Chapter 116

Snow was pouring down and the road turned frighteningly white.

“Trash is falling.”

He walked away from the muddy snow and ended up in front of the school. The snow was falling so heavily that nobody was standing at the gate.

“Do you want to build a snowman during lunchtime?”

“Are you a kid?”

A smile blossomed on the faces of the children who were walking to school. It was understandable because they were at an age where snow was still welcoming to them. He shook off the dirt that was on his sneakers and changed to indoor slippers. After shaking his umbrella to get rid of the snow, he entered the hallway. He arrived at his class, together with classmates that were talking with him. Dojin was sitting in front of the back door. For some reason he arrived early.

“You’re here? It’s snowing a lot right?”

He made a refreshing yawn as he asked.

“You’re here early.”

“There needs to be days like this too. Here’s a morning candy.”

He caught the candy that was thrown and popped it in his mouth. The candies became a habit unknowingly. If Dojin didn’t give him a candy in the morning, he might even be sad.

Maru hung his backpack and looked at the last seat of the first row. Dowook was bent over, sleeping. Maru gestured at Dojin, who was saying something next to him, and walked towards Dowook.

Dowook opened his eyes as Maru touched him.

“What?”

“Relax your face. You’ll regret it after aging.”

“….Why did you wake me?”

“Let’s talk for a bit. There’s still some time left until homeroom.”

He brought Dowook to the convenience store. The kids who skipped breakfast were gathered at a corner, eating bread.

“Do you want coffee?”

Dowook nodded without saying anything. Maru picked out two canned coffees from the vending machine and handed one to Dowook.

“What did you want to talk about?”

“It’s related to sister Soojin.”

Chik, the conversation stopped with the sound of the can opening. Dowook looked down at his canned coffee without speaking. The conversations of the people next to them were flowing over. Something about it being tedious eating bread for breakfast.

“What about her?”

Dowook who had been staying quiet spoke up while drinking his coffee. It could be seen at a glance that he was trying to act composed. His eyes weren’t sharp like they usually were.

“I didn’t tell you before, but I’m familiar with your sister.”

“You?”

“Yeah.”

“How?”

“It’s a bit too long to explain. I don’t think you need to know either. In short, we just go volunteering together.”

Maybe Dowook understood, because he didn’t complain.

“I met her yesterday and we talked for a bit.”

“What talk?”

“About you and your sister, and this is what your sister wants to tell you.”

Maru handed over Soojin’s letter, the letter that was writen with tears.

“…..It’s like this again. If she has something to say, tell her to say it herself.”

Dowook returned the letter, Maru shook his head and refused to take it.

“She wrote it with difficulty because it was hard to convey her feelings by talking. I don’t think it would hurt to give it a read at least once.”

Dowook’s hands stiffened at his words.

“How about you listen for once. It’s said that conversations start by listening.”

The wound that’s festered for 10 years. If everything’s brought up at once, their feelings will just burn hotter. This was what Moonjoong had been worried about as he told them to first try writing a letter. I wonder how effective it’ll be. Maru gave Dowook’s shoulders a pat as he walked past him.

“You gave him the letter?”

-Yes. I don’t know if he read it or threw it away, but I gave it to him.

“It must have been hard, good work. It’s fortunate that her little brother has a good friend.”

Moonjoong gave his thanks for telling him and hung up the call. How nice would it be if the kind lady could use this opportunity to let go of some of her burdens? If that happens, then he could entrust the children with her without being worried.

“This child, it looks like you’re hungry.”

Dalgu came up to his feet and rolled over to expose his stomach. Moonjoong poured some food in a concave bowl. Maybe it was because it was winter, but Dalgu had gained some weight.

Dalgu started to munch on the food while wagging his tail. Moonjoong looked at Dalgu for a while before turning his head towards the dining table. There was a phone call.

“Hello.”

-Ah, Teacher.

“Is it Junmin?”

-Yes.

“What is it at this time?”

-The thing that you spoke to me about previously. About wanting to have someone be recommended to you to grow as a student.

“I remember.”

-I sent you an email after narrowing the list to a few people between middle and high school. I attached a picture as well as how I felt about them next to it. I would appreciate it if you could help grow three, no, four people.

“I’m just going to listen to the kids talk to kill some time. One person is enough.”

-You’re too much. Please give me some face, and consider two people.

“If there’s a kid that I like. Ah, was it amateur class? I need to give that place a visit too.”

-Weren’t you planning on coming during a performance?

“That’s what I was planning, but I think I’ll have to see the preparation process to understand their personalities.”

-Then please come on either Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or the weekends, whenever you’re free. I’ll let the teacher in charge know. About meeting the children…

“I’m just going to quietly observe.”

-Understood. That’s how I’ll tell them. Ah, speaking of which, Teacher. I received some good pine mushrooms as a gift, is it okay to visit you sometime soon?

Pine mushrooms. His mouth started to water. He didn’t know about anything else, but the pine mushrooms that Junmin brought was something that couldn’t be denied.

“Bring Andong soju as well.”

-Of course. I’ll go during the night.

This busy friend was hardworking as well. Moonjoong smirked and opened up his laptop. The laptop had been gifted to him by his second daughter. At first, he thought that he would never be able to handle things like this, but as he fiddled with it, he was able to check things like his email. He blinked his tight eyes as he opened the inbox. He only told a few close people about his email so it was usually empty, but a new email had arrived.

He clicked it and received the files inside.

“Let’s see.”

It might be because he was getting old, but when he looked at things nearby, his eyes became blurry. He put on the glasses hanging around his neck and checked the screen, the left side had a picture and the right side had information written by Junmin. It was similar to the personal information you received when taking an audition, it was clear that he was involved in this area of work as the organization was very clean.

Moonjoong took the time to read them one by one. He realized while preparing for the play that would be held at Myeongdong Art Theater, that he still had a passion for plays. The seed of passion differed from his earlier days, however, and it grew by raising students rather by personally performing in them. Moonjoong remembered the theater that no longer existed, as he stopped scrolling.

“This child…”

He took his hands off the mouse and observed the screen. Han Maru, the friend that he saw yesterday, and spoke on the phone just earlier was inside the monitor.

So he was a child who performed in plays.

“Then his observational skills are quite...”

The core of acting was imitation. Because the foundation of imitation was observation, the fact that somebody’s observation was good meant that they had a solid groundwork for acting.

“Is it fate?”

Now that he looked back, when Maru was performing the puppet show for the children, his acting wasn’t sloppy. The principle of being serious no matter where the stage was set, it would seem that he already had the virtue that actors worked to preserve.

“His actions of being considerate are good too.”

It was a work involving people in the end. No matter how scum-like people were good at acting, he didn’t have the intention of teaching them. In that sense, Maru deserved high points. He read the details that Junmin wrote.

“Hoh-oh.”

Junmin as a person was gentle. Despite being 50 years old, he had a broad smile on his face whenever he looked at dogs. However, when it came to work, he was a professional unlike any other. To become a casting director, you needed the ability to look through a person. It’s because whether it be plays, dramas, or movies; no matter how outstanding the scenario, staff, and acoustics were, if the actor who had the role of telling the story was bad, the whole thing was thrown down the drain.

Whether the product will end up rising or falling is first and foremost determined by the casting, Junmin was especially strict when he looked at people because he did this type of work. It was to the point that even Moonjoong, as an actor, would avoid meeting Junmin.

“A person like that has this much expectations for him.”

Expectations. The weight that this one word carries is more than what it seems.

Moonjoong crossed his arms.

“Let’s try seeing him in advance.”

***

“Hi.”

“……”

“At least take my greeting.”

“Yeah, hi.”

She received his greeting as if it were her first time seeing him. Maru scratched his eyebrows and took a step to her side.

“What, what is it?”

She jumped in surprise and widened the gap. She has a cute side to her too, Maru awakened his mischievous personality for the first time in a while and kept inching closer. She didn’t know what to do and ran up the stage before stopping and sighed.

“Is it fun?!”

“Yeah.”

“Seriously, I can’t live.”

“We’re a couple, let’s stick together.”

“C-Couple? Who? Me? With you?”

“Are you not?”

“…..”

She didn’t deny it. Maru’s mood brightened and he tightly grabbed her hand to pull her to a side of the stage. The other students had yet to arrive, they were the only people in the open stage.

“I like you.”

“What, what, what?!”

“Why are you so surprised? It's what you said.”

Her face immediately blushed. So she was someone who reacted this simply when she was younger. In his past life, they had met when they were both adults. One was an actress who had lived her life in theaters while acting as cameo for dramas; the other was a road manager for such schedules. When she was old enough to know everything there was to know, she only snorted when he made these jokes. Rather, she had been the one to play pranks with Maru not knowing what to do.

“Hi!”

“You’re here early.”

The entrance on the first floor opened and other students appeared. Maru slowly let go of the hand that he held. She took notice of that and pulled her hand back.

“Aren’t you blushing too easily?”

“What can I do when it’s genetic.”

“Ah, mother-in-law also…..”

“Mother-in-law?”

“Nevermind, it’s nothing.”

Maru faked a cough and ignored her glare. He vaguely remembered his mother-in-law who wrote romance novels. As she said, she had been someone who’s face easily turned red.

“Don’t space out and warm up your throat and bodies.”

Ganghwan stepped forward, behind him were five students who dreamed of becoming actors.

“We’re going into practice in 20 minutes. Like we discussed before, we’ll be choosing roles and taking auditions starting tomorrow so be prepared.”

“Yes.”

“Then warm up your bodies and voice accordingly. I’m going to lie down for a bit.”

Ganghwan spoke as he laid down on the floor. It wasn’t once or twice so the students shrugged and relaxed their bodies.

***

“Try to express more emotion, as if you’re screaming. You need to pay attention to your voice because it’s a play without mics. Even if it’s an amateur play, you can’t make the audience who took the time to come here feel a sense of loss. Again!”

Ganghwan threw the cue sign and spun around. He spoke like that, but the overall atmosphere was good. Everybody grew basic knowledge while staying in the acting club. They were like chicks, but it had been satisfying teaching them because they knew what to do.

“Uh, Senior.”

“Are you busy?”

It was Senior Junmin. He must be busy because of the main play that’s opening at this theater, Ganghwan wondered why he’s here. Ganghwan told the students to continue and walked towards the entrance.

“What is it?”

“There’s a friend that I need to take.”

“From there? Is it Maru?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you going to treat him to meat?”

“Not meat, pine mushrooms.”

“Ah! I’ll go too. Please show me some favoritism too.”

“Stop being so cringy. I’m not the host today, so it’ll be difficult.”

“Then who…“

“Teacher Yoon Moonjoong.”

“…..I really want to go.”

Ganghwan had two actors who were his idols, and one of them was Moonjoong.

“I met him a year ago and haven’t been able to see him since.”

“You should come to the practice room at Hyehwa station.”

“How can I go to a place where the seniors are practicing. There are other senior actors there too.”

“Hmm, then shall we try giving him a call?”

“Senior! I love you!”

Ganghwan waited patiently while hugging Junmin’s arms. After the short call ended, Junmin said, “Come with us.”

“There’s still 2 hours left until practice ends, so please wait until then.”

“You’re not going to end it early?”

“Is that what you want?”

“No. If you did that I would have cursed at you.”

“Right?”

“The kids, how are they?”

“Should I say it’s to be expected? They’re definitely different from the usual pack because they’re all kids who have been recommended. If they’re polished just a little bit, you could probably let them out without being embarrassed.”

“Do your best. You know that teacher Yoon will be coming to the practice play right?”

“Of course, it’s making me nervous too.”

“Somebody who’s nervous was laying down on the stage?”

“Hm hm.”

He laughed while avoiding Ganghwan’s gaze.

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ensj's Thoughts

These chapters were translated by Eunc, while ensj was out on personal business.