The man tightened and loosened his fists several times to show that he was nervous.
The audience stopped chatting after seeing a new actor on stage.
“It might be a bit old-fashioned to say this, but our night is very long.
Take your time.”
When Ganghwan’s calm voice reverberated outwards, the people who were gathered around the stage took a step back.
A strange sense of tension spread around, making the audience breathe out carefully as they watched the man.
Maru crouched in a spot where he could see the man’s face from upfront.
Some of the people next to him crouched down as well.
Whether it was thanks to the heaters doing their job, or because people were flocking together, they weren’t shivering in the cold even though the night wind was pretty chilly.
After saying his first word with much difficulty, the man breathed out in nervousness before raising his head.
“I am a person who once wanted to become an actor.”
How much hesitation and worry he had leading up to the point when he said those words could be felt from his low voice and his twitching eyelids.
“When you say that, it sounds like you aren’t an actor now,” Ganghwan said in a calm voice.
The man looked at Ganghwan’s face once, then at the sky above the crowd before speaking.
“I’d call myself a half-actor.
No, at this point I’m confused whether there was a time I was even an actor at all.
Oh, before I tell you this, it’s an honor to meet you.
I enjoyed your plays.”
After seeing the man’s extended hand, Ganghwan shook his head before replying.
“I am a doctor.
I might be a quack doctor, but I’m a doctor that can listen to other people, and can only listen to other people.”
Sorry about that.”
A faint smile appeared on the man’s face.
He tried to relax his expression and look at the audience directly, but it didn’t seem to be that easy for him as his gaze was directed at the ground.
The shoes of the audience.
It seemed that that was the limit of how much he could look at the audience without becoming nervous.
“How old do I look?”
The man slowly raised his hand as he asked.
“There’s only a wall in front of us, but peculiarly, the wall is speaking.”
Hearing Ganghwan’s words, the people smiled and voiced their opinions.
“Maybe unexpectedly thirty-three?”
The man quietly answered that he was forty-one after listening to a few replies.
Ganghwan clapped after pointing towards the member of the audience who got it right.
“I was really nervous when I just came up on stage, but I feel okay now.
Maybe it’s because there aren’t any cameras here,” said the man as though he was talking to himself.
“In your eyes, what does forty-one years old mean to you?”
After a moment of silence, a member of the audience spoke.
He looked to be of similar age as the man on the stage.
“I think that it’s the age where you must look after your family,” that member of the audience spoke while looking at a small child in his arms.
There was a girl in his arms, dozing off.
“An age where you must act like you look!” Said a youth who seemed to be a college student.
“An age where you must see results from your work, whether it’s big or small,” said a middle-aged woman wearing a tiger-striped scarf.
The watch on her wrist seemed to be of considerable value.
The majority of the audience seemed to agree with that as they nodded.
Maru thought similarly.
Forty – it had a different feeling to thirty.
The man sitting in front of the audience nodded a couple of times.
“Yes, you’re all right.
It’s an age where you must act like you look, look after your family, and be responsible for your work.
Forty – I’ll call this age the age of responsibilities.
Responsibility, it’s a very difficult, unfamiliar, and perhaps scary, word to me.”
The man locked his hands and put them on his knees.
He gulped before continuing to speak with difficulty.
“I don’t have a family that I must protect.
Ah, both of my parents are alive.
The family I’m talking about here is a family headed by me.
I got married when I was 27.
Back then, I was doing all sorts of work: the petrol station, restaurants, and construction sites on the weekends if conditions allowed it.
I paid my semi-basement apartment rent and my living expenses with that money and spent the rest to apply to an acting school.
My wife really went through a lot back then.
I mean, obviously.
A young man who was supposed to be looking for a stable source of income was going around learning acting, of all things.”
The man stroked down his face before saying that he was rather embarrassed.
His beet-red face, as well as his pale lips, indicated his current mindset.
“My wife was a wise woman.
I was so pathetic and greedy that I ended up telling her that I wanted a child, but my smart wife told me that it wasn’t the right time yet.
Now that I think back, perhaps my wife saw through my true nature after marrying me.”
Even the slightest murmurs died down.
It was 10:32 in the night.
Despite the late hours, people did not leave.
In fact, more and more people were gathering.
A silent crowd of people was a really effective way of advertising.
“My wife worked for a pretty decent company.
Now that I think about it, I wonder why someone like her married someone like me.
Perhaps because we were both young, she might have found my challenging mindset attractive.
A year passed after our marriage.
I still had no job, and gathered money through part time jobs, and lived the same life while going to acting school.
When I came home, I ate the food that my wife made me, and we would talk about insignificant things and watch dramas together before going to sleep.
Then, another year passed.
My wife quietly brought up the topic of divorce.”
The man scratched his head before making a twisted expression and clenching his fists.
A scream that did not escape his throat was banging on his vocal cords right now.
“At that time, I took out my stamp from my pocket.
That’s right, from my pocket.
I didn’t put it anywhere else.
I always carried it with me.
I stamped the divorce papers without any difficulty, and we spent the divorce mediation period without any trouble.
Then, we became strangers.
There was no sadness, and there was no pity.
I wasn’t even qualified to feel something like that.
When I looked at my empty home, I finally realized why I always carried my stamp with me at all times.
I always had myself ready to run away – from my wife, who always consoled me with warm words and food; from my wife who always told me that it’s okay and cheered for me.
My guilty conscience, my apologetic feelings towards her made me stifled.”
The man breathed out nervously.
Maru frowned as he heard his story.
It wasn’t because that man was someone bad, or he pitied him.
It was a sense of déjà vu.
He felt as though he had seen this scene somewhere before.
If he was remembering a scene from his previous life, he wouldn’t have minded at all.
The problem was that this tenacious déjà vu, or rather, déjà vus, were overlapping with each other.
The figure of the man talking while wearing a red jumper, the figure of the man wearing a suit happily talking about his life, as well as the figure of the man grabbing the hand of a gentle-looking woman.
Maru clenched his teeth and pressed down on the side of his head.
He felt dizzy as though he was experiencing vertigo.
He pushed himself up against the ground with his hand and lowered his head.
The man in various expressions, clothes, and even situations had formed an angry wave and assaulted the ship that was his memory relentlessly.
Maru subconsciously scratched the asphalt to the point that his nails were breaking.
When he groaned in pain, someone sitting next to him asked if he was okay.
“Ah, yes I’m okay.”
After barely uttering those words while suppressing his pain, he stood up and staggered out of the crowd.
He left the crowd of people and took a deep breath.
When the cold air filled his lungs, the pain disappeared like it never happened.
The trace of the intense memories still remained in him, confusing Maru immensely over this situation.
He tried putting his hand under his clothes and reached towards his back.
In that short while, his t-shirt had been soaked with cold sweat.
‘Is this a type of memory confusion? A side effect of coming back to life, huh? I can’t even talk to someone else about this.’
The déjà vu that stirred his mind seemed to be a mistake caused by his memories.
But just in case, Maru decided to go to the hospital attached to Seoul National University next week.
After all, perhaps there really was a problem with his head and not just a weird side effect of supernatural powers.
He might have injured his head unknowing.
He tried running on the spot.
It seemed that there were no problems with his sense of balance.
Maru chuckled before returning to the crowd.
The man was holding a handkerchief.
It was a pretty one that looked like it didn’t belong to him.
He wiped his eyes with the handkerchief and apologized to the lady in front.
The handkerchief seemed to belong to her.
“Even after I separated from my wife, my life never changed.
I still wanted to become an actor.
After some time passed, I actually felt a load off my shoulders.
I escaped that responsibility I talked about at the beginning after all.
Then I became thirty.
I appeared in numerous works as extras and I even had some lines in a few dramas.
I was happy.
The dream of becoming an actor that I had since I was twenty, seemed to be coming true, and the ten years of nameless acting was over.
But, that was as how far as I got.
Minor role, minor role, and then a minor role.
There were numerous actors who were at my level, and there were even more who had a character.”
He laughed in self-loathing.
Maru felt a stinging sense of déjà vu again when he heard that laugh.
If he had seen this scene somewhere before, he wouldn’t even mind it, but the image popping up in his head was very detailed and was telling a different story about the man in front of him.
Was this how déjà vu worked? Maru closed his eyes before opening them again.
On top of the man, who was wearing worn-out clothes, was the same man, wearing a suit, faintly overlapped.
It was a scene straight out of a movie or something.
He closed his eyes once again.
When he opened them again, he could, fortunately, see the man living in reality this time.
At the same time, the sense of thick déjà vu disappeared.
Only one, true reality was in front of his eyes, being accepted by his eyes and brain.
‘Geez, this is just….’
Maru wanted to explain this situation to that woman and get some answers.
The woman that seemed to possess a beauty that seemed to be out of this world.
The woman that introduced herself as an angel, or perhaps the grim reaper, no, the one that didn’t care what Maru called her.
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