Chapter 30: Chapter 30
Should I keep on talking? I asked that to myself; however, I already knew that I had no way of answering that. I just wanted to say what I saw and how I felt. To whoever in this world, I wanted to let my voice out. Therefore, I began talking again.
“I called all four of you as well… Three of them were not in service. One of you answered though, and as soon as the call pulled through, someone showered abuses at me. That was your number, but the person who picked up the phone seemed to be unknown to both of us. I… I… stood still in the middle of the chaos… Then I remembered how I went to each of your houses before. Eun Jiho’s house is only a 10-minute walk from my house… You know, that luxurious mansion. It was cold since my jacket was unzipped and I was only wearing some random slippers. Still, I didn’t want to go back to my house. All I could think about was to check things out ASAP. Is Eun Jiho’s mansion still existing in this world…? I mean, is the world I’m in right now belongs to the same world that existed before I fell asleep?”
“The area where Eun Jiho’s mansion should be located had a ruined house in its place. He would not live in such a place, so… Next, I took the subway for an hour to go to Chun Young and your place. When I went out of the station, it was already too dark. The house where you guys were supposed to live in… Well, when I got there it was a construction site! You know, like steel scaffolding gathered all around covered with green tents on top and wooden boards scattered everywhere. As I looked at them…”
I bit my lips hard. A teardrop slowly rolled down on my cheek. I flapped my wet lashes twice and raised my head at a slow pace.
The rain was gradually subsiding. As the sun came up, my room got brighter than before.
Eun Hyung still did not say a word. I heard no more rattling sound as well. There were some random clattering sounds, which seemed to come from the noises of someone typing on a keyboard. It was, however, less heard than before.
Since I remained silent for a while, Eun Hyung broke the ice.
“… What about Jooin’s house?”
“Only Jooin’s house was the same. It was exactly the place where he lived, but I didn’t ring the bell.”
I blinked my eyes slowly and clenched my fist again. Then I answered, “What if only the exterior was the same and someone else was living there…? If I did ring the bell and a stranger popped out… then there would absolutely be no trace of all you guys remaining in this world.”
“I didn’t want to check it anymore, so I just waited in front of the door. It was so cold outside and I fell asleep. When I woke up again…”
Yeah. I heard a faint response through the phone. I closed my eyes firmly. The tears hanging on my chin fell onto my gray t-shirt. I then spoke.
“Jooin was asking me what I was doing here… and I… I thought I was dreaming again…”
“Eun Jiho scolded me as to why I would need a phone if I was behaving like this. I could have called Jooin, but why I was acting miserably in front of his house…? You know, he browbeat me into terminating my phone service because he said it was a waste of money for me.”
Yeah. I heard the same response again. His voice was even lower than before. I tried to move my lips to continue my words, but instead, I closed my eyes tightly to shed the tears filling my eyes.
As I opened my lips, it seemed like my voice was coming out of my heart. Telling my story was that difficult. My lips were trembling. I continued,
“How… how could I dial the numbers? None of them existed. They were all out of service, so how could I? Was I stupid? Why would I do something like that in front of his house when I had a phone with me…”
“It couldn’t be helped… for real.”
Eun Hyung did not say anything.
* * *
Kwon Eun Hyung could say anything at all. The creamy curtains were flecked with the shadows of the raindrops. It was still raining outside.
That was why Kwon Eun Hyung could not escape from the depressed and lethargic mood since early in the morning and why Yoo Chun Young came over his house.
Both Yoo Chun Young’s room and Kwon Eun Hyung’s house were located within the same area, so it took less than 3 minutes to walk from one another.
Yoo Chun Young, who was fully aware of the incident back then, visited his house to soothe Kwon Eun Hyung on rainy days. They were not doing something special. Just being together inside the same place, that was all.
Kwon Eun Hyung remained silent while holding his phone for a moment and looked at Yoo Chun Young thoughtlessly.
Yoo Chun Young was reclining on the computer chair languidly. His hands were laid on the keyboard were still. How long had they been like that? Kwon Eun Hyung thought with his eyes on Yoo Chun Young’s hands.
Other characters inside the monitor were busily moving around except Yoo Chun Young’s character, which was standing still in the middle.
Since the user did not command anything, his character was breathing in and out alone in the middle of the battlefield. Yoo Chun Young, who was sitting in front, looked exceptionally pale in the monitor light.
Kwon Eun Hyung made a rough guess after looking at Yoo Chun Young’s face. Ever since he spoke through the phone with Ham Donnie, Yoo Chun Young’s hands on the keyboard slowed down, although it was not completely on hold. However, the moment Ham Donnie made a decisive remark, his hands refused to move altogether.
Kwon Eun Hyung glanced at the monitor with his phone still in his ear. Since promptness was Yoo Chun Young’s strength, it was a bit strange that he did not finish a single game yet. It sure was an odd thing to see. While playing the game, Yoo Chun Young had his ears on Kwon Eun Hyung and Ham Donnie’s chat through the phone. His eyes were locked on Eun Hyung.
He was sitting on the computer chair like a stone and stared at Kwon Eun Hyung with his unique blue eyes as if he was seeing through him. While looking at Yoo Chun Young, Kwon Eun Hyung slowly breathed out. There were signals of disconnection ringing in his ears. Donnie had hung up the phone.
Kwon Eun Hyung was lost in thought. Ham Donnie brought up the incident that happened a year ago today. Exactly 365 days ago, Ham Donnie had to fight against her own fears in solitude, locking the secret inside her.
It would have made her feel better to just confide her stories, but now it was apparent why she could not do so.
How could she? The story might sound preposterous and surreal to anyone listening.
Not only in the case of other people but Kwon Eun Hyung might also hang up the phone and regarding what he had heard as a lie if the caller was not Donnie. He thought about her on that day.
Yeah, she was quite weird. Especially the fact that she was sitting in front of Jooin’s house like a hobo instead of giving a call. Her phone hadn’t run out of batteries, so the whole situation seemed odd just by looking at it.
In those days, he considered that there could be other reasons for her behavior. When everyone gathered inside Jooin’s house, Eun Hyung, however, overlooked Donnie’s behavior by thinking that ‘things seem fine now.’ She was sitting on a red couch in the living room while holding a steaming cup in both her hands. Eun Hyung watched her smiling out of relief eventually, so he passed the little details that drove her insane. That could have been the problem.
Since she struck up a surreal story at last with, although she did so with difficulty, Ham Donnie might have expected his reactions to being ‘Don’t lie’ or ‘You might have had a very hard time’. She would have wanted to hear his sincere reactions and pick between the two. Ham Donnie, however, did not wait for the response. She just hung up the phone.
Before, he heard a tearful faint voice that went on and off through the phone. He could then conclude that the reason why she just hung up without listening to his response was that she did not want him to hear her crying.
Kwon Eun Hyung’s room was drowned beneath a heavy silence. The rain that was tapering off and the sun that rose through the clouds outside the cream curtained window was shooting the faint light of the morning. Kwon Eun Hyung perched on his bed for a moment before heading towards the window.
As he drew the curtains aside, the sky covered with long gray clouds came into his eyes. The rays of the sun were blazing down on their garden like columns through the gap between the dark gray clouds.
While Kwon Eun Hyung gazed at the scenery with dim eyes, Chun Young Yoo remained silent. His character inside the monitor was now dead and sprawling out on the ground. Yoo Chun Young’s jet-black hair was dyed blue under the bright sunlight.
As Kwon Eun Hyung stared at Yoo Chun Young while leaning on the window, he finally spoke.
“Did you hear everything?”
His voice that broke the silence cooled the air like freezing drops of water.
Yoo Chun Young diverted his gaze at the floor with downcasted eyes and slowly lifted his head. His black hair gently swayed.
Chun Young replied, “Because the call was too loud.”
“If you focused on the game, you wouldn’t have heard what we were talking about from the game noise.”
Eun Hyung expressed indirectly how Chun Young could hear everything that went through the phone.