To say that Kim Lee-Re loved his aunt would be an understatement. She was the best aunt in the whole wide world! She gave the best hugs and kisses, she always played fun games with him and chased him around everywhere, she listened to all his stories, she always got him his favourite food even when eomma said no and she loved him so so much – to the moon and back, and the moon was really far!
He loved visiting her, especially when it was just the two of them – she was the most fun then. They played so many games and watched all his favourite movies, sometimes he even helped her cook and they danced around the kitchen while they listened to their favourite songs.
Today, he was watching his favourite TV show while sitting beside her when her phone rang. Her phone rang a lot these days and she always smiled really big when it did! Eomma and appa always laughed when she smiled and picked up her phone – something about being a mitten, he didn’t know what it meant. He was only 5 after all.
“Hello?” She answered after just one bell. The person on the other side of the phone spoke. Thankfully, Lee-Re had really good listening ears because he could hear the person, it was a boy!
“What are you doing right now?” The boy asked.
“Lee-Re and I are having a sleepover.” She said after a few seconds before listening again. Aunt was such a good listener. But he couldn’t hear what the boy said!
“Let me ask.” She said, before holding her phone away from her mouth and turning towards him. “Is it okay if aunt’s friend comes over for a visit?” She asked.
Lee-Re nodded, Aunt’s friends were usually a lot of fun, they also played with him and they even brought him gifts sometimes! Aunt laughed before placing a kiss on his forehead, he smiled, Aunt gave the best kisses.
“Come over.” She said and then listened again.
“Did you two eat already?” The boy asked.
“We got pizza because I am the fun aunt, but it’s a secret.” She said into the phone while winking at Lee-Re, he giggled, his aunt was so funny! “It’s from Domino’s.” She told the boy on the phone, her voice was funny, different, but he couldn’t figure out how.
The boy seemed to be really happy about that because his voice got louder. “Daebak, I thought it was blasphemy to not order from the pizza store at the corner of the street?” Lee-Re’s face grew confused because he didn’t understand.
“Hmmm, Dominos had this really good-looking man in their ad that claimed it was the best pizza so I thought I’d give it a try – there is a sticker of him on the box too, I am going to hang it on the fridge.” She said while laughing, aunt had such a pretty laugh so he laughed with her. He could even hear the boy on the phone laugh.
“You should tell me next time, I’ll deliver it myself.” The boy on the phone said, Lee-Re wondered if he was a pizza delivery man – that’d be cool, then he could bring them pepperoni pizza all the time!
“Hm, I’ll keep that in mind, see you soon!” Aunt said before hanging up.
She placed a quick kiss on his forehead before she started running around and picking up things – apparently it was tidy up time. Lee-Re slid off the sofa and picked up all his toys, putting them in the ottoman, his secret play box at Aunt’s house. He loved to sit on it, it always made him laugh and Aunt always winked at him when his parents asked him why he was laughing.
“Omo, you’re such a good helper. Thank you!” Aunt said as she picked him up and placed a kiss on his cheek. He laughed and kissed her cheek also. “Wait right here while I go brush my hair and wash my face.” She said.
“Why? You look pretty.” He said patting her hair, it looked pretty – she cut it short again.
“Just because.” She smiled as she put him down and rushed into her bedroom. He heard her running around the room and wondered why she was acting like this. She ran out of the room as soon as the bell rung, her hair was straighter and her skin was more glowy than before! She even changed her shirt from a big red one to a long grey one that matched her pants better.
Lee-Re jumped off the couch and followed his aunt to the door. There was a tall man with a black hat and shorts there, he was hugging aunt, lifting her off the floor because he was so tall! When he let her go, Lee-Re gasped, it was him! The man from the television, the man that came to dinner at his house – but he had to go to sleep when he came so he only saw him a little.
The man looked down at him and smiled while taking his hat off. He actually dropped down into a crouch so he was at eye-level with him before saying hello. Lee-Re waved back at him, he looked nice enough. Eomma said he was really handsome whenever he came on TV, and it always made Aunt giggle.
“Do you remember him?” Aunt asked as she picked him up, huffing because he was getting bigger.
“He’s the pyeha from your show.” He said remembering that little detail while wrapping his arms around aunt and looking at the man who got up and was beaming at them – why did he have to smile so big?
“Yeah, he was in the drama with aunt, and you saw him at dinner too. His name is Lee Min Ho, you can call him ajhusshi.” She said while walking them into the kitchen.
“Yah! I still don’t think I am ajhusshi age.” Pyeha whined, he sounded like Roi did when she whined.
Aunt laughed really pretty and stuck her tongue out at him. “You’re over 30, you’re an ajhusshi, isn’t he, Ire?” She asked him. He just shrugged, Pyeha looked more like a hyung actually.
Pyeha laughed when he saw the pizza box, he ripped off the sticker and Lee-Re gasped when he noticed that the sticker had his face on it! Was it like when aunt had her pictures on things, people sent her those things all the time – did people send him pizza all the time?
Lee-Re hung on tighter when his aunt tried to put him down, he wasn’t going to leave her! He just watched the man as he warmed up a slice of pizza. The man even tried to talk to him but he didn’t feel like answering, he just wrapped himself around his aunt tighter. Aunt was his and she wasn’t going anywhere.
“Baby, you’re getting big and aunt’s arm is hurting, can I put you on the counter please?” Aunt asked and he nodded. She placed him on the counter and the man sat down on the bar stool, eating pizza.
“Your aunt told me that pepperoni pizza is your favourite.” The man said to him, he just nodded. Of course it was, everyone loved pepperoni pizza, duh.
“Ire could have pepperoni pizza three times a day for the rest of his life, can’t you?” Aunt laughed as she slid a drink across the counter to the man. She winked at the man for some reason.
Lee-Re just nodded. “What’s wrong baby? Why are you so quiet?” Aunt whispered to him, pushing his hair away from his face but he just shook his head. “You want to go to sleep? Are you tired?” She asked but he shook his head again. “Okay, how about we all watch the Cars movie you wanted to watch?” She asked and he nodded.
Lee-Re smiled as his aunt put on the movie and pulled him into her lap before covering them with his favourite fuzzy blanket. The man came to sit beside Aunt on the sofa. Lee-Re noticed that Aunt seemed to shift towards the man and within a couple of minutes she was tucked right against him, her head resting on his shoulder. He turned around to find that the man was smiling a little, his hand was wrapped around aunt’s shoulder and his face was tucked into her hair, he seemed to be whispering something in her ear and it made aunt smile. He turned around a little confused, aunt’s other friends didn’t sit with her like that.
Lee-Re adjusted himself and crawled between the man and aunt, forcing them to move apart. He faced away from the man and wrapped his arm around his aunt, hugging her from the side. Aunt giggled as she pulled him closer.
He looked up when he felt aunt’s hands moving and found that she was playing with the man’s hair – just like she played with his. He reached up and grabbed her hand, putting it on his own hand and glared at the man.
“Sorry, he’s not usually like this.” Aunt whispered to the man before pausing the movie and turning to him. “What’s wrong baby?” She asked as Lee-Re felt tears fill in her eyes.
“I don’t like him.” He said and he heard the man sigh behind him.
“Why?” Aunt asked, looking confused.
“You always cry when he comes.” Lee-Re cried as he looked up at his aunt.
“When do I cry?” Aunt asked, looking really confused.
“When he comes to take you away. I don’t want him to take you away.” Lee-Re wailed.
“Baby, he’s not taking me away, where would we go?” Aunt asked as she played with his hair, still looking at him with a confused face.
“To his world, where he is Pyeha.” Lee-Re said.
“Oh baby.” Aunt said as she wiped his tears away. “Remember when we talked about things happening inside the TV not being real?” She asked and he nodded, she did say that. She said it was pretend. “He’s not actually Pyeha, just like aunt is just your aunt and not Jeong Tae-Eul. He lives in this world, very very close to here actually, he’s not taking me anywhere.” She explained as she ran her fingers through his hair patiently, he loved it when she did that.
“He’s not taking you?” He asked and she shook her head no. “But you cry when he comes.” He said, he saw it, aunt always cried when he came to her.
“In the show my character cries, because Jeong Tae-Eul really really misses the Pyeha when he goes away. I don’t cry when I see him in the real world.” She explained.
“He no make you cry?” He asked and his aunt nodded.
“He makes me really really happy, he makes me laugh all the time.” She smiled at him before looking up at the man. “And I really like him, he’s not taking me away, we’re going to stay right here. And I really want you to try being nice to him please.” She said and he nodded before turning towards the man.
“I am sorry for being mean.” He said and the man smiled at him and shook his head.
“It’s okay, I am glad you were protecting your aunt because you love her.” The man said with a smile.
“Do you love her?” He asked causing the man to chuckle and nod.
“So much.” The man smiled, looking over at his aunt.
Lee-Re looked up at his aunt to see that she was smiling back at him. It was the same smile she had on her face when her phone rang.
“Aunt, do you love him?” He asked and his aunt nodded with a smile. “More than you love me?” He asked.
“Aunt has a big heart and she loves both of you.” She said before leaning in and whispering the next part into his ear. “But you still have the biggest part of Aunt’s heart, it’s our secret though.” She said and he giggled. He loved secrets. And he loved the fact that his aunt loved him.
“Okay, you can play with his hair too.” Lee-Re said causing both of them to laugh. He turned over to the man, no ajhusshi – no hyung – it was just so confusing. “Are you going to marry my aunt?” He asked the man, the man didn’t answer him right away but looked back at his aunt as he answered.
“Someday soon.” He said. Lee-Re turned back to look at his aunt to see that she was smiling and blushing – it was pretty.
“Lee Joon’s aunt is married to someone and he is his uncle. So can I call him uncle too?” He asked aunt causing the man to laugh.
“Deal.” The man said before aunt could answer.
“Not at school, you can’t tell anyone that you have a new uncle.” Aunt said and he nodded.
“Secret?” He asked and she nodded.
Lee-Re turned back to his new uncle. “Uncle, do you get a lot of pizza because your face is on the box?” He asked and Aunt started giggling while uncle nodded. “Can you get me a pepperoni pizza every day?” He asked with a grin.
“No no no! Your eomma will put us all in time out.” Aunt said causing him to pout.
“How about I get you pizza whenever I come to see you?” Uncle asked.
“Deal!” He giggled causing both aunt and uncle to laugh – it was pretty.
“Do you want to watch the movie now?” Aunt asked but he shook his head before turning back to uncle.
“Do you know how to play race cars?” He asked and uncle nodded. “Want to play with me?” He asked.
“Of course, I love playing race cars.” Uncle said, he could tell he really did because he looked excited.
“Can I show uncle the secret toy box?” He asked his aunt who nodded as she turned the TV off.
He walked over the ottoman and threw it open excitedly. “Look! It’s all my toys! But you can’t tell anyone!” He laughed as uncle walked over and sat by the ottoman.
“Wow, so many toys! How many race cars do you have?” Uncle asked.
“So many!” He said as he pulled them all out.
Lee-Re decided that uncle wasn’t so bad after all, he wasn’t taking his aunt away, his picture was on a pizza box and he was fun to play with. He lay on the floor and raced cars with him, he even made racing noises properly unlike aunt. And uncle made aunt happy, aunt laughed a lot with him, she even played with his hair and kissed him on the lips, it was kind of yucky but it made uncle happy because he smiled.
Uncle was also very good at tickling – he helped him tickle aunt and they got her so good! She was laughing so so much. Uncle was also really good at telling bedtime stories, he read them with funny voices that made everyone laugh. Lee-Re decided that he would like to play with uncle again before he fell asleep.
And when he woke up later that night he walked over to the living room and found that aunt was asleep on the couch, her head resting on uncle’s lap – he was playing with her hair and running his fingers over her face as she slept.
“What’s wrong?” Uncle whispered to him.
“I felt lonely.” He whispered back as he climbed onto the couch.
“Want to stay here?” Uncle asked and he nodded.
It seemed like uncle was good at cuddling so he climbed into his lap and rested his head near aunt’s. Uncle laughed and patted his head.
“Turns out he likes me after all.” Lee-Re heard uncle whisper as he fell asleep. But he was way too tired to respond – playing with race cars was tiring.