Life, Once Again! - Chapter 216
Today was gray all throughout. One of those days where she spent in her life that felt completely meaningless. One of those days when her heart desperately searched for someone to blame, despite knowing that she shouldn’t. And her target in the end, after scrolling through countless familiar faces… was herself. Why was she so pathetic? Why couldn’t she even say a single thing? Why did she stay quiet? If she could just wash away that nervousness in her. If only she could be a good daughter to her mother… Every hypothetical situation increased the burden to her conscience and it slowly dragged her down deeper into a pit. There was a big empty hole in the middle of her head. She stuttered at even the short lines, she couldn’t even breathe without being consciously aware of it all the time. In the midst of it, Daemyung’s words stabbed into her ear, your mom says that because she cares. That’s right, he was right. Her mother does care, care more than anyone else. That was why she needed to meet her mother’s expectations, she needed to get into a first-class university just like the children of all the other guests from that time. She needed to be a good daughter. But she was lacking in talent. She couldn’t meet her mother’s expectations, she made her mother lose face again. She ruined the club as well, she betrayed her seniors’ expectations of her. She couldn’t do anything right. Her heart started beating louder, cold sweat was coming from out from her pores. It was just like during test season, just like when she couldn’t even ask for her bus card to be recharged. She couldn’t even get simple tasks done. Jiyoon felt her mind get dragged deeper into the abyss within her heart, but she couldn’t even ask for help. She could only sit there wondering when everything would end. Right then, an unfamiliar woman appeared in her vision. No, she recognized this woman from television. This actress from a commercial she’s seen was approaching her with a smile and hugged her. Jiyoon tried to push the actress away in surprise, but she was only hugged tighter. The warmth comforted Jiyoon, her heart was starting to slow to match the beat of the actress’. “Things won’t be fine, it’ll stay hard. But why don’t you take a breather for a second? You don’t need to stay motivated, you don’t need to try hard. Just lean on me and take a breather.” Jiyoon’s hands fidgeted a couple of times before relaxing her arms entirely, the energy in her body was spilling out like she just entered a warm bed. Her nervousness melted away as well. She followed the actor’s slow breathing. Slowly, slowly. She breathed in through her nostrils and breathed out through her mouth. “Right, good.” Jiyoon recalled her mother’s caress from the actress’ hands on her back, her mother used to be so comforting and kind back then. So comforting.
* * * Joohyun let Jiyoon go after a very long hug. Jiyoon looked very shocked, but nothing like earlier. “How are you feeling now?” Joohyun asked. Jiyoon said she was fine with a very quiet voice. “That’s good.” Joohyun stood up with a smile. “Big sis, why are you…” Bangjoo stepped towards Joohyun with a surprised look. ‘So that was his monstrous sister?’ She was more strange than monstrous, really. Joohyun winked when his eyes met with hers. “So this is the script?” “Big sis!” “Lower your voice, man. You’re being rude to everyone in this building.” Joohyun picked up the script and took a seat in a chair. While she read, Maru gestured Bangjoo to come towards him. “So that’s your sister?” “….Yes.” This was the first time Maru saw Bangjoo so quiet, the boy was looking at Joohyun with a terrified look. “She’s not normal at all just like you said. I heard she’s a famous actress?” “I didn’t try to hide it purposely, I just didn’t think it was anything special.” “Well, it would be pretty stupid to advertise that your family member is famous.” Maru stepped closer to Joohyun, who raised her head to look at him. “Um…” “Hold on. After I read this. Ok? Got it?” Joohyun was reading the script like a child who got her favorite toy, Maru could only smile at her childishness. “Understood. Please take your time.” Instead, Maru turned to Jiyoon. The girl looked a lot better than before. The redness in her cheeks indicated that she was filled with energy once again. “You look a lot better now.” “Ah, yes.” “That was surprising, didn’t it?” “…Yes.” Jiyoon was touching her hair out of embarrassment. Well, at least this was over. Now, all there was left to do was to wait for Joohyun to speak. Aram ended up asking Joohyun for a picture midway, Joohyun accepted the request with a grin. “Sis, I’m totally a fan. I listen to your radio every morning!” “Thanks. But give me a bit. There’s not much of this left.” “Of course!” Aram was smiling happily. Dowook seemed to have recognized Joohyun as well, but he clearly didn’t care. He just read his script from his corner of the room, but seeing how he kept giving the woman the occasional glance, he clearly cared a little bit. Joohyun closed her script loudly. The scene wasn’t long, so it didn’t take her a long time to read through it. “Fun. I like stuff like this. I’m jealous. I was always the one to watch plays because my school didn’t have an acting club. But doing it’s super different from just watching it, right?” Joohyun scanned the club with a smile, who nodded back to her. Maru stepped forward to Joohyun again. “Could I ask what you came here for?” “Mm, if I had to put it in words, I was just super bored at home. I didn’t want to play by myself either. I also didn’t want to spend my break like this, so I got this amazing idea of visiting my younger brother. So that’s why I’m here. I did a good job, right Bangjoo?” She gave Bangjoo a slight wink, Bangjoo coughed like he choked on something and looked away. Maru was surprised. A woman in her thirties was so overtly trying to act cute, but it didn’t look weird at all. If only his girlfriend could learn a thing or two from her… “Your younger brother is Bangjoo?” “Right. He was born super late, so he’s a very shy boy. Isn’t that right, Bangjoo?” “Ugh, sis!! Why are you here?!” Bangjoo had cold sweat running down his face as he spoke, Maru never saw the boy this agitated before. What a sight. “Are you guys preparing by yourselves?” “No, we have an instructor, but she left early.” “Really? Can I join then?” “Sis, please go home. I’m sorry for whatever I did.” Bangjoo started begging. Maru gave Daemyung a glance, who nodded and put a hand over Bangjoo’s mouth. “We’d love it if you joined. You’re an actress? We’ll have a lot to learn then.” “I am an actress, but you didn’t know me.” “Now I do. Isn’t that good enough?” “You have a way with words. Fine, I’ll hang out for a bit. It feels like Bangjoo might cry if I keep staying. Mm, I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, so I guess I’ll just give you a few pointers. Sounds good?” “That would be good too.” “Looks like you’re the leader, at least by the atmosphere.” Leader, huh. “That would be him behind me.” “Him? Hm, I don't think so. You’re the one talking to me right now. You’re also the one everyone’s looking at right now.” “Real leaders never do the actual leading in public, I’m basically a secretary.” “Naaah, I don’t think so. Well, we can discuss that later. Besides that, Mr. Secretary.” Joohyun motioned him towards her, so he took a step forward. Joohyun gestured him even closer, so Maru ended up leaning more towards her. “Why did you leave her be? She looked sick,” Joohyun whispered. Maru gave Jiyoon a slight glance before responding. “There were a few reasons?” “Reasons? What do reasons have anything to do with this?” Maru looked at Joohyun. She seemed unhappy with his answer. Well, he might as well explain it to her in detail, since she did help. “I saw a few signs that I shouldn’t get involved so hurriedly.” “So you just let her be?” “I was planning on asking her. Or helping if she wanted it.” “No, you don’t leave hurting kids like her by herself. She didn’t need consolations or answers, she just needed a hug. This is unexpected. I thought you’d catch onto it since you’re such an emotional kid.” “…You know me?” “I saw you once last year. You were the kid that was running wild on stage. I got excited just by looking at you flail about wildly. That’s when I realized that you’re just like me. But you weren’t, as it turned out. You turned out to be a cowardly intellectual. I’m not disappointed, but it's a surprise.” Her droopy lips definitely looked disappointed here. “Were the actions you showed on stage also calculated?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I never go on stage without something in mind. So it’s probably calculated.” “No, that’s not really it. I don’t think you really know yourself. Why is that?” Joohyun thought for a second before changing the topic with a smile. “Well, I guess we’ll find out on the set.” “The set?” “Yeah. Weren’t you auditioning for the delinquent role? I’m going to be there during the scene, so I’ll find out then. Ah, I am going to assume that you’ll get the role of course. Teacher has his eyes on you, so I’m pretty confident that’d be the case.” She must be talking about Moonjoong here. So she was also part of ‘Twilight Struggles’ as well? “Are you the first wife, by any chance?” “Bingo! Don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.” Maru blinked as he stared at Joohyun, so she was the other main character in the movie. She was unlike any other actor he’s met before. Miso was the emotional type as well, but not even she was like… this. Joohyun’s acting almost seemed to be based on pure instinct. “Since Teacher seems to have great expectations for you, I’ll give you a little gift.” Joohyun lowered her voice before continuing. “An actor who thinks too much can’t smile and ends up acting out his smiles instead.” Joohyun grabbed Maru’s ear and pulled him even closer, Joohyun whispered incredibly quietly. “Also, if you’re a man, shouldn’t you try to protect a scared lady in front of you?” Joohyun pushed Maru away with a click of a tongue, Maru looked at the woman in front of him in confusion. It’s been a very long time since he last met someone he couldn’t figure out.
* * * “Alright, I should go!” It felt like a storm passed by over them. Instead of giving them all some advice, Joohyun talked about her trip to Bangkok for an hour straight. She finished her story and decided to leave. “Come again, sis!” Aram was the only one who gave Joohyun a happy farewell. Everyone else, including Maru, lingered with blank stares. “Yo, Mr. Secretary, get over here.” Joohyun motioned him closer to her. He didn’t want to go, but it didn’t look like she would leave without speaking to him. “She’ll be fine today, but you’ll have to take care of her. Got it?” “Yes. I’ll take care of it.” “Good. Also, did you learn acting from one person?”
“No. I had help from a lot of people.” “Izzat so? How long did you do this for?” “Less than a year.” “Huh, I see. Out of curiosity, did you do everything you wanted when you were on stage last year?” “I think I did what I wanted.” “Mm, I’m asking what kind of advice you got before you went on stage. If I were to be more specific with… advice to try and reign yourself back in.” Maru didn’t answer. What in the world was this woman? “So I’m right. I got it. Here’s my second gift. An actor who doesn’t understand his emotions to the very end is bound to run dry. Think hard about what that means.” With that, Joohyun stepped down the staircase.