Chapter 52.1

The contents within the drawer comprised receipts from mental health consultations, raising speculation about their purpose—perhaps intended for submission to the insurance company? Yi-soo’s countenance subtly tensed.

Leafing through the five sheets methodically, her attention fixated on the final page. Although not distinctly legible, it appeared to be prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs and sleeping pills.

While the record exhibited a consistency with previous days, an elusive anomaly nagged at her instincts. She delicately traced the paper with her fingertips, sensing an unsettling deviation. As she began, “On July 15th of this year….” a recognition stirred within her. The date wasn’t tied to any birthday or anniversary, yet the eight numbers exerted a magnetic pull on her thoughts.

Hyun-seong, peering over her shoulder, inquired, “Why? Is there something significant about that day?”

Struggling to pinpoint the significance, Yi-soo mused, “On that day… I wonder what day it was. It feels like I can almost remember, but not quite.”

“Well, it’s not a particularly special day, is it? Not a holiday or anything,” Hyun-seong pondered, failing to recall any noteworthy details.

Despite his uncertainty, Yi-soo couldn’t shake the disquieting sensation. Unexpectedly, she retrieved her phone from her bag and consulted the calendar widget.

Once renowned for her meticulous organization, she habitually logged significant events on her phone app—ranging from the defendant’s trial to the birthdays of those in her circle, along with other memorable occasions not to be overlooked.

“July 15, 2022….” With a few taps, the phone’s screen displayed the July calendar, a visual chronicle of a bustling month marked by various checkmarks. However, on that specific date, only five letters graced the space: ‘Lunchtime with Yoon.’

“Lunchtime with Yoon… Yoon?” Repeating the words, Yi-soo turned to Hyun-seong, a realization dawning upon her.

The day she ventured to the Yoon & Kang building to meet him flashed vividly in Yi-soo’s memory. The recollection of visiting the Terra Building during lunchtime surged back, and in that moment, another fragment of memory sharply pierced through her thoughts. As if under some unseen influence, she brushed her thumb across the phone screen.

Entering the messaging app and scrolling down, the text messages with Su-jeong unfolded.

[Sister. When we were at the orphanage. I said I want to eat as much as I want when I grow up. Do you remember?]

[Fish-shaped buns. When it was winter, you insisted on buying a fish-shaped bun from the director’s vendor. Cream, not red bean. The lady at the street stall said we were pretty and gave us one or two extra. That’s right, Yi-soo. It’s not a bad habit to confirm things like this.]

[Got it, sister. When the situation gets better, contact me right away. I’ll be waiting.]

The date above Su-jeong’s message caught Yi-soo’s attention—July 15, 2022. It precisely matched the date of her last therapy session receipt. A shiver ran down her arm. Su-jeong couldn’t have visited the mental health clinic on that day.

I received an international call that day, so… As Yi-soo’s thoughts led her to that moment, she pressed a contact on her phone, initiating a call. After a few rings, a voice resonated through the speaker.

“Prosecutor Seo. What’s going on?”

“Detective Ahn, sorry for the sudden call… I have a favor to ask.” It was Detective Ahn Se-young from the Yeongdeungpo Police Station’s violent crime team. Having graduated from the police academy at a young age, she held a non-commissioned officer position and shared a relationship with Yi-soo that involved in-person meetings once every three days. Their connection, forged in their late twenties, extended beyond professional exchanges to personal conversations.

“I know it’s the weekend… Are you at the office now?” Yi-soo inquired.

“Yes. I’m on duty today. I happen to be here. So, what’s going on related to the case?”

“No, it’s not about the assigned case… I just want to ask you for a favor.” Yi-soo, appearing anxious, unconsciously brought her fingernail to her mouth. Hyun-seong, standing beside her, observed silently.

As it was a weekend and they hadn’t contacted each other personally, Detective Ahn responded with a puzzled voice. “What’s going on that you’re asking for this? Please tell me.”

“Immigration records. Can you check them right away? It’s for the past year.”

“That’s not too difficult, but since you said it’s not related to the case… You know well that there’s a separate procedure for this, Prosecutor.” Detective Ahn sighed softly over the phone, lowering her voice. Yi-soo was acutely aware that accessing someone else’s records through law enforcement channels was not legally permissible.

She could follow the proper procedure, but time was of the essence. It reached a point where she felt compelled to utilize personal connections.



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