Chapter 581

For a brief moment, he felt like he forgot to breathe. His breathing, which was supposed to be occurring outside the realm of consciousness, had briefly stopped for a while. He took a deep breath afterwards as though he had just become conscious of it. Following that, applause could be heard. Chihwan applauded as well. He subconsciously started clapping harder and harder. The moment he realized what he had just seen, Chihwan even cheered out loud and clapped to the point that his hands felt numb.

This was it, this was Maru-seonbae’s acting. Chihwan turned around and looked at the girls who were looking down on Maru earlier. When he met eyes with them, the girls made an awkward smile and applauded Maru louder than everyone else. Chihwan felt proud as though he was the one being complimented.

“Are we done now?” Maru said.

Chihwan nodded without a word.

“So how do we decide who wi-”

“You won, seonbae. I totally lost. You really are the best after all.”

Chihwan interrupted Maru’s words. Was evaluation even necessary at this point? When he first challenged him, Chihwan thought that he would be able to win. Maru-seonbae was definitely a splendid actor, but Chihwan believed in the hours he put into practice. That confidence continued until his act ended. No, the moment he finished his acting, his mind was filled with the word ‘victory’. After all, he had never done better than this during practice.

However, after Maru’s acting began, Chihwan put aside the matter of victory and defeat. He focused on engraving Maru’s performance into his eyes. Although they were given the same script and the same role, the ‘character’ was completely different.

Maru amazed him. Just how could he have interpreted the script like that? The character had turned from a lively independence fighter who used his wits and spirit to drive the Japanese authorities into a corner, into a mere civilian who felt fear from the very era itself and was struggling to survive. Considering the overall atmosphere and the relationship between the characters, the lively independence fighter was the more accurate one, but this stage wasn’t a display of the whole play but just one character, so there were no problems there.

Chihwan realized that even the same roles become extremely different characters according to the actor playing it by watching Maru’s acting.

‘No! Perhaps this was what seonbae wanted to show me! I knew it!’

The text was definitely important. However, it was in the end, the actor’s job to turn text into an actual performance. Polishing the source stone that the scriptwriter wrote into a beautiful gem - Chihwan felt that that was the essence of what being an actor was.

“But when did you practice?”

This was what he wanted to know the most. Maru never participated in practice. On days where he showed up in the hall, he was always caught up with making props. Chihwan had never seen him reading the script nor practicing, yet he was able to put on such a good performance. It couldn’t be considered his talent either, as Maru had utilized a personality completely opposite to that of the original character but still managed to create a suitable character that was completely different. It meant that his character would never have been made without prior analysis.

Just when did he create such a cool character like this? Chihwan wanted to know.

Maru lifted his finger. Chihwan looked at the pieces of cloth right beneath the platform.

“While you guys practiced acting while looking at the script, I kept following you from over there. After all, my hands are what’s needed to connect pieces of cloth together, not my brain. With the part of my brain that was playing around, I imitated your words, imagined actions, and tried changing things up a little too.”

Ah - Chihwan exclaimed and nodded. He remembered how Maru always worked on making props in the corner. He probably watched everything that was going on in the hall from that space. He wasn’t simply creating props, he was studying acting even while creating them, and the result was the character he just showed.

“Seonbae-nim, can I have a look at that script?”

“This one?”

Chihwan received the script that Maru was holding. The cover was in tatters. He then looked at his own script which he had placed on the platform. Although the corners were slightly worn out, it was still clean.

The paper which was smudged in finger oil said everything. He thought that his practice was not lagging behind, yet that didn’t seem to be the case. Chihwan felt his cheeks turn hot and his body turn cool. He slowly lifted his head and looked at Maru’s face before flipping over the page.

“Ah.”

He subconsciously exclaimed. It was filled with text everywhere. The script, which was printed on A4 pages, actually had a lot of gaps. Not to mention the left and right margins, plus top and bottom, there were sometimes gaps as wide as two fingers-width in places where the lines were short. Chihwan went up to the platform and placed Maru’s script next to his own. Then he started comparing the two.

‘This one, and this one. And even this one?’

Chihwan turned around. He saw Maru talking to Daemyung. For a brief moment, something more than simple ‘amazement’ popped up in his heart. He started probing around the feeling that started from his heart and went to his head.

Terrified. Rather than being amazed by the wall of text that did not allow for a single gap, he felt terrified.

Was there a need to go this far? Chihwan quickly flipped over the script and looked at it.

‘It’s not just the character he played. He had a general analysis of all the characters.’

He went beyond the characters and even went on to make notes about the era. Just as he felt dizzy following all the text with his eyes, a line written in red in the corner entered his view.

-Is this enough?

It seemed to be a question he was asking himself, but Chihwan was flabbergasted the moment he saw that text. There was this much analysis. It looked as though the gaps were screaming for help, yet he wrote a line that suggested that he hadn’t done enough in the corner.

He looked at his colleagues who were talking about Maru’s acting below the platform. Did we ever practice at all? Were we just fooling around under the premise of practicing? The hints of contemplation continued all the way to the last page.

Chihwan closed the script. He looked at the corner seat where Maru always sat. He went there and tried sitting down.

“I can see everything.”

He said that with a laugh. Maru didn’t come here because he thought that he might be a nuisance to everyone. Maru-seonbae just chose a place where he could see everyone. He observed everyone and broadened his expression range and recreated it for himself.

“I will call this place the sanctuary now,” Chihwan said as he looked at everyone around him.

His friends were looking at him like looking at a lunatic, but Chihwan didn’t care. He realized the deep meaning behind Maru’s choice of seat here. He was incredible after all. Every one of his actions contained deep intent. He realized once again that Maru wasn’t someone who would do something for nothing.

‘He’s so cool.’

Chihwan grinned and looked at Maru. Although Maru was only 2 years older than him, there was an insurmountable gap between him and Maru whether it was character, skill, or personality.

If he was a narrow-minded person, he would have stayed still when Chihwan was shaking. He would then take victory and show the skills of a senior.

‘Seonbae was worried about me becoming a laughing stock and advised me because of that. His consideration, acting skills, and even his effort are incredible!’

He was the literal definition of a mentor, no master!

‘I will treat you as a big brother for a lifetime.’

Chihwan thought about Maru’s gentle advice on the stage and smiled in satisfaction.

* * *

“What the heck is with him this time?”

Maru wondered after he finished drinking some water.

Daemyung looked at the corner of the hall. Chihwan was looking at Maru with an indecent gaze.

“He seems to be in love with you.”

“Bullshit.”

“Anyways, that was unexpected.”

“What was?”

“I thought you’d lose to Chihwan.”

“Huh? Why would I do that?”

“Hm, because that’s a simple way out?”

Maru closed his mouth before laughing.

“No matter how much I like efficiency, I can’t really be concerned about that when I’m being chased by a weird pervert.”

“P-pervert?”

“What else do you call that then? He’s a splendid pervert,” Maru said as he pointed at Chihwan with his chin.

Chihwan stood up like a soldier and saluted him.

“See that? His mental world is strange. I tried my best to put him down a little, but it’s not working at all.”

“Then what was with that advice you gave him?”

“According to his personality, he would have nagged me later to hold another round of this ridiculous ‘battle’ if it ended awkwardly. I set him up so he could act in the best condition so that he can’t come crying to me later. However, why does that guy look like he likes it instead of being disappointed?”

“...Did you put on a different act from the script in order to one-up him as well?”

“There won’t be a clear difference if we acted the same thing after all. He’s been practicing, and he did pretty well, so I couldn’t exactly do the same performance. I tried twisting it up a little. It wasn’t strange, was it?”

“It wasn’t strange, but….”

“But?”

“I thought you helped him out on stage as a senior being concerned about a junior.”

“You’ve gotten a lot more creative with your imagination ever since you started studying directing.”

“Hm, but I think he’s thinking the same thing as I am though?”

Daemyung pointed at Chihwan.

Maru blinked several times, scratched his eyebrows, frowned, and sighed in lamentation.

“No, no. Humans aren’t single-celled organisms. How could he accept everything positively? Right? Chihwan has his pride. I broke his pride on stage, so he should no longer talk to me because of….”

Just as Maru was justifying himself, Chihwan came up to him like a puppy. He then looked at Maru with a loyal look in his eyes.

“Seonbae-nim. I will help you with sewing starting today.”

“I just said that so that you won’t bother me any m….”

“No! Seonbae, I mean, seonbae-nim! I finally realized today why you always sewed in that corner.”

“It’s because it’s comfortable if you lean agains….”

“It’s to watch and analyze everything that’s happening in the hall before sublimating it into your acting, right? It dawned on me the moment I sat there. Ah! Maru-seonbae had his reasons when he sat there!”

“That’s because the sun doesn’t shine on me so…..”

“On top of that! You kindly reached out to me when I wasn’t able to do anything because of nervousness. Your noble personality is just…. I am ashamed that I tried something senseless like asking you for a battle. You empowered me and even showed a different interpretation of the character. Honestly, I felt afraid when I looked at your character. I don’t have the confidence to do something like that after all. As such! I will try to learn as much as I can from you starting today. I will sew next to you, look at the same things as you, and become a good actor based on that!”

Wow, what a good choice of words. Daemyung looked at Chihwan who cheered after giving his sermon. He was such an interesting kid. Next to him, he saw Maru who was pressing his fingers down between his eyebrows.

This was the first time he saw Maru make such an expression. He was unresponsive even when he was hospitalized for a month after being hit on by burning wood, yet he was frowning while looking at Chihwan, who was running wild in excitement.

Daemyung took out his phone and captured Maru’s face. As for the file name, he saved it as ‘The Scream’. Looking at this photo would cheer him up whenever he felt depressed.

“Daemyung.”

“Hm?”

“Does teacher Taesik have the secession form for the acting club?”

Maru asked him with a serious face.

Daemyung smiled and asked Maru.

“It doesn’t feel that bad though, does it?”

He looked at the members of the acting club.

Maru turned his head and said in a small voice.

“He’s a pain in the butt.”

“Guide him well in the future.”

“That’s the president’s job.”

“Unfortunately, I’m no longer the president.”

“Oh, you guys talked about it already?”

“Yeah. Aram will be the next one.”

“Sounds like it will be a fantastic acting club then. Looks like things are about to become noisy.”

“That’s a good thing.”

Maru threw the empty plastic bottle into the trash can next to the entrance. The bottle drew a parabola in the air and hit the wall before falling into the trash.

“You had it hard until now. From now on, look after yourself more than the others.”

“I will.”

“Don’t just say that. Try actually living a bit more selfishly. Do more things for yourself and let the others be for a while.”

“I’m plenty selfish, you know?”

Just then, the first year juniors all came up to them. They all said that they should resume practice. Daemyung looked at Maru as he was surrounded by the others. Maru, who was standing outside the wall of people, was making a faint smile.

Plenty selfish, my ass - Maru seemed like he wanted to say those words.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Hm, I never agreed with Sigh (the editor) on 'Daemyung has gotten more annoying' before, but for this chapter, I think I have to agree with him on some part.

Though, Daemyung didn't become 'annoying', in my opinion, he kinda became 'boring', if you know what I mean. He has changed for the better, yes, but he kinda looks like he has transcended mortal emotions or something.... and the only thing that can shock him is Maru. Perhaps I feel a little creeped out by Daemyung because I kinda relate to him, who knows? (Though, I have no GF, orz) They say likes repel.... (as opposed to opposites attract)

Jiyoon! You're my only hope at making him more interesting again! Go! xD

Editor's Note:
I agree actually. Daemyung lost all of the parts that made him an interesting character (IMO anyways). Before he was this bullied guy who looked up to Maru because he helped him and then we got really good development out of Daemyung, but then it just kinda plateaued.