Yoo Chun Young was then gazing at the TV with serene eyes. I stared at him for a while until when someone tapped my arm and had my head turned to the side.
It was Eun Jiho who had a perplexed look on me. When our eyes met, he frowned his brows and pouted his lips. He seemed to be hesitant about something. Then he asked in a whispering tone.
“Is that what you also meant?”
“Your absence would make us… erase you out of our head sooner… was that what you meant?”
At last, I understood what he was talking about. Eun Jiho was asking me the reason why I wanted them to act like strangers in high school was for them to clear me out as soon as possible. He might have been thinking I would rather choose to live in solitude than to hurt their feelings in a worse way.
Eun Jiho’s jet-black eyes were never so serious as now. It looked as though he was exasperated or driven to despair.
As I was thrown out of my stride and tried to tell him it was not, Jooin’s voice flew toward me from behind. We were then all drawn to him turning our heads back.
His golden-brown eyes were exactly on me. He then said with a grin on his face.
“The girl from that drama…”
“Yeah, what about her?”
“She looks like you, mommy.”
Who could describe the silence that approached the living room at that moment? It was not the same as what Yoo Chun Young led after his words. The sudden loss of words that Jooin brought was somewhat ridiculous and outrageous.
That was because the actress in that TV drama was Song Hye-Kyo, who once ranked the 5th place of the most beautiful woman in the world.
As I had a blank stare at Woo Jooin and turned my head back, the three boys looked puzzled and became even more speechless.
The first to break the ice was Eun Jiho. He stretched out his hand and poked my head, which was right in front of him. He then said to my furrowed face.
“Dude, do you really think you look something in common with Song Hye-Kyo? Hand on your heart, and tell me the truth.”
“W…hat? What do you want me to say?”
“What’s wrong? Donnie’s cute.”
Just as in the morning, Eun Hyung, who sat next to me, had my back. I was deeply appreciated to Eun Hyung that I tried to express my gratitude but had my head back and looked at Woo Jooin. I was not sure whether he was complimenting me or humiliating me.
As soon as Jooin noticed my attention, he rolled his eyeballs and smiled awkwardly at Eun Jiho. He then said,
“I mean… not that I’m trying to mention mommy and Song Hye-Kyo look alike.”
“Oh, it was indeed not, right? You almost got me, bro.”
Ban Yeo Ryung snarled in a lower tone and smashed Eun Jiho’s foot with her hand. That’s my girl. As I ignored Eun Jiho screaming out of pain and looked back at Jooin, he continued.
“What I want to say is that… the role inside the drama. That character reminds me of mommy.”
“The girl who dates the guy terminally ill?”
Eun Hyung asked from behind in wonder. I was also pondering over the character as well.
As Woo Jooin’s words usually have been, I could not clearly grasp what he meant right away. As I knitted my brows being slow on the uptake, it was Eun Hyung, who surprisingly delivered the message that Jooin tried to attempt.
He said, “Jooin, I get what you’re talking about. Why the girl and Donnie are alike.”
“The day when Donnie said she disappeared from this world… is there anyone among us who realized that she was gone?”
When Eun Hyung looked around and said that, all I could do was to have my mouth shut. It was a sudden change of subject as well as a shift of the ambiance. The living room was soon filling with chill air.
The story that I brought out to everyone but nobody talked about was mentioned by Eun Hyung for the first time. I thought while having my gaze at him.
At that day, obviously, no one reacted as if they were aware of my disappearance. It was today that I got to know Jooin was calling me for 6 hours that day but he did not show any signs of the fact at that time.
Soon, Jooin spoke in a heavy voice from the back.
“I, on that day, was looking at my phone in my bed.”
Eun Hyung lifted his greenly dark eyes and had them on my back. Jooin’s low voice was slowly continued.
“Ham Donnie’s name and number were on the receiver section, but the moment when I typed in my message, I forgot what I was trying to do. It fell weird since it never happened to me in my whole life. Then I saw the number and thought who the person was. That doesn’t make sense, isn’t it Jiho?”
“You’re not such a person who forgets things… I’m truly aware of that.”
Eun Jiho responded with a straight face and remained silent again. Since he almost grew up together with Jooin, he would know a lot about Jooin having exceptional memories.
Woo Jooin kept on his words right away.
“I called that number immediately but it appeared to be a non-existing number. Totally not in service.”
His words brought a solemn look on everyone’s faces. So did I, who was looking at Woo Jooin. What he said sent shivers down my spine. I rubbed my arms feeling creeped out.
Their numbers appeared out of service to me when I was lost in this world. So was mine. This was never known until now.
Woo Jooin continued, “It could happen once for me to forget about something and just move on… but I couldn’t resist the strange feeling, which I never had in my life. So I browsed my inbox and call lists but no records of Ham Donnie was left. That day, I was holding my phone all day. I called her every once in a while and maybe after about 6 hours? I thought my phone could go wrong. So I did try to borrow someone else’s phone, but no one had theirs except me. And therefore, I went to a phone booth that was a 2-minute walk from my house. I pressed the keypad firmly to make a call but had quite a hard time from the stiff buttons. Her number was still suspended, so I had to give up and went back home.”
“And then in front of my house, I found out someone crouching on the stairways. Ever since I saw that, things all came back in my head. Do you even understand how I felt at that moment?”
I blankly stared at Jooin. He had an odd grin out of fear or despondency.
As I looked behind, Yoo Chun Young and Eun Hyung’s shocked face came into my sight. Even I could not help myself being struck dumb. Woo Jooin shrugged his shoulders.
“Yeah, as you all know, what I did next was calling everyone into my place. Would I make all the fuss calling you guys about Donnie just sitting in front of my house? But nobody seemed to remember. Maybe, myself as well, if I weren’t sending the text to Donnie… I would have been the same.”
“As Eun Hyung said, when Donnie was gone, no one was aware of it. What I grasped was that there was an unknown number in my contact.”
When I looked behind, Eun Hyung came into my eyes with an outstandingly pale cheek under the yellow living room light.
He was staring at Jooin, then the floor, and finally me. His lips were then opened.
“The guy at the drama… he’s done when he’s gone. If we’re allowed to cross the river of oblivion after death, the guy would erase all the memories of the girl. But not her.”
“Now I get it. The reason why Jooin said that girl and you look alike.”
My eyes were wide opened. His smile revealed mixed feelings inside him.
“The girl remembers everything about the guy and the time they spent, which leads her to a tormenting pain… That would be relevant to Donnie. We can’t remember anything, but you are not. Our existence and the times we had are still inside you regardlessly…”
“Would the times we had turn into a painful memory one day? Would that day ever come?”
Just like the girl, would there be a day when you are left alone and cry out of sorrow?