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Chapter 117 Part 1 - The Mysterious Art Museum

Roseto Valfortore Village (7)

On the way to the village in a car.

Monica, despite having her own car, opted to join others in an SUV.

They were all childhood friends who played together in the village, and despite meeting for the first time in ten years, they seemed as joyful as if they had seen each other just yesterday. The beauty of childhood and school friends is exactly this.

Most of the returnees were older than Monica, but they all had memories of playing with her in the forests and fields when she was younger.

Monica took the hand of Mario, her only younger brother sitting next to her, and asked,

"Mario, how have you been?"

The young man, in his early twenties but already showing signs of balding, grinned widely.

"I was in Naples."

"What did you do there?"

"Worked as a bartender in a bar."

"Really? Did you get paid well?"

"Not at all. The boss was nice, but the bar struggled, so I haven't received my salary for the last two months."

"That's tough. What are you going to do?"

"That's life in the big city, right?"


If he had a job with the four major insurances, such issues wouldn't arise. But what bartender in a bar would have such coverage? It seems Mario has lost two months' salary.

"The others have similar stories. Everyone has missed a paycheck at least once. That guy worked in a factory and didn't get paid for four months because some accountant or something ran off with the money. Then he worked in a fish freezing warehouse."

The young man Mario pointed to sniffed himself and laughed.

"I took a good bath before coming. No fishy smell, right?"

Everyone burst into laughter.

People who can still laugh despite such experiences.

Others might have become despondent or angry in their situation.

It seems the villagers, meeting after a long time, have left their unpleasant memories in the city.

Monica smiled at Mario and asked,

"How long has it been since you returned?"

"For me, three years. I think I'm the one who came back the soonest. Most have been away from the village for more than five years."

A look of sympathy appeared on Monica's face.

The reason for their return was that their families were still in the village.

Those whose entire families moved to America or to other cities don't return. These people work in foreign lands, sending money back for their families still living in the village.

Mario asked,

"Monica, when did you arrive?"

"About two weeks ago."

"Have you been to the village?"

"Of course, I went right after arriving. Haven't been able to recently because I've been busy."

"Is the village still the same?"


"Ah, the same old boring village."

"It was fun when we were kids."

"That was when we were kids, haha."

The car stopped, and the young driver turned his head.

"We're here!"


"Finally back home!"

The youngsters eagerly got out.

Monica, about to follow, dropped her lipstick and had to search the floor for it, eventually getting out last.

"Alright, let's all rest today and tomorrow morning... Why are you all like this?"

Many young people had arrived at the village.

They stood still, looking at the village square visible from their location. Monica, thinking they were moved by the sight of their long-missed hometown, smiled and patted one on the shoulder.

"What's this, getting sentimental in your old age? Let's go, our families are waiting. Mario, Mom must be waiting. Let's go."



No response from Mario. Monica looked at his face and then quickly turned her head, having seen the look in his eyes. It wasn't a look of sentimentality or emotion but one of clear surprise.

When Monica turned to look at the square, her eyes widened in shock.

"What's that?"

The usual view of the square was different.

The village square normally had Augusto's restaurant on the right, with a butcher shop and fruit store next to it, and around the spacious, empty square was a chest-high wall.

But now, that entire wall was adorned with huge murals.

The colorfully radiant murals warmed the heart just by looking at them.

Though still too far to make out the details of the paintings, the murals covering the entire square made it look like a village of art.

And there was another significant change.

The villagers were out in the square.

Parents holding their children's hands, grandparents sitting in the middle of the square looking at the paintings, having meals at the restaurant, or visiting the market. It was an evening with at least a hundred people gathered in the village square, a sight Monica hadn't seen since her return.

Monica, taken aback and unable to close her mouth in surprise, feels someone's hand on her shoulder.

Turning her head swiftly, she sees Alberto, six years her senior, with reddened eyes.



"You really did it."


"You saved the village. I haven't seen it like this in a long time. Just like when I was very young. Our village was full of life."

"But, that's..."

"I thought our village was dead. I thought it was a hometown that I had to let go of in my heart. But you revived it, really."


"I didn't believe Federico when he said it. But seeing it with my own eyes, I believe it now."

Alberto turns and hugs Monica tightly.

"Thank you, Monica."

Other young people gather around the two, hugging them as well. Some are tearful, while others smile brightly.

"Thanks, Monica!"

"It's all because of you!"

"Finally, I can live in my hometown! I can live with Mom!"

"There's hope now, I think I can start over again."

Amidst the scene where everyone adds their comment.

Monica, who initially didn't understand why but received praise first, is completely flabbergasted.

'What's this all about?'

It's impossible not to understand.

The entire village is painted with murals, and Junghoon is the only painter she knows in this village.

Monica barely suppresses her surging emotions and looks back at the square again.


The person who gave her strength and hope through his portraits, and not stopping there, beautified the village like this. Monica is immensely grateful to Junghoon.

After gazing at the square for a long while, Monica pushes the backs of the young people and says,

"Let's go, it's time to meet our families."

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