Life, Once Again! - Chapter 811
Maru met the rabbit in the middle of darkness. The darkness crept up his body to swallow him as it always did. Humans were animals of adaptation, and he now felt cozy here like it was the attic in the house in his homeland. He didn’t do anything much and kept staring at the rabbit. There was no way she jumped into his dream just to say hello, so she would probably say what she was here for if he waited long enough. When the darkness crept up his waist and reached his chest, the rabbit spoke,
“Are you happy?”
He smiled and nodded. There were many things he wanted to ask her: whether she was talking with the current, living Gaeul or not, if she was planning to drive herself to death again, why it had to be a rabbit of all things, and above all, how long she had been enduring this terrifyingly long period of time by herself. She might be more liberal than the masked man, but she probably wouldn’t be able to say any crucial information either.
“How about you?”
“I’m as always.”
“Shall we talk?”
“You know there aren’t many things I can tell you.”
“Not that. I was wondering if you were getting enough sleep, whether you are hurt anywhere, and whether your appetite has changed or not. You know, things like that.”
The darkness crept up to his neck. Soon, it would become difficult to even talk. The rabbit approached him. Her white body also started being stained black.
“Sorry,” the rabbit said.
“For everything; that I made you like this, that I made myself like that. Everything is my fault. I didn’t believe in god. I should have stayed that way. When god appeared before me, I should have denied him or her. I knew that there was no such thing as god, that there are no such things as miracles. I knew that everything going the way it should was for the best, but I ended up wishing for it. Please let him live; please let him live this once. I’ll do anything so that he can live. You can take my life, so please, just let me meet him once more.”
“Thanks to that, we met again.”
“And hell was let loose.”
“Hey, this is a hotel for hell, don’t you think?”
He wanted to reach out to her and put her in his arms, but the sensation in his body had already disappeared. She must have spent an unspeakable length of time with that small body of hers. She must have experienced things that he wouldn’t dare imagine before finally reaching here. Maru couldn’t say anything to her as it would devalue what she had done.
“Thanks for being next to me.”
He uttered those words before his mouth was covered in darkness. The darkness covered the rabbit’s eyes then his own.
Maru opened his eyes while listening to the alarm. In front of his eyes was her, who had fallen asleep. The corner of her lips had curved upwards as though she was having a good dream or something. He turned off his phone alarm and tried touching her lips. He wondered where the rabbit was right now. Inside her dream? Or by herself in a place where no one can find? After rolling around a little, she opened her eyes.
“Sorry, did I wake you up?”
When Maru took his hand off and spoke, she grabbed his hand and put it on her head as though she wanted him to pat her.
“Do you always wake up at this hour?”
“When I don’t have any work to do. It became a habit of mine.”
“You should get some more sleep.”
“I usually don’t feel sleepy once I wake up.”
As he patted her head, she grabbed his hand.
“Did you have a bad dream? You don’t look good.”
Hearing her question, he just replied with a smile. He pulled up the duvet to cover her shoulders and got out of the bed. He opened the drawers and was looking for pants and socks when he heard some rustling noise behind him. She was getting up as well.
“You should lie down some more.”
“I wanna go with you.”
“But you must be tired.”
“It’s okay. Where do you go for morning exercises?”
She yawned and stood next to him. Two days ago, she brought some light clothes that she could wear. Some training clothes, a hoodie, some shorts, underwear, and socks. The third row of the dresser, which had been empty until now, became hers.
After getting clothed, they left the house. The moist air and the chilly weather signified that autumn was not far away.
“It’s been a really long time since I jogged outside like this instead of in a gym.”
After warming up lightly, she started running even though she didn’t know where to go. After running forward without stopping for a while, she turned around and returned.
“Where do we go?”
“Lady, please follow me.”
They switched places to the moonlit plaza under Banpo bridge. He ran slower than usual to keep in pace with her. There was no one who recognized her as she was wearing training clothes that didn’t reveal her figure as well as a cap. Sometimes, there were some people who would give her a long stare when they went past her, but when he gave them a glance back, everyone turned their heads away.
“You don’t have to glare at them so fiercely. You have a pretty vicious expression, so people will get scared if you glare at them, you know?” she said as she poked his arm from the side.
Usually, Maru would run for about an hour and go home, but she started getting tired after 30 minutes, so Maru stopped running.
“It’s hard to run after not running in the morning for so long.”
“Let’s go back. I’m hungry too.”
“I saw toast sandwiches being sold on the street. How about we get that?”
“I thought you were managing your diet?”
“I ran for half an hour, so it should be fine.”
“I don’t think so.”
She sealed her lips and shook her head. She dragged him, saying that it was fine to eat sugared toast since she ran so much in the morning. It was hard to hold her back. They returned home with toasts in their mouths.
“Shall we get washed together?” he playfully asked.
What he got in return was a gaze that looked like she had found a cockroach on the ceiling. I’m joking – he tried to laugh it off, but she glared at him, saying that it would be ‘over’ for him if he approached her. From how there was her phone in her hands, it looked as though she meant that he would be socially buried. Having no choice, he got washed obediently by himself. While she got washed, he prepared some coffee. Having breakfast and drinking coffee in front of the blacked-out TV screen had become a procedure of sorts. Something that she did when she visited Han Maru’s house.
While she was drinking, she suddenly smiled and put down the mug. It was a rather sudden smile, so he quietly stared at her.
“It just feels so natural. I mean, coming here, sleeping together, eating together, and resting like this.”
“Feeling natural is a good thing.”
“I think it would’ve been better if it became like this earlier. I feel like I wasted the previous 5 years. If we were together, we would have gone to the sea in the summer and gone skiing in the winter many times.”
“We can do it starting now. There’s plenty of time.”
“The fact that there’s plenty of time doesn’t mean that the past will come back to us.”
He reached out to her and wrapped his arm around her neck before pulling her over.
“Should we go to the beach? It’s the last week of September, but it still feels a little like summer.”
“As much as I want to, my schedule is filled with shoots. Next week, I’ll be going to Gwangju, Busan, and Daegu. I’m going to miss the set in Seoul.”
“My dear Gaeul, you must be having a hard time.”
“I should have a hard time while I still can. They say having any work to do at all is when you’re happiest. I should feel thankful.”
“You’re all grown up too. I guess a lot of time has passed.”
“I was grown up a long time ago.”
She pushed his chest and stood up.
“Let’s go shopping. I want to go to the Namdaemun market.”
“It must be crowded there since it’s Saturday.”
“I don’t care. It’s fun to walk around there. I think the glasses there fit my tastes too.”
“Then we should go. When are people coming over again?”
“I told them to come by five. Haewon said he was going to buy some ingredients and cook here.”
“Then we should go out. eat lunch in the market, and return with groceries. You put on your cap and sunglasses. We’re going to a place with many people.”
She hummed as she went inside the room.
Ordinary times, as it were. It was a series of ordinary events: they would fight because of ordinary reasons, and then makeup ordinarily. Sometimes, miraculous events might happen, but everything would occur within the scope of common sense. He looked at the remaining coffee. What did he have to do in order to protect this ordinary life? The train was already rushing towards a set ending. The switch that changed lanes had been broken, and it was impossible to jump off as well. Did he have to pray to god after all? The rabbit told him that she should not have prayed. What did he have to do when god gave him a choice where her life was put in danger? He emptied the remaining coffee into his mouth. Even though it was sweet before, it tasted bitter now.
“I’m changed now.”
She stood in front of him while wearing a t-shirt with a cute rabbit on it. The sunlight that seeped in through the window scattered after hitting her hair. Maru reached out to her. She pulled him up, telling him to get up quickly.
“The answer is already set in stone.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just talking to myself. Should we go eat tteokbokki? I’m craving something spicy.”
“I’ve already eaten more than the carb quota for the day, but I guess today’s fine, right? We’re going to be drinking at night anyway.”
She pushed his back. He got his car keys and left the house.
* * *
“Haewon, was it?”
“You’re good at cooking. Who did you learn from?”
“When I was young, I learned through books, but these days, I use the internet. There are a lot of blogs with good recipes. Do you want to taste this as well?”
On the sofa, Gaeul looked at Haewon and Chaerim, who were chatting in the kitchen. Having found the common topic of cooking, the two seemed to get along and were together the whole time.
“Hyung, stop eating. You’re going to eat them all.”
“But you’re giving this noona things to eat. Why are you nagging me?”
“Because you just don’t stop. And Chaerim-noona is just tasting it for me from the side.”
“Gosh, I can’t take this anymore.”
Even while grumbling, Heewon managed to take a rib to eat before turning around. When Heewon and Haewon just arrived, Chaerim and Yuna, who had arrived earlier, showed interest in Heewon, but their focus soon shifted to Haewon. Rather than Heewon, who lay down as soon as he got inside, they probably liked Haewon better as a conversation partner since he was good at cooking and acted kindly too.
“Maru-seonbae. Your house is really good.”
“Yuna, this is the third time you’re saying that.”
“I’m going to say it at least four times more.”
Yuna, who was sitting next to her, smiled while hugging the dog. Yuna, who had arrived first, started crying as soon as she saw Maru’s face. Gaeul also felt a tinge in her nose and hugged Yuan for a while. It was only when Chaerim arrived that Yuna stopped saying ‘I’m glad’ and calmed down a little.
“Unni, as a gift for you two getting back together, I’ll send you some movie tickets. I want to send you something more expensive, but I’m living off part-time jobs right now, so.”
“Forget it. You should use that money for yourself.”
“No, I’m going to give them to you.”
Yuna lifted the dog up and headed to the kitchen. Gaeul was at first worried that they might not get along, but the four of them became friends as soon as they met. It was good that they weren’t picky people.
“It’s good to be a little bustling.”
Maru sat down next to her. Haewon proudly told everyone to leave the cooking to him, so there was nothing else to prepare.
“I feel like everything’s finally the way it should be now. I’m glad that Yuna came.”
“You did well calling her. I feel relieved to see her too.”
“Don’t you ever act coldly to people like that again. And make sure to keep in touch.”
“Of course, I won’t do that again either.”
She grabbed his hand and smiled. Just then, an ‘Oh!’ exclamation sounded from the kitchen. When she turned around, the four of them were all staring at them.
“Why don’t you have a deep kiss?”
Chaerim grabbed Yuna, who was next to her, before jutting her lips out. Yuna also played along. Gaeul burst into laughter when she saw that the two girls became close like sisters in just two hours.
“Stop minding us and get along, the four of you.”
“Alright. You two are the main characters for today, so get some good rest. Haewon, let’s finish things off.”
The quiet kitchen became bustling again.