My consciousness is hazy.
My hands and feet didn’t move as I wanted, and my head was unclear as if there was fog.
It feels familiar.
This is because I have studied lucid dreams hoping to find fresh material to use in a web novel someday.
Of course, the work completely failed. But, after experiencing lucid dreams several times at that time, there were often cases where my consciousness often woke up in a dream like now.
It’s a playground.
There I was running around with a girl. I’m obviously conscious, but my body moved freely regardless of my will.
‘It’s been a while.’
This is a nightmare I had regularly when I was very young, but it’s the first time since I became an adult. It feels fresh to see it again after a long time.
Unfortunately, the girl’s face was not seen. It was blurry overall and I could barely tell what kind of expression she was making.
‘Because it’s been over 20 years.’
At that time, my parents were both working. I didn’t have a phone or a computer, so I played alone at the playground every day.
The girl who forcibly shoved dumplings made with clay into my mouth was also a child who often came to the playground if not as much as me.
As far as I remember, we got along pretty well.
Until that guy comes.
‘There he is.’
A very big black cat entered the playground entrance. He was the leader of the local street cats and was called ‘Nero’ after the lyrics of a popular song at the time1“Black Cat Nero” by Turbo. If you know Kim Jong Kook of Running Man, that is his group’s song. .
He had an unusual size comparable to that of a child at first glance. The guy proudly passed the playground and climbed a tree.
– It’s Nero!
– But, Nero is a bit weird.
– That guy is always like that.
– Noo-! Look well!
Kim Ha Neul turned his head at the girl’s whining. Nero was restless on the tree and could not come down.
– I’ll go save him!
– No, dangerous.
– Huh? What?
– Nero is a bad guy.
Nero was a guy famous for his dirty personality. It was usual to hit the same cat and he also attacked young children who were alone.
It also had a good brain at that. He was a clever guy who suddenly disappeared when the kids’ parents came out to catch him.
– You can’t even climb a tree.
– If you leave it alone, it’ll come down on its own.
Kim Ha Neul spoke quite bluntly. But like most of their peers, the girl could hardly take her eyes off Nero.
Looking at that, Kim Ha Neul let out a small sigh and rolled up his sleeves. After making the girl back off, he began to climb the tree skillfully.
‘Indeed, a body trained in the playground.’
In playgrounds at the time, there were ‘the centrifuge’ merry-go-rounds, jungle gyms, monkey bars, etc. There were a lot of things that could only be seen at a guerrilla training ground.
It has now been demolished for various safety reasons. But for Kim Ha Neul, who was trained to the extreme in such a playground, climbing a tree should be easy.
– Be careful!
– It’s okay, I won’t die.
Kim Ha Neul climbed the tree proudly shouting The No. 1 Will That Men Say The Most. Knowing the ending, I felt complicated.
– I got… Agh-!
At the moment Kim Ha Neul, who eventually reached the top, stretched out his hand toward Nero. He raised his claws and scratched his wrist.
Scratched just in words. With a very big size, it was the same as slashing a child’s wrist. Kim Ha Neul inadvertently let go of his hand in the surging pain.
I clenched my teeth.
Even decades later at the present, I can hardly forget this dizzying sensation of floating in the air.
Falling to the ground, Kim Ha Neul had his consciousness blurred from the shock while Nero leisurely came down from the tree and disappeared somewhere.
The screaming girl came running. Kim Ha Neul’s wrist was bleeding profusely and he couldn’t speak properly due to the shock transmitted to his brain.
– Don’t die, you must not die!
The girl’s tears dripped over Kim Ha Neul’s face. Kim Ha Neul tried to smile even while his consciousness was blurring.
– It’s, okay… Not going to die…
Yeah, I don’t die.
Because I’m still alive now.
However, the scar on my wrist at this time bothered me terribly. I was bullied at school because I was misunderstood as ‘a kid who attempted suicide’.
I’m also not the type of person who just lived through it and had to pay back double if I was hit. Such things piled up and piled up. And eventually, our family’s fortunes declined.
I started studying late after seeing my parents’ tears and I entered SNU2Seoul National University. after retaking the exam. But, I’m still half unemployed. So, there’s no other bad son like me.
– Sorry, I’m sorry, don’t die…
But how long will she cry. With the fading consciousness of little Kim Ha Neul, even the moment I wake up from my dream. She never left my side.
Still leaving the girl’s blurry face behind.
I slowly woke up from my dream.
It is often such a case.
The moment you open your eyes, you instinctively realize that something is wrong. In this case, there is almost a 100% chance of being late. But…
“Tha, that surprised me!”
I got up in surprise. But looking more surprised than me, Kang Ba Da was staring at me.
“Ba Da ssi? Did I…”
“You fell asleep. So well that you won’t know if someone is dragging you out.”
“…What time is it now?”
“Do not worry. It’s only been an hour since you slept. I’ve also postponed the reservation.”
“That is fortunate.”
I thought I was asleep for half a day. Of course, just having a deep sleep at the hair salon is a big problem. But, it is still possible to patch things up.
However, the eyes of Kang Ba Da looking at me are unusual. It looks expressionless on the outside, but somehow a sulky aura is coming out.
“When did you sleep properly?”
“Yester… Ah, the day before that.”
As soon as I said yesterday, her eyes turned like an axe, so I changed my words quickly. I guess she found out I had stayed up all night.
‘…It’s a big deal.’
I failed to manage my physical strength from the first appointment and showed my bad side in front of others. I have nothing to say even if the contract is canceled unilaterally.
‘Then, do I have to spit out 5 million won?’
This is why you shouldn’t spend money just because the money came in. I can’t ask my parents to return it now, so I guess I’ll have to work labor for the time being.
Then I have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. at the latest, go to the labor office to stamp attendance, and when I come back from the workplace, it’s about 19 o’clock. It takes me four hours to write one chapter on average so…
“Ha Neul ssi.”
“You just didn’t listen to me, right?”
“…Uh, hm. I’m sorry. I’m still less awake.”
“I asked when you slept for more than seven hours without waking up.”
I swallowed my silence at the words of Kang Ba Da. I couldn’t think of such a day in my life even if I thought about it carefully.
Terrible insomnia I got during my school days continues to this day. After the military even added sleep disorders to it, I’ve never had anything called a ‘deep sleep’.
Now that I’m so used to insomnia, I just drink energy drinks or coffee and work until I pass out halfway.
“You don’t even remember, right?”
“…I will make an appointment at the hospital I go to. Get sleeping pills there and force yourself to sleep.”
“I don’t really like taking medicine.”
“At least get some counseling. Otherwise, our contract will be terminated.”
“If you want to get paid for a long time, take care of your health thoroughly. I have no thoughts of getting a widow’s title at such a young age.”
Kang Ba Da said with an unprecedentedly determined gaze. I nodded heavily because this was a part with no room for excuses or negotiations.
“Don’t lie to me again.”
I didn’t mean to, but I got caught lying to avoid the situation. There is inevitably a loss of trust…
Fortunately, the contract didn’t end here and I re-established my plans for the future.
‘I’ll have to make a routine.’
Taking sleeping pills is something I don’t like, but taking them properly according to the doctor’s prescription will definitely help.
In the meantime, I didn’t go to the hospital because it was a waste of money. I think I should go to the hospital as an investment to do my job better and furthermore for my health.
‘But, does Ba Da ssi also have insomnia?’
Didn’t she just say ‘the hospital I go to’? After all, appearances on the outside are not everything. Even the rich must have their own worries.
‘This could also be used in a novel.’
Originally, deficiency is the most basic desire to move people. The same goes for the main character in the novel, so an appropriate deficiency is a great driving force for the flow of the story.
‘I’ll have to ask her someday.’
In terms of data investigation.
And even to do a better job.
It is necessary to find out about the worries of Kang Ba Da. Of course, I can’t ask her right away. I’ll have to make an opportunity next time.
“I’m going to go somewhere for a while, so Ha Neul ssi get your hair done. I’ll be back before it is over.”
Perhaps her anger has not eased yet, Kang Ba Da left the room with a slightly stiff face. Shortly after, Ryu Yeon Hwa came in and picked up the scissors herself.
“Ha Neul ssi.”
“I won’t let you go if our Ba Da cries.”
It was a little scary to talk with scissors in her hand.
No, I was a bit very scared.
* * *
Coming out to the emergency stairs, Kang Ba Da leaned her back against the wall and let out a small sigh.
‘That scar on his wrist…’
While Kim Ha Neul was sleeping, Kang Ba Da secretly checked his wrist. Kim Ha Neul always wore long-sleeved clothes, so now she finally could check it with her own eyes.
He is that boy she was looking for.
Well, that’s a fact she had already vaguely guessed. It was a new feeling to check it like this.
‘…How much I’ve been looking for him.’
After that day, she went to the playground every day, but she couldn’t meet the boy. Even after she became a student and asked around, there was no answer.
She didn’t know until later that it was handled by the family because they were afraid it would traumatize her young heart. Then she was angry with her family for the first time in her life.
Of course, that didn’t change anything.
It’s already been too long to find a boy whose name she didn’t know. Just as the family hoped for at first, her emotions slowly eroded over time.
‘…But to think that we’d meet here.’
Something called human relationships is truly mysterious. She could never find him when she was looking for him, but only after giving up everything that he appeared in front of her eyes.
– Are you hurt anywhere?
– Oh, no…
– Don’t walk near the road from now on. If you walk like that with a noticeably expensive bag in your hand, it’s no different than demonstrating to be snatched.
The moment she saw him, she recognized him right away. Because Kim Ha Neul grew up just the way he was when he was young. Although he built a wall against people and was a bit more haggard than back then.
– Then, I am going.
– Wa, wait a minute! Please tell me your phone number!
– That’s a bit difficult.
– I have to run away now.
Kim Ha Neul suddenly disappeared leaving only those words behind. Staring blankly at his back, Kang Ba Da only understood what he was saying until she heard the siren.
– Mister Officer, over there!
– Oh my… That’s going to hurt quite a bit.
– That’s cheap for those guys, though! Those bastards swoosh! Snatched this lady’s bag. But then, a young man wearing a hat suddenly fly-kicked whack! Blow them away…
On behalf of Kang Ba Da, an aunty who watched the whole situation explained very enthusiastically. The police approached her after hearing about the circumstances.
– Perhaps, do you know that person?
– Yeah? Uh… No. Why is it?
– Frankly, the law is ambiguous… That person obviously did a good job. But according to the criminal law, he inflicted one-sided violence against the snatchers. He also needs to be investigated together.
The gaze of Kang Ba Da turned to the snatchers. The robber duo was just being rescued from under a motorcycle.
No matter how slow the speed was, it was still in the middle of running. Since they weren’t even dressed properly, they were covered in blood all over aside from the motorcycle.
I have to run away now.
– …So, that’s what it meant.
– What did you just say?
– I will call the company’s legal team to take care of this.
The police voiced questions, but there was no time to explain them one by one. Because she had to find Kim Ha Neul who had disappeared somewhere.
Afterward, Kang Ba Da handled the case neatly through the legal team and managed to find Kim Ha Neul by searching all the surrounding CCTVs.
‘…He lived a hard life.’
Once she figured out his name and address, it was easy from then on. She quickly learned what kind of life Kim Ha Neul lived and why it happened like that.
If she had simply felt guilty about him, she could have dealt with it neatly with a monetary reward. But she felt uncomfortable in a corner of her heart for some reason, so she went to find him herself.
– Do you want anything?
– That ‘you’ don’t look for me.
– Not that one.
– Not that one.
– An awful lot of money
– Not that.
– Perhaps, are you being told as tactless a lot?
Kim Ha Neul’s expression showed that he was annoyed, let alone remember her. The problem was that there was a needless desire to win.
She wanted to see his embarrassed face somehow, so she threw ‘marriage’ as bait that seemed like he would never accept.
‘You’re crazy. Kang Ba Da.’
Kang Ba Da recalled the marriage registration form in the deepest part of her safe. Then her face flushed for no reason.
– Ba Da, so you are serious?
– Don’t you say you’re not, okay? You’ve been looking at a sleeping person’s face for an hour.
The conversation she had with the hair salon director before coming out made a mess in her head.
She couldn’t deny it when she had already said that she was going to get married. Kang Ba Da could only smile awkwardly.
‘…What should I do?’
Covering her face with her hands, Kang Ba Da sat down. She consciously took deep breaths, trying to calm her beating heart.
‘…I think I still like this person.’
The innocent love she thought was over.
Was burning red.