Chapter 147

"Did something happen?”

“What?”

“You were a bit scary. I thought you were going to swallow me whole.”

Her senior told her to relax a little.

“Was I weird?”

“You were a bit too into it?”

“I see.”

“Are you nervous since we’re going tomorrow?”

“Not really, just… Hah.”

Her senior clapped her hand for everyone’s attention.

“Let’s rest a bit. We can’t overdo practice today. We’ll move to the hall after this to practice there as well, so get ready.”

“Yes.”

She dropped down on the spot. She was more tired than before, for sure.

“Tell me if you have any worries. I’m all ears,” the senior told her.

There probably wasn’t anyone else in this club who was more fitting to be the president than this senior.

“I feel like I’m just hurrying a bit too much.”

“Hurrying?”

“I actually went to watch a play from a different school last week.”

“Prelims?”

“Yes.”

“By yourself?”

“Yes.”

“You should’ve called me.”

She couldn’t bring herself to tell her senior that she went to watch her boyfriend. She glossed over that part and went straight to her thoughts about the play.

“They were from Woosung High and… They have a lot of really good people. Three of them, especially.”

She felt a lot of things when she looked at Maru’s acting. She almost felt like… She discovered something she didn’t expect at all from a friend of hers? A bit of jealousy as well? Worst of all, Maru was starting to look a little bit foreign to her and she hated that. After the prelims, they would get on stage together in the Myungdong Art Theater. Maru would be one of the main characters, she would be an extra. There was also that massive gap between them.

In the past, she was happy just knowing that she was acting with other people. It was different now. When she looked at Maru, it didn’t feel like enough to just stand on the same stage as him. She wanted to be on equal footing with him, like Yoojin.

“So? Did you felt unmotivated? Because someone was better than you?”

“No, but...”

A loud slap resounded. Her back was tingling with pain and her senior was looking at her with a massive frown.

“I don’t know what you saw, but putting on such a face isn’t helpful.”

Her senior put a hand behind her back and rubbed hard. She barely maintained her balance as she looked at the girl next to her.

“It’s simple in the end, isn’t it? We just need to pass them in the competition. That would easily testify our skills against theirs. Isn’t that enough?”

“Yes, but… Hah, I don’t know. I have no idea why I feel like this.”

The girl narrowed her eyes before whispering into her ear.

“You got a boyfriend, didn’t you?”

“...!”

She tried her best not to react. She really did. Her senior was still grinning like a kid in front of her though.

“So he’s at Woosung, huh? Look at you. He’s in your acting class, isn’t he?”

Did she have everything written down on her face or something? She rubbed her cheeks just to make sure she didn’t.

“I’ll keep it a secret, so tell me. Is the good kid your boyfriend?”

“...Yes.”

“No wonder you were looking so depressed out of the blue. Men are always the problem. Ugh. I guess I’m in the same boat as you, though.”

“What? You too, senior?”

“He says he’s going to do his military service. But my gosh, he didn’t even bother telling me about it until two days ago.”

“M-military?”

That meant his age was… She quickly gave up on thinking about it. Her senior was in her last year of high school. The girl was plenty mature as well, so she would probably get along well with a college student.

“I don’t know what your problem is, but you can still see him close by. Don’t let your problem get to you and just ask. Men are idiots when it comes to trying to figure out their girlfriends’ issues.”

Her senior got up after saying that. Should she try to console the girl a little bit? Knowing that she could meet Maru whenever she wanted… It was an obvious fact. It comforted her more than anything for some reason.

“Maybe I’m being jealous.” “Jealous? Of who?” her senior replied.

“Him.”

Her senior smiled.

“He must be a good guy. Try not to lose him. Then again, if he has half a brain then he would know not to let you go.”

“Senior, please!”

“In any case, don’t worry about any of that right now. Just focus on that prelim.”

“Alright.”

For now, the prelims came first. Hearing that cleared her head a bit. She should thank her senior for that.

“Did you schedule a date with him after this, by the way?”

“What? What date?”

Her senior simply pointed at the calendar on the wall. There was a single date that was circled with a red pen. The day of the prelims. And also… A very special day for a select group of people.

“Merry Christmas.”

“......”

“Just don’t break the speed limit, alright?”

That was when her head turned completely pink.

* * *

"An actor’s performance can shine or wither depending on how they were directed. This is why directing is difficult. You can’t just focus on one thing. You have to see the bigger picture.”

“Is there a way to study it by myself?”

“There is. Watch a lot of plays. There’s plenty of resources nowadays. Keep a notebook specifically meant for it. Take notes on how they set up the beginning, middle, and end of the play. Why did they use that music in that scene? Why did they use colored lights in this scene? Why were the actors placed in such manners? Think carefully about all of this. At some point, you’ll be able to discern which director did which play just based on how the play got set up. That is, you’ll be able to recognize that particular director’s specialty. When you study just about anything, you have to start off from copying. That never changes even here.”

Daemyung tried his best to memorize what his coach just told him. Acting was fun, but he really wanted to do more than that. He wanted to produce and direct his own play. To him, that sounded more exciting than just about anything else.

“Getting first hand experience in the industry would be for the best though...”

Coach scratched his chin for a second before making a call somewhere.

“Yes, senior. There’s a really nice kid that big bro Junmin brought in, and… Yes, don’t you already have a junior who carries around a student nowadays? Yes, yes. Ah, Mintae. I wanted to introduce this kid to him. The kid’s interested in stage tech. It seems like a bit of a stretch to try to put him under you, Senior. I thought it’d be nice for him to do a few things with Mintae instead. Yes. I’ll see you in Myungdong, then.”

Coach gestured at Daemyung after hanging up. Daemyung grabbed his bag and walked outside. The moment they got in the car, the coach revved up the engine.

“By the way… You don’t have anything planned on a Saturday like this?”

“Anything?”

“Like a date.”

“......”

“Ouch, did I hit you where it hurts? Sorry about that.”

“H-haha.”

Daemyung just scratched his head awkwardly in response.

“Then again, I didn’t have a girlfriend when I was at your age either.”

Well, that was a surprise. Coach looked incredibly handsome. Not only that, but he was also a very popular actor as well. Daemyung even remembered being absolutely shocked at the number of gifts the coach received from his fans. Someone like that didn’t have a girlfriend in high school?

“Here, let me show you something fun.”

The coach took out a picture from his wallet on a red light. It was a group of young boys.

“Find me in this picture.”

The boys in the picture all looked around Daemyung’s age. Considering how his coach was in his late thirties, this picture was probably more than twenty years old. Daemyung chose the boy who looked the most handsome out of all of them.

“You think that’s me?”

“Yes, I think this one resembles you the most.”

“That’s my older brother. I’m the furthest one on the left.”

Daemyung’s eyes slid over to the left of the picture. He could see a fat boy he previously overlooked.

“This is you, coach?”

“How is it? I look like a pig, don’t I? I think I was around 98 kilos back then.”

Daemyung scanned his coach up and down. Someone this fit used to be so fat back then?

“I’m not telling you to lose weight just for the sake of losing weight. I’m not against people being fat. As a matter of fact, I still like the way I looked back then. Some people hate being fat. That wasn’t me at all. It was nice not having to watch what I ate. Sure, not being able to score a to date was a big loss. But I never felt bad about it.”

The coach had a massive smile on his face.

“Anyway, the lesson here is that self-love is very important. You know that it shows on your face a lot, right? I can see you getting noticeably depressed when we started talking about appearances.”

“R-really...”

“One of the first things a person needs to do to look charming is to get self-confidence. Manners and everything else comes after that. Be honest with me. You think you look ugly and fat, don’t you?”

Daemyung nodded.

“You were hurt by that, too?”

“...Yes.”

“What about now? Is anyone making fun of you for your appearance nowadays?”

“No.”

“So why are you still hurt by it? No one’s making fun of you for your body. Just who’s bullying you now?”

Coach gripped Daemyung’s shoulder tightly.

“There’s a saying that a teacher I respect likes: your tongue is more dangerous than the tongues of the others. The type of pain that gnaws away at your heart is often self-inflicted. It’s impossible to live without caring about how other people view you. So the least you can do is to care more about yourself. I hope you can smile more easily the next time I ask you something about a girlfriend.”

Daemyung nodded slowly. He thought he was over it, but he realized now that he never really shook off his inferiority complex. Hopefully, he can be more confident in the future. No, even before that, he hoped he could smile like his coach just said in the future.

“By the way, coach.”

“Hm?”

“Why did you lose weight?”

There was no reason for his coach to lose weight, was there?

“Why? Isn’t it obvious? What’s my profession?”

“Musical… Ah.”

“I’m always ready to get fat again. If there’s a fat character waiting for my portrayal, I’m more than ready to sit on my ass and start eating.”

It was a confident answer.

* * *

“Where are you going?” Bada asked, coming out moments before Maru left.

“I’m going to Anyang.”

“Anyang? For what?”

“Girlfriend.”

“......”

Maru waved at his dumbstruck sister before walking out. Right before the door closed, he heard his sister shout ‘mom!!’ from inside, but he decided to ignore it. He jumped down the stairs as he checked the time. 10 o’clock in the morning. He had plenty of time. He could see the nearby church handing out cookies when he walked outside his apartment complex. Merry Christmas, they greeted, as they handed the snacks out to smiling children.

He stuck his hands into his pockets as he walked to the bus station, he could hear Christmas carols all over the place. Everything from funny covers by comedians, to quiet, touching ones done by singers. It was a Christmas, on a Sunday to boot. The streets were packed with people, the bus was of no exception. Were all of these people headed to Anyang?

"I hope she does well.”

He already told her that he’d go watch. Then again, he didn’t really have a choice given how she demanded his attendance. He looked outside the bus window, counting the trees lined outside. A happy Christmas, for all of us.

Maru put a hand into his coat pocket. He did prepare a gift. Thinking about it now, it was probably too big of a gift for people their age. Perfume and couple rings that she used to like, ones made of silver with a simple design. She often told him to save those gifts for the bank whenever he got them, but he never did miss that smile of hers that she tried to hide. He thought about calling her before giving up on it, he didn’t want to be a bother to her right now.

Maru got off in front of the city hall, the street here was packed with people as well. Christmas was something else. He walked right into the hall since he didn’t have much business here. The prelims began at 10am, so they should be about done with their first play. He quietly opened the closed doors to the auditorium. It was packed inside, just like last time. The only difference was that this time, the auditorium was filled with families, not industry workers.

Maru leaned back on the wall. There were only female students on the stage. An all-female high school? They were all dressed in white, giving off some sort of a sad vibe. The curtain call began before he could even get a sense of what the play was about. He really walked in at the perfect time.

“We’ll have a fifteen minute intermission before the next play,” the staff member said.

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