“Bitna, can you lift the product upwards a little more?”
Bitna slightly raised the cereal box at the request.
“That’s a good girl.”
The photographer, who was taking photos from multiple angles, eventually stepped back, saying that they should take a bit of rest. Bitna, who was sitting on a wooden chair in front of a white background, sighed slightly as she came down from the chair.
“Bitna, wait a moment.”
The coordinators came up to her and fixed her makeup. Bitna raised her head as she drank some water. The lights installed on either side were quite hot.
“It’s hot, isn’t it?”
“Bitna is such a good girl. I wish I’ll have a daughter like you in the future.”
Bitna faintly smiled at the coordinator’s words. She stared at the coordinator who walked away with the empty cup before turning around to look at the table, where the big monitor was.
“This looks good.”
“I like this one too. How about this one?”
“That’s good too.”
“Why aren’t you nitpicking today?”
“Do you want me to?”
“Of course not. If you don’t have any complaints, it’s better for me.”
She saw her mother, who was talking to the photographer.
Bitna sat down on the chair again. She took her time swinging her legs around, when,
“Bitna, we’re done for today. Thanks to you, this ahjussi had a really easy time today.”
The photographer smiled and approached her. Bitna jumped down from the chair and bowed.
“You have it good, having a daughter like Bitna. I wish I had a girl like her too.”
“Why don’t you say that after you get married first? I thought you went on a blind date last time.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m going to get married. Plus, that only works if the other party likes me. But what are you saying in front of a kid?”
“Bitna is smart and ignores what she doesn’t need, you know?”
Her mom smacked the photographer on the back. Bitna was more familiar with this photographer’s face than even her school teacher’s.
“Bitna, you must say goodbye to everyone here, right?”
Bitna said goodbye to everyone, who were cleaning up, after hearing her mother’s words. Everyone smiled back at her and said goodbye as well.
“Hope you can take care of us again next time.”
“That’s what I want to ask. You’re the one giving me work to do after all. Bitna, this ahjussi will treat you to something good, okay?”
She left the studio and returned to the car. Her mother, who had disappeared for a bit, returned with some sandwiches in hand.
“My dear, sorry mom couldn’t even give you proper food.”
“No, it’s fine. I don’t care since this is tastier.”
Her mother looked inside the sandwich.
“I forgot to ask them to leave out the olives. It smells a little, are you okay with that? If you aren’t, I can go and change it.”
“I can eat it. I’m hungry.”
“Oh, dear. You were hungry, weren’t you?”
She picked up the sandwich which has been sliced into halves and took a bite. Her mother was also eating a sandwich, and that one had a spicy smell.
“Are you going to marry that ahjussi?”
Pfft - her mother spat out chunks of her sandwich from her mouth. A spicy smell spread around. Bitna pinched her nose with one hand and pulled out some tissue with the other to give to her mother.
Her mother wiped the food that got on the dashboard.
“Bitna, what do you mean by that?”
“You aren’t marrying that ahjussi?”
“Do you want mommy to get married?”
“I don’t know. It’s just that mom looks happy when you’re with that ahjussi, so I don’t think it’s bad.”
“Mom looks happy?”
Bitna put her sandwich on her knees and pulled up the corners of her mouth.
“Mom is smiling like this when you work with that ahjussi.”
“I do? Really?”
Her mother did not speak for a long time. Bitna focused on the sandwich again. Although it wasn’t tasty because of the olives, she ate it regardless since she was hungry.
“Do you want to see daddy, Bitna?”
“You don’t want to see daddy?”
“Do you want to see him, mom?”
“Mom wants to see him sometimes. You look really like him after all. That’s why looking at you reminds me of him from time to time.”
“I don’t know. I don’t know daddy after all.”
“Do you want a daddy, Bitna?”
“I don’t know about that either. I just need mom. But if mom likes him, I think it’s okay for you to marry him. I don’t think ahjussi is a bad man.”
Bitna looked at her mother. Her mother made an incomprehensible smile and patted her head.
“Mom isn’t getting married. Mom just needs you two.”
The patting hand felt good. Bitna nodded. If her mother said that she was okay, then she was okay.
“Let’s stop talking about mommy and talk about your school, okay? Have you gotten close with your friends?”
“I have. There’s one guy who keeps bullying me, but I like everyone else.”
“Who dares to bully our Bitna? Mom will scold that person for you.”
“He’s a boy, and he keeps playing pranks on me. I told him to stop, but he keeps cutting up erasers and throwing the pieces at me.”
“Do you think he hates you?”
Bitna thought for a moment. Then she shook her head.
“I don’t think so. He stops when I’m about to get angry. Though, he goes back to doing it again the next day.”
“That boy, does he look straight at you?”
“I don’t think he does.”
“Mom might be misunderstanding, but that boy might like you.”
“I wonder why. Maybe because you’re cute?”
“He likes me but bullies me?”
“At your age, Bitna, it’s more important for boys to play with other boys. He shouldn’t hate you. He wants to stay close to you, but is playing pranks on you because other boys might tease him for it.”
“Mom, didn’t you say liking someone is the same as becoming honest with yourself?”
“Then why do you say that he likes me even though he keeps bullying me? Isn’t that not liking me?”
“Hm, you’ll understand once you grow up a little, Bitna.”
“I will understand once I become bigger?”
“Hm, high school maybe?”
“Then unni knows all about it?”
“That’s not entirely true.”
“Then what about mom? Do you know everything at your age?”
“Uh, I don’t think that’s right either.”
“Mom, you are strange sometimes.”
“...Sorry for being a weird mom.”
Bitna looked at her dejected mother before saying that she was just joking.
“My dear Bitna, you know how to make jokes, huh. You got me there.”
“I learned from that oppa.”
Bitna thought back to last summer. The shooting location was incredibly hot, and there was one oppa who encouraged the other oppas during the shoot. Bitna called that oppa the big oppa.
“Is it the Maru-oppa that you talked about last time?”
“Bitna seems to have taken a liking to that oppa, huh?”
“He was a fun oppa.”
“Do you like that oppa?”
Bitna shook her head.
“He’s just a fun oppa.”
“You’re quite picky, my girl.”
“But unni seems to like him, I think.”
Bitna thought about her sister’s - Yuna’s - expression. Ever since Bitna said that she knew who Maru was when he appeared on TV, she kept asking her about him. She asked when they played together and asked when they watched TV together. Her unni looked really happy when they talked about oppa.
“You said you were meeting him tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah, after school.”
“Bitna is letting her meet him, right?”
“Unni wants to meet him after all. But I am going to have to lie. Is that okay?”
“I don’t really want to see big oppa that much. However, unni said that I wanted to see big oppa. If I become honest, unni will have become a liar, so I think it will be better if I lie instead.”
“Bitna is going to lie for your big sister’s sake?”
“Yeah. Otherwise, unni will be a liar.”
“But lying is a bad thing.”
“Isn’t it fine if you do it once a year?”
“Santa might not come to you.”
“Do you believe in Santa, mom?”
“...You can lie from time to time.”
Bitna lifted one finger.
“I will lie just this once. I don’t want unni to become a liar.”
“It’s fine because it’s a good lie for your big sister.”
“What’s a good lie? Weren’t lies bad things?”
“Try asking Maru-oppa that tomorrow.”
“Can’t you tell me, mom?”
“Mom needs to rest from time to time. Also, it’s no fun if mom tells you everything.”
“Is that how it is?”
Her mother turned the car key. The car started vibrating with a low rattling noise. Bitna moved her little hands to put her seatbelt on.
“Do you get married if you like someone?”
Her mother didn’t reply.
“Will I understand when I become big?”
“Mom wants to explain, but I think it needs a lot of time. To put it very simply though, if you like someone, you get married, I think?”
“Then will unni marry big oppa?”
“That won’t necessarily be the case… but you can’t really say that it definitely won’t happen, it’s a complicated thing….”
Bitna crossed her arms.
Her mom agreed.
The car left the parking lot.
* * *
“I think he fancies you.”
“What do you mean?”
Yuna turned around, unable to resist the pull on her uniform vest. The boy sitting at the end of the 3rd column was smiling at her.
“Girlie, you have it good, being popular and all.”
“It’s not like that.”
“What’s not? He’s completely in love with you. What do you think? I don’t think he’s that bad. Yuna, I heard you have never gone out with someone, right? Try going out with him at this chance.”
“What are you saying?”
Yuna shook her hand before taking out her textbook. Her friends covered their mouths and laughed. They always teased her when it was related to boys.
“Think about it seriously. I thought you wanted to become an actress. You won’t be able to date as you wish once you become one, so when else will you get the opportunity to date someone?”
“Right. You should do away with it while you still can.”
Do away with what? - Yuna pushed her friends away. Her friends giggled and went back to their seats. After hearing that, she felt a gaze on the back of her head. When she turned around, the boy that the girls talked about was still looking at her.
Haha - she smiled awkwardly before looking forward again.
‘I don’t necessarily hate it, but.’
It didn’t make her heart race. Actually, this might be because she was concerned about something else. She raised her head to look at the clock on the wall. She would get to meet him in just five more hours.
‘I wonder what kind of person he is.’
Just what kind of lessons did he receive and what kind of things did he learn to put on an act like that? Yuna had a lot of things to ask Maru.
"Do you believe in santa, mom?"
The chapter is a little short today for some reason... maybe it's because there's a lot of convo
Life is hard.