Life, Once Again! - Chapter 998
Chapter 998. Crank Up 9
Standing on two feet, the rabbit dusted her body with her front paws. A black tuxedo had covered her white body. In her right hand was a pocket watch. She approached Gaeul with elegant steps that made her seem like she was on the runway. Gaeul looked around. A bipedal rabbit was walking straight across the set, but no one gave her a glance. That was a spirit, a devil, or perhaps the manifestation of her subconscious that only she could see.
“It’s break time, right?” said the rabbit while looking at the pocket watch.
Gaeul felt like there was some kind of plan inside the pocket watch that the rabbit was looking at.
“Can I leave for a bit?”
The director, who was talking to the designer, told her to take as long as she wants. Gaeul grabbed her skirt, which dragged against the ground, and left through the back of the set. The rabbit walked ahead of her as though she knew this building well. When she followed her, they arrived at the end of the corridor on the 3rd floor. There was a vending machine, a water dispenser, and a long bench with ripped faux leather. There weren’t any people around. A few steps away was an office filled with people moving busily, yet this place was quiet as though there was an invisible wall around this place. Gaeul bought a cup of hot chocolate before she sat down. While she had to avoid sugary food, she felt like she needed something sweet right now.
“The one-piece dress looks good on you. A light sky blue color suits you after all,” said the rabbit.
Gaeul put down the cup she was about to drink from and looked at the rabbit. The rabbit usually got straight to the point instead of complimenting her. Complimenting her from the get-go like this was almost unprecedented.
“Thanks. You look good in a tuxedo too.”
“I guess black suits me better than white after all.”
The rabbit lifted the vest of the suit with her front paw. So she can grab with those round paws — such a thought briefly passed through her mind.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened?” she asked while taking a sip of cocoa.
With some sugar in her system, she felt tired as though she entered a heated bathtub. A smile appeared on her face as well.
“I was wondering if you were doing well.”
“Where have you been? I thought you were always next to me.”
“I have my own circumstances too,” the rabbit said, her nose twitching.
The red eyes scanned the ceiling before looking back down again. Today, the rabbit was a little strange, actually, very strange from usual. She did not scold her like a teacher nor did she look at her like it was frustrating. In fact, she even felt like Choi Seol, who would often find her to complain about everyday life.
It felt hard not to ask. No matter how much she disliked the rabbit, it was the truth that she had gotten a lot of help from her. Other than matters related to Maru, the rabbit had always pointed her towards the right direction. She could do some consultations as payment for that. Though, she wondered how helpful she could be to this metaphysical being.
“Do you know about the story of a miser known as Scrooge?” the rabbit asked.
“I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone that doesn’t.”
“What did you think when you read about it?”
“Why do you ask so suddenly?”
“Nothing much. I had a read as well after a long time, the novel that is.”
The rabbit continued on to say that she didn’t have to answer if she didn’t want to. Gaeul looked at the rabbit’s drooping ears before speaking,
“I liked that story. That’s why I read it many times over. I’ve looked for both the translations that are true to the original story and also the one that was adapted for children. Whenever I read it, I think that Scrooge was kind and loyal to just one person.”
“You mean his friend Marley?”
“Yeah. It’s in the novel. He named his company after his friend and didn’t change it even after seven years. That must be why Marley visited Scrooge on Christmas Eve and gave him a warning that he couldn’t be like him.”
“The ghosts of the past, the present, and the future.”
The rabbit looked at the pocket watch. Gaeul wanted to look at what the watch looked like, but the rabbit quickly stowed it away. She clearly didn’t want her to see it.
“You think that the ghosts are Scrooge himself, right?”
Gaeul widened her eyes at the rabbit’s question. This happened before as well. It was as though the rabbit could visit the depths of her heart whenever she wished to, accurately pointing out what she never said before. Well, her very existence was beyond the scope of common sense, so reading the mind must be nothing. Considering that the rabbit was the manifestation of her subconscious, it was natural that she knew about it too.
“Right. I believe that the ghosts aren’t some kind of fairies of time with special duties, but Scrooge himself. I don’t know about the author’s intentions, but I like it better that way. It just means that your destiny is something you have to change on your own.”
“Do you know what a time paradox is?”
“There’s the matter with Scrooge as well, but aren’t you treating me too much like a fool? I was quite good at studying, you know? Even without studying, that much is common knowledge.”
“Then isn’t it a little strange for there to be a Scrooge in the past, the present, and the future? If the future changes because of that, then where do those ghosts go? Leaving aside the past and the present, what about the ghost that represents Scrooge’s unfortunate future? If that ghost is Scrooge himself, what kind of ending does that ghost meet if Scrooge escapes his unfortunate future?”
She couldn’t figure out the intentions behind that question. She and the rabbit weren’t some book discussion club members. She had never dug into questions like this too deeply. The rabbit’s pocket watch kept ticking Gaeul off. She felt like the start of these questions lay in that device.
“What do you think?”
For the first time since their conversation started, the rabbit looked at her straight in the eyes. She couldn’t open her mouth so easily. The red eyes looked somewhat desperate.
“Well, honestly, I’m not sure. I just believed that the story had a happy ending and didn’t think about anything else. But if I had to think about it, wouldn’t everyone be happy? It’ll be quite complicated if you dig deeper into the matter of the time paradox, but I don’t want to think about that. I just want to enjoy it as a story and accept it like that.”
She had a look at the rabbit’s eyes, but she could not read any emotions from them, even whether she liked or disliked the answer. An awkward silence filled the corridor. Gaeul looked at the empty cup. The black powder, which had yet to dissolve in the water was stuck on the inside of the cup, signified that the warm hot chocolate was there just before.
What did the rabbit want to say? Did she want to say that she was the ghost from the future? That was contradictory. The rabbit tried to provoke her pride in order to separate her from Maru. In the novel, the ghost came to Scrooge in order to guide him out of his tragic ending and down the right path. Following this logic, it would mean that separating from Maru will be the path to escape the bad ending. Gaeul couldn’t accept that. She believed that spending time with a loved one is the best form of happiness, even if that meant fighting, and sometimes even crying because of that. Her life with Han Maru was the most terrifying ending equivalent to the bitter death that Scrooge was originally heading towards? What did the rabbit truly want? She couldn’t answer that question no matter how hard she thought about it.
The rabbit stood up. The pocket watch shattered into gold light and disappeared. She took out a pair of round glasses from somewhere as well.
“Alice in Wonderland?”
Glasses, pocket watch, rabbit, suit. Actually, Gaeul thought about Alice in Wonderland when the rabbit was wearing a suit. The rabbit gently climbed down the bench. Then, she started humming. It was a familiar, yet completely different song. Gaeul watched the rabbit in a daze. The rabbit cheerfully hopped around the vending machine on top of the marble tiles like she was in a musical before stopping right in front of her. Although it was an extremely short time, Gaeul felt excited as though she had watched a musical for the first time in her life. She wanted to stand up and give a round of applause. She clapped a few times. The rabbit proficiently bowed as though she was used to this kind of compliment. The fluorescent light in the corridor felt like it had changed into a spotlight instead.
The rabbit raised her head. Just as she was about to say that it was an amazing performance, the rabbit spoke first. Her tone was slower and calmer than any other time.
“I am a rabbit, the clumsy guide that ends up taking Alice to a land of wonders. That blissful world is truly dramatic. Everything comes true, and everything is dynamic. But everything is just a dream once you wake up. So Alice must never….”
The rabbit disappeared. Gaeul looked at the empty corridor. Not long later, people flocked over. She was asked if she was Han Gaeul. She left the place with a smile. What did the rabbit want to say at the end? It was an unsolvable mystery.