It was a Thursday. Thursday in the middle of December, a week before Christmas. It was also four days before the prelims for the nationals.
“So, the reason why I know this is because...”
Dojin had been reading from his script since morning. He was carrying it around everywhere, saying that he just couldn’t memorize his new lines from the edited script. It was probably because he was nervous. After all, the prelims was dead ahead.
“Gaaah! Why can’t I think, god damn it?!”
He’s even gotten to the point of starting to insult himself. As a matter of fact, his behavior was starting to get to Maru as well.
“Just stay calm. You memorized this already, so why are you getting so worried?”
“It’s all changed slightly, so I can’t remember it. If it keeps going like this, the instructor’s going to murder me for sure.”
“It’s not like you never got scolded by her, you’ll be fine.”
“Dude, you might get screwed over too.”
Dojin was looking down at the script then the ceiling repeatedly as he said his lines. By the looks of things, this would likely continue for the rest of the day. Maru could already imagine Miso shouting at Dojin in his head.
“Math is our last class?”
“I’m going to have to give up math.”
“You’ve always given up on math though.”
“I’m going to sacrifice math for my acting.”
Dojin flipped at his hair for a bit before realizing he didn’t have time for this and got back to memorizing his script. His hand was moving quickly as well, writing down the lines he said in his notebook. If only he would study this hard… He’d probably score in the ninetieth percentile with ease. Maru took his eyes off of Dojin for a second to look at the front of the classroom. Daemyung was chanting out his lines as well out of nervousness.
“You memorized everything, right?” Dojin asked.
Maru nodded. These two friends of his memorized their lines well from the start. They were probably only this worried because of the text they got last night.
[If you make a mistake, you’re dead.]
A short, sweet, and terrifying message. It came at 1am, too. Anyone who saw it before going to sleep most likely didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Miso probably wouldn’t murder anyone, since it was illegal. Just that, it was easy to imagine she’d get very close to it if given the chance. In fact, Maru could still hear the club members screaming during the fall exercise sessions. Maru carefully took out his script. He knew he was perfect, but just in case… He really didn’t want to mess with a tiger that just sharpened its claws.
“I can’t memorize it!”
Maru started focusing on the script, treating Dojin’s screams as something like background music.
* * *
The last class of the day ended. For some reason, their homeroom teacher told them he wasn’t going to check the class for cleanliness as he left. Thanks to that, the cleaning team had the fortune of going home early. Maru, Dojin and Daemyung were also a part of those who experienced this fortune.
“They’re probably all there already...”
They weren’t fans of getting to go early, though. Dojin looked at his script one last time as he started moving. Maru could only shake his head.
“You still haven’t managed to memorize it?”
“I don’t get it. Why? This never happened before.”
“Must be because you’re too nervous. Just be normal man, normal.”
Right. Being normal was important. In the end, they just didn’t have to mess up. They just needed to do as they always did in practice.
...Though, once Maru actually managed to reach the auditorium doors, he had to retract his previous statement.
He could hear a chilling shout come from behind the iron door.
“Are you crazy? Are you actually for real?! Why did you stutter there! You must be going mad, aren’t you? Aren’t you?!”
The person who screamed in apology was a second year. Minsung, to be exact. Hearing the boy’s scared voice was enough to make even Maru get nervous. It seems that Miso really came here with the intent to kill today.
“...Want to run?”
Why was it that Dojin’s idiotic suggestion seemed so tempting today? But it was too late. Before he even realized it, Maru was already opening the door. Then again, he might as well get this over with.
“Get over here, you lazy idiots!”
The first thing they got when they walked in was a shout. Maru threw his bag on the ground and started running. The other two behind him did the same.
Miso glared at Dojin for a second before flipping through her script. She came to a spot somewhere in the middle to read a line.
“Hello, I just moved in upstairs. This isn’t much, but please have some rice cake.”
That was Geunseok’s line, in a scene where he was handing out rice cakes to all the neighbors of Dalseok-dong. Dojin stared at Miso confusedly. After exactly three seconds,
“You lost your mind, didn’t you?”
“You don’t know what you’re doing, don’t you? You don’t even know what we’re doing, do you? You weren’t even memorizing your lines, weren’t you!!”
Miso rolled up her script into a stick and started poking Dojin’s stomach with it.
“20 laps around the auditorium. Sprint.”
Dojin stepped back with gritted teeth. Like Minsung, he started sprinting as well. The auditorium took up a massive section of the fifth floor. Sprinting twenty laps around it would most definitely be a difficult task.
This time, Miso didn’t even look at the script as she said her line. Just like before, it was one of Geunseok’s lines. Daemyung immediately turned bright when he heard it, he needed to know this part. Daemyung calmly said his line back at Miso.
“This country is rotten. All sorts of animals are trying to become government workers just because it’s ‘easy’. Ah, what am I doing, you ask? I’m unemployed.”
There wasn’t anything wrong, at least from how Maru heard it. This was probably a pass, right? But when Maru looked at Miso, he found an even scarier face than when Dojin forgot his line. It looks like they were screwed no matter what they did today.
“What are you doing?”
“Are you reading a textbook?”
“You must be crazy. Hey, Daemyung.”
“You must’ve gotten very lazy after all these times I’ve complimented you. Isn’t that right!”
“Not at all, ma’am!”
“Then why the hell are you saying your lines like that? Are you a pro? You think you can just say your line perfectly when you go on stage without any practice?”
“So why are you reading your line like it’s from a textbook? Are you trying to show off just because you memorized your line? You run 30 laps.”
Daemyung stepped back with a defeated expression. Maru looked at his friends nervously, something told him that he would be joining them soon.
“You’re not focusing, are you? You don’t care about any of this?”
Maru started sprinting right past his friend Daemyung.
* * *
“Focus! We’re doing one more run with no mistakes. Don’t stop being nervous. Got it?”
They were entering their third run at this point. The clock pointed to 9pm. Maru already decided to skip the amateur acting class for the nationals, but he really missed that place right around now. Miso was glaring at them still, telling them to hurry up. The club members exchanged looks and began the play. Every time they made a mistake, Miso would unleash her wrath upon them. They really needed to focus today.
The play began with Geunseok stepping off of the stage. The club members looked at their scripts whenever they were outside the current scene. On stage, Geunseok was carefully saying his lines, making sure not to make mistakes.
‘Maybe Miso’s the nervous one here.’
This was honestly the first time Miso’s gotten this brutal towards the students. Perhaps it was because her pride got shattered during the last nationals. Moreover, she was a professional. Professionals needed to show results to prove their skill and she already failed last time in doing this.
Of course, Maru knew very well that Miso wasn’t the type of person who’d get nervous over something like this. It was probably just one of the reasons why she was acting like this today.
He wasn’t nervous even on a real stage. Then again, acting in front of strangers was always easier. Strangers couldn’t tell when you made mistakes, but Miso wasn’t a stranger. Today, she was a strict queen striving towards perfection. The moment any of them makes a mistake, they would all be sent to the guillotine.
* * *
“You can rest.”
The students gathered with their scripts. Looking at that, Miso sighed in relief. During the extra month they were given, Miso tried to give the students all sorts of experiences. She dragged actors she knew to show them what good acting looked like. She also let them practice on a bigger stage, like the one in the Blue Sky theater in Hyehwa station. She even gave them homework to observe each other. She didn’t regret her decision. If they just kept on practicing for a month, the club would’ve only gotten lazy.
When she came to the auditorium two days ago, Miso could only laugh from how ridiculous the sight in front of her was. She wasn’t supposed to come to school that day, it was a day when the students would practice by themselves and go home. It just so happened that business on her end ended quickly, so she dropped by the school with a few snacks. What greeted her was darkness. It was only eight, yet the auditorium had clearly been deserted for a few hours. That was when she could feel the heat rise to her head. She picked up the phone and asked Yoonjung casually, ‘what did you do today?’ The answer she got was a ‘we went back home after a single run.’
That was all Miso could say. Freedom always comes with responsibility, freedom without responsibility was nothing but laziness. She would’ve felt nothing if this was done by the pros. They would’ve practiced in their own time, after all. But these were students. Amateur actors. They dared go back home after just a single run? Proudly, at that?
“They need to get beat up. Badly.”
Miso sighed furiously. She only stopped here because these were students. If these were actors from the Blue Sky Theater…. She really would’ve murdered them. Taesik’s been struggling a lot recently because of the club, too. Yet, the students were all going about their lives very lazily. Miso kicked the wall next to her angrily before going back into the auditorium.
* * *
Practice ended at midnight. Miso stopped the club in the middle of their fourth run and put them through physical training. Then, they did their last run. Thankfully, they didn’t make any mistakes.
“Don’t you have any greed?”
That was the first thing Miso asked the club members. Greed. Maru shook his head. To begin with, there weren’t any people on earth who didn’t have any greed. Indeed, the other students answered ‘no’ as well. Miso smiled mockingly at them.
“Oh, so greedy kids like you dared go home after just one run?”
Maru understood exactly why Miso was so mad then. At the same time, he felt a little apologetic towards everyone else.
“Who said you could be lazy just because one person wasn’t there? You should’ve worked just as hard, if not harder without Maru! Do you think this is a joke? More than that, don’t you feel bad about treating acting so lightly, after all the time you invested into it? Ugh, seriously. Do you like it when I treat you like this?”
“You’re all grown up now, you don’t need to be told what to do. Even babies cry when they have something they want. You guys can’t even think about crying? Is that it?”
“Was I the only one who hoped to win at the winter nationals after our failure?”
Miso sighed in annoyance.
“I’m from Blue Sky, too. I sacrificed my youth into this club. I told you, didn’t I? If you don’t plan on taking acting seriously, you might as well leave. What did you say back then? Except for Maru, all of you said you’d try your best. Keep your words. Keep your words if you’re a human being. Hah. I’m sorry for being so mad. Go home and get to sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Miso left right away, without sticking around to hear a single goodbye.Previous Chapter Next Chapter