Life, Once Again! - Chapter 224
* * * *
“I very much enjoyed your performance.”
“Too late for that now. You should at least say that before I called out to you. Why did you try to leave without saying anything? Do we amount to just that?”
Maru replied to that while evading the jab that Miso threw at his chest.
“There’s a saying that people will get bored of one another if they see each other too much. I think there is a need for us to distance ourselves a little.”
“Ugh, you and your retorts again. It would be good if you showed your obedient side a little more.”
“I’ll consider it if you become quiet, Miso-seonbae.”
“I should just…,” as Miso approached Maru with a death glare, Ganghwan also waved at the audience one final time before walking over.
“I thought you’d be visiting with your friends at the club, but surprisingly, you’re here with someone else.”
Hearing that, Maru corrected him immediately.
“He’s no friend. He’s more of a foodie. I saw him for the first time today.”
“Yeah?” Saying that, Ganghwan had a look at Jiseok. Even though he was supposed to feel ashamed, Jiseok asked Ganghwan for a handshake with a bright smile.
“I decided to become friends with Maru starting today. Friends aren’t friends for a reason, right? Maru is avoiding me because he feels embarrassed, but I don’t mind at all. And also, if it’s not too much to ask, can I ask for your autograph right here?” Asked Jiseok as he took off his blue shirt and showed Ganghwan the back of it. Ganghwan seemed a little taken aback. Maru shook his head when Ganghwan gave him a glance.
‘That thing is a rare species. Do as you see fit.’
“An autograph is nothing special. But this is a permanent marker. Is that alright with you?”
“Actually, I’m glad that it is. It wouldn’t get erased from washing the clothes. Also, I want your autograph too, noona. Is that alright with you?”
Receiving the autographs of the two people, Jiseok put on the shirt with an expression of complete satisfaction.
“That’s one energetic friend you have there.”
“He’s too energetic for his own good. And I’ll say this again, I’m not friends with him,” after saying that, Maru gave a glance to the people moving busily behind Miso, who had a smile on her face. They were the ones who changed the stage layout during the play.
“Are all of them actors?”
“Them? Yeah they are. They’re idiots who keep doing this job even though they know that this industry has zero stability.”
Although her words were harsh, her gaze as she watched them was warmer than ever.
“I’ll help out as well!”
Jiseok spoke as he walked towards the stage. This guy must think that staying still is a sin. Although the others found him awkward at first, they soon started giving him tasks to do. Really, his sociability was top notch.
“But really, who is that guy?”
“I met him at the interview. He’s a little… I mean, very strange.”
“Why is your evaluation of him so low? I think he’s alright from what I saw so far,” Ganghwan spoke. It seemed that he took a liking to Jiseok. Ganghwan was no less peculiar than Jiseok, so those two would probably get along well. No, actually, it was obvious that putting those two together would be the cause of something huge, so they had to be separated no matter what.
“What about the interview?”
“I did well.”
“Well, from your confidence, I guess you really did do well.”
“Actually, all that happened was a simple round of greetings and a few lines of conversation, so I couldn’t have done bad.”
“There are plenty of people who can’t do those ‘few lines of conversation’. In that regard, your nonchalance is a gift from heaven.”
“I guess you’re right in some sense.”
Maru smiled hearing those words. ‘Gift from heaven’ wasn’t entirely wrong. The fact that he was able to restart with his experiences intact was thanks to god’s interference.
‘No, to be exact, I guess it’s thanks to her?’
The grandma that gave her opportunity at reincarnation up to him. Now, he wasn’t able to remember what she was like since all of his memories after his death were blurry, but he could still make out the figure who was smiling warmly towards him. The experiences he had were his, but the fact that he could start over was thanks to her.
“Since you’re confident about the interview, I guess you should prepare for the audition now.”
“Even though I’m trying to, I don’t really get what I should prepare. Free acting and script acting. That’s all the information I have about it.”
“They want to know how you would act in that situation. Also, they get to see the range of your acting. Don’t get nervous just because it’s the audition. There’s nothing more ugly than an actor getting nervous in front of the audience,” Ganghwan patted Maru’s shoulders as he said that.
“Well, you’d probably do fine on your own.”
“You don’t have any tips for me?”
“To tell you something, my picky disciple, don’t standardize the character you’re acting and try to force yourself into being that character. A film director will have an image of what the character should be like in their heads, but more often than not, that image would change during the audition. A friend of mine who auditioned for a murderer role wore a suit to the audition and spoke his lines like a british gentleman. He got that role in the end. ‘isn’t there anything more boring than a psychopathic murderer that screams like mad?’ – that’s what he told me after that interview.”
“He shouldn’t have been picked if acting like a gentleman was all he did, right?”
“Of course. When he took the audition, there were four judges, and he only gave a glance to one of the four. Everyone said that he was no good, but that one person said that he was the one. This is actually quite a famous story in this field. In the end he was picked for the reason that ‘that dude might actually stalk someone in the middle of the night and stab someone’.”
“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult.”
“It means that he was that good at acting.”
“Did he become famous?”
“Unfortunately, the film was cancelled and he quit being an actor. He’s running a cafe in Hongdae (Hongik university region) now.”
“Why is the ending to such a good story so depressing?”
“If it had a sweet ending, it would be a drama. It’s bitter because it’s life.”
“It’s a little too bitter.”
“Should I sprinkle some sugar?” Just as they were conversing, Jiseok came back, sweating profusely. This guy really had poor stamina. One of the actors that moved around the stage props brought him a cup of water with a pitying expression.
“Th, thank you.”
Jiseok drank the water while panting.
“Are you aiming to become an actor as well?” Miso asked Jiseok.
“Yes. My dream is to become an actor.”
“It’s tough, you know? It’s better to give up right now.”
“If it was something easy, I wouldn’t have tried. It’s because it’s hard that it’s worth challenging. Now that I heard something like that from someone who’s actually working in the industry, I want to do it even more. Haha!”
Miso seemed to like that answer. Maru looked away when Miso looked towards him with the ‘this guy is pretty decent’ gaze.
“Why are you trying to become an actor? There should be some trigger that made you think that way, right?” Miso asked once more.
“I can make my name known to other people. I can be remembered. I was envious of that. When I thought about how many people would remember me, I felt really excited. That’s when I decided. ‘Oh! I will become an actor’.”
“So the conclusion is that you want to become famous?”
“Hm… it’s a little different than that, but It is true that I do want to make my name known, so it shouldn’t matter.”
That was rather unexpected. Jiseok’s smile wasn’t the clueless smile that he showed since morning. There was a thick hint of sorrow in his smile right now. It disappeared immediately, but it left a deep impression inside Maru.
“Uhm, can I ask you to shine the stage lights on me?” He asked Ganghwan after returning to his usual easygoing attitude.
“We still have some time until the next performance, so there’s no reason that we can’t.”
Ganghwan signalled towards a small window on the opposite side of the stage. A silhouette showed up behind the window of the control booth and the audience lights soon turned off.
“Wow. It sure is different. Even the air is different.”
Ganghwan and Miso went to the audience seats. They sat in the front row and watched Jiseok. They seemed to have taken a liking to this rather bold junior.
“Why don’t you do something? This isn’t an opportunity that comes every day, you know?”
Hearing Miso say that, Jiseok walked towards the center of the stage, where the spotlight was. Maru made room for him and watched him from the side. Amidst the spotlight, Jiseok waited for a moment, before sitting down on the ground. No, he even lied down slightly. Then, he started saying his lines while pretending to hold something in his hands.
“Man, the sea looks good. Seas are the best when it comes to summer.”
He stood up abruptly, and continued his act by pretending to pick up the phone. Maru exclaimed out loud after seeing that scene. The scene Jiseok was acting out right now was from the play they just watched. His lines were very fluent as though he had memorized most of the lines already. Of course, his act wasn’t exactly the same as the one in the play. There were clear differences, but it strangely looked similar to how Ganghwan acted. Maybe it was the impression. Jiseok’s impression became faint, and he started giving off the traits of Ganghwan’s impression. Walking circles within the spotlight, he kept acting like Ganghwan until he abruptly stopped. After about 3 seconds of silence, he scratched his head with a clueless smile.
“I forgot what came next!”
“Geez,” Maru ended up smiling. This guy’s usual appearance was drastically different to when he was acting. He became dead serious when it came to watching a play or acting, but the moment he escaped that zone, he turned clueless as though all of it was a lie.
“That’s amazing! Today was the first time you saw the play, right?”
“To think that you could recreate that much after seeing it just once… you’re lacking compared to me, but you did pretty well,” Saying those words, Ganghwan raised his thumbs up.
“Maru, why don’t you do something?” Said Miso as she looked towards Maru with crossed arms. She had a thick grin on her face. Maru was about to refuse, but he ended up going on stage due to her grin as well as Jiseok’s pleading eyes.
After thinking for a little, Maru sat down on the spot just like Jiseok. Since it came to this, he decided to play along with them. He had seen two instances of Ganghwan’s act. Maru lied down on the spot and picked up a virtual remote control.
* * * *
“Come around from time to time,” Ganghwan said to the two as he saw them out.
“Yes. I definitely will. I mean it.”
“We’ll take our leave then.”
The two started walking towards the station after their greeting. Jiseok looked back several times while walking, and Maru dragged him by the neck every single time he did so.
“Those two are an unexpected combo,” Miso spoke.
“They say opposites attract.”
“That’s true. The fact that such a graceful woman like me is hanging out with a madman like you is precisely because of that reason.”
“By that logic, the teacher dating you is also a madm… alright, fine. I’ll shut up so please put your hand down,” saying that, Ganghwan grabbed Miso’s raised hand and forced it down. This woman’s boyfriend must be built like a tank. Otherwise, there was no way he was capable of enduring this woman.
“Rather than that, how was it?”
“How was what?”
“Although they were improvisations, they both imitated your acting. Why don’t you give me your impressions?”
When Jiseok asked if he could stand on stage, Ganghwan thought that he was just a fearless little brat, but his thoughts changed after seeing him act.
“That Jiseok kid brought out the feel very well. His lines and movements were different, but his atmosphere was definitely similar to mine. On the other hand, Maru’s gestures and lines were surprisingly similar to mine. It was as though he had practiced for a long time.”
“I felt that as well. I keep thinking this, but that guy’s smarts is just nuts.”
Miso crossed his arms and asked conspicuously.
“So, who do you prefer?”
“I don’t prefer any of them. They’re both worse than me.”
“Sure, Mr. I-am-the-best.”
“But to decide who’s better among those two, then it would be Maru considering the circumstances. He stuck to the basics. However, if both of them were given enough time to practice, then Jiseok might leave behind a deeper impression.”
“Though, he still can’t be compared to you?”
“Duh. Do I have to repeat myself?”
“You sound so narcissistic, but it feels even worse because it’s true.”
“It would be good if they could talk to each other.”
“Today was their first meeting, wasn’t it? Moreover, Maru didn’t seem to like the kid.”
“Tsk tsk. This is where men are different to women. Women frequently hang out even if they don’t get along. But men don’t. If Maru truly didn’t like that kid, he wouldn’t have brought him here in the first place.”
“Oh? The women you know must all be strange people.”
“You’re the one who’s too cool about everything. Let’s be honest, the second part of your resident registration number starts with a 1, doesn’t it?”
“Hey, do you really want to smell incense from inside a portrait today?”
“Oh no, I’ll call your soon-to-be husband. I’ll tell him about the threats of domestic violence.”
“I think you need a beating right now.”
Ganghwan ran with all his might, away from Miso, who was cracking her fingers as she walked towards him. That teacher was so pitiful. How did he end up with a girl like… Ganghwan shook his head due to the sudden wave of sorrow.
* * * *
Time passed, and it became Saturday the week after the interview. Maru received a text message as he was going home after practice at the club.
[You have been confirmed for the audition. Please come to the 7th floor of JA building at 11 tomorrow.]
He crossed the starting line without problems. Not long later, Jiseok texted him as well.
[You passed too, right? I did. If you didn’t, I’ll try my best to make up for your share.]
“This guy doesn’t know what consideration is at all.”
Smiling, Maru texted back the word ‘passed’ with confidence. Despite all that, he felt good that they were doing the audition together. This guy’s personality was really bad like a cocker spaniel, but he ended up smiling subconsciously when exposed to that positive energy of his, so he couldn’t hate him.
“The audition, huh. Won’t they let me pass through some back door or something?”
Personal connections were for times like these, but since those people were all professionals, using personal connections probably wouldn’t work at all. Taking the easy route if it was possible was the best option, but in this scenario, he had no choice but to ‘try his best’, his second best option. Maru closed his phone and put it inside his pocket.
Thinking of those three words. Maru’s eyes sunk deeper than ever.
In Korea, the resident registration number (something similar to the social security number in the US) consists of two parts. The first part consists of 6 digits that represents your birthday, and the second part consists of 7 digits. The first digit represents the sex, 1 being male and 2 being female. There are other factors that decide the rest of the numbers, but that’s not relevant here, and it can also be changed later on in life. Ganghwan’s question is basically asking ‘you were actually born as a boy, weren’t you?’