Although it was a bit late, they separated from Yoojin with a greeting that was only allowed on Christmas. She waved at Yoojin, who disappeared in a taxi, and spat out a breath of white air.
“I heard that snowy days aren’t as cold.”
“It’s snowing because it’s cold.”
“Is that how it works?”
Maru grabbed her hand and started walking.
“You’re done shopping for the day, right?”
“Why do you ask? You want to do some more?”
“Of course not.”
“Oh, I thought you wanted to look around some more.”
She swung her hands back and forth while smiling. The hand he was holding moved back and forth like a swing.
“Are you hungry?”
“I was about to ask that. Now that I think about it, we didn’t even have a proper lunch, did we?”
“All we had was hotteok, I guess.”
They didn’t have lunch properly since they were busy walking around looking through clothes. It was 4 p.m. Although it was still a little early for dinner, Maru’s stomach was rumbling, wanting food.
“Why don’t we go there?”
The place she pointed at was a shabu-shabu restaurant. A hot soup was perfect on a cold day like this. Thinking that it was a good choice, they entered that restaurant.
“Welcome. A table for two?”
“Come this way.”
Since it was a public holiday, the restaurant was quite crowded. They sat by the window and Maru took off the padded jacket that she bought for him. They had spent an hour looking before deciding on this. Maru thought that he should wear it for a long time as he looked at it.
“Are you fine with the spicy one?”
They ordered the spicy broth. As for meat, they ordered 3 portions for now. Since she had a good appetite, it probably wouldn’t be enough. They were given a kettle with broth that was intended for drinking and Maru poured it into cups. The white soup filled up the cup. After putting down a cup in front of her, Maru tried drinking some as well.
The strong taste of seasoning was to Maru’s liking. Maru wasn’t planning on eating healthy so he liked strongly seasoned foods more. When he poured another cup for her, they got the shabu-shabu they ordered. After they put it on the stove and turned it on, the broth started boiling.
“You should leave the thick slices of mushroom in the soup for a while, and as for the rest, you can eat them immediately.”
Maru put a bunch of vegetables into the broth and cooked some thin slices of beef before putting it on her plate.
“I’ll eat by myself. You should eat as well.”
“Don’t worry about me.”
She blew on the meat to cool it down and ate it before making a joyous expression. Maru looked at her. Perhaps this was why being next to someone could empower a person so much.
“How’s the shoot these days? Isn’t it hard?”
“It’s hard, but it’s fun. I’m a little worried though.”
“Because I feel like my portion keeps decreasing.”
She twitched her lips and twirled her chopsticks in the soup to look for the mushroom.
“At first, I started off with the mindset that I’m learning, but I still find it a bit of a pity. When Jiseok says he has a shoot but I’m staying at home, I feel like I’m lagging behind. If I get fired up because of that and stand in front of the camera, I get scolded for being too tense. Acting really is hard after all.”
“It just comes down to experience. If you get more experience, you’ll be able to do better.”
“Is that how it is?”
“It is how it is.”
Maru put some cooked meat on her plate again. Even while saying that he didn’t need to do so, she ate the meat quickly.
“Should we order some more?”
She nodded faintly. Maru ordered two more portions of meat before speaking,
“What are you going to do from now on? If you are going to continue being an actress, I think you should look into joining an agency. There’s a limit to how much you can do by yourself.”
“I’m still thinking about that. I do want to, but I keep wondering if it’s the right thing to do and keep hesitating. Acting definitely is fun. I want to keep doing it as well. But wanting to do something and doing something well are two different things, right? I don’t want to jump in hastily.”
“In my eyes, I think you’re doing plenty well.”
“Let’s say it’s a matter of confidence. Actually, I don’t know either. It’s a bit different from doing plays after all.”
“Mom’s telling me to do what I want to do, but there’s no guarantee that I would be as lucky as this time around.”
“You said that a graduate at your school connected you to the audition, right?”
“Yes. She works for an agency.”
“Did you look into that?”
“I asked her once before, and unfortunately, they aren’t looking for new actors for the time being.”
“What a pity.”
Maru picked up a suitably cooked mushroom before looking at her eyes. She chewed for a while before shaking her head.
“Don’t mention JA. I don’t think I’ll be able to last if I join like that. Also… that’s a place for only the talented people.”
“That’s not entirely true. The president supports people as long as he deems that they’re worth investing in. It’s not as much as an exclusive contract, but he’ll give you some form of care. Daemyung is going to receive college tuition from him. Of course, I’m not saying that Daemyung is bad at acting, but still.”
She bit on her chopsticks and looked at him. From her expression, it didn’t seem like she liked that. Maru smiled and no longer spoke. He did not plan to force her to do something she didn’t want to do. He could try explaining to her that grabbing an opportunity through people she knew wasn’t a bad thing, but he did not want to deny her way of life outright nor tell her to follow him. It had to be her decision. The only thing he could do was to give her some advice.
“I’ll tell you when JA is holding an audition to recruit new actors. That’s okay with you, right?”
She nodded. After looking at the pot that only had a few pieces of mushroom left, she spoke,
“Am I being too stuffy? It’s not that different from how I got the audition for the sitcom through a school senior.”
“It is a bit different. I understand where you’re coming from.”
Hearing those words, she made a sullen expression.
Maru raised his voice a little and spoke,
“Looks like I brought up something I shouldn’t have. You’ll be getting calls from various places because of your skills soon enough.”
“That’s obviously not happening.”
“You never know.”
She made a sour expression before saying that it would be great if it was like that. They left the restaurant after finishing their meal.
“It’s snowing again.”
Reaching out her hand, she brightly smiled and told Maru to see. There was a large snowflake on her palm. Though, it soon melted away.
“Looks like it’ll pile up again.”
“Where should we go now?”
“I want to drink some coffee.”
Maru pointed at the café on the other side. Actually, he wasn’t desperate for coffee. He just needed a quiet space.
“I’ll buy you the coffee.”
“Nah. I received a present from you today, so let me buy one for you today.”
“Then should I rip you off a lot? Maybe I’ll get some cake too.”
“You have the room for that?”
“There’s always room for desserts.”
She tapped on her stomach as she entered the café. They bought two cups of coffee and a chocolate muffin. She grabbed a table first and watched the snow outside. She was waving her toes, and they seemed to be in sync with the lights flickering on the other side of the road.
Maru quietly looked at her. He wished for her to only see and experience the pretty side of life without experiencing any of the hardships and bitterness of it. Just then, the emotions he had when he looked at his daughter became vivid again.
‘No wait, was it a son?’
Perhaps one day, he would even forget that he had a child at all?
“Here’s your order.”
He picked up the tray and walked towards her.
“Am I ordering you around too much today?”
“You can do that on a day like this. Here’s your coffee.”
He put down the tray and sat down. She grabbed the mug with both of her hands before drinking a sip. She smiled. It seemed that the coffee was not bad.
Maru thought that now was the right time and reached into his chest pocket.
“A Christmas present.”
“Ah… but I….”
“I already got mine.”
Maru lifted up the padded jacket. She widened her eyes before leaning backwards slightly in embarrassment.
“Aren’t you going to open it?”
“I’m going to put it on you, but you can open the box.”
She nodded and opened the box. She carefully took out the necklace inside and put it on her palms.
“It’s so pretty.”
“Do you like it?”
“That’s good. I was worried when I was deciding. Can I put it on you now?”
“This? That’s a little….”
Maru got the necklace from her. She flinched and shrunk her neck back, but she eventually brushed her hair to one side, making it easier for Maru to put the necklace on her.
Maru grabbed the necklace in his hands to get rid of the coldness before putting it around her neck.
“If you wrap it twice, you should be able to use it as a bracelet.”
She fidgeted with the small jewel on her neck before frowning.
“It wasn’t expensive, was it?”
“Don’t worry. It wasn’t that expensive.”
“Why does that sound like it was expensive to me?”
“Please just pretend that you didn’t ask.”
“Now all you need is a plunge dress to go with it.”
“There you go again with your mouth!”
She grabbed Maru’s lips before letting them go.
“The coffee is going to get cold. You should drink.”
Even while drinking the coffee, she fidgeted with the necklace. It seemed that she had taken a liking to it. He felt relieved to see her so happy about it. He was worried when he bought it thinking that she might not like it.
“Oh, did you get the stamp for this place?”
“There’s one of these stores around my house. I got a coupon last time too.”
“I can’t be bothered with that.”
“Give me the coupon. I’ll get it. 8 coffees get you one for free, so it’s such a pity to miss out on it.”
“Fine, let’s live a frugal life.”
Maru handed her his wallet. She opened the wallet and took out the coupon when a piece of paper fell on the table. It was the tarot card Maru got from Daehak-ro.
“A tarot card?” she looked at The Fool card as she asked.
“You know about it?”
“I do. I like tarot after all.”
“But this was unexpected from you. I thought you wouldn’t like fortune telling.”
“I got it through a coincidence. I didn’t know what it meant, but Daemyung explained it to me. The upright position, was it? Adventurous and whatnot, wasn’t it?”
She put down the card and spoke,
“You can interpret it that way, but usually, The Fool has more negative connotations.”
“Really? Well, it wasn’t like Daemyung knew that much about it. So, what does it mean?”
Her gaze headed towards the card.
“The foolishness of knowing nothing. Ignorance.”
* * *
“Have a safe trip back.”
He waved at her as she got on the bus. The bus soon disappeared from sight. While waiting for the bus home, Maru took out the tarot card from his wallet.
“The foolishness of knowing nothing. Ignorance.”
Was he ever concerned about fortune telling as much as this? Well, he did pray to whatever god possible when it came to his child. A clown standing on stage. He could throw the card away, but he kept it with him for some reason. That woman, he felt like he had seen her somewhere before, yet also thought that he had never seen her before. He was concerned and went back to that same place in Daehak-ro, but he never got to meet her even once.
Ignorance. Maru rolled that word in his mouth once before looking up at the sky.
It was snowing a lot to the point that the dark sky couldn’t be seen.
Does this mean that the novel will turn dark from now on? With tragic events happening to Maru!?!?!?
I don't want that to happen... And we just got some fluff too.
Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnn