“Yes, thirty-seven.”

-That sounds like an unfortunate age to die.

“Is there an age that’s not unfortunate to die? Whether you’re seventy, eighty, or even ninety, there is no good age to die.”

-That is true.
But still, you were very young.
If you were in your late thirties, isn’t that around the time when you find your place in society and get acknowledged?

“Now, you just had to poke where it hurts fully knowing what kind of life I’ve led.
Why would a single man have a family?”

-Didn’t you have children?

“What children.
I didn’t even get married.
Rather than that, you’re kinda suspicious when talking about obvious things.
You can see in my head, so why are you saying such a thing? If you were trying to toy with me, congratulations, you have pissed me off.
It isn’t just old single women who can become mad.”

-I can read your thoughts, but that doesn’t mean I know all of your history.
Why didn’t you get married? Being a bus driver might have been hard, but the pay should have been decent.

“Can you get married by yourself? People live alone because they don’t find a suitable partner.”

-So you didn’t have a partner.
How unfortunate.
But then, why didn’t you have a partner?

“How would I know? I might not have recognized my partner predestined by the heavens, or perhaps I might not have been so hung up on marriage.
If I think about it, I feel like it kinda got glossed over since my parents didn’t say anything about it.
If they urged me, maybe I would’ve gotten married, even if it was through a mediator.”

-Did you not have a lady you liked?

“Why are you so interested in someone else’s love life?”

-Because nothing’s more fun than love stories.

“Then why don’t we talk about your love life? I like listening too.”

The masked man raised his chin slightly.
The light reflecting off the smooth mask hit Maru’s eyes.
Maru frowned slightly and waited for the answer.

-Very well.
It’s nothing that interesting, but I will tell you.
But as compensation….

“I will also talk about my uninteresting love.”

-It’s always good to talk to a person who I can get through to.
Don’t you think so too?

“Well, I can’t really look into your head.
I’m not sure whether I’m getting through to you or you’re just reading my mind, so it’s not that entirely enjoyable.”

-If possible, I want to show you what’s inside my head.

The masked man spoke as he tapped on his head.
Maru just sighed.

“Why don’t you get on with the talk already? I’m curious as well.
Just what is the identity of the person living inside me? Why does it have to be me of all people? Is it an effect of traveling to the past? Or did my personality divide like it’s some mental disease? I want to know all of it.”

-You have a lot of questions after all.
Unfortunately, my story will not be an answer to your questions.
It’s just the story of an uninteresting love.

The lights on the stage focused on the masked man.
The man stood up from his seat.
He reached out to the ceiling and started speaking in a low voice,

-She was a peculiar person.

“Do you have to lower your voice like that?”

-Just think of it as watching a musical.
Isn’t this more enjoyable?

Maru didn’t speak.
It wasn’t like this man would listen to him even if he told him not to.
He grabbed empty air as though he was chasing something.
He looked rather pitiful.

-Her profession was an actress.
Not a famous one though.
She belonged to a theater troupe that sold its tickets decently in Daehak-ro.
The first time I met her was in a restaurant.
I was a college student, and I was working in a barbecue restaurant in Daehak-ro to earn money for tuition along with a friend of mine.
It was an incredibly busy restaurant known for its taste.
She came to the restaurant a week after I started working there.
She brought a friend of hers as well.
Actually, I don’t remember the first time we met.
After all, Daehak-ro is a place where many young and pretty ladies visit.
Our first meeting was nothing special.
I think she smiled at me and said ‘thank you for the food’ as she paid the bill, but honestly speaking, I don’t know if that was her or not.

“So it wasn’t a dramatic meeting or anything.”

-Don’t you think living like a drama is actually quite tragic? Characters in dramas always encounter trials.
For example, the character might turn out to be an illegitimate child of someone well-known, a friend might be a foe, or you might be surrounded by enemies.
Generally speaking, people would have tried to run away from such a situation.
The only reason the main characters can face the depressing reality that seems devoid of hope is because there’s already a predetermined happy ending.
Is there anything more horrific than running a marathon where you can’t see the end? If a person in reality lived like the protagonist of a drama, they might have fainted from just breathing.

Life is where accidents and incidents happen every single day.
If you think about it, being a drama protagonist isn’t such a charming life.”

-A lady who went to the psychotherapist asked for consultation because her life was too dramatic.
The doctor kept consulting her, and one day, the lady said these words: doctor, life is a series of ordinary incidents, huh.
Then the doctor replied to her: congratulations, you’ve been cured.

Maru smiled faintly.
Everyone sometimes dreamed of the extraordinary, but they probably did not dream of the extraordinary to become ordinary.
Escaping from reality was only exciting if it was a one-off thing.
If it became a part of life, it would be a pain to deal with.

-Returning to the topic at hand, I saw her about two more times while working.
I remember our third meeting clearly.
That was when I fell in love with her after all.
The event went like this.
She said to the auntie carrying side dishes: give that to me, I’ll do it.
Nothing special, isn’t it? But to my eyes, she looked so beautiful.

“Doesn’t it start like that for everyone?”

-Yes, it might start like that for everyone.
We aren’t characters in a drama after all.
I just couldn’t work properly because of the woman who smiled so gently.
Even as I cleaned the tables, I chased her with my eyes.
That’s when I decided.
The next time she visits this restaurant, I should try talking to her.

“You lack courage for being a man.”

-Yes, I’m a coward.
But that was still as much courage as I could muster.
If I didn’t fall for her, I wouldn’t have even tried talking to her.

“So, did you talk to that girl?”

The masked man shook his head.

-She never made another visit.
Just like that.
Ever since I made my resolution, I kept staring at the door, waiting for that woman to come in, but she didn’t.
It was frustrating.
Ah, I should have asked for her number at least – I regretted that as I continued working there.

“You never thought about looking for her?”


“You’re starting to lose credibility that you fell for her at first sight.”

-I must have been just that cowardly.
I only fantasize about it in my head.
Can I find her? If I find her, will that change anything? What if I get ignored? Then I just came to accept myself.
Ah, it would never have come to fruition anyway.

“How pathetic.”

Despite that, I kept working there, looking at the entrance, wondering that maybe, that woman would open the door and visit again.
A month passed like that.

The masked man shrugged.

“So you worked there for a whole month?”


“That’s incredible in one sense.
I wouldn’t have done that.
Whether it’s love or loss, it only begins once you start taking action.
If you stay still in one spot, the only thing that remains is the regret of not having done anything.”

-You’re entirely right.
I thought that in my head as well – I must look for her before I regret it.
But it was hard to put it into action.
I did have the will to do it, but I kept hesitating.
I kept looking for a reason that I wasn’t able to do so, persuaded myself, and well, spent a month like that.
Do I look like a stupid person now?

“You do.
But I do understand you.”

-I knew you’d understand.
Of course you would.

The masked man chuckled as he covered the red-painted lips on the mask.

-Her face, which I could swear I could draw on a piece of paper, became blurred after a month.
Inside, I thought about numerous reasons why she and I would never be a thing and I leaned towards giving up.
I felt a little depressed as well.
Was I so pathetic that I can’t say a word to the woman I fell for?

“So, did that girl return to the restaurant?”

We met outside; in Hyehwa station.
I was walking towards the station to go home, and her face suddenly appeared when I went down the stairs.
She was with a friend and was wearing a white scarf.
I didn’t think about anything back then.
She was laughing with her friends as though she was talking about something funny.

The man stood upright.

-I froze then and there.
Maybe it was the cold wind.
I was frozen stiff like an icicle beneath the roof right on her path.
The distance between us kept shrinking, and eventually, she walked past me.

“Did you just send her off like that?”

-I was going to.
She was with her friends, and if I had the guts to talk to her so openly in the middle of the street, I would have done so already back at the restaurant.
According to my personality, it was nonsensical that I would take action in that situation.
But when I came to myself, I was standing in front of her.
My vision turned pure white and my head became empty.
Her friends whispered among themselves and she looked at me, but I was frozen stiff, looking dazed.
It was the perfect situation to be treated like a psychopath.

“So, what did you do?”

-I said my name.
A self-introduction, perhaps.
I fell for you, please tell me your name, I want to talk to you – I wasn’t able to say anything constructive like that, so I just said my name.
Hello, I’m Masked man.

“It wouldn’t be strange if you got ignored.”

Even if she snorted at me and just walked by, it wouldn’t have been that surprising.
But that woman told me her name just like I did.
She also added that I should maybe add what business I had with her next time.

“Sounds like she’s a bold girl who’s wasted on you.”

-You’re right.
She’s endlessly wasted on me.

“So, how did it turn out?”

-It seems like she liked the immature-looking side of me.
After that, we met a couple of times.
Our dating location was always the theater.
For me, who worked near Daehak-ro but have never seen a play before, it was a fresh experience.
And eventually, I had this thought.
What would it feel like to stand on stage with her? Ever since I had that thought, I made the most impulsive decision in my life.
I quit college and jumped into the acting life.

“That’s a little too courageous for a man who couldn’t even talk to a girl.”

-I was half crazy after all, for her, that is.
Well, I guess this would be boasting, but I did pretty decently at acting.
I won a minor character role in the first audition I ever took to gain some experience, and through that, I kept working as an actor.
She worked in the theater area, while I worked in films.

“I see.”

-Those were good days.
We rented a small semi-basement and started living together.
When I returned after shoots, she would be sleeping, and I would lie down next to her and chuckle.
I thought it was a dream.
I wondered if I could be so happy.
Back then, I won a supporting role in a commercial movie, and she was pregnant with my child.
The movie did pretty decently, and she gave birth to a healthy girl.
Our parents met each other with the grandchild.
We were scolded a lot, but we managed to get married with the blessings of our parents.
I gained a decent amount of money through commercials and dramas, so we left that basement and got an apartment.
She, who left the theater troupe after getting pregnant, started working as a local acting teacher in the neighborhood.
When I didn’t have work, I would watch over the child, and in the opposite case, she would look after the child.
Every day was a blessing.

The masked man stopped talking.
Maru could tell that he was making a warm smile.
He couldn’t see the face behind that mask, but from the way he acted, as well as the atmosphere, everything was pointed towards the word ‘happiness’.

“Must have been good.”

We couldn’t be happier.

Maru sighed softly.

“But the fact that you are in that shape means that she is no longer of the living, right? Or maybe I became crazy and created an ego who could create a story like this.”

The masked man shrugged.

-You can make a judgement after you listen to the story until the end.
Though, like I said, it is nothing special.

KTLChamber's Thoughts

Now I get why the inner Maru is wearing a mask….
and is asking all those questions.

He's the same as us readers.


Editor's Note:
Not like this.
Interesting that Masked Maru's life was so different tho.
Even with memories, I thought they'd be similar.
Though, the just giving a self introduction is the same lul. 

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