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    This guy even has a name that matches his face.

    I was sincerely impressed, then frowned. What was this feeling of déjà vu? It was similar to how I felt when I remembered my own name. Was it subconscious?  I wasn’t sure. As soon as I scrunched my face with a strange sense of frustration, dizziness quickly set in.

    I closed my eyes tightly, trying to endure it, but then I felt a warm touch on my forehead. When I opened my eyes, a hand that couldn’t be described as soft was resting casually on my forehead.

    “Are you feeling carsick? Should I stop the car?”

    “No, it’s fine.”

    My voice came out choked as if I were being strangled. This was driving me crazy. I tried my best to act as if nothing was wrong, but it was nearly impossible. My entire body had stiffened up. The hand moved gently from my forehead to my cheek, caressing me with an unexpected tenderness. With such rough hands, these careful gestures were truly ticklish.

    “Are you cold? There’s a blanket in the back.”

    “…I’m fine.”

    It was not even a blanket, but some kind of bedding. I mentally scoffed for no reason. It might be too harsh to say to someone who had come all this way to find me, but I just wished he’d leave me alone. Ignoring me would be even better. Just being in the same space was maddeningly uncomfortable and awkward, so I hugged my poor bag tightly.

    The distance was too close. His psychological proximity to me was excessively close. As a result, I feel ambushed on my end with no memories. The way he boldly approaches me with the attitude of someone who had a deep relationship. The casual touching. No, everything was based on blatant affection!

    I had no idea how to respond. Accepting it seemed unjustified, and rejecting it…

    “While you were gone, I had a lot of thoughts. I even wondered if maybe you were deliberately not contacting me.”

    “What? No, why would I do something so unnecessary?”

    “That’s right.”

    The sound of his fingers tapping the steering wheel seemed especially loud. As I watched blankly, he continued slowly.

    “That’s true. If you had done it on purpose, it wouldn’t make sense… But thinking you didn’t do it on purpose, doesn’t that seem strange?”


    Instead of sitting still, I straightened my posture solemnly. It was as if my guilty conscience had been pricked, and even his casual comments sounded sarcastic. When everyone was worried, I was stuffing myself in two huge bowls of dumpling soup in some hidden place, even brazenly finishing all the fruit too. I wouldn’t have been so relaxed even at a retreat.

    “I didn’t do it on purpose, I was just… overwhelmed and forgot…”

    My voice automatically trailed off, feeling like the world’s worst scumbag. At that moment, the fingers tapping the wheel suddenly stopped.

    “Why do you always forget important things…”

    The unnaturally cut-off sentences didn’t continue, but even those few remaining words sounded like a curse, showing I must have constantly frustrated this person in the past. I felt newly repentant. Because it wasn’t just him – my father, sister, and friends had all scolded me more than once or twice.

    “sorry… ”

    “I’m sorry…”

    “No, you have nothing to apologize for.”

    His hand comes down gently on my disheveled, messy hair.

    “It was my mistake leaving you out there.”

    No, how can his words twist things like that? I wanted to object but held back. Not only have I still not decided how to deal with this unethical relationship with my stepbrother, I lack the mental capacity to confront it. I also don’t know if I should apologize to my mother or father first.

    Feeling doubly desolate as the unfilial son…Even so, the affectionate caress through my hair feels tender. It’s hard to get used to. My hair must be coarse and tangled from washing with soap, not a particularly pleasant texture, yet he seems to enjoy it.

    After gritting my teeth for a while, I finally tried to escape his hand, only for something cold to graze my cheek. It was a bottle of water.

    “If you’re thirsty, don’t hesitate to drink.”

    But I didn’t give any indication, so how did he know I was being hesitant in the darkness, or that I was thirsty…I unscrewed the bottle cap, trying to hide my surprise.

    Out of habit, I calculated how much water was left to drink later, but immediately dismissed the thought. Even though I no longer need to do that, the fact that I still did shows part of me must still be stuck up on that mountain.  When will I be able to fully come down from there? I played with the clean, unblemished water bottle and slowly leaned my head against the window.

    My face reflected in the dark window looked haggard. I didn’t feel much about it. It was still strange to me. Losing my memory meant that even my own face felt unfamiliar, and I couldn’t get used to it. After looking at the small wound that couldn’t be erased for a while, I glanced at the seat next to me.

    … I really don’t know what the resemblance that grandmother talked about.  Maybe it’s because of the dim car interior, but he gives off a rather dangerous aura that makes him seem even more mysterious. Looking at him like this, he didn’t just seem like a gentle person.

    I’m utterly clueless about how I ended up in that kind of relationship with this person. What did I do? Didn’t anyone try to stop me? Writhing in self-loathing, the only thing I feel sure of is… if I was living together with someone like this, there’s no way I would have crossed that line so easily…At least, I hope my moral compass was intact enough that I didn’t give in on a mere whim.

    “How much do you remember?”

    “… Well. I remember taking the midterm exam in the first semester of my freshman year.”

    I also remember being satisfied with my grades, though I did mess up one group project. My perfectly researched assignment was destroyed in mid-air because of someone else’s one-sided love affair, or rather their crush. Thanks to that, I had to singlehandedly put together an unplanned PPT and do the presentation alone, but fortunately, it didn’t affect my grades.

    “But you don’t remember me at all?”

    As if that could be possible… His tone alone makes one of my questions disappear. That alone erased one of my questions. It seemed we met before then, but it was strange. I straightened my tilted head to face him directly. No matter how unstable my memory was and how I had forgotten everyone’s faces, could I really have forgotten his?

    The only time I remember being amazed by someone’s face was once. That person was a senior two years older than my seventeen-year-old self. Could it be him? The suspicion crossed my mind, but it seemed impossible. Even if it was hard to guess his age, I knew he wasn’t at least two years older than me.

    “March last year. Don’t you remember?”

    “Last year? … When I was a senior in high school?”

    “High school senior? … Seung-won-ah, how old are you now?”


    I answered without thinking, then frowned. It hurt my pride that I answered like a child.

    “…You have a younger brother.”

    “No? I have a younger sister.”


    “Why do you ask that?”

    “For a moment… I want to check something properly.”

    He closed his mouth quickly, like someone who suddenly lost their words. I followed him into silence, but I couldn’t hold back my curiosity any longer. I was too curious to wait until tomorrow.

    “I’m not actually twenty, am I?”


    “How old am I?”

    “Twenty one.”

    Perhaps it’s fortunate that not too much time has passed.  But it feels like just yesterday that I graduated high school, and the forsythias I saw when I started university still seem to be in bloom.

    I’m not sure exactly what head injury caused this, but for me, day by day, moment by moment, my latest memory keeps changing. More precisely, I keep forgetting things.

    To compare it to a movie, it’s like a two-hour movie gradually shrinking to an hour and a half, then to an hour. Memories and moments melt so quickly like water-soaked cotton candy that I didn’t even realize that time has shortened. I even forget that I forgot.

    “What month is it now?”

    “February 7.”

    February, huh…

    “Do you know if I received a scholarship next semester, or even in the second semester of my freshman year?”

    “Yeah. You got it.”

    “Then what about this semester?”



    “Well… I’m not sure.”

    It’s unusual for him to hesitate like this when he usually answers so confidently. Did I not get it? Oh, that’s bad. Having grades low enough to lose the scholarship… It’s already tough having to submit my report card to my dad as a college student. I’ve never been hit at this age, but maybe this time…

    While I swallowed a sigh, he spoke again.

    “But really, you don’t remember anything at all? You don’t recall a single thing when you hear my name? You don’t recognize me when you see me? It’s not a face you’d see just anywhere.”


    It’s brazen, but he’s definitely right that it’s not a face you’d see just anywhere. I deeply agreed, but since I really didn’t know him, I shook my head.


    He lets out a short, disappointed sigh. …I shouldn’t have answered. I should have pretended to sleep.

    “You don’t even know who I am. Everything that happened between us has become nothing.”

    A bitterness that cannot be hidden can be felt in his low voice trailing off the words. Suddenly I wish I had pretended to pass out. I haven’t done anything wrong, but his sorrow makes me feel so apologetic. Another furtive glance at his profile in anguish almost makes my legs shake. This person really knows how to tug at my heartstrings.

    “Excuse me.”

    I swallowed a sigh and rubbed the back of my head.

    “It’s probably temporary. I know my condition is serious, but don’t worry too much. It’s nothing. My memory will probably come back later.”

    “…Aren’t you scared?”

    “Of course I am.”

    I replied indifferently, then met his eyes as they examined my complexion. Adapted to the darkness, I can see his eyes surprisingly well. I straightened up again. He worried too much about me. …Maybe it was because I talked about myself like it was someone else’s problem?

    “Like I said, it could be a temporary issue, and even if not, the hospital can fix it, so no need to worry too much about it.”

    One could think ‘all is well in the world,’ but why waste time dwelling on an unsolvable problem? Better to quickly move on to the next issue instead. I was so depressed that I got a nosebleed and collapsed, and it wasn’t even that big of a fuss, so I just ignored it.

    As I drank more water, I felt his gaze and cautiously turned my head.

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