Chapter 44

The club members all lined up after getting in their costumes. They had some makeup on them as well.

“We’re going to have twice the amount of makeup, now that we are going on stage. We do this to give volume to our face, since the lighting usually makes our face look flat. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“This time, we’re going to complete the sets for each scene as well. Don’t forget where you’re supposed to go. Don’t try to rush things when you take out props either. We have plenty of time, so just think about doing it perfectly more than anything.”

The club members nodded tensely. They all looked quite different once they had their actual costumes on.

Geunseok, Taejoon and Iseul had their high school uniforms on, but all the other kids were wearing all sorts of clothes portraying various age groups.

Dojin and Daemyung, for instance, were wearing suits. Gray and black striped suits. They didn’t look so bad in it, surprisingly.

Awkward, though? Sure.

The second years looked very different as well. Yoonjung had a wig on her that looked very expensive, considering how natural it looked.

Joonghyuk was wearing a white button-up shirt with dark blue dress pants. He even had a little mustache drawn on his face.

Minsung was wearing very loose gym clothes. His turtleneck really completed the jobless look.

Danmi played a shopkeeper. She wore a strangely-colored pair of pants with a white shirt and a jacket on top. Her lips were painted purple to resemble the appearance of a talkative neighborhood lady.

“Daemyung,” Miso called out.

“Loosen up your necktie a little bit. You guys just got out of work. You’re walking over to get a drink. Show that you’ve loosened up significantly.”

Daemyung pulled his tie down a little bit, earning a nod from Miso.

“Yurim.”

“Yes.”

Yurim stepped forward. She too was playing a middle aged lady like Yoonjung and Soyeon.

“Remember this well. You guys are friends of Jungsoo’s mothers, and you live better than her. You guys call yourselves friends, but you only associate with Jungsoo’s mother to look down on the woman. You can be a little toxic if you’d like. Just look down on her. Soyeon, you too. The more you girls pressure Jungsoo’s mother, the more your characters come alive. You get it?”

“Yes.”

Yurim and Soyeon nodded nervously. During the past few months, Yurim gave herself a little curl to her hair, giving her a mature look. Soyeon too, attempted the mature look, by losing an incredible amount of weight.

Surprisingly, the girl was dissatisfied about her current weight, as Maru often heard her talking about eating as much as she want after the plays.

“By the way, the people over here are friends during my year in the club. The first generation of Blue Sky. This is Hong Geunsoo, and this is Kang Soojin. Don’t disappoint them, now.”

Maru gave Soojin a little glance. He didn’t know she was a member of this club too.

“Maru, you watch the play carefully. You’re going to be the audience today. Give the kids an honest review.”

Maru went to sit down next to the seniors. Watching the club members from the audience felt fresh to him. So this was what Miso saw. He could feel the energetic gaze from each of the club members. The energy exuding out of them was extraordinary.

‘Being an instructor must be pretty hard.’

The energy from all eleven of the students was, quite frankly, overwhelming. He had no idea how Miso managed to even dare act as she did under all those gazes.

“Your friends are pretty good,” Geunsoo mentioned.

The man’s social skills were incredible. Whereas his brother, Geunseok seemed pretty difficult to approach, Geunsoo semmed incredibly easy to befriend despite the age gap.

“So why are you here and not on the stage anyway?”

“I hesitated.” “Hesitated? To do acting?”

“Yes. I still am, actually.”

“Hesitation… It’s a good thing to have. If you aren’t passionate about something, you might as well think before you act. Lots of adults demand that kids your age be reckless, but I think differently.”

Maru looked up at Geunsoo. This was a man who’d succeed big time with acting in the future. He couldn’t very well take the man’s words lightly.

Right then, Miso called the kids over with a clap.

“We’ll begin in exactly ten minutes. Treat this as the real thing. Think before you act, think before you walk, and think before you even breathe. This is your last test, so be very careful.”

The floor became awkward for a split second. Maru continued talking to Geunsoo.

“How did you get into acting?”

“Me? Hmm...”

Geunsoo looked up at the ceiling as he started thinking.

“Do you want to know what this guy’s nickname was in high school?” Soojin butted.

“What was it?”

“Lunatic.”

“What?”

A lunatic?

Geunsoo smiled, muttering ‘that’s a nostalgic nickname’ to himself.

“There really wasn’t a better name for him at the time. He just went straight to Mr. Taesik and just asked to make the acting club. In that sense, that teacher was quite amazing as well. They just made the club right then and there. The two of them got along real well, which only made things difficult for everyone.”

Soojin smiled, thinking back at the time.

“Geunsoo would always say this at the time if you saw him: ‘Do you want to try acting?’ He was incredibly persistent, too. His entire class had to endure this for a month straight.”

“Hey, I wasn’t that bad,” Geunsoo complained.

Miso butted in immediately.

“Soojin actually toned it down. He was even worse than that. He’d just scream every single day from the class podium going, ‘let’s burn our youths away with passion!’ Thought I was going to become flipping deaf.”

“To think the very first member of the club would say this to me… I feel hurt, you know?”

Geunsoo lightly smacked Miso’s shoulder, earning an awkward smile from her.

Well, that was quite a sight. Maru never imagined that anyone could shut Miso up.

“In any case, that’s how the club was made in the beginning. To be honest, I… really didn’t want to join at first. You remember what kind of a situation I was in, right?”

Soojin had told him that she was adopted in the beginning of high school. She probably didn’t want to join any club with such a heavy heart.

“But Geunsoo would just ask me again and again and again. I thought he had short-term memory loss when I first saw him. Really, he was just a complete lunatic,” she continued.

It felt incredibly alienating hearing the word ‘lunatic’ come out of Soojin’s mouth so many times. It was strangely cute, though, for some reason.

“So, did you get into the club in the end?”

“Yeah. But I wasn’t forced in or anything. I just realized I stopped thinking about my home or my life or anything else when I was arguing with Geunsoo. I mean, you must’ve experienced it too. When you focus on something, you can’t think of anything else. That’s when Geunsoo really convinced me.”

“What did he do?”

“He told me he’d make me smile for the next three years, as long as I was in the club. That really got me for some reason.”

Maru glanced at Geunsoo, who just shrugged in response.

“She looks very pure and happy now, but back then she was a real piece of work. There was rain around her face all day long.”

Geunsoo gestured rain falling with his fingers over his head. Soojin’s face immediately flushed red.

“You wanted to know why I started acting, right? It isn’t anything special. It started as a rebellion against my father. But that just disappeared after a while. The real reason why I got into acting was because I enjoyed it. As soon as I realized how fun it was, I couldn’t give it up. I started going into it with the mindset, ‘I’ll do it even if I have to die!’”

Even if he had to die, huh. That one sentence seemed to describe Geunsoo’s thoughts pretty well. Maru took a look at the first gen members carefully. Each one of them had a very strongly defined personality.

Miso and Geunsoo made acting their jobs, while Soojin turned it into volunteer work.

“You were doing puppet plays with Soojin, right?” Geunsoo asked.

“Yes.”

“How was it?”

“It… was fun. Pretty satisfying, too.”

“Was it?”

“Yes.”

“Hm, I see. Anything else?”

“Anything else?”

Maru shook his head. He was satisfied with just this for now. Geunsoo put on a strange smile in response.

“Yo, smiley,” he said, turning to Miso.

“Yeah?”

“I don’t think this kid will go really deep into acting.”

Geunsoo looked at Maru with a hand on his chin. He had a small smile on his face.

“It’s fun and satisfying, right?”

“Yes.”

“That’s good enough, then. I like to think of acting as a greedy monster with a very particular eye for things. Acting chooses people, rather than the contrary. Some people are born to become actors, while others just aren’t. And if a person is unfortunate enough to be the former… Acting just swallows those people up completely. That’s how the ghosts of Hyehwa station come to be. They’ve been devoured by the monster.”

Geunsoo scanned Maru with a sharp look before continuing.

“I don’t know what’s making you hesitate, but I recommend that you don’t think too much. If acting takes a liking to you, you’ll be taken up by it no matter what you do. If it doesn’t, you’ll never be able to make it onto the stage.”

Tap.

Geunsoo pat Maru’s back lightly.

“Oh, and lastly. You said you were feeling satisfied, right? That’s completely fine. But people who are taken by acting feel something completely different. They feel excitement.”

Geunsoo gestured towards the club members with his chin. Now that Maru looked, he noticed a flaring energy of excitement and passion coming off of the members.

“The kids this time around are all amazing people,” Geunsoo said, furrowing his brows.

That’s when Maru noticed.

The man’s face was starting to flare up with excitement like the other kids.

* * *

As soon as Maru excused himself to the bathroom, Miso slapped Geunsoo’s back as hard as she could.

Slap!

The club members looked at Miso and Geunsoo with surprised faces.

“Don’t worry about it. Focus.”

“Yes.”

Geunsoo asked Soojin to rub his back with a pained face. Soojin rubbed Geunsoo’s back with a slight grin on her face.

“I ask you to make the boy care about acting, and you just go trample on him, huh?” Miso growled.

The main reason why she called him here today was to check on the club as a whole, but she also wanted him to nudge Maru’s interests towards acting as well. But instead of saying any words of help to the boy, he just blew out the candle completely.

“And Ms. Soojin?”

“Y-yeah?”

“I asked you to help Maru become interested in puppet plays, not become interested in playing around with children. You’ve just turned him into a volunteer worker, haven’t you?”

“No, I...”

“Oh my god, you idiots.”

Miso shook her head with her arms crossed. This was bad. Maru’s eyes just now… She could just see him drawing the line with the club again. At this rate, the boy would just end up interested in volunteering, not acting.

That was no bueno.

“Why are you so obsessed over him anyway?” Geunsoo asked.

“He makes me insanely curious. He’s going to show me something if I train him well and put him on stage. That’s what my guts tell me anyway.”

“Well, I’m not doubting your judgement, but...”

Geunsoo leaned back with his legs stretched out forward.

“The way I see it, he’s not the type to do something because someone else tells him to. He’s very centered. He really has to have an interest in it himself if he wants to try something. If you force him to act, sure, he’ll do it, but he won’t be committed.“

“I know. That’s why I’ve been slowly tempting him. And then you do this?”

Geunsoo was right. Maru, unlike other kids his age, was actually thinking of his future.

Safety first.

There was no better phrase that described the boy than this. To Miso, Maru was a very tempting subject. The boy was somehow fundamentally different from everyone else. That was the judgement Miso came up with after two months she spent with him. She was crazy curious to see what the boy would be like if he actually took up acting.

“Well, you’re reckless as usual.”

“I don’t want to hear that from you, you goddamned lunatic.”

“Oh, so scary.”

Miso sighed exasperatedly.

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