“Erna, you need to get up.”
“I want… more sleep…”
Even though the sun was already high up in the sky, Erna hadn’t stirred a bit. Kalion pulled a chair next to the bed and watched his wife tuck herself underneath the blankets while grumbling. Suddenly, a faint giggle escaped from the sheets.
Kalion’s teeth clenched at the mention of Marius. The bastard Marius. Over the past several days, Kalion had heard his name more often than he cared to count. A week ago, Erna had gone to see a play and didn’t come home until midnight. Kalion had waited patiently for her, and had greeted her warmly when she arrived. He had been excited to make her sleep in his arms that night. But when he reached out to her coyly, pretending to help her change, she suddenly grabbed his hand and said, “Kalion, Marius-nim is the best.”
“What do you mean?” Kalion asked, confused.
“It’s hard to describe,” she muttered. “It’s as though the characters in the novel just leaped off the pages. No, perhaps they have always been alive from the beginning… Anyway, it was fantastic! When I think of the last scene, I feel like crying again. I have to reread it one more time before I go to bed tonight.”
Erna wiggled free of Kalion’s grasp and headed to the bathroom. After she washed up and changed into her nightgown, she immediately plopped on the sofa with the book in her hand. Kalion watched her disappear into the pages, squealing, blushing, and kicking her legs in excitement. The play must have been really exciting for her to be so caught up in the afterglow. There’s no point in being jealous of a man who doesn’t even exist, he thought. His gaze never left Erna, who kept repeating the name Marius, convincing himself. However, the following day, Erna went on a night out with Orpé. She left again on the next day, and the day after that.
Today marked the first day of another week. Orpé, who would normally have tried to snap Erna from her obsession, had now become an even bigger fan of Marius than Erna herself. She had even said that she had reserved a front row seat for today’s play and she had not slept a wink last night, unable to contain her excitement.
Kalion sighed deeply as he finished tying Erna’s hair, who still had her eyes tightly shut. It didn’t feel right to be left at home while his wife was so devoted to another man. However, seeing Erna’s face so bright with excitement, he couldn’t bear to deprive her of her happiness and freedom to explore new things now that she was no longer burdened by the responsibilities of Hessenguard. His head understood this, but his heart couldn’t accept it.
It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that Erna finally left the bed, washed up, and ate her first meal. Then she called Orpé again and prepared to go out. Kalion, who was studying her, suddenly asked, “Can I go too?”
“What are you talking about?” said Erna.
“I was curious that you were having so much fun,” he replied, “I thought I might take a look.”
Erna looked at him as if he were talking nonsense, then shook her head. “No,” she said, “you don’t have your ticket.”
“I can enter with Orpé’s ticket.”
Orpé, who was listening to their conversation, shouted out loud, “I never said I would give it to you!”
“Yes? Well, I have to tell you now. Give it up.” Kalion tried to take the ticket from Orpé’s hand, but Orpé gripped it tightly with a determined expression.
“I will protest against unjust oppression,” she declared.
“Then will you rebel?”
“Do you think I can’t do it? Ah, no! Give me back my ticket!”
She struggled for a long time, but in the end, Erna left the Castle with Orpé, and Kalion was left alone again. Kalion sat down on the couch in the couple’s bedroom, sullen like a puppy missing his master. Until when will she keep seeing that bastard Marius? Why she went to the same play seven days a week Kalion didn’t understand at all. When he had asked her that, Erna only made an incomprehensible sound.
I was going to go hang out with you, he thought gloomily. The caretaker of his villa in the lake district had called him, asking when he was coming. Kalion also wanted to know. When the hell could they leave?
But he liked her that way.