Chapter 590

“Have a good day.”

Maru smiled bitterly as he left. He visited a local electronics store after parting with Yuna just in case, but unfortunately, all he heard was that they weren’t selling VCRs. The once must-have item for marriage had disappeared into the annals of history ever since it abdicated its throne to the CD player. As electronics stores usually handled the latest devices, it would indeed be quite strange for them to have something that was past its popularity.

It seemed that the answer was to go to Yongsan after all. While Maru was thinking about the maze-like dungeon of Yongsan, he got a call.

-How was the meeting?

It was her.

“If you ask that all of a sudden, then I guess I can only say that it went pretty well.”

-You did treat her nicely right? Yuna, that girl, might seem spirited at a first glance, but she’s quite feeble at heart.

Feeble, huh. Definitely. Maru replied as he rubbed the makeup stain on his chest.

“I did treat her nicely, so don’t worry about that.”

-Somehow, that makes me even more worried.

“Why can’t you trust me? Rather than that, how’s dinner going?”

-Don’t even start. Those two are hugging each other and laughing. Alcohol clearly got the better of them.

“Looks like you must be having a hard time then. Don’t worry, I won’t make you worried over something like alcohol.”

-We’ll see about that.

“Oh? So you’re saying that you’re going to continue watching me in the future? Why don’t we set an engagement date right now?”

-Hell no.

Low laughter tickled his ears. He felt like it was yesterday when she became all embarrassed and snapped back at him due to it, so he felt really pleased when he heard the smooth reaction.

“You know, you should really listen to what Yuna has to say. I feel like she’s at a loss on what to do, and it’s a lot easier to have someone to talk to at times like that.”

-Did something happen?

“Ask her yourself. If she doesn’t answer, then don’t pry her. Actually, she should’ve looked for you instead of me. She made the wrong choice.”

-She said she had something to ask you as an actor. So you… are better than me.

The voice from the phone became smaller as though it was coming from afar. Maru stopped walking and spoke.

“You don’t sound energetic.”

-It’s not like that.

“It clearly is. What’s wrong?”

-There’s nothing like that.

“I just opened up a consultation business that is free of charge, and I’m worried because I’m not getting any customers. I wonder if there’s one nearby?”

-When did you open a consultation business?

“Just now. Don’t make me start imagining what’s happening and just tell me. If it’s really not anything much, tell me anyway.”

She didn’t answer for quite a while. Maru went into the nearby convenience store and bought a packet of soy milk. He sat under the parasol[1] and waited for her to speak. After a while, her voice could be heard again.

-These days, I sometimes think that maybe I don’t have any talent as an actress.

“Did someone tell you that you were bad? If it’s the producer of the sitcom you did last time, then….”

-It’s you.

He momentarily couldn’t understand what she was saying. He even wondered if ‘It’s you’ had any other meaning.

“Me? Did I ever say something like that to you?”

-You didn’t. You wouldn’t dare.

“Can I ask what you mean then?”

-I don’t want to say since I might sound like I’m complaining.

“One way of using a man is to complain to them. Moreover, it’s 8:40, the perfect time to listen to complaints.”

-Do you always prepare commentary like that?

“You didn’t know? I have multiple scripts when I’m talking to you. Just consider how far this man goes to entertain you… and just tell me about it; what I did to you. You know that I’m kinda stupid and won’t understand if you don’t say it properly, right? Consider it as talking to a bear and tell me in detail.”

-What are you going to do if I say that we should just forget about this?

“I’ll just let you be. I don’t plan on forcing you to tell me something you don’t want.”

-You know what?

“What?”

-If you say something like that, it makes it even harder for me to hide things from you.

“I know that. That’s why I said it.”

-How sneaky.

“Why don’t you call me a splendid businessman instead?”

-Fine. You’re the type of guy who would pick up a rock in the middle of nowhere and then sell it to a complete stranger saying that it’s a gem with special powers. At an expensive price too.

Maru smiled and perked up his ears. He could hear her coughing to calm down her voice.

-When I just watched you, I didn’t feel it that much. You’re rather good at acting - that’s the only impression I had of you after all. It was the same when we were a part of the amateur acting class in first year. No, honestly back then, I thought I was better than you.

“In acting?”

-Yeah.

Maru nodded as he looked at a couple that entered the convenience store.

“And?”

-It came to me when I shot the film with you. We only did it three times, but it is clear that there’s a big gap between us.

“So you feel hasty now?”

-A little? I told you, didn’t I? I want to go to Joonga[2] university.

“Yeah. Thanks to that, I also decided to go there.”

-I’m not sure if I can pass the practical exams. It’s not like I don’t have the confidence, but when I watch your acting, I honestly feel really uneasy. How far can I go with my current skills? Jiseok seems a lot better than me too. So… I just don’t know.

“You’re doing plenty well.”

-Thanks.

“I can tell that you’re down just from your voice. You know? There’s one thing I can say for sure. You aren’t lacking. You are definitely improving. How would I know that? Just like you have been watching me, I’ve been watching you. I understand that you’re hasty. When you look back, the path you’ve walked on until now seems really short, while the path that other people have taken looks really long. Everyone has experienced something like that. You entered puberty just like everyone else once did. Congratulations. All that’s left for you is to be true to your desires and push forward.”

-This is why I didn’t want to tell you about it. It puts me at ease. It’s like I was stupid for being worried in the first place.

“That’s why I’m here. So use me anytime you want.”

-No. I’m going to do things my way.

“Being stubborn as always, huh.”

-Today though, it doesn’t make me refreshed from the bottom of my heart. This is all because of you. Why did you make me jealous?

She spoke as though she had shaken her worries off somewhat. However, the moment he heard her words, he realized that her worries weren’t something so simple that they could be resolved with a simple talk. There was a thick shadow behind her words.

“Should we meet up?”

-Right now?

“Why? You can’t?”

-Sorry. I can’t exactly leave the house right now.

“Then I’ll go there instead.”

-What?

“Oh, and since we’re at it, do you have a VCR at your house?”

-VCR? You mean the thing you use to watch videotapes?

“Yeah.”

-We do. Though, it hasn’t been in use recently.

“That’s one more reason for me to go to your house then. I want to borrow it from you. Meeting you is only secondary, so don’t stop me.”

-You’re coming right now?

“Don’t worry. I’m really not going there to meet you. I’m just going there for the VCR. I can take it home with me for about a month, right? Oh wait, I think I should talk to your mother about this. I’ll buy some hangover drinks then.”

-You’re really coming?

“Yes, I’m really going.”

-Don’t.

“Usually, I would listen to you, no wait, I would listen to you for the rest of my life, but for today, I think I’m going to have my way. You don’t have to put on makeup just because I’m going. You look cute without it.”

-You must be crazy, geez.

“So you aren’t telling me not to come?”

-You’re going to come even if I tell you not to, aren’t you?

“Probably?”

-That’s why I didn’t say it.

“It’s too late already. Anyway, since I’m in front of your school right now, I should be there soon. It’s only a few stops away. Should I buy some strawberries? Your mother likes them, doesn’t she?”

-I don’t know!

“Okay, then. I’ll take that as a yes and go right now.”

-...Come slowly.

“I told you, you are pretty no matter what you do.”

-My hair is in a mess!

“It’s fine, it’s fine.”

She then hung up. Maru looked at her name, which was on his phone screen, for a while. Forced smile. When she really felt pained, she would smile. Something like this happened before as well. She acted like usual and smiled as she always did without saying that she was okay. Compared to back then, it was much easier to find out from the younger her if he probed her out just a little, but the adult her hid her pains so deeply that it was hard for him to tell how she was feeling without watching her for a long time. That was her way of being considerate. She tried to digest her pains herself without sharing them with others.

‘I got really angry back then too.’

When he found out that she was trying to endure the pain by herself as though it was her own matter, Maru felt like he was betrayed. Remembering that moment still ached his heart to this day. The tragedy he felt when ‘your problem’ could not become ‘our problem’ was beyond imagination.

He entered a supermarket nearby. He picked up a basket and made rounds. He bought some fruits that his mother-in-law liked, some hangover drinks, and also some dry snacks just in case. A lot of people had come just before closing hours, so the line at the counter was pretty long. While he was waiting for the line to become shorter, the stand next to the counter entered his eyes. The chocolate on it boasted their aura as though tempting him to buy them. Maru looked at his basket. He was only thinking about his mother-in-law and had almost forgotten presents for her.

He picked up a bar of chocolate with almonds in it. It was her favorite.

‘She ate a lot after we got married too.’

It was to the point that Maru had to hide the chocolates high up in the cupboard. It was so cute to see her bring a heavy chair to climb on to try to reach the cupboard that was close to the ceiling….

“...Climb a chair?”

The moment he realized something strange, he got a call from her. He looked at the almond chocolates as he put his phone against his ears. What was that just now?

“Yeah, what is it?”

-Are you really coming right now?

“How many times do you have to ask? I’m buying some fruits and dry snacks right now.”

-Wait, did mom call you already?

“What do you mean?

-When I said that you were coming, she told me to tell you to buy some snacks. She also said that she’d pay you.

“She and I click together. Should I start calling her mother-in-law officially now?”

-Don’t say anything strange. Seriously, I mean it.

“Fine. Oh, I’m bringing something for you as well.”

-For me?

“Yeah. You’ll jump in joy if you see it.”

-What did you buy to make you feel so confident?

Of course, he was confident, Maru smiled and spoke,

“Almond chocolate.”

-Almond chocolate?

“It’s your favorite.”

-It is? Since when?

“Why are you doing this to me? I know everything.”

-What?

This conversation wasn’t going anywhere. Maybe she didn’t like them when she was young? It was possible that her tastes changed as she grew up since some people picked up an urge for desserts as they grew up.

“I tried to guess, but I guess I guessed wrong then. Try it anyway though, you might end up liking it later.”

She couldn’t live without chocolates. He definitely remembered that. She might sound oblivious right now, but it was very likely that she was going to be a fan sooner or later. No, she will become such. Her obsession with chocolate was just that strong.

-Uhm, I’m really thankful that you’re thinking about me.

She clearly sounded reluctant. No, it was more like she was apologetic.

“What is it?”

-Did you buy them already?

“No. I’m still in the line.”

-That’s good. Actually, I can’t eat almonds. Well, I can eat them, but they give me slight rashes afterwards. So I avoid them whenever I can.

“...You can’t eat almonds?”

-It’s not like I can’t eat them. I just feel itchy afterwards, so I tend to avoid them. I probably won’t seek them out of my own accord in my lifetime. I went to the hospital just in case, and I was told that it was only a mild allergy, so there’s no need for me to be super careful. Oh, I was told not to eat too much. Hello, Maru? You still there?

Maru blankly stared at his phone. Her voice cut off after echoing around the phone for a while.

“Uhm, excuse me. Are you going to pay for your items?

Maru nodded when he heard the voice of the lady at the counter. He took out the items from his basket and gave her his credit card, all the while thinking about her words.

‘Allergic?’

No way. Didn’t she like almond chocolates above anyone else? That’s why he sometimes did evil pranks like hiding them on the top shelf or on top of the fridge. When he did, she would get flustered and cry….

“Cry?”

“Would you like your receipt?”

The moment he heard the voice again, a sharp pain pierced his head. He clutched his head as he accepted his credit card and the receipt from the lady.

“Uhm, excuse me. Are you okay?”

“What?”

“You don’t look good right now.”

“Oh, I was just feeling a bit dizzy. Thanks for being worried about me.”

He put the card inside his wallet and picked up the plastic bag. Just as he was about to turn around, the lady stopped him again.

“Sir, you should take this with you.”

It was almond chocolate. Maru thanked her as he accepted it.

“...Why did I buy this again?”

It wasn’t like anyone liked it. Maru stared at the packaging for a while before putting it in the plastic bag.

“Rather than that, allergic, huh. I guess there are things even I don’t know about.”

Finding out more about her was always fun. Maru smiled and started walking.


[1] Some convenience stores have places outside them where people can sit and eat what they’ve bought.

[2] Was formerly translated to Chung-ang university, which is a real university in Korea. This has been changed to Joonga university.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

"...Why did I buy these again?"

Looks like Maru completely lost his memories of his daughter now. 😭

Editor's Note:
Big sadge. If LOA had a cute daughter character like in ML, I wonder if a cult of readers would have formed around her too. Iykyk. (Highly recommend Moon's Labyrinth btw, it's one of my favorite novels on WW)