Life, Once Again! - Chapter 690
“You said the competition is today, right?”
After hearing that question from the person next to her, Gaeul nodded her head.
“Is it in the evening?”
“No, I have to go after 2nd period.”
“Really? Then are you going to skip classes?”
“Sounds nice. On a day like this, I’d love to ditch class and play outside,” said her friend as she looked outside.
The weather definitely looked good today. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky outside. The sun that was high up in the blue sky looked like a ceiling light in a theater. Today, her juniors would also get to act under one of those lights.
“Over there, if you’re gonna chit chat, you might as well raise your hand and do it openly,” said the history teacher as he smacked the chalk on the board.
Gaeul became quiet.
As soon as the period was over, her friends all rushed to her class. During nationals season, the school hung up huge banners above the school gates and on the walls of the school. ‘Win the Grand Prize this year too!’ – thanks to this promotion line, everyone knew that today was the day of the competition.
“Those of you going to cheer for the acting club, go downstairs and get on the bus,” said her homeroom teacher who came in as soon as it was break time.
It seemed that the 3rd year students who had gained admission into college already were all going.
“I wanna go too. I hate studying.”
“Can’t you take me as well?”
Gaeul told her friends to study since she obviously knew that they weren’t being serious.
“I’ll do well, don’t worry.”
“Yeah. Win the grand prize while you’re at it.”
Gaeul picked up her bag and stood up. She waved the cheering cards that her classmates made for her. Gaeul gripped her fists and did a ‘fighting’ pose.
-The vehicle for the supporters of the acting club has arrived. Would the faculty please lead the students and have them board the vehicle.
There was a school-wide announcement as well. Gaeul could see the 2nd year students go down in a line. When she went down to the 2nd floor, she saw the first-year students as well. She saw this every year, yet it excited her every single time.
She left the main building and ran towards another building. Having arrived at the acting club practice room, Gaeul took a deep breath before opening the door.
“Seonbae-nim, you’re here.”
“Hey, come quick! Even if you’re a celebrity, we cannot forgive you for being late,” said Choi Seol, the club president, with a smile.
Gaeul pinched Choi Seol’s waist before standing next to her colleagues.
“Well then, the 3rd years are all here as well, so we’ll depart after I say some things. Before that, instructor, do you have anything to say to us?”
Hearing Choi Seol’s question, the instructor shook her head.
“The instructor doesn’t have anything to say, but I do. Let’s reclaim the grand prize that we couldn’t get last year!”
The juniors all cheered out loud. The shout from nearly 100 people was sufficient to fill the acting club’s practice room which was as large as a small-scale hall.
“Let’s get results that match our practice. Those of you who didn’t pass the audition, watch today’s performance carefully, and put everything into the winter audition, okay? You know that skills are everything in Myunghwa High, right? This year, I’m really proud to say that there was no room for the 3rd year students since you were all so good. I’m done now so next, we’ll have the mascot and the pride of our club who goes by the name of Han Gaeul, which now suits her more than her real name, say a word for us!”
The microphone was suddenly tossed over to her, but Gaeul did not panic. There was something she wanted to say to them as well.
“Go and have fun everyone. If you do, there will be great results.”
Gaeul raised her hand that was holding the mic and shouted fighting. The juniors also followed suit. She then gave the mic back to Choi Seol.
“The coach is waiting outside, so get on coaches 2 and 3. Coach 1 will be for the actors and the staff that will go on stage. There are things I want to tell you as we go. Okay?”
“Good, let’s go!”
The juniors started moving when she clapped her hands. Gaeul also picked up her bag and started moving. As she did not go on stage, she had to support the actors that did as much as possible. When she got to the school field, she saw the coach with the cheering team leave. The first-year students, who saw this for the first time, were all gasping.
“Good for you! You get to ditch classes!”
“Good luck this year!”
“Kim Soomyung, don’t get nervous and do your best!”
“Park Minji, fighting!”
Voices could be heard from the main school building. Students were poking their heads out the window and were cheering with envy. The juniors whose names were called out waved their hands in excitement or covered their faces with their bags before running over to the coach. This was the rowdy ceremony for Myunghwa High’s acting club.
Gaeul patted the juniors who were frozen stiff before getting on the 1st coach. She sat on the window side around the middle. The club president, Choi Seol, stood outside to check the members. The club members boarded the coach one by one. There was a hint of seriousness on some of the junior’s faces.
“Do your best, first-years. You are the main characters for this year,” said her colleague.
This year, the audition to join the club and the audition to select the actors were extremely fierce, and due to that, a lot of hopes were placed on the 1st year students who managed to pass all that. Hearing the 1st year students reply in loud voices, Gaeul smiled faintly. At that moment, she saw a certain junior get on the coach with a script in her hand. Gaeul met eyes with her, who looked around looking for a seat, and that junior smiled and approached her.
“Seonbae, can I sit next to you?”
“Yea, I left this seat for you.”
Gaeul looked at Yuna who sat down next to her. She was originally going to play the main character, but she changed to playing a side character because of the reasons that she found herself lacking as well as the schedule for her drama shoot.
“Seonbae, what do I do? I feel so nervous.”
“It’s fine, it’s nothing much so don’t worry about it.”
Gaeul grabbed Yuna’s hand. Since she was a junior that Gaeul cherished, she hoped for her to bring out the best of her skills on stage.
Just as she was going to smile back at Yuna who was smiling at her, a memory that she had consciously been putting aside poked through her surface consciousness. She could picture Maru’s face next to Yuna’s.
Gaeul shook her head. That matter shouldn’t be talked about right now.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“You must be tired, right? Looking after all of us.”
“I said it’s not like that. I have great stamina, you know? Rather than that, you memorized the script perfectly, right?”
“Of course! I woke up early in the morning and read it over and over again. I don’t want to make a mistake.”
“Nice to see you all fired up.”
“It’s all thanks to you, you know?”
“Yes, Gaeul-seonbae. You were the…. Ah, sorry. That name is stuck to my tongue now.”
“It’s okay. Everyone calls me Han Gaeul now, so I even wonder what my real name is sometimes. Actually, it’s better to call me that. My agency’s president told me that being called by my stage name will bring me more luck.”
“Then I’ll keep calling you Gaeul-seonbae in the future so that you get more and more luck.”
“Thanks. But what did you mean when you said it’s thanks to me?”
Yuna spoke while folding the script in half,
“Do you remember back then?”
“When you bought me strawberry milk at the convenience store in front of the school.”
“I do. I also remember what we talked about back then.”
“Actually, I was having a bit of a hard time back then. No, I didn’t even know that I was having a hard time. I just practiced every day before going home, and I thought that acting was something fun but never truly enjoyed it. Back then, I never was truly acting. You noticed that first and talked to me about it. The strawberry milk I had back then was the most delicious one I ever had.”
“It’s just strawberry milk you can find anywhere.”
“No. It was a special one that you bought for me. You don’t know that I became a fan of strawberry milk after that, do you?”
Gaeul covered her mouth and chuckled. The term ‘strawberry milk friends’ suddenly popped up in her head. While it might sound strange, she quite liked that term. However, the more she enjoyed her conversation with Yuna, the thicker the steam of unease that arose from the depths of her consciousness became. It was an emotion that she couldn’t fully grasp.
“The words you told me back then helped me out a lot.”
“Yes. And thanks to you, I got to know Maru-seonbae as well.”
Gaeul turned her head away. She didn’t know what kind of face she had on right now. Would her lips be twitching? Or would she be expressionless? She had heard everything from Yuna already; that she had confessed to Maru. At first, she just found it funny. She thought that it was a cute mistake by a cute junior. Things wrapped up well, and Yuna told her that she didn’t have any feelings for Maru anymore and that she would be careful in the future. Gaeul even told her that it was okay.
She thought that she took it smoothly without any negative thoughts about it. Had she not seen Yuna’s expression a few nights ago, she would still be feeling at ease.
Gaeul calmed her expression and looked at Yuna. Yuna was looking at her, curious as to why she turned her face away so suddenly.
“The weather’s really good.”
“Yes, it really is. Perhaps thanks to that, my body feels really light today. I feel like I’ll do great on today’s stage.”
“I hope so.”
It must be a mistake – she tried consoling herself, but whenever she saw Yuna’s face, she couldn’t help but be reminded of what happened back then. Maru didn’t look affected. In fact, he even looked annoyed somewhat. However, Yuna was different. Her eyes contained feelings that she could notice from miles away. It was a gaze that she could understand clearly because she was a girl as well.
Gaeul tried to understand it in her head. She consoled herself by thinking that she liked him as an admirable seonbae. It must be a relationship between a senior and junior instead of a man and a woman.
Just then, her phone started ringing in her bag. Gaeul picked up the call without even checking who the caller was. Her eyes were fixed on Yuna’s face, so she didn’t even have the room to check.
-That was quick.
It was Maru. Yuna had turned her eyes to her script just as she picked up the phone. Gaeul looked at the side of Yuna’s face before speaking,
She felt her eyes tense as she said those words. It felt like her optic nerves were on edge in order to capture something. She was disappointed in herself for suspecting a junior, but on one hand, she wanted concrete evidence that would put her at ease. It was her heart that ordered her to say Maru’s name out loud before her head could decide otherwise. And the following events made Gaeul’s eyes hurt.
Yuna looked her way. If she was just looking, she wouldn’t have felt anything. Yuna had the eyes of a startled rabbit. It looked like she was caught while doing something wrong. Yuna’s following gaze was that of probing and even a hint of guilt. It was for a brief moment, but Gaeul was able to read all that. Just as she was about to deny that, she heard a voice.
-Is it really not? In my eyes, I think that girl still likes Maru. No wait, loves Maru, maybe?
Gaeul turned her head around to the window. She could feel a vibration from the seat next to her. Yuna was definitely shaking. She probably read something from Gaeul’s eyes as well.
Gaeul shouted at the one inside her heart,
There’s no way that’s the case.
-No, you know better than that.
No, Yuna is a junior I cherish.
-There’s no reason why the junior you cherish can’t be the one that likes Han Maru, is there? Can your juniors not like Maru?
That’s not what I’m talking about.
-How is it not? You know, you’re a bad girl. Is Han Maru yours or something?
-I think you are. If you aren’t, then look at Yuna right now. Look at her and tell her properly. If you don’t feel afraid that is.
Gaeul clenched her teeth as she listened to the voice of the one in her heart.
-That’s why you’re no good. You were always like that. You tried to have everything. Every little thing.
What do you know about me?
-Oh, I do know you. I know you really well. But I’ll stop here for now. We are partners after all, aren’t we? Without my help, your acting will never be complete.
Her voice became faint.
Gaeul smiled and turned her head around.
She turned off the phone without being able to greet back.