I liked being between people. When I left the orphanage I got a part time job at a fast-food restaurant, where I had to interact with people, always laugh, and always be cheerful. I liked that job. Honestly, in my life there had been very few reasons to laugh or be cheerful. Clearly, I had seen more bad people than good. That could have been why I liked that job so much. If I smiled brightly and spoke loudly and reacted cheerfully, even if by force, I could eventually trick myself into believing I actually felt that way. My mood improved when I laughed loudly, and when I treated people kindly I became a kind person. There were hard days too. After cleaning up the store and heading home, even taking one step was difficult. There were days filled only with fussy customers. But even so, it was easier to withstand those things when I had friends, compared to now.

    Sometimes I thought of my friends as I looked at the store full of customers. Seokjin hyung, who transferred schools without a word; Namjoon, who disappeared one morning; Yoongi hyung, who wouldn't take our calls after being expelled; Taehyung, whose whereabouts we didn't know, whether he was getting in trouble or not; and Jimin, who never came back to school after the last time I saw him in the emergency room. I had seen Jungkook in his school uniform a few times through the window, but for some reason he had never visited the store. I wondered if maybe those times had all passed now.

    At the sound of a customer coming in, I gave a loud greeting. Then, with a cheerful and healthy smile, I looked toward the door.


    My entire world changed again after my nineteenth birthday passed. I was no longer a ward of the state and I couldn't stay at the orphanage I looked for my own place with the money I'd saved from working part-time jobs and from the stipend I got when I left the system. I couldn't bring myself to look near Two Star Burger. I tried going around near Songju Station, but there wasn't much difference. In the end, all I could do was walk up the slope. It was a rooftop room at the very end of a dead-end street.

    I dragged my thunking suitcase up the iron stairs. I had spent more than ten years at the orphanage, but I didn't have that much stuff all I had to do was organize a few articles of clothing and pairs of shoes and arrange the furniture I'd bought at the recycling center.

    But moving is still moving. So by the time I could stretch out. It was already night even in february, there was sweat on my back. When I opened the screeching iron door, a cold late-winter wind blew in. I went out and leaned on the banister. I looked down at Songju. I tried to guess where the orphanage was. I followed the river along to the left. Then to the left of the clover-shaped sign among all the neon and lights. I couldn't make the orphanage out.

    I lifted my head and looked up at the rooftop room. It was small, barely one room. It was shabby and poorly kept up. Hot as a sauna in summer and made cold by drafts in winter but it was the only place in the world that was mine. A place where I could be myself. A place where I could be foolishly afraid. Or have hope that others would sneer at. Somewhere I could laugh all I wanted and cry all I wanted.

    "Let's do well!' I shouted toward the room, this place at the top of the city, nearly touching the sky, would be my home from today onward.


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

    • JIMIN YEAR 22 JULY 28:

      Jimin checks the inside of Two Star Burger. It had been 4 days since Hoseok had stopped coming to the dance practice. He had heard that he went on a break, but Hoseok had stopped replying to any messages or calls after that. Jimin wonders if it is because of his ankle that got hurt the night Jimin crashed into the girl.

      He asks the employees of Two Star Burger, who inform him that he had taken a three week leave. He rushes to Hoseok’s house on foot, but his door was locked. Jimin leaves a message in the group saying, “ Hoseok, where are you?”. By the end of the day there was no reply.

    • HOSEOK YEAR 22 JUNE 13:

      Hoseok leaves the room, unable to see Jungkook trying to put up a brave front. He recalls how he had been wondering about why Jungkook did not visit Two Star Burger recently, so he had asked his classmates. The classmates had told him that he had gotten into an accident around 20 days ago. Shocked, Hoseok had opened their GC only to find there had been no message since the beach visit. He informed the group that Jungkook had gotten into an accident. Inside the room, Jimin and Jungkook are talking. Jimin tells Jungkook that he has enrolled in a dance crew. Hoseok checks the message he had sent, 4 people had still not read it. Annoyed, Hoseok wonders if they were only fair-weather friends. He recalls how Jungkook had only been in his third year of middle school when they had all gone their separate ways.He had such a forlorn look on his face on the day Hoseok had come to clean up their things from the classroom. Taehyung calls, asking for Jungkook. Hoseok tries to angrily scold him for not reading the message earlier, he hears Taehyung’s voice as if he was holding back tears.

    • SEOKJIN YEAR 22 MAY 2:

      Jin is waiting outside Yoongi’s workroom. He tenses up and tries to take courage from the fact he has seen this many times before. Jin reveals how Yoongi has been the most difficult for him to save. He had too many variables- the time and place of his suicide kept changing and his conflict seemed to be internal as well-as compared to Namjoon’s . In one of the loops he had followed him for days and saw him hesitating to take his life when he had to take care of an injured bird- the bird with wings.

      In this anecdote, the bird with wings becomes a symbol for Jungkook who, like the bird is broken . Jin recalls how he had seen Jungkook and Yoongi bond at the beach visit , and comes to a realization that he had to depend on Jungkook to help Yoongi. Jin deliberately makes Hoseok leave early from his shift, and locked Namjoon’s container so that Jungkook had no other option but to go to Yoongi’s workroom. Jin waits outside, but all he hears is a shattering and Yoongi storming outside, making his way to the motel. Worried, Jin leaves a bloodied tissue near the motel’s entrance as a clue for Jungkook. Earlier in the day he had also left a photo of the beach visit on Yoongi’s mirror. Seokjin thinks that perhaps , because of the photo, Jungkook got motivated to save Yoongi. Jungkook reaches the motel as Jin hopes desperately that they are saved.


      Hoseok has started working at Two Star Burger ever since he left the orphanage . He likes his job, as it involved dealing with many people and having to smile often, which ended up cheering him as well.

      In February, Hoseok had graduated from high school. As the new semester begins and students show up at the eatery, Hoseok wonders what his friends from high school were upto. He mentions that he heard that Seokjin transferred to another school, and that he often saw Jungkook at the entrance of the eatery, covered in cuts and bruises. He has no idea where Namjoon and Taehyung are, and the last time he saw Jimin was at the bus stop where he had collapsed due to seizures. Suddenly the bell rings and a new customer enters, it is someone Hoseok knows.