“I guess autumn is autumn.”
“True,” she said as she zipped up her jacket.
She was now used to going home while looking up at the moonlit skies. It was to the point that going home before sunset made her feel awkward.
The club president waved her hand at each of the juniors that left after saying their goodbyes. The short hair of the club president swayed.
“Isn’t it hard these days?” The club president said on their way to the convenience store.
She waited for a while before replying that she could hold on.
“Looks like it’s hard, if you’re saying you can still hold on.”
“I’m not at the point where I can’t go to practice.”
“Who told you this is about practice? I’m saying it because you look exhausted these days. It really isn’t easy to do acting and receive someone else’s money huh?” The club president asked as she pulled her bag upwards.
“It sure isn’t.”
“When did you say the broadcast was?”
“Next week is the first episode. Are you going to watch it?”
“I will. Only then can I tease you about it, right?”
They entered the convenience store. The warmth that enveloped her made her sigh in a small voice. The club president, who was heading to the counter after picking some items, spoke,
“You should drink something.”
“Then drink this.”
The drink in the club president’s hand was something that had a ginseng printed on it and looked bitter from a glance. Since she was someone who would buy it if she didn’t buy any drinks, she ended up grabbing a strawberry milk.
“You really like strawberry milk huh. I see you drinking it every time.”
“I like this the most.”
“Then I’ll take one of those as well.”
They bought the items before leaving. The dried leaves on the ground made rustling noises as they slid across the ground due to the wind.
“There are only two months left for me now. I was wondering when I was going to graduate, but now it’s right in front of me.”
They sat in chairs in front of the convenience store. The club president rummaged inside the plastic bag before taking out an apple pie. She received a piece of the pie and thanked her for it.
“What department did you choose?”
“Me? I’m thinking of business management.”
“You’ll be able to go anywhere since your grades are good.”
Three times a week - that was how many times the club president came to practice. If an exam student participated in club activities until 11 in the night, he or she would’ve heard an earful from the teacher or their parents, but the club president was not just an ordinary student. No one said anything to her since she received top grades in every subject. She was an amazing person in many ways.
“You won’t be coming starting October, will you?”
“I am going to go. I just won’t be able to stay for long. My homeroom teacher told me that I should focus a month before the CSAT, and I think so too.”
“You should really continue acting even in college. You’re really good at it.”
She always said that she was just doing it as a hobby, but her skills were just too good to let them go to waste. She wanted her to continue acting, even if she didn’t aim to become an actress. She wanted this as an actress herself, and as a fan who liked her acting.
“Well, I’m not sure about that. Right now, I find investing my time in creating plays fun, but I’m not sure if I’d feel the same in college. I like acting with you, but I didn’t like acting itself that much.”
The club president curled up her lips and blew softly. Her white breath dissipated in the air.
“You’re going to continue acting, aren’t you? You told me your dream is to become an actress.”
“Yes, I’m going to continue.”
“Call me when you’re famous.”
“What if I don’t ever become famous?”
“Then call me anyway.”
The club president drank her milk while laughing. She suddenly had the thought that the club was going to be a lot quieter than it is now once the club president graduated.
“You’re aiming for the department of theater, aren’t you?”
“If nothing goes wrong, then yes.”
“What a vague answer.”
“I’m thinking about it. When I have a look at the actors I admire, most of them didn’t go to university. It would be great if I can go, but I also wonder if it’s really necessary. I felt something when I went to the shoots recently.”
“What was it?”
“That perhaps one year of experience in the field might be more valuable than four years of university. Of course, both have their advantages and disadvantages.”
“I can’t say anything about that then. Whether it’s about university or the field. Ah, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.”
The club president touched her hair before laughing. She tilted her head and looked at the club president. What did she mean?
“Being the president, I wanted to console my cute junior a little, but it’s not that easy.”
“I told you before, didn’t I? You look tired. That’s why I was going to listen to your story, and sympathize with you, and relieve your stress if possible… but that wasn’t so easy. And here I was trying to act like a senior.”
She looked at the club president making a sour face for a while before chuckling. So that was the reason why she always talked to her during the day. She finally understood why the club president seemed a little unusual.
“I’m not sure about anything else, but I’m really good at reading the mood. I always feel bad when I look at someone who’s in a bad situation. I can see it - that person is acting differently from usual.”
“Was it that obvious?”
“To me, yes.”
“Why don’t you become an investigator instead of a businesswoman? A beauty investigator sees through the psychology of the criminal! Like that.”
She said that in an acting tone. The club president made a pistol out of her hands and acted like an investigator. It was precisely because of this that the juniors liked her. She kicked the leaf that rolled onto her shoes. The dried leaf rolled towards the drain.
“What would you do if someone blatantly expresses their hate for you?” She asked as she thought of Lee Miyoon’s face.
Receiving the question, the club president stared at her.
“What is it?”
“No, I’m just surprised that someone can blatantly express their hate for you. So there are all sorts of people in this world.”
The club president drank another gulp of strawberry milk before speaking.
“Is the person that hates you a person around your age?”
“No, an adult much older than me.”
“Ah, really? Then I guess you won’t be able to pick a fight. I was going to tell you to drop-kick that person if that person was around your age.”
It sounded like a joke, but she decided to accept it since the club president was really someone that would try to do that. The club president fell into thought.
“Don’t think about it too deeply. I just asked without much thinking.”
“No, this is a great opportunity to act like a senior for once, so I can’t just let go of it. Wait a minute. I don’t have a bad head so I should be able to come up with a good answer soon. Wait a minute.”
She tapped her neck rhythmically with her fingers before turning around her head to speak.
“Is that person someone hard for you to get angry at?”
“Then I guess you won’t be able to snap back at her?”
“So the answer is a drop-kick after all, huh.”
“I’m just joking. But consultations are really hard. I get why the teachers say the same thing all the time. It’s not that easy giving advice to others.”
“Then what would you do in that situation?”
“As for me, I would….”
“And don’t say drop-kick.”
“Hey, just what do you take me for?”
The club president sat up before opening her eyes in a coy manner. She looked feminine, but it didn’t suit her at all. She soon started giggling.
“I know it doesn’t suit me, so don’t look at me like that.”
“You would look really pretty if you grew out your hair and put on some make up.”
“I know, but it’d be troublesome if I get any prettier and my popularity explodes.”
“Hey, what was that pause? Lil’ bunny is all grown up now.”
The club president sniffed once.
“If it was me, I would clash with her until the end. Whether that person breaks, or I break, it won’t end until one of us does. If that person glares at me, I will glare back, and if that person swears at me, I'll return twofold.”
The club president spoke in a calm voice. She nodded once. The club president was someone who would do that. She would never back down. She was strong-willed so no hardships would be able to topple her.
“But it’s not a method I would recommend to others. I also think about it sometimes. What if I relented a little? What if I took one step back? Wouldn’t that have made things much easier?”
After hearing the club president’s words, she spoke.
“I want to act like you. But I get scared whenever I stand in front of that person. I want to run away, and I want to beg and say that I was in the wrong. But I can’t do it. It’s strange. I feel chaotic to the point that even I don’t know what I want to do. A large part of me wants to fight back, yet another large part of me wants to submit.”
“So, what did you tell that person?”
“Uhm… nothing good at least. I only indirectly told her that I’d fight until the end. And then… I really regretted it. Thanks to that, I’m not getting enough sleep recently.”
“Oh dear, Bunbun.”
The club president clicked her tongue before hooking her arm around her shoulders. She felt a little better after that but soon realized that nothing had changed. Her heart pricked whenever she thought of Lee Miyoon’s face. She felt stifled as though she choked on her food, and sometimes, she would sweat cold sweat as though she was having nightmares.
She couldn’t expect help from anyone else there, and she couldn’t tell anything about it to her mother since she would probably tell her to stop.
Would it feel better if she complained about it to the club president? Would she feel better if she cried her eyes out saying that she was wronged? The moment she had those thoughts, she saw the club president looking at her worriedly. She… smiled.
“It’s fine. Well, things will get better. Oh, I’ll go home now. It’s about time for the last bus.”
“It’s that time already, huh.”
“Seonbae, thank you for listening to my words. I feel better now thanks to you. I’m not even worried anymore.”
Hearing those words, the club president made a despondent smile. It was just as she said - she was quick at reading the mood. She probably understood what was on her mind already.
“Sorry for not being able to help you. Looks like I only ended up wasting your time.”
“No, it really isn’t like that.”
She shook her head vigorously. The club president shrugged before standing up.
“Alright. Get going. Watch out since it’s dark.”
“You should be careful too, seonbae.”
“Well, I can just beat up any perverts coming my way, so I’m not worried.”
She said goodbye to the club president who waved her hand and walked towards the bus stop.
‘I shouldn’t have mentioned it.’
It would’ve been better if she hadn’t said anything about it. She knew that it was a problem that other people couldn’t help her with. It was her fault for trying to rely on someone else. She felt sorry when she thought back to the expression the club president made just before they parted. It wasn’t the club president’s fault at all.
‘Yes, it’s better not to talk about it.’
She tried to calm down. There was no need to share her worries with someone else. It was better for her to worry by herself.
She thought back to Maru’s figure in the cinema before. Such a strong boy, who never showed his weak side, was crying silently while watching the movie. How many things had he experienced? How many pains did he endure by himself?
Everyone had it hard. There was no need to show her pains to someone else. It was painful and scary, but she thought that she had to endure it by herself.
After getting on the bus, she subconsciously started biting on her nails. Then, she heard a snapping noise, and when she had a look at her hand, she saw that the nail she was biting on had cracked. She shook her head once. She felt her tongue drying out when she thought about the shoot tomorrow. She tried to think about something else, but it was to no avail.
When the bus arrived near her house, she got a call from Maru.
-I just called because I wanted to hear your voice. You home?
“No, I’m going home.”
-It’s quite late. Practice?
“Yeah. Are you home?”
-I’m almost there.
“Alright, be careful on your way home.”
She swallowed the words echoing in her mouth. She didn’t want to grumble like a little child. However, she thought that she would burst out crying and tell him everything if she continued calling him. So she decided to end the call.
“I need to get off now. I’m hanging up.”
-Are you… okay?
“Of course I am. Don’t worry about it. I mean it. Really.”
Just as she said those words, she realized that she wasn’t hearing anything from her phone. There was a slight buzzing noise before the call ended. She pulled her chin inwards, bit her lips, and put her phone inside her pocket. She pressed the buzzer and stood in front of the back door. The bus stopped and the door opened. She sniffed once before walking down the stairs.
A chilly wave of wind stroked past her face and she just stepped on the ground while curling up a little, when she saw someone sitting on the chair underneath the bus stop.
That boy, wearing a chestnut-colored cardigan waved his hand as though nothing had happened, and said this,
“Your mom said that you weren’t home yet. I didn’t come at a bad time, right?”
 Some buses have stairs in Korea. The low-level buses for wheelchairs are specifically marked as such.
Woohoo! I like this chap
THE NEXT CHAP WILL BE MOMENTOUS.