The town in the countryside was just as I left it, unchanged, aside from the season having turned, it was exactly the same. In order to avoid the shops and the riverfront, I purposely gave the town a wide berth and headed toward the rest stop instead. The road was mostly uphill. The sun was hot and made me sweat. A scooter overtook us, kicking up a cloud of dust. Taehyung gave a hacking cough and grumbled to himself in the distance. I could see the curve where the accident had happened.

    By now, there wasn't even a sign left on the wayside. Taehyung dropped to his knees, as if someone had collapsed there, and looked down at the asphalt. On the bus on the way here, I had told Taehyung about what happened several winters ago. The competition at the riverside restaurant, the snowflakes falling from the cloudy sky, Taehyung’’s injured face. The moment as the scooter slid when all the hairs on the back of my neck had stood on end. Taehyung’s accident and death, and how easily that incident had been resolved and forgotten. There were things I couldn't say. How Taehyung's face looked when he said he had something to ask me. All the moments that I had lived in this countryside town, and the fact that I had called that friend 'Taehyung’.

    "Hyung. Let's not die."

    I looked down to see Taehyung looking up at me. His hand pressed to the asphalt. I tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind. It seemed like under Taehyung's hand, I could see Taehyung--no, that friend from the town-lying there on the white lines there was no one in the world who would be okay with dying that way someone had died. But nobody had taken responsibility and nobody had really mourned him. Of course, I had been the same.

    "Let's go."

    At my words, Taehyung picked himself up. “Where are we going now?”

    Instead of answering, I said, "when we went to the beach a while ago, you said you had something ask me, didn't you? Let's talk about it now. Whatever it is. We’ll figure it out together."


    The Notes 1: 花樣年華 [The Most Beautiful Moment in Life]


      Namjoon is at a bus stop in a countryside village. We come to know that he has shifted there with his family in Year 20 for two reasons: the presence of a country hospital for his father’s treatment and employment opportunities for Namjoon himself. He works as a delivery boy. Being the only part time job available in the town; competition was high and the delivery boys often competed against each other as rivals, and went as far as picking up trash for the people they delivered to. Though rivals, Namjoon also felt sympathy for them, and was often reminded of his friends from high school.

      In the winters, deliveries were risky as they involved driving a motorbike over snow. Ultimately the competition boils down to only two delivery boys who were poor enough to consider the risk: Namjoon and “ Taehyung”. The real name of “ Taehyung” is Jongsik/ Jonghun but Namjoon prefers to call him Taehyung.

      One particular day, Namjoon convinces the eatery owner he works for to let him do the delivery in spite of the danger of snow. “Taehyung” looks at Namjoon oddly and his body is covered with bruises and bleeding in a way that suggests that he was being hit at home. Namjoon struggles with riding and ends up skidding -his left ankle is hurt and there is a scratch on the scooter. However, he braces himself for another round of deliveries just when his mother calls to inform him that his father fell in the snow and needs to be hospitalized. Angry that the meager money he earns will be spent so quickly for his father, Namjoon leaves and gives the key to Taehyung

      He comes to know that “Taehyung” died that day due to an accident. The police blame it on his poor driving skills and his lack of helmet. Namjoon spots a never before seen helmet at the counter but doesn’t speak up. With the death of “ Taehyung” , Namjoon feels increasingly guilty for being the one who survived, and for now getting more income as he was running all the deliveries now. A week later he overhears a stranger remarking that wet leaves and calcium chloride cause a greater danger of skidding than snow itself. Namjoon remembers how he himself had laid the wet leaves and the salt to prevent the road from icing over. This increases his guilt even more and he wonders if he is to blame for all of this.

      Feeling suffocated by his desolate conditions, Namjoon leaves the village and boards a bus to Songju. Remembering his father’s words, “ Go Namjoon, you must survive”, he scrawls the same on the window panes of the bus: “ I must survive”.