, , What should I have done to erase that awful tragedy? What choice should I have made during a life-and-death crisis so that everyone could live? These were questions that have been haunting me every single day for the past five years. , I could give dozens—no, hundreds, thousands of answers to that question. Frankly, the most definite and perfect answer among them all was nothing special. , “Step on the accelerator!” , “Huh, what, yeah!” , Yeon-Hoon should have stepped hard on the accelerator. At that time, Yeon-Hoon had frozen in shock when the truck suddenly came rushing in. It wasn’t something anyone could blame him for, as most people would freeze in such an unexpected situation. , And this time as well, I thought, , I saw Yeon-Hoon looking out the window while being completely paralyzed. In the end, I had no choice but to step up. , I shouted, “Yeon-Hoon! Step on the accelerator!” , “Huh? Y-yeah!” I pressed Yeon-Hoon’s right thigh as hard as I could, and the accelerator pedal was pushed all the way in. , The car rushed forward. , “Ahhhh!” Yeon-Hoon hurriedly turned the steering wheel at the sudden increase in speed. Since the car would have crossed the centerline, Yeon-Hoon made the right decision to turn the steering wheel. Soon after— , , We heard a loud explosion. The truck that missed us by a hair’s breadth crashed into a wall. , “That’s insane.” , “Aghhhhh, what the hell!” , “What’s with that crazy truck!” , “Ahh, ugahhhhhh, oh my god.” , Four people except me screamed and made a fuss in unison. Amongst this clamor, only I was calm. , No, my mind was just blank. , Mission accomplished. , You have saved all the members of Siren. , The dream that I have imagined again and again—the wish that I earnestly desired to make if I could make just one wish— became a reality. , “…It came true.” Originally, all of my group members in the back seat died, and Yeon-Hoon, who was at the wheel, fell into a coma. The accident that took away the dreams and lives of five people in an instant just narrowly missed all of us. , “Ah…” I had just acted reflexively but managed to save all my team members. , “T-Tae-Yoon?” , “What the.” , “Are you crying, Tae-Yoon?” , “What, he’s crying?” , “Tae-Yoon is crying?” , It was only then did reality hit me. I wiped away my tears. This was not the time to be crying. , “Tae-Yoon, are you ok?” Yeon-Hoon turned around and asked me, but I wasn’t able to say anything and just stared back. , I was too moved to be able to see him move again. I turned my head; there were my other group members sitting in the back. , Kang Do-Seung. , Lee Woon. , Park Dong-Jun. , All of my group members were alive and well. , “Hey, why are you crying? Crying doesn’t suit a big punk like you.” , “Come on, don’t be like that. Poor kid must be shocked.” , “Do-Seung is so cold-hearted. Such a meanie. Boooo.” , Was this reality? I couldn’t shake off this question as I looked at my group members who were alive. However, they were real no matter how he looked at it, and everything was too vivid for it to be someone’s prank. , Yeon-Hoon said, “Here. Wipe your tears with a tissue, Tae-Yoon.” , “Ah, thank you.” I could clearly feel the tissue in my hand, the car seat hugging me, the seat belt gently pressing down on my shoulder. There was no way these senses could be fake. , I took a deep breath. , “Are you feeling better now?” Yeon-Hoon looked at me with worried eyes and asked. , “Tae-Yoon, are you okay?” Woon looked at me with worried eyes and also asked. , “It’s my first time seeing Tae-Yoon cry~” Dong-Jun’s voice was as carefree as ever. , “Why the hell are you crying for, punk?” And Do-Seung was as surly as usual. , The voices of my group members I heard for the first time in five years were exactly as I remembered. , “…Yes, I’m fine.” I answered my members’ questions for the first time in five years. After wiping the tears around my eyes, I cleaned up my face. , Dong-Jun, who was sitting right behind the passenger seat, said, “I didn’t know that our Tae-Yoon is a crybaby~.” , “Hey, don’t make fun of him too much. We almost had a huge accident just now.” Woon quietly supported me. , Then Do-Seung added, “If he hadn’t pressed Yeon-Hoon’s thigh earlier, we’d all be dead.” Judging by his comment, Do-Seung must have seen what I did earlier. , “I was shocked because Tae-Yoon suddenly pressed my thigh. If it wasn’t for Tae-Yoon…I don’t…even want to imagine it…” Yeon-Hoon grabbed the steering wheel and couldn’t speak easily as he just recalled what happened and then continued, “Because of me, all of you almost…” , “Heyyyy!” , “Yeon-Hoon is crying!” , “Someone shut off that damn faucet!” , , It was then I remembered that Yeon-Hoon was a very emotional person. Tears began to form in his eyes, and he looked about to burst into tears. , Yeon-Hoon said, “Thank you, Tae-Yoon. If it weren’t for our , we would have…” 1 , “Yeon-Hoon, stop it. If you keep crying, we might really have an accident.” , “…Yeah!” Despite replying firmly, Yeon-Hoon nodded with a face that looked like he was about to cry. His spirit was like a little kid who was putting up a brave front. , We pulled over to the side of the road after avoiding an accident. If Yeon-Hoon drove while being too flustered, additional accidents could happen. Looking back through the side mirror, I saw people already flocking around the truck. , “Shouldn’t we also get out of the car and help?” Woon looked back and asked. , Many people were pulling the truck driver out of the driver’s seat. It was a situation where it was unnecessary for us to go, but above all—I didn’t want to go to that scene and help out. , “Don’t go.” I found out later that the truck driver was drunk driving, and he was not driving after drinking but drivingdrinking. To soothe his boredom while being on the road for a long time, he had the habit of drinking a glass or two while driving. Furthermore, he had struggled fervently to cut down his sentence until the very end and insisted that we were also at fault. Recalling his completely unapologetic and brash attitude at that time, I didn’t feel the slightest desire to help. , “Yeah, let’s just go. We might get bad press before our debut.” , “It’s better to not get involved at an unstable time like this.” , “Hmm, but still…” , I said, “No, let’s go. Please.” , “…Ok, let’s go.” , Like this, we quickly left the scene of the accident. However, no matter how awful the truck driver was, he was still a living person. I called 119 on my phone and succinctly delivered the location and situation of the accident.2 , While moving away from the truck, I organized my thoughts,, By all accounts, this was not a realistic situation. , Right before the accident, a mechanical voice seemed to have rang in my ears. Since this whole situation was so unrealistic, I had no idea where to begin organizing my thoughts. , “If we go back to the dorm, we’ll have to start practicing like crazy again tomorrow,” Dong-Jun complained from the back. , “We have to work hard if we want to make our debut. Cheer up,” Woon replied as if he was consoling Dong-Jun. , “I’m going to sleep.” Do-Seung buried himself in the car seat and closed his eyes. , “Tae-Yoon, you should take a nap too. I’ll drive really safely to our dorm,” Yeon-Hoon said with concern that I would also be sleepy. , I looked around at my group members. , Although it had only been five years, I had regressed from the future; I was 19 years old here, but I used to be 24 years old. Yeon-Hoon, who was the leader and the oldest, was 23 years old at this point. They were technically all older than me at this time point, but somehow, they all felt younger. , “I’m not sleeping. I’m going to watch you and make sure you drive safely,” I said as I looked at Yeon-Hoon. At this point, no matter how hard I thought about this situation, this was reality and not a dream or fantasy. Although the reality had changed a lot from the reality I once knew, I just wanted to believe that I was given a second chance as I could see my members again and this world was much better than the world I was living in. But— , There were more than a few things that worried me. , There was nothing I could do here. , * * * , “Okay! We’re here!” Yeon-Hoon stopped the car in the parking lot of the small apartment where our dorm was. This rental car was scheduled to be collected by the rental car company tomorrow morning. , “Everyone, get off!” , “ I slept well!” , “As expected, Yeon-Hoon, you’re the best driver.” , Each of the group members said a sentence and got out of the car. I just listened to them without saying a word. , This was the daily routine that would have unfolded if the truck driver hadn’t driven under the influence. , It was an everyday scene, but every single moment felt magical to me. , “Let’s go. Tae-Yoon, what are you doing?” Woon asked while carrying my luggage. , “Ah, yes.” I took the duffel bag that Woon handed me. Then I went up the stairs to the roof of the apartment. , Our living conditions were extremely poor at that time. First of all, we lived on the rooftop with no elevator. , “Finally! We’re home!” , “Yayyyy!” , “” , Our dorm was technically a two-bedroom house but… , “Let’s put down the blanket first and quickly go to bed. I’m dead tired.” , “Do-Seung, wash up first and go to bed.” , “I’m not going to wash up.” , It was more reasonable to describe it as two small spaces like storage rooms attached to a large studio. The two spaces attached to each other were not large enough for an adult man to lay down. Thus, we used the two spaces as a closet and storage room and slept together in the living room with a blanket on the floor. I hadn’t thought it was very uncomfortable at that time, but this was exploitation no matter how hard I thought about it. , Furthermore, I was 19 years old at the time. It was a given that I had no right to privacy. Someone might ask how this kind of life could exist even in 2022, but… , Moreover, if a company representative was not aware of their company’s practices, these kinds of extraordinary situations occurred. , “Tae-Yoon, hurry and wash up. I’ll lay down the blanket while you guys wash up.” Yeon-Hoon smiled at me and started laying thick blankets on the floor. I felt sorry that a skinny guy like Yeon-Hoon was pulling a blanket that looked thicker than him. , I said, “Give it to me. I’ll do it.” , “What?” , Even at this point, I was taller than Yeon-Hoon. I was probably 184 cm at this time. When I first joined the entertainment agency, I was about the same height as Yeon-Hoon, but I grew nearly 10 cm in a year. Now, my height was somewhat similar to that of Do-Seung, who was the tallest in the team. Perhaps, I was a little taller. ., “Our kid’s all grown up after coming back from a trip.” , “Didn’t he used to have a childish feeling about him?” , “Tae-Yoon~ Your older bros are sad that you’re growing up so fast~” , I smirked and laughed as I listened to their voices. It felt strange; they were older than me, but they all felt younger than me at the same time. , “Yes, I got it.” After laying down the blanket, I went to the bathroom and washed up briefly. The other group members, who had finished washing up, were already lying down in the living room in a row after changing into their pajamas. Yeon-Hoon even had a face mask on. I remembered him saying he needed to take good care of his skin so his age wouldn’t show on TV—even though he was only 23 years old. , “Tae-Yoon! Quickly come here!” Yeon-Hoon said, tapping the seat next to him with his palm. , “Yes.” I went over there and lay down. , Five grown men were all sleeping in one room. Although it wasn’t a common sight, it had a strange advantage; there was a strange sense of security. ., “It was so much fun today. We almost got into an accident today, but except for that, it was the best day ever.” Yeon-Hoon said as he took off his mask pack. , “Yeah, it was fun.” , “The meat was super delicious. Wish I can eat it again.” , “You’re going to get fat.” , “What in the world shall we do that with sociopath, Kang Do-Seung?” , “What? Kang Do-Seung? How dare you address your so rudely, you punk?” , “Do I have to treat you like a just because you’re one year older?” , “You bastard…” , “Ackkk! Kang Do-Seung is hitting people!” , I quietly watch Dong-Jun and Do-Seung squabble. Today was probably the day we all traveled to Sokcho together, saying that today was probably the last day before our debut. I didn’t remember the trip well because it was five years ago, but I remembered that the meat I ate back then was delicious. , “What about you, Tae-Yoon?” Then, Woon asked me how I felt. , “Yeah, that’s right. Tae-Yoon is strangely quiet today.” Yeon-Hoon agreed. , “I…” I wondered what to say. “It was good. Really good.” This was the most honest answer. There could have been no better day than today as I was able to save my group members, return to the dorm, and all lay under the same blanket. However, that was also why I needed to say something that couldn’t be postponed any longer. , I said, “But I have something that I need to tell everyone.” , “Hmm?” , “What is it?” , “Why is that kid suddenly getting serious?” , “Did something happen?” , After getting up and sitting down, I looked at my group members, who were all lying down in a line. They were only raising their heads while lying down. , I almost laughed for a moment because of how funny they looked, but I made a straight face and said seriously, “I’m going to quit being an idol.” , “Huh?” , “What?” , “Tae-Yoon?” , “What the hell is wrong with that punk?” , The easiest way to solve all the problems we would have to face in the future was this: to not even start it in the first place. , 1. refers to the youngest of the group. ? , 2. 119 is the emergency number in South Korea. ?, This content is taken from 𝘪𝘳.𝘤𝑜

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