Chapter 155

Parents often become sensitive to their child’s well-being, Maru was no exception. He started seeing corners of desks as a horrific weapon once he had his daughter. He started putting sponges to cover the corners and went so far as to ban all sharp objects from the house. He used to think his friends were overreacting with their kids, that all kids were supposed to get hurt as part of growing up. But once he had one of his own, he understood. Just watching his daughter cry made his heart drop. He wanted to take care of all sources of danger before she could get hurt.

One day in the past, he was talking with his fellow bus drivers about his cute daughter with a cup of coffee. He got a call from his wife, she told him their house was on fire with a very calm voice. Maru was surprised enough to spit out his coffee, but his wife just hung up casually. He told his boss about what happened and ran straight back home. The door to his house was opened and there was a crowd surrounding his house. The first thing he saw when he ran inside was his wife opening the door to the veranda with their daughter in her arms.

The cause of the fire was a phone charger, it caused a spark that turned into a burst of flame. Their daughter was sleeping right next to it at the time. When the fire happened, his wife quickly draped a towel over their daughter. The blood drained from Maru’s face when he learned of the situation. A fire? From electricity? What if she shocked herself? She glared at him and shouted when he told her that she was being too rash.

What if our daughter got hurt!

That was when his wife burst into tears, Maru realized only then that he'd made a mistake. His wife was shivering like she was exposed to the exposed cold, she couldn’t be more scared. It was just that… besides just being his wife, she was first and foremost a mother.

After that, quite a few people from the phone company came back to take care of what happened. That was one of the few times when he saw his wife get so mad at people, even Maru’s anger calmed down just looking at her. This incident made him decided to get a fire extinguisher for their home. It would be best that it go unused forever, but life is unpredictable.

* * *

‘A fire extinguisher!’

That was the first thing that came to mind. That, and a phone. He was only able to stay calm thanks to the sudden flashback. The fire burned where the costumes and props were. The important thing was that the phone was right next to them, he didn’t think it survived the heat.

Maru ran out of the auditorium and looked to his left, he could see a mini fire extinguisher. He grabbed the dusty extinguisher in a flash, he took off the safety pin before running back in. Thankfully, the fire was still small enough to be dispatched by an extinguisher.

“Thank goodness it isn’t that bad yet.”

He squeezed down on the nozzle, white foam started gushing out with a gasping noise. That was all. The fire extinguisher died with just a little bit of foam. His eyes immediately focused on the date the extinguisher was last inspected: 2002.

“Damn it!”

Maru threw the extinguisher away and ran to the fire alarm. The rest of the school would know there was a fire from the acting club if he pressed it, but he had no choice. He couldn’t let the fire spread. He strongly pressed the plastic covering on top of the button.

“....God damn it!”

The alarm didn’t go off, even this was broken. Was this school a symbol of laziness or something? His phone was melted in the fire and the fire alarm didn’t ring. Maru ran into a class on the other side. Inside, he was greeted with a bunch of sinks. It was a classroom the cooking club used. He started filling a bucket he found with water and ran to the windows.

“Han Dojin! Park Daemyung!”

He screamed out their name. His two friends soon appeared in his vision with his bike in hand.

“Get over here!”

His friends ran straight inside despite such little explanation, they picked up on the desperation in his voice. Once Maru confirmed that the bucket was full, he carried it back to the auditorium with both hands. Black smoke was starting to fume out of the open doors, Maru grit his teeth and walked inside. The fire was starting to spread to the smaller props now, after those came the wooden stage props. He wouldn’t be able to do anything once the fire spreads there.

Right then, he had a thought. He always thought that safety came first in life. Staying away from the fire would be the smartest move and the best thing to do was to wait for the firefighters. He was just one man, there was a limit to what he could do. Waiting for help to come just made sense, but Maru’s body was already moving. The fire couldn’t be suppressed with just a bucket of water anymore. He knew that. He got the water for something else.

“I must be insane.”

Maru dumped the bucket onto himself as his two friends ran up right behind him.

“W-what the!”

“Fire!”

Maru summarized the situation to his friends.

“Keep getting buckets of water from the class next door. Call the fire department if you feel like things get out of hand. Try not to call them if you don’t have to.”

With that, Maru wrapped his wet jacket over his head.

“Maru?”

Maru jumped to the props as he heard Dojin’s confused voice.

“Hey, you crazy son of a bitch!”

He could only agree to the voice behind him, he must be completely insane. But if he acted now, he could at least save the stage props. They could easily replace the costumes since they were doing a modern play, the same couldn’t be said about the stage props. Those took way too long to make.

The fire wasn’t as hot as he thought. What was really the problem was the hot air seeping into his lungs, it felt like they’d melt if he breathed wrong. His wet clothes would probably burn away soon as well. He only had a few seconds, still plenty of time. The first thing he grabbed was a deck bench, they usually had it split into different sections, but not now. The full thing was incredibly heavy, still, Maru pulled at one of the legs of the bench with gritted teeth. It started slowly leaning away from the fire.

‘Good.’

The building props still haven’t caught on fire. As long as he gets this deck bench away from the fire...

Right then, his body started getting pulled back to the direction the bench was leaning. He could see a part of his jacket stuck in the bench.

‘Was this why they told me to dress well? Damn horoscopes!’

His body fell towards the bench. The only thing he could do at this point was to twist his body away to protect himself as much as possible.

“Maru!”

With Daemyung’s shout,

Bang.

The bench fell back.

* * *

Junmin turned on the light next to his bed and picked up a book next to him. He’s had a lot of late nights recently. It was only dawn, but his body was screaming at him to go to sleep.

‘I guess I really am old.’

He could easily go back to sleep at a normal time after just a day a few years ago, nowadays, it took him around two. Maybe he should start going to a gym? Right then, Makdoong jumped onto his bed with a slight moan. Makdoong was a Shih Tzu he’s been raising at home. He was already raising three Shih Tzus, but Makdoong was the only one who really liked jumping onto his bed. Junmin helped the little thing up come fully onto his bed. The dog yawned as soon as it came up and buried its little head into the blankets.

“Are you a human or what?”

Junmin stroked its tiny round head. Just as he turned back to his book, he got a text message.

[Senior, I’m going to go visit Maru today. Will you come?]

Junmin took a look at the calendar on the wall. He still hasn’t visited the boy now that he thought about it, did he? He quickly pressed the buttons on his phone to send the text to Ganghwan, he was asking the man for a ride.

“Goodness, I can’t tell if he’s lucky or unlucky.”

Junmin got up from his bed as he pets the dog’s head one last time.

* * *

It wasn’t a big injury. There were a burn plus fracture in his leg and his thigh was also torn, which required stitches. The doctors told him that he’d have to rest for two weeks, but he didn’t think it was that bad. No one else shared that opinion.

“Why don’t you just give up on the club?”

“Mom, it’s not that bad.”

“Don’t get hurt then. How much are you planning on making me worry?”

“I’m not that bad of a child, you know that.”

“Look at you, you’re not missing a beat with your replies.”

His mom slapped his back. It didn’t hurt though, since he knew she did it with love. His dad told him to take care of himself. The man was right, so Maru couldn’t offer a rebuttal. Bada repeatedly visited him from home multiple times. She cried apparently, but any mention of it would earn him a glare. In any case, his family went back home after causing quite a scene at the hospital. It actually took quite a bit of work trying to stop mom from coming every day.

“I knew you’d get into an accident today.”

“I’m regretting it a lot, so please forgive me.”

Maru looked outside, it was snowing, more like a blizzard, actually. It was actually worrying how much snowfall there was right now. Bada crunched on the chips Dojin and Daemyung brought as she read a magazine.

“Go home if you don’t have work.”

“I don’t have anything to do back home. There’s just too much snow to go out as well. Want some?”

Maru took a chip from his sister’s bag. Don’t most people bring low-sodium snacks when they come for a hospital visit? At least it was tasty.

“You’re too rash, brother. What made you want to jump into a fire? I thought you were lying when I heard the story from your friends.”

“I thought about it a bit when I went in. I wasn’t being rash.”

“You still got hurt.”

His sister pulled out a marker from a shelf and wrote ‘idiot’ on his cast. Of course, she was the one who wrote ‘dumbass’ and the ‘bad son’ on there as well. Daemyung was the one who wrote ‘get well’, and Dojin wrote ‘fireman’.

“Are these your only friends?” Bada asked with a grin.

“Sorry I don’t have many friends.”

“You should be nice to people.”

“I wonder where I’d have to call to trash that debit card...”

“Oh dear brother, that’s not fair is it?”

Pft. Maru grinned.

“Your girlfriend isn’t coming?”

Oh, so that was why she was still here. Maru shrugged. He tried to hide it as much as he could to her, but he couldn’t hide the fact that he would be in the hospital for two weeks. He got scolded a lot over the phone, it’s been three days since that point.

Thankfully, he managed to save the stage props pretty well. They were still able to go to the next competition that happened two days ago. Thank goodness he was the only one who got hurt. His character wasn’t anything that could ruin the play, so they should be able to manage just fine without him. According to Dojin, they incorporated his lines into more of Geunseok’s monologue. The boy apparently handled it pretty well.

Anyway, it was good. The school managed to finish things off pretty well, they will get their results tomorrow. Considering how Myunghwa would probably pass, it was a competition between three schools.

‘I hope we pass.’

He wouldn’t be able to join them even in the nationals. Worst of all, even in the amateur acting club, they got someone else to take over for his role. Thanks to it, his January schedule was completely empty. The only thing he could do was just to read or watch TV. Plus…

“You’re not eating this, are you?”

“...Have fun eating.”

The next best thing he could do was to just talk with his sister? Maru leaned back on the bed with a yawn. Right then, the doors to his room opened.

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