“Help me out at the petrol station, will you?”
“Is it that bad?”
“The guy that said he was going to work ran again. We pay more than everyone else around, but we still can’t get anyone.”
“You must be having a hard time, but what can you do about it? You’re going to succeed the business, so you have no choice but to do it.”
Dowook climbed down the stairs after complaining.
“I’m leaving as well. See you around, you two.”
“Have fun making gukbap.”
“Why don’t you visit and eat some? Missus hasn't been looking good recently since sales are dropping.”
“You’ve totally married into their family now, huh. You just have to deal with it. Have fun too, Iseul.”
Maru waved his hand at the two people that left.
“They’re like workers,” Daemyung said, standing next to him.
“They are workers, and also students. Both Dojin and Dowook that is.”
“Sometimes, I envy them. I feel like they’ve grown up already.”
“That’s nothing to be envious about. It’s best to delay jumping into the working force as long as possible. The best scenario is to not have a job forever and just live off rent if you’ve inherited a building from your family or something. We have sad lives because we can’t do that.”
“Did you have to make it that depressing?”
Maru shrugged before looking at the staircase to the 3rd floor.
“You’re going up, right?”
“Yeah, what about you?”
“I can’t do today.”
“Do you have a shoot for the film?”
“No, that’s on Wednesdays. Today’s a personal thing.”
“Everyone should be waiting for you though.”
“Waiting for me?”
“When we scattered last night, all the first year students were talking about you. It seems like you left a deep impression on them.”
“What an honor. Oh, for Chihwan, it’d be better if you have him do practice runs rather than read-throughs. Putting him on stage will benefit him more.”
“The plan was to rehearse as a whole starting today anyway.”
“Really? Instructor Miso is coming, right?”
“Yeah. Everyone seems to be happy that basic practice is over and they’re going to do a play, so I feel kinda sorry for them.”
“They’ll find out today that their happy times are now over and hell is about to start. After all, what awaits them when they make a single mistake is a 1-to-1 meeting with the grim reaper after all.”
The first year students would find out today how the word ‘again’ can drive a person crazy. Miso would no longer be lenient once practice runs started. If they made a mistake, they would receive near-traumatizing additional instructions and would have to sweat even in winter. After a few rounds of that, they would start to think that they should stop making mistakes because they would drive them crazy.
“I’ll go up then. See you tomorrow.”
“Keep up the good work. No wait, I guess I should tell that to Aram now, huh?”
“She’s just as tough as instructor Miso, so she should be fine. Probably.”
“Nah, she can’t match up to Miso-noonim.”
“So you think so too, huh?”
Daemyung, who climbed the stairs with an awkward smile on his face, suddenly stopped.
“Did you bring a videotape again today?”
“I forgot that I had an appointment, so I brought one. I won’t have any time to watch it though.”
“Can I watch it with you if the time is right? If that lady is someone amazing like you said she is, I definitely do want to watch them.”
“I’ll go through them and show them to you once I feel like I saw something important. The videos taken in 1987 probably won’t be that helpful.”
“Good luck with practice.”
Just as Daemyung was about to climb the stairs again, he stopped and took out his phone before sending a text with a difficult expression.
“What’s making you so serious?”
“I-it’s not that serious. It’s just that I’ve been asked to eat out together… but I’m a bit scared.”
“You’re scared of eating out together?”
Daemyung smiled wryly before turning around. From the way he acted, it didn’t seem to be that serious. It seemed that he just got a text from someone who he has a hard time dealing with.
Maru hung one of his bag straps on his shoulder and looked at his watch. It was 5:16 p.m. The students that chose to stay behind after school for self-study sessions all rushed out of the building to play soccer on the school field. Maru mixed in with the group and left the school.
“Hey, you should just go study at home.”
“Shut up. Han Maru, you should hang out with us as well.”
Maru waved his hand. These people had gathered together with the aim to enter Seoul National University through special college entrance requirements, but their objective seemed to have been kicked into the horizon with the ball they were kicking around as they seemed to have turned into a soccer group instead.
“Dreams are the best when they are still dreams. Have fun.”
He left the school after watching his friends running towards the ball for a while. After getting on the bus, he called her.
“You’re about to receive a human parcel.”
-Can I reject it?
“I’m sorry, customer. This product cannot be returned. You’re at school, right?”
-I’m packing up to go home. There’s no practice today after all.
“Should we hang out after I meet Bitna?”
-Unfortunately, I have a prior appointment, Mr. Han Maru.
-I promised I’d eat with mom. Oh, and Hanmi-ahjumma as well. It seems like she has taken a liking to Daemyung. She said we should invite him as well.
“So that’s what it was.”
-What are you on about?
“Daemyung received a text just now and froze up when he read it. I heard that writer Lee Hanmi is quite picky, so it’s not like I don’t understand.”
-She does talk a lot about work even when she eats. She probably told Daemyung a lot of things as well. Heck, even I got nagged at the last time we met. She told me that I’m bad at bringing out emotions.
She laughed awkwardly. Being able to eat with a big-shot writer was definitely a good opportunity, but for a sensitive guy like Daemyung, he should have his troubles.
“But Daemyung probably won’t make it today because of practice.”
-I know. That’s why she seemed a little disappointed. From what I think, Hanmi-ahjumma seems to consider Daemyung as a disciple she’s going to raise in a strict fashion.
“I feel like he’s gained a lot of recognition without me knowing.”
Maru spoke as he looked at the students who were getting off the bus.
“Where should I go after I get there?”
-She should be waiting for you at the school gates.
“You’re going to be there too, right? Let’s meet up.”
-I don’t want to.
“Why are you being so cruel? You don’t want to see me?”
-We’re going to meet tomorrow anyway. You’ll see me as much as you want when I go to your school tomorrow, so hold it for today. I need to go right now.
“Alright, alright. I guess I have no choice but to play with Bitna. I should tell her about how I got thrown away by my girlfriend.”
-I’ll kill you if you tell a kid something like that.
“Violence isn’t good. Anyway, wouldn’t it be strange if a small girl is standing in front of a high school by herself?”
-Bitna’s big sister will be there as well. She’s a junior of mine named Yuna. She’s a good kid. Plus, she’s really cute too.
“I guess I’ll just have to play around with two cute girls then. My girlfriend isn’t here for me after all.”
-Be prepared to get hit tomorrow.
“Please come over to hit me. And shoot the movie while you’re at it.”
He could hear a laugh over the phone. Maru focused on his hearing. Her happy laughter was always pleasant to hear.
-Anyway, take good care of my junior. She’ll be with you since she can’t leave Bitna alone. Oh, right. She also said that there are some things she wanted to ask you. She’s an aspiring actress too.
“How do you feel having a popular guy as your boyfriend? Don’t you feel uneasy at all?”
-Should I switch at this opportunity?
“I might start crying in despair if you dump me. In front of your house, that is.”
-That sounds horrific. I won’t dump you. I’m going to hang up now. I need to go.
“Watch out for cars, only cross the road when the light is green, and raise your hand.”
-Yes, yes, Mr. Han Maru. I’m a good girl, so I’ll do everything you just said.
“What do you do when a bad mister is asking to go with you while giving you candy?”
-I take the candy and kick his butt!
“Correct. See you tomorrow. Also, text me the number for this Yuna just in case. It will be a pain if we miss each other.”
-Hey, you’re trying to pick up a girl’s phone number like that?
“I’m quite good at things like that, you know?”
-Fine. Anyway, treat her well. She’s a really good kid.
After hanging up, Maru looked outside the window. He started seeing a familiar road. He would arrive at Myunghwa High after ten minutes or so.
He had a look at the number she texted before pressing the stop bell. He saw students wearing Myunghwa High uniforms lined up at the bus stop.
After getting off the bus, he walked along the road until he saw Myunghwa High across the two-lane road. The black vans parked near the school were something like a signature for Myunghwa High.
“Good luck with the shoot!”
A girl who came out of the school amidst the cheers of the students got in one of the vans. She seemed to be an idol of sorts. As this school was known for having many young people who worked in the entertainment industry attend, this was not a rare scene. Maru crossed the street and walked over to the school gates. When Maru, who wasn’t wearing any uniform, stood in front of the school gates, people wearing uniforms glanced at him before going past.
“Are they not here yet?”
He heard that they would be waiting for him in front of the school, so he took out his phone. Just as he inputted the number he was texted and was about to press the call button, he saw a girl holding the hand of a little girl. Maru smiled and put his phone back inside his pocket.
Bitna politely greeted him while putting her hands, which were holding a drink can, by her belly button. Her politeness left nothing to be desired. She seemed to have grown a lot over the past year. Well, they did say kids grow up quickly.
Another girl, a student, greeted him as well from next to Bitna. She seemed quite excited for some reason.
“You must be Yuna then.”
“Ah, yes. Have you heard from unni?”
“Yeah. You’re Bitna’s sister?”
“You’re better than me, listening to your sister’s request like this.”
“O-oh, no, not at all.”
Maru then looked at Bitna who was staring at him.
“I wonder what Bitna wanted to see me for.”
“Uhm, you know….”
Bitna, who was usually clear-cut about everything, seemed hesitant. Did she feel awkward after not seeing him for a long time? He thought that it might be better to put some distance, when,
“Uhm, there’s something I need to apologize to you about.”
The one that spoke was not Bitna but Yuna. An apology all of a sudden? Maru asked what it was about.
“Actually, it wasn’t Bitna who wanted to see you.”
“It was me who wanted to see you, seonbae-nim… may I call you that?”
“Call me whatever you want. Han Maru, Maru, hey, you, et cetera.”
Yuna seemed taken aback. Maru scratched his eyebrows when he saw that her thought process seemed to be stuck. It seemed that he should refrain from making jokes.
“Just call me seonbae.”
“I don’t think I need to listen to the rest. You asked Bitna to meet me because you have business with me?”
“Yes! You found out pretty quickly.”
“Anyone would know that if you’re making an expression like that. I did find it a bit strange when Bitna suddenly said that she wants to meet me. I guess Bitna helped out her big sister, huh?” Maru said as he looked at Bitna’s eyes.
She was a calm child who did not complain even under the scorching sun, but she was still a child. He couldn’t let her mind about what her sister and this brother were thinking about. Bitna should probably be at ease just by notifying her that there was nothing wrong with this situation.
“Sorry, oppa. I lied.”
“This isn’t even considered lying. People like me know best since I lie all the time.”
“Do you lie a lot, oppa?”
“Then does that make you a bad person?”
“Does Bitna see me as a bad person?”
Bitna stared at him for a while before shaking her head.
“If Bitna says I’m not, then I shouldn’t be. Uhm, Yuna, was it? Shall we switch places? This place is a little crowded.”
Bitna naturally grabbed Yuna’s hand. They seemed to be sisters who got along well.
“Yuna, why are you looking around like that?”
“What? Oh, I was worried that someone might recognize you and come, seonbae. I heard that image management was important for actors….”
“You’re clearly overly worried. There’s no one who recognizes me.”
“Not at all. You’re famous, seonbae-nim.”
“...You’re probably famous.”
Maru then grabbed a random person who was walking by.
“Uhm, excuse me, but do you happen to know who I am?”
“What? No, I don’t seem to know you.”
“Sorry about that. I seem to have been mistaken.”
That student scanned him from top to bottom before leaving. Maru looked at Yuna, who was blinking her eyes.
“See? No one knows me.”
“A… ah! It’s because you aren’t wearing glasses. You’ll definitely be recognized if you wear glasses.”
Yuna then suddenly started rummaging through her bag.
“What are you doing?”
“I have a pair of glasses I wear when I’m studying. If you wear that, people will recognize you.”
“Isn’t it supposed to be problematic if they do?”
Hearing that, Yuna’s actions suddenly froze. She stiffly raised her head, not knowing what to do.
“You have a peculiar character, huh.”
“Not at all. I meant to say that I quite like you. Bitna, your sister seems to be an interesting person, isn’t she?”
Bitna faintly smiled while nodding.
“Where shall we go? I don’t know the area that well. Preferably, we should go to a place where we can eat.”
Whenever he came here, it was his girlfriend who always guided him around. Most of the time, she took him to restaurants that were gaining popularity.
“There’s a place I visit a lot with my friends. Can we go there?”
Yuna nodded. Maru took a step back and looked at the sisters who were holding hands.
‘Now that’s the kind of daughter I want.’
The word ‘daughter’ gave him a sense of nostalgia, but he didn’t know what that was about.
Maru smiled and followed the two.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Dang, I'd love to see the acting club getting put to hell by Aram and Miso, but I guess I won't be seeing that anytime soon....
I'll refrain from talking about Yuna, since this clearly isn't the end of Maru's interaction with her.
Also, Bitna seems like an adorable girl.
I have high expectations that Yuna and Bitna are going to be characters that I love. They already seem so fun. Also more Bunbun x Maru dynamic, just as good as always.