Rating: PG-13 ((for now))
Summary: Hopeless dreamer Kim Minseok spends his days fantasizing of other times and faraway places while earning next-to-nothing at a downtown used book store. That is, until a strangely familiar face turns his life into something unforgettable like out of the books he holds so dear.
Kim Minseok blinked and looked up from his September issue of National Geographic.
âExcuse me, sir?â
The old man cleared his throat, wriggling his thick, wiry moustache in irritation. âIâm looking for a book on Russian history.â
âOh! Of course,â Minseok exclaimed. He quickly shoved the magazine under the till and swung himself around to the other side of the counter. âWhat period are you looking for? Ancient? Imperial? Soviet? Do you have a particular author in mind?â
A scoff echoed off the stacks as they sashayed between the dusty rows towards the history section. âAs if anyone could pronounce those ridiculous Slavic names,â the man retorted.
At the far back of the store, sandwiched between the politics and philosophy sections, the copious tomes of historical works loomed above them. It was an intimidating sight for literary neophytes but the overflowing shelves of discoloured book spines and delicate, crinkled pages stained by age and use were enough to make Minseokâs passions flutter. The old man, however, appeared bored and indifferent. Before long, Minseok had found a general overview of pre-soviet to modern day eastern Europe and slipped it inside an embellished paper bag. The man barely uttered a thank you before leaving. Light rain escaped onto the welcome mat as the bell above the door jingled and was silenced once more.
âIt was no problem, sir. Have a good day,â Minseok mumbled to the retreating figure.
With a deep sigh, he wandered back over to the history section. There was a Lao Zi biography heâd spotted out of place with volumes on the American civil war and a Thai phrasebook which certainly didnât belong next to an encyclopaedia of Greek mythology. He chuckled at the image of Odysseus riding a tuk-tuk that popped into his head and slipped it back into the language section on the opposite side. Billowing Grecian robes would hardly survive the frantic, bustling roads of Bangkok.
The rain fell harder and splattered loudly against the windows. Miserable days were Minseokâs favourite; it meant customers were few and moments to flick through a new shipment of books were plentiful. Heâd lost count of the hours heâd spent perched on a stool in a dark corner with his nose deep in stories of Red Sea pirates or the discovery of Vedic temples in India or explorer James Cookâs journey across the Pacific. Something in his soul ached to see such great and beautiful things for himself yet a part of him felt as though he already had, like the memory of a past life or a vivid dream he couldnât quite remember. DÃ©jÃ vu they called it but he only shook his head in disbelief. Seoul was all heâd ever known. Heâd never even set foot on a plane.
Until the bell rang again.
Heâd never seen the boyâs face and yet knew it better than his own. It was a strange feeling that tied his insides in knots. Pale pink lips curved at the corners and parted to speak what Minseok would never in his life forget.
Three words carried on a single breath and weighed with countless promises.
âFancy an adventure?â
[ Part I ]