Chapter 51

‘I guess it’s better than fake passion, at the very least,’ Maru thought as he walked down.

Teenagers couldn’t very well burn their life away with passion. Sometimes, it might be better to just ignore something to feel more comfortable for a time being. Only when they become adults, do they truly realize when it is appropriate to do such a thing.

‘But doing that too early just isn’t fun.’

This was pretty much the last chance for these students to be acting without reservation, acting purely based on their emotions. There would be value for them to act honestly right now.

‘I guess I’m not in the position to say that though, am I?’

As a spectator, Maru had no part in all of this. Butting in right now would only make him seem rude. Especially as a person who didn’t have enough bravery to even commit. Perhaps the one who really needed to act honest was him.

As Maru walked past the teacher’s offices towards the supermarket, the door to the staff lounge opened, revealing Taesik. The man seemed to be bidding his farewells to a couple of parents.

“Oh, teacher.”

“Ah, Maru. Heading to the market?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s go together.”

The two of them started walking down the hall together. Several students greeted Taesik as they walked with massive smiles on their faces.

One of the surefire ways to see if a teacher was loved was in seeing how students greeted their teachers. In that sense, Taesik was definitely beloved as a teacher.

At the store, Taesik bought Maru’s snacks as if it was the most natural thing in the world. He refused to accept the money from Maru as well.

“How’s the club?”

Since that time last month, Taesik stopped visiting the club. He still occasionally visited, but not to cheer them on.

“It’s alright.”

“Just alright?”

“They were pretty sad about failing, but they’ve somewhat recovered.”

“Is that so.”

Taesik nodded subtly. Maru looked at the man for a bit. He personally thought the situation was getting bad, but he didn’t have to tell the man. Taesik looked at the fifth floor with an understanding look.

“Thank goodness it’s alright. I was pretty worried. Worried enough to actually think about talking to them. I didn’t think it would be good for me to intervene though, so I held my tongue. There are things that adults should be involved in, and there are things that kids should solve amongst themselves. In this case, the latter is clearly the sensible solution.”

As Maru thought, the man was a very thoughtful person. Taesik bought him a cold peach tea from the vending machine next to them.

“How are you doing?”

“I’m doing alright.”

“Well, you’re consistent.”

The two of them looped around the field in front of the school. Despite being a weekend, there were no students out on the field. Probably because there was a game today. By the time they passed by one of the goalposts, Taesik spoke again.

“I had a drink with instructor Miso last time.”

“Ah, is that so.”

Taesik paused for a second with a conflicted face. He seemed to be wondering if this was alright to tell a student. He quickly put on a smile though.

“I think I can tell you for some reason, so might as well. Instructor Miso actually cried a lot back then. She was blaming herself quite a bit.”

To think that such a tough instructor would cry just like that… Maru couldn’t picture it very well, but he couldn’t help but think it was somehow very fitting of the woman.

“Do you know the difference between a pro and an amateur?”

“Money.”

“Right, it’s money. In that sense, instructor Miso is a pro. She receives money to teach students. At the same time, she ends up feeling responsible about a lot of things. Having to teach students from her high school must have given her a lot of pressure.”

To think she could act so loud and angry all the time despite the amount of pressure on her shoulders… If what Taesik was saying was true, then she really was a pro. No one was able to tell how she really felt, after all. The woman had quite a talent for self-control.

“The reason why she was so controlling was because the lot of you were amateurs. At least, that’s what she said. Pros can act as freely as they want. They can take responsibility for their actions, after all. But giving freedom to amateurs only leads to laziness.”

“...Did instructor Miso feel regret over her methods?”

“Yes. She was blaming herself. She said she should’ve made it fun for everyone. If she just let go of her greed for the club for a second, the kids wouldn’t have frozen in front of the audience like that.”

Maru scratched the tip of his nose. Everyone in the club was regretting their actions.

“It’s not something she should take blame for. She’s pretty timid in that regard, isn’t she?”

“Timid? Hahaha, sure. She might look savage on the outside, but she cares a lot inside. That’s why she worked so hard. She wanted to show you what she felt on the stage back then.”

“She’s competitive, too.”

“Indeed. Incredibly so.”

This summer seemed to be the season of pain. The one thing that instructor Miso did differently from the students was that she was honest about how she felt. She probably felt incredibly embarrassed saying it. Talking about your real feelings was more embarrassing than even confessing to someone you liked. Thanks to that, though, she was probably comforted well by Taesik. She definitely got a chance to self-reflect as well. She received all of the rewards that an honest person could reap.

“So, what about you guys?”

The same question as before. Maru thought for a little bit before deciding to answer differently.

“I’ll be honest. Things are actually pretty bad right now, in my opinion. Dangerous, actually.”

“That’s a different answer from before.”

“Isn’t this the reason you talked about instructor Miso in the first place?”

Maru sipped on his tea with a small smile. Taesik didn’t refute him.

“As I said before, the atmosphere of a club isn’t decided by how good the advisor is. The advisor is only there to be a mascot of the club. The person who really runs the club is the president and the vice president.”

“Yes.”

“Joonghyuk is… a very thoughtful kid. But he’s not the type that actually steps up to solve problems. That’s the reason why he’s not the president of the club, but rather a stage manager. He’s a lot like you, actually.”

“I think so, too.”

“There are differences, of course. Joonghyuk is, unlike you, within the circle that is the club. When there’s a problem, he actually tries to solve it. But you...”

Taesik stopped walking for a second to look at Maru.

“You always seem to be standing at the edges of the club.”

“......”

Maru didn’t say anything. Everything the man had just said was correct. Maru stared into Taesik’s eyes. He was curious about what the man was thinking about him.

[I’d like you to solve this situation.]

“Why are you asking me to solve this?”

Was it because Maru asked before Taesik could actually say it? The man seemed surprised for a brief moment.

“As I thought, you’re very different from your fellow students. It might sound strange to you, but talking to you feels like I’m talking to a parent. I can almost feel you rooting for the club members like an adult.”

“Don’t you think that’s a bit cruel to say to a 17 year old?”

“True.”

Taesik smiled lightly.

“You don’t want to step in, teacher?”

“You should know what would happen if I do, don’t you?”

Try to do well. Stop blaming other people, Geunseok. Don’t be so lazy during practice. Be more honest.

The moment Taesik utters those words, the club really would shatter into pieces. That was the real problem with having spectators try to involve themselves.

“I know you have your own opinions and everything. I’ve heard a lot from instructor Miso. Whenever she drinks, nine times out of ten she would talk about you. She’d complain about how much like an adult you seemed.”

“She really holds grudges, doesn’t she?”

“You better not say that in front of her. A person told her that once, and she just grabbed that person by the hair right there.”

“Ah, I can sort of picture that.”

Haha, the two laughed lightly.

“You must be meeting instructor Miso a lot.”

“I do. She’s a mean student who calls me out whenever she gets drunk.”

“She calls you whenever she drinks? Does she call other people?”

“No, I was always alone. She probably doesn’t have anyone else to drink with because of her drinking habits. But it wasn’t like I could just ignore her. It does get tiring sometimes, though.”

“...And she asks you for advice a lot and everything?”

“Most of the time, yes.”

“Are you married, teacher?”

“Haha, unfortunately not. Probably for the foreseeable future as well. I mean, with a fashion sense like this, how could I be?”

Taesik smiled, pointing at his old checkered shirt and worn out pants.

‘How could such a thoughtful guy be so dense…?’

A drunk woman calling out a guy for advice regularly? An older guy at that, and not a friend? She definitely had feelings for the man.

Maru asked Taesik to wait for a second before taking out his phone. He left Miso a very short message.

[Taesik’s getting married.]

Exactly five seconds later, Taesik’s phone started ringing. When the man picked it up, he immediately pulled it away from his ear.

“What’s up?”

“I don’t know. She just started screaming.”

“Um, teacher, can I take that call?”

Taesik handed Maru the phone with a confused look.

- How! Hooowww!!

Miso sounded pretty desperate from across the phone. Maru had to stop himself from laughing right there.

“I was joking.”

- Eh? M-Maru?

“Yes. That was a gag message just now, so you can ignore it.”

- Y-you!!

“You have a pretty cute side to yourself, don’t you, instructor? Should I tell him in your stead? That you have feelings for him?”

- I’ll kill you! Don’t you dare tell him that! I’ll freaking murder you!

“Come to school, then.”

- ...What?

“Come check on the kids for a bit. I’m going to shake them up a bit.”

Maru hung up and gave the man his phone back.

“What was that about?”

“It’s nothing. But ah, teacher?”

“Yes?”

“Your future wife may be closer than you think.”

Maru decided to stop playing spectator for a second. It was an incredibly difficult thing for a teacher to ask something of a student. Despite that, Taesik was honest to Maru. Even as an adult, Maru couldn’t help but want to accept the man’s request.

He’d cut out the infected bits. The club might be unable to handle the pain and start to splinter. That’s why he prepared some medicine.

‘Miso will handle the rest.’

Maru headed up to the auditorium with a big huff.

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