Life, Once Again! - Chapter 101
“That crazy son of a . . . ”
Changhu couldn’t even laugh at how ridiculous this is . Did Maru even know where he was right now? The boy was staring at Changhu’s victim intently, which irritated Changhu to no end . In the end, he leaned towards the idiot in front of him and whispered .
“Don’t mind that kid and go back to your class, okay?”
“ . . . Okay . ”
“Nothing happened today . You should know that though, right?”
The idiot nodded, and Changhu pushed him away with ease . Thankfully, idiots like him were easy to silence . Changhu knew very well that speaking in a roundabout way instills greater fear upon them . The idiot disappeared off to the other side of the school .
“You have business here?” Changhu asked .
“You’re going all out, huh? I thought you were just a show-off, but you’re just a complete asshole . ”
“Hah, you son of a . . . ”
Changhu glanced behind Maru . He needed to check if the other boy brought friends along . It didn’t look like he did .
‘Fucking poser . ’
Changhu gave his friends a few glances as he walked towards Maru, he didn’t want to fight . He was just going to scare the other guy . Just as he got about two meters away from Maru, the boy opened his mouth .
“I came to get my money back . ”
Changhu stopped walking .
“Yeah . Money . ”
“Ahh, that hundred thousand?”
Changhu started laughing with his friends around him .
“What, you came here for money?”
“What else would I be here for?”
“Motherfucker, you’re way too unpredictable . ”
“I’ll keep it short . Give me my money back . ”
“Hundred thousand won… Yeah, I did borrow it, but… I don’t want to pay you back . So stop being so petty about it . We’re friends, aren’t we?”
Changhu lightly pushed Maru’s shoulder with a smile .
“Didn’t you have a lot of money anyway? Why do you even care about chump change like this?”
“Don’t change the topic . Give me my money back . ”
“Don’t want to . ”
Changhu grinned . He did have the money, but he didn’t want to give it away .
“Do you do this to other kids as well?”
“Why would you care? What? You want to join them?”
Changhu pushed Maru one more time and turned away .
‘This kid doesn’t fear fists . ’
He realized that in the bathroom last time . That kid doesn’t like to get violent, but he was the type that lays the smackdown on one person exclusively when he got in a fight . Changhu knew very well that Maru’s target would be him, so he didn’t want to instigate a fight just like that .
“So, you don’t want to pay me back?”
“Think what you want, do what you want . Snitch on me if you want, I’ll give you your money back then . I’m sure you won’t do something so childish though, right?”
“I’ll ask you one last time . Think carefully before you answer . You asked for a hundred thousand won, and I gave it . You’re saying you’re not going to pay me back?”
“Motherfucker, do you really have to make me say it twice? I’m not going to give you your fucking money back . ”
Right then, two more people appeared behind them . It was Daemyung and Dojin .
“What the hell’s going on?” Dojin stepped forward with a glare .
Of all the people to appear, did it really have to be that guy? Dojin was harder to mess with than Maru . The guy was most definitely someone who played around back in the day . He also seemed pretty good at fighting, too . Changhu didn’t like to mess around with people who were capable of fighting back .
‘I’ll have to beat him senseless if things go wrong, though . ’
It was a good thing Changhu was with his friends . He might as well really scare these kids while he still could .
“If you want a fight, come at us . But we’re going to spread bad rumors about your pretty club . We’ll tell the teachers, too . ”
“You’re a fucking child . ”
Dojin stepped forward, gritting his teeth . Changhu stepped forward as well, he knew the other guy wouldn’t be able to hit him anyway . He confirmed it last time, too . The acting club seemed like a very precious place to Dojin . Plus, it wasn’t like getting hit would kill him or anything . If Changhu could have more fun at the expense of some pain, he would get hit in a heartbeat . Changhu turned his cheek, taunting Dojin to hit him . Dojin, of course, could only fume .
‘As I thought . ’
Changhu grinned . It was very obvious at this point that the acting club was these kids’ weak point .
“Let’s go . ”
“Hey! Han Maru!”
Maru retreated without another word . Dojin ran towards the other boy with angry huffs . Daemyung stepped away quickly as well .
“Coward . ”
“What do we do if Maru snitches?”
“Don’t worry, he won’t . Fucker has pride for some reason . ”
“Plus, even if he does snitch, we can just tell the teacher it was just a simple misunderstanding . Teachers hate having to deal with trouble, so they’ll just pass it off as well, 100% . Remember what middle school was like? It’s the exact same here . ”
“You’re right, Changhu . ”
Changhu grinned, messing with people’s weak points was always cathartic for him . The knowledge of being able to treat them however he wanted made him feel like he was the top of the world . As a matter of fact, he could feel no greater joy when he beat someone up, and all the other party could do was stare lifelessly like a broken puppet .
“They should be quiet now, too . ”
* * *
“You shouldn’t have come . ”
“You would’ve been in big trouble if we weren’t there, you know that?”
“No way . ”
“Anyway, why were you there to begin with?”
Maru scratched his eyebrows at Dojin’s question .
“Might as well finish what I started . ”
Dojin looked at Maru with a confused expression .
* * *
Byungsoo from class 2 was spending most of the day watching the clock again . He couldn’t wait until the last class was over .
“Hey, let’s go to a PC bang . ”
“Didn’t you want to go play billiards?”
“Screw that, let’s go to an AYCE bbq . I’m hungry as balls . ”
All the other kids were talking about going places in groups . Byungsoo wanted to be one of them at one point, but not anymore . Nowadays, the only thing he could think about was going home as quickly as he could .
“Hey, Byungsoo, go clean that blackboard eraser for me . ”
“Byungsoo, throw this away for me . ”
Byungsoo silently got up to pick up the eraser and the piece of trash . Since when did he become like this? He felt a bit of anger flare up inside him, but he repressed himself . People were watching him . He quickly cleaned the eraser and threw out the trash before returning to his seat .
At that point… he was back to being invisible . He could see his two friends laugh together a bit of a way away from him . He used to talk to them a lot, but they wouldn’t even greet him now . How did this happen? Byungsoo shook his head . He should just stop thinking, thinking just made everything too painful . He gave up on thinking why no one liked him, he just tried to go with the flow as best he could . At least that way, the other kids didn’t torture him .
‘I wonder if things will change in my second year . ’
Thinking that, Byungsoo hoped to himself that this horrid winter would pass . The teacher eventually came into the class and announced the end of the school day .
“I’m ending it early for all of you, so don’t do anything funny and go home . ”
Byungsoo grabbed his bag as fast as he could and walked out, he didn’t even have anyone who’d call out to him anyway . His desk was like an island, an island he needed to escape from as fast as possible .
Byungsoo’s phone rang, it was from his middle school friend . He took the phone call with a little bit of excitement .
– Byungsoo! It’s been a while . How have you been?
“O-okay, of course . ”
– You should call every once in a while, you fuck . How’s school? Does it have a lot of delinquents?
“No way, they’re all nice . ”
– That so? Yo, the other guys all want to meet up soon, so how’s the weekend sound? You free?
“Course . Been a while since I saw everyone . ”
– You should really give us a call every now and then . You don’t even come on the chat anymore! You should come over there too .
Byungsoo quickly hung up after saying “okay” . Immediately, the thought of middle school got him feeling a bit depressed . He used to have so many friends back then, too . But nowadays, he no longer frequented the messenger, because his friends tab was completely empty at this point . His middle school friends were all getting along with their new high school friends, and yet… He was getting bullied, like this . It wasn’t like he could tell his friends that either . What if they just turn away from him too, as everyone else did?
Right then, he got a new call . It was his mom . Byungsoo took the call with an annoyed face .
– . . . Mom might be a little late .
“You’re always late . You wanted me to eat instant noodles again for dinner?”
– I’m sorry, dear .
“Sorry my ass . I heard my friends’ moms all do a bunch of things for them . And here I am, doing all the chores, making all the food… What do you even do for me, mom?”
– Sorry, dear . Mom’s just…
“Stop it . Words are just words . No wonder you got divorced with dad . ”
– . . . You should buy something if you want to eat it . Mom left money on the dining table .
Mom hung up . Byungsoo stared at his phone dumbly for a second .
“ . . . . . . . ”
He could think of nothing other than “I’m an asshole” right then . He was expressing his anger at someone completely unrelated . He started moving faster, feeling tears start welling up in his eyes . He was still in school and he couldn’t afford to show his weak side to his classmates, lest he get bullied even more . He ran down the stairs and quickly put on his outdoor shoes . The front entrance of the school was shining in front of him like a gateway to heaven, he needed to leave this hell . In the middle of walking, he suddenly turned around towards the bike stands .
‘Why are they . . . ’
“They” were waiting at the front gate . The delinquent in his class, the guys who always liked to take money from him . They had pretty girls next to them . Byungsoo wanted nothing else than to pass those gates without a bit of fear, but he knew that was impossible for him . He pretended to unlock his bike as he glanced at the gates . As he tried to kill time waiting for them to leave, though… .
“That’s not a very good place to hide . ”
A voice came from behind him, Byungsoo turned away in shock . There was only a single type of people who talked to him in schools: delinquents . But… the kid behind him was someone he’d never seen before . No, actually, he saw the boy behind school earlier in the day .
“Why are you so surprised?”
“Eh, ah… well . . . ”
“That bike’s mine, by the way . ”
“Ah! Sorry . ”
Byungsoo quickly let go . This was someone who talked with Changhu without a hint of fear . Probably a delinquent, in that case . That meant he had to lower himself as much as possible .
“Lee Byungsoo, right?”
“ . . . Yeah . ”
In the end, it comes to this, huh . Byungsoo thought of the 20 thousand won in his pocket . Would this be enough? But the kid in front of him ended up saying something completely unexpected instead .
“Can we talk for a second? Ah, that’s what the delinquents over there like to say, isn’t it . ”
“ . . . . . ”
“Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about something . ”
The boy spoke, scratching his eyebrow . Byungsoo nodded, almost subconsciously .
* * *
“Instructor Miso, Maru . . . ”
“I got a call from him . He has work, right? We were just going to finish with a simple reading session today, so it’s fine . ”
Dojin stepped back with a loud shout of acknowledgment . Miso got a call from Maru just before she arrived at school, the boy apparently had business at Myungdong today . She would’ve rejected them if it were anyone else speaking, but she let Maru go . She knew the boy was very responsible about his words, so she trusted that the boy wouldn’t be wasting time .
“We need to go somewhere after we do our reading . ”
“The theater where the prelims are held . It’s in Anyang . We’re all going to look around together, so get ready . ”
“Good, get together, now . ”
The club gathered at Miso’s gesture .
* * *
Byungsoo followed Han Maru carefully, it honestly didn’t feel good coming back inside the school building . As they walked towards the school store, they ran into some of the kids in Byungsoo’s class . Their eyes met, but nothing really special happened . It probably didn’t even register to the others that someone called Byungsoo even existed .
“Ah, yeah . ”
Maru nodded .
“Let’s get a drink before we do anything else .