After the conversation with Bella ended, it was already evening.

Philip guided me as if he had been waiting for me to come out of the room.

I followed him and passed through the lobby. While doing so, I accidentally bumped into someone’s shoulder.

“Ah, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.”

The man who looked at me after our shoulders collided had dark brown eyes that were almost black. They were really fox-like. Maybe it was because of his eyes that were thin and slanted.

It was just a moment, but the man’s appearance was engraved in my mind.

It seemed like it was the same for him too. His gaze changed the moment he recognized me.

He was the one who started to look at me strangely with his eyes wandering over me.

Does he know Estelle? I felt a creepy sensation from his eerie gaze. I quickly turned my head and walked away.

But his cold gaze continued to follow me as if he wouldn’t let me go.

Who is this person?

What was strange was not just that. When I collided with the man, a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity flowed in as well.

I wanted to think it was just my mood, but that feeling vividly lingered and didn’t go away.

What is the identity of that man? I had a strong feeling that this meeting wasn’t the end for some reason.


* * *


After Estelle left, Bella was the first to take off her clumsy mask.


The tired face that was hidden under the mask was revealed. She let out a sigh mixed with relief and frustration.

She had said it. She could only admit that she had been somewhat helpful, even though she didn’t want to.

But it still wasn’t everything.

She rolled the truth that she couldn’t tell Estelle in her mouth. She never thought about saying it to her.

Bella wiped her face roughly, as if she couldn’t forgive herself for being like this.

She hoped that her cowardly selfishness would disappear, but it was so persistent that she couldn’t imagine it going away.

Bella continued to apologize to no one as she lowered her gaze.

“I’m sorry, Estelle.”

In the end, she was just a coward.

She had to think of her as Estelle to keep living.

Estelle was everything to her. The only person who remained by her side when she lost everything.

When she wanted to collapse like this, Estelle became the driving force for her to live again with the words she had said. But now, she wasn’t there anymore.

Bella couldn’t accept the fact that Estelle no longer existed by her side.

She knew that it was beyond help, but there are things that you come to know but can’t change as you live.

For Bella, it was Estelle.

That’s why she kept repeating her steps with regret.

So maybe this is the punishment given to me. I saved Estelle, even changing her soul, but the result didn’t change.


It was a terrible punishment that I didn’t want to admit. I’d rather die. Why did it have to be Estelle?

She was supposed to be happier than anyone else. But Estelle’s future was still unhappy.

Bella couldn’t help but resent this reality.


* * *


My head felt heavy as if I had been overloaded.

I sat in front of my desk, thinking that I had to send a reply to Estelle’s family, but that was it.

My hands wouldn’t move. I had enough sleep, but the fatigue wouldn’t go away.

It was complicated. My heart twisted with discomfort.

I cleared the ink-stained paper and took out Estelle’s diary.

[I’m grateful for the regression itself.

Now I know what I should do.

With this, my precious people don’t have to be sad anymore.

But is the reality I changed really the right choice?

I believe it’s right, but maybe loneliness can’t be helped.

I expected it, but it’s getting harder and harder. It’s hard to endure.

I thought I would get used to being alone. Was it my mistake?

I can’t get used to this feeling. I’m still lonely.]

It was Estelle’s last diary entry. It was also the sentence with the most reality that she had to endure.

It was fortunate that Estelle, who was so lonely, was living well, but I was curious.

How could that be? A world without those who wanted to protect her even if they were self-proclaimed villains.

Is it possible to be happy in that world? Besides, my body had no money, status, or honor.

It’s unimaginable to be happy when you’re overwhelmed with longing.


The question that followed was surprisingly easy to answer.

“There’s no need to imagine.”

It’s enough to live well. I couldn’t do it, but Estelle could.

It was a simple conclusion that didn’t require much thought.

Just as something had changed when I became Estelle, something must have changed for her too.

“I’m glad.”

It was really fortunate that she could be happy even in another world.


* * *


Looking at how I’m still alive, it seems like I’ll make it to three months.

I drew a line on the makeshift calendar. Suddenly, the last day of July was erased.

Finally, tomorrow is August. The month I will die has arrived.

“It doesn’t feel real.”

Judging by my physical condition, I might live until next year. But I have to think positively since I can die without pain.

The three months that I thought would be short felt quite long. It felt like experiencing a year’s worth of work in a short amount of time.

“I guess there’s no lingering attachment…”

It’s not organized. My wandering gaze stopped at a painting hanging on the wall.

The rich colors seemed to brightly illuminate the room. Was there such a painting here before?

It was an interesting piece that was so captivating that my fixed gaze didn’t easily move away.

“…Should I try drawing it?”

My hands itched when I saw a painting I liked. My fingers searched the air as if looking for a brush.

I had never experienced this before. My attitude towards any artwork had not changed.

I don’t want to draw anymore. I can’t draw. That was the only thing in my heart.

But I wanted to draw. It was a change that even I couldn’t believe.

“I’ve really changed.”

A sentence without any doubt flowed out of my mouth. A feeling of excitement surged through me from head to toe.

If I could draw like I used to, it would mean that I had moved on from the past.


I want to try it before I die.


* * *


Noel examined Estelle day by day. There was no significant progress, but he didn’t give up.

“Have you had any strange symptoms recently?”
“Just…feeling a bit weak.”

Estelle scratched her cheek, saying that nothing else came to mind.

“Have there been any changes in your symptoms?”
“Well…there is something, but…”

She hesitated to speak, thinking it might not be helpful. Noel’s eyes narrowed.

Even the smallest clue could be useful. He urged Estelle to speak up.

“I saw something strange.”
“Did it suddenly start appearing?”
“Yes…it was like a ball of cotton, smaller than a fist.”
“A ball of cotton?”

Estelle nodded, accepting Noel’s questioning with a negative meaning.

Although Noel had intended the opposite. He had heard of a similar object once before from a child writhing in pain.

“I see something strange in front of me. Something like cotton floating around.”

At the time, he had thought it was just a hallucination the child saw due to their suffering.

But now the same phenomenon had appeared in Estelle. The same symptom of an incurable disease that couldn’t be treated even with magic.

Is this really just a coincidence?

“Did the object float around Estelle?”
“…Yes. It had various colors.”

Estelle raised an eyebrow, asking how he knew. Noel hesitated before answering.

“The child had the same symptom.”
“Did they see the same thing?”
“Yes. Can you tell me more about it?”

This might be the only clue they had. Noel’s hand shook with excitement as he took notes, making sure not to miss a single detail.

Their experiences were neatly organized in his notebook.

“Thank you for telling me.”
“I’m not sure if it’s helpful. I tried looking into it, but couldn’t find anything.”
“If two people experienced the same symptom, it must have existed before. I’ll do my best to investigate.”

For now, this was all they could rely on. As soon as he parted ways with Estelle, Noel headed straight to the temple.

If there was a large amount of information in the temple, there might be some leads.

Although he had already been periodically checking the temple’s records, he couldn’t give up hope.

He wanted to save them this time. He didn’t want to experience another disappointment.


* * *


It was late at night, and everyone had started to fall asleep. But I couldn’t sleep yet.

I observed the painting on the wall while waiting for my soon-to-be-arriving opponent.

Seeing my impulse to draw again, it seemed like it wasn’t just a momentary feeling.

I should draw a picture after all. But there was one thing I had to do first.

It was for my own sake, but still…

“What are you looking at?”
“I find this artwork interesting.”
“Did you like paintings?”

Before I knew it, Diet was next to me, looking at the painting with me. He quickly lost interest and turned away.

“I used to…like them.”
“Do you not like them anymore?”
“…I’m not sure. It’s both enjoyable and painful to look at them.”

After giving up on drawing, I didn’t even bother looking at them anymore. They just stopped catching my eye.

But this time was different. A strange sense of satisfaction arose from the discomfort.

“But I like this painting.”
“Who painted it?”
“It’s not necessary to know. It’s not that I like it because of the painting itself, but because I feel like I’ve changed.”

I sat Diet, who was in a frenzy of buying up all the works, on the sofa.

He noticed that it was related to why I called and patiently waited for me to speak.

“Remember when I asked you to give me someone to talk to once in a while?”
“I wouldn’t forget your request.”

I had a feeling that he would respond immediately to my request, but he remembered.

“Then, can you be my conversation partner today?”
“If it’s okay with you.”
“I’m asking because it’s you, Diet.”

He was the one I could rely on the most.

I didn’t call Diet just because I had no one else to call. I’d rather talk to a doll than anyone else.

“It’s going to be a weird story, so don’t worry if you don’t understand.”
“Are you telling me to listen quietly without asking questions?”
“…That’s not it, but I might not be able to give a proper answer.”

He wasn’t usually quick on the uptake, but Diet seemed to understand what I wanted and lowered his eyelids slightly.

His bright smile seemed to even ease my tension. It had an incredible ripple effect, perhaps because it had been so long.

“Think of it as the kind of bullshit you say before you die.”
“I won’t let you die, but if it makes you feel better.”

Her brow furrowed at my certainty of death, then it relaxed again.

I wiped my face roughly as a vow and my mind cleared enough to start talking.

“I always wanted to paint.”

error: Content is protected !!