The asteroid was as big as the American continent and nearing Earth at a steady speed. If the rock maintains its current trajectory and speed, only 43 days remained until the apocalypse.
Headlines were occupied simultaneously with the reports of a plan to pulverize the rock with nuclear missiles and conflicting claims that rock bits splintered from a failed blast would put Earth in a greater danger.
돌덩이의 크기는 미 대륙과 비슷하며
일정한 속도로 지구와 가까워지고 있다.
지금과 같은 궤도와 속도를 유지한다면
핵미사일로 그것을 폭파하는 작전을 곧 실행할 것이라는 뉴스와
제대로 폭파하지 못하고 덩어리 몇 개로 쪼개지기만 한다면
지구는 더 큰 위험에 처하고 말 것이라는 주장이 동시에 보도되었다.
Her mother called to ask what all the commotion was about, but she couldn’t figure out where to begin.
“But why is the rock suddenly falling out of the sky?”
“It’s been flying toward us from far, far away since long ago.”
“How can a rock as big as that fly? A rock is quite heavy.”
“It’s not exactly flying. Rather, it’s moving on its own, following its own direction and speed. Outer space has no gravity and no up and down.”
Mother went silent again. She must be thinking about outer space.
“You said Earth was tinier than dust compared to the universe and human beings are even smaller than that. We’re so tiny that it’s almost like we don’t exist.”
“But there’s something I can never understand. I may be smaller than a dust particle in the universe, but you are no dust particle to me and I’m no dust particle. Let’s say you’re right, that we are nothing more than dust. But I’m still sad and disappointed that we are going to disappear.”
“근데 그런 돌이 왜 갑자기 떨어진대?”
“아주 멀리에서부터 날아오고 있었대. 아주 오래전부터”
“그렇게 큰 돌이 어떻게 날아오나. 돌은 무거운데”
“그게....날아온다기보다는 돌은 그냥 자기 방향과 속도로 움직이는 건데.
우주는 무중력이고 아래 위가 없으니까”
엄마는 다시 침묵했다. 우주를 생각하는 것 같았다.
“네가 말하길 우주에 비하면 지구는 먼지보다도 작고
인간은 미세먼지 만큼도 아니라고. 너무 작아서 없는 거랑 똑같다고”
“근데 이해를 하면 또 이해가 안 되는 게 생긴다.
우선 우주한테는 네가 미세먼지인지 몰라도
나한테는 네가 미세먼지가 아니야. 나도 미세먼지가 아니다.
또 네 말처럼 우리가 아무리 미세먼지 같은 존재라고 해도
나는 우리가 사라지는 게 아쉽고 슬프다”
Interview by literature critic Jeon So-yeong
The protagonist’s mother tells her that human beings may smaller than dust particles in the universe, but she’s never a dust particle to her. It’s a very moving experience to think that a person can mean much more than a universe to some people.
Choi Jin-young (Born in Seoul, 1981)
: Debuted in 2006
Won the Silcheon Munhak New Writer’s Award in the short fiction category in 2006
Won the 15th Hankyoreh Literature Award in 2010