“Seonbae, you aren’t angry, are you?” Sora asked.

Ando, who sat next to her, also looked at him worriedly.

“No, it’s not like that.”

Maru felt that his answer was poor.
The last words he said to Joohyun were pretty aggressive.
The words he said were completely contrary to what was on his mind.
He felt like his mouth was beyond his control.

“I just felt so nervous as I kept talking to her.
I think maybe that’s why I sounded so stiff.”

“Was that what happened? I thought you got angry or something.
Your voice was really low and rough.
I was worried about you for a while.”


“So someone like you becomes nervous too?”

“I’m only human.
Of course I do.”

“That’s not an answer I like, but okay, let’s leave it at that.
You don’t look like you want to answer.
This quick-witted junior will stay quiet now.”

Sora grinned and no longer said anything.

The ceremony, which became heated along with the appearance of Joohyun, was brought to a close in an awkward fashion.
The important people from the host side had left already, so it ended with the host reading the closing comments.

Students exchanged words as they left the theater.
Most of them were talking about Joohyun.
As she left a deep impression, she would probably continue to be their conversation topic.

“Let’s leave too.
Oh, who’s going to take the plaque?” Sora asked as she held up the plaque.

“Don’t you think placing it in the clubroom is the best option?” Ando said.

When Sora glanced at him and said that she wanted to bring it home, Ando quickly took the plaque away from her.
Sora pouted.

“I can’t make a joke, can I?”

“You sound serious when you say things like that.”

I’ll make do with taking a photo of it and taking that home.
Oh, apparently, the prize money is going to come into my account.
I hope we get it early.”

Sora hummed and walked forward.
Ando shook his head and followed her.

As Maru was walking, he thought back to the recent conversation he had with Joohyun.
Her advice all came from her own experiences.
Even people with different ideals would respect her for her values, not be angry with her.
The more he thought about it, the more confused he became.
Why did he snap out at her when he had similar ideals as her?

There was a need to look back at his thought process.
He should be able to approach the essence of this problem if he thought about which part his reason was unable to retain control of himself.
At first, he had definitely accepted her words and was even impressed by them.
The part that changed him was as he had expected, when he heard the words ‘challenge’ and ‘adventure’.
He became more confused.
Why did he react so sensitively to the two words that he liked quite a lot?

As he was pondering, he got a call.
He looked at Sora and Ando before taking the call.

-It’s been a while since we last met, so let’s have a meal together.
Come with your friends.

It was from Joohyun.

* * *

“I’m not dreaming, am I?” Sora said as she sat down.

When he said that Joohyun invited them to a meal, Sora and Ando told him not to lie.
Maru gave them the phone while he was still on call with Joohyun, and having listened to Joohyun’s voice, the two people came to the restaurant in disbelief and in a daze.

“I’ve only seen this in movies,” Ando said as he slowly rotated the circular table.

Sora also agreed and started rotating the table.
When an employee came in with a bottle of water and some cups, the two people flinched and grabbed the table to stop it from spinning.

When the employee, who was wearing a Chinese dress, was placing the cups down, the door opened and Joohyun came in.

“Oh, the food isn’t here yet.
Will it come out soon?”

I will prepare them for eating immediately.”

The employee quietly closed the door and left.

“Oh, you’re the girl who asked me where the building I owned was,” Joohyun said with a smile to Sora, who was sitting opposite to her.

Having met Joohyun up close, Sora hid her usual cheeky side and just smiled.
Maru didn’t know if she was probing Joohyun out or whether she was really feeling shy.

Joohyun asked for the two’s names.
Ando and Sora introduced themselves.

“Kang Sora, Koo Ando.
I have a pretty good memory, so don’t forget to greet me the next time you see me.
But man, I’m so hungry after not eating anything since morning.
Moreover, I talked so much, so I’m running low on energy.”

“Was that event in your schedule from the beginning?” Maru asked.

Joohyun shook her head as she placed her cup against her mouth.

“Originally, senior Taeho was the one to do it, but somehow, I ended up going there.
That senior is really sneaky.
He tossed something so hard to me and left by himself.
If I think about it carefully though, I feel like I was fooled by your president into doing this, not him.”

“The president is here?”

“He came to the ceremony.
Seems like he took quite an interest.”

“Looks like it was pretty meaningful then.
Or maybe he was here to do business.”

“In my opinion, I felt like he came here to see you.”

“Me?” Maru questioned as he wiped his hand with a wet towel.

He wasn’t notified of anything like this beforehand.
Just then, they got their food.
It was pine nut porridge as an appetizer and some warm tea.

“Should we talk after we eat? You guys should eat a lot.
If you want more, tell me anytime,” Joohyun said.

When they finished about half of the porridge, other dishes were placed on the table.
While Joohyun said they should ask for more if they wanted to, there was an endless stream of dishes.
When the pieces of pineapple came out as dessert, Sora, who had a great appetite, gave up on finishing the meal.
The course meal was just that plentiful.

“That’s a lot better,” Joohyun said as she put down the teacup.

Maru also stroked his stomach.
Although he would usually finish a meal given to him for free, he decided to leave some behind for today.

“I can’t keep occupying busy people here.
Shall we go?”

Joohyun stood up first.
Sora looked like she wanted to talk more, but she left after reading the mood.

Just as Maru was about to follow Ando out, Joohyun called out to him and waved at him.
Maru told Ando and Sora, who were outside the room, to leave the restaurant first.

“What is it?”

“I’m not someone who likes leaving things on an awkward note.”

Maru could imagine what Joohyun had to say.

“You’re talking about what happened at the theater, right?”

You being cynical is not that rare, so I didn’t really care, but back then it was a bit different.
It even made me wonder if I did something wrong to you.”

Maru apologized first.
He wanted to explain why he became so emotional, but he couldn’t make others understand when he himself didn’t have a clear understanding.

“You didn’t know why you did that? I’m rather confused because that doesn’t sound like you.”

“You tell me.
I don’t even know why I felt so angry back there.
There was nothing in the things that you said that made me angry, but for some reason, anger got the better of me.
I did think about filtering my words calmly, but my mouth didn’t follow my intentions.
I was in a fix too.”

“Are you tired lately? I heard your president mention that you’re doing two dramas at once.”

“The schedule isn’t that tight, so I’m not that tired.
No, wait, I guess I don’t really know about that.
Perhaps I’m too tired to the point that I can’t judge my own condition properly.”

“It’s not easy to work while going to school.
Most people take time off classes and take remedial ones later, but it doesn’t look like you’re doing that.
Also, Bangjoo told me that you’re looking after the acting club quite a lot these days.”

“I felt like I was too detached when I was in my 2nd year.
I should at least act like a senior.”

“If it’s like that, I guess it isn’t strange for you to be exhausted mentally, even if you aren’t tired physically.
I’m not that worried since it’s you we’re talking about, but don’t miss the danger signals that your body is giving off.
Just because you’re young doesn’t mean that illnesses will purposely avoid you.”

“Yes, I’ll keep that in mind.”

Joohyun smiled faintly.

“Was I being too nosy? I’m not sure if it’s because of Bangjoo, but I feel like you’re a little brother of mine.
Bangjoo is the immature little brother, while you’re the reliable one.”

“Please treat me like that in the future too.
Teach me a lot, and treat me to a lot of good food.”

Joohyun approached him and patted him on the head before leaving.
Maru faintly smiled and touched his hair.
Even in terms of actual age, he was the little brother, so there should be nothing that awkward, but he felt strange for some reason.
He felt like he was consoled by someone much younger than him.

-She’s a good person.
There shouldn’t be that many people who look out for others so much just because they’re indebted.

The masked man, who had been silent until now, had spoken.
Maru inwardly spoke: is it because of you that I said all those words regardless of my intentions?

-If I had the power to do that, I would act like a villain from a movie and do all sorts of things in an attempt to take over your body.
From how such cliché things didn’t happen, it proves that I don’t have such amazing abilities.

“Then what are all the strange phenomenas that's been occurring around me recently? I’m guessing you know something about it.”

-Phenomenas, you say.
Are you talking about how you feel like someone completely different wrote your old diary or things like that?


-Well, I don’t really know either.

“You really won’t tell me anything other than things related to acting, huh.”

-That’s just how I am.
I am in an extremely limited position, so what I can say is very limited.
But isn’t that diary thing pretty common? Many people feel really unfamiliar with the photos they took when they were young.
Even photos feel like that, so old things you wrote must feel even more strange.

“It’s only been two years.
I don’t think my brain is so flawed that I won’t remember my personality from two years ago.”

-The person in the middle of the problem does not know what the problem is.

“You sound very suspicious.”

-There’s nothing to be suspicious about.
There are slight changes, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re in a hamster wheel.
Oh, no.
The fact that I can say this means that that time is coming close.

“That time?”

-Happy birthday.

The masked man left those words before disappearing into the dark.


He probed his memories, but there was no one around him who had a birthday in October.
Did that mean that the masked man’s birthday was in October? The clown who liked puzzles always disappeared after throwing out a question.
Would there ever come a day he says an answer?

“Han Maru?”

Joohyun, who was standing outside, looked at him in puzzlement.

“I just remembered something I forgot.
Sorry for dazing out.”

“Looks like you are tired.
Managing your body is a part of work.
If you want to be a long runner, you should watch out.”

Maru nodded.

* * *

Having returned home, Maru washed himself before sitting in front of the computer.
These days, there was something he did before opening his script.
It was the process of trying to understand his past while reading the diary he wrote before.
While the masked man spoke like it was nothing much, Maru was still concerned about the traces left by himself two years ago.
That was the age where people’s recognition of society solidified.
If he was actually a student, he would be able to accept the dramatic change in his personality in two years, but he was not a high school student.

“Why did I think like this?”

It felt new every time he read it.
It felt like reading an autobiography of someone else.
He had the memory of writing it, but the memory was superficial at best, so he couldn’t remember the emotions he had back then.
Where did the dramatic shift in his personality come from?

Maru compared the conversation he had with Joohyun during the day to the diary entries he wrote in the past.
Their ideals were surprisingly similar.
The elements shown in these entries showed how much he despised challenge and adventure, and how he was even disgusted by them.

“Something’s happening.”

Even a miracle known as coming back to life had a clear cause and an outcome.
The meaning of the ending lay in the beginning.
The opposite was true as well.
His past self from two years ago as well as the personality that suddenly protruded today could be classified into one.
This meant something simple.
What happened today wasn’t a sudden protrusion of emotions, it was the expression of emotions that he already possessed.

Maru wrote down the things he thought about.
He also wrote down the hypothesis that some of his memories might be missing.
When he put the final period and turned his head around….

That woman was sitting on his bed.

KTLChamber's Thoughts

Oh man, if this ends with Maru forgetting everything…
someone please add the 'tragedy' tag.

Editor's Note:
Why is future(?) past(?) Gaeul visiting him? Whose birthday is it? Will we get chad maru back? So many questions and no answers. 

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