PDM Chapter 31
“Aren’t you curious about what the child said?”
Even at my request, Kyle stayed there like a statue.
“I will always dream and live.”
After a while, the monotonous voice that came out represented the child’s last words. I was soon able to grasp his true meaning without difficulty.
The dream the child spoke of was a memory, and the moon was death.
It’s a forest where you can erase your memories. You’re laughing at me for being silly.
Kyle stood from the chair and turned leisurely. I glanced at his movements.
With his eyes focused on the vase, Kyle said, “There’s nothing to gain from erasing your memory.”
“You sound as if you’ve been there,” I snapped.
Kyle turned to me, and I saw black eyes that reminded me of ink. His eyes were devoid of color and luster.
I raised my upper body and shot a sharp gaze through my messy hair.
“I’m not chasing lies.”
“It’s just a theory. Nothing’s been confirmed.”
“Even if I die, it has nothing to do with you.”
Kyle’s eyes aimlessly wandered in the air. He kept his mouth shut as he moved, the moonlight illuminating his face.
His face, lit by the white moonlight, looked bitter. I didn’t know if it was for someone; All I knew was that it was eating at him.
On the day I lost everything, did I lose my feelings, as well? I stopped caring, and I had no feelings left for him.
I reluctantly closed my eyes and said, “So, please, divorce me.”
Other than that, I didn’t want to talk to him anymore.
With a hazy mind, I wandered through distant memories.
I was about twelve years old. I remembered that Father had locked me in the closet. It was the day he returned from losing all his money, and the overwhelming smell of alcohol hit me.
‘Follow me, Aelle!’
Father grabbed me by the back, dragged me like a cattle to the slaughterhouse, and locked me in a closet. With the sound of rusty hinges, Father’s ferocious eyes disappeared, and the only thing I could hear was a hammering sound.
‘You look like your mother.’
He had spat out those words and left.
When I was with Brother, it terrified me to see Father beating him up, and Brother begging for forgiveness without even knowing what he had done wrong. He had crawled until his palms got hot and his knees bruised as he asked for forgiveness from Father.
On the day Brother left, I memorized the words he kept repeating like a spell.
‘Don’t cry. Don’t cry, Aelle.’
I swallowed my tears as the voice comforted me.
When I was in the same space as Father, I begged God for misfortune not to befall him because I would be the object of his anger if it did.
But strangely, that day, he didn’t even speak.
Brother left, and so did Father. Except for me, the only creatures at home were a swarm of ants gnawing on moldy bread.
Little Aelle knew it. She had no one to come to her rescue.
So I didn’t cry, beg, or shout for help. I just sat there with my legs pulled up close, and I buried my face in my lap, waiting for Father to come.
Just like now.
I crouched on the edge of the bed and stared into space. Without knowing the sound coming out of my mouth, I let it go. It was like a gentle hum or a mournful moan.
Am I still alive? No, I definitely am. I mean, that’s why I was able to think.
I realized that I was alive only when I continued to think or recall memories. It was like walking through a maze.
Someone knocked on the door, but I didn’t answer or pull the string.
If it were Laura or the other maids, they would have already opened the door and entered after the time had passed to do it.
It meant it was a different person. Kyle, maybe.
Troubled, I stared at the doorknob then looked away. My interest quickly waned like that of a fickle child.
Whether it was Kyle or someone else, it was all the same to me.
Was he trying to confess or something? A voice came from outside the door. The tone was familiar, so it wasn’t difficult to guess who it was.
I stared at the door that didn’t open.
“It’s my fault.” He continued speaking without hesitation. “Because I took you to the Count Harden’s mansion…”
His silence was a clear agreement. Even if I didn’t look in the mirror, I knew how my behavior looked. Laura looked at me as if she was looking at someone who could die right away.
Takan was Kyle’s man. Was Kyle trying to persuade me through him? Whatever the reason was, his words weren’t something that could come out of the person who belittled me.
Just as I quietly doubted such a thing, I heard a voice over the door.
“I’m not saying that.”
It was a voice that held back emotions. I didn’t know why he did, but I was sure it was arduous for him.
“I don’t care what you say.”
“Because I’m going to the forest of Quetray,” I said the same thing over and over again as if I was possessed.
A strange feeling came to mind. Yes, it was definitely the same as when I said I would go to Count Harden’s mansion.
Just like then, I had no way to go to the forest, just stubbornness.
Will Takan stop me as he did or laugh at me and say it’s a stupid delusion?
As I looked around the room blankly, a desperate voice came through the door.
“I’m here to help.”
My eyes slowly reached the door. My eyes felt so moist that I felt like crying at any moment, so I couldn’t turn a blind eye nor say yes.
“Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, I will follow you.”
Takan struggled to say those words, his voice trembling by the time he finished. Only then did I realize what he was enduring.
“So, please live.”
Why he was so desperate, Takan clearly expressed his feelings with his voice.
Please live. Don’t die.
Thus, he whispered in a low tone for a long time. It’s a familiar sound, like a gentle hum or a mournful moan. All of my suspicions disappeared, leaving only confusion.
Why would he? Why?
I lowered my legs out of bed and moved. As I moved away from the cold marble’s touch, my vision shook as if the mansion was shaking. Struggling, I held onto the console with both hands. I was breathing so hard that I could see my chest rising and falling.
“Are you okay?”
Breathless, I asked the impatient voice outside the door, “Why me…”
He took a deep breath and opened his mouth again when he calmed down.
“You can’t die.”
Maybe the person outside the door got scared and ran away? I stared at the door and was met with silence. After a while, I turned my gaze to the flower vase before turning back to the tightly closed door. It was a dark, dreary, desolate room, as if I was trapped.
Suddenly, I remembered the Aelle waiting for someone to come for her in the closet. A small, thin, helpless child.
“I told you I’d help you.”
The child hasn’t changed since she grew up. Still small, thin, and helpless.
I didn’t care who helped me. It didn’t matter whether it was because of sympathy for a woman who had lost a child or a primal desire that transcended it.
“Takan, help me.”
I could no longer remain as the girl who gave up her fate in the closet.
“What’s wrong with Madam? She finished eating.”
“Mas.” Lil shook her head and put her index finger on her lips. She kept Mas quiet but continued glancing at me. She, too, was curious about my behavior.
I wasn’t confident I could go to the dining room, so I asked Lil and Mas to serve me food. It was my first proper meal after a month.
I cut the edges of the freshly baked bread and dip it into the soup. The bread soaked in the soup and sagged heavily, and I put it in my mouth.
The last few weeks, I refused to eat, and even if I forced myself to eat something, I would only end up throwing it up. But today was different. I swallowed the food until I had to force myself to keep it down.
I needed the stamina to go to Quetray forest, so I had to take in as many nutrients as I could.
At that moment, I heard the door creak, and a familiar figure appeared.
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