Maru headed home after stepping out of Miso’s car. He thought he’d opened the door quietly, but he could see his mom coming out of her room.
“Yeah. Why did you wake up? You must be tired.”
“No mother would sleep soundly with her son being out late. Go take a shower before you go to sleep.”
His mom sounded cool in the message, but she really must’ve been worried. She stepped back into her room with a small sigh. Maru silently bowed towards her before going to the bathroom for a shower. By the time he came back, it was 1am. He considered going to sleep just like that before sitting down at his desk.
‘The auditorium, huh.’
He took out his script and grabbed his pen. He could still see Miso’s frustrated expression in his head. She probably couldn’t accept the fact that the tower she built with her friends was about to crumble so easily, her words were filled with rage and frustration back in the car. Hearing emotions like that honestly made Maru feel like he was partly responsible. Humans always walk towards the future, but their motivations often stem from memories.
If Miso didn’t get so mad in the car, Maru would’ve just accepted the situation as a fact of life and moved on. After all, the club could always practice in their club room instead of the auditorium. But Miso did get mad. In fact, she even took out a part of this anger on the club members. Maybe this was her way of asking them to help her. After all, she wasn’t the type that could simply tell people to do well. She really needed to whip them into a shape that she knew they’d do well.
To be honest, Maru was touched from the side of Miso he saw today. It was difficult to see people who not only truly cared about the work they did, but also had the conviction to take the harder route regardless of easier ones. Miso wasn’t even a member of the Blue Sky club anymore. Despite that, she was putting in more work into the club than anyone else.
Not even pros did this. Pros proved their worth to people and received compensation for it. The money the school paid Miso was pitifully little, especially considering her value. No pro worked in a place that refused to pay them for their worth. Plus, working as an instructor for a school really wasn’t particularly good for Miso’s resume either. Not only that, she was putting a considerable amount of work into this club as well. In the end, she was only here for personal reasons.
The club was very precious to her. That’s what made Maru feel sorry for her.
Maru spun the pen in his hand as he focused on the script. There wasn’t much else he could do right now other than this. He needed to breathe life into his character, so that his character could be as real as real could be on stage.
“I need to work hard now that I saw how serious she’s going on about this.”
He wouldn’t be a proper human if he didn’t reciprocate even a little bit to her emotions. Maru spent the next few minutes analyzing his lines and imagining himself on the stage. As he was going about it, his phone vibrated. It was a message from Daemyung.
Maru responded with a ‘no.’
[Instructor Miso seemed really disappointed, didn’t she? I keep thinking about her telling us we were being lazy.]
Maru could almost see Daemyung drooping dejectedly from the other side of the screen. The boy probably became even moodier than usual as more of the night passed. Maru thought for a second before sending him a small briefing of what Miso told him. Daemyung was good at keeping secrets, so he should be fine even if Maru told him about what was happening.
[Really? So if we fail here, we’ll get pushed away by the baseball club?]
[What do we do?]
[We just do the best we can.]
Maru didn’t get a response after that. Daemyung was probably reading his script.
“Do the… best we can.”
It was a promise Maru was making with himself. Often, people say that they don’t know what to do, but most of the people asking this question already knew the answer deep in their hearts. That was because the answer was simple. If you want something, chase it. Just modifying that sentence was enough to bring about a satisfying answer.
In the end, the method wasn’t what’s important. All that mattered was how much focus you were putting into your work.
Maru’s pen moved across his script. This was going to be a long night. He was sure of it.
* * *
It seemed that Maru wasn’t the only one who decided he needed practice last night, he realized such when he noticed the dark circles hanging around Dojin’s eyes.
“Didn’t get any sleep?”
“Not like I could get any.”
Dojin raised his worn out script with a grin.
Daemyung stepped into the class next with his eyes half-closed.
“When the hell did you sleep?”
“How did you wake up?”
“Alarm clocks, man. I feel like I’m gonna collapse.”
Daemyung put his bag on his desk with wobbly legs. The trio looked at each other before grinning.
“What was our first class today?”
“So if we sleep, we’re dead.”
“Just tape your eyes open, dude.”
Maru gave the two of them a piece of gum. He always carried some in his pocket, which was a habit he picked up after spending many night shifts driving a bus.
“Work hard until lunch.”
“I’m gonna sleep till first class first.”
Maru flopped down onto his desk along with his friends. This situation reminded him of a friend he had back in school that always slept through classes. He couldn’t remember the boy’s name or face, but he did remember that the boy showed up to their high school reunion in a Benz. Everyone wondered at the time how the boy managed to get so successful despite sleeping so much, but Maru felt like he knew why this was the case now.
‘What you see isn’t everything, huh.’
Maru closed his eyes.
* * *
They somehow managed to stay awake until last class by pinching on their thighs. As soon as their homeroom teacher told them they could leave, they ran up to the fifth floor.
“I always wonder, how the hell does all of our sleepiness disappear as soon as school ends?”
“Come on, you’re trying to solve humanity’s greatest mystery now, of all times?”
Dojin nodded at Maru’s words. For now, they needed to stop thinking about random things and focus on practice. The three of them opened the doors into the auditorium. There wasn't anyone else there yet.
“Alright, let’s begin.”
Some people might ask, ‘why try so hard when the prelims are so close? It’s not like you’re going to improve much more anyway.’ But one could retort: ‘If you don’t work hard to the end, you don’t even have the right to feel regret if you lose. Is that really what you want?’
They stretched quickly before going straight into reading. They weren’t just reading their lines this time. They were putting as much emotion as they could into it. They went on with practice by quickly filling in for the students that weren’t there yet.
“Wouldn’t it be better if you raised your hand here?”
“That might be confusing, wouldn’t it?”
“Here, take a look for me.”
Maru and Daemyung went over to Miso’s usual spot and sat at Dojin’s request. Dojin said his line and raised his hand as he said he would. Dojin seemed to want to change the part where his character ‘scratched his head awkwardly’ to ‘raised his hand before putting it back down’. Dojin raised his hand towards his head before stopping in the middle and smiling.
“Hey, that’s not bad.”
“Right? I thought it was a bit odd to smile as I scratched my head last night.”
After that small change, they continued their reading. Instead of their normal, almost mechanical practices, they held discussions about any concerns regarding a line. That small change made them feel like they got out of their usual lazy cycle just a little bit. For sure, the club worked hard. But if asked if they practiced with thought and care, they wouldn’t be able to say ‘yes’. Practice with a decent amount of nervousness helps a group become perfect over time, but if they become too used to their routine, they would eventually slack off. Were they working as hard as they could, or were they being lazy? Miso’s behavior last night was a good enough answer to this question.
As they practiced by themselves, the other members started arriving one by one. The funny thing was, they all looked sleepy as hell. They definitely didn’t get any sleep last night.
“Did you guys all get back well?”
“Yes, what about you, senior?”
“I did, too. Now now, since we’re all alive, let’s get to practice.”
They returned to act one every time a new member arrived. After a few times of doing so, the entire club was here before they knew it.
“Let’s try to do a run without a single mistake first before trying to improve our acting. We should try to finish two runs before instructor Miso comes.”
Yoonjung gave a slight glance to all the members as she extended her hand. Maru put his hand above hers and the others followed suit.
They all separated with a short cry. They were in the same space at the same time with the same people just like yesterday, but something was different. The bomb Miso threw at all of them served as a great wakeup call for everyone. Maru could feel a fire swelling up inside himself as well.
In fact, he started smiling. What would the acting club do? The club came to a very simple, smart answer together. The answer that none of them thought of till now because it was so simple, they were going to act. Just as they got ready to practice, the doors of the auditorium opened.
Was it Miso?
“Oh dear, there’s already students here.”
The person who entered was a kind looking middle-aged man, behind the man was a smaller man with a familiar face. It was the principal that the students liked to call a “dwarf” due to his height. This meant… The taller man in front of the principal was the chairman of the school. Maru stepped forward first while the others were busy standing around in confusion.
“Hello, Mr. Chairman, Principal.”
“Ah, yes, hello. How did you know I was the Chairman? Haha.”
The chairman laughed gleefully. The principal smiled proudly as well.
“You kids should step outside for a second,” the principal said.
Maru smiled bitterly inside. He could tell what was going on. The chairman seemed pretty greedy to take over this place. Right then, someone new appeared from behind all of them. It was the baseball coach.
The club members stepped out of the auditorium, still confused as ever. Maru closed his mouth and gave Daemyung a small glance. This needed to be explained to the club by Miso or Taesik. Neither of them had the right to say anything right now.
“Isn’t that the baseball coach?”
“What’s the Chairman and the Principal doing here?”
The second years started muttering to each other. They definitely didn’t hear anything just yet. After around twenty minutes of waiting, the three men came back out from the auditorium. The three of them walked down the stairs with very happy expressions, telling the club to work hard.
To Maru, their words sounded like a death penalty. Kind of like how a CEO would assure a recently fired employee that “everything would be fine”.
“What’s going on?”
As they all stood around in confusion, they saw Miso stepping up the stairs. She came across the Chairman on the way up and she just ignored the man completely. Maru noticed that the Chairman and the Principal’s displeased faces.
Miso only said one thing as soon as she got up to the fifth floor.
“...You know that was the Chairman and the Principal, right?” Maru asked.
Miso nodded as if that was the most obvious thing in the world. What an amazing woman.Previous Chapter Next Chapter