Chapter 1 - Fragments of the Past
Once upon a time, in a small town, there was an old man with a lump on his neck. One day, the old man went into the forest to chop some wood, but he wandered so deep that he could not leave the wilderness until the sun set. Eventually, the old man decided to spend the night in an empty house that he found on the way. Spending the night alone was frightening and lonely, so after pondering, the old man started to sing. Just then, the goblins that were nearby heard his singing and gathered around him.
One goblin who was very moved by the song asked, “Where is that fine voice coming from?”
The old man told him that it was from his throat, but the goblins weren’t satisfied with that answer. Their throats could not produce that kind of singing voice.
The goblins were enraged and told him, “We will punish you if you do not tell us honestly.”
The frightened old man lied, “It came from this lump.”
The goblins were delighted and told the old man that they would give him a large sum of money in exchange for the lump. The old man nodded, and the goblins took away his lump, leaving behind an immense amount of treasure.
The old man was rid of his lump and became rich, so the neighboring old man with lumps also visited the empty house. He waited for it to become night and sang. The goblins heard the singing and gathered around. The goblins asked where the singing voice was coming from. He answered right away that it came from the lump. When they heard the answer, the goblins shouted furiously, “You are also lying! We fell for it back then, but we won’t fall for it now!”
* * *
…This is not the story of the old man who received treasures in exchange for his lump. It is also not about the neighbor who ended up with one more lump instead. This is the story about the “goblins” who took the lump and the song away from the old man.
When I was younger, I was once trapped in a large house. There are times when memories of one’s childhood are jumbled up with no beginning or end. So I don’t know how I came to be trapped in that house.
Perhaps I was really confined in that house. Nobody chased me down, nor did I feel the need to run away from someone. So maybe “confined” is not the right term for it. Regardless, the wording didn’t make a difference because I couldn’t find the exit to the outside no matter what.
While I roamed the dark and spacious house freely, I struggled to find the exit.
Even though my memory of that time was episodic, I remember the house being extravagant. The lavishness and hedonism ingrained in that house couldn’t all be masked by the darkness.
When I groped for the wall to find my balance, instead of dry wallpaper, I felt soft and scented ornamental foliage, and I could tell how grand the chandelier in the ceiling was even in the dark. I even thought that I might be trapped in my younger cousin’s two-story dollhouse.
The corridors were so long that I couldn’t see where they ended. There were several doors along each side of the hallway. All of them looked different—from the familiar and crude door to doors that I could imagine seeing on TV. I even saw metal grilled doors that were better suited outside, rather than inside, as an entry to a garden.
The doors were all opened to different degrees. Some doors had several locks on them, while others were wide open for passersby to see inside. However, none of the doors grabbed my interest. I couldn’t afford to be distracted. It felt like someone kept whispering that in my ears.
I don’t remember how long I wandered. I grew exhausted from the endless, windowless hallway. I thought that I might as well curl up in a corner and wait until someone found me.
Just then, a sweet scent drifted to my nose from somewhere.
At the time, I thought that it was the smell of candy, but thinking of it now, I think it was similar to the scent that I smelled when I stood under a very ripe grapevine. Specifically, it was the scent of ripened grapes crushed in one’s hands.
The sweet scent came along with a song, almost like a lullaby. The voice strangely tugged at my heart.
Who was it?
I carefully walked toward it. I wasn’t thinking about whether going in that direction would lead me to the exit that I was searching for. I just thought that there must be somebody there. I was filled with hope.
After being trapped in this dark house, I didn’t see another soul. I was sure the house was full of people at first. I didn’t remember what made everyone go their separate ways.
The scent and the voice pulled me to the entrance of a room. However, there was something different about it. The room had no door. There was only a hole the shape of a doorway in the wall.
At the same time, it seemed like it had a door there before. There were remnants of broken door hinges on one side of the wall. Of course, I was young then, so I didn’t know they were hinges. I only had the feeling that there was once a door upon seeing the hints that it was ripped off.
Moreover, I could see the inside of that room clearly compared to the other rooms I came across so far.
You are required to login first