Life, Once Again! - Chapter 656
She said those words without thinking. Even Maru, who was listening, almost replied ‘okay’ without thinking. Those words contained her purest emotions, so Maru reached out to his cup of water in order to buy some time to organize his thoughts. When the cold sensation of his cup climbed up his fingers, Yuna, who was sitting in front of him, abruptly stood up. She sprang up and leaned sideways so that she could escape at any time, but she did not move her legs. Whether it was her reason that held her back or it was her body that just froze up, he did not know, but he did know that he had to talk to her right now.
“You’ll fall over. Sit down for now.”
Yuna’s gaze was on the exit. A suitable excuse, no, just a touch of his finger might make her sprint towards the exit. Maru did not want to embrace the silence, the confusion, and the lump of emotions that would replace Yuna by himself. That would be mentally exhausting. It was obvious that doing that would be even more tiring than listening to her worries.
“Sit down. You know that you’ll put me in a tight spot if you just go like that, right? And you’ll probably regret it a lot afterwards. Sit down so that both of us won’t get embarrassed. Please.”
The distance between Yuna’s nose and upper lip shrunk in an instant. Her expression was hard to describe, and it seemed that she was trying to show a hard-to-describe emotion as well. Her body slowly moved down to the seat. It seemed that she realized that things would go awry if she left just like that.
“I spoke wrong,” Yuna said as soon as she sat down.
Her urgent-looking face made it seem like she had hundreds of excuses ready. Her lips twitched in nervousness.
“Alright, I get it. Calm down for now. No one’s going to fault you for it. Do you want some water?”
Yuna quickly brought her cup to Maru’s side with both of her hands. Maru filled the cup to the brim. It was a lot to drink in one go, but Yuna gulped down everything as though she had just trekked through the desert.
“Do you feel a little calmer now?”
“Can I have another cup?”
He poured some more for her. After emptying her cup, she took a deep breath before breathing out. It was a warm breath that Maru could feel from that distance. He felt like he understood just how much she was boiling on the inside. She must be flustered. After all, he was quite flustered as well, and he was the listener.
From the way she denied those words immediately, it seemed that she didn’t think deeply when she said those words. They were impulsive. Maru could understand her. After all, not everyone spoke the words they had logically thought of inside their head. To change the atmosphere, he opened the menu for now.
“We should eat now, don’t you think?”
Yuna nodded after a bit of hesitation. Maru chose a suitably-priced dinner set.
“I’ll go with that as well,” Yuna said.
After ordering, Maru sighed in relief.
“Uhm, seonbae. I startled you, didn’t I?”
“You sure did. But you did say that you said wrong, so it’s fine. I also make mistakes like that from time to time.”
He tried to change the topic naturally after burying her mistake like that. He didn’t want to pry deeply into that and find out what she really meant by those words.
“Did you also make mistakes like this?”
“When I was young. I am young right now, but it was when I was even younger.”
“What kind of mistakes do you mean?”
“Trivial things. Like saying a different word or forgetting an honorific towards a senior. Sometimes, I would be on a completely different line of speech because I can’t follow what others are saying. Everyone has those moments, you know? So don’t worry about it. I won’t tell anyone about this even as a joke. Just forget about it, it’s not even funny, right?”
“Yes, it’s not a joke.”
A corner of her lips twitched as she said those words. Maru wanted to smoothly pass this situation. He did not want to waste any energy trying to understand what was really on her mind, what made her commit that mistake, nor what her wavering eyes meant. He had a vague awareness that her actions, packaged as a mistake, contained feelings that might put them both in an awkward situation, but he intentionally ignored it. Unless she wanted to talk about it, Maru was not planning to mention it either.
They got some bread as an appetizer and then the main meal. Maru kept bringing up topics so that they didn’t spend any time in awkward silence. The shoot he had during the day became a splendid topic of conversation. Just talking about Bitna allowed them to chit-chat until they finished about half of the steak.
“Bitna is really obedient when she’s outside. People are surprised by her. Sometimes, even I think that the way she’s acting is like a pro. Though, sometimes, the disparity between her actions at home and her actions outside does make me feel rather weird.”
“I think Bitna knows exactly what she’s doing.”
“Yes, that’s exactly it. I probably won’t be able to do that.”
“Yuna, I’m sure you can do it as well. You’ve splendidly overcome your trauma and you’re still doing your favorite thing – acting. That’s something really hard to do. There are many people who turn away after not being able to overcome that. Since we’re at it, what kind of audition was it for? A film? A drama?”
“A drama. It was a rather weird audition. When I first met the director, I was quite confused, but after I had a realization, everything had an intention behind it. I was rather uneasy because I couldn’t follow the audition for the first half, and I didn’t know what the director wanted from me, but the director told me midway: show me drama. When I heard those words, I suddenly had something I wanted to do. When I finished my acting, the director told me that we should work together. Those words really made me happy.”
“That’s good. Maybe you’ll get famous immediately and become busy?”
“You never know what will happen.”
“Geez, everyone’s teasing me about it, whether it’s you or the seonbaes from the acting club.”
“I’m not teasing you. I’m just saying that it’s a possibility. The people from your acting club cheered for you when you said you were doing an audition, right?”
“Yes. Gaeul-seonbae also encouraged me a lot. The other seonbaes did too. I feel like I passed the audition thanks to them. If I kept going to acting schools to do my acting, I would never have known what the director meant by ‘drama’. I really think I did well by choosing to do acting. I like acting.”
“I like acting too.”
Maru drank the rest of the drink. Their stiff atmosphere became a lot softer once they started eating, and now they were at a point where they could talk with smiles. Things were probably going well. He put down his fork. The only thing in front of him now was an empty plate. He had a decent talk with a junior he wanted to look after over a meal. This was a clean ending.
“Thanks for the meal. I’ll have you buy it this time and I’ll buy you one next time.”
If he tried to pay this time, she might try to do something, so he gave Yuna the bill just as she wanted. The emotions squirming within Yuna would probably die down in due time. Once she realized that it was a momentary mistake and a temporary excitement, Yuna would probably come to the next meal with an ease of mind. Yuna’s clothing entered his eyes. The faint make-up also caught his eyes. Yuna was smiling awkwardly. She had returned to the expression she had before they started eating. Her lips were still trembling. Her expression was confessing that the words she said before were not just a mistake. Maru wiped his mouth with some napkins. It was about time to go.
“Uhm, seonbae,” Yuna said as she grabbed the bill before continuing,
“You said that you have to look at what you like with truthful eyes, right? That you should not try to fool yourself into thinking that you have different feelings from what you actually feel.”
“I think I said something similar.”
“Seonbae, I think I like you after all.”
“I think you’re making a mistake this time as well.”
“No, it’s not a mistake. I don’t think it is.”
“Then you might be misunderstanding your feelings. I also once felt rather attracted to a seonbae-noona who listened to my worries before. However, she said this to me – being grateful and liking someone has similar characteristics that can easily be mistaken; that I’m feeling reliant on her; and that what I feel is actually far from the feelings of love. After some time, I understood what she meant. That’s why psychologists consider falling in love with their patients a taboo….”
Maru stopped after saying up to that point. Yuna’s eyes, which had been wavering everywhere throughout the entire meal, were now fixed on one point. Maru closed his eyes. This was why he tried to ignore her. He had a lot of resistance to emotions close to malice and could easily come up with countermeasures, but a pure confession of emotions that put down the person herself and hurled everything she had at him irresponsibly was still something that made him smile in bitterness. It seemed that this child still had not learned the ways of an underhanded adult who avoided other people’s emotions by talking about something else. He felt rather iffy.
“You know that I have a girlfriend, don’t you? Don’t you think it’s rather disrespectful for you to do that when you know that?”
He finally took out the last words he wanted to say because he didn’t want to have an awkward relationship with her. They say love between students was something that burned easily and cooled just as easily, but Maru did not want to treat Gaeul like that. Of course, they might end up breaking up, but for now, he still liked Gaeul.
Yuna blinked in confusion. Maru did the same. She looked like she didn’t know at all.
“You had a girlfriend, seonbae?”
“You didn’t know?”
“You didn’t tell me, so there’s no way I would know, right?”
Her words slowed down. There were question marks between every single one of her words. Maru scratched his eyebrows. Yuna tilted her head.
“Didn’t Gaeul tell you?”
“What would Gaeul-seonbae tell me?”
“That she’s going out with me.”
Yuna’s expression changed by the second. Maru felt like he was watching a timelapse of a flower blooming before wilting. Yuna became blue in an instant and sealed her mouth shut before taking her bag and walking over to the counter. Maru followed her. While she paid for the bill, Yuna kept staring at the ground.
Thank you for your visit – the employee’s goodbye seeped out through the open glass door. Maru waited for Yuna in front of the stairs. Yuna returned from the bathroom. Her face was all wet. Only after drops of water dripped off her chin did she run back to the bathroom. When she came back, Yuna had a lot of toilet paper on her face. It seemed that pieces had gotten stuck on her face when she was wiping her face, and it seemed that Yuna didn’t notice.
“Uhm, on your face, there’s….”
Maru said those words with much difficulty. It was harder to say than asking someone to guarantee for him. Yuna abruptly turned around and started dusting off her head starting from her hair. Maru was reminded of a dog shaking off water from its body. When she turned around, Yuna couldn’t be said to be looking good at all. Her hair now looked like a lion’s mane, and the remaining make-up on her face made her look like she was playing around with make-up tools.
“I’ll call Gaeul-seonbae and apologize.”
“No, you don’t really need to do that.”
“No, I have to.”
Yuna, who smiled at him, started to make a crying expression. The ‘crying’ was complex, but the element that made up most of it was probably ‘embarrassment’.
“Seonbae, I’m really sorry. I mean it.”
Yuna kept bowing to apologize before running down the stairs. The sound of hiccups and crying was mixed with the loud sound of footsteps. Maru stood still for three minutes. Just then, he got a text on his phone. Seonbae, I’m really sorry for today. If we ever meet again next time, please just smile at me, or you can tease me about it.
He chuckled. The way she acted was pretty cute. He didn’t feel that good when Yuna confessed to him, but when he found out that she didn’t know that he and Gaeul were dating, he ended up smiling instead.
“Han Maru, you’re still pretty useful.”
He didn’t know when the next time would be, but if he did meet her again, he thought that it might be good to try and tease her just like she said. Since she was a pretty decent girl who knew how to be polite, had a good personality, and was rather conservative in nature, he didn’t want to have an awkward relationship with her. She was also a precious junior to Gaeul, so it would be better if their relationship was one where they could shake hands when they met rather than an awkward one.
And three days later.
“This is Han Maru, and this is Kim Yuna. You can introduce yourselves to each other.”
Maru came across Yuna again, and she looked like she was seriously considering running away.