Chapter 39

“Don’t look away! The audience is going to think you look stupid if you do that! Dojin, you, especially! Think as you move. You’re going to overlap with the other kids if you stand there!” Miso shouted.

Dojin stepped aside with a quick apology, and in turn crashed into Daemyung. The two of them stumbled together on stage.

“Hey!!”

Soyeon and Yurim flinched from being so close to the shouting. Miso put a hand over her face and motioned the entire club over to her.

“3 weeks...”

“.......”

“We need to do this in 3 weeks in front of judges. In front of audiences. You know what that means, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“You know this, and yet you’re acting like this?! Go run a few laps outside. Run!!”

“Yes ma’am!”

The club ran out of the auditorium pretty much immediately. Miso sighed after they all left the room.

“It just doesn’t feel like enough.”

She was shouting at them, but the kids have become pretty skilled at this point already. Up to a satisfactory amount, as a matter of fact. But she still wanted more. Especially because they were all so driven.

Just a little bit more, and the play would become so much more powerful…

Miso stepped outside into one of the empty classrooms. She opened the window and looked outside. The students were all starting to run outside one by one.

The first one to finish was Taejoon. He didn’t have much stamina, but boy was he fast. The next one out was Geunseok. Joonghyuk and Minsung came afterwards, and then Dojin. Daemyung ran out at around the same time as the girls.

“Daemyung! You walking?!” Miso shouted.

“No ma’am!”

She could hear the response back faintly from the ground.

The kids started running like hell on the track. She told them that they could come in after completing five laps before sitting down on a seat. A while later, Taejoon walked back in with a loud huff. There was a bit of sweat on his forehead. The others all came in after him, with Soyeon being the last one.

Miso opened her mouth upon their collective arrival.

“Steady your breaths! Feel the way your throat opens and closes every time you take a breath. I told you the way your throat opens up when you yawn was the most ideal form you want to take when you vocalize, remember? But actors need to make different kinds of sounds for different occasions. When they’re happy, sad, tired, energetic, whatever. Right now, this is the shape your throat would take when you’re tired. Pay attention to how much you inhale, how much your lungs expand, and how your throat moves. Try to feel it. Don’t try to memorize all of it, just understand this is how your body works when it gets tired. You get it?”

“Yes ma’am!”

“You can’t act if you’re dumb! You need to feel the way every single part of your body moves at all times! Only after months of being aware of your movements can you really act. Acting naturally for the very first time? Don’t joke with me. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen in real life. You can only act when you have the basics down. Understand?”

“Yes ma’am!”

“Good. We’ll begin again after ten minutes. We’re also going to do runs like this starting next week. If you run out of stamina like this again after just a single run again… It won’t be pretty.”

The club all swallowed nervously.

“Geunseok.”

“Yes.”

The boy ran up to her immediately. He was the main character of this year’s competition. It would be a hard role, but the boy was fit for the job. He was more serious about acting than anyone.

He had the foundations, and the talent as well. In these competitions, there also existed individual acting prizes. Being able to snag them early on would help the boy get himself into a good school for acting. That’s why Miso needed to pressure the boy harder. She didn’t want him to become complacent.

“Did you analyze your character?”

“Yes.”

“Alright then. What kind of a character is Jeongsu in the play?”

Miso has never made high school club members analyze characters before. After all, kids usually joined the club out of simple curiosity, rather than actual passion. That’s why Miso just asked for a simple report of the characters from the other club members. But she was sure Geunseok was going to go professional and therefore had no intention of training the boy lightly.

“Jeongsu is a timid character. He wants to get closer to his friends, but doesn’t have the courage to do so. He’s also quick to anger. Enough to shout at a friend just because of a slightly offensive joke. And...”

“What do you think his elementary school life was like?”

“Excuse me?”

Geunseok looked a little taken aback, which caused Miso to click her tongue.

“I ask you to analyze a character, and here you are reading a script. I didn’t ask you for the surface details! Tell me about who Jeongsu is! What kind of a life he’s lived!”

“......”

“Any idiot can tell Jeongsu’s timid and hot-tempered! Everyone here knows this! It’s literally in the script! Mumbling, frustratedly, angrily, stomping the floor...”

Miso opened the script and started reading. Geunseok’s face started stiffening up, making him look way scarier than usual.

“What, are you mad?” Miso asked.

“Yes.”

“Because I shouted?”

“No. Because I thought this would be easy. I should’ve known you wanted more than just the obvious.”

Good. This boy was good. Miso handed him the script.

“Want me to teach you everything from one to ten, like I would a child?”

“No, I don’t want something like that. I want to be an actor who thinks.”

“Do your best, you hear? You seem to know what you’re missing, so I won’t speak any further. But here’s a piece of advice. If you think you’re about done, think again. Think if there really isn’t anything more you can think of. If you think more and more, you’ll always be able to find something. Then you’ll realize that you were only at step 0 all along, out of god knows how many steps. But that’s what growth is. Feeling that sense of loss is what helps you grow. Get it?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“I’m only harsh on you because I see talent. Don’t try to go for mediocrity if you really want to be good. You need to be passionate.”

“Yes!”

Miso waved the boy away. He was a good kid. She liked how the boy’s fire just didn’t die out.

‘He actually resembles that crazy idiot in a way. They even share the same last name and all.’

That idiot who started the acting club all by himself… The one with an unbelievable amount of passion. He would read the scripts again and again, enough for the script itself to start tearing apart at its edges. His passion was great enough to drive everyone else in the club forward along with him. The club wouldn’t exist without him and the advisor.

‘I wonder what I would’ve been doing without them.’

Maybe she would have become a comic book artist. She definitely wouldn’t be having this much fun though. In any case, that boy Geunseok had a lot in common with that madman. She sat down for a bit as she watched the kids read their script. Her phone started ringing.

It was a call from the crazy.

“Speak of the devil. What’s up?”

- I heard you treated our guys to a meal yesterday. Just wanted to say thanks.

“It’s no big deal. You called because of that?”

- Well, that, and I wanted to brag a little.

“Brag?”

- I met director Yoo at the set yesterday. Even exchanged greetings.

“What? Really?”

Director Yoo Chulmin. Now there was a name. The man was the director of one of the most famous playwrights in the country, the ‘Sky Seas’, and the current president of the Korean Acting Association. Every one of his works were sold out, and all sorts of famous actors were dying to be cast in the man’s movies. Miso’s seen the man a few times too, but even she has never gotten the chance to speak to him.

- I know I’d get remembered as one of the many no-name actors, but it’s still cool, you know?

“Yeah, I’m jealous. Why was he here?”

- I heard he’s basically like a brother to my current director. I had no idea.

“Isn’t this a great opportunity? You might...”

- Don’t act through connections, you remember that saying?

He cut her off right then and there. She didn’t bother refuting. She knew the man would succeed regardless.

“So in the end, you just wanted to brag?”

- Yeah, there’s that, but there was one other thing.

“What other thing?”

- ...I was wondering if my brother was doing well.

“Brother?”

- Yeah. I couldn’t contact home for a few months now because I was so busy, but my brother told me a few days ago that he got into Blue Sky. That kid… he took that smart brain of his and just went into a shit school.

“Wait, is this kid Geunseok?”

- Yeah. Didn’t you notice a kid who looks like me? Tall, decent body, and a tiny bit better looking than me. Smarter, too. Wait shit, he’s just better than me in every way, isn’t he? Whatever. I’m better than him at acting anyway.

Miso could hear the man laugh to himself across the phone. It was Hong Geunsoo. Miso took a small glance at Geonseok. No wonder the boy looked familiar.

“Hey! You never told me you had a brother!”

- Oh, did I not tell you?

“You just straight up never talked about home.”

- Really? Well anyways, take care of him. He must have a reason of his own for wanting to do acting with that brain of his.

Miso looked at her phone strangely for a second. That voice of his just now… sounded very bitter. Why was he talking like that? Any other time he would sound like someone who was on a motherload of drugs.

“Anything you want to tell me about?”

- Not really. Just take good care of him.

Liar. He always said ‘not really’ when he was lying. It was one of those things that everyone except him was aware of.

“Hey, be serious here.”

- ……

“Hey! Bastard!”

The club members flinched in the middle of their reading and looked over at her. Miso just waved them away before continuing.

- Don’t go easy on him.

“I won’t, obviously.”

- Also.

“Also?”

- It’s nothing. I might just be mistaken here. Just… I want him to have a dream. And even if he fails to achieve it, I don’t want him getting too hurt from it.

“Hey, I can help him achieve his dream, but I can’t be cushioning him when he fails. That’s your job. Also, come visit every once in a while. Got it?”

- Yes, yes. I will, I will.

Geunsoo cut the phone call short after that.

“Geunsoo’s brother, huh.”

Generation 1 and generation 13 of Blue Sky. Miso put her hands together and rested her chin on top. Now there was another reason to be even harsher on Geunseok. Speaking of the devil, the boy turned around to look at her.

* * *

Geunseok looked back for a second. Instructor Miso was looking at him with narrowed eyes. Her twisted lips seemed to imply that she was swearing at him under her breath.

Was she still angry?

He definitely needed to get a grip on himself. They only had three weeks from now on. Not a lot of time at all. Each passing day only worsened his nerves. He wanted to win an award, like his brother did.

‘Big bro.’

Geunsoo meant a lot of things to Geunseok. Just the word ‘brothers’ wasn’t enough to describe their relationship.

Sometimes, the man was his idol. Sometimes, a rival. Sometimes, a loving brother, and sometimes a hated enemy. When he was young, he just couldn’t understand the man.

Geunseok thought back to his elementary school years. He would come back home straight after school because he didn’t want to go study at an academy. Right as he stepped into the house, he could see his dad shouting at his brother, who was kneeling on the floor. Mom grabbed him and took him outside immediately. A few moments later, his brother came out of the house with a big grin on his face.

[Geunseok! Listen to your parents, alright?]

That was the one thing his brother always said after getting in a massive fight with dad. The man was just a bag of mysteries. Someone who never stopped hurting his parents. That was the impression Geunseok had of his brother.

He still remembered what his mother told him on that day.

[Geunseok, you’ll listen to your parents, won’t you?]

That day, he responded with a ‘yes’ without any hesitation in his voice. Just because of how pathetic his own brother looked walking out of the house.

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