Life, Once Again! - Chapter 315
If she was asked what made her start to dream about being a celebrity, she would reply ‘due to a coincidence’.
Her house was always noisy. It wasn’t that she wasn’t well off. However, just because she was well off didn’t mean that her household was harmonious. During elementary school, Chaerim always headed to her friend’s house after school. She only went back home at night after spending time there. Her parents did not say anything about that. In fact, they even looked a little thankful that their daughter was quick-witted and did not stay at the house. It was a mistake to think that children did not know. Even young children knew what they were supposed to know.
It wasn’t that she hated her parents, it was just that she hated quietly putting herself into the corner of her room away from her parents' fighting. One day, Chaerim did a dance in front of her parents thanks to a school event. That day, the house had some quiet. Instead of shouts, there were laughs. Thanks to that, they were able to watch TV together with the three of them in the living room. Coincidentally, there was a girl who was singing with a beautiful smile on TV. It was a high teen star.
Thanks to her dad’s urging, she danced along with the song sung by the girl inside the TV. Her parents praised her saying that she did well, and Chaerim vaguely came to a realization that her house became calm when she sang.
However, that peace lasted only momentarily. It was the age of cold war in her house. Chaerim needed the attention and love of her parents, but she couldn’t expect any out of them. That was why she chose to receive other people’s attention and love. She felt refreshed whenever other people had high hopes of her. She felt more energetic the more people looked at her. Around that time, she started writing ‘singer’ as her future career path. She thought that it was the best job that would allow her to receive the love of her parents and the attention of others.
When she entered her 6th year of elementary school, Chaerim entered Yellow Star as a trainee. What was once an abstract dream was now getting fleshed out. Although there was the opposition of her parents, they ended up allowing her after hearing from the agency that she had potential. Although practice was hard and exhausting, it was much better than spending time alone at home. After all, there were unnis who strived for the same goal as her and could sympathize with her at the residence.
After debuting and entering the ranks of top idols, Chaerim had never seen her parents fighting. Their relationship had recovered. She did not know if it was because of money or time, but in any case, Chaerim was satisfied. Every day was a continuation of joy for her. She received attention wherever she went, and she was at the center of everyone’s conversations. Although it was hard to endure malicious comments, she soon adapted thanks to the fact that malicious comments were the minority compared to the comments that cheered her on. Everyone loved BLUE, and everyone loved Chaerim. That seemed like an unshakable fact.
However, there were signs of change recently, in a bad way, that is. They weren’t able to grab a hold of first place, their team split apart, and there were a few other incidents as well.
Despite that, she thought that it was okay. She believed that people around her still loved her. However, that belief had shattered.
She was in a horrible condition since morning, so she felt apologetic that she made mistakes. She wasn’t that nervous since the directors said that it was okay. She resolved that she would make a cool comeback, but things didn’t go the way she expected. It was then that she had become conscious of the eyes of the staff that looked at her. They were filled with animosity and hostility. The moment she became conscious of that, her mind started playing its own game separate from her body. She felt like she was left alone in the middle of a jungle where low growls could be heard from all around.
She resolved to endure through that. This wasn’t the first time it happened. There were people that were jealous of other people’s success everywhere. From experience, she knew that there were many people that booed her after her singing performance. Just as she was about to console herself and get back on her feet, something unexpected happened. The director swore. It wasn’t directed at her. He swore at the minor role actor that made a single mistake.
Chaerim saw that actor falling backwards in despair. She felt a little sorry. After all, it was obvious that the director was venting his frustration at him. At that moment, her eyes met that man’s. His eyes were bloodshot and he was crying. To Chaerim’s eyes, it looked like he was crying blood. Those eyes were filled with a viciousness that frightened her. She had never seen such eyes in her 19 years of life. That actor disappeared after leaving the words ‘it’s all your fault’. The people at the scene erupted out in an uproar. The shoot was suddenly stopped.
Those words from that actor reverberated in her ears. She consciously blinked fast because she felt that those eyes would stare at her if she closed her eyes for too long. Although there were many times where she received gazes filled with hostility, they were never so concrete. No one pinpointed her mistakes and looked at her like they would kill her. However, that man’s eyes were truly frightening. At the same time, it dawned on her that someone was harmed because of her. The eyes of the staff became even more prickly. She intuitively felt that she wouldn’t be able to endure anymore. She realized that she would collapse just like that actor the longer she dragged this on.
However, she couldn’t avoid it. After all, she was one of the main characters. She madly regretted that she had acted arrogantly until now. If she said that she couldn’t do it, and that they should try again tomorrow, not to mention the whole drama, her company would be flipped upside down as well. She knew that very well. Everyone here had their own schedule so it was impossible for them to allocate their time just for her. It dawned on her that she wasn’t in a position where she could ask them to do something. For a moment, the unnis at the residence came up in her mind. If it was back in the trainee days, she would receive heartfelt consolation from them, but that wasn’t going to happen now. All she got back would be a ‘so what’ along with disdainful laughter.
Who else was there then? She thought about calling her manager-oppa, but that oppa also separated work from private life. She liked that about him, but it couldn’t be more out of place right now. Friends? There was no way she had any since she rarely went to school in the first place. Her friends at her new school, Myunghwa High, were also mostly celebrities, so she didn’t even see them that much. She didn’t even think about the people she had seen during TV programs. Those people were those that cut off all contact once the camera stopped rolling. In the end, the only people that came to her mind were her parents. At that moment, her heart tightened. After going through all those people, she realized that this was a fight she had to fight alone.
She clenched her teeth and endured. She tried to forget that actor’s face and kept reciting her lines over and over again. However, the more she did so, the clearer that man’s face became in her head. She was in the worst possible state right now.
The lines she had memorized dismantled themselves and started flying around in her mind. She didn’t know what she had to say, and she didn’t know what kind of expression she had to make. The actors around her age approached her and told her that it was okay, but even they felt hypocritical to her.
She was aware that they were indeed hypocritical. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been able to endure it. Even she herself forced herself a lot of the time.
What made her even more nervous was the directors that kept treating her kindly. While she felt thankful for their kindness, she felt dizzy since their attitude towards her was a drastic contrast from the rest of the people at the scene. The more the director consoled her, the more ferociously the staff looked at her.
She had to do it – that was all she had now. There were ordinary students on set as well. Among them, there should be some anti-fans of hers. Just imagining what kind of things they would write on the internet tonight made her feel like she had to take more antacids.
She had gone through a tremendous amount of effort to take this place, this love, and this attention, so she didn’t want to let it go. Nothing would be left of her if she was distanced from her fans. Only an empty shell would remain behind. Going further, her relationship with her parents might fall apart again. When that chain reaction occurred in her mind, she couldn’t keep a straight sense of self.
Hearing the director finally erupt out, Chaerim thought that what had to come had finally come, but the director changed his expression and patted her. She felt chills behind her back. The director was consoling her with a twisted face.
No one approached her. The shooting scene was filled with chatter, but she felt like she was all alone. The words that entered her ears made her feel dizzy. She wondered if just fainting on the spot would solve things. She really wanted to just faint. If fainting would allow her to avoid this moment, she would gladly do so.
She carefully raised her head and had a look around her. Not a single person was looking at her. There was no jealousy nor was there any encouragement. She was treated like she was no’thing’, not no’one’, but no’thing’. For a moment, her vision darkened. Being ignored was even worse than criticism. She received absolutely no attention at all. The fact that no one looked at her made her feel stifled. Her lines, her movement, her expression – nothing came up in her mind. Chaerim just looked in front of her in the perfect state of blankness. The break would soon finish, meaning that catastrophe was silently approaching.
Someone broke the silence. She didn’t know when he had approached her, but the boy that replaced the man that left was looking at her. His eyes were cold. She was okay with that. After all, he was the only one that showed interest in her. Right now, she was in desperate need of consolation. It is okay, everything will go well. If he told her these words, she felt like she would be able to take a breather.
That wouldn’t solve the problem from its roots, but it would allow her to escape the feeling of having sunken into the deep sea. Please, let me breathe.
However, the words that came out of the mouth of the boy in front of her felt like the frosty winter. She was expecting the warm breeze of spring, yet the words couldn’t be any chillier. Her expectation, which contradictorily wanted him to treat her kindly yet not, broke apart and she felt animosity towards him.
Who are you to say that? What do you know about me that makes you say that!
At that moment, the boy that trampled on another’s emotions and stabbed into other people’s wounds suddenly told her to hold out her hand. She couldn’t reject him for some reason. The reason was simple – what he said was the truth. It was the truth without any hypocrisy.
She felt a sharp pain from her hand. She was startled and pulled her hand away. The boy made a strange smile and said that pain drives away any trivial thoughts.
What the? She thought that he was here to console her, but she felt angry when he told her to just give up if she didn’t have the confidence to do it. For a moment, she didn’t sense any gazes from around her and only saw the back of the boy that just left her. If she could just strike back at him who looked like he lived in a world of his own…
Chaerim’s jaws slacked slightly. The horrible feeling that tightly grabbed her body had disappeared. She could still feel the gazes from around her, but she didn’t feel stifled like she did before. When she focused on the pain that stemmed from her hand, she could somehow calm herself down.
Now that she thought about it, she heard from her dad when she was young that pressing that part would make her feel better when she felt carsick. It was painful, but curiously, she indeed became less carsick when she did so.
Just as she was conscious of the residual pain, the director proclaimed that they would start shooting again. She felt like her heart was dropping to the ground, but for some strange reason, she had the confidence that she would be able to do it now. The pain that stemmed from her hand was pushing her back. Her breathing became more natural.
Moreover, when she looked at the boy that seemed to tell her ‘come at me if you can’ with his face, she felt obstinate. Yes, he did tell her to push him properly, didn’t he?
Chaerim made the same smile back at him.
Let’s do this then.
* * *
“Good! Very good. Yes, that’s it!”
Chaerim was able to smile again when the director said those words. The staff that could finally go home loosened their expressions as well. She was able to digest all the scenes they needed to shoot without a single NG scene. They were able to finish in 30 minutes what they couldn’t do for the entire duration of the morning. Some people in fact rejoiced that they could go home early. Only then could Chaerim sigh in relief. Everything turned out well.
“But you pushed too hard. Though, it did look good since it was realistic.”
Hearing the director’s words, Chaerim smiled awkwardly. Although she did put a little bit of strength into her hands, she didn’t push that hard. In fact, it was the boy that overreacted to her push. It looked like she had pushed hard because he was ‘flung away’. In any case, it was good that the shoot ended without a hitch.
The staff started packing up their equipment and she said her goodbyes to the other actors as well. Although they always had dinner together after their shoots, it seemed that everyone was going their separate ways due to schedules and whatnot. Chaerim sat down on a chair for a moment. Her manager had gone ahead to the car saying that he would start the car. Chaerim sighed after seeing that the classroom was cleaned up. It felt like all those horrible times were a lie.
“Sorry about that last time.”
Hearing the apology, Chaerim turned around. It was that boy from before. He wasn’t wearing glasses though. It seemed that the glasses were just props. Chaerim stared at the boy. She expected him to say more, but he just said his goodbyes before turning around. It looked like he was done with his work here.
The boy just turned his head and spoke to her. He was looking at the clock, and he was clearly asking if he could go if there wasn’t anything else. Chaerim felt flabbergasted since he acted like she was holding him up here. After all those words, all that came back was an apology?
“Well, then, if you would excuse me.”
The boy left. Chaerim felt flabbergasted and just watched him as he did so. Her mouth unintentionally uttered ‘son of a…’ before she stopped. The reason she couldn’t finish was because she saw Jiseok approaching her. The boy came across Jiseok just as he was about to leave through the back door. Jiseok raised his hand as though asking for a high five, but the boy just walked past him.
“Thanks, Han Maru.”
Only after hearing his words, did the boy raise his hand above his shoulders and start waving. Han Maru, it felt like she had heard that name somewhere before.
“You know him?” Chaerim asked Jiseok.
Jiseok nodded back.
“I told you about a friend of mine in the car, didn’t I? The one that’s insanely good at acting.”
She felt like she had heard that name somewhere before that event, but she couldn’t remember. She thought that it was perhaps just her mistake.
“Did you thank him?”
“Did you thank Maru?”
“Me? Thank him? Why?”
“Why not, I mean….”
Jiseok was about to explain something but he tilted his head once before stopping as though he understood something.
“Let’s just go, noona.”
“What? What’s this about?”
“It’s nothing at all. Rather than that, you looked cool in that last scene.”
Saying that, Jiseok told her that they should go back to the car. Seeing him act that way, Chaerim had a suspicion in her mind. No, what she was thinking was probably correct. Only then did it make sense that he came back to apologize to her afterwards.
“You mean he did that on purpose?”
Hearing that question, Jiseok just shrugged. Chaerim frowned. It angered her, but it was indeed thanks to him that she was able to finish the shoot in time. If it wasn’t for him, that is, Maru, they would probably be stuck in the same loop right now. He should have at least told her if he was trying to help out.
Just as she was frowning because she didn’t like the situation,
“It’s his own way of caring about others. Well, I guess it’s more probable that he just helped because he didn’t want the shoot to get delayed so much. I mean, he’s quite a cold kid.”
Chaerim stared at Jiseok who spoke with a smile. It felt like she was indebted. She didn’t like that feeling.
“Let’s go for now.”
Chaerim stood up from her seat. Her manager had messaged her that it was time for them to go.