“So… what’s all this about?”
She wanted Hanna to explain what was going on. It was nice that they came to a nearby fruit juice shop. The kiwi juice she got was pretty good, so that was fine, too. But… The question she wanted to ask the most was still unanswered.
“Well… how do I explain it.”
“Between you and him! Haha. Hahaha. Heh… Don’t look at me like that. I’m your senior, you know.”
She glared at Hanna for a few more seconds before turning to look at Maru, the boy was drinking his mango juice with the most serene expression in the world. He grinned when their eyes met, which only managed to annoy her further.
“Did you ask for this?”
“No, Hanna started it first.”
“Sis! You didn’t tell me anything about this?!”
Hanna twiddled her thumb nervously.
“Well… If I told you, you wouldn’t have come.”
“So I kept it a secret. Surprise!”
She rolled up her fingers into a tight fist, which made Hanna look away again. To think she used to look up to this person in the past…
‘I’m the one at fault for having expectations from her after seeing that CD.’
In her school’s club room, there was a CD with some of Hanna’s performance. It was a recording of Hanna’s exceptional act of Faust making a deal with the devil incredibly well. She’s looked at the video countless times at this point, but her admiration of Hanna didn’t last long. It stopped the moment they first met, actually.
“I feel sorry for big brother Suchan.”
“Hey, come on.”
Hanna put a hand over her mouth and grinned. She could only feel sorry for Suchan, who would probably get whisked around by Hanna after marriage.
“In any case, you two should have fun.”
Hanna took out two tickets as she spoke. They were tickets to a pretty popular theater near Hyehwa station.
She snatched the tickets immediately, she wanted to watch this particular play for quite some time. Did Hanna remember when she offhandedly mentioned it once? Hanna winked at her with a smile.
“You gave me a cake for my birthday, remember? It’s for that.”
Hanna stood up from her seat.
The woman walked off to the exit after shouting bye. She tried to grab Hanna with her arms, but the woman evaded her with ease.
She was too late. Hanna was already gone from the cafe, and when she ran outside, Hanna was nowhere to be seen. The woman was too damn fast at running. She gave up and looked back into the cafe with a deep sigh.
“And he’s… well, him.”
Maru was drinking his juice as if all of this wasn’t related to him at all. When their eyes met, he smiled again. Does he usually smile this much? He looks better when he’s not smiling. When she walked back inside and sat down, Maru stared at her from his seat. His blatant stare kind of made her feel embarrassed.
“What are you going to do now?” she asked.
“You got the tickets.”
“We should watch it then, right?”
“...People say you’re shameless pretty often, don’t they?”
Looking at the ticket, it was scheduled for today. As a matter of fact, they would have to make a run for it to watch it.
“We should probably be able to squeeze lunch in beforehand.”
Before she knew it, Maru was right next to her looking down at the ticket himself. She flinched in surprise and stared at his face for a few seconds.
“Let’s go, we’ll be late.”
Saying that, Maru reached out to grab her wrist.
The boy pulled her up gently. His hand was moving so naturally that she almost thought he’s done this multiple times in the past. She looked at Maru’s back in a daze.
‘Why… does this feel familiar?’
The boy’s slightly large back looked oddly familiar, as if she’s seen it many times in the past. She stretched out her hand, feeling a strange sense of sadness inside her, and gently put it on top of his shoulder. That was when she came back to her senses.
Goodness, what did she just do? She put her hand back down and stuck it right into her pocket. She was confused. What just happened?
“Did I have something on me?”
“Yeah, yeah? Yeah! Y-you had some dust on your shoulder.”
“You brushed it off? Thanks.”
She looked down, as her cheeks puffed up like a little frog. Why did she just do that? She shook her head before raising her head again with a shocked look.
“Hold on, why are you holding my hand like it’s the most natural thing to do?!”
She completely forgot in her shock that she was still holding hands with him. The boy’s hand was rough. She pulled her hand out of it and looked at Maru with a pout.
“Do you think it’s really normal to hold a stranger’s hand just like that?”
“This is our third time meeting, though.”
“...That’s true, but still.”
“Alright. I won’t do it. Just watch that play with me. I’m giving up one thing here, so you should too.”
“Or we could just hold hands again.”
Maru stretched out his hand again. What the heck?
“Fine! Fine, we can watch it! Darn it, you’re ridiculous!”
“We should hurry, then. If we miss the train, we won’t have time to eat.”
“Oh? You’re right.”
She flipped her hand to look at her watch. Right then, Maru grabbed her hand again. What was strange was that for a brief moment, she didn’t think this to be unnatural. As a matter of fact, she probably would’ve walked forward right there with him if she didn’t become consciously aware of it.
“Ah, sorry. I said I wouldn’t grab your hand.”
This time, Maru let go first and apologized surprisingly politely. Despite doing several odd things, he was a gentleman when it came to these things. She looked down at her right wrist, she could still feel Maru’s warmth on it.
That was the only thing she could think of when she realized that she didn’t actually hate that warmth.
* * *
After coming out of the second exit of Hyehwa station, she flinched as she got hit by the sudden wind. Cold winds like these were the ones that reminded her that it was December.
A shadow rose up right in front of her as soon as she opened her mouth, it was Maru. Before she realized what was going on, he stretched his arms out towards her. She tried to step backwards, but realized there was something warm getting wrapped around her neck right then.
“It’s cold, wear this.”
It was Maru’s scarf. A soft scarf that had a lot of fluff on it, the type that she liked. She sniffed her nose a little bit. The scarf smelled pretty good. Did it get washed recently?
“Want to try going there?”
Maru pointed to a pasta restaurant on the other side of the road.
The outside of the restaurant was decorated with logs and a fancy-looking signboard. The customers inside all looked like they were either college students or older. That is, the restaurant looked really expensive.
“Let’s go. You like cream pasta and pizza with not many toppings, don’t you?”
Maru walked forward after speaking. She silently agreed with him inside, before realizing what the boy just said.
“Wait, how did you know that? That I like cream pasta?”
“...I heard it from Hanna.”
She easily caught that hint of surprise from the boy’s face. He was lying, she was sure of it.
Plus, she never told Hanna her favorite food. After all, Hanna was only ever interested in her own favorite food: army stew.
“...Just a feeling. Don’t girls like stuff like cream pasta?”
“Well, you’re not wrong, but… That doesn’t make this any less suspicious.”
“I just guessed.”
He regained his composure. Did he really guess? Or did he have someone telling him information about her? She could easily think of a few candidates on the spot, they probably worked with Hanna for this.
“Anyway, it’s cold. Let’s go inside first.”
Maru casually grabbed her hand again. She let out a short laugh, but didn’t pull away this time. At least it was obvious that he cared for her.
* * *
She finished her food almost as soon as it came out. Maru smiled internally. Be it in the future or right now, her appetite was unchanging. She always ate well, and she used all of that energy for when she was on stage.
‘That reminds me...’
Memories were giving birth to more memories. One by one, Maru started remembering events that he shared with her, each one making him want to smile more and more. Most of his memories were gone, but the times he shared with her were still deeply rooted in his heart.
“You smile really often,” she said curiously.
Of course, I would. You’re right there with me.
Maru swallowed those words and brushed himself off to be the type that smiled a lot.
‘Well, it’s going well so far, at least.’
Her favorite perfume, favorite scarf, and favorite food. Maru made use of his memories as much as possible to prepare for this day. He was confident that today was going to be a success. After all, he did have quite a bit of experience with women before he married.
“Hm, hm hm, hm hm.”
She started humming in happiness. Ah, he hadn’t heard this sound in a very long time. Just watching her hum to herself made him happy. For a few seconds, he stopped doing everything else other than listening to her sing. That melody… It’s the one she sang when they first met. The one that she liked to sing whenever she was happy or sad.
[This is a happy and a sad song.]
He remembered now. When she told him that line, her face was colored with tears.
She opened her eyes and immediately looked down in embarrassment.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“People are watching.”
Indeed, some people were watching the two of them with a smile on their faces. A loud hum like this in the middle of a quiet store was more than enough to garner some attention.
“I didn’t want to interrupt good music.”
“No… Ugh, whatever.”
“Thanks for the music. It was very good.”
“...You’re not going to get anything out of that praise, you know.”
“Doesn’t matter, I already listened to your music.”
Maru stood up first and pulled her chair back a little.
“Do you come to places like this often?”
It wasn’t a lie. It was his first time coming to a pasta place in this life. Of course, before that, he used to come here with her often. As a matter of fact, their dates always involved a pasta place in them.
Right then, Maru was assaulted with so many memories that he started getting dizzy. When he grabbed his head and stumbled a little, she grabbed his arm with a surprised expression.
“W-what the. Are you okay? Are you sick?”
“It’s nothing. I just tripped a bit.”
“What, you surprised me.”
She calmed down pretty fast, Maru’s head went blank again. It looked like he could only remember fragments of his memories, not full ones. He grabbed the bill and walked over to the counter. The waiter asked them if the meal was good.
“It was delicious. We’ll come again,” she answered for him.
Maru handed his card over. He finished paying and turned around after grabbing the receipt. She immediately snatched the receipt out of his hand.
“Just pasta, pizza, and a drink?“
“Well, it’s good as long as it’s tasty.”
Then again, at this time, for people of their age 80 thousand won was a lot of money. She stopped at the entrance for a second before taking out a little wallet from her bag. She swallowed nervously before fishing 40 thousand won from it.
She was handing it over with nervousness on her face. That was probably a massive chunk of her allowance. Maru refused for now, but she kept pushing the money onto his face. In the end, he took it.
“I wouldn’t have come here if I knew it was going to be this expensive.”
She was shaking her head dejectedly. Maru watched her walk outside for a second, before walking back to the counter.
“Can I borrow some pen and paper, please?”
* * *
The line into the theater was pretty long. It was a popular theater, so all of the seats were filled. She recalled that lots of people gathered here since the theater didn’t even have online ticketing to begin with.
“What did you do in the restaurant just now?”
“I asked for some tissues.”
“It’s dark inside, so please walk slowly. Thank you.”
They entered the theater, following one of the actors. For a small theater, the distance between each seat was surprisingly large. The seats were very comfy, too. The stage only had a few pieces of furniture on it, lit up by an orange light as the setting for a romantic comedy. A lot of her friends said it was really good, so she had a huge expectation for it.
“You must like plays.”
Again with that smile of his. She avoided Maru’s eyes and focused on the stage. Just now… she felt something flutter up in her chest.
‘No no, I’m just excited for the play!’
Right! She should just focus on the play. She looked at the stage intensely.Previous Chapter Next Chapter