Life, Once Again! - Chapter 1024
Chapter 1024. Life, Once Again! + Afterword
It was an awful dream where he died in a car crash. Han Maru got out of bed and went to the living room. He put some water in the kettle. As soon as the water started boiling, the cat, which was lying on the bed, walked over. Maru petted its head. When the cat first came to this house, it was wary against him and hid behind the sofa all the time, but now, it had become close to him to the point that it would follow him if he called out to it. His friends called it a dog-cat.
He put a corn silk teabag in a mug and poured some hot water. The fragrance was quite good. He sat on the sofa with the cat by his side. He also turned on the TV. He watched the TV in a daze for a while before chuckling. The dream was quite vivid. Usually, the majority of the dream would vaporize a minute after waking up, leaving behind a faint impression, but this time, he could remember it to the point that he could make it into a book.
“Me, an actor, pfft.”
It was absurd. He never wanted to be an actor, nor dreamt of it, but he was an actor in his dream. Not only that, he was a promising actor just about to achieve success.
Maru sipped on his tea for a while before putting down the cup and standing up. He glanced at the cat staring at him before warming up his throat and speaking. What he said was a line from a play from his dream. It was so vivid that he could remember it word for word. He recited the lines like he was giving a speech before chuckling. He never learned any of this, but he could say it without missing a beat. It was quite interesting.
“Reincarnation itself is unbelievable.”
A life that repeats dozens of times? It seemed that the time slip film he had seen a few days ago had influenced his subconscious. Everybody wanted to reincarnate, but the reincarnation he saw in his dream was no different from punishment. Repeating a life hundreds, or even more times without even being aware of it? That sounded terrifying.
“Hey, Ricebun, do you do things like reincarnation too? I heard that cats have nine lives.”
He lifted the cat up in the air. The docile cat suddenly struggled and left his arms. It liked his petting, but it would always walk away if he didn’t do what it liked. Maru did not leave the sofa for a while. It was because of his dream. The dream left behind such big lingering feelings..com
He looked at the clock. Although it was the weekend, he didn’t have any appointments or anything to do. He needed to go jogging, but the dream lingering in front of his eyes tugged at his mind. He sat down at the dining table with a notebook and a pen that he didn’t even use that much after buying it. He wrote the first paragraph of the dream on the first page, about the things that happened immediately after being reincarnated into a high school student. He was a man who struggled to live every day under the agony of unease about the future. He quite liked it. He would’ve done the same.
The reason the dream felt so real was probably that the characters in it were based on people in real life. He saw a bunch of people he knew. Daemyung, who he still kept in touch with until this day, appeared in it as well. In the dream, Daemyung became an aspiring writer. This guy would probably tilt his head in confusion if he heard this since he was working at a shipyard. Dowook and Dojin appeared as well. However, he couldn’t exactly call them friends, since he hadn’t kept in touch after high school.
“Me knowing Kim Suyeon’s secret is a bit too far-fetched. It’s also funny to think that I’m like brothers with Yang Ganghwan and Hong Geunsoo.”
They were popular actors in reality, so they probably appeared as popular actors in his dream as well. That was probably the extent of his imagination. Ultimately, dreams were also just a twist on reality. He was a little happy that he was confessed to by a girl named Yuna. He would’ve accepted if such a cute girl confessed to him. However, that girl shouldn’t exist in reality. His preferences were probably reflected in the dream after all. Chaerim was an actual idol, so he wasn’t that impressed.
As he was writing like he was reflecting on a Go match, his hand stopped. Maru let go of his pen and crossed his arms.
“Who is this she?”
She. Maru looked at the ‘she’ written at the end of what he wrote. She was a very important figure. All of the principles behind his actions after he reincarnated were based on her. The reason he also chose acting was to find her, and the reason he was worried about the future was because of his life with her.
But the most important question, ‘who’ she was, was something he could not answer, whether it was her name, her appearance, or her preferences. Even though he must have talked to her numerous times and shared both the joys and sorrows, there was a mosaic over her face. Even though he could remember everyone else clearly enough to sketch their faces.
He tapped the pen on the notebook before looking at the TV. A drama featuring Ahn Joohyun was airing again. He chuckled once again. He was quite close to her too.
Maru shook his head and stood up. It was all a dream anyway. It was strangely vivid in his memory, but it would ultimately disappear. It was weird to hold onto it. Just as he closed the pen lid and the book, the word ‘she’ pierced his eyes. He chuckled once again.
“Yeah, it’s not like I have anything better to do.”
If he told any of his friends about this, they might tell him that he was delusional. They might even tell him to please start dating someone. However, Maru had no intentions of dating anyone. He didn’t even dream about getting married. He liked living by himself. Whenever he was bored, he would even go around telling people that not getting married would become a trend soon. It wasn’t that he physiologically disliked women. Just like in the dream, he would feel happy and excited if he was confessed to and would stop scrolling and scroll back if he found a photo of a pretty celebrity on the internet. However, for some strange reason, he never had the impulse to start dating anyone seriously. He was probably afraid of taking responsibility. It was a tough world to live in, even by oneself, after all. He was probably subconsciously feeling a huge burden from the fact that he would have to accept another, completely different, person’s life and be with them.
Yet, for some reason, he couldn’t take his eyes off the word ‘she.’ It was strange that he was so concerned about this person who was shrouded in darkness and he couldn’t even see. Perhaps it was because the dream felt so realistic.
He thought about her for a long time. However, the more he thought, the more mysterious she became. Maru slapped his cheeks and closed the notebook. Rather than minding about useless things, it was better to go do some exercise.
He changed into a jersey and left his house. The weekend weather in June was perfect for a jog. He put earbuds in his ears and started running in the park near Han river. Just as he sped up after running past a couple who was walking their dog, Maru heaved deep breaths and stopped running. People sitting on the bench on the opposite side entered his eyes. They were a couple of girls, seemingly a college student and a middle school student. They were talking while drinking. They were probably good sisters. The reason he thought ‘sisters’ out of all the other relationships there could be was because of his dream. They were people he saw in his dream. They were unrealistically identical. Yuna and Bitna.
Maru took out his earphones from his ears. This was the time to be rational. This didn’t make any sense. Just because girls he saw in his dream appeared in front of his eyes doesn’t mean that he could just go up to them and talk to them like he was close. That would be crazy. This must be a product of coincidence, or that phenomenon called déjà vu. Some kind of neurological error must have occurred. He just had to ignore this and resume running. The normal thing to do in this situation was to turn on the music again, calm his breathing, and walk away.
However, his knees were already pointing toward the sisters. Maru walked over to that side and inwardly shouted: Are you crazy? What are you going to do there? While reason and his physical body struggled to gain control, he already arrived in front of them. Yuna, no, the college girl stared at him. She looked wary. That was natural. A heavily-breathing man was staring at him.
“What is it?” the college girl asked.
Maru was unable to say anything. Something crazy like ‘you look like someone I saw in my dream’ was hard to say. The college girl immediately responded. She grabbed the hand of the girl next to her and stood up. Maru made way for them. It looked like they would call the police on him if he blocked them.
“Let’s go, Bitna.”
Their voices hit his ears. Maru turned around and spoke subconsciously,
“Do you happen to be named Yuna?”
“Who are you?” the college girl said.
Maru felt even more chaotic. He apologized before turning around. It was unbelievable. This was way too surprising for it to be a coincidence. He shook off their stares and entered a public bathroom. Maru saw that his face had become pale.
He washed his face with some cold water. He had a splitting headache. ‘She’ – that word became a nail and poked his brain. Maru clutched his head with both of his hands. A middle-aged man nearby even asked him if he was okay.
The pain didn’t last long. It disappeared like a lie. He calmed his breathing and left. The college girl had disappeared. Maru immediately returned home. Something was strange. For everything to be a coincidence, the accuracy was freaky. Not only did they have the same looks, but they also had the same names too.
Maru took out his phone and looked up ‘Twilight Struggles’. In his dream, he even appeared in it, but in reality, he had only vaguely heard the title. He didn’t know what it was about, nor who was acting in it. He looked up the information on the internet.
From the main cast to the content of the movie, everything was identical to what he saw in his dream, except for the fact that he wasn’t in it. Did God give him a prophecy? Feeling excitement and fright at the same time, he looked up the dramas this time. He pressed the search button, and a moment later, the page changed.
Maru let out a chuckle. He couldn’t find it. He suddenly lost all strength. Now that he thought about it, he was unable to confirm whether the college girl was ‘Yuna’ or not. He might have been overreacting at the name ‘Bitna’. While it was clear, it was ultimately still a dream. A person’s face had two eyes, one nose, and one mouth, so he might have overwritten the face he saw in his dreams in reality. He was no kid, and yet he committed such a shameful deed because of his delusional excitement. He felt sorry for the college student who must have been startled.
Maru opened the notebook. He ripped out the part he wrote ‘she’ and threw it in the trash. The dream would disappear after about a day anyway. As proof of that, his dream was becoming faint. His brain had finally started to function properly.
She? A girlfriend? He said with a sigh and went to the bathroom.
* * *
“Haneul, good work today. Have a safe trip home.”
Han Haneul opened the door and left the café. It had been a month since she started working a part-time job, and she had gotten used to it now. She took a sip of the strawberry juice that she was given and took out her phone. She opened the banking app that she placed in the middle of her phone screen. She took a step and inputted her passcode. The cute bank mascot appeared on the screen for a brief moment before disappearing. She quickly checked the remaining balance.
“Looks like I’ll be doing part-time jobs the whole holiday.”
She was planning on working part-time for three months. She was already given a promise that her shifts would move to the weekends once the new semester began. If she thought about her student loans, she couldn’t idle around even if it was the holidays. She wanted to go traveling as well, but she didn’t want to say sorry to her future self.
The sun was pleasant today. Perhaps she was feeling better because her remaining balance had increased a little. She looked at the juice that had decreased by about half in pity before stopping in front of a clothing store. There was a big banner saying ‘clearance sale.’ She approached a clothes hanger in front of the store while looking at the paper that said ‘no card accepted, no returns accepted.’ Clothes that were out of season were hung up pitifully. Still, they were worth browsing through since they were cheap. Perhaps she might find a treasure too.
Just as she was browsing through the clothes, a man walked past her. He was a man who had a black hoodie on. He didn’t have any attractive features, but she was strangely drawn to him.
“Don’t touch the clothes too much,” said the store lady.
Haneul bowed to her and got away from the hanger. She had already lost all interest in the clothes. Her mind was filled with the man walking in front of her.
Were the winds of love finally blowing? Haneul had never taken interest in men throughout college, no, even before that. During high school, when her friends stayed up the night talking about their love stories, Haneul just chimed along and didn’t say anything. She was given a few offers for group mixers, but she always refused. Now that she was in her 3rd year, her personality was widely known and no one invited her to things like that anymore. She wasn’t doing any extracurricular activities, nor did she participate in any events, so she had never met any man, but even if she did, there was no way she would take an interest. That was the kind of girl she was after all.
Haneul turned around slightly. The man walking in front of her suddenly stopped in front of an elderly woman selling pumpkins. The man smiled and bought the pumpkins. For some reason, the scene was pleasing to look at. Haneul kept following the man. Midway, she was wondering what she was up to, but her steps never stopped.
The man stopped in the middle of the street. He was next to a lamp post with posters about musicals. The man looked at the poster in a daze. Perhaps he had a relation to the musical. Usually, she would have turned around and left at this point. No, in the first place, she would not have done something like following a stranger. She wondered what led her here.
As she was staring at him, the man turned around. Thanks to that, they made eye contact. She was staring at him so intensely that she couldn’t deny that she wasn’t looking at him. Now, she had to turn her eyes away after coughing awkwardly. However, her neck did not move. It was hard to avoid that man’s gaze. To be precise, she didn’t want to avoid his eyes.
The man also did not turn his eyes away. As though there would be big trouble if he did so, or he froze on the spot, the man also looked straight at Haneul.
Cars went by. People walked by. A cool breeze visited before leaving, and some music from some store tickled her ears. It was an ordinary street, a mundane everyday life without anything special. However, something changed the moment the man entered her eyes.
Haneul blinked. There was a black rabbit right in front of her. Before she could even question why such a thing would be here, the rabbit disappeared. It just vanished like magic. Then, a voice echoed in her ears,
“You two are tied in a fate stronger than any other and it gives me joy to watch you.”
Haneul was startled and blocked her ears before taking her hands off. Was she hearing things? Meanwhile, the man approached her.
“Are you okay?”
“Eh? Oh. Yes.”
The man did not say anything. Like that, 10 seconds passed. The man spoke again,
The man walked past her. What was that? What was that long exchange of gazes? What was that voice? And what was this stifling sensation? She turned around. The man was walking with his eyes glued to the ground.
Haneul had a feeling that he would turn around and grab her. Just like how it happened hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of times. It was strange. She should have met him for the first time today.
While she was thinking, the man became even more distant. Haneul sighed. Perhaps she was tired. While she was taking deep breaths, the man disappeared from her eyes completely. Get yourself together, Han Haneul. It seemed that she was not like herself for a bit. She turned around towards her house. She thought she should hum to change things up a little.
She took one step and started humming. One step, another step. She walked for quite a bit before looking down at her hand. It felt empty. Her hand was supposed to be tightly holding onto something. Something warm and gentle.
Her body was already running by the time she realized. She was running in the direction the man disappeared in with all of her might. While running, her phone dropped from her pocket. The phone slid on the floor and the LCD cracked. She even saw a passerby pick it up. She could just go and receive it from him, but she went forward instead.
She ignored the passerby’s call and ran. She would miss him if she delayed any longer. She turned around at the alleyway. She saw the man climbing a low hill. Haneul ran. She suppressed her heavy breathing and decreased her distance from him. This time, I’ll be the one, not you.
She reached out. She grabbed the man’s hand. The man was startled and turned around. Only then was Haneul able to smile.
“Is there something?” the man asked.
Haneul nodded. There was something. There had to be something. There were countless things between him and her.
“Han Maru,” Haneul said.
The man’s eyes widened. It was due to surprise rather than warm feelings.
“Do you know me?”
“I know you all too well. That’s why I’m going to start first this time. You always reached out to me first.”
“What are you….”
“Don’t you get it? Then let me tell you.”
Haneul pulled him in by the neck. The familiar sensation and smell came over her. She put her lips against his lightly. It was a signal that signified the beginning. Not the start of another end, but a true, new beginning.
After a short kiss, she took a step back.
“Do you get it now?” Haneul asked.
Instead of responding, he put his lips against hers. The second kiss was neither short nor long. The man lowered his head and whispered,
“I get that my life has finally begun,” said the man.
Haneul grabbed his hand with a smile. His hand was still warm.
(Translator’s note: Some of what’s written below concerns when the author serialized this series in Joara way back in the day (2014-2017). I’m not too knowledgeable about this either, but I will use the notation T/N to explain when I can)
I finally finished my novel where I wanted to talk about everything I wanted to.It took a long time. An extremely long time.
I’ve announced more than a dozen times that I’m writing however I want, and even put it in a notice post, so I’m grateful towards the readers who followed me all the way here despite that.
Once the ending goes up, there might be people grumbling about what kind of ending it is, and some might congratulate me for finishing it. They are all grateful people..com
* * *
< Life, Once Again! > is something I started to write thinking that I should point at every single character the camera and the mic. That was why, I never planned to release it as a book, nor even go premium. The reason I refused to go against everyone’s wishes, is because I can only write it here. It’s because I have so many things to write. When I was talking to my editor before, I said this too. That I could’ve chopped out 500 chapters. No, I could have chopped out 800 chapters and still have a complete story. If I cut out building another character; their psychology, and the events that occur due to it, the story would just be about Han Maru, the protagonist. But I did not start out this writing to write that kind of story. Thanks to that, I’ve announced numerous times through the author’s thoughts section and the notices – that this is just that kind of writing.
If I wanted to write about the success story of Han Maru, then I would’ve made him debut around chapter 10. By chapter 50, he would’ve shot a great film, and become a famous star by chapter 100. Then, I would see how things go and shoot a few more films before ending the story there. But that’s no fun for me. I wasn’t going to write a compact story like my previous work (T/N: < Human face mask >: Mature novel with 108 chapters), and since I was writing in Noblesse (T/N: Basically a free-for-all writing section in the Korean platform Joara), so I decided to write however I want. I was greatly blessed to be able to profit off of it. It’s thanks to you all.
It’s a kind of writing I can never write in a pay-per-chapter based system, and a book that might have an early rushed ending after being forced to quit after the 4th volume. It was something I wrote here only because I could write here. Maru and her, I really enjoyed myself as I wrote the story of the two. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Of course, I can’t deny the fact that the series also took care of my rent. It was fun, and it even took care of my living expenses? It was the cherry on top of the cake.
I’m sure many of you wanted Maru’s success story. I’m sure those people are left disappointed. (Of course, in my point of view, Maru was very successful. Extremely successful, in fact. No wait, in the first place, he’s a guy who had his success set in stone) But what can I do? That’s just the kind of writing that I started writing. Give me more Maru, less side characters, make him successful, do this, do that, oh, and there was a lot of ‘kill Kang Giwoo’ recently too.
To tell you the truth here, none of what you said in the comments probably happened. You readers cursing me and leaving is something that’s inevitable for me. I do not have the foolish thought that I will satisfy everyone that reads this writing. I’m just grateful to those that have similar preferences to me and read it.
There were many people who left behind curses in the comments and even dm’ed me about complaints. I read through every single one of them and erased it from memory. I know as well. I feel the same when I read other novels. I just don’t bother to express it because I’m at the peak of laziness, but I swear at a lot of other authors too. That’s why I don’t really retort (unless there’s an obvious error), and just ignore it.
I believe that the readers are entitled to do so. Grab a bite, taste it, and rip it apart. I said it multiple times before. I welcome respectful quarrels. But none of them have affected my writing so far. In fact, comments like ‘I had whatever food today and it was really good’ affects me even more. I might end up subconsciously feeding the character that food.
Thanks for sticking with a writer who won’t listen to feedback at all until now. I love you all.
I have written the ending I’ve been thinking about all this time, and I’m very satisfied with it.
Once again, I thank everyone who has hung out with me this far and complete my afterword here.
I should really shorten my next writing. I’ve written something I want to my heart’s content, and it sure is quite exhausting.
To finish things off, I’ll write what has been my top announcement for years.
I know how to enroll into a prestigious university.
I know how to become a lawyer.
I know how to become a doctor.
The same goes for every one of you as well.
However, not many people do end up achieving those things, even though they know how to.
Isn’t that life?
Isn’t that what life is about?
I’m always happy when reading comments. Meeting someone different from me is a journey in itself.
* * *
Finished novels: Human Face mask.
Life, Once Again!
Thank you all.
There you have it. That’s the end of the main story. How do you feel? I personally feel rather bittersweet, but more bitter than sweet. (< Angel Beats! > vibe, anyone?)
Why? Because of the side characters of course.
We never got to see how Ando and Sora turned out, and it seems that Daemyung and Jiyoon never became a couple in this timeline. Which makes me worried, since considering Maru’s scope of relationships in this new timeline (i.e. Daemyung being the only friend he’s still in touch with), for all we know, Dojin x Iseul pairing, Miso x Taesik pairing, and even Geunsoo X Suyeon pairing (am I missing anyone? Heewon x Chaerim maybe?) might have changed, or disappeared outright since in the previous life, Maru was quite influential in getting them together.
I mean, you can’t expect me to not feel disappointed after all that effort author put into the side characters now, can you…?
Heck, there’s acting too. After all those great acting scenes, it seems like Maru’s no longer an actor?
Well, that was my impression of the main stories. I have been told that “everything will be made up for in the side stories”, so who knows? Maybe hold on for a little before giving negative reviews…?
Hope I see you there!
Welp. Gave me Your Name vibes honestly. I hope God keeps his promise and makes this the final reincarnation. If you have been following my thoughts through this novel, you’ll know that I am a great enjoyed of fluff, so this ending is quite a disappointment. It is a ‘happy’ ending per se, but I am extremely disappointed in the fact that I never got to see Suyeon X Geunsoo. Oh well. Thanks to everyone who read up to this point. I hope the side stories have fluff. Oh yea, I NEVER GOT TO SEE MARU BECOME FAMOUS. I ACTUALLY JINXED MYSELF.