Chapter 90

People often said that in a company of three, one will always turn out to be a teacher. In that sense, Maru was gifted with many teachers at this moment.

“If you put too much focus on your line, you’ll just end up wasting a lot of breath. If you get overwhelmed by the pressure to say your lines perfectly, the play is just about over for you right there,” Dongjin said, stroking his neck.

The man, who knew Ganghwan for the longest out of the group, was also the one who put in the most amount of work into teaching Maru as well. The man liked to make dumb jokes before practice, but he was completely different once practice started. Because of this, Maru liked listening to Dongjin. The man often taught him many useful things.

“But I learned that all the lines you speak should be always under your control.”

“That’s true, too.”

This was right, but that was also right. Maru looked at Dongjin with a very curious look, earning him a grin.

“When you first learn the piano, you start off by trying to follow the sheet music as closely as you can, right? That’s how they all began. At first, even that’s difficult, but everyone still has to do it. Trying to skip that step entirely by relying on your creativity doesn’t work, it’s the same with your lines. Just imagine as if you’re going to a concours, and just remember the sentence structure. Eventually, you’ll come to a point where you think, ‘oh, I think it might be better if I say it like this’. That’s when the line truly becomes yours.”

“The line becomes mine?”

Dongjin nodded vigorously.

“For example, let’s say you’re acting the role of a general in a historical play.”

As soon as he finished his sentence, he took a deep breath and shouted “charge!!” with a deep, rolling voice. Maru felt the hair on his arm stand up from the sheer amount of energy he emanated.

“Shut up!”

“Please!”

The actors at the other side of the room angrily threw their shoes towards Maru and Dongjin. Maru dodged the shoes, and carefully stacked them to the side.

“How was that?”

“Very cool.”

“Right? I had a role as a young general in this new movie that came out. It was just one scene where I shout this line. Now, a question. How many times do you think I said this line?”

Dongjin smiled mysteriously, Maru knew the answer immediately from that smile. The man definitely said this line countless times. Each time with a different tone, and a different breath.

“That line isn’t on our wall for nothing.”

Maru turned to look at the wall.

‘A line practiced once is different from a line practiced ten times.’

The first thing one would see upon entering this place.

“No matter what line you’re practicing, it’s going to grow the more you repeat it. Because you yourself are increasing in skill as you practice. There are many people who say their lines hundreds of times to improve, that’s how difficult it is to become a character in a play. Of course, this is very fun in the end, but...”

Dongjin didn’t finish his sentence. Maru could just see a glimpse of how much pain and hard work the man had to suffer through to get to where he is now. How much did this man have to sacrifice to get on stage?

His studies? Friends? Family? Perhaps even all three?

“Why did you want to become an actor?”

“I started because I needed to at first, but...”

Right. He didn’t even need to start with acting in the beginning. He thought he would be able to meet her as long as he used his god-given talent well enough. But after his first play, after interacting with the actors here, something started changing from within him.

He was starting to enjoy it. And excitement. Two feelings he never thought he could experience without her. Everything about his movements and his energetic voice on stage told him that he was having fun on the stage.

“It’s changed a little now.”

“That’s good enough. The reason why you started doesn’t matter. But you’ll really have to stick through with it. This industry is like a spotlight. The place that people turn their eyes to get all of the attention, and the rest is shrouded in darkness. You’ll have to work really hard to not be buried. Mm. I think that was a pretty cool line just now. Don’t you think so?”

As soon as Dongjin finished talking,

“Wasn’t that what I told you before?”

Ganghwan walked back in with some delivery food in hand.

“What, you think your lines are copyrighted or something? It’s first come, first serve. Also, I told you we ate, but you bought food anyway?”

“I didn’t buy it for you, so don’t worry.”

“Oh, come on, big brother! Don’t be like that. You’re not mad, are you?”

“Who knows. Guys! Let’s eat!”

The other actors in the room all gathered in the middle. The smell of spicy tteokbokki started to drift in between them.

“Hey, Maru.”

One of the women, who had bunny-like teeth, called out to Maru. Her name was Park Hanna. As the one person who loved making sexual jokes, she was known as madam Park by the rest of the group.

“...Yes?”

He wouldn’t have hesitated this much if anyone else had called him. Hanna was incredibly open in terms of talking about sex, enough to make most men flee if she talked freely. Even Ganghwan raised his hands whenever she started talking. Maru, too, was very shocked when he first met her. The first thing out of her mouth when they met was ‘your nose is big. Is it big over there too?’

Maru honestly couldn’t believe the woman was 24, he believed that there was a 50 year old lady sitting in that body of hers.

“Let’s just talk about food when we’re eating, Hanna,” Ganghwan came in first.

Hanna immediately lost the smile on her face.

“What kind of a pervert do you take me for?!”

““You are one, though. Pervert Park, Madam Park, Park Madam!”” the actors responded.

On stage, too, Hanna always assumed the role of a perverted lady, to exploit her personality 100%. The one who worked as her significant other was Ahn Suchan, the person sitting next to her.

Whenever Maru took a look at the two, he thought of them as an odd couple. It felt like a meeting between a female lion and a male rabbit. Even now, Suchan looked a little lost and intimidated by what was going on. The stranger thing was the fact that they were about to get married soon.

“Maru.”

“Yes?”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

He thought for a second. There was a woman he was planning on marrying, but they only knew each other’s names so far. He did confess, but he couldn’t even contact her because of how busy he was. He should’ve gotten her number back at the festival, but that didn’t end up happening.

“Not yet...”

“Perfect!”

“What’s perfect?”

“I want to introduce you to someone.”

“What?”

“There’s a very cute junior I know who doesn’t have a boyfriend yet. She’s the same age as you. How about it?”

“I’m fine.”

“Why don’t you give her a chance? What, you already have someone in mind or something?” “Yes, I do.”

Hanna let out a short exclamation of surprise.

“You’re a man, aren’t you, Maru? Well, that’s fine, then.”

Ganghwan joined in on the conversation right then.

“Let the kids be. Want to introduce me to someone instead?”

“I have no intention of introducing my friends to a weirdo like you!”

“What? What the hell? What did I do!”

“I mean, just going missing for three months to act like a homeless person is weird enough.”

“......”

“You’re definitely going to make your wife suffer if you marry, so don’t you even dare think about getting it on with my friends.”

Ganghwan turned to the other two female actors, but their responses were more of the same. Then again, Hanna was right. Ganghwan’s significant other would likely suffer a lot.

“Ah, that’s a shame. It would’ve been nice watching you two be awkward.”

“So that was your goal?”

“Yah. The girl’s really innocent, so I get a kick out of teasing her. Well, she’s been fighting back recently though.”

Hanna picked up the phone and started calling someone. She was whispering, so Maru turned his attention back to the fried dumpling in front of him. Right then, a name Maru couldn’t ignore came out of Hanna’s mouth. Maru almost immediately jumped to snatch Hanna’s hand.

“W-what the?”

Hanna stuttered, caught by surprise from Maru’s action. Maru stared deeply at Hanna’s phone. Hanna blinked a few times in confusion and gave Maru her phone. Maru put the phone against his ear and became silent.

- Hello? Sis?

Maru clenched his hand into a fist and looked at Hanna.

“When do you think I should go?”

* * *

She waited in front of the shoe store, staring dazedly up into the sky. She got a call from Hanna last night asking to play with her today. She wasn’t doing anything particularly special during the weekend, so she accepted.

Big sis Hanna knew all of the prettiest clothes shops, so just following her was very fun. As she waited for Hanna to appear, a high-pitched voice hit her ear.

It was Hanna.

She recognized the voice right away. The woman had a very clear, distinctive voice to her. Right as she raised her hand to let Hanna know of where she was, she found someone tagging along next to Hanna.

The person wasn’t a woman. Who is it?

By the time the two were close enough for her to make out the faces, she let out a surprised shout.

“Eh? Why? What the?”

The boy smiling awkwardly next to Hanna… He was the boy who said weird things in front of her last time. What was he doing here? What the?

“It just happened.”

What just happened?! She demanded an explanation out of Hanna this instant, but her plea was unfortunately ignored.

“Hello, I’m Han Maru.”

“I know!”

“You’re not happy?”

“Why would I be? How did you come here?”

“I came here to meet someone.”

“Who?”

“...You.”

What was up with this kid? He was so upfront! Also, what was his relationship with Hanna? And how was he managing to appear pretty much wherever she went?

She had all these thoughts, but… She didn’t dislike it, for some reason. The boy was still polite with his actions. Ah, well, a little too polite though. That was kind of annoying.

“Hah. I don’t know what’s going on, but stop trying to be so polite. It’s making me cringe.”

“Oh, okay.”

“How do you know big sis Hanna?”

“I met her in a practice room. She’s teaching me a lot of things.”

“Really?”

She looked at Hanna with surprised eyes. The woman stopped turning up at their club room recently, saying she needed to practice more. Someone like that… was teaching this kid? She glared a bit at Hanna in jealousy.

“Adult problems. You understand, right?”

“Why couldn’t you use that as an excuse to come to our club room? You didn’t turn up once no matter how much the seniors asked.”

“I was busy.”

“But you had time to teach him?”

“Teach? No way! I was just giving him some tips and tricks every once in a while. I swear!”

She pouted angrily, even after hearing that. Hanna was ignoring her school, but was teaching some high school boy that was a potential rival?

“You’re too much.”

“Fine, I’ll go sometime this week.”

“Really?”

“Really. By the way… Did you go up a cup?”

“What cup?”

Hanna smiled like a pervy old man and stared directly at her breasts.

“What, jealous?”

“...Hah, you were so cute just a half year ago, so easy to being embarrassed and all. You’re boring now.”

“Everyone’s just gotten used to your jokes now. Plus, isn’t that a bit inappropriate from someone who’s getting married soon?”

“Yes yes, I understand. Ugh, I can’t tell who’s the senior and who’s the junior at this point. You know, back in my time...”

“Hmph! You don’t deserve to be called a senior if you’re out there teaching our rivals.”

Hanna poked her tongue out at her.

“Fine! I’ll teach Woosung high instead of Myunghwa high! Beeeh.”

“You’re childish.”

“You didn’t know?”

“Hah...”

“Stop complaining, and start talking about him instead,” Hanna said, pointing at Maru.

“There’s nothing to say.”

“Why?”

“I know nothing.”

“Eh? Really?”

“Really.”

I know nothing except his name. She glanced at Maru, who was standing about three meters away from her. The boy grinned as soon as their eyes met. He smiles a lot. He was a bit odd, but he didn’t seem like a bad person.

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