Chapter 538

“Oh my word, ‘my actress’? Maru-seonbae, I didn’t hear wrong, did I? Sora asked as she looked at Maru.

“You want me to say that to you too?”

“No. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I heard something like that. Because of all the goosebumps.”

“Dating is half being childish and half lying.”

“I had my guesses, but you were dating after all?” Sora awaited confirmation as she looked at the unni sitting at the front.

Maru nodded.

“No wonder.”

“Isn’t it strange that you didn’t know about it before? Where can you find another couple that suits each other more?”

“Wow, where did the serious Maru-seonbae on this screen go? Why is there a cheesy man in front of me?” Sora asked as she pointed at the monitor.

Maru winked before walking towards that unni. Sora laughed and then started getting ready to shoot.

“Ando-seonbae.”

“Yeah?”

Ando, holding the camera, came towards her. It now looked natural for him to support the camera with his right hand. She was very worried when she first gave him the equipment, but now he handled the camera better than anyone else in the film production club.

“We’re going to shoot this scene.”

“I thought you were only going to do the group shots and some tests.”

“Yes. This is one of the tests. I want to try capturing more of the main character that Maru-seonbae is acting out. For now, please shoot it from the front since it’s important to get a look at his facial expression.”

“I just need to focus on shooting Maru?”

“Yes. We aren’t going to use this cut, so don’t worry about the angle and just try to get as much of Maru-seonbae’s expressions and gestures that you can.”

Ando said he understood before walking in front of Maru with the camera. Sora also walked over to Maru with the script.

“Unni, you need a script too, don’t you?”

“No, it’s fine. I memorized it already.”

“Already?”

“It wasn’t long.”

Sora exclaimed in surprise before taking back the script. She managed to learn several lines in just 15 minutes?

‘The people from the acting club couldn’t do that though.’

Sora thought back to the audition at the acting club that happened a while ago.

“Do you have anything specific you want me to do?” Maru asked.

Sora broke out of her contemplation before explaining what was on her mind.

“You said that the main character should be in a lifeless state, right? Please act based on that for now. After that, I want you to express the mental state of the main character that I originally had in mind. Of course, I understood that the character you showed through the camera was much more appealing, but I want to be safe. A person’s charm isn’t something that you can know about before you see it in person. I want to go down the route where you bring out the stereotypical bullied kid more tastefully.”

“Alright, I’ll do that.”

She didn’t say anything to unni. Since she was here to just fill the role for now, there was no need to ask her to do anything.

“Then please get ready, the two of you. We’ll start as soon as you’re ready. The rest of you, please sit down on your seats and act. Show me how you would act when you see someone get bullied. Of course, you can’t try to stop the bullying. Either you just keep watching or you enjoy it. Choose one of these two.”

Sora watched the acting club members sitting down before returning to the laptop. The camera held by Ando was turned on and then a video appeared on the laptop. She hadn’t given the cue sign yet, but everyone had fallen into their inner worlds and were doing their own acts. The acting of the 1st year members of the acting club looked awkward when looked at up close, but that wasn’t a big problem since they were just there to fill the background. It would be fine as long as they polished themselves up later. What she had to focus on right now was Maru’s facial acting. She decided to do everything else after setting the main character perfectly.

‘I also need to test the transfer student role.’

The main character, who was a target of bullying, would escape being bullied by bullying the transfer student. Stepping above the transfer student, who was a target of sympathy at first, allowed him to escape his old position. The role of the transfer student, who had to be the most gloomy and depressing until the last moments of the movie, was like the second main character of this movie. Since he was a projection of the old main character, the standards of choosing that person had to be quite strict as well.

“Are you ready?” Sora raised her voice and asked.

She saw Maru and unni nodding in the front of the class. Sora inhaled shortly.

“Then let’s begin the shoot. I really wanted to do this, so allow me to do it.”

Sora rolled up the script before pointing at the ceiling.

“Lights!”

She then pointed at Ando.

“Camera!”

She then scanned the actors.

“Actors!”

She sat down and shouted.

“Standby, action!”

* * *

She looked at Maru, who buried his head in his arms on the desk. Usually, she would have patted his head or something, but she couldn’t do that right now.

Ha - she uttered a laugh mixed with a sigh before standing up. She walked up to Maru’s desk before kicking it.

“Hey, you asleep?”

There was no reaction. A sneer appeared on her face. She erased the image of Maru she had in her mind and drew a really wimpy boy in that place. This kid didn’t speak, was slow, and would stutter whenever he talked, making anyone who talked to him feel unpleasant.

“Hey, hey.”

She kicked once more, and after seeing that there was no reaction, she kicked it hard. The desk made a loud noise and moved, making Maru, who was pretending to be asleep, flinch. Oh?

“Wow, ignoring me, huh. Are you being sexist? You aren’t answering me because I’m a girl? You’re total trash, aren’t you?”

She laughed as she bit on her thumb slightly. She looked at the others in order to get their agreement, but they were all looking at her in a daze. For a moment, her desire to look down again was broken and her heart flinched, but she soon returned again. An excuse like ‘I couldn’t keep my emotions properly because of another actor’ didn’t work on a shooting set.

She clenched her teeth slightly before kicking the desk even harder. The fear that Maru might get injured flashed past her mind, but she ignored it. Right now, she had to put everything into acting. If she still had any consideration left, that would show in her acting as being awkward. She wanted to test herself against Maru and see how far she could keep up with him, who seemed so distant from her.

Immersion. That was the only answer.

The desk jerked up and down and books started falling out. Maru flinched and stood up before picking up the books. It was an uninteresting reaction where he just swayed if she kicked him like a roly-poly toy. She laughed to the point that it resounded in her stomach before pushing Maru’s head with her palm.

“Hey. Say something. If you’re so afraid of me, what does that make me? Hey, do you want to get hit by this noona? Should I strip your pants and chase you out to the corridor like last time?”

She laughed before pushing on Maru’s forehead relentlessly so that the head of the roly-poly toy didn’t return to its original position. After swaying, Maru’s body eventually fell on the ground.

Crash - the chair that fell over made a loud noise.

“Putting on a show huh? Someone might think that I beat you up. Hey, you got a lot better at acting, you know that? Are you going to tell the old dudes that you got hit?”

She looked at Maru who slowly stood up. He dusted his clothes and set the chair straight before politely placing both of his hands in front of his stomach. His clasped hands didn’t look like they had any energy. Those two powerless hands would fall apart the moment she tapped on it. She pushed Maru’s shoulders in annoyance. Maru, who was lowering his head, staggered as he was pushed back towards the window.

She crossed her arms before walking up to him.

“Why don’t you raise your head, huh? Or are you going to make me bend down like this?”

Hearing those words, Maru slowly raised his head. He looked expressionless. There was no happiness, no sadness, no joy, no anger, no hate, no love. There was simply nothing in that expression. She felt angry when she looked at that face. She felt like this - let’s see how long you last.

She chewed on her inner cheeks before taking a step forward.

* * *

Maru looked at her standing in front of him. No, he didn’t even know if he was looking at her, the window to the corridor behind her, or Chihwan, who was dazedly standing in a corner. Since he started acting, no, even before that, he had let go of all of his emotions. Since something might pop out if he tried to suppress them, he just let them all go. The keyword here was to be lifeless. A stone does not feel pain or react.

The main character, who now took bullying as a part of his everyday life did not react to any external stimulus. That was the only way. Becoming angry, crying, and resisting was something that was possible with energy. The main character, who has gotten used to powerlessness, was just pushed around. He would get hit, get hit again, and then again. Once he thought that getting hit was the norm, it allowed him to endure. He could endure if he wasn’t conscious of the pain, the gaze, and even the sympathy.

Maru was not afraid of her. In fact, she was a target of admiration. She was the prettiest in the class, the mood maker, and was also loved by the teachers. It was unthinkable for him to get angry at her, who was practically a figure of worship. The only feeling he had towards her was jealousy, but he didn’t express that either.

He was just a stone.

A stone’s duty was to stay still.

Still, still - he felt his weight disappear as his consciousness sunk deep inside. The girl in his vision, the classroom, as well as everything else, started to lose their meaning. Tick, tock, tick, tock. The sound of the clock could be heard amidst the mocking laughter. That was the sound of the powerful gallops that led him to his salvation. 5 o’clock was when regular classes ended. He had to continue as a stone until then.

A hand flew at him. His shoulder was pushed back. She had an arrogant expression on her face. That was natural. She was the idol of the class. It was natural for her to put on such an expression. Compared to her, he was just a small stone by her foot. A stone that did nothing but stay still.

“Sorry.”

He cautiously uttered the only word that was allowed to him. In this classroom, where rules of bullying applied, he was only allowed to utter two words. Okay and sorry. Refusal wasn’t an option. He felt as though his vision turned blurry. He kept repeating the word ‘sorry’ several times. He was immersed in the character, but there was no worry of forgetting his lines. There was another self of him that was watching the situation from behind after all.

Unlike the main character who had turned himself into stone, the Maru observing everything rationally from a step behind looked at everything in front of him in a cold fashion. He observed the acting of his juniors and checked the position of the camera through the corner of his eyes. He let his self that was immersed in acting, be, and turned around slightly. He moved, but his emotional state did not break. The more he acted the clearer the distinction between his two egos became. Unless his observing self intentionally disrupted the emotional state of the immersed self, the continuity of his acting did not break even if he thought about something else.

‘Does she have any worries?’

She was focusing on this too much to the point that it looked like she was being chased by something. There was no hesitation in her actions when she tapped his cheeks, but he couldn’t erase the feeling that she was forcing herself to act.

There was no flaw in the way she expressed the character or the mood itself. She was really good. However, for some reason, the joy he could feel from the stage play couldn’t be seen. Just because an actor or an actress played a cruel delinquent, it didn’t meant that the joy of acting couldn’t be felt from them. He knew this even more clearly because he was looking at her from up close and not through a screen. Her acting was filled with hastiness. An act that stormed forward without any leisure was something to be applauded, but to Maru’s eyes, she looked like she was avoiding something rather than being passionate about acting. She seemed as though she chose acting as a method to intentionally avoid something she didn’t want to be conscious about or was too afraid to admit.

If it was someone else, he wouldn’t have felt this. However, he knew because this concerned her. The one he loved, respected, and relied on the most was making such an expression, so it would be strange if he didn’t notice.

Along with a loud slap, his head was turned away. His cheek felt numb. The script said that she slapped him with the back of her hand, but she used her palm to slap hard. Perhaps due to being so absorbed, she didn’t notice the strangeness of this situation.

The juniors, Sora, as well as Ando who was holding the camera looked towards him with panicked expressions. Maru looked into her eyes. Was he supposed to break out of his emotional state and tell her the mistakes she made?

Maru stood still. Her next lines continued and Maru replied with his own lines. 

After the lines were over, she took a deep breath and took a step back. Just as she felt relieved that the acting was over, she looked around her.

There was a dry silence before she looked at Maru in confusion. Maru stroked his cheek before speaking,

“Man, you hit me properly.”

“Maru, I uh….”

“Director. Did we look good?” Maru asked as he looked at Sora.

Sora, who had a dazed expression, clapped and cheered before approaching them. The other juniors also exclaimed loudly.

“I was so surprised. I thought it was real.”

“Acting is always about being real. Rather than that, how did it look?”

“Awesome. It was totally awesome. Unni, can’t you just keep shooting the movie with us?”

Sora requested as she grabbed her hands. She put on a dry smile.

“Wait a minute. I’ll have a talk with her. You can look forward to it. I’ll get you something surprising.”

“Of course!!”

Maru smiled at Sora before grabbing her hand.

“Let’s get some fresh air, shall we?”

“Ah, okay.”

Maru left the classroom while holding her hand after telling everyone that they’ll be gone for 10 minutes to come up with some ideas.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Nice, nice. I like where this is going.

Editor's Note:
Confession time!