Life, Once Again! - Chapter 148
The lights near the audience seats turned on and the audience started getting up one by one, Maru narrowed his eyes as he observed them .
‘Quite a lot of students . ’
It made sense that there would be a lot of families since it was Christmas, they probably came here after finding that free play sign outside . The students, though? What were the chances that a normal high schooler would come to watch a play?
“Myunghwa High now, right?”
“Yeah . ”
“I wonder how good they’ll be . ”
“I hope they make a mistake, don’t you?”
“Dream on . You think they’d make a mistake?”
It was a conversation from two passing high school girls . In fact, most students were talking about Myunghwa High right now . Maru could tell that most of these students were from various acting clubs .
‘I guess they’re pretty amazing, huh . ’
Myunghwa High . The school that she went to . It wasn’t very famous for its academics but for something else, their acting club . Considering how the school even made a special club room in their new building, they were really investing a ton of money into it .
‘But our club’s about to get kicked out . ’
That was a little depressing to think about . He also knew that the graduate actors of Myunghwa High maintained a very good network among each other as well . Even famous actors could be seen roaming around during the school’s festivals .
“Myunghwa’s definitely taking one of the spots, so I guess we’ll have to fight over the other one?”
“Pretty much . Ugh, I wonder when our school’s going to pass the prelims . ”
“For real . ”
Myunghwa qualifying seemed to be set in stone at this point . How well would they do? He was getting pretty excited . After about ten minutes, the audience started coming back one by one . It actually felt like there were even more people than before, with most of them being students .
One of the girls who was passing by started talking to him, Maru raised his head from looking at his wristwatch .
“Oh, it is you . ”
It was Yoojin . What was she doing here?
“Yoojin, get over here . ”
“Wait a second . ”
There were a few girls calling out to Yoojin .
“Yeah . ”
Yoojin turned around and told her friends to get going first .
“Did Woosung High come too?”
“No, by myself . ”
“Wow, you guys are really getting it on . For your girlfriend?”
Yoojin stood next to him . She took a hair tie and tied up her shoulder-long hair . Each time her hair swished to the side, a smell of lavender puffed into Maru’s nose .
“You came with your club members, Yoojin?”
“Yeah . We don’t have to watch the other schools, but Myunghwa High is a different story . Everyone was talking about how we had to watch it . Who knows? Maybe we’ll even learn something . ”
“So you came all the way to Anyang? That’s amazing . The prelims in your region’s over?”
“Yesterday, yeah . We’re definitely passing,” Yoojin said with a nod .
“You sound confident . ”
“Of course . We did well . It wouldn’t make sense if we failed . ”
“Nonsensical things are often pretty f… not funny . ”
Maru quickly corrected himself when Yoojin raised her eyebrows . Jokes were more common amongst their exchanges now that they became friends . They practiced a lot together, so it only made sense that the main characters would become friends together .
“You saw her?”
“No . I didn’t want to distract her, so I’ll meet her afterwards . ”
“Pft . You guys both think way too similarly . ”
“You don’t need to go back over there?” Maru asked, pointing at the girls at the fourth row . They were Yoojin’s club members .
“It’s fine . They’re friends, so I don’t need to be careful of what I do around them . The seniors didn’t come . ”
“You juniors work hard, don’t you?”
“The real goal is actually to just play around in Anyang! This is just our secondary objective . ”
Ah, is that so . She did look like she was out to play, judging by the makeup she had on . She did look a little more mature thanks to it, but her childish personality was in plain sight .
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Your makeup doesn’t look half bad . Nice job . ”
“ . . . Is that a compliment or an insult?”
“Depends on how you want to hear it . ”
Maru quickly stepped aside as Yoojin raised her hand .
“They say violent women aren’t charming, you know . ”
“I don’t need to look charming in front of someone like you . ”
In the end, Maru got hit . It stung .
“You did that to yourself . I thought you were quiet and serious when I first saw you, but you’re turning out to be a tissue . ”
“Light enough to fly away with a puff . ”
Maru shrugged . He did feel like he changed a little after talking with Moonjoong . He was no longer observing life from the sidelines anymore, he stepped in to experience it . He didn’t deny his adult self, but at the same time he recognized his teenage self . That’s when he started talking a lot more easily with the kids around his age . Before this, he had to admit, he had a difficult time .
“Anyway, it’s Christmas,” Yoojin leaned on the wall behind her, “Merry Christmas . ”
“You too . ”
The girl extended her hand towards him . Did she want something?
“What, no gift?”
“I’m not Santa . ”
“Tsk tsk, so cheap . You got a present for her, then?”
Her expression was kind of funny, so Maru ended up smiling . He took out the perfume and the box with the couple rings .
“What is it?”
“Perfume and couple rings . ”
“Can I see?”
“Why would you? They’re not meant for you . ”
“Girls know girls, you know? Did you even get something that would look good on her?”
Sorry, but I’ve lived with her for twenty years, Maru thought . He couldn’t say he knew everything about her, but… He probably knew more about her right now than most other people .
“Can’t I see?”
Maru sighed and opened the box a tiny bit . The rings were decorated with little bunnies . He picked them with her preferences in mind . Indeed, the wedding ring he got her didn’t look far off from this either .
“You’re going to be wearing that?”
Yoojin barely suppressed her laughter . Please stop laughing… he didn’t get this because he wanted to .
“Well… it’d look good on her though . You have good sense . ”
Phew, that was a relief to hear . He had to wonder though, did she have the same tastes as her adult self right now? He’d be screwed if that wasn’t the case . He didn’t want to be made fun of for bringing something so childish looking .
“It’s about to begin . You’re going to watch from here?”
“Yup . ”
Yoojin waved him farewell and walked back to her friends . The storm’s finally passed . Maru leaned back on the wall with his arms crossed, it was time to watch her play .
* * *
She practically ran away to the waiting room .
“It’s our turn . Get ready . ”
“What the . Are you nervous?”
She shook her head . She wasn’t nervous . But… she saw something she shouldn’t have seen .
‘Why were those two . . . ’
She saw Maru when she got out of the waiting room . She was about to run over to say hello, but she noticed a girl right next to him . It was Yoojin . She’s seen them together often, so she just had to go over… she couldn’t do it . They looked too much like a couple . She knew that she was the one who was going out with Maru, but she felt afraid to approach them for some reason .
‘Why did I feel this way?’
She just had to walk up to him . Why did she feel jealous? She was getting depressed, too . Was Maru kind to all women around him? Or was it just to Yoojin? Which was worse? She knew that they had a lot to talk about since they were both main characters . She understood it, yet her heart couldn’t accept it . She was being childish . So childish . She should’ve stepped in front of the two of them .
‘But why were they together?’
“Alright guys, focus! Let’s go wild today . ”
She came back to her senses at the club president’s voice . She couldn’t afford to think about other things right now .
* * *
Maru touched his lips . He was smiling . Just watching her on stage made him feel so happy .
‘I guess it’s about to end?’
Myunghwa High’s play was more than good, as expected . He’s watched many plays with Ganghwan at Hyehwa station and this play does not pale in comparison . As he expected, the play ended after just a few more minutes . She was the main character, so she appeared at the end of the curtain call . The entire club bowed towards the audience . Maru clapped .
“They’re good,” Yoojin said, walking up to him .
“Go play with your friends . Why do you keep coming here?”
“What? Are you intimidated by me?”
Yoojin was smiling like a fox . Maru pushed her away with a finger, making her frown .
“What are you going to do now?”
“You’re going to be seeing her, won’t you?”
“Of course . ”
“Huhuhu . ”
She was laughing like a witch . Was she planning on following him? He tried to escape the hall quickly, but Yoojin was quick on her foot .
“I can’t miss this . She gets really embarrassed by this stuff, so this has got to be fun . ”
“Man, you’re evil . ”
Yoojin even told her friends to get going without her . Maru scratched his eyebrows . Should he run away from her? No, he needs to come back here later anyway . He had no way to escape .
“I’ll be hiding . ”
“Hah . . . ”
“Hehe . ”
Maru figured he might as well let her do whatever she wants . He walked over to the waiting room . He could see the actors from Myunghwa High working among everyone else . Among them, she was moving around props very busily . He might as well wait until she finishes . Maru bought himself a drink from the vending machine .
“What about me?”
“Use your own money . ”
“Cheapskate . I bought her a meal last time, you know . Pay me back in her stead . ”
Maru was at a loss for words . He scanned the vending machine for a really disgusting looking drink . Ah, ginseng . Bingo . Sure enough, the girl had a big frown on her face when she received it .
“I paid you back . ”
“Ugh . ”
Yoojin still drank it . Her face scrunched up in pain . Sweet victory .
“Looks like they’re over?”
The Myunghwa High students were coming out of the waiting room .
“Alright, those of you who need to get rid of their makeup, do it now . We’ll leave in 30 minutes, so be at the bus by then . Be sure to take pictures with your parents as well . ”
The students all split up with the president’s word . The bus… Ah, he remembered seeing one outside . He vaguely recalled seeing the name of Myunghwa High on it .
“As expected of Myunghwa High… They even rented a bus . Our school should take after them,” Yoojin commented .
The club members were all headed towards their parents, it looked like the parents were heavily invested with the club as well . She was standing among the others all alone by herself . Was her mother not with her? Maru walked up to greet her .
“You were good . ”
“ . . . Ah . ”
She smiled at him awkwardly . Maru knew that smile well . She always smiled that way when she didn’t like something . She was good at arguing for what she wanted a lot of the time, but whenever she couldn’t, she smiled like that . This didn’t feel good .
“Um, thanks for coming . ”
She wasn’t being normal . Why wasn’t she as energetic as she usually was?
“Did something happen?”
He decided to ask directly . She looked away . Something was wrong for sure . But before he was about to ask if something happened, she walked away somewhere else . He watched her for a second before walking to follow her . He could feel Yoojin following close behind . Once he got out of the hall, he could see her looking around for something .
“What are you doing?”
“No, it’s, just… it’s nothing . ”
She tried to run away again . Maru wasn’t a fan of playing hide and seek like this, so he grabbed her wrist .
“Why are you running away? That’s not like you . ”
“I’m not running . ”
She was sensitive to the word ‘running’ as always . She glared at him for a second, but she immediately became depressed again . It was kind of endearing to watch .
“ . . . . . . ”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t read your mind . ”
Well, only kind of . He could look into it and see what the other side was thinking every once in a while . He didn’t want to use it on those who he held dear . He would feel like he was cheating them if he did .
“I just feel pathetic . ”
She bit her bottom lip .
“Pathetic about what?”
She shouted . She was a mess today . How did she act so well today?
“Did I do something wrong?”
“No! No, yes!”
“What did I do?”
“T-that’s . . . ”
She closed her mouth . She looked at the floor for a few seconds before raising her head . She was… crying . Why? For what? What was wrong?
“You! You didn’t even start acting until recently, so how are you so good?!”
“ . . . Is that bad?”
“No! Not at all!”
“Then what’s the issue?”
“I’m the issue . I feel pathetic . Like an idiot . ”
Tears were dripping from her face . Ah, he remembered now . He fought her a few times already in the past . Every time they did, she would cry . She always blamed herself, too, never pointing fingers on anyone else for her anger .
“You have no problems . You’re not pathetic, nor are you stupid . ”
“ . . . . . ”
Maru hugged her, he could feel her crying in his arms . She was such a strong woman and yet she was so weak right now . He waited until she calmed down . She’s a smart woman, so she should come back to her senses quickly .
“I saw . ”
She was still sniffling a little .
“ . . . You were with Yoojin . ”
“What about it?”
“I know it’s not anything special . It’s just… You guys get along so well together . . . ”
She was young . He’s realized now that she was very different right now compared to her 25-year-old self . She was an entirely different human being compared to herself in her forties . What should he do to calm her down? He wasn’t good at talking, so he had to do the next best thing .
“You worried about something so stupid . ”
He hugged her . Tightly .
“ . . . . . . !”
She struggled for a bit . She calmed down quickly after a few pats .
“You were honest with me, so I’ll be honest with you too . ”
“I’m going to marry you . ”
“ . . . What?”
“I’m confessing in advance . ”
She pushed him away with both of her arms .
“You’re crazy! M-marry? What?!”
“What, I can’t?”
She became quiet again with a troubled expression .
“Ah, were you jealous, by the way?”
“Liar . ”
“ . . . Ugh . ”
She looked like she might cry again if he teased her more . Maru stopped here and grabbed her hand . He looked her straight in the eye, he could feel her hands tense a little . The world around them became completely silent . Maru lowered his head slowly . He could see her eyes getting wider as his face got closer to hers .
“You’re supposed to close them here . ”
* * *
“ . . . Wow . ”
Yoojin looked at the two of them dumbly . She followed Maru because it looked like things were about to get fun, she just ended up getting jealous instead .
“My daughter’s pretty wild, isn’t she?”
Right then, Yoojin heard a voice behind her . She looked back in surprise, there was a grinning woman standing behind her .
“Kids nowadays go into things so fast, don’t they?”
Yoojin was confused . Daughter? Did the woman just say, daughter? Could it be…
“Now now, us spectators should just leave . ”
Yoojin nodded . She’d get in a lot of trouble if she got caught here .
“By the way . ”
“I’m a little annoyed she didn’t tell me . ”
Why did the woman’s smiling face look so scary right now? Yoojin wanted to go back to her friends as quickly as she could right now .