Life, Once Again! - Chapter 199
Dowook’s home always smelled of oil, the smell had stayed with them for as long as he could remember . In fact, he’d feel pretty sad if that smell suddenly disappeared one day . Dowook stepped down from the second floor to find his dad reading the newspaper in their study .
“Did you have breakfast, dad?”
“Sure did . It's a toasted sandwich . Want it warmed up?”
“I’ll do it . Will you have some coffee?”
“Sure . ”
Dad smiled proudly, Dowook nodded as he headed into the kitchen . There were two sandwiches there made by his mom, she must’ve left for work early in the day . He put some water on boil as he poured two packs of instant coffee into a mug .
“Dad, they say black coffee’s better for you . ”
“I-I’ll try it some other time . ”
Dowook shook his head, he’s been hearing that from his dad several times already . He put the water in and started mixing . He brought the coffee to his dad before taking out two mugs again . One was white, with a striped handle, and the other had a drawing of a cute cat on it . He poured milk into both . He grabbed the cat mug in one hand and the plate with the sandwich on it in the other . He crossed the living room, passing the library in the hallway as well before coming before a room with a doll decorating the door handle .
Dowook took a deep breath . He thought he was used to it by now, but he still got nervous when he was in front of this door . All sorts of complicated feelings swept over him whenever he was here, Dowook smiled bitterly before tapping on the door with his foot .
“Have some breakfast . ”
7am . Today was a day dad rested from working at the gas station . The ‘unfamiliar family member’ behind this door always stayed home as well . Dowook just didn’t know what her job was . After waiting a bit, the door creaked open and out came his sister .
“You brought it over for me? Thanks!”
Dowook just couldn’t get used to her smiling face .
“You have a lot to be thankful for . ”
Dowook handed over the drink and the sandwich, which was received with careful hands . He could see a bunch of dolls inside through the gap in the door . His sister decided to move back into the house this past February . By the time her relationship with the rest of the family improved, dad said he wanted her to come back . Dowook told him to do whatever . That served as his agreement and Dowook’s sister moved in the very next day . Not fully, of course . She would be moving back and forth between her old house and this one .
His sister was actually a lot richer than he thought, she could leave the home in the first place thanks to her job . As a matter of fact, that house she used to live in was owned by her as well . An impressive feat for a woman in her early thirties, especially since the house in question was in the middle of Seoul .
Dowook wasn’t at all interested in what his sister did for a living before, but now, he started developing a little bit of interest . They were living together, after all . Did she sell dolls? He couldn’t come up with any better ideas .
“Why do you ask?” his sister asked curiously .
“It’s nothing . ”
He’d stopped resenting her a long time ago, that didn’t make conversing with her any easier though . Not because he disliked her or anything, but rather their lack of shared interests . They were able to talk a bit during meals, sure . Things got incredibly awkward incredibly quickly outside of it though . His sister stood hesitantly there for a second before turning around . They were getting closer for sure, but not quickly enough .
“Um, Dowook . ”
His sister called out to him just before he returned to the kitchen, she quickly went back into her room to find something . He looked inside out of curiosity . She was digging through pile and piles of dolls . She pushed a giant bear to the corner, threw a rabbit mask somewhere, and dug through a few more dolls before grabbing something with a smile . It was a cat doll roughly the size of her palm, she handed it over to Dowook carefully .
“Here, a gift . ”
Dowook looked down at the doll, the belly shone when he pressed down on the tail end .
“It’s dangerous to bike at night . ”
“Pretty sure it’d be more dangerous to bike with this in one hand . ”
“ . . . . . . ”
Dowook turned around with a shrug . He wanted to say thanks, he felt too awkward to do it though . He came back to the kitchen and ate as he looked at the cat, he was a fan of its little frown .
“Dad, I might be coming home late starting tomorrow . ”
“Because of club activities . ”
“No, acting . ”
Right then, his sister poked her head out from the hallway and asked him a question .
“You’re going to do acting?”
“Yeah, gonna try it . ”
She was looking incredibly happy . Dowook looked down ill at ease as he took another bite out of his sandwich . He was only joining to even his debt to Maru, he never had the chance to pay the boy back before . When he heard that the acting club was lacking in members, he jumped at the chance . He still remembered the face Maru made when he told the boy about joining, the boy looked like he saw a ghost .
It wasn’t like Dowook was interested in acting . He never saw it, nor did he ever try it . The school encouraged it when the club went to the nationals last time, but he never cared for it . He didn’t have much interest in being on stage at all, he just wanted to help since they needed members . He was pretty handy with tools, so he might as well make a few props while he was there .
“Acting’s really fun . ”
“Dunno . I’m only really going in there to help make props . ”
“You should try it if you get the chance . ”
“Maybe . ”
His sister approached him slowly, Dowook started chewing faster out of nervousness . His sister was sometimes too energetic for him . He tried to stuff the rest of the sandwich into his mouth to leave, but his sister was a bit faster .
“Tell me if you take it up . S-sis’ll try to help . ”
Dowook couldn’t even remember the last time his sister called herself ‘sister’, he looked at her dumbly before nodding . They were still awkward around each other, but slowly and surely they were getting closer .
“If I do it . ”
“Yup . ”
His sister smiled with relief .
* * *
“I’m Kang Dowook, a second year . I like riding bikes and being alone . ”
Dowook sat down with a bored look . Maru scratched his eyebrows as he looked at Bangjoo and Jiyoon on the other side . Bangjoo was laughing happily at the new addition to the club, but Jiyoon was shivering like a wet puppy .
“I’m Jeon Aram, a first-year . I like martial arts and running . Knitting too . I came here after beating up everyone who bullied Jiyoon, over . ”
This one was even more troublesome than Dowook . It was nice that they got two new members, but they both had strong personalities .
“Feels like they’d jump into a fight if you leave them alone together,” Daemyung noted quietly .
Dowook improved a lot over the past year, but his temper was still there . Aram was the type that picked a fight the instant she saw something she didn’t like . She was someone who would even throw a slipper at someone bigger than herself, like the time with Geunseok .
“Mm, well, let’s do well together . ”
Aram raised her hand .
“We aren’t going to have a party?”
Aram twisted around with a big grin, Jiyoon tried to stop the girl with a troubled face . Of course, that didn’t work .
“Of course we are,” Maru said with a smile .
In the end, the acting club managed to reach their quota of six members . They got a container as a pseudo-clubroom as well, which definitely deserved a celebration of its own .
“Let’s drink beer!”
“What, you want to try it?”
Jiyoon shook her head violently at her, She clearly wanted her friend to stop .
“Well, if everyone wants to, we might as well . ”
Sorry Jiyoon, but the other five in the club all want to drink . In the end, the club decided upon a drinking party . Maru didn’t want things getting out of hand, thus no more than one can per person .
“I-I can’t drink . ”
“Just drink juice, then . ”
“What? I don’t have to…?”
“Nothing of the sort . Just a little bit for the ones that want to try . Anyway, where should we go . . . ”
He couldn’t really think of a place . He wanted to just sit around a convenience store and relax under a parasol, but at his age… He’d have a very interesting one-on-one with a teacher . A place for them to drink and converse easily… It’d be best to go into a friend’s place, but there was no way a high schooler would…
“Why don’t we go to my place, senior?!” Bangjoo said .
“Yes . I live by myself . ”
“What about your parents?”
“They both live at Jeju island . They only occasionally come back up . ”
“Wait, do you really live by yourself? What about housework?”
“I take care of it . Well… sometimes my sister comes to help . ”
Living by yourself since freshman year in high school… Maru would understand it if the parents were living nearby . But Jeju? How bold were Bangjoo’s parents? Living alone was a difficult task, especially for a student .
‘Maybe his parents had confidence since he’s a good kid . ’
Perhaps Bangjoo was an even better person than Maru first made him out to be . It was nice that they had someone like this in the club .
“Alright, we can go to Bangjoo’s place . ”
“Senior! What about the beer?”
“I’ll take care of it . ”
Aram raised her hands in glee .
* * *
“How is it? Think you’ll have the time?”
Taesik took his phone off his ear for a second, he could hear a person’s screams from the other side .
– Eh? Say that again?
“Can you be their instructor again?”
– Ah .
Miso stayed silent for a while after hearing the question, Taesik rolled a pen in his hand as he waited . She’d probably refuse, he felt sorry for asking despite knowing the answer already .
– Sorry . I really don’t have the time . I could check on them every once in a while though .
“It’s fine . Sorry for asking . I knew you were busy too . ”
It was three weeks ago when Miso told him that she’d be going into a play with a fellow named Ganghwan . She told him that the play was set to run for quite some time, meaning that she wouldn’t be able to help out the club at all .
“How’s acting, by the way?”
– So fun . I like teaching, but… This has more life to it, I guess?
“Good to hear . Don’t overwork yourself though . ”
– Hey hey, Mr . Taesik . I’m not your student anymore, you know? Don’t worry . I know my body better than anyone else . Speaking of which, you really need to start exercising . Your beer belly is starting to show!
“Just a natural consequence of the job . Can’t help it . Alright, I’ll be hanging up now . ”
– Love you .
“Hm, humph . Love you too . ”
He hung up with a little sigh . The gym teacher patted Taesik’s shoulder as he passed by . Taesik sighed as he looked at the calendar, it was April . Time for actual practice . They were good kids, but they still needed a good instructor nonetheless . Without Miso, Taesik was a bit troubled on who he should find .
“What do I do?”
Just as he started thinking, a text message window popped up on his phone .