Life, Once Again! - After Story 1
After Story 1
-It’s a dream? No. This is reality. The clear hard truth. Don’t turn your head away. Don’t ignore it. You haven’t gone crazy. Listen to me. You are someone who traveled through time….
A character in a drama was uttering the line with a serious face. Just then, someone pressed the doorbell. He reduced the volume and went to the front door.
“You have a package,” someone said outside.
When he opened the door, he saw the delivery man with an exhausted face.
“It’s quite hot, isn’t it?” he said. It was June, and the heat was at an all-time high.
The delivery man just chuckled. He accepted the package and told the delivery man to wait. He went to the fridge and took out some cold drinks.
“Have some of this.”
“Thank you.” He closed the door and returned inside before putting the box on the table. He opened the box to find books, packaged in vinyl wrap. Three books, one essay, and one fiction. He looked at the titles.
“‘Habits of Those Who Succeed’, ‘Is Life Really a Marathon?’, ‘Miracle Created By Rules’, I bought these things, huh.” He thought about returning them but decided to leave them be for now. They should be fine to read as a pass-time. The essay and the novel were to his liking too.
The three books went straight to the shelf without even having their packaging open, while he placed the essay and the novel below the table.
‘Ricebun,’ full of curiosity, slowly walked over and slapped down on the book. When there was no response, the proud cat lost interest and turned around.
He increased the TV volume again and started cleaning. This house really wasn’t to his liking. All sorts of miscellaneous items were making his eyes spin. He decided that he would throw all of them away. The famous sayings plastered on the wall got on his nerves especially badly. Looking back at the memories of this life, ‘he’ only had a brief look at those sayings when he put them up on the wall and never actually looked at them after that. Yet, he still put up one line after another. Perhaps this was what it meant to say ‘I can’t understand myself.’
He also took off the lacy pink curtain that couldn’t even block out the sunlight. He couldn’t stand this at all. He then stuffed the curtain into a plastic bag and left the house to look for the old clothes collection box in the apartment complex. Thankfully, curtains were being taken as well.
Having dealt with the curtain, he immediately then went on to catch a bus. His destination was the local large-scale market.
“May I have a look at blinds in a gray color?”
“Please come this way.”
He walked past the couple that seemed to be buying furniture for their newlywed house and followed the employee. After seeing a few types of curtains, he chose one. He liked both the price and the color of it. He put the curtain in the cart and then headed to the grocery section on the 1st floor. He put the things he needed in the cart when it suddenly dawned on him that he didn’t exactly have that much money.
In this life, he was an extremely ordinary college student. Nothing special, nothing bad, just ordinary. He returned a few of the ingredients he put in the cart back on the shelf and looked for cheap food ingredients.
He managed to get what he needed at the discount corner. The messy room was one thing, but his thin wallet was an assignment he had to solve as well.
He returned to his house and gave Ricebun some food before continuing to clean. He gathered up all the fancy-looking decorative items and put them in a box. He couldn’t imagine why ‘he’ had bought so many sparkly marbles.
After finishing cleaning, he found four large boxes taking up a corner of his living room. He was going to sell them at a local bazaar or just hand them out through the apartment management office. If there was still some left after that, well, to the recycling they would go.
“Now it looks like someone’s been living here.” He was satisfied as he looked at the clean living room, kitchen and bedroom. He really wanted to change the freaky-looking wallpapers, but he decided to postpone it since it would take a lot of effort.
He then finally cleaned the bathroom. Hair treatment products that he had bought and hadn’t even used once were laying there pitifully, many of which were past their expiry date. Well, that just meant another trash bag..com
After going through his entire house, the sun had set. Just as he thought he should have some ramyun for dinner, he got a call.
“How is it over there?” he asked on the phone.
-Don’t even start. I can’t believe that this is my room. No, well, I can understand it. It was me who did it after all. But it’s nowhere close to my preferences. Funny, isn’t it?
“I’m the same. I had a busy day taking everything down today.”
-Take a photo and send it to me.
He took a photo of the immaculate living room and kitchen and sent it to her.
-Didn’t you clean too much? The dolls were cute and okay.
“I know they’re cute, but they’re an eyesore in my eyes right now.”
-That looks totally desolate. Are you going to live with a single table in the living room again?
“I want to put a sofa here like before, but my economic status isn’t that good. I went grocery shopping, and who knew I would look at price tags again.”
-Haha, I was the same. I inadvertently visited a café on the way home and flinched, you know? There’s still a sense of discrepancy between the memories of the previous life and this life. It’s not confusing me though.
“Is your headache okay now?”
-Yep. All good.
He walked over to the veranda. A family inside a car was leaving the parking lot, as though they were going on a picnic to get away from the tropical night heat.
“How about you move in here?”
-I thought about that too, but I think I should live by myself for a while. I need to clean some things, and above all, I need some time to redefine myself.
“I guess you do. But still, it’s a bit of a pity.”
-Do you want to live with me that much?
She did not reply. Only after a long time did she laugh and speak again,
-You’re putting me in a tight spot here if you’re so direct.
“We barely managed to meet. I want to be with you even if it’s just a little. I don’t know what made God make us meet again, but I don’t want to part from you a second time now that we met.”
-I’m the same.
He stayed quiet and focused all of his senses on his ear. He could hear her faint breathing sound. Just like she was right next to him, she continued the pleasant silence for a while before starting to hum. It was a song he dearly missed. She spoke,
-It won’t repeat again… right?
They were heavy words. He looked up at the sky and spoke, “Even if God does play tricks on us again, it will not change anything. I will look for you again, and you will look for me again. That’s all.”
-That puts me at ease.
She hung up after telling him to have a good dinner. He sat at the table and took out his notepad. Then, he wrote down what happened today, as well as all the conversations he had with her, down to the minor details.
He put down the pen and looked at the notepad for a while. He could see the writing that he wrote without stopping. Things like God’s power acting on him to prevent him from writing did not happen. He wrote other things, like the things he saw in his thousands and tens of thousands of reincarnations, which areas will skyrocket in land prices, which stock was good, and what the popular form of business was at this time. Likewise, he could write them down without being forced to stop.
“Not that any of these seem helpful.”
One of the companies considered a blue-chip stock in this life was actually caught for accounting fraud in his previous life, stopping all exchanges.
Perhaps because all the repeated lives were finally over, the surrounding environment had changed considerably. The various information inside his head didn’t seem like it was going to be useful.
Land prices were limited, so he could predict a few regions that might rise in price, but he didn’t have money in hand, so he couldn’t invest in any. He couldn’t get a loan as a college student to buy land, and even if that was possible, there was no telling that the land he bought would rise in price. Perhaps he should avoid products with large price fluctuations? He scratched his eyebrows.
He would buy lottery tickets if he could remember the numbers, but there was no way he would remember such a thing. Ever since realized that his life was being repeated, he wasn’t able to concern himself with such things because he had to solve the problem at hand.
After contemplating, he turned on his laptop. The world had changed in various ways, but there were many things that overlapped with his previous world. One of them was the entertainment industry. The events there were generally going in the same way as his previous life. Hong Geunsoo, Yang Ganghwan, and Kim Suyeon were affiliated with JA Production, which was run by president Lee Junmin. The three of them had already proven their skills in film, theater, and drama respectively, and they had become blue chips. He could also find the elder’s name on JA Production’s website: Yoon Moonjoong. He stared at that name for a long while before opening a web portal.
He could find Lee Heewon’s name as well. He still seemed to be a new actor as there were no articles that caught his eye. If he had the same acting skills as the previous life, he would soon attract the eyes of the public and become popular.
On the other hand, Ahn Joohyun was living a different life from their previous life. First, she didn’t have the title of the Queen of Commercials. However, thanks to having done numerous pieces without taking a break, she was accepted as one of the best actresses in the industry. From how she didn’t go through a period where she gathered money like crazy, this seemed to indicate that the coerced sexual service incident, which had shaken her life, had not happened.
Things seemed to be going similarly to the previous life, but the mainstream had taken a completely different form. The more he looked through the articles, the more he realized that the times had completely changed.
He looked for other people as well. As for Chaerim, she seemed to have chosen a completely different occupation as she didn’t show up even when he searched. The girl idol band ‘Blue’ didn’t exist either. One of the best idol groups in South Korea wasn’t even born in this era. She was very close to Gaeul, no, Haneul, so Maru wondered how it was in this life.
He looked at the screen filled up with articles about idols before moving his cursor again. During his few searches, he had already realized that the world he knew was already of the past and that the important thing was to maintain the relationships he had and develop them.
Looking back at memories and looking up names were meaningless. It would be ruminating on things that ‘did not happen’ in this life. He had to leave the past as things of the past. The chain of emotions from various incidents had all lost its meaning as well, so he had to shake everything off and focus on this life.
Despite knowing that, he still looked up two names:
He put his chin on his hand and tried to cool off his rage as much as possible while looking up articles with their names. Just like in their previous life, Lee Miyoon was loved by the public as the godmother of the entertainment industry and as a mother figure of the whole population. Kang Giwoo was also receiving a lot of spotlight as a new actor with exceptional skills and splendid looks.
He looked at the bottom right corner of the monitor. June 2008. He realized that he was twenty-two and had just gotten discharged from the military.
He scratched his eyebrows and looked at the screen for a while before turning off the laptop. That was it. He had to stop looking up people from the past. He knew them, but they did not know him. The wrath, the disgust, the rage… everything was just an empty illusion.
He closed his eyes and blew away the things of the past inside his mind along with a deep sigh. He probably wouldn’t be able to erase them so easily. It wasn’t like they were easily forgettable things either. However, the clear truth was that he would have to greet them with a smile if he had to meet them again in this life.
“Not that I would ever meet them.”
He spoke to himself in order to shake off the iffy feelings in his heart. The cat, which was sleeping on top of the chair, flinched and looked at him. Has my master finally gone crazy now? — was the expression on its face.
He smiled and tickled the cat’s head. He liked dogs, but cats weren’t so bad either. The only downside was that they didn’t fawn, but he couldn’t expect much from a proud fellow.
June 17th. He brought a pen and put a mark on the calendar. He didn’t usually celebrate big occasions, but today was something he had to record and remember.
It was the day his ‘first life’ began, after having escaped the repetitions after all.