I opened the storage classroom's door and went inside. The smell of mold and dust was mixed in the not-yet-cool air. In a moment, several scenes cut across my mind. The way the principal's shoes had sparkled. Namjoon's expression as he stood outside the door. The last day, when I had turned away from hoseok and gone home alone. All at once, my head hurt and I felt a chill. A complicated emotion came over me like an ache, one that could be called annoyance and could be called fear. The signal that I felt with my heart and body was obvious. I had to leave this place.
Taehyung grabbed my arm, perhaps having read my expression. "Hyung. Just try a little more. Try to remember what happened here." I shook off Taehyung's hand and went in. We had already been walking around for several hours in this heat wave. I was absolutely exhausted. The others looked at me with expressions that said they didn't know what to say. Memory. The memory of which Taehyung spoke was something meaningless to me. That I did this, that this happened to me, that we did this together. We could have done so. It seemed like we could have. But memory is neither acceptance nor understanding. It's not the interpretation of an experience. It's something that must take root deep inside your heart, your head, your soul. But to me, all the 'memories' that remained in this place were bad things. Things that hurt me, things that made me want to run away.
An argument arose between me, wanting to leave, and Taehyung who was blocking my path. But we were both tired. Our attempts to hit or dodge or push felt sluggish and heavy, as if we were moving through a warm, viscous liquid. My feet tangled momentarily with taehyung's. I wondered if my shoulder had hit the wall, and in the next second I staggered, senseless.
At first, I had no idea what had happened. Because of the thick dust, I could neither open my eyes nor breathe. I coughed without end. "Are you okay?" Someone asked, and I realized that I had fallen to the floor. As I raised myself up, I realized that what I had thought was a wall was in fact crumbling. Beyond the wall was a vast expanse. For a moment, nobody moved. "What on earth? We spent so much time here..." Someone said. None of us could have imagined that such an expanse lay beyond the walls. "But what is that?" As the dust settled, our eyes turned to a cabinet that was standing in the empty space.
Namjoon opened the cabinet doors. I took a step forward. Inside there was a single notebook. Namjoon picked up the notebook and turned the first page. My breath caught for a moment. The first page of an old book. Written there was a name I couldn't have anticipated. It was my father's name. I snatched the book away as Namjoon started to turn the page again. He stared at me in shock but I didn't care. I went to the desk. I turned the pages with my fingers as if they would crumble.
The notebook, written in my father's handwriting, was an account of the things he and his friends had done in their high school days. It wasn't an everyday account. Sometimes it skipped a month, and there were some pages that were made unreadable by something like bloodstains. Even so, I understood that my father had endured the same things I had. He had made mistakes and blunders just like I had, and had run and run to try to make up for them.
My father's notebook was a record of his failures. In the end, my father had given up and failed.He had forgotten and turned away and ignored. He had betrayed his friends. On the last page of the notebook were nothing but smeared black ink stains. The stains had permeated to the blank next page, and the next, and the one after that, all the way to the very last. Those stains announced my father's failures.
I was unsure how much time had passed. Seeing how wind from beyond the windows had become cool, it seemed like the darkest time of day, the time right before the sun rises. Namjoon and the others were asleep where they had sat down. I lifted my head and looked up at the wall. Somewhere here I had seen my father's name written before. Underneath had been written a sentence like, "this was where everything started."
The moment that I started to close the notebook, a sensation started at the end of my fingertips and moved up my arm. I saw faint letters appear atop the smeared ink stain. From beyond the window I felt a murky kind of energy. It seemed like the sun would rise soon. But the night was not yet over. It was a time that was no longer night, but not yet dawn. Like the tangling of darkness and greyish light, letters emerged between the lines in the black spot.
The notebook held more memories than what were recorded. Atop the letters, between the margins and the empty spaces were the. Things my father had decided to forget, things he had decided not to remember. Like the indentations of writing left behind once the color has faded, beneath my fingertips whirled my father's many struggles and fears, the despair he couldn't overcome and his weak hopes. The map of my father's bent soul was right here in this note.
As I closed the notebook, tears began to fall. I sat for a long time, and when I lifted my head my friends were still asleep as ever. I looked at each one of them. Maybe we had been meant to come back to this place. Everything started here for us. I came to understand the meaning of doing something together and the delight of laughing together. My first blunder, the mistake I had never once acknowledged aloud, remained like a wound.
The thought occurred to me that maybe none of this was by chance. Maybe I had to come to this place in the end. Only then could I find the meaning of my mistakes and blunders, and the pain and anxiety that we suffered as a result. I was, for the first time, able to take the first step to find the map of my soul.
TRANSLATED BY @ORIGAMYFIREFLY. PLEASE DO NOT REPOST.