“How can friends be so different?”
“It’s because we’re different that we became friends. There’s nothing more boring than two similar people getting together, you know?”
“I am always surprised because that naïve-looking Daemyung throws sharp questions at me from time to time, and that seems to be your influence, huh.”
“I think you’re wrong about that. He might look dense at first glance, but his thought process is thorough. He’s a smart guy.”
She looked at Maru and Hanmi alternately, as they talked to each other. 10 p.m. It was around the time when the lights on the tall buildings started turning off one by one, but the fire of conversation that was lit up in this space was burning brightly. Maru was on his third can of beer, while Hanmi was sipping on her first can.
“Hm? You finished that? You’re drinking more right?”
“If you’re giving me more, I will have to.”
“You’ll be in big trouble if you keep accepting drinks like this, you know?”
“If this much was enough to put me into trouble, I would’ve encountered it already.”
“Are you trying to score points with me? You’re a smooth talker.”
“I’ve been trying to do that since the beginning.”
“I didn’t feel good since it felt like you were trying to use me, but well, I’ll let you be since it was for her. Though, you still are despicable.”
She quietly looked at Hanmi, who was patting her head. Hanmi smiled pleasantly when she met eyes with her.
“I told you before, right? I’m not thick-faced enough to introduce a half-assed actor to an agency. Well, yes, my work has been horrible recently since I’ve hit a block. I will admit that, however, I’m doing that under my own name. Even if it goes horribly wrong, it’s me who ruins it, so I can endure that. Lending my own name to someone else is a different story. I will be much more meticulous when it comes to that. Recommending you to an agency simply out of pity or friendship or just because you’re unni’s daughter? Don’t joke with me. I’m not that cheap. Well, I might write cheap writing, but the author definitely isn’t!”
She still seemed slightly drunk. She poured a cup of cold water and gave it to Hanmi. Hanmi smiled.
“You’re so gentle. Hey, can you be my daughter? I’ll treat you nicely.”
“My mom will probably say no.”
Hanmi nodded and drank the water. Then, she sighed before semi-lying on the floor. She got a cushion from the sofa and pushed it beneath Hanmi’s waist.
“How did a picky woman like unni give birth to a pretty daughter like you? It’s such a mystery.”
After giggling, Hanmi abruptly sat up.
“This isn’t the time for this. Hey, Han Maru. I was about to give a touching speech to this girl. How dare you take that away from me?”
“I’m sorry. It looks like I was out of my place.”
“Yes, you were out of your place. This old woman was about to tell this girl that I am recommending her because I trust her, and then give her a touching hug, but you took that away from me.”
“Should I give you a hug now?”
She interrupted since Maru looked like he was in a pinch. Hanmi spread her arms wide immediately. She gave Hanmi a light hug.
“Pat my back, will you?”
“This ahjumma will never get married, right? There’s no man in this world who would likes a mischievous woman like me, right?”
“Of course not. Mom was joking with you. I’m sure you’ll get married to a splendid man.”
“If I grow old without getting married, you have to play with me, okay?”
“I’ll be your conversation partner.”
“Thanks. I feel much better after your consolation.”
Stepping back, Hanmi looked for some water. This time, Maru gave her a cup.
“But hey, you’re not normal, coming to this place at this hour.”
“There was something I needed to borrow, and I wanted to see her. So, I came here.”
“How daring. That’s right, a man should be like that. Though, I don’t know what ‘like that’ is since I never got married.”
It seemed that she really felt sullen. Although she acted like she wasn’t interested in marriage when talking tohermother, maybe she wanted to get married after all?Shelooked at Hanmi for a while before turning around to look at Maru. This boy talked about marriage whenever he had the chance. She knew that he was joking, but sometimes it did sound like he was serious. Was he really thinking about marrying her? Despite the fact that they were still too young to talk about marriage, she felt strange whenever she heard him talk about it. She still dreamed about such a scenario from time to time even though she treated it as a joke. The house the two would live in, the scenery outside, their neighbors, and a new member of the family. They would quarrel with each other from time to time, but then make up and confirm their love towards each other again. Even though she had never experienced a married life before, she could imagine one in detail as though she had experienced it before. There were times when she was surprised at how much detail she could imagine. She would also feel rather absurd since that made her seem like she was looking forward to their marriage.
“Since you’re here, let’s hear your opinions as well.”
Hanmi, who jerked her head backwards to flip her hair, took a big gulp of cold water before speaking.
“Opinion about what?” Maru asked back.
She could predict what Hanmi was about to say next.
“About going to the past.”
Yes, that.Shenodded. The discussion between her mother and Hanmi never reached a conclusion and just ended in a drinking fest, so Hanmi brought this topic up again when there was a new person to talk to.
Shelooked at Maru. She felt a bit curious as well as to what kind of an answer Maru would give.
“You’re still young, so let’s imagine that you grew up a little. You’re going to the past in that state.”
“Do I have to go?”
“Why, you don’t want to?”
“If I am living a satisfying life, I want to keep that going. Going to the past is definitely a tempting thing, but tempting opportunities like that are bound to have consequences.”
“You know your stuff. We were quarreling about that as well. Well, then. How about this? Youhaveto go back. You have all the memories of when you were an adult. What are you going to do first when a fifty-year-old you returns to your current age?”
“Earn money of course. Then I’ll buy stocks for major companies like SC, DK, and YM. Otherwise, I’ll buy a bunch of new entries that will become big later. I’ll sell them when they become big and buy a building.”
“These days, kids have a frightening sense of economics. It’s all about money.”
“I heard a saying that goes: You can’t buy happiness with money, but it’s much more comfortable to cry in a Benz than on a bicycle.”
Maru shrugged. Hanmi seemed to like that answer as she faintly smiled.
“I’m sure it won’t be that easy though.”
“Going back to the past means that some supernatural power has intervened, right? For example, a transcendental being. Usually in movies, it’s god who pities the protagonist and sends them back to the past, right? They tell them to right their life again. However, god fundamentally pursues equality. They have already given the protagonist a special right to return to the past, but giving knowledge that might shake the economy as a whole, albeit by little, is being a bit greedy, I think.”
“Sending you to the past but not allowing you to do things that will make you easy money? That’s funny. It’s not like people working in the financial world aren’t doing labor. We’re long past the age where sweating is the only form of labor. In an era where white-collar jobs earn plenty of money, is taking interest in the stock market and real estate and studying about them not considered labor? Above all, stock trading is the ultimate capitalism, isn’t it? Wouldn’t god be biased for preventing that?”
“I feel that god can be biased. No, maybe it doesn’t matter that much. After all, it’s about getting another chance at life. It’s about getting a beginning at a life that was supposed to end, so I don’t think anyone would be dissatisfied just because they can’t use some financial tricks. They have the knowledge, so they should use it to do something else. The important thing is that you’re still breathing after all.”
She agreed with Maru’s words. Money was important, yes. People could not live apart from economics after all. However, as Maru had just mentioned, living was more important. Having another chance at fulfilling what they couldn’t do would make them feel endlessly thankful for just that.
“I like your answer. Good. We reached that point as well. The problem is this. It involves the person you like, say, this girl, since you like her now anyway.”
Hanmi hung her arm around her. She ended up looking at Maru face-to-face, but she moved her gaze up to the ceiling, feeling embarrassed for some reason.
“Let’s say that things went well and you got married to her in the future.”
“That’s how it will be.”
Hanmi was at a loss for words momentarily.
“Hm, well, that’s for you two to sort out. Anyway, you were living a happy married life, but then returned to the past. Are you going to like her again?”
“That’s what I’m doing right now,” Maru replied with a smile.
“Fine, Mr. Han Maru-from-the-future. That’s all fine and good. However, the god we talked about just now is a petty person and gives you a trial.”
“Like, slowly losing your memories, for example?”
“You’re quick. How did you know that?”
“I’m actually from the future, so I know most of this stuff already.”
“I’m sure you get called out for being crazy. Though, I like such people. Fine, like you said, you slowly lose your memories. In the future, you might have been deeply in love and couldn’t live without this girl. Furthermore, now that you returned to the present, you still have your memories and still love her. But as time passes, your memories of her, your memories with her, slowly fade away. Now here’s the problem. Will your love still continue to be? Or will she turn into just one of your acquaintances like everyone else?”
“Losing my memories will definitely change things. But that won’t include my feelings of love towards her.”
“How can you be so sure about that?”
“Because memories are like this.”
Maru showed her his hands interlocked with each other.
“I think that an event doesn’t exist independently. I think that events are intertwined with each other in countless ways. Losing memories does not equate to losing all the imagery, momentary feelings, and impressions disappearing as well. Maybe, yes, some memorable events might disappear. Things like going out on a picnic, having a quarrel, or crying together. The events themselves might disappear, but other memories linked to those events will still remain behind. Even if it’s a really small memory that’s trivial at best, as long as they remain inside me, I will continue to like her.”
Her face felt hot. Maru said words that made her feel embarrassed without batting an eyelid. If Hanmi wasn’t holding her, she might have punched him on the chest already.
‘But still, it doesn’t feel bad.’
Even if memories disappear, I will keep loving you as long as there’s still a speck of memories within me - those intentions entered her heart.
At that moment, Hanmi spoke again.
“But a god is an omnipotent being. That was the assumption after all. Without omnipotence, a god wouldn’t be a god either.”
“If god is omnipotent, it should be possible to snap all the connections between those memories and take only them out, right? You’ll perfectly return to your past self. Right now, at this moment, you might like this girl as a girl, however, it is not as someone you promised your life to. It is now as a change-up to boring school life, and as a fresh experience. It might change into that. Why? Because if your memories of the future cleanly disappear, the fact that you loved her at all will disappear with them.”
“That won’t happen.”
“Do you also believe that there’s a storage media that goes beyond memories like the soul?”
“Even without such a thing, my feelings will not change.”
“You’re being illogical at this point, huh. That’s no fun.”
“Well, talking about impossibilities is no fun in the first place. Isn’t going back to the past outdated in the first place?”
“Why? It sounds fun as long as you can get the balance right.”
“Come to a conclusion anyway. I’m on the side that your very being will change if all your memories of the future disappear. The woman sleeping over there says that there’s something more powerful than the brain, with which information can be exchanged.”
“If I have to take a side, I also believe that memories don’t control everything. I believe that there’s something more than just the physical body.”
“I thought you were a realistic kid, but you’re an occultist when it comes to that, huh.”
After speaking, Maru looked at her as though he was telling her to feel at ease. I won’t forget about you - he seemed to be saying. At that moment, she felt uneasy. That was because Maru, who always looked to be at leisure, seemed like he was being chased by something.
“Even if memories disappear, people don’t change. I believe so.”
Maru said that as though he was making a resolution.