Chapter 120

Time passed, and it became Saturday. A week had passed since Maru had the conversation with teacher Moonjoong.

Maru grabbed his backpack after finishing the last period.

Whenever school ended, it became natural for him to head to the auditorium as if he were a salmon that was trying to remember it’s own birthplace. Even on the days without practice, he found himself auto-piloting there. Today was a day with practice, it was also a day where they would be getting their homework checked.

He turned the doorknob and went inside.

“You’re here.“

The second years welcomed him. Recently, the participation rate for the second years kept decreasing. It might’ve been because they were focusing on the fact that they were about to become third years, along with things like applying to universities and jobs.

Maru greeted his seniors and started to warm up, stretching was the basic among basics. Everybody did stretches when they entered the auditorium even without being told to. Daemyung and Dojin, who were on clean-up duty, arrived at the auditorium late.

“Huh? Not everybody’s here yet. Hello, senior!”

“Dojin is full of energy today too.”

Maru looked at the Yoonjung who was waving her hands above her head. He recalled the time when Yoonjung came into his class earlier in the semester to talk about acting. She carried a lively smile, a flawless personality, and piqued Maru’s interest in the acting club with her passionate speech.

Now that he thought about it, Maru might’ve been inclined to joining the acting club because he saw a shade of ‘her’ within Yoonjung’s face.

“Maru, why are you staring at me like that?”

“Because you’re pretty.”

“……..”

It was for a brief moment, but the eyes of the second years became complex. Four people gathered together and started muttering amongst themselves. Things like, “I think there’s something wrong with him after all,” could be heard.

“You’ve been strange since a few days ago, but you’re extra strange today. Are you okay? Are you really Maru?”

Dojin came to his side and whispered. Daemyung had a look of agreement.

“What’s strange about me?“

“You know, you’re just completely different from how you usually are.”

“How am I usually?”

“What do you mean how? You always have your mouth shut and scan your surroundings with a look that says you know everything. Right, Daemyung? But recently it’s been different.”

“Y-yeah.”

His two friends made a puzzled expression. Was I normally like that? Maru couldn’t remember, but he had to admit that he had been different. His body was light as if he had weights taken off, and he felt mentally relaxed. I wonder if that’s the cause for the change. Maru escaped from the auditorium and went into the restroom that was to the right.

The face that was reflected in the mirror was a mess. His bangs shot up to the sky because he took a nap during lunch and his eyes were sunken in from going to sleep late the night before.

Despite all this, he seemed to be full of vitality. It might’ve been because of his mouth that had been making a smile unconsciously.

“It’s good to see.”

Maru washed his face and pressed down on his hair with his wet hands. When he figured it was enough, he let go of his hands, but the hair stayed the same. He thanked his healthy hair with a bittersweet expression.

The rest of the first years had all arrived by the time he returned to the auditorium.

“Haha! Are you a super saiyan? Your hair’s no joke.”

Taejoon laughed as he asked. Maru nodded and went to where the first years were. They were sitting in a circle as they stretched.

Geunseok and Yurim could be seen right in front of where he sat. Yurim looked at Geunseok and smiled like she normally did, but Geunseok didn’t smile back as he did in the past. However, he did reply to everything that Yurim said.

There was a rumor going around the kids that the two were going to break up soon and the common opinion was that Geunseok had grown cold. However, it didn’t look like the two were going to easily break up from how closely they sat together. In the first place, when students were in a relationship, it was hard for them to break up because of their friends.

“Are you going to Anyang today too?”

Maru shook his head at Iseul who sat next to him and asked. It was almost time for the preliminaries and he was scheduled for amateur classes as well, so he decided not to go to the practice room in Anyang for the time being. Of course, he would go if he had time, but it would probably be difficult. Ganghwan also advised him to build teamwork with the members of the acting club.

“Really? Then can you stay for a bit after practice?”

“What is it?“

Iseul whispered back.

“It’s about Taejoon and Soyeon, hehe.”

Ah. Maru knew what she would say as soon as he saw her mischievous face. It looked like she already told Daemyung and Dojin as well. The three of them shared a firm, but playful determination.

After doing some simple stretches, they joined the second years and started to talk about this and that. Suddenly, the door slammed open and Miso ran in.

“There’s so much damn traffic!”

“……”

“Hoo, at least I’m not late. How is it? The charms of an adult who keeps her promises?”

It was a Misoface that wasn’t lacking compared to a pokerface today as well. Miso’s hands held onto two black plastic bags filled with snacks and drinks.

“Today’s the big viewing day, so we can’t be missing any of this.”

It was today. They would be acting out the characteristics of their partner that they’ve observed thus far. The members of the club who’ve been chatting until now became slightly nervous.

“Good, good. Your expressions are all very good. As expected, there needs to be this type of tension between people. Now, now, you guys should go and prepare. The method is simple, you just need to go out and give a brief description of what you’ve seen and give a well-organized performance. You’ve all seen what a monodrama is, so you just need to do something similar to that. You’re excited, right? Doesn’t it sound fun?”

Miso made a face full of expectations as she observed the members. Maru found something that shouldn’t have been there as he organized the snacks and drinks.

“Coach.”

“Huh?”

“This beer…”

Maru took out a canned beer. They could see fried almonds and anchovies in between the snack bags too. Miso hurriedly grabbed the can of beer and side dishes as she grinned.

“They’re mine, so don’t worry about it.”

So that’s how you’re going to come out, teacher Taesik should’ve been here to see this. Everybody knew it would be pointless to stop her, so they simply said “Just don’t get drunk.” Although, there was no way a heavy drinker like her would become drunk from a single can of beer.

“Then who should we start with?”

She opened the can as she spoke. It was known that presenting first was better, but nobody wanted to be the first one to present.

“As usual, the one to take the lead should be the second years right? You guys did live a year longer.”

“Wow, that’s discrimination.”

“If you don’t like it then why don’t you be the coach instead, Yoonjung?”

“……Tsk.”

“Tsk? Okay! The club president will be the first one to go to set an example for the others.“

“It was like that last time too!”

“So it should be like that this time as well. I’m conservative you see.”

Yoonjung must’ve realized that she would never win an exchange of words because she stood up with a gloomy face. As Yoonjung went up, everybody started to take out something like a paper or notepad to write down their summaries and evaluations of the performance.

Maru took out a notepad together with everybody else. He paid extra close attention when he observed his friends, as a way of replying to Daemyung’s advice. He learned how interesting it was to look into others through this homework.

People all had characteristics of their own. However, these characteristics weren’t something that always appeared, because people were bound to change according to the situation. Although it wasn’t something that always appeared, it was possible to get a sense of their behavior by observing them for extensive periods of time. By gathering small details to form a framework, then attaching the body to it, he was able to roughly explain the person called Daemyung.

“Maru.”

“Hm?”

“…..Please perform something cool.”

Daemyung requested as he made a faint smile.

Although they spent the past year together, it was strangely nerve-racking. Speaking of which, it was the same when they had presentations in class too, despite it being just talking in front of the kids that they laughed and spoke with. It made you strangely nervous, and unable to calm down.

This time, it wasn’t even comparable to just giving a presentation in class.

Soyeon tried to control her breathing as she went up. She could somewhat understand why the second years were so nervous. It was a different experience from standing on stage.

I can see too clearly here.

If you stood on the stage, it was hard to see the audience clearly because the lighting that shined down blurred their faces, and this blur gave a unique feeling of stability. The thought of the faces of the audience being imprinted in her was enough to send shivers through her body.

Soyeon felt her hair standing on edge. Why do these familiar faces feel so new? It was unexpectedly hard to perform in front of people you knew.

“Why are you nervous? This isn’t like you, Soyeon.”

“You were stiff up there too.”

Danmi poked directly at Yoonjung. Like she said, Yoonjung was slightly nervous when she stood in front of everybody too. When they were sitting down, they found that side of Yoonjung fascinating, but they understood it the moment they went up.

It’s similar to that time.

The very first practice that coach Miso made them do - to stand on top of a chair and read the script while receiving attention from others. She felt the nerves from then come back.

Will I be able to do well?

Senior Yoonjung seemed nervous up until her introduction, but as soon as she started acting, she did an amazing job as if what she showed before was just a pretense. Will I be able to be like that too? It’ll probably be hard. I might mess up my pronunciation at the state I’m currently in.

She started to give an explanation about Taejoon while thinking that.

The memories of the days when she observed Taejoon brushed by her. In the beginning, she couldn’t even take a proper look at him because of how nervous she was. She tried to not be conscious of him, but because of the time they spent together increased, she couldn’t help it. This grew to the extent where her palms began to grow sweaty from how nervous she became. Taejoon had good looks, but on top of having good looks, he had deep consideration for others. Her heart shook at the kindness he showed while asking all sorts of things. However, because she knew that they wouldn’t look good together, she had to give up her interest in him.

At first she had thoughts like ‘a fatty like me wouldn’t stand a chance’, but she soon corrected herself. She wasn’t pathetic enough to shrink back because of outer appearances and men.

It’s good enough that I’m getting butterflies in my stomach. Having a crush isn’t too bad either. When else will I ever get to experience an innocent love like this? When she started to think like this, it became more comfortable for her to confront Taejoon.

Good.

First of all, Taejoon speaks a lot. It was almost miraculous that he didn’t run dry of topics to speak about after talking with girls for an entire day. He’s also good at listening to others, remembering little details, pleasant and affable.

Of course, there were parts of him that were a bit over the top.

As for the downsides… Maybe love had blinded her, but she couldn’t see any. Ah! Maybe that his stamina is a bit lacking?

She used these facts to lay a groundwork for the character called Taejoon, and left it to the members who sat in front of her to judge how similar it was to the real Taejoon.

“This is the Taejoon that I observed.”

She concluded her brief explanation.

Now, let’s start acting.

She stopped shaking the moment she created a mental image.

It looks like practice doesn’t lie.

Soyeon started her act by making a fuss like Taejoon.

“Hey, hey, did you see that? Did you see it? Hey, hey! Look at me for a bit.”

“Even though there’s no fun like this, it looks like everybody came well prepared.“

It appears that Miso was looking forward to something else.

The only two left now were Geunseok and Daemyung. Maru expressed Daemyung as an outstanding observer, and acted out the Daemyung who spoke shyly normally, but did a 180 when he went on the stage. Everybody nodded in agreement. Similar to a person who’s personality changed as soon as they grabbed the steering wheel, when Daemyung went on the stage, he had more confidence than anyone else.

“Next up is Hong Geunseok.”

It was Geunseok’s turn. After he started receiving private lessons, Geunseok underwent a lot of changes. If Daemyung’s ability to observe and understand his surroundings went up, then it could be said that Geunseok’s ability to express things had dramatically increased. Geunseok was somebody who was good at acting in the past too, he dove into his character more than anybody else to make that character a reality.

Miso believed that if he trained his mental fortitude, his acting would evolve one step further. Apparently, Geunseok’s coach was a supporting cast from a recent TV mini-series. Suyeon, if Maru remembered correctly.

“I’ll be starting.”

Geunseok spoke with a voice that showed no hesitation, the target of observation for Geunseok was Yurim. It was clear that Miso had her own intentions from the way she had assigned these partners. The Geunseok that Yurim performed a little earlier was quite average, a quiet boy who was good at acting. The performance was peppered with love from Yurim, making Geunseok look quite romantic. Geunseok opened his mouth after a brief moment of silence.

“I think it’s becoming a bit awkward with the others, what should I do?”

Maru scratched his eyebrows as soon as he heard the line that Geunseok threw out; he could feel everybody’s line of sight go towards Yurim, it was the first time a character representation had been negative. Maru glanced at Miso and saw her watching with her arms crossed. She had taken her hands off the can of beer for the first time.

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ensj's Thoughts

Jesus, 4 hours late. I'm very sorry about this. This chapter was translated by Eunc while I was out on personal business.