~29

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I opened my eyes to a strange place.

It was dark, but it wasn't cold like I was expecting it to be. 

The buzz I heard before was louder, and it was almost deafening.

"You're finally here," said a voice, echoing through the darkness. Strangely, it sounded like a kid.

"Excuse me? Um, where are you?" I asked, trying to find where it came from.

"Behind you." This time it was clearer, and I turned around.

It was me--no, it was 9-year-old Y/N. She looked the same right after the car accident. 

"It's you," I said. 

She sighed. "Why? Were you expecting someone else? Someone like Mom?"

"Well, I did see her back up there," I said, pointing at the sky. Then I looked at her with a serious air. "Why did you do this to us?"

She fixed a pointed look at me. "I should be the one asking you that."

As she said those words, the landscape suddenly changed.

I was back in the highway in Busan, where the car accident took place. The ground was already deep in snow. The roads were slippery, and there wasn't a car in sight.

"You remember this place, don't you?" Young Y/N told me, sitting against the corner of the dividers.

I took a shaky breath. "I do."

"Then why did you try to forget about it?"

I sighed as I sat down beside her, waiting for the two cars to collide. "I don't know. It was haunting me. I didn't know--"

"You forgot, didn't you?" She said, interrupting me.

"What did I forget?"

She looked at me, a hollow expression on her face. "Mr. Im died."

Hearing that, my heart almost skipped a beat. The kind man who took care of me while living in that mansion...the brave gardener who conducted a secret escape plan with me... How did he die?

"The car crash," Young Y/N told me, as if reading my thoughts, which she probably had. "You promised you would forget about it the moment the two cars collided."

A woman's scream pierced the air, followed by the sound of metal hitting metal. There was a shrill sound as car tires skidded across the icy pavement. Automatically, my hands flew up to my ears, trying to block the sound.

"Stop hiding. You need to know what happened. You deserve justice." Young Y/N chided me, now standing up.

Slowly, I removed my hands and I found myself staring at the crash before me.

It was like watching a movie in slow motion. There was an explosion, but there wasn't a sound. 

I wondered why it was so hard for me to finally uncover this memory. I've seen it with my own eyes, yet I never recalled it.

Now, I finally remembered.

"Mr. Im, my parents... What if they find out we're gone?" I said, as we turned left towards Busan Highway.

"Don't worry, I promise I won't let them take you away again," Mr. Im replied, patting my shoulder. "And anyway, me and my boy Hoseok will take care of you once we reach the orphanage. You can meet lots of new friends who are just like you."

12-year-old Hoseok nodded beside me, exchanging the same smile. "I'm excited! Are you excited, Y/N?" He had been my playmate and companion whenever Mr. Im brought him to the mansion. We were close friends who treasured each other's company.

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