Chapter 171

“Alright, see ya.”

“See you.”

Maru pedalled towards the market on his bike. The two of them used to hang out with Dojin after school all the time, but nowadays it was a lot harder to catch a glimpse of the boy. It looked like he chose to continue working part-time at Iseul’s store even after school started. Something about him volunteering to help when Iseul’s dad became sick? It looked like Iseul “gave up” under his persistence, she did look incredibly happy about it though. In any case, Daemyung started riding the bus home by him lonesome because of it. He said he was fine, but he did seem pretty lonely.

Maru bought some pork belly, lettuce, and perilla leaves from the market according to Bada’s request.

‘I wonder what would happen if my relationship with Bada keeps going like this.’

In the future, his sister divorces. He doesn’t remember much about her, but he knew at least that much. His past self barely ever talked with his sister, to the point where he only learned of this information through his parents. Divorces are like a world-shaking event to a family. They do happen surprisingly frequently in the modern age, but it didn’t make it any less difficult to deal with. Maru thought the fault was with himself. Just how untrustworthy did he seem to her, if she didn’t even bother contacting him?

‘Troubles persist.’

He’s gotten closer with his sister, he managed to meet ‘her’ several years earlier than they originally had, he made new relationships and broke old ones, things no longer follow their original path. They say even a flap of a butterfly’s wings could turn into a storm on the other side of the planet. How would these changes in the past affect the future?

Of course, Maru came to a conclusion about this already. He wouldn’t know until that moment actually came. In the end, the train of life never informs you of your stop before your arrival. This was both terrifying, but it was also a sign that there was an infinite number of possibilities he could choose from. Possibilities that differ from being something other than just a simple bus driver.

“Can’t help but be worried about it.”

Maru spoke to himself after parking his bike next to the apartment. He knew the answer already. Although he wouldn’t know until it actually happened, he just couldn’t help but be nervous because he already knew one of the numerous futures. One of those futures was about Geunseok, he never recalled seeing Geunseok being an actor in the future. Perhaps the actor ‘Geunseok’ existed, but he just didn’t hear about it. That possibility immediately disappeared when he recalled Geunsoo’s interview. The man mentioned his younger brother to be a normal office worker in the interview.

Right now in the present, Geunseok made a deal with Junmin. He’d be going into university as long as things go well. Objectively speaking, the boy was good at acting. Good actors sucked you into their world. Geunseok wasn’t that great, but at least he wasn’t awkward. He didn’t suck you into his own world, but at least he managed to act in his own world perfectly.

Junmin did make it clear back then, the man wasn’t doing charity work. Junmin probably was a fan of the idea of signing two famous actor brothers. If Geunseok just stayed on this path and debuted in a decent film, he would make a good actor… so why did the boy become an office worker? Maru thought of the past as he walked upstairs.

‘Is it me?’

During the summer competition, the boy made a terrible mistake, which cost them their chance at the nationals. The acting club afterwards was a total piece of work, everyone was just busy licking each other’s wounds. Everyone knew that something was wrong with the club, but no one wanted to admit it. That’s when Maru sacrificed himself for the sake of the club. He wasn’t interested in acting and he didn’t care even if they talked behind his back. If he really did care, he would’ve dealt with the situation in another way.

In any case, things finished off well enough. The acting club got together once they had a common enemy, they then went to the college competition and claimed victory. Geunseok regained his confidence and the acting club, its energy. If Maru didn’t get involved then… Geunseok was a kid who only sought compliments. Would the boy have been able to take it if he could only watch as the club crumbled to the ground because of him? Geunsoo told Maru before that Geunseok fell apart after getting a bad grade for the first time, the boy probably hated being in the club back then.

That’s probably when he gave up. To save his pride, he might’ve just switched over to studying instead. It made sense, Maru nodded to himself as he opened the door. His sister said something to him as he walked in, he couldn’t hear her. He briefly greeted her as he threw his bag into his room.

‘There’s a chance that Geunseok becomes an actor.’

Was this a good thing? Maru couldn’t tell right now, but he would be impacting the future greatly if Geunseok ends up becoming famous because of this.

‘No, no.’

The woman who introduced herself as an angel said that there were multiple timelines. Just as how Maru may be alive in this timeline, there exists another timeline where Maru was dead. Then “changing the future” wasn’t the right term to use here, only Maru knew of the future where Geunseok doesn’t become an actor. Since the future was still a realm of the unknown, it might be better to say he was just “suggesting” a possibility.

A person’s action can change a person’s future completely, Maru thought back on how much he’s influenced other people thus far. He did have several advantages compared to others. His knowledge, experience, and the abilities god gave him. Using these would give him more possibilities to choose from for sure.

That’s when he thought. Was it okay to live like this? There were definitely people whose lives were influenced by Maru. Most of the time, he’s only worked to push people around him in the right direction. But what if this was the wrong thing to do?

‘There were no issues when I just thought about myself either.’

When Maru was working hard for his family’s safety and his own success, he didn’t even have the time to think about things like this. With more time on his hands now, his mind drifted towards more ‘useless’ subjects. Sadly, they weren’t issues he could just ignore either. He knew god existed and he knew that this god cared about stuff like this. He didn’t want to get punished after death for screwing over other people’s lives.

This was the reason why Maru started looking into churches and temples as of late. He used to believe that religion was a product of a lack of knowledge, but now that he knew god did exist… Should he just worship all of the gods he could find?

“Hah.”

He didn’t know what to do, he was kind of amazed that he was able to go through high school without thinking in his past life. Maru grabbed his book, shedding away all other thoughts. ‘Twilight Struggles’. Reading it made him distrust humans quite a bit, which was annoying, but at least the book provided something to focus on. Just as he opened the first page of the book, he heard the door to his room open. Come to think of it, it was dinnertime. His parents went down south to commemorate his maternal grandmother’s death. They said they’d come back in the morning, so dinner was up to the two of them.

“I’ll cook some meat for you, so just hold on.”

That was when Maru remembered the pork belly inside his bag. If he washes the lettuce and perilla leaves and makes doenjang soup…

“Alright, I’ll leave it to you, then.”

The voice that came from behind him wasn’t Bada’s, Maru turned around with a surprised look. Gray shirt and jeans, it was ‘her’. Maru blinked a few times. Was he dreaming? What was happening?

“What are you doing? Bada’s hungry, you know.”

“Brooo! Meat! Meat!”

He could hear Bada outside, he wasn’t dreaming. He got up from his chair awkwardly, she stepped towards him lightly.

“Why are you looking so dumb?”

“This is our house, right?”

“Yeah.”

“So why...”

“Broo! Meat!”

Bada’s voice was getting louder by the second. For now, he walked out to the kitchen with her. What in the world was happening? She was acting like she totally owned the place.

“I asked her to come.”

Bada’s explanation was all he needed to understand, he still didn’t get it though. Were these two always this close? They were acting practically like sisters. She continued to explain what was happening.

“You remember that fruit basket you gave me?”

“Oh, that?”

“Mom said it’d be rude to just take something like that without giving anything back.”

She pointed her finger towards the sink, there was a pot he hadn’t seen before. Inside, he found beef rib stew.

“My mom’s really good at making beef ribs.”

‘Ah, I know.’

Maru was still in a state of shock. He wanted to ask a lot more questions, but for now, he started grilling meat for his hungry sister.

“You came to give us that? How did you know I even lived here?”

“I was calling Bada. She asked me to come, so I did.”

“Mom and dad aren’t here, so I told her to come. I did a good job, right?”

His sister grinned playfully. Since when was the girl this cute? He should really increase her allowance. With that thought in mind, he warmed up some rice and set the soup to boil.

“You can cook?”

“Bro’s surprisingly good at cooking.” “That’s definitely a surprise.”

The two girls were whispering behind him, Maru shrugged as he seasoned the soup to taste. It was savory and salty, just as he liked it. He set up the table with the sizzling meat and the bubbling soup.

“Thanks for the meal.”

She smiled brightly after trying a spoon of the soup, Maru watched her eat silently for a second. It reminded him of their newly wed days. There were times when she asked him to feed her after a morning shoot. Whenever that happened, Maru just got her a simple toast with some salad.

“What are you looking at? Eat.”

Bada was staring at him, Maru nodded as he grabbed his spoon.

* * *

“I’ll take care of the dishes.”

“You’re our guest, so no way. Go play with Bada.”

She took a look back, Bada was sitting in front of the television munching on some snacks.

“It’s a bit late, by the way. Don’t you need to go back?”

She looked at the clock at Maru’s words, it was a little over seven.

“It was an early dinner. I’m fine.”

“Call your mom, then. Tell her that you ate and you’ll be going back soon.”

Maru sounded a lot like a mother, she stuck her tongue at the boy before walking over to Bada.

“Sis.”

“Hmm?”

“Why are you going out with my brother?”

“You know, I don’t really know how I should respond to that.”

Why date? Well, because they liked each other. Why do they like each other? Well…

‘I guess it’s because he was so direct.’

He did come over to her house out of nowhere in winter to confess. He was very rude and irresponsible when he did it, but she didn’t hate that. What if someone other than him did the same thing? She might’ve rejected him on the spot.

“You’re going to get fat,” Maru said, walking towards the two of them.

Bada glared back at him, shouting ‘I’m not gonna get fat!’ She had to suppress laughter. These two were on very good terms, clearly.

“Come to think of it, I’m getting in the way of you two.”

Bada looked at the two of them with a grin, she couldn’t say anything from the sudden jab.

“If you know, then step outside for a bit. Care to buy us drinks?” Maru asked.

“Of course.”

She could only watch as Bada quickly slipped away with Maru’s money.

“You guys get along really well.”

“Money tends to solve most issues.”

Maru sat down next to her with mysterious words.

“Did you call your mom?”

“Ugh, don’t worry about it.”

“Do it before she gets worried. Any parent would get worried when their grown daughter goes to a boy’s home.”

“Fine, fine. You’re like an old lady, seriously.”

“You try getting old too. You’ll become like this in an instant.”

“You know we’re the same age, right?”

She took out her phone with a slight grin.

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