I really hate this kind of atmosphere.”
“Want to come and play?”
“Sure, let’s go play.”
I got up from my chair and extended my hand to As.
As looked at my face intently and then held my hand with a smile.
“Okay, what should we do now?”
It was a lively atmosphere where they treated each other like kids, but I couldn’t stand being treated like a child with As.
I made an excuse and came out, but I really couldn’t play with As.
We had ended a conversation like that last time.
Besides, the maid was following us today.
As I held As’s hand and walked aimlessly, he called out to me.
“Hey, over there.”
“Do you want to have coffee?”
“I’ll give you coffee.”
At the sound of coffee, my eyes widened.
As smiled at my reaction and led me.
The basement warehouse where As led me kept wine and food, and there were also coffee beans.
As grabbed a handful of coffee beans and handed them to me.
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
When I opened my hands and received the coffee beans, As looked at me with bright eyes full of anticipation.
I looked at As with the coffee beans in my hand.
The maid, who had been silently following us, seemed puzzled as to what to do.
After a while, As felt something strange and asked with his head tilted.
“Why aren’t you eating it? It’s made of this.
So try it.”
So As thought I was going to eat raw coffee beans.
He didn’t know that coffee was very bitter and that coffee beans were even more bitter.
I laughed because I was so surprised.
When I laughed, As quickly picked up one of the coffee beans on my hand and put it in his mouth.
Perhaps because of the extremely bitter taste, As quickly spat out the coffee bean.
“What is this?”
“That’s why you don’t eat that, stupid.”
[That’s why you don’t eat that, stupid.]
As the mischievous voice echoed, the face of As, who had become tearful, seemed to overlap with someone else for a moment.
That someone else wasn’t as pretty as As.
He was very, very ugly.
And it was me who was crying because of the bitter taste, not that someone else.
Even though I didn’t eat coffee beans, the bitter taste, which was as painful as the tongue in my memory, was swirling in my mouth.
“Why did you eat that?”
The coffee beans on my hand spilled to the ground and scattered in all directions.
Memories that I had held tightly with the coffee beans also bounced around and shook me.
I had occasionally recalled memories of the past before, but they had never been as intense as they were now.
I couldn’t tell what expression I was making now.
I was angrier as I recalled my mother’s son who had tormented me in my innocent childhood, who had told me that it would taste better if I ate Mac X just because it would taste better if I drank it in warm water, and then I thought of my brother, who had held my hand, saying that it would be okay, and I was forced to swallow my tears until the moment of my death.
Starting from that, the emotions that I had been holding back, such as the “jumadeung” that I had seen before I died, began to surface one by one.
As called me, grabbing my hand, as I stood there with my palm open and dazed.
I almost flinched away from As’s hand, but I managed to hold on and said what I had to say to escape from here.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going home.”
“We’re supposed to eat together until tonight, so you can’t go home right now.”
As told me that I couldn’t go home yet, and I eventually flinched away from her hand.
I knew I couldn’t go home.
Because I had died while holding my brother’s hand.
But hearing those words, I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I knew I shouldn’t be angry with As, but I couldn’t help shouting at anyone.
“I’m going home! I’m going home!”
I swung the rabbit doll I was holding at As.
Even though it was just a doll, As flinched and crouched down when I hit her randomly.
The startled maid scolded me, and I dropped the doll I was holding to the floor.
I knew I was taking my anger out on an innocent child, but I couldn’t think of anything else but my sadness and pain.
I sat there and cried out loud.
I had been holding up well, but just because of a single coffee bean, I realized that this was not where I belonged.
It was too unfair, I would have rather been a villain in the countless romance novels I had read or even an extra.
Why was I born as a nonexistent character from my own novel? No matter how much I tried to attach myself to this place, I couldn’t shake off the thought that everything was just my own creation.
The fear and sorrow I felt in my dying moments, and the despair of not being able to go back home choked me.
When my breath was blocked, I desperately called out for someone.
Maybe I was just dreaming, that was the only thought that came to mind.
I left everything behind in that place.
My dream, my friends, my boyfriend, my family.
Everything, my entire existence as a human being.
I wanted to open my eyes to see a hospital and hear our mom crying and cursing me for being an unfilial daughter who was about to die before her parents.
Even if that wasn’t the case, even if it was impossible.
I just wanted to see our mom, even if it was just once.
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