Chapter 816.
Sequence 8

(WARNING: Self-Harm)

“I knew what lawsuits were like because there were people who were sued around me but experiencing it for myself was a completely different thing.
Being asked to show up once throws a wrench in your lifestyle.
But once or twice, it was endurable.
It was because I kept getting asked to show up that I became both mentally and physically exhausted.
I couldn’t delay my appearance forever, so I eventually had to go, and whenever I did, it was the same boring old investigation again.
At first, I was firm.
I didn’t have any physical evidence, but I had circumstantial evidence, so I believed that I would be able to change the heart of the investigators.
Of course, it didn’t take long for me to realize that it was a vain dream.”

She used her right hand to slowly massage her left wrist down to her elbow.
She looked as though she was consoling a stubborn child.

“People there are very knowledgeable about how to socially, physically, and mentally kill a person.
They kept sending me lawsuits, each time under a different name so that they couldn’t be classified together.
Among them, there were things that ended on the investigator’s level but there were things I was fined for.
That was the beginning.
People started nitpicking the articles I wrote while I worked as a journalist.
I was fired from my job and everyone I knew turned their backs on me, and there was no end to the lawsuits.
I couldn’t go to anyone for help.
They attacked me within the scope of the law after all.”

“Those people are meticulous.”

“I was blinded by my meager sense of justice.
I was an individual while my opponent was a colossal business company with a huge law firm protecting them.
No, it would probably have been the same if I fought Lee Miyoon as an individual.
That woman’s background is huge after all.
After that, I frequented the police station and frequently met with free attorneys.
Every day was hell.
I wished everything would come to an end, regardless of how it ended.”

She put out her left wrist.
Those were the scars that Maru intentionally averted his gaze from.
There was only one thing those thin horizontal lines signified.

“I didn’t even know I had depression.
I thought it was because of stress that I kept waking up at night.
It was the day after rain.
The sky was really clear, I felt really refreshed, and it was also the day I gained the courage to pick up a razor.
Regarding actress A, who I talked about earlier, I was wondering what kind of hardships must have driven her to give up on life and choose suicide, but I realized it wasn’t like that.
Like in my case, it was way too impulsive.
Slicing a line was hard, yet at the same time, it felt so charming.
It was one of the methods of ending this whole thing.
I was drunk on the feeling that I was choosing how I was living my life until the end and that I was not giving up.”

She put on a twisted smile.
Maru felt that it was about time to stop her.
Her words were driving herself into a corner.

“It’s okay if you don’t talk about it anymore.”

“No, hear me out until the end.
Whether it’s you or Dongwook-seonbae, I don’t think I’ll be able to say it if not today.
It’s difficult to even talk about it after all.
That’s why I’m going to say what happened to me very clearly.”

She kept massaging her left arm.
Just as her pain deepened as she continued to talk, Dongwook, who was listening from the side, was unable to keep his fingers still.
He looked like he was in dire need of some cigarettes.

“But I found out that not anyone can just slit their wrists.
Before I put it against my wrist, it felt like nothing, but the moment the blade touched me, I felt like I was flipped over.
This is the result.
I was neither able to go forward nor run away and was only left with this wound.
I heard before that if you really want to die, you have to slit it vertically, not horizontally.
I knew that yet I slit myself horizontally.
I was hesitating until the very end.”

“You gained courage.
The courage to keep on living.”

“Thanks for telling me that.
Like that, a few months passed.
The lawsuits disappeared as though they never happened.
The people who were out to devour me before all suddenly started smiling at me and told me that it was all part of the experience.
They probably thought that they tamed me.
I had nothing left.
I lost my job and my health.
The money I had saved up had halved when I paid all those fines.
When I saw the people I trusted turn their backs on me once, I lost all faith in humanity.
I was really unable to do anything.
I stayed at home by myself without even turning the lights on.
I couldn’t die, and I couldn’t fight back properly.
So what in the world could I do? I spent a week like that.
After a period of despair came the period of acceptance, and after even that passed, I just gave up on everything.
I had nothing to lose, so I might as well cause a scene – that thought suddenly came to me.”

She drank a sip of the juice.
After taking a breather, she put on a vain smile and continued speaking,

“I was contacted by the actress who ran away.
I know I shouldn’t say this, but I wanted to kill her.
I couldn’t forgive the woman who deceived me and turned me into who I became.
But you know what’s funny? I ended up negotiating with her and said that nothing happened between us.
After settling the deal that we will not get involved in each other’s lives, I received this store.
It was a strange thing.
I thought about trying to make everything public with the power of the internet and just forget about it, but they approached me right at that time.
I’m pathetic, aren’t I? In the end, I’m just the same as that girl.”

“Anyone would’ve done the same.”

Choi Miyeon heaved a deep sigh before looking at Dongwook.
Dongwook was staring at the table while pressing on his forehead.
It looked as though he was having a hard time meeting her eyes.

Don’t you dare do it.
You were right back then.
That wasn’t something I should have challenged myself with my meager journalist spirit.
It wasn’t something that anyone could do.
It would’ve been better if I listened to you five years ago and gave up on it.”

She looked like she didn’t even have any energy to cry.
She stood up, saying that she was done talking.
After watching her trim a bouquet as though nothing had happened, Maru stood up.

“I’ll come again later to buy flowers.
Please recommend a pretty one to me.”

Come anytime.
I’ll probably stay here.
It’s not like I have anywhere to go now.”

Those words sounded sad.
After leaving a short goodbye greeting, Maru left the store first.
It was a complex thing.
He even wanted to applaud those people for so cleanly using social infrastructure to trample on a person’s life.
This didn’t seem to be the doing of Lee Miyoon, who tended to look down on people up front.
Hong Janghae popped up in his mind.
The face he only saw through magazines had a fishy smile on his face in his imagination.
Was that person, who possessed the meticulousness of being indiscriminately violent to the second son he had perfect control over while not touching a single hair on the first son that had left, the perpetrator behind this incident?

Maru looked at the store sign.
When the rat driven into a corner started showing signs of biting back, they immediately opened up a hole in the flawless siege for her to escape so that she had no choice but to leave through that opening even while shuddering in a sense of tragedy.
Hong Janghae should know from experience that those who were snapped once would not be able to lift their heads up again, just like his son.
If Hong Janghae was truly the perpetrator behind this incident, it went to show that he was an incredibly hard man to oppose indeed.
Those with both political and financial power as well as the ability to abandon things at the right time will never show their tail after all.

Dongwook left the store about 10 minutes later.
It seemed that there were things he had to talk about with his junior.
He saw Choi Miyeon clasping her hands into a praying position and putting her face against her hands in front of the window.

He got into the car.
Dongwook said that he was going to smoke before they departed.

“Looks like this is the first time you heard about it as well.”

She didn’t say anything until now.
The only thing I knew was that she attempted to commit suicide because of severe depression.
I thought that digging YM’s back must have put her in that state, but she denied it until the end.
It seems she was afraid that I would get myself involved.”

“Do you think she’s going to be okay? She still looks rather uneasy.”

“She has gotten okay now.
Three months ago, she wasn’t even willing to see other people.
I barely managed to see her too.
The only solution is time, I guess.
She’s also undergoing psychotherapy and medical treatment, so I believe she’s going to get well.
I’ll look out for her, so the things that happened before will not occur again.”

Dongwook stuck his head out the window and spat out some smoke.

“If she got paid through the runaway actress then it would be hard to find any connections to Lee Miyoon or Hong Janghae too.”

If we can find that actress, I would look for a way, but she probably disappeared.
Thinking about it now, I think that actress revealed herself on purpose.
She probably struck a deal with Lee Miyoon or Hong Janghae or any other parties that I don’t know of and aimed for journalists that approached her or those who can’t keep secrets.
She’s in charge of cutting off anyone so that that matter doesn’t get exposed to the public.”

“That’s true.
The fact that she was aware of journalist Choi’s situation as well as the fact that she contacted her at the most crucial time all point towards that.”

“I should have stopped her more thoroughly.
Journalists with a solid background are fully capable of protecting themselves even if they get deeply involved but individuals who leave the TV stations to work as freelance journalists for magazines can do nothing but become prey.
I was too complacent.
I underestimated her.
I thought she’d take her hands off it once she realized that what she was dealing with was explosive.
I didn’t think she’d look directly into it.”

“You can’t look into a person’s heart.
Even if you tried to stop her, she probably would have gone as far as she did.
She’s the kind of person who had to check for herself that she would reach a cliff.”

Dongwook threw the cigarette filter in his mouth out the window.
After watching the store for a while, Dongwook reached inside his pocket and took out his pack of cigarettes and his lighter.

“Hey, can I feed your trash can?”

“Are you going to throw them away?”

My mouth doesn’t feel itchy anymore.
I should throw away things I don’t need.”

“You aren’t going to try to investigate, are you?”

“I’m someone who writes on a chair for money.
It’s been a long time since I used my own feet to go around looking for materials.
Above all, I’m a self-preservationist, so I will never do something dangerous.
Even if I was paid all the money in the world, I have the iron rule of not getting involved with dangerous stuff.”

Dongwook crushed the pack of cigarettes.

“Be careful.”

“I told you I’m not going to do anything.”

“I didn’t mean anything when I said that either.”

Dongwook fixed his gaze on the flower store and spoke,

“She was an annoyingly bold junior.
She looked like she would be able to win against anything she experienced.
But the Choi Miyeon I met three months ago wasn’t the one I knew.
She tensed up at the sound of the glass hitting the table, and her shoulder shriveled up just by someone walking past her.
She was someone who never stayed low in front of senior journalists… she was someone who would smile even while getting insults….”

Maru wasn’t able to say anything to Dongwoo, who stayed quiet with a faint smile on his face.

“Shall we go for a drink?”

I think we should.”

Maru started the car.

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