Chapter 2 — Like a Lie
I cried until the food on the tray went cold, but ultimately, nothing was solved by crying. Even if I returned home, I did not have any money to offer those hyena-like gangsters in place of my flesh, nor could I promise to work off my debt in this state when my wrist was injured.
But after scampering around the hospital room all day hamster and mulling it over intently, I did reach a decision.
“I’ll run away. To somewhere no one knows.”
Going back home despite not having a single coin on me was equivalent to jumping into a pit of hellfire. The gangsters could be camped out there. I didn’t know if the man from yesterday was out of his mind or not, but I was going to borrow some money off of him somehow and take off.
I’ll leave Seoul and head out to the boonies. Maybe to the coast or deep into the woods. I’ll change my name and alter my appearance so one would recognize me anymore…
From sun down til the next morning, it was all I thought about. It was to the extent that I thought I was the one going out of my mind. But I couldn’t help it when just staying alive was such a desperate affair.
It was at a similar time the next day that the man visited again.
I had stayed up the whole night anxiously drifting in and out of sleep, but my foggy mind seemed to clear up marginally at the sight of his face. For some reason, I held this indeterminate belief that the man would help me.
At how I was suddenly putting on airs of familiarity when only yesterday I was arguing over what nonsense he was spouting, the man shot me a strange glance at me. Today as well, he didn’t even think of approaching and stood at a fair distance from the bed.
“…How’s your condition. Your memory.”
Thrown off by the man’s question, I thought for a bit. It would be better to indulge him in order to rip him off of some money. I didn’t know what should be done for a situation where I would go on about divorce with another man, but it wasn’t like I needed to know. Consumed by my thoughts on running off, I didn’t know what I myself was doing.
“It came back, my memory.”
As he watched me try my best to put on a friendly expression, he didn’t react at all. Eventually he put both hands in his pockets, but that was it.
“Yesterday, I was still out of it from the anesthesia. Sorry.”
I didn’t believe that the man in front of me had gone crazy to bring up talk of divorce to another man. I reckoned that he had probably mistaken me for the brother of the woman he had married. It must be that he had talked too strangely of it that I misunderstood.
There’s no way he would mistake me for a woman, and neither would it make sense for him to do this to me out of boredom.
After a while of standing still, the man shot me a similar look as yesterday. That stinging look my face itch.
“You said your memory came back.”
“Why are you speaking politely.”
The thorns of conscience pricked all over my body. I quickly made an excuse.
“Oh, just subconsciously…”
My gaze skimmed over the man’s face and headed elsewhere. I rubbed at the back of my head. Occupied with thoughts of how to rip off some money, I failed to factor in his normal reaction. No, following common sense, my act of pretending to know someone I didn’t was in itself illogical. I regretted what I thought just seconds before. Heat flooded my face.
As I floundered, not knowing what to do, I heard the sound of dress shoes stepping closer. A long arm clad in a pitch black suit sleeve extended towards me and settled on my shoulder. His right hand was placed on my right shoulder, so it wasn’t arranged so that we were fully facing each other. My mind that was about to go into panic mode, calmed in an instant. When I looked up with a disbelieving gaze, the man was observing me like he was testing something.
Silence reigned. Removing his hand like his business was done, the man retreated again.
“You don’t feel anything?”
It wasn’t like he hit me or pinched me. It didn’t make sense to have any reaction. Quietly watching me nod, the man’s already heavy expression grew even more solemn.
“…Do you remember being married to me?”
“It might be a temporary memory loss due to the stress you experienced when losing blood. Or it might be from the excessive blood loss itself… The specifics we can only find out from conferring with the patient, but he’s refusing to cooperate right now.”
A doctor in a white coat sat on a sofa some distance away from the sickbed and conversed with the man. The doctor who had arrived not long after a phone call by the man treated me as an amnesiac patient. That man had probably explained my symptoms in such a way. That I couldn’t remember…
‘Exactly what is he, that person…?’
The man really had spouted nonsense about how he and I were married. He hadn’t mistaken me for a brother-in-law, but went on about having married ‘me’, a male, with a straight face.
– Excuse me… Aren’t you the one with a mental problem here? I said this yesterday, too, but I’m a man… Phew. I’m sorry I lied just now, but I saw you yesterday for the first time. Why are you being like this.–
Buried in the bewilderment of the moment, thoughts of scamming the man of some money also didn’t occur to me. With an expression like he was the more frustrated one here, the man had made a call somewhere. And so it came to this situation. The more baffling thing was the fact that even the doctor saw me as the disturbed person rather than the man.
It was like something was wrong with my head. Or it even occurred to me that I was suffering through this as the protagonist being filmed by hidden cameras on some low-quality cable TV program.
The doctor, who finished talking with the man while stealing glances at me every so often, looked at me smilingly and left with a ‘see you later’. Sitting with my leg bent and arm wrapped around it, I just stared at the leaving doctor.
The man let out a barely audible sigh. He had taken off his suit jacket and was suddenly clad in just a white shirt. The man that had been looking at me fixedly perched on a stool near my bed and asked,
“Do you remember your name?”
“Seo Do Yun . Your name.”
I was ignoring the man’s question and gazing at the thin carpet laid out on the floor of the hospital room, but I hesitantly raised my head at the following three-syllable name.
“Do you remember?”
My name, how did he…
Early in the morning the day before, I didn’t even have my wallet. If he were mistaking me for someone else, then, at least, a name I didn’t know would have been mentioned.
“…How did you know my name?”
It was a stupid question. When in all likelihood, these people had done all their research on me and were deliberately deceiving me.
“Is this like a hidden camera prank? If it is, please stop now. Because it’s not funny. I’m not such an idle person that I can afford to be suffering through this stuff.”
It wasn’t the time to be lounging around. The quicker the better, I had to get out of Seoul before the gangsters found out my location. It wasn’t the time to be playing along to this sort of joke. I stood up as if to leave any second now.
“Sit for a minute.”
A heavy voice mixed with a hint of annoyance stopped me in my tracks. After walking away a few steps wearing my hospital gown without even knowing where my normal clothes were, I whipped my head back around. The man found a remote control and held it in his hand, turning on the huge-screened TV hung up on the wall.
…Omegas have something like that, you know? Feeling strange before a heat cycle… Do alphas have something like that, too?
Oh, of course. Alphas have it too.
The screen looked like a talk show. Several women and men sat around in a circle and were talking about some topic. The man handed me the TV remote in his hand.
“Watch. Flip the channels and check the other things, too.”
This situation couldn’t be airing live or something on TV, could it? Seeing the man’s attitude, it didn’t seem like it, but I couldn’t tell what this had to do with anything. In a stupor, I pressed the button up once , and defensively surveyed the screen.
Omegas and alphas, today we’ll be finding out about hormone abnormalities. Hello, doctor. Yes, hello. These days my wife also exhibits such symptoms every so often. Her cycles are off now and then, or…
I was watching the screen with an air of ‘go ahead, just try me’ before my eyes widened. A commonly seen morning program on everyday health was playing on screen, but a tall, female host was talking nonchalantly about her ‘wife’. I simply couldn’t believe it, so I approached a bit closer to the TV screen.
Hormonal imbalance results from stress or other health problems. Sometimes, even if there is no problem, you may feel changes now and then as you age…
I raised the remote and changed the channel. A drama with a heterosexual couple was airing. But soon, a scene with the male actor’s two parents came up, both middle-aged and male. I flipped the channel again and again.
“…What is this.”
They were pulling a prank on me. No matter how many times I pressed the remote buttons in disbelief, same-sex couples kept recurring in TV programs as if perfectly natural. Frozen in place with my hair raked back, I immediately went to the windowsill and looked out the window. I didn’t know what I was thinking. Probably that I wanted to check if it really was the world I’d been living in.
The view outside the window was the same as when I’d I looked out momentarily yesterday. And there wasn’t the slightest difference from the world I’d been living in. They wouldn’t fabricate so many videos just to fool me alone. What I was seeing right now, to what extent I should believe it, I was extremely conflicted.
I sensed someone behind me. When I turned around, the man was wordlessly watching me be conflicted. Trembling, I stood facing him.
“I don’t know what on earth has happened… Omegas, alphas, what even are those…?”
“I feel like I’ve gone crazy.”
I tried skimming my face with both hands, but it made no difference. A voice even more businesslike than the doctor from just before rang out.
“Tell me how far you remember. Name, and age? Do you remember your parents?”
“I have parents?”
The man answered leisurely. It was an expression of asking something that was a given. To think that I have parents… Without reacting, I turned back around and leaned my hand on the windowsill. Black, white, grey cars were all heading their own way in a hurry. It was the all too familiar world I’d been living in. But all this man has been telling me were unbelievable things. Marriage between men?
It was laughable how shocked I was, considering I myself had been betrayed a male lover, but… despite that… The world I’d been watching for over 20 years had changed like this overnight? There was just no way such a thing would happen.
The day before, in order to escape from my wretched life, I had been standing on the middle of the bridge; and that early morning, the fierce gale, thunder, and lighting had been raring as if they’d come to welcome me and whisk me away. Then the river I saw from above had seemed so black and merciless that I backpedaled.
After leaving the orphanage, I had hopes that even if I wasn’t better off than others, I would at least live as well as them. At the very least, I didn’t think I would live a life being chased by people worth less than trash, a life which ended at their hands. Therefore, I felt aggrieved and didn’t want to die.
I had realized that I wasn’t someone with enough courage to end my own life, and had turned around wearily. A white, blue tinted light flickered in front of my eyes, and a pain that felt like my entire body was burning up exploded. I couldn’t even scream at the agony that passed through me, then I felt my sight fade to black and descend all of a sudden. As I collapsed, I realized that I had been hit by lightning and thought I would die soon.
But when I woke up, something even more unbelievable than being hit by lightning was happening.
‘Maybe I’ve been transported to another world.’
The corner of my mouth twisted like someone who had entertained a stupid thought for a split second, but like I said, it was a mere fraction of a second. Afterwards, my heart started racing like I’d won the lottery or something. It was a lie I would rather believe. The overwhelming debt my ex-lover left behind, and the hyena-like gangsters, if it were all unrelated to me now. If only it really were like that…
Turned away from him, I grabbed the man’s shirttail. I might seem like a lunatic, but right now, nothing could faze me.
“…You really married me?”
Looking down at me who was clutching at his chest like I was begging, he replied with a ‘…Last year’. Seeing the man’s composed eyes like he was saying something extremely ordinary, I wanted to believe in all of it, just as it was.
 By politely, he means the polite/formal form common in Korean, jondaemal (존댓말). That’s what Do Yun uses with Yo Han, while Yo Han uses the casual form, banmal (반말).
 Names in Korean are like Chinese where his last name Seo comes first: Seo Do Yun (서도윤).
*TV stuff in italics
JEN: It might seem rly weird that he’s so shook at gay marriage or same sex couples on TV, but it rly is unimaginable in Korea. I thought it was so interesting how the omegaverse stuff was dealt with :3