Yoonjung put down her chopsticks as she watched Maru leave. The meat was sizzling on the grill, but she didn’t dare pick it up.
“Maybe I should’ve invited him to the last party after all,” Yoonjung whispered.
Her voice was small enough to be buried by all the noises around them, but it was still heard by all of the club members on their table.
“He left because he didn’t like it. It would’ve been weird to call him,” Geunseok said.
The boy regained his confidence again after the competition. As a matter of fact, he was able to show off even more skill than in the regionals. They didn’t slip even once, and thanks to it, they were able to get first place.
A few members agreed with Geunseok’s words. The first to speak was Yurim. The brown-haired girl picked up the pork belly Geunseok gave her as she spoke.
“Geunseok’s right. Things would’ve been awkward if Maru was here. I mean, didn’t you see what just happened? He has no shame. He just ate a few pieces of meat and left without even saying sorry. He ruined the entire mood. He’s too much.”
Yoonjung wanted to retort, but couldn’t.
‘I have no right to say anything to them.’
That day, Maru picked a fight with the club members. He used all the right words to get them all mad. Like a woodpecker who kept pecking at their wounds. After that event, the club members got to practicing again.
At first, they began practicing to reclaim their lost pride, but at some point, they practiced to prove Maru wrong. Back then, Yoonjung didn’t even know what their problem was.
‘No, I knew all along. I just decided to ignore it. Because if I didn’t… I would get attacked.’
Maru told them to look. He told them to stop pretending, and look at the club for real. Thanks to him, the club was able to examine the problem properly for a brief second.
‘...He had to make us act, in order to make us look at the problem.’
The main reason why they started practicing again was because the play they performed that day was horrible. Maru told them to look at it directly. Yoonjung had to wonder, what was Maru thinking when he told them that? It didn’t seem like he said those words just because he was mad. That would be very unlike him.
Maru was a spectator. He was never the type to step in aggressively to taunt the rest of the club.
“Yoonjung,” Joonghyuk called out at her.
He was smiling, but his smile had no trace of happiness in it. It looked like a mask to hide his current feelings with.
Only then did Yoonjung snap back to reality. She noticed the club members looking at her now. Even Geunseok and Yurim seemed troubled by her. All of the sudden, Yoonjung felt like she stepped into foreign territory. Was this really the acting club?
“Y-yeah! Let’s eat!”
That was the only thing she was able to say. As she stuffed meat into her mouth, she thought to herself for a second. She finally realized what made her feel so nervous when instructor Miso asked the club to meet up.
* * *
“Come back to your senses. You’re an adult already, don’t you feel embarrassed?”
“Who said I’m over thirty?! I’m still twenty nine! I’m not in my thirties! I’m not!!”
Maru had to wonder why he was reminded of the time he had to carry his boss back after a company meal. He dragged Miso to a nearby playground, absolutely convinced that people’s weights nearly doubled after getting fully drunk. After arriving at the old playground, Maru laid Miso down on one of the benches.
The unexpected workout tired him out completely. He wiped his forehead and looked around. Thankfully, there was a convenience store right next to them. Maru gave Miso a short glance.
“Nothing should happen while I’m gone...”
He ran over to the convenience store to buy Miso a hangover drink, and a soda for himself.
“These things are expensive as always.”
The tiny bottle cost him 5,000 won. During the time when a full bowl of soup with rice would only set him back by 3,000 won.
“Take this, instructor.”
Maru handed the bottle to Miso, but the woman didn’t budge. Maru didn’t want to waste time. He pinched Miso’s cheeks to open her mouth, and stuffed the drink into it. Miso coughed once after drinking it, and sat up with a small moan.
“You have no manners...”
“Just drink this already. What do you even think you’re doing in front of a student?”
“Ugh. You remind me too much of my dad. So annoying.”
“I’ll leave then, if I’m so annoying. You should go back home on a taxi.”
“Hey, hey! Where do you think you’re going?!”
“It’s 10pm. I need to go home.”
Miso stumbled forward and grabbed Maru’s arm.
“Don’t leave yet.”
“If you want to rant, I can call someone for you. Taesik’s good, right?”
“Youu! If you call him! I’m going to cry! Ugh...”
Watching the usually strict instructor act like this was actually quite cute. Come to think of it, as long as she closed her mouth, she was quite the looker. It was just her blonde hair that made her look intimidating. Without it, she’d have the appearance of a proper lady.
Maru shook his head and walked back to the bench. There were a lot of people outside, since the night was cool. Even this old playground had a few visitors. The last thing he wanted to deal with was a crying woman in front of all these people. Experiencing that once in his life was more than enough already.
“Can we rest for a bit?”
* * *
After saying their goodbyes, Yurim quietly made her way over to Geunseok. The boy grabbed her hand gently.
“Want to walk for a bit?”
Yurim liked Geunseok’s hand. Grabbing the boy’s big hand tended to calm her down. After she started grabbing his hand, the time she spent on her phone drastically decreased. It felt like his hand was making sure she wouldn’t get nervous without her phone again.
It was a hot summer, but she didn’t feel hot at all. As a matter of fact, she wanted to get closer to Geunseok. The boy changed his grip to clasp her hand gently. That calmed Yurim down even more.
Geunseok was like a tree. A tree to lean on.
“It was a bit awkward a moment ago,” Geunseok said.
Yurim had to agree.
“For real. I didn’t think he’d really come out.”
“Is it really that difficult to say sorry? He almost managed to split the club apart back then.”
“Yeah, yeah. He was saying all sorts of strange stuff. Especially about practice. We were going to practice anyway in a few weeks, but he acted like he knew everything.”
“He probably wanted to try sitting in a pedestal or something.”
“Yeah. I thought well of him until then. Turns out he was a total fake.”
Yurim looked up at Geunseok after speaking. The boy was looking down at her with a proud smile. What a beautiful smile. Yurim couldn’t be more proud of the fact that Geunseok was her boyfriend.
“Let’s not hate on him too much though. He’s a friend.”
Geunseok gently rubbed her cheek. What a thoughtful boyfriend. To think he’d still care so much for Maru after that…
Yurim tightened her grip a little more around Geunseok’s hand. Right then, she felt her phone vibrate inside her pocket. It was Soyeon.
“Give me a second,” Yurim picked up the call. “Yeah. Soyeon?”
- Where are you? I thought we were going back home together.
“Oh, really? I’m going back with Geunseok.”
- Really? You should’ve told me.
“Sorry. I forgot.”
- ...You’ve been forgetting a lot.
- It’s nothing. Have fun. But don’t show off too much in front of me, you hear? I don’t want to die of jealousy just yet.
Soyeon hung up with a small laughter. Yurim felt even better after her best friend’s call.
‘She must be a bit jealous.’
Then again, anyone would be jealous of having Geunseok as a boyfriend. He was good at studying, good looking, and he was good at acting. The boy was just good at everything.
“Want to go to a karaoke?” Yurim asked, shaking her hand.
“I can’t sing though,” Geunseok smiled nervously in response.
How cute. Yurim could easily tell that despite looking so reliable, Geunseok was actually a little child inside.
‘I’ll take care of Geunseok.’
Yurim relied on Geunseok. She could also tell that the boy was relying on her as well. Geunseok only managed to look so firm and upstanding because of her. What an amazing relationship. Geunseok meant the world to her, and she must mean the world to Geunseok as well.
After the day she almost got kidnapped, Yurim started relying on different things for her survival. At first, it was her phone. After she entered high school, it was Soyeon. But things were different now. Geunseok needed her. She was no longer someone who needed to rely on something else to survive. She was a reliable tree that others could lean on.
Yurim grasped Geunseok’s hand even harder out of pride.
“I’ll teach you, don’t worry.”
“You better. I really can’t sing.”
Yurim grinned. She could feel Geunseok’s warm gaze on her face.
“I’m so happy,” Geunseok said.
“Of the fact that I met you.”
“Psh, you just realized?”
That day when Maru messed up the club, Yurim chased after Geunseok as if she was possessed by something. Then, she hugged him. She didn’t know where that courage came from. But she somehow knew that Geunseok would look at her if she did so.
The result? They ended up becoming a great couple. In that sense, Yurim was a little thankful towards Maru. If he didn’t do what he did that day, they wouldn’t be couples now.
‘I guess I’ll be a little nicer to him next time we meet.’
Yurim started walking with Geunseok’s hand in hand. Under the dark blue sky, the two didn’t seem to have a single worry in the world.
* * *
Soyeon put her phone back in her pocket. If she remembered correctly, Yurim was the one who asked to go back together to begin with. She forgot that? It was a bit disappointing to hear, but the girl wanted to go back with her boyfriend. There wasn’t much Soyeon could do about that.
“What are you doing here?”
Soyeon heard a voice from behind her. It was Dojin and Daemyung.
“What, you’re still here?” Soyeon asked.
“Yeah. Well, it’s still vacation, after all. I told my mom I’d be coming in late already.”
Dojin responded with the ever-happy face he always put on.
“Um, Soyeon. Are you going home?” Daemyung asked.
It’d be nice if this guy could show some confidence. It was pretty weird how skilled he became on stage.
“I was thinking of going home, yeah. Why?”
“Well, if you aren’t in a hurry, I was wondering if you would like to join us for karaoke. Ah, there’s a senior joining us as well.”
Soyeon looked behind the two of them in curiosity. She could see Danmi coming out of the convenience store. Joonghyuk, Yoonjung and Minsung were elsewhere.
Danmi came running towards them, frantically waving her hand. To be honest, Soyeon was a pretty big fan of Danmi. Yoonjung was too energetic to deal with, and the two male second years were a little difficult to deal with. Out of everyone, Danmi seemed to be the most casual out of all of the second years.
“You’re coming too?”
“Yeah. Let’s go. I don’t want our meeting to end on a weird note just yet.”
Soyeon found herself nodding. Thank goodness she wasn’t the only one who thought that.
“Maru… I wonder if he’s ok.”
Perhaps she shouldn’t have opened her mouth about the subject, but she was worried.
“Don’t know. I actually don’t know much about Maru. Don’t know what he thinks, don’t know what he wants.”
Dojin and Daemyung agreed pretty much instantly. The three of them said Maru was ‘definitely a good guy, but hard to predict’, before moving onto instructor Miso for a bit.
“Well, in any case, we should really be going to that karaoke. You coming, Soyeon?”
“Yes, I will.”
“Let’s go sing our hearts out. Also, Soyeon, you need to go on a diet with me.”
“Come on, I told you I don’t really care about weight.”
“No. I don’t want to diet by myself, so I want you to join me. Yoonjung just doesn’t get fat to begin with, it’s frustrating.”
“That’s true. Yoonjung doesn’t gain weight at all. She eats more than me, too.”
“Seriously! God is so unfair.”
“Yeah. Wait, I don’t care about my weight, so I don’t want to diet.”
“You look cute that way, but I totally look ugly if I gain weight.”
Danmi dragged Soyeon away, blabbering away as she went. Soyeon realized that Danmi was being a little unnatural. Almost as if the girl was trying her best to clear out the awkward air that Maru created.
“Fine, I’ll go, I’ll go!”
Soyeon stepped out to the front of the group with Danmi, trying to stop thinking about Maru and Yurim for a little bit.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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