Chapter 154

Nothing much changed with the new year, but the joy of its greeting still made Maru smile.

“You’re going to school today too?”

“Yup.”

“Is acting really that fun?”

“Try it if you get the chance. I know some middle schools have a club.”

“Should I?”

His sister ate her cereal with a grin on her face. Her new year’s resolution was to wake up at 7am even during her vacation. Maru had to wonder how long this would continue. Probably just three days. She’d struggle to wake up tomorrow, he just knew it.

“I’m going to exercise as well tomorrow. Gonna run in the park.”

Well, it looked like she set up grand plans for herself already.

“I hope you keep your resolution.”

“What the heck, you think I won’t? I’m really good at this. Right, mom?”

All she got back was an empty smile. His sister pouted and told them to just watch.

“You’re going to be home late today as well?” His mom asked.

“Don’t know. I’ll text you if I’m gonna be late.”

His mom yawned. Maru remembered her still talking to his dad by the time he went to sleep. It only made sense that she’d feel tired.

“You should sleep.”

“Don’t be too late.”

Mom walked into her room with yet another yawn.

“Bro.”

“What?”

“Want me to check your horoscope?”

“Horoscope?”

His sister brought back a magazine from her room before he could ask what this was about. She was holding a woman’s magazine. She’s already reached that age, huh. The girl flipped through the pages before reaching ‘horoscopes for the new year’.

“When was your birthday again?”

“July 25th.”

“So you’re a Leo.”

She stuttered out a few words as she started reading.

“Your long-awaited results will arrive at last. It might not necessarily be to your desire, so be extra careful. If you are lazy about it, great misfortune will befall upon you, but otherwise, things should go well. Hm, is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

Maru smiled lightly. Stock spiels. A type of writing that always turned out to be generally true. Of course, you might get results you don’t want when you do something. Of course, things might go wrong if you are lazy about it.

‘I guess that’s what makes it a magazine article.’

He wasn’t about to get offended by what the magazine said or anything.

“Is that all?”

“Wait, there’s some more.”

It was more detailed than he thought. His sister started reading energetically when he expressed his interest.

“Ah! There it is! It says you need to watch out for Aries. You guys won’t get along together.”

“Aries?”

“Yeah. And you need to watch out for what you wear. That’s how good things would happen in your workp… Hm?”

“Does school count as work?”

“What the, they only have stuff about work here.”

Bada closed the magazine disappointedly after flipping through a few more pages. Maru immediately understood what was up when he looked at the cover. The magazine was targeted towards women who were in their 20s. Of course, they wouldn’t have anything about school here.

“Ugh, this is why you shouldn’t trust horoscopes.”

That didn’t seem like something a girl who got so excited about horoscopes just a few minutes ago should say. In any case, Maru thanked her and got up from the table.

“Brother,” his sister extended her hand out to him.

“What?”

“Allowance, please.”

Oh, so that’s what she was after.

“What about the allowance I gave you last time? And the emergency money?”

“Um… I used it all.”

“I thought I put around a hundred thou in there.”

His sister nodded.

“What did you use it on?”

She fumbled a bit before reluctantly opening her mouth.

“It’s dad’s birthday. I tried to buy some gifts for him, but I was lacking in some cash. A lot of cash, actually.”

Ah. Maru turned to look at the calendar. He completely forgot. January 8th. Their dad’s birthday wasn’t very far away anymore. What a good kid.

“What did you buy him?”

“I got dad a shirt, and I got mom a new wallet. She was still using that old wallet dad got her.”

“Oh, the brown one?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, it’s about time she got a replacement.”

Maru told her to sit still and walked into his room. He opened the box where he hid the emergency money for his sister, he’d forgotten to check it recently because he was so busy. It looked like she’s consistently been taking money from it, judging by the number of logs she wrote down.

- Mom and dad’s gift

That was the latest one on the list. She was being pretty spontaneous with her money, but looking at how she used the money made Maru feel a little proud. This was probably why dads tended to favor daughters over sons most of the time.

‘...I hope she’s living well.’

He could barely remember his daughter’s face anymore, she was probably living in a world without him right now. His chest hurt a little. All he’s ever done for her was to scold her. It felt like his entire life with her passed before he could even make good memories with her.

Maru opened his wallet and took out his debit card. This was a little early for his sister, but you could never start too early when it came to money management. Maru walked back out to the kitchen and gave his sister a debit card he got from a different bank account than one of his own.

“What’s this?”

“A debit card. I’ll put money into it every month, so use it wisely.”

“Really?”

She looked at the card curiously.

“But! Be sure to keep an account book. Write where you spend your money.”

“...Will you check?”

“No, just try to get a handle over how to manage your money. It’ll help you. It’s a debit card, so you can’t spend more than you have. Try to be strategic with your money. You can just save the rest for yourself.”

“Wow.”

His sister brought out a wallet from her room and put the card inside it. She looked incredibly proud of herself.

“Can I really use this?”

“Do what you want. Just don’t spend all of it.”

“I won’t. I’m not dumb.”

“Look at how you’ve matured. Ah, don’t tell mom.”

“Mm, got it.”

The Bada in his memories wasn’t bad with money, she even held a smaller wedding to save money. She was definitely very resourceful with her finances. Come to think of it, he always heard from his mom that she was doing fine. Why did she divorce all of a sudden? Did it have something to do with their personality? Something else?

‘Man, I really didn’t care, did I.’

He kind of felt sorry looking at Bada. He didn’t pay her any mind once he entered college.

“What, you have something to say?” Bada asked.

“I’ll keep in touch with you even after I get married.”

“...The heck does that mean?”

“No, sorry. It’s nothing.”

He told her to rest as he stepped outside the house. He walked down the stairs and got ready to get out of the apartment building before stepping in front of a mirror.

“Be careful of how I dress, right?”

He didn’t believe in horoscopes, but it didn’t hurt to follow them regardless. He straightened out his shirt just a wee bit. There. He looked a lot better already. Here’s to hoping today’s a good day. “Phew, it’s cold.”

He walked out into the streets with his hands in his pockets.

* * *

“You checked everything?”

“Yes.”

“Any missing or broken props?”

“None.”

Miso nodded. Maru took a look at the props and the costumes to the left of the auditorium, they were all well-cared for. All they needed to do now was to act well in them.

“Just rest at home today and don’t do anything else. Don’t you dare get sick by going out. Stay home, get home by 8pm. Got it?”

“Yes!”

“Good! Leave!”

Maru checked the time with his phone. It was 11am. The earliest the club disbanded ever. It just showed how much Miso cared about the condition of the club members. Then again, it would truly be infuriating if the club failed just because a few of the members were tired.

“I’m leaving first. See you guys tomorrow.”

Miso ran out first. By the looks of it, she had some other arrangements she needed to attend to. The club members naturally turned to look at Yoonjung as a result.

“Let’s just end it here, yeah. Read your scripts one last time when you get back home and rest up. Don’t go anywhere weird.”

“You’re the most problematic one here.”

Yoonjung pouted at Danmi’s comment.

“Alright guys, good work. See you tomorrow.”

As always, Joonghyuk was the one to end the club meeting.

“You guys leave first. We’ll have to drop by the clubroom for a bit.”

The seniors all left, leaving only the first years around to socialize.

“Ah, right guys. It’s Yurim’s birthday soon.”

Soyeon spoke as she pulled Yurim’s hand, Maru noticed Yurim let go with a slight glare. Soyeon smiled awkwardly and put her hand in her pocket.

“What, it was almost your birthday?” Geunseok said.

This time, Yurim responded with a noticeably brighter smile.

“Yeah.”

“When?”

“January 5th.”

“We only have a few days left. We should have a party.”

“It’s okay.”

“Should we have a party after the next competition?” Iseul butted in.

Dojin shouted his agreement almost immediately, they spoke almost too perfectly together. The boy avoided Maru’s gaze, Maru noticed.

‘Iseul must’ve said something.’

It didn’t look like Dojin got rejected, but it didn’t look like they were going out either. Hm.

“We can’t just let a birthday pass right under our noses.”

Taejoon seemed excited as well.

“Looking out for your girlfriend?” Dojin asked with a grin.

Taejoon nodded confidently in response.

“Why don’t we go to a karaoke after the prelims, then?”

“Sounds great.”

Everyone was making plans already. In a flash, it was decided that they would hold the party shortly after the competition.

“I should bring money tomorrow then.”

“Don’t bring too much.”

“Now now, let’s go! Go rest up!”

They started coming out one by one with their bags and gathered at the school entrance.

“Wait, where’s Yurim?” Daemyung asked.

“Wasn’t she around here just a moment ago?” Iseul noted.

Where did the girl go? Maru turned to look back into the building, there was no one there. When they waited a few more minutes, the girl finally appeared with the seniors.

“Ah, she waited for them. That’s polite,” Iseul grinned.

“Guys, let’s go!” Yoonjung shouted from afar.

Everyone shook their heads as they started walking.

“Wait, let me get my bike.”

“I’ll go with you.”

Maru said his farewells early with the crew before walking back inside, Dojin and Daemyung decided to tag along with him.

“Biking still? It’s so cold.”

“Just ride the bus.”

“It’s fine, I developed resistance.”

Maru realized something just when he unlocked his bike.

“Ah, I forgot my phone.”

He’s left it next to the costumes, he remembered.

“Ugh, hurry up.”

“Want me to come with you?”

Dojin told him to hurry, and Daemyung offered to come with.

“I’ll be back quick, so guard my bike for me.”

He changed his shoes again after giving his bike to Dojin. Just thinking of running back upstairs made him tired already.

“Ugh, my hips.”

He stood in front of the auditorium doors as he complained to himself, he grabbed the door handle and twisted. He could see a little red light slipping through the cracks.

Wait, red?

It was a cloudy day today. So what’s up with the lights? Maru slammed the door open as fast as he could.

“...Damn it.”

What greeted him was the sight of bright red flames licking the props. What an unlucky day.

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