How much did he bet like that? We still held hands so as not to lose each other.
[Theo]: Do we still have to hold hands?
Theo, who was pinching his fingers in frustration, suddenly asked.
[Iris]: Yes!! It's a big deal if the two of us fall apart on a dark night like this.
Why? Don't you like holding hands with me?
I didn't say that.
I asked, looking back, and Theo turned his head to the other side.
His roughly grasped hands were intertwined.
[Iris]: Even if you don't like it, bear with me.
Having said that, I diligently stepped forward.
It was easy to get to the cave that became our hideout.
Just like the day we became friends, a round full moon was shining on the cave.
[Iris]: I'm glad the moonlight is bright.
At least we won't get lost.
I and Theo decided to rest for a while in that cave before going.
[Theo]: Iris, by the way.
What are you going to do when you're fourteen? What do you want to go out of your way for?
Theo, who was sitting still next to me, spoke.
I lifted my head at the sound of his slightly
depressed voice and looked at Theo.
[Iris]: Why all of a sudden?
[Theo]: It's not bad to live in a temple as it is.
Theo looked somewhat uneasy.
I couldn't read his mind at the moment.
[Iris]: What do you mean? That's what we've been talking about all along.
I want to stay outside, not in a temple, but more spacious.
And it's not just me, but Theo I hope you do too.
Theo didn't answer my words.
He just turned his gaze away and stared at the moon.
I think I've memorized all of this.
Let's go again.
We decided to leave before any further delay.
I walked down a dark mountain road with Theo, who somehow had a gloomy face.
But was it because he was so excited?
I unexpectedly fell forward.
With the merciless pain of breaking my ankles, I slumped to the floor.
I turned my head and looked behind me, only to find a stone that I hadn't noticed.
[Theo]: Are you okay?
I nodded to Theo, who hurriedly examined me.
[Iris]: We're almost there though…
For a moment I thought I was really a ten-year-old.
Before I knew it, I was in tears.
I wept in chagrin.
It was a shame that I was caught by a stone, but I felt pathetic to see myself with tears in my eyes.
[Theo]: I'm sorry.
I should have held my hand tighter.
Theo furrowed his brow and apologized to me.
I pursed my lips.
I wanted to show Theo some great scenery but…
[Theo]: Are you very sick?
But Theo seemed to have misunderstood my feelings.
As I silently wept, Theo became worried.
[Iris]: No, I just wanted to show it.
Theo pondered something.
He showed his back in front of me as if he had made up his mind.
[Iris]: What are you doing?
I stared at Theo's back, dumbfounded.
Climb on that little back? Of course, my body was small, but I was still an adult in my mind!
[Theo]: Come on.
[Iris]: Oh no! It can't be!
The last remaining piece of my conscience was poking at me with its corners.
[Theo]: It's better to do this than to see you upset.
But Theo was adamant, too.
And once again, he uttered words that were surprisingly ticklish to me.
[Theo]: Of course.
I squatted and gently landed Theo's back.
When I saw it with my eyes, I thought it was a very small back, but when I was lifted up, it was warm and reassuring.
[Theo]: Where should I go? Show me the way
Theo carried me and began to walk away.
Every now and then, as he fixed me, I felt a strange nervousness creeping inside me.
[Iris]: Theo, what's wrong with you?
I asked, leaning my face against Theo's back.
[Iris]: Does Theo want to stay at the temple as it is?
[Theo]: Not really.
So why did he ask me that question? Theo walked silently without explaining why.
[Iris]: It's all here.
You can go up there.
By the time the drowsiness began to set in, we had reached our destination.
Theo, despite the cold, has a drop of sweat on his face, and headed to where I was pointing.
[Theo]: How's that? Can you see everything around here?
[Iris]: Yes, I do.
As we reached the end of the hill, we were able to get a glimpse of a nearby village rather than a temple.
“It's like a toy town”
It was dark and the sun was about to rise.
[Iris]: How's that? Don't want to get closer? It would be more exciting to go in person.
Theo stared blankly ahead.
It was probably the first time he had seen such a large place.
[Theo]: But, I….
Still, as if something was on his mind, Theo hesitated and said to me.
[Theo]: Iris, I don't want to break up with you.
There was sadness in his voice.
I couldn't help but be surprised by that.
He was more troubled that he would have to part with me when he was fourteen than his own future.
[Theo]: When you leave the nursery, you have to live your own life.
Correct? You and I do other things.
I came down from Theo's back.
Then he stood in front of him and said:
[Iris]: It's sad, but it's a no-brainer.
We can't stay together forever.
It might be cruel to young Theo.
But lying was much worse.
I tried to explain to Theo that the breakup wasn't that bad.
[Iris]: But just because we can't see each other every day as we do now, that doesn't change the fact that we're friends.
I'll be able to write to you or meet you when I feel like it.
[Iris]: Yes, it's hard to stick around every day unless you're a family.
Theo seemed lost in thought.He seemed to be looking further afield, not at me in front of him, nor into a distant village.
[Iris]: What are you thinking?
Let's go back.
Theo picked me up again and went back to the nursery.
I talked to Theo the whole time I came back, but he only answered me dryly.
For a few days after I returned safely to the nursery, I simply could not see Theo.
[Iris]: Where the hell are you?
I'm sure we're in the same space, but how could we not be able to meet each other like this?
'It's like going back to the beginning.'
Had I said something strange to Theo that day? I wandered the hall and pondered.
[Iris]: Have you ever seen Theo?
[Children]: Oh, no!
I grabbed the children passing by and asked them, but they only shook their head with a bright blue faces.
If Theo wasn't threatening, there was no way I would take this attitude.
'But if it isn't…….'
It means that Theo is deliberately avoiding me.
'Why the hell are you doing this'
No matter how much I tried to wrap my head around it, I couldn't figure out why.
Did he feel betrayed by the word of breaking up and decided not to be with me anymore?
'This is too much anyway.'
I sighed and walked alone.
My ankle, which had been injured that day, had already healed.
Hailey]: So where does it hurt?
[Iris]: My ankle feels throbbing….
There's nothing wrong with your ankle, right?
Haley said with furrowed brows.
But I sat on the chair and shook my legs back and forth.
In fact, no matter what the teacher said, I had no intention of leaving this place.
Hailey]: I know you're worried about something.
So why don't you confide in your friends? Our Iris has a lot of friends.
Haley was basically kind to me.
But that was only her role as a health teacher.
She shook her hand sheepishly at the little child who was bothering her.
I muttered weakly and clenched my jaw.
Surely I had a lot of friends.
Before, in my previous life, I was surrounded by a lot of kids.
But now it was different.
I had already recalled my previous life, and I couldn't go back to being a naïve child who knew nothing more.
That meant I couldn't hang out with girls who asked me to play childhood games or boys who blushed shyly at me.
Suddenly, I turned around and saw no one next to me.
Precisely, there seemed to be no one around me who could deal openly and casually with everything.
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