self-control he could muster for the director to not shout “No, it’s you, chairman!”, but with an extreme show of patience and willpower, he simply took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Then what would you suggest, chairman?” asked the director. He seemed to humble himself, treating the chairman as a higher up, but the purpose of the question was simple: to make the chairman reveal his plans. The chairman was no fool, and he understood this immediately. He shot a displeased glance at the director and let out a puff of smoke.
“The board will hold an official meeting over this, I’m sure… But from what I’ve heard, they need someone from the top to be… An example.”
“… A change in personnel.”
The executive secretary turned pale at this, and he seemed to shrink even more into his seat. The director of administration was, as the title suggested, in charge of adminstrative duties, such as paperwork and the like, which made it difficult to pin the blame on him. As such, the most likely person to be held accountable for this fiasco was the executive secretary himself, in place of the chairman.
And so it was that the executive secretary was relieved of his post, leaving the position vacant until the board was ready to nominate another.
“Director Jeong,” called the director of administration, “this was the perfect chance to get rid of the chairman. Why didn’t you take it?”
“Director, I understand where you are coming from, I truly do. But we must take our time and lay low, for the sake of the institute. If we were to blow things up, it would just be a clusterfuck.”
She spoke rather calmly, her manner of speech very elegant, which made the word “clusterfuck” stand out that much more.
“Is there something I’m not aware of? I don’t understand why we shouldn’t act now.”
“My, that’s a rather straightforward question. How do I even begin to answer you…? Ah, well. I suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you. We are planning on reforming the foundation’s policies.”
This took the director entirely by surprise, his jaw dropping in awe. Policy reforms? As Director Jeong continued to explain her plan of revising the election policies as well as management regulations, his head whirred to keep up with it all.
“Besides, the chairman will retire next year. It’ll be a natural shift of power. He will toss us a vote, in exchange for getting an executive member’s retirement fees as per the revised policies. I suppose the reform will take place once the chairman and Director Lee join our cause.”
In the end, the chairman had read the flow of things rather quickly and rathere well, and had chosen to give up his authority in exchange of a stable, lucrative retirement. His shortcomings would be swept under the rug, in exchange for a vote. That cunning, slippery, fat little snake. The director could almost smell the chairman’s repulsive cigarette smoke in the air.
There were many changes in the institute. Two of the teachers had been replaced, as the issue had been far too grave to be covered up with just the executive secretary’s post. This meant that a teacher had to take responsibility as well, but considering the fact that this issue had gone unnoticed for three whole years, the choice was made to fire both supervising teachers. Moreover, though only two teachers had left, they had been replaced with four new teachers, as a response to media criticism that there weren’t enough personnel to effectively look after all the children in the institute. There were less and less children attending the institute, yet there were now more teachers. Though this made supervision much easier, it also proved to be a restriction in the children’s daily lives.
A change in staff meant that the children also needed to change. First things first, no one was allowed to spend the night out. That privilege would be returned to the children once the media attention cooled off, but for now, they were only allowed short outings, and even those were to be strictly monitored. Children leaving the grounds had to give detailed information on their destination and the path they were taking, and no one was to leave without explicit permission. Second, the rooms were rearranged. Previously, they had sorted the children by age, so that the children could spend more time with their peers and classmates, but they were now sorted by gender. It was a sound plan, at least on paper, in order to avoid potential happenings, but how effective could it really be? Regardless of practicality, it was more of a show for the media. The girls thus took the rooms in the first and second floors, while the boys took the rooms from the third to the fifth floors.
Dayoung shared her new room with an older middle school girl. She had roomed with Somi for a long time, and her friend’s sudden absence left Dayoung feeling confused and scared. But above all, she couldn’t believe the fact that she had never noticed Somi’s pain and hurt until now. Thankfully, however, her new roommate had taken the time to console her, and Dayoung calmed down after a few days.
As for Lucid and the other elementary school boys, they had moved to the third room. Until now, as they were the youngest, they had used the rooms on the first floor. The change seemed to sit well with Myeong-su.
“Plaster face, look! You can see the whole street from here!” He exclaimed. Myeong-su was quite happy with being given a room in a higher floor. Or perhaps, it didn’t really matter what floor he was on. After all, out of everyone at the institute, he had been the most excited during the big moving day.
On the other hand, Hyung-geun complained that he now had to climb stairs both at school and at the institute, as his classroom was at the highest floor of the school. He simply couldn’t believe that he had to take stairs all day long to get anywhere.
Cheol-yong’s assessment was quite short. “It’s harder to get to the courtyard.”
Lucid shrugged and left to go find one of the new teachers. “Excuse me,” he called, “I borrowed some books from Somi before we went to the courthouse. What should I do with them?”
“I’m sorry, who?” the teacher asked.
“Somi,” Lucid said again, enunciating properly.
The teacher seemed to ponder over this name for a bit, but his face darkened as soon as he realized who the name belonged to.
“It’s alright. Somi already took all her things and left.” He said curtly. “You can just hold on to them.”
Somi had been admitted into another institute, but no one had seen her ever since she left with Officer Choi. Her belongings had been taken by the supervisors and sent to the new institute, which is why Lucid had missed his chance to return the books to her.
The boy thanked the teacher and returned to his new room, staring at the cover of the book as he sat on the bed. Not long after, <I’ll Share My Filthy Misery With You> returned to its place on the bookshelf.
During break, Lucid clung to books even more than before. Now, studying had become a matter of life and death to him, and it wasn’t just because of what had happened to Somi. It was because of all those times when problems arose due to his incompetence, when he had lost control of a situation because he simply didn’t know enough, and because of all the things that happened because he had been too weak.
What had happened to Somi acted as a catalyst, motivating Lucid to keep moving forward at a time when he had been stagnant, mourning the Mosla’s death. At least, that’s what things appeared to be. He had lost the gloominess and looming darkness that had kept everyone else away, and he now seemed to be more energetic, though most of that energy was spent reading. When he focused on a book, he had such an intense look to him that even the teachers didn’t dare interrupt him.
In reality, however, his reading was a fight for life. Fear and despair always loomed over him, pressuring him to read and understand every book he came across, lest he be thrust into a situation he was powerless to control again. Reading was no longer a glance at a strange, wondrous world, but a battle to escape the fangs of an angry scrofa. This was why his reading was so intense, so fierce. However, such passionate focus must have struck some girls as attractive, as more and more of them gathered just to watch Lucid read. His looks were already widely known, especially as his statuesque beauty had earned him the nickname “plaster face” in the first place, but the sight of him immersed in his reading was more dazzling than any still-life painting.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that he had apparently devoured every single book in the institute, but Lucid had gone to the teachers to obtain permission to leave the grounds two weeks before the end of the break. He was headed to the public library."Read latest chapters at Wuxiaworld.site
“Is this your first time here?” asked the high schooler who had accompanied him.
“What do you think?”
“There’s… So many books.”
Lucid smiled for the first time in a long time.
<Misuderstanding (1)> End.