The feeling of deja vu, and the feeling of unease. Maru decided that these two feelings would be the compass to his wife. With his memories having completely disappeared, the only thing he had left in his head were just ideas. That is, it almost felt like he was just staring at the table of contents for his life.
He only knew of the big events that happened in his life, and nothing else. He could remember some small things, but they weren’t important at all.
The only thing he needed was to meet his life. To do this, Maru started fumbling at what was left of his memories. He died at the age of 45 as a bus driver. Before that, he worked at a company. Before that, as a road manager. Before that, he was doing part-time jobs. Before that, he was a college student, and before that…
“A high schooler.”
He had no idea where he met his wife at any of these milestone events. Maybe they knew each other starting from high school?
‘Maybe one of the acting club members...’
That couldn’t be it. He didn’t join the acting club in his previous life. The girls in that club probably had nothing to do with his wife. There weren’t any girls in his class either. That probably meant that he met his wife after high school.
That was the most likely assumption. Maru decided to take a look at his personality for a second. There would be value in trying to look at himself at face value.
First of all, there was how he treated his relationships. He could say something about this pretty easily. He trusted his friends to the end. But if there was evidence against them, he would quickly resolve the situation in his own manner. In addition to his introverted personality, the 45 year old Maru didn’t have many friends.
Maru didn’t think he was that unreasonable of a person, but in some aspects, he was just too stubborn. Just taking a look at the reason why he quit his company was a good example. The real reason why he quit, even when he was able to endure through his boss’ violent actions.
‘Once I make up my mind, I just don’t change it.’
Once Maru learned the reason why his promotion was given to the boss’ son, he started collecting all the evidence he could. Then, he managed to prove it. He proved the injustice against him, and proved how corrupt the boss’ son really was. He uploaded all of this in the company forums.
Of course, those around him tried to stop him. They told him he wouldn’t be able to work in this industry ever again.
Maru knew this, too. If he stayed quiet, he probably could’ve transferred elsewhere. But Maru didn’t want to do that. Once he started anything, he had to see it to the end. As a result, the company fired the boss’ son to save face. They also didn’t take Maru’s resignation letter either. Maru still stopped working for them regardless. He had no intention of going back on his decisions, and he didn’t want to endure having to deal with his coworkers again.
Plus, his friend introduced him to a bus driving job. He was set. After getting himself a driving license, he officially began his job as a driver.
‘I’m the type that goes with the flow. Of course, if someone crosses a line, I’ll settle things with them no matter what happens. But as long as they don’t, I can endure anything. That’s the type of person Han Maru is.’
This personality trait is what compelled him to do what he did at the acting club, too. Maru was pretty cold when it came to certain things about human relationships. He likes to get involved in certain situations, but many times, he doesn’t interfere deeply. But if he decides to resolve a problem, he does everything in his power to get to the conclusion he wants.
Perhaps that was why people thought of him to be kind and reserved, because he liked to extend a certain amount of politeness to everyone. Of course, he puts time and effort into the relationships that really matter to him, but he didn’t have many of those to begin with.
It was the same for the aunty who gave him the chance to start his life again. Besides being a person to talk to, Maru hadn’t done much else. He’s helped her push her cart every once in a while, but anyone could’ve done that.
That was why he rejected the grandma’s first offer. To others, Maru’s actions might’ve seemed kind, but that wasn’t the case for him.
‘My high school life back then was like this, too.’
Of course, Maru was far more immature back then, but the fact that his relationships were simple did not change.
‘I don’t make many real friends. I also don’t like to act unless the person in question is important to me. I like to be polite, and do nice things, but as soon as things start going south, then I become a spectator. If something happens to a person who’s important to me, or if something happens to me, I have to see through to the end of it.’
That was the conclusion Maru came to. As soon as he thought this, a strange sense of nervousness hit him. Somewhere in his past life… He did something that didn’t fit his personality at all. Where?
Maru started thinking again.
* * *
'The People of Dalseok-dong’ was a fun play. What drove the play wasn’t the tension between the characters. The driving point of the play was rather how different they reacted to the new arrivals in their town. The comic reactions of the characters was what moved the play.
That was why a lot of the play looked like a stand-up comedy. The goal of the play was to make the audience laugh with little jokes here and there.
“And that’s why you need good acting for a successful play. You’ve heard of this line before, right? Actors don’t cry, they make people cry. It’s like that for this play, too. To the people in the play, the entire situation isn’t funny at all. But it needs to look hilarious to the audience. That’s what makes comedies hard.”
Miso scanned the club once.
“It’s pretty easy to make people sad. Doing the opposite is a little bit different. Everyone has their own sense of humor. That’s where acting comes in. It’s up to you whether or not you can make the audience laugh.”
Comedies need to follow a set code, but also needs to have a special comedic element. That special factor can’t be annoying or intrusive either. In a comedic play, the expressions of the actors mattered before all else.
This was a teen play. For teenagers who only do acting in their free time, making the audience laugh with their acting was a very difficult thing. Despite this, Miso didn’t discourage the kids from doing it. As a matter of fact, Miso came to the club, with the intent of making the kids do comedy.
What the club needed was impact. They would prepare as much as they could, and show those judges from spring what was up. But to do that, she needed the kids’ cooperation.
“This’ll be harder than June. Are you guys ready?”
“This time, we’ll even record our runs and review it. I’m serious about this. We’re going to win, we’re going to get money, and we’re going to sweep all of the awards at that competition. And then we’ll go for sashimi with that prize money. How does tuna sound?”
Miso motioned the group closer to her with a clap. It was September now. They needed to prepare with the competition in late October in mind. That is, the teen acting competition at the Anyang Art Festival. Other cities could join the festival, which was exactly what Miso had in mind.
“Maru,” she called out. The boy’s been just staring dumbly at the air since morning.
She’s never seen him like this. Maru just came to the club today like a person who left his consciousness back home. It wasn’t like she could ask him if anything happened, given his state.
[I don’t know what happened.]
[He’s been like this all week.]
Miso asked Dojin and Daemyung if anything was wrong, but they were just as confused as her. Miso walked up towards him.
“Did anything happen?” she asked carefully.
“No. I was just thinking.”
Maru nodded, gesturing at her to stop trying to pry further.
“If you happen to need help...”
Right then, Maru looked up to stare at Miso.
“This is my business.”
Miso wasn’t able to say anything. Looking at Maru’s crestfallen face made her realize how rude she sounded when she offered her help. Right then, she got annoyed at the fact that she just got intimidated by a kid and tried to say something. She immediately felt bad about how crestfallen he was though, and closed her mouth.
‘Surely this kid is older than my dad or something. Surely.’
But the same quality was what made the boy so tempting for her. Well, she was an adult. She needed to give him some advice regardless.
“If you need to think, try going somewhere with a good view. For me, that would be Hyehwa station.”
That’s when Maru’s expression changed a little bit. Almost as if he realized something he didn’t even think of before. How interesting.
‘Maybe I can use this...’
As she started thinking to herself, Maru spoke out.
“Hyehwa station.” “Ehh?”
Miso was clueless, but it looked like Maru had resolved himself somewhat. His expression had relaxed a lot more to return to his normal self. Was there something up with him and Hyehwa station? Miso decided not to think about it, and turned back to look at the club.
Miso decided to change the schedule.
“Everyone, change your clothes. It’s time for a field trip.”
“We’re going to the sanctuary of all actors, Hyehwa station.”
* * *
“So this is Hyehwa station.”
“Where’s Marronnier park?”
Even the second years seemed amazed by the atmosphere for their first visit. Everyone was looking around with curious eyes. The first years, too, were already taken aback by the pantomime show at the entrance to the station. Maru stepped back from the group and stepped into the streets. When Miso mentioned Hyehwa station, he had remembered something unusual about himself.
‘It’s when I met that ticketing man.’
The high school girls who were pressured into buying tickets from an intimidating man. At that time, Maru decided to involve himself into the situation, which was fairly unusual.
‘I normally wouldn’t have done that.’
He could’ve just told the girls about the tickets and left. But that day, he decided to involve himself further than necessary. Was it because he didn’t like the man? Maybe. But that didn’t explain his agitation.
The only explanation for that were the high schooler girls...
What made him care so much? Why did he get himself involved? As he thought, he noticed a group of high school girls stepping up the stairs towards him. They were all wearing red jackets over their uniforms. Maru found him naturally starting to focus on one of the girls in the group.
Maru realized why he got angry at that place, why he helped the girls, and why he was still in the acting club to begin with. It was obvious.
Even if his memories were sealed, his soul still remembered. And it whispered to him to stay in the acting club. It told him that if he did…
“Look at him, I think he’s looking at you?”
“Eh? No way.”
Maru continued staring at the group, particularly focusing on the girl in the group in front of him. Focusing on a name he couldn’t remember, and a face he couldn’t remember… It all came back to him. The woman in the white suit was right. Maru did recognize her.
“Stop it, he’s probably looking somewhere else.”
She, who was smiling shyly, was…
[Giving up acting is a little saddening, but at least I can be with you.]
[We’re not just two people anymore, we’re three. We need to earn a lot of money from now on. For our child.]
Her eyes so fragile it looked ready to tear up with just a touch, her nose reddened slightly into a hue resembling a strawberry, and her lips that were colored like a ripe peach.
Everything about her was still the same.Previous Chapter Next Chapter