Winter Remembrance, Summer Memories
Light winter breeze blew past me, making my breath fog while I stood waiting at a snow-covered corner street. This place used to be filled with festive lights and various stores this time of year before the monsters came and turned the world upside down. From afar, I saw buildings being built or repaired slowly. I then heard from behind snow crunching under hurried footsteps.
“Kim Rok Soo, huff huff.. Sorry man. I lost track of time.” Choi Jung Soo said while taking gulps of air after running around from who knows where.
“Sure. Writing stuff again I presume?” I said in a condescending manner. Really this guy.
“Hehehehe…” Jung Soo laughed awkwardly while scratching the back of his head.
“Yo! So you’re finally here.” Lee Soo Hyuk exclaimed after crossing the street with coffee in hand. Coffee he bought from a rundown cafe on the other side.
“Team Leader! I was not late. I just made it in time. Look it’s still 11:29 p.m. Just one minute to 11:30 p.m.” Jung Soo complained.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Lets go. I don’t want to freeze my butt here while listening to you complain.” I said while turning around to go to the place where we were supposed to go. Both men then walked fast trying to catch up to me.
We walked a few meters until we reached a vacant lot. It used to be a park full of trees. Now, with barely any plant life, it is a place scarred by monster battles past. Nevertheless, people gather in this place over various bonfires waiting.
“Guys, over here.” Jung Soo called, waving his arms like a madman. He stood by a bonfire not claimed by anyone else. He then proceeded to get bits of wood to make makeshift seats.
“I should have bought booze.” I sighed as I sat on the pile of wood. “What are we supposed to do here?” I asked Soo Hyuk looking at him for guidance.
“Just wait and see.” Soo Hyuk said while staring at the midnight sky. “I see stars now. Before, I can barely make them out because of the city lights”
“Say Rok Soo… you think we can go to the beach this summer? It would be fun to walk by the sea and feel the sea breeze.”
“Huh? What are you saying now? You sound like an old man,” I said in disbelief. However, when I looked at him again, Lee Soo Hyuk seemed to be in deep thought. He then removed a plaque of some sort and released his ability, Embrace. A striped brown round golf ball-sized seashell came out of the plaque. Soo Hyuk stared at it intently.
“I found this the other day after a raid. The owner of the ruined house had a shell collection of sorts. Most were crushed and broken. This one is the only thing that remained intact.” Soo Hyuk said. “I wonder how long the owner gathered all those shells. You think we can get some if we go to the beach?” he asked.
“And where do you intend to put those shells? They will just cause clutter.” I said dismissively while looking at the fire.
“At the farm house we plan to build. Where else… hahahaha.” Soo Hyuk laughed.
“Eh? I nev..” I said in surprise. But my voice was drowned suddenly.
BOOM!!! PAK! PAK! BOOM! BOOM! The sky became filled with lights and colors of fireworks.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!” Jung Soo screamed with child-like glee while jumping crazily.
The crowd also joined the merry making. A new year has come. The three of us staring at the sky watching a miracle that would have been just a dream had it not been for ability users like us who fought the monsters that invaded our homes.
I heard Choi Han as I slowly opened my eyes.
“Cale-nim. You had a good nap?” Choi Han asked while carrying a basket while wearing a loose beige shirt and loose black pants.
“Hmmm…,” I mumbled.
“The children are ready for their outing. We are just waiting for you.”
“Alright. Let me just change my clothes.” I said while getting out of the chair where I was sleeping.
“We will wait downstairs. Make sure to bring a hat.” Choi Han reminded me while going out of my bedroom.
“Why did I dream about that time.” I murmured while getting clothes fit for the weather outside.
After a few minutes, I went down stairs wearing a loose white tunic and pants and loafers while holding a straw hat. Then I saw the children averaging nine years of age looking ready for an outing at the beach.
“Human hurry… we are all ready,” Raon said excitedly.
“Yes… yes… hurry Cale-nim,” said Hong who transformed in his human form in a flower shirt and shorts. Next to him is his sister On in a flower dress grabbing my hand leading me outside our seaside villa. The warm sea breeze tickled my skin. I savored its salty smell as I looked at the children frolicking by the seashore.
We walked for awhile. Enjoying the sand and sea at our feet. The children then had an idea to make a sandcastle. But alas, it kept getting swept by the waves.
Hong almost in tears said “I don’t like this anymore” with remnants of the destroyed sandcastle at his feet.
“It’s ok. We can make a better one. We can make a fort to surround the castle so the sea won’t take it away,” I said comfortingly.
With that, we built a bigger sand fort and a bigger sandcastle with a bit of distance from the shoreline. For some reason, it began to look like the black castle hidden inside the Forest of Darkness.
“What should we put in it as windows and doors?” Raon asked.
“Seashells… we put seashells,” On said.
“Shells like this?” Choi Han exclaimed, showing a basketful of seashells to the kids.
“What the…”I looked at him puzzled. The seashells sizes ranged from melon-sized to apple-sized. Where in the world did he pick those up?
Nevertheless, the children took them gladly and started decorating the sandcastle.
Then I felt something bump between my feet. As I looked down, I saw a familiar striped brown round golf ball-sized seashell. I took it and cleaned it with sea water.
Then, a strong breeze blew past. I gazed at the sea. The sun was setting. The sky soon slowly changed its hue from orange to red to violet.
“Looks like I made it to the sea, Lee Soo Hyuk,” I whispered as I looked at the seashell.
“CALE-NIM…Cale-Nim,” Choi Han called. “It’s nearly time for dinner. Beaucrox is almost finished cooking the catch we got earlier”.
“I’m coming,” I called back.
I took one last look at the scenery before me. I took a badge I keep handy just in case and placed the seashell next to it. “Embrace”.
I walked back to where Choi Han and the children averaging nine year of age are.
“Let’s take a few of those seashells back to the villa,” I said as I pointed to a few shells not used as part of the sandcastle. “We can use them to decorate your rooms.”
“Yey!!!” the two young cats and young black dragon rejoiced as they picked seashells of their choice.
We then went back to the villa to enjoy our seafood dinner.