Life, Once Again! - Chapter 151
It just… kind of happened . There was no other way Dojin could explain his current situation .
Dojin replied loudly to Iseul’s mother . He didn’t reply too loudly, did he?
“You can work him as much as you want, mom . He’s a worker for just today . ”
Iseul slapped Dojin’s back with a big grin, the boy was starting to learn just how strong she really is .
How did he even get here, anyway?
Iseul asked him if he had anything to do at school, and he replied no . She told him to follow her and before he knew it, they were at her family’s restaurant . By the time he came to, he was wearing a kitchen apron peeling onions in a corner .
“Bite on this if your eyes hurt too much . ”
Iseul handed him a green onion as she peeled the garlic from next to him .
“Wouldn’t this just make it worse?”
“Just trust me and do it . ”
Well, he had no choice then, did he? She was smiling at him so prettily . He put the green onion in his mouth and went back to peeling . Huh, she was right . It really didn’t hurt anymore .
“You were right . ”
“Just a little business know-how . ”
Iseul wiped her nose with a finger, she looked like a total princess but acted like a tomboy .
“You two should go out and play after you finish that,” Iseul’s mom said .
“We’ll help until dad comes back . ”
Iseul seemed to be used to working at the restaurant, she immediately stepped out to take orders whenever new customers came . It was a small place, so the tables were always full . The two of them weren’t able to talk properly due to how busy the restaurant was . Only when the time became 2 o’clock were they finally able to start talking a bit more .
“Thanks for the help . ”
They stepped out after taking off their aprons . Dojin’s legs were aching from how long he was squatting, but he didn’t feel too bad . At least he was with a girl he liked .
“We should have lunch . ”
Iseul just grabbed his arm in response . Before he could even do anything, she dragged him away; he once again realized just how tall Iseul during that moment . Her limbs were pretty long as well and the proportions of her body were well balanced . He wondered for a split second if he even had a chance with this girl, he gave up on worrying about it pretty quickly . Dojin wasn’t good at worrying about stuff, so he might as well not do it at all . What mattered right now was that he was happy . The two of them eventually arrived at a four-story apartment .
“My home . ”
And here he thought they were going to a restaurant . Dojin got nervous for no reason . The two of them walked up to the second floor and entered the unit numbered 202 . Unlike their restaurant, the house was quiet, bordering on feeling abandoned .
“We sleep at the restaurant pretty often . ”
That’s right, the restaurant had a little room stuck next to the kitchen . Since the restaurant opened until dawn, the family must’ve spent many nights there . Dojin sat down on the dining table and Iseul stood in front of the fridge . She started taking a bunch of things out and started cooking . She made fried rice, some pancakes, and stir-fried sausage .
“Here you go . ”
“Thanks . ”
He took a bite of the rice . Absolutely delicious . Then again, even if she made him instant noodles, his reaction wouldn’t change . Just as he was about to take a spoon of the soup, Iseul asked him a question .
“Do you like me?”
Dojin almost dropped the spoon . He wanted to try to maintain his calm and deny it, but what he came out of his mouth was something entirely different .
“ . . . . Yeah . ”
Wow, he must look pathetic right now . He couldn’t even look her in the eye, but he did feel a little expectant . If she was asking him outright, did it mean…
“Sorry, I’m not very interested just yet . ”
She was very firm . Her words woke Dojin right up . It felt like blood was draining straight out of his fingertips .
“I’m thankful that you like me . I don’t dislike you either . But you saw what the morning shift was like, didn’t you? We were swamped . I don’t think I can even continue with the acting club next year either . My dad got hurt, so I’ll have to stand in for him . ”
“I… see . I didn’t know . Is he hurt badly?”
“Kind of . It looks like my mom will have to handle the restaurant alone for a while . She looks really tired though . I can’t just sit around playing looking at that . ”
Dojin didn’t even want to eat anymore . Thankfully, he had just finished . The two of them started moving the dishes into the sink . He had no idea that the girl shouldered such burdens . Back in the club, she was always smiling . He felt sorry that he never noticed .
“I hope he gets better soon . ”
“Of course he will . Mom would collapse otherwise . ”
She was smiling, but it really wasn’t something to smile about . Working in a restaurant was incredibly taxing, Dojin noticed . Doing it by herself with her mother… It probably exhausted her . The dishes clacked together as Iseul started washing . Dojin just watched her work from the side, he didn’t know what to say . Emotions like happiness or love were long gone from his heart right now .
Iseul finished washing the dishes and wiped her hands on the towel .
“Let’s just stay friends . I think that’d be better for the both of us . ”
“Will you really stop coming to the club in your second year?”
“Well, even if my dad’s hips get better, he wouldn’t be able to work as he did before . I’d need to step in to stop him from overworking . I do want to continue going to the club, but that doesn’t seem possible at the moment . I like to go all in on something if I start it, but I don’t think I can do that with acting if I work at the restaurant . ”
“ . . . . . . . ”
“What about you?”
The two of them returned to the table, Iseul poured some juice for him . Tomato juice . Dojin started thinking as he looked at the red juice in front of him .
He grabbed Maru and entered the club for the hell of it . It looked fun and the seniors looked pretty . That was it for him, no deep reasons . Before he knew it, a year had passed . Nothing much had changed . He wasn’t desperate to get good at acting, nor did he have a set path for that acting life in front of him .
“I don’t really know . ”
“If you like it, you should keep going . ”
Iseul took a sip of the juice . Her eyes, slightly visible atop the mug as she drank, was looking at Dojin .
“ . . . I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I really don’t know what I want to do . Acting’s fun, yeah . But how should I put it? It occasionally feels like I’m idling by while everyone else is moving forward . ”
He smiled awkwardly .
“But it’s not like I have a dream in acting either . I think about this and forget about it on the next day as well . It’s like I’m on a constant loop . ”
Dojin stopped talking there, it felt like he was just making himself look worse in front of her .
“I think it’s that way for everyone,” Iseul began as she put down her cup, “it’s not like I have a goal either . I only want to inherit the restaurant because it’s all I’ve known in my life . There’s nothing else that I really want to do . . . I just kind of… do it because I have to . ”
It was a difficult topic to talk about . She tapped the cup in front of her a few times .
“At least I don’t dislike this though . I like the restaurant my parents made . I like the fact that I can work here . It’s a blessing . At least I don’t have to think about stuff like entrance exams . . . ”
“You said you won’t be going to college, right?”
“Yeah . It’s not like going to college would improve the flavor of our food . ”
“Did your parents allow it?”
“No way . They’ll probably get really mad at me . I’m going to make them give up though . ”
Iseul grinned .
“ . . . Aren’t you worried? I can’t imagine not going to a college . ”
Dojin tried to stay silent because he didn’t want to appear weak, he couldn’t help himself though . Iseul looked powerful, she looked alive; just looking at her gave him strength . He didn’t want to hide anything in front of someone like that .
“Why are you being like this right now? Are you really Dojin? Why are you being so depressing?”
Iseul slapped his back one more time .
“Of course I’m worried . All of my friends would go to college . They’re already talking about it now . But that’s why I think I’d need to be even more careful . I just think that as long as I don’t regret my actions, I’d be happy with my life . College isn’t necessary to success after all . ”
Iseul finished her cup of juice .
“Plus, I don’t want to just imitate other people . ”
* * *
They were on their way back to the restaurant . Dojin turned to look at Iseul next to him . He wanted to say something to her, but nothing came to mind . Soon, the two of them arrived at the restaurant .
“I’ll buy you something tasty next time . Seriously, thank you for today . You helped out a lot . ”
Iseul waved her hand at him . Instead of saying goodbye, he decided to say something else .
“I finally found something I want to keep on doing today . ”
Iseul looked at him curiously . Dojin suppressed the embarrassment inside him and looked straight at her .
“I’m going to keep liking you until I graduate . ”
Iseul burst out into laughter .
“Alright, fine . But I’m going to keep making you work at the restaurant until then . I’ll call you out whenever you’re free . Are you okay with that?”
“Whenever! I’m always free!”
“That doesn’t sound charming at all you know . ”
She waved her hand one last time with a smile . This time, Dojin waved back .
“Bye . ”
“See you . ”
Dojin got on the bus, his heart felt like it was about to explode . He found something he wanted to do for the first time . It was kind of stupid and the reason why he wanted to do it was even more stupid . But whatever .
As soon as he arrived back home, Dojin turned on the computer . He typed “cook” on the search bar . He knew he was being very hasty right now, but when has Dojin ever not been hasty? Right now, his eyes were shining brighter than anything else .
* * *
“Over here . ”
Maru bowed at Mintae from afar . Mintae flinched a little from the distance before bowing as well . By the looks of it, the man only noticed Daemyung before this .
“Bro, this is Maru . ”
Daemyung acted as the mediator between the two . Maru recalled meeting this man before, though he had to wonder if the man remembered him .
“We met before, didn’t we? I’m Yoon Mintae . ”
The man, who was in his mid-twenties, extended his hand out for a shake . Maru grabbed it firmly .
“Please don’t be so polite in front of me . You can treat me as you do Daemyung . ”
“Well, sure then . ”
Mintae smiled brightly .
“Did you guys eat yet?”
“No, not yet . ”
“Alright . Might as well get something . I haven’t eaten yet either . ”
Mintae took them to a BBQ place . It was already dinnertime, so the place was crowded .
“Daemyung told you why you’re here, right?”
“Yes . ”
They were making an original play completely from scratch, everything from writing the script to the stage tech would be done by them .
“We’re not planning on making this a short-term project . The idea is to rent out a theater in Hyehwa station later on to begin our first play . ”
“What about the script?”
“Daemyung decided to give it a go . We’ll have to help him obviously . ”
The two of them looked at Daemyung, who smiled nervously at them . The boy seemed dead set on entering into the industry as a director .
“So just us three, then?”
“For now . We’ll need more later though . First off, we need a writer . Someone who can breathe life into the writing . It’s going to be a little difficult for just Daemyung to write it, since we’re all just beginners . ”
Making a play . It was a tempting offer . It would be a difficult, yet rewarding project .
“I can decorate the stage,” Mintae began .
“And Maru can take care of the acting,” Daemyung replied .
The two of them seemed to have thought of the roles already .
“How is it? Want to try it?”
Maru nodded after a few seconds of thought .
“I don’t think I can join in right away though . I have to take care of a few things . ”
“Of course . I know you guys have that festival . Focus on that first . We can set up the other stuff afterwards . I just wanted to meet you for today . ”
Mintae had a wide smile on his face .