Maru didn’t say anything for a long time. No, maybe it was just the awkward air between them that made the passing time feel so slow. Daemyung looked at Maru carefully for a second before leaving to buy himself a drink. He bought a fizzy lemon soda. Perhaps the sour taste of the lemons could help kill his nervousness a little bit. Sadly, all it did was tickle his throat.
Tok tok tok. Maru was tapping on the table, looking out through the window in front of him. What was the boy thinking? Thankfully he didn’t seem very mad.
“What’s the most important thing to you right now?”
“Well, I can’t really choose. My family’s important, my friends, acting...”
“Right? It’s ridiculous to choose just one thing in your life, right?”
“But let’s say there was a person who lived just for one thing. What would happen if you took that one thing away from them?”
“He’d become really sad.”
Was Maru talking about himself? The boy still hadn’t denied anything Daemyung had written in his diary. Maybe Maru was talking in extension to what Daemyung initially wrote. Did that mean Maru could choose “one thing” in his life that was the most important?
Daemyung couldn’t imagine it. Everything in his mind, from his family to friends to acting, were pretty much on equal footing. He wouldn’t be able to choose one thing that was more important than the others no matter what.
“Han Maru, acting out the role of Han Maru.”
“I just wrote that down for no reason. Don’t worry about it.”
Maru nodded with a smile, but his mood seemed dark. He was probably thinking about what was written in the diary, and Daemyung started feeling bad for making Maru so concerned.
“A lot of these are just dumb predictions, so… Don’t keep it in your mind too much.”
He put the diary back in his bag. Making judgements and observing his friend had been a pretty fun experience. He thought he knew a lot about Maru, but that immediately turned out to be untrue. Learning several new things about his precious friend was definitely a great experience, but he didn’t realize that showing his observations to his friends would be so burdensome on his mind. Reviewing a person… The act of doing so was simple, but the results were incredibly stressful. Perhaps instructor Miso had all of this in mind when she gave them this homework.
At this point, Daemyung could only hope that his words wouldn’t hurt Maru. Hopefully this wouldn’t make Maru develop negative thoughts about him. After a few more seconds, Maru sighed, the dark shadow on his face starting to go away. He cracked his neck a few times, smiling a bit mysteriously.
Thanks? Daemyung was confused. He’d written a very negative impression of Maru on that paper. He wasn’t mad about this? Was he being sarcastic? That didn’t seem to be the case. Maru seemed honestly thankful for what Daemyung had done.
“Can you do something for me?”
“What is it? I’ll do anything if I can.”
“It’s a bit difficult, but I hope you can do it. I think you’d do a really good job.” “Me?”
What did Maru plan on asking? Looking into the boy’s eyes, Daemyung got an inkling of what Maru might want from him. Indeed, his prediction turned out to be correct.
“About that one-man play… Can you act out your second impression of me? I want to see it.”
It really sounded more like a command than a simple request. Daemyung could only say ‘yes’ to Maru’s words.
“Observation is an amazing thing, isn’t it? I honestly had no idea that Daemyung was so good at seeing through people.”
“They say everyone has a talent, right? Maybe yours is observing people. Why don’t you try going into criminal psychology instead of acting?”
Maru stood up with a slight smile.
“I’ll tell you what I get after observing you as well in the near future. You observed the hell out of me, so I have to reciprocate. Get ready, you bastard.”
“Y-you don’t have to go that far, Maru.”
Daemyung quickly waved his hand. He had a feeling that Maru might even chase him into the bathroom for observation.
“I’ll get going first.”
Daemyung watched Maru walk out of the convenience store. Thankfully, the boy didn’t seem in as dark a mood as he did a few minutes ago.
“That’s good, I guess?”
Daemyung scratched the back of his neck nervously.
* * *
Eleven o’clock. She was lying down dumbly on her bed. It felt like she could’ve just collapsed and drifted away into sleep when she arrived home, but once she took a shower, she felt wide-awake again. After rolling around on her bed with her worn script in hand, she stood up. Her phone was ringing. For some reason, just looking at the phone gave her an idea of who was calling. She took a look at the screen just to make sure. As she thought.
‘What kind of a dumb sixth sense thing is this?’
It was Maru. Should she be happy for being right? She took the call with a small smile. What did that weird kid want to talk about today?
“It’s not polite to call someone so late, you know.”
- Sorry, were you sleeping?
The boy would usually counter her with a very witty joke. Oddly, this time he apologized immediately. That surprised her quite a bit.
“Why are you apologizing all of the sudden? Just be normal.”
- I really don’t think I should, not today.
“What do you mean?”
She dropped back down onto her bed, her old mattress giving in with a little creak. She started listening a lot more carefully, feeling the blanket below her. No matter who it was, a call from a boy who had attention on her made her heart flutter just a little bit.
- I’m going to say something that I’m going to be even more sorry for, that’s why.
“What is it?”
- Can you come out right now?
She looked at the clock in her room. It was five minutes before eleven. The sun had set a very, very long time ago. He wanted her to go outside at a time like this?
“Are you crazy?”
- I know, I’m sorry. But can I see you?
“Hey, it’s eleven o’clock. What the hell’s going on?”
- I wanted to tell you something.
“Just tell me over the phone.”
- I don’t think I can.
“...What the heck?”
She found herself being surprised by her own actions because, even as she answered, she realized she was starting to consider if her mom was in her room or not. Not only that, she was already getting dressed to go outside.
‘Crazy, this is all crazy.’
She got back on her bed again. It was 11. Her mom wasn’t very strict, but she was sure to say something if she went out now.
“No way, tell me over the phone. If you can’t just tell me tomorrow. We’ll see each other again anyway.”
- Well, that’s true. But I really think it needs to be now.
“You’re really stubborn.”
- Because I know.
- That you don’t really hate stubborn people.
Right then, she heard a bus announcement through Maru’s side. The typical boring music along with a ‘Sky Dentist is located on the other side of the station’. It was an ad she was all too familiar with. She flinched, knowing that the station in question was right in front of her apartment complex.
“Are you actually?!”
She stood right back up and looked outside. She could see the entrance of the apartment and, past it, a bus station. She could see a bus moving right away from the station. Where the bus had been was a single boy. How strange. There were so many other people on the street, and she couldn’t even make out their faces. But why was it that she could recognize him so clearly regardless?
“There’s no way, right? Yeah, no way.”
As soon as she said that, the boy on the street started waving his hand. She felt the blood start to drain from her face. What was he doing?!
“Are you crazy?! What are you doing?!”
- Oh, so you can see me. I don’t even know where you might be, so many apartment buildings here.
Absolutely ridiculous. To think he was coming here all this time... Cold wind began blowing in through the open window. It was cold. She crossed her arms as she continued looking out. She could see Maru standing around dumbly on the street.
“You’re not leaving?”
- It’s cold.
- Yeah, I know I’m an ass today. I came to a girl’s place without even telling her about it. I can’t say anything back even if you call me names.
“You came knowing that?”
- Because I wanted to talk to you.
She hung up as she bit her lip. The boy was too headstrong. She wasn’t even ready! Her hair was still wet, she had a little acne she didn’t take care of yet as well. She didn’t have any nice clothes to wear right now, either.
“Wait, what am I...”
She got angrier when she realized she kept thinking about going outside. Even more ridiculous was the fact that she was grabbing that 50,000 won she owed him, as well as a scarf just in case he was cold.
Damn it, whatever!
She changed as fast as she could and stepped outside her room.
“Are you going somewhere?” mom asked, raising her glasses.
Her mom was sitting in front of the notebook. Clearly still at work. She stuttered out some excuse about leaving to meet a friend, thankful that she was better than normal people when it came to controlling her breathing. Acting really was something that was useful in casual life as well. But…
“N-no it’s not.”
“Stop lying. I was a girl too back in the day, you know. You look exactly like I did when I went to meet your father.”
It felt like her face was about to explode, but she couldn’t do anything.
“Can I go out?”
“You’re a grown girl now, you don’t need permission. Try to come back before midnight, though. Don’t make your mother worry, you hear?”
Mom was the best! Though… upon realizing that she got this nervous for just meeting that guy, she got a little depressed again. Plus...
“Oh, so a soon-to-be?”
“...Stop turning everything into a romance novel, mom.”
“Oh my, sorry. Force of habit, you know. It’s my job, after all.”
Her mom pointed to her notebook with a light smile. She shook her head as she stepped outside. She pressed the elevator button. Unfortunately, it was stuck on the 17th floor. It’d take too long for it to come down, so she headed to the staircase with a frown.
“Why am I...”
She muttered to herself in annoyance as she walked down.
“Even though it’s this annoying...”
Despite her complaints, she was moving faster and faster. On the way down, she started thinking of her memories with him. She met him for the first time at Hyehwa station and learned his name at the festival. The boy had said something like a confession back then. She’d thought he was just weird back then, but she really didn’t think she’d keep meeting him after that. They went on a date, by chance, some time ago. Honestly, she didn’t hate that date at all. After that date, Maru had kept asking her if she was free, and she turned him down a few times before finally saying yes.
To begin with, if she really hated him, she wouldn’t have even taken the call. No, she wouldn’t have told him her phone number at all. In any case, they continued to meet, and now they were meeting each other more than four times a week despite going to different schools. Maru always smiled, was considerate, and always worried for her. He was an odd kid who always asked to go on a date during the weekend. Before she knew it, she realized she’d stopped meeting other people during the weekend. Despite the fact that she was always annoyed when taking his calls, she still took them anyway.
She knew what all of this meant, but she didn’t want to accept it as fact. Because…
“He’s like an old man.”
He talked like a very mature person. Enough to make him almost seem a little cold compared to other people his age. But, whenever he looked at her, he smiled like an idiot. He might even give her his kidney if she said she needed it. She… really couldn’t hate someone like that. No, she couldn’t help but like him.
She stepped out of the apartment entrance. She could see Maru standing on the other side of the street.
“There’s no way I’m going to be saying that first.”
She stepped towards Maru, tightly gripping the scarf in her hand.Previous Chapter Next Chapter