Life, Once Again! - Chapter 609
“So it’s today, huh. If we finish the shoot today, we can start the final editing. Once that’s done, we’ll be handing our work in for participation. Of course, we should have a screening session for ourselves, right?”
“French fries and coke for me.”
“Fried chicken for me.”
“Popcorn is the best for movies.”
Sora smiled in confidence as she looked at the people of the film production club, who were just as excited as she was. When they started, there were a lot of problems, but they finally reached this stage. Sora was confident in her scenario until they started shooting, but she changed her mind when she saw Maru’s acting. She felt that the story wasn’t up to par with the actor. It wasn’t like she could change the plot because of that though, so she decided to finish the film by changing the direction slightly. Today, there were two scenes to shoot. One was the conclusion, where the main character escapes being bullied and then bullies the transfer student to join the ‘mainstream’. They decided to shoot another scene, where the characters went to school, to add to the ending. She was going to produce a cheerful and bright school entry scene to contrast the gloomy school entry scene at the beginning of the film. She planned to show the subject of the film to the audience by blatantly exposing the contrast between the start and the end.
“Maru-seonbae will be here soon, right?”
“He should be. Most classes should have finished their afternoon HR now. We should get ready too.”
Ando instructed the juniors to get the equipment when the door smoothly opened and a smiling face came in.
“Let’s go shoot the last bit.”
“Are you going to start editing as soon as you finish today’s work?”
“That’s the plan. I’m going to make it so that we can watch it tomorrow even if it means staying up the entire night. Oh, and also, we’re going to hold a screening session….”
Sora didn’t finish her words and looked at Maru’s face. The other club members were probably looking at him as well. The reason she didn’t finish her words was because the reply was too obvious. Maru would probably not participate in the screening. After all, he had said several times that monitoring his own acting was very hard for him. He also said that he wouldn’t participate in the monitoring at all if it wasn’t for the money.
Maru did not reply and just stared at her.
‘I knew it. So do I just have to tell him the results later?’
He was already a busy person, so there was no way he would participate in the screening. Maru had clearly drawn the line since the beginning. He said that this film was not at the top of his priority list. That was why they had to change the entire schedule of their staff when Maru’s schedule changed. That was the agreement they made when they started off after all. It was them who wanted Maru, and Maru was someone who deserved that treatment.
“Of course I will go. What do you think we should eat? Should I try cooking something? I mean, on occasions like that, it’s good to try hand-made food. I heard that Ando did that from time to time too. Am I right?”
Sora blankly stared at the man who made a refreshing smile in front of her.
“N-nothing. I just thought that I have never seen you smile like that. Did something good happen today?”
“No, rather than something good, something bad happened instead. I stepped on dog dung on the way to school. I’m having a terrible day really.”
“Ha, haha… dog dung?”
“Yeah. Anyway, you weren’t planning to hold a preview without me, right? I might be a guest member, but I still did my best to participate in the film production club’s activities, so let me in, will ya?”
“Of course we were going to invite you. But I thought you’d refuse….”
“Me? Oh, I did think about that too.”
Pausing, Maru looked around the clubroom before speaking again.
“Since I started it, I thought that I might as well stick around until the end. I do want to watch it too. Anyway, I’ll visit the classroom for a bit. Homeroom hasn’t ended yet.”
“Ah, okay. We’ll be in the 3rd year classroom so you can go there after.”
“Alright, see you later.”
Maru even waved his hand and closed the door. Sora blinked a couple of times before turning around to look at Ando, who stood behind her. Ando also looked dazed as though he had seen something he shouldn’t have.
“I’m a bit confused, Maru-seonbae wasn’t such a character before, was he?”
“He definitely wasn’t. He was like that when he was with his girlfriend, but definitely not with us.”
“Do you think he fell over and hurt his head or something?”
“That sounds plausible. It’s kinda weird to see him acting so fresh all of a sudden.”
“Right? I was right, wasn’t I? He’s the same person as the guy who always opened his eyes like this and acted arrogantly all the time, right?”
“Rather than arrogant, I would say he was scary. Anyway, I think they’re the same person.”
“Something great must have happened for him to look that pleased. What do you think happened to him?”
“Maybe… he got an offer for a cast?”
“That sounds plausible… but when I think about it, I don’t think Maru-seonbae’s the type of person who would show that on his face.”
“That’s true. In the first place, he never talked about himself and talked just about the film whenever we were working on it. We asked him a couple of times about what a shooting set looked like, and he only replied that there was nothing much, didn’t he?”
“Today, though, he looks like he’ll spill all the beans if we ask him, doesn’t he? Let’s try that out later. Who knows? It might be an alien in a Maru-seonbae suit.”
“…I think that’s going a little too far.”
“A film producer must not limit their imagination!”
“But it has to be plausible.”
Sora made a sour expression before laughing.
“But really, Maru-seonbae is really curious today. Well, I like him better now than before.”
“Let’s just take what’s good as good. Get the equipment. Let’s go up.”
“Yes! Seonbae-nims, we’re moving!” Sora said as she waved her hand above her head.
* * *
He smelled oil from his fingertips. He was becoming more and more like his father. It wasn’t that he didn’t like that, but when he laid his head on his arms to sleep, the slight smell of oil annoyed him a little. Perhaps he should look into some perfume?
Just as he was stretching his neck, getting ready to go home, Dowook became rather startled when he saw two hands on his shoulders.
“Wow, you must be working hard. They’re as stiff as a rock.”
An affectionate voice could be heard. However, the owner of this voice would never do something like this. He turned around with a complex expression. He saw Maru, who had a serious expression on his face.
“You should rest a bit. Even though kids our age are overflowing with energy, you’ll get sick if you overexert yourself.”
“Y-you, what’s gotten into you?”
“Stay still. This part makes you feel refreshed, doesn’t it?”
“Y-yeah, it does… but hey! What are you doing! You’re creeping me out.”
Dowook couldn’t endure it. It would be less surprising if this guy swore at him and started beating him up instead. He abruptly stood up and stared at Maru. He couldn’t possibly figure out what Maru was thinking by doing this.
“What is this. What’s up with this bullshit all of a sudden?”
“What bullshit? I just thought you looked tired.”
“Godammit, really? What is this? Are you trying to screw with me? Is Dojin in on this as well?”
At that moment, Dojin spoke with a sleepy voice next to him.
“I’m not. What’s up with Han Maru? What did you do wrong to him?”
Dojin seemed no less surprised. It didn’t seem that these two were in cahoots. That made things even more strange. Who was Han Maru? Spraying salt on an open wound with a smile on his face suited him more than this. Of course, he knew that Maru thought very deeply. He was willing to skip school to help Maru if Maru asked him to. Wasn’t he the thankful friend who recovered the relationship between him, his sister, and his father?
However, he was definitely not someone who would act friendly like this with a smile on his face. He was the kind of guy who would help others without them knowing or by leaving behind a very short, but helpful, piece of advice before leaving. He was definitely not the kind of guy who would say ‘doesn’t that feel refreshing’ while massaging someone else’s shoulders.
“Is it Park Daemyung?”
“Hey, do you think he would play a prank like this?”
“Then what the hell is it? What the hell has gotten into that Han Maru?”
“I dunno, but I can be sure that you, Kang Dowook, must have committed a grave mistake. Otherwise, Maru wouldn’t act like that. He’s blatantly toying with you. Oh, hey, did you do something to his sister?”
“Are you crazy? There’s no way I’d do something like….”
“Oho, something like what?”
Dowook palmed Dojin’s grinning face.
“Dojin, should I massage your shoulders as well? I know that culinary arts are tiring.”
“I-I’ll refuse this time. What’s up with you today? Did something happen?”
“Did something happen? No, nothing happened.”
“Then I wonder why you’re doing this…. If you continue like for just a bit longer, I think I can show you what I ate for lunch right away.”
Maru chuckled before shrugging.
“Both of you, watch out for your bodies when you work. Don’t forget your studies too. I’m leaving.”
Just as Maru turned around to leave the classroom, Dojin shouted in a loud voice,
“I heard Dowook and Bada are going on a 1 night trip over the weekend!”
Dowook turned around to look at Dojin. There was nothing like that. Just as he was about to snap out at him, Maru spoke in a small voice as he was leaving the classroom.
“Then you’ll die.”
He left those words before waving his hand and leaving.
“Hm, that sounds more like the Han Maru I know of. See? He’s trying to mess with you.”
“You bastard! Bada and I are going where?”
“You’re going to go somewhere. Anyway, we can be sure that Han Maru didn’t go crazy. It’s fine since we checked, isn’t it?”
Dojin stepped backwards with a grin on his face. Dowook grabbed the pencil case right next to him and threw it at Dojin’s face.
“I’ll fucking rip your mouth apart.”
“Oh? You aren’t a match for me.”
Dowook clenched his teeth as he looked at the sneaky Dojin.
* * *
“So you acted like that the entire day?”
“Yeah. There were all sorts of reactions.”
“Of course there were. They just can’t match your current image to the usual you. Even I would’ve been in a fix.”
“Was I that cold?”
“You weren’t always like that but with her… Gaeul, was it? Compared to when you were with Gaeul, there was definitely a difference. People who have seen you with your girlfriend must have been surprised, you know? After all, they would have never seen you talk so gently and kindly to someone before. Thinking about it now, I feel like you always put everything down only when you were in front of her.”
“Park Daemyung, that makes me feel disappointed. I think I treated you pretty well.”
“I know, I really do. But I can tell when I look at you, that you take a few steps back when you talk to others, figuratively, I mean.”
Daemyung looked out the window. Today as well, there were a lot of big guys playing soccer on the school field. Whether it was raining or snowing, there were always people kicking balls in that field. This was a rare sight for normal academic high schools. Balls could be seen every break time, which said a lot.
“Maybe I should play soccer with the people from the acting club.”
It was Maru who said those words. Daemyung spoke as he put his backpack on one shoulder.
“What made you change your mind so suddenly?”
“Nothing, I mean, literally nothing. I did hear about it from time to time. Even the president told me that putting too much distance is not good. In truth though, that’s more comfortable for me. There’s no worry about getting caught up in trouble, I can ‘moderately’ be happy for someone, I can ‘moderately’ be sad for someone, and the fatigue that comes from human relationships is also pretty small.”
“That sounds like Han Maru to me. And?”
“I don’t know. For the past few days, I’ve been thinking that a dry relationship is too sad considering that I only have one life.”
“I guess that’s true. You’ve been changing ever since you entered 3rd year.”
“So you noticed? I only noticed it recently.”
“You have changed the way you treat other people after all. You were like that with Chihwan too. That was the first time you replied to other people’s questions so passionately, wasn’t it?”
Maru leaned against the wall.
“But is it that strange?”
“It is definitely strange.”
“Should I just act like usual then?”
“It’s strange that you’re asking me such a question in the first place. If it was the old you, you would’ve made the decision by yourself.”
“It’s not bad to listen to other people’s opinions. Especially if it’s yours.”
“Honestly speaking, I don’t know. To me, you were, uhm, don’t take offense for this, but how should I put it, uh, you were pretty desolate. I’m not saying that in a bad sense. You were putting distance between yourself and others in order to minimize the damage that would come your way, and that even made you look cruel at times.”
“I still haven’t changed my mind about that.”
“Yeah. It’s just that… I wanted to know more about the people around me. Also, I feel like it’s not a bad thing to be reckless from time to time. I just realized that there’s a place that can care for me when I’m exhausted. I thought that she was someone I had to protect, but it turns out it wasn’t like that.”
Maru, who made a faint smile, looked more amazing than before. There was a sense of instability about him, but it was the kind that could be seen from someone who was moving forward.
“But it is a little tiring.”
Maru erased his smile and returned to his calm expression.
“Doing things I’m not used to doing.”
“Are you going to keep trying?”
“For the foreseeable future. Oh, I’ll be going off first. The film production club is waiting for me.”
Maru stretched his arms out and turned around. Daemyung waved at Maru.
“I’m not entirely sure what’s happening, but good luck.”
Daemyung checked the clock once before leaving the classroom.
 In Korea, there are 10 minute breaks between each class, not 5.