Life, Once Again! - Chapter 456
“I thought I was going to die at that rate and ended up writing something called a resume. It was for a small factory, and in the ‘experiences’ slot, I could only write the word ‘actor’ and nothing else. You wouldn’t know how long I stared at that piece of paper while holding my pen. I went to a factory with my resume, and even now I am working at that factory, from morning till night, and at times, from night till dawn. When I’m working, I don’t know who I am nor how much time has passed. It’s just like the military. Around five to six people would sleep side by side and someone would come in once morning came, and then a phone alarm would start ringing. People start going in and out, and I would wake up once again when I hear someone cooking something. When my phone rings, I would wake up in a daze. The scene I see then is – well, how should I say it – very hard to describe. Maybe this is why I never became a good actor.”
The man was speaking with ease.
As Maru heard the story reaching its end, Maru thought back to the illusion that he saw ten minutes ago. Could that even be called déjà vu? Maru himself was standing alongside the man wearing a luxury suit. His ever-so-smiling face indicated that he was in a close relationship with this man.
If there was only one case of déjà vu, it would be understandable for him, but the number of illusions wasn’t one. There were cases where Maru himself was next to the man, and there were cases where he wasn’t. He saw the man standing with someone that looked like his wife, and sometimes, there were scenes where he was holding the hands of what seemed to be his children. There were cases where he looked worn out like he was now, and there were cases where he wore a fully-tailored suit.
Maru felt as though numerous photos were flashing past his eyes. The completely different states of the man, as well as the figure of himself, every now and then confused him greatly. Déjà vu was supposed to be the brain making a mistake, but could the brain make so many distinct mistakes continuously in such a short period of time?
If this phenomenon was a result of the friction between the memories of his current life and the memories of his previous life, there should be just one illusory man. If this wasn’t a case of déjà vu, nor the memories of his previous life, then where did all those memories come from?
‘No, in the first place, are those my memories at all?’
If he knew this man in his previous life, he would have some point of contact with him, but from the story he told on the stage until now, there weren’t any places that sounded like Maru could have come into contact with him. Above all, what point of contact would a high school student have with a man in his forties?
Maru gulped before concentrating. Although the memories of his previous life had become faint, he could still remember the general traces of the life he lived. He graduated high school then went to university. After his military service, he worked as a road manager before entering a small company. He seemed to be progressing without any hitches but was then stopped by someone who came to the company on the company president’s personal connections. During that process, he discovered that that employee had messed with the company expenses while doing business with some other company. After he revealed that fact to the public, he left the company to become a bus driver.
‘Life can become different, so I might have met that man in my previous life due to a coincidence, but even after considering that, were there any opportunities that led me to hang out with that man while hanging my arms over his shoulders and walking the streets of Daehak-ro?’
Maru shook his head. Although his memories weren’t perfect, he knew the general outline. There weren’t any opportunities at all in his previous life that would lead him to become close to a man who was more than 20 years older than him.
Even if his memories had errors, that didn’t explain everything.
‘Regardless, how would I know so many different versions of that man?’
He knew that in this world, there were things that couldn’t be explained with logic.
He was living proof of that after all.
However, the order of progression had to be consistent at least, right? There was no way the images that popped up in his head just appeared out of nowhere. He should have seen them somewhere or heard about them at least. There couldn’t be an output without an input. Well, was this him being too complacent as well?
He breathed out nervously and turned around.
“Are you okay?”
Hanna was looking at him worriedly. Maru slowly nodded.
“I don’t think you are though. Why are you sweating so much?”
“It’s a bit hot.”
“This weather, hot? I think you must be sick right now.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m really fine.”
“Alright, then… did you think I’d say that? Hey, come with me. You’re sweating a lot so there’s no way you’re okay.”
“When did this start?”
“I’m really not sick at all. It’s just because I was thinking about something else for a moment.”
“So kids these days sweat profusely when they think about something else? Man, they must be full of yang energy. How much p.o.r.n do you have to watch to be like that?”
Hanna put her hand on Maru’s forehead before cl.i.c.k.i.n.g her tongue.
“Look at all this cold sweat. This won’t do. We’ll take care of the cleanup so go back home.”
“I’m really okay.”
“Go home while I’m telling you nicely, or otherwise, I’ll strip you down and chase you out. Go home, wash your feet, eat some antipyretics and get some sleep. No, if you’re dizzy, should I tell Ganghwan-oppa to drive you home?”
“He should wrap the play up here. And like I said, I’m really….”
Maru shut up after seeing Hanna glare at him. She didn’t look like she’d listen no matter what he said. Well, it wasn’t surprising since a completely normal boy was sweating profusely with his eyes half-loose.
“You shouldn’t be. Everyone knows that you worked hard. Don’t worry about it and go home. Also, take this.”
Hanna took out five ten thousand-won bills from her wallet.
“Take the taxi home. Wait, is this not enough?”
He stopped Hanna from going to the nearby ATM before walking towards the train station.
“Hey! I told you to take a taxi!”
“It’s fine since I’m not going to collapse on the spot. I’m really fine. Also, noona, you should go back. From all the clapping sounds, I think they’re about to wrap things up.”
Hanna turned around and looked at where the play was happening.
“I’ll get going, noona. See you next week.”
“Alright, be careful on your way home, and call me if something happens, okay? You should call me.”
Phew – Maru sighed subconsciously.
“I should visit the hospital, and if they tell me I’m really okay….”
It would be problematic if he was diagnosed as normal, but it would also be problematic if he was told that there was a problem with his brain. He could neither talk to anyone about this nor find a solution.
He was born through a superpower that transcended the laws of physics, so no one in this world should be able to give him an answer to this phenomenon.
At that moment, he saw a street stall on the way to the station. It was a tent that did not allow people to see inside, and he saw a man and a woman walk out of it.
Fortune telling. That was what was written on the tent.
“Han Maru, Han Maru. Just because it’s supernatural doesn’t mean you should do that.”
Fortune telling, rituals, exorcisms. If this was his previous life, he would have snorted. Ghosts? It wasn’t even funny. He would confidently say that his head manager was the ghost that haunted him for work, and that president Park would be the celestial emperor. However, right now, he had experienced death and even came back to life.
The realm of the unknown could only be countered with the powers of the unknown.
“Ah, tarot, huh.”
It did look a little non-eastern, too. The glass orb on one side had some lights sparkling inside as though she bought it from an interior items store or something. This was a cozy and cute store.
“Uhm, how much does it cost?”
He didn’t want to be ripped off, so he asked the price right off the bat.
“It’s free. If you like your fortune, then you can always donate some money to the charity box for ‘food for the lone elderly’ right here. You don’t have to, though.”
The woman smiled back at him.
“No, I was just wondering how you got by,” he laughed and replied with a joke.
“But is this tarot thing really accurate?”
“Well, I’m not sure, since I learned it half as a joke rather than seriously. I don’t believe stuff like this either so I don’t know if it’s accurate or not.”
“Can you say something like that even though you’re a fortune teller?”
“Who cares? It’s not like I’m receiving money for it. Well then, what did you want to know about when you came here?”
“Anything? Then what about solving your worries?”
“Haha, that sounds great. Solving my worries.”
The woman started mixing the tarot cards. She looked very proficient as though she played games of go-stop quite frequently, but sometimes, the cards popped out and spilled onto the table.
“These cards are way too big.”
“Aren’t you being too sloppy?”
“I’m starting to become tired. I was going to go home after that couple, but you came in. So don’t nag me and stay still.”
She took out three cards from the mixed deck of cards and placed them on the table.
“Also, tarots don’t tell whether something’s right or wrong. It just provides a direction. So don’t act according to the tarot and you should always value your own opinion when you take action.”
“That’s some deep fortune telling.”
“Think about the worry you’re having now as you pick one of these three cards.”
Just where was this going? Maru sighed. It seemed that he was tired after all. He was thought he was possessed when he came in here.
He placed his hand on top of a card thinking that he should try it out anyway since he was here.
“Excuse me, you can’t install something like this on the side of the road.”
Just then, a man wearing an orange glow-in-the-dark vest spoke as he came into the tent. The woman apologized before putting the cards away. In that commotion, the card that Maru chose fell on the ground.
Maru picked up the card and returned it to the woman. He only saw the back of the card so all he saw was some strange pattern.
“Since you picked one, wait a minute.”
The woman took out an envelope before putting the card inside. More men wearing orange vests shouted at the tent to put things away.
“Open this when you go home.”
“I wouldn’t know even if I look at it. I don’t know stuff like tarot at all.”
“Is the internet there for show?”
The woman started dismantling the tent while apologizing to the men outside. Maru looked at her for a while before turning around.
Today was a rather tiring day.
He got on the train in a daze. The train rattled. As he sat down and stared out the window opposite to him, he soon arrived at Geumjeong station. He changed trains there. In his head, he was still thinking about the man.
“I’m home, huh.”
He was out of himself to the point that he didn’t know how he got there. Maru shook his head. His mother would be worried about him if he went home with a serious expression. He decided to stop thinking for now.
He went inside and greeted his mother before going into his room. He took off his jacket in order to change clothes when an envelope fell on the ground with a small sound. It was the envelope he received from that woman.
‘I completely forgot about this.’
His mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of that man that he had forgotten about the fact that he received a card. He thought about opening it immediately but then decided to wash first. After a shower, he came back to his room with a better mind. Then he picked up the envelope he placed on his desk.
He unfolded the folded envelope before putting the card on his palm.
The first thing he saw were the words ‘The Fool’. The clown, huh. The ill.u.s.tration was simple as well. A man wearing skinny pants was standing on top of what seemed like a stage made out of wood.
“I wonder what this means.”
He thought about how the woman told him to look it up online and was about to sit in front of his computer. Just then, he looked at the card again. On the hand of the clown that had a mysterious expression that looked like he was neither crying or smiling, was a mask. The mask was a mix of black and white.
Maru had seen that mask before.
 Korean card game.