* * *
Yoojin ate a portion of her tomato caprese. She wished she could eat the nicely sizzling ribs, some fried pork, or some steak that the chef was cooking, but she couldn’t do so when she thought about the aftermath.
The logic that girls of her age should eat because it was their growth period only applied to others of her age. As her dream was to become an actress, high-calorie food was like a poisonous goblet. It would bring her bliss once she drank it, but not long later she would regret it.
“Aren’t you eating too many vegetables?”
Next to her, the guy named Yoo Jiseok spoke. Yoojin had never suspected her own sociability until now. She was confident that she would make friends even in a place full of strangers. Even to her though, Jiseok’s sociability was something else. Although people of their age would become friends easily, Jiseok’s attitude of asking the embarrassing questions straight to their faces made her admit defeat. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, but he was a little uncomfortable to deal with since he asked personal questions.
“Oh! You’re on a diet? You don’t look like you need one though.”
Jiseok smiled as he spoke. Yoojin smiled slightly. Although it might have been empty flattery, it was still good to hear nonetheless.
“Were you close with Maru?”
Yoojin redirected the question to Maru.
“We were close enough to prepare for a drama together.”
“And how close is that?”
“Then I’ll correct myself and say that we’re close enough to not care about a few months of not contacting each other.”
“Your way of speaking really hasn’t changed. You and I might not have been in contact, but I called up your girlfriend several times, you know? We even talked behind your back.”
“Pfft. Look at you frown. You act so sweet in front of her but you’re always so cold towards others.”
“What, you want me to treat you sweetly too?”
“Forget it! I might puke what I just ate. Your girlfriend can have all of it.”
A suitable distance. Yoojin believed that the reason she could talk to Maru with ease was because of that. They could feel glad to meet each other again, and they could just as easily part ways without feeling disappointed. Their relationship was lighter than that of a friend’s, but a little heavier than that of just acquaintances. It was hard to form such a suitable distance with other males of her age. Most of them either tried to close that distance, and some just distanced themselves after confessing to her.
“You two look like good friends,” Jiseok interrupted and spoke. Yoojin snorted at that remark.
“What good friends? Hey, you shouldn’t get close to that guy either. You just saw, didn’t you? I’ve never seen this guy act nice at all.”
“Isn’t that what’s good about him?”
Jiseok had a playful smile on his face, but Yoojin was able to discover a slight sadness behind his smile. She almost subconsciously asked what he meant by it, but she gained a hold over herself and stayed quiet. They weren’t close enough to ask such questions yet.
“Ah. I wonder if there’s anything exciting. It’s a party after all.”
Jiseok stood up from his seat, disappointed.
“Who the hell is he?” She asked Maru while Jiseok was away. Maru kept on chewing for a while before speaking in a low voice.
“We just saw each other twice during the audition. Oh, I guess we saw a play together.”
“You saw a play together? Isn’t that a little strange? I thought you two weren’t close.”
“Why don’t you try having him next to you? You’ll find yourself thinking that it’s much better to just have him do what he wants rather than refusing him all the time. Hey, why don’t you take him at this opportunity? I’ll yield him to you.”
“That’s a pity.”
Yoojin watched Jiseok who was walking around the hall by himself. He was greeting everyone he came across. Some smiled and accepted his greeting, but most people usually just scanned him from top to bottom before just walking away. Despite that, he did not relent and walked around to the table to strike up a conversation. Seeing that, Yoojin was flabbergasted. She didn’t know if that guy just had no shame or that he had a good personality. Even so, he didn’t seem like a bad guy from how he ended the conversations on a good note. He was an overly cheerful guy. Yoojin was satisfied with her evaluation of him and nodded her head.
“Looks like he wants attention.”
“I don’t think that’s the whole story. If he really wanted attention, he would have kept going.”
“Maybe he just likes people a lot, like, really a lot.”
Maru picked up his plate and stood up. Yoojin, not wanting to be left behind alone on the table, also stood up. Maru headed towards the desserts section as though he was about to finish his meal. There were cakes, ricecakes and fruits all nicely displayed. Yoojin gulped. She could hold herself in against the temptation of meat, but the temptation of chocolate and bread was hard to resist. She especially couldn’t take her eyes off the chocolate fondue in a bowl, as well as the cute cookies and marshmallows next to it.
“One dip with that cookie is a hundred calories at least, right?”
Maru spoke heartlessly from the side. All this while, he was dipping cookies into the fondue.
“I’m not eating it.”
“It’ll melt in your mouth. Though, it will also go straight to your weight.”
“You’re picking a fight, aren’t you?”
When she glared at Maru with a frown, Maru suddenly held out the cookie sticks with chocolate sauce all over it.
“One is fine. It says here that they didn’t use flour to make this cookie. And they say chocolate is good for satiety. A little is good for the health, and the skin too.”
“Appetite is something like a balloon, so it will burst if it’s pent up too much. You should at least give yourself a reward. Also, you’re too skinny.”
“How am I skinny?”
Although that was her answer, her hands were already holding the cookie sticks. Her eyes were fixed on the shiny chocolate. Ever since she had passed her audition, she had started her diet and she was a month into it now. She had endured that long so perhaps just one was fine?
“It, it’s good for the skin?”
“You’re gonna eat it anyway, so let’s not worry about the details.”
“It’ll be your fault if I gain weight.”
Yoojin took a bite out of the cookie. At that moment she subconsciously gasped. It felt as though all of her tension was loosened. It felt as though something sharp pressing against her nerves had just disappeared.
“You shouldn’t be so harsh on yourself. Once others get worried about your health, it will no longer be a diet. Stop losing weight. You’ll be much prettier that way. I liked you better during the rehearsal. If you don’t believe me, you can ask my girlfriend. She’s much more plump than you, but she’s still pretty.”
“But she… doesn’t gain weight even though she eats a lot. And how is she plump? This is why men are no good. If she’s plump, then the majority of people in this world would be obese!”
“Well, my girlfriend does have a good body figure. And it’s not that she doesn’t gain weight. She swells a lot when she eats. It’s just that she exercises like mad. Hm hm, she’s my girlfriend but I gotta say, she’s amazing.”
“You pervert. You’re a huge pervert. And you’re hopeless too.”
“Men are all perverts. It’s just a difference of whether they show it or not. Any man has a fantasy or two in his head.”
“I should just stop talking with you,” saying that, Yoojin had a look at her hand. She had eaten the whole piece while she was talking. Groaning, she hesitated a little before picking up another cookie and dipping it in the chocolate.
‘Forget it, let’s have another one!’
“I think two will definitely make you gain weight though.”
Seeing Maru shrug, Yoojin took a bite out of her cookie.
‘I’m so calling her to talk bad about Maru,’ she felt that only then could she relieve her stress.
“...Still, it’s good,” only after realizing what she said did Yoojin shake her head. Maru had already returned to the table first with a plate full of food. He then started eating quietly by himself.
“Just what does she like about him….”
Although she mentioned that she would talk behind his back, it was usually nothing more than a joke. It was more of a grumble than an actual insult. Moreover, the topic changed to fluffy love stories most of the time. Yoojin didn’t particularly like talking about such things, but she always ended up listening to the end when she heard her friend’s lovestruck voice. Last time, it was about the shoes. Even though they stopped for just a brief moment, Maru had secretly remembered it and later bought it for her as a gift. He even said ‘I picked them up on the way here’, along with presenting it to her in beautiful packaging. Yoojin, who heard the story, felt that it was childish, but she also felt that she would be very happy if she was in the same situation. Honestly, she felt like Maru wasn’t ordinary when he gave her a ring as a present. She even thought that he might be a playboy.
She was at first worried that some bad guy was hitting on her, but she found out that she was worried for nothing after seeing how Maru acted. He made the girls feel at ease with some jokes, but he never went beyond that. Meaning, he never did things that might cause misunderstandings. She understood this deeply when they were in the amateur actor’s class. The only person Maru acted seriously towards was that girl. It was so blatantly obvious so the other girls in the class never had other feelings for Maru. He was so good at drawing the line. It was easy to become his friend, but no one felt any feelings for him beyond that.
It was like that now as well. Others might see that they were on close terms from how they acted, but as one of the involved parties, she clearly knew that Maru was keeping his distance. It was only thanks to that that she was able to talk comfortably with him. Yoojin believed that a man and a woman couldn’t be ‘friends’, but she also felt that Maru could make being friends possible. They were in a relationship that was neither serious nor light, yet they were close enough that they wouldn’t feel awkward after not having seen each other for a long time.
‘If I was to date anyone, it should be a guy like him, right?’
All girls dreamed of becoming the main character of their life. Yoojin wasn’t that different. Perhaps adults would say that she was worried about unnecessary things, but 2nd year of high school was plenty grown up, no? Also, Yoojin grew up listening to scary stories from other actresses thanks to her mother. She considered herself pretty mature mentally. Though, she didn’t grow up entirely of her own volition.
‘I’m something, still trying to become an actress after all that.’
She was well aware of how underhanded, dirty and competitive this industry was. However, once she had admired it, she couldn’t take her eyes off it. She wanted to become a top-tier actress even if it meant becoming controversial. Perhaps this movie would provide her a foothold for that.
“What are you thinking about so deeply?”
Suddenly, a voice called out from behind. It was Jiseok.
“Whoa, that startled me.”
“It was that startling?”
“It was. Anyone would be startled if you come out of nowhere like that.”
“I’m sorry if I startled you. It wasn’t my intention, haha.”
Jiseok took a step back with a smile. He was unpredictable. She wondered what kind of thoughts he had in his mind.
“The people here are all so interesting. Places with a lot of people are always fun.”
“You’re something too. Is it that fun just grabbing random people to talk?”
“Yup. It’s immensely fun. It’s always been my dream to talk to as many people as possible.”
“That’s a rather small dream.”
“Right? I think so too.”
It was that sympathetic smile again. Yoojin pouted. She felt as though she wronged him. Jiseok immediately moved elsewhere and started chatting with other people.
“He’s a strange kid.”
Yoojin had a glance at the chocolate fondue before walking over to the table Maru was sitting on. She was approaching the table when she saw that someone had arrived first.
It was a lady who had a body figure that made her exclaim out loud. Her hair was thick purple. The night dress with an open back didn’t look inappropriate on her at all.
‘Who is it?’
Next to her, Maru’s expression wasn’t that bright. It didn’t look like he detested her though. It was his face when someone not particularly close to him approached him. Yoojin saw that everyone’s gazes had gathered towards that table. People started whispering amongst themselves immediately. Yoojin walked towards the two. Just at that moment, the woman sat down opposite of Maru, which was originally her own seat.
“So we meet again here.”
The woman’s voice could be heard. At that moment, Yoojin stopped her steps and widened her eyes. This voice was familiar to her.
‘Don’t tell me it’s…’
Yoojin quickly walked forward and stood in front of her. Then, she exclaimed out loud subconsciously. An actress she admired was standing in front of her. The lady general that only did pieces she wanted. The proud woman that never bent to the force of the media!
“Do you two want to have a talk? I’ll get out of the way.”
Maru pressed the part between his eyes with his fingers and spoke. Yoojin ignored Maru and stood in front of her.
“Unni, I’m a huge fan of yours.”
That was Yoojin’s first line towards Joohyun, who had a smile on her face.Previous Chapter Next Chapter