Chapter 125

Maru took out the frayed script. He couldn’t help but smile, ruminating on the long journey he undertook when first receiving the script 4 months ago. During the past 4 months, his perception completely changed. It was a pleasure to start with this script once again.

"It’s been a long time doing a reading with the script in hand.”

"Yeah. I haven’t taken it out except for the occasional reference.”

Everyone showed the same nostalgic feeling. Today, a week before the preliminary round of the winter nationals, the acting club members returned to where it all began, with the fundamentals of script analysis and reading. It's a script they knew by heart, but a month away from the script rejuvenated the members to review and re-interpret many parts. Every member was confident about his or her character, but minor modifications were still being made to the lines following their creative interpretation. Of course, this was all done under the supervision of Miso.

“Make the lines come alive. Dead words only have meaning in old literature; we’re doing a modern play, adjust the dialogue to match the times. Don’t use too much current lingo or else the play will get messy and the essence of the drama will disappear,” Miso instructed.

“It's like a modern novel,” said Daemyung.

Miso followed up Daemyung’s words with a “Bingo” and then continued,

“Every play has a script. The script may look different in form, but it's still a part of a novel. If you change the directives to narrative phrases, the words will take the form of a novel. Just like how a cliché-filled romance novel isn’t enjoyable, so too if the novel is only reflecting reality. One needs to navigate the line between reality and fantasy. Take Daemyung’s high school student character. In reality, there’s no such character, but I can understand and relate to the student as if he were real. A logician can probably conjure the most logical character, but the question is whether people are willing to understand or empathize with the character. I don’t usually go deep into this stuff… since you’re all smart and get my drift, I’ll end the lecture here.”

Everyone started heavily editing the script.

Since there was only a week left before the preliminaries, the editing was light. Most changes dealt with changing words and lines here and there. However, those little changes drastically changed the feel of the scenes. The members felt the difference after an initial run-through. With greater focus, the members focused their attention on the changed script.

“If we do some more changes tomorrow…” Yoonjung spoke with a twinkle in her eyes.

However, Miso firmly shook her head and stated,“The changes are up to here. We’re not going to change anything starting tomorrow.”

“Why? All the changes seemed to enhance the script. Wouldn’t some additional changes make it even better?”

“That’s a trap. I’ve only allowed you guys to review the script this close to the preliminaries so that we can limit our edits. You’ll never be fully satisfied no matter how many edits we make. Furthermore, this script wasn’t written by you guys. Some simple changes here and there can actually change the entire direction of the play.”

Miso raised her hand towards Maru. Maru handed over his script, which was filled to the brim with character notes and analysis. Seeing these notes, Miso grinned and said to the group,

“We’re only going to edit today. Change your lines if you feel it will benefit the scene. You’ve all lived and breathed the characters on the page, so you should know what works and what doesn’t. I want the lines to be lively yet still stay true to the character and direction of the play. That’s the script we’ll end with and use.”

Liveliness. Lines with breadth and depth.

Maru pondered on how to slightly alter his words to become theatrical lines.

‘Good lines are lines that seem like they would be used in real life but are not.’

Maru started putting red lines on his script. The increasing red lines were as if the script was changing clothes and transforming into something else. He did this late into the night. Focusing on edits until the moon was visible, Maru raised his head and saw that the other members were also peering at the scripts in their hands. Miso’s words made sense. There’s no assurance that everyone would be just as focused as today. There’s a limit to how long one can focus, so getting as much done in a short amount of time was essential.

“So hungry!”

“Wow, I haven’t even studied as hard as this.”

“Oww, my back.”

The members who hit their limit started to slowly open their mouths. It was already 9 PM.”

“You guys hungry?”

“Yes!”

Miso took out a credit card from her wallet.

“Good work. Let’s eat something first before reviewing the changes.”

Miso’s card flew through the air and was caught by Maru with both hands, as if he were praying.

“Some comfort food?”

“Does anyone want anything in particular?”

“I don’t want to wait, so let’s get some rice cakes, sausages, and tempura.”

“I agree!”

Maru nodded his head and got up. There were four fast-food type comfort food places in front of the school, 2 outdoor stalls and 2 attached to the neighborhood department store. The one’s near the department store were probably closed, but Maru expected that the outdoor stalls should still be open.

“I’ll go too,” Daemyung said as he got up to follow Maru.

“Why don’t you take a break and rest?”

“Going by yourself is boring, no?”

Daemyung’s round cheeks rose up and down as he talked. Maru couldn’t help but acknowledge Daemyung’s kindness. As they went out together, they saw that the school was blanketed in darkness. The only visible specks of light were coming from the fifth-floor auditorium.

“It’s kind of scary at night, right?”

“You see it all the time. You’re still scared?”

Maru kept walking in the frigid evening and crossed his arms to keep his hands close to his sides. Daemyung pulled out a pair of gloves and asked,

“Want my gloves?”

“You should put them on. Also, this kind of offering should be done for girls.”

“… ha ha ha.”

“Earlier today, Dojin had another episode about making a girlfriend.”

"He’s always like that. He riles himself up and then becomes pensive and worried about his future. I don’t know what to expect next.”

"That’s Han Dojin alright. Anyways, I wonder what kind of girl will be wooed by you, Daemyung.”

“I-I’m not interested in dating.”

“A doctor’s shot in the arm doesn’t hurt.”

“Huh?”

“It’s similar in truth to what you just said.”

“…”

“Should I try setting something up?”

“No! I really can’t do anything like that. No, don’t do it.”

“You need to hang around girls to feel comfortable around them. I don’t want to force it on you though.”

“That’s… I don’t know what to say to girls. If I’m left alone with other girls in the classroom, I’m lost on what to say.”

“You’re fairly confident when you’re acting with girls.”

“That’s because it’s acting.”

“Why don’t you approach it in that way then?”

“That’s easier said than done. I was born this way, what can I do.”

Seeing Daemyung put on a meek smile as if accepting his fate, Maru couldn’t help but acknowledge that Daemyung was truly a kind soul. Dojin would jump at the chance to talk and get close to girls if Maru offered, but Daemyung would probably shy away and be quiet the entire time.

If Daemyung was just another classmate, Maru wouldn’t have cared so much, but wasn’t Daemyung one of those friends you just wanted to take care of and see happy? Maru surmised that the loneliness and bullying Daemyung faced in elementary and middle school made him shy. Also, he must have been teased to no end for his round body. Those who teased him probably did it without any malice, but it must have been painful for him. His year in the acting club helped him somewhat get out of his shell, but he still acted awkwardly in front of girls.

Maru understood that empty words like ‘have confidence’ or ‘you’re a great guy’ wouldn’t resolve the situation. Daemyung already knew he needed to change, stating the obvious could sometimes drag one further down. It could also drive a person to believe that he or she isn’t capable of doing anything at all.

“If you find that someone, don’t hesitate. You’ll regret it later on.”

“I-If I find someone, I’ll consider it,” Daemyung replied with an embarrassed smile.

* * *

After practice, Geunseok walked Yurim to the bus stop and then turned to leave.

[Get home safely]

The text came from Yurim who had just gotten on the bus a moment ago. Geunseok sent a simple reply, ‘Yeah’, and then scrolled down his past call list, stopping at Suyeon’s number. He pressed call.

"Instructor Suyeon. I just finished.”

-Okay, you finished pretty late.

"Yeah, it somehow became like that. Can I go over right now?”

-Coming over to a single lady’s apartment in the late evening is a little too scandalous, no?”

“Oh, is it?”

Geunseok enjoyed the quick banter he had with Suyeon. There’s nothing like this with Yurim, she just listens. Sometimes Yurim doesn’t say a word and just nods her head, agreeing to whatever he said, making him feel like he’s talking to a wall.

Suyeon was different, she not only had a pretty face but also charisma. She made him want to indulge her wit and tease her even more. Though she’s five years younger than Instructor Miso, she seemed much more mature.

Geunseok recalled feeling out of place when Junmin first introduced him to Suyeon, an actress who often came out on television. Though only playing a minor character, she was part of a popular TV drama series. After the first meeting, Geunseok received a string of practice sessions at Suyeon’s apartment. He remembered that Suyeon said she had a home in Seoul but would come down to her apartment in Suwon station whenever she was free.

-Come if you want, but aren’t you tired?”

“I’m not tired.”

-Alright then.

He quickly got into a taxi after ending the call. He felt his chest warming, this is how it should feel when dating someone; it was different with Yurim. Geunseok felt excited just thinking about visiting Suyeon. Her crystal-clear eyes, shapely nose, blemish free skin, and perfect body… She was superior to Yurim in every way. Just looking at Suyeon made him dazed. It also made him want more.

He wondered if she was teaching him purely because he was her understudy student. A sense of desire reared its head within Geunseok. Being with Yurim didn’t make him feel like a valued man. He wanted to go one level, no, multiple levels above Yurim and date Suyeon.

Conversations that weren’t bland and childish, a lush and mysterious gaze, and a beautiful female body… Geunseok wanted it all. He wondered how to obtain it.

“I need to do something out of the box.”

As a first year in high school, Geunseok couldn’t contend with her in wealth or social standing. Then what can he put forth? He needed to be an understanding, attractive, and responsible human being. What else? While he was thinking, the thought of his brother and his group of well-known staff and directors passed through his mind.

‘Those are all part mine too, right?’

He started to chuckle. A plan was forming.

* * *

“You can’t underestimate the power of being well-connected, connections are important. Some problems can be resolved just by knowing a person. However, being well-connected is not tangible. If I can’t even pull my own weight, all those connections will sever. Relationships are like that. If one doesn’t get to the same level, the relationship will deteriorate. An exception to this is individuals who’ve connected on a deeper, more humanistic level, but even that means that someone possesses a humanistic trait, which could be seen as that person’s skill.”

Daemyung stopped what he was saying as he realized he was lecturing on his own personal philosophy of human relationships. This all started when Dojin mentioned that he could probably hang out with a lot of pretty girls if he were to befriend a rich guy. Daemyung tried to give a simple answer but found himself diving into human philosophy.

"Yeah, yeah, you’re so knowledgeable so you already have a girlfriend, right?”

“Do whatever you want.”

“Oh, omnipotent being! Please excuse this lowly human and from your graciousness bestow upon this poor soul an introduction to the fairer sex.”

Everything was circling back to the beginning. Dojin was always singing about dating girls in the past, but he seemed to have calmed down recently. Daemyung thought that Dojin was starting to mature and see the bigger picture, but the recurrence of his ‘solo-disease’ these past couple days proved otherwise. Dojin either lost patience or gave up on his internal struggle.

“If you’re serious about it, then I’ll ask,” Maru stated.

“Truly?”

“Sure.”

“Yes! Yes!! Hey Daemyung, we’ll have our blossoming spring time too.”

“I-I-I’m fine. I can’t imagine doing anything like that.”

“Hey, if I go and meet 1:1 it’ll be awkward. So, let’s make it a 2:2…”

“I don’t want to go. You go do what you need to do. I’m going to wait patiently.”

“Daemyung, at this rate, we’re going to waste half of our youth attending a technical college and fulfilling our military service. You know that the majority of engineering high school students go to technical schools afterwards, right?”

“… but I’m going to major in theater.”

“… this guy…”

Dojin’s passionate pleas and Daemyung’s shy, but firm, retorts continued. They were like water and oil, which may look good together but don’t mix. Maru was questionable on whether Dojin’s recent fiery passion to get a girlfriend wouldn’t come to fruition. Maru thought that Taejun and Soyeon’s success really pushed Dojin off the edge toward a sea of fervent passion.

While Maru was following his friends and observing their animated conversation, he got a call from her.

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ensj's Thoughts

These chapters were translated by PlumpCat99, while ensj was out on personal business.