Life, Once Again! - Chapter 694
Music flowed out and the stage darkened. With the top light turning off after shining down on the fallen soldier, the stage turned completely dark. A moment later, the background music became fainter and a faint light appeared on the stage. The main character walked out amidst the actors.
Maru applauded. The other people in the audience started clapping as well. Eventually, the background music was buried under the sound of applause. The juniors, who were waiting behind the curtain, all went out on the stage. They pulled up the actors on the ground before bowing towards the audience. As they bowed, the applause became louder. The main character appeared at the end and grabbed the hands of the actors, joined the line, and raised his hands up high before putting them down while bowing. It was a good curtain call that was worth all the preparation.
-Woosung Engineering High school’s performance has ended. The next performance will be in 40 minutes including lunchtime. Thank you.
The lights among the audience seats turned on along with the announcement. Maru stood up from his seat and headed to the stage. The independent soldier, who was shouting ‘independence’ until just moments ago while dying, was now trying his best to peel off the glowing tape on the ground, and the evil man, who had to choose betrayal for the sake of his family, was struggling to dismantle the set. The actors had returned to reality as though they were Cinderella after midnight.
“Good. You did really well,” said Maru as he patted his juniors’ backs.
There were two moments throughout the play where they had almost made a mistake, but they managed to gloss it over with the help of those around them. That was when teamwork shone through.
“Daemyung, great job.”
“Did you notice that we almost made a mistake in the middle? Was it obvious?” Daemyung asked hurriedly as soon as he saw Maru.
Maru shook his head.
“Only those in the know would be able to catch that, so the audience shouldn’t have noticed. You guys did well handling that.”
“Gosh, that’s good. I was sweating hard when I saw that.”
Daemyung showed Maru his script. Daemyung’s script was usually very clean, yet now it was crumpled up. He could tell how nervous Daemyung had been from just looking at it.
“Everyone, let’s get these cleaned up quickly. Only then will we get some rest and eat, ” Aram shouted from the center of the stage.
The first-year staff all rushed over and cleaned up the props and the costumes. Maru walked over to the side curtains and took away the water bottles that the actors had left there.
“Seonbae-nim, I’ll do it.”
“Nah. You go and erase your makeup and change your clothes.”
The junior, who had fake blood over his face, nodded before turning around. The actors were all exhausted after spending their energy.
“The energetic ones should be doing the clean-up.”
Dowook had appeared. He had a large trash bag over his shoulder.
“Man, you’re cleaning up trash all day.”
“That’s my job today after all. How was the performance?”
“If you are so curious, then why didn’t you come and watch? I started watching halfway.”
“I said I watched enough of it. Don’t say nonsense. How was it? Were they good? Did they screw up?”
“Look at their faces.”
Maru pointed at the juniors who were cleaning up while high-fiving each other. Dowook grinned after seeing the juniors.
“Dang, they seem to have done well.”
“Dowook, you said you were too nervous to watch, yet you’re here?”
Maru looked below the stage. Soojin was smiling from below the stage. She seemed like she was planning to come up as she placed her hands on the edge of the stage before jumping slightly.
“Noona, watch out. There are stairs on the side.”
“I always came up to the stage like this before.”
Soojin lightly hopped onto the stage and dusted her hands. Maru narrowed his eyes and looked at Dowook.
“So the reason you didn’t watch was because you were nervous? Whew, I see now, my dear little delicate Dowook?”
“Set your face straight before I beat you up.”
“Hey, Kang Dowook. Are you okay with saying such cruel words in front of Soojin-noona?”
Usually, after hearing that, Dowook would throw the trash bag and stomp towards him, but he gave glances at Soojin and hesitated.
“Maru, don’t tease him too much. Dowook gets pissed easily.”
“When have I ever!”
Dowook left the stage while shouting as though he was running away. Maru laughed as he looked at Soojin.
“You two look a lot better.”
“Thanks to you.”
“Is the petrol station busy these days? I saw that Dowook always went home right after classes.”
“It’s not that busy because we hired some people, but Dowook is learning under a friend of our father these days. That’s probably why.”
“Car maintenance. I don’t think he’s going to go to college.”
“Looks like he matured.”
“I wish he had a broader experience though. It looks like he’s firm on his will. He’s just like mother when it comes to his stubbornness.”
“Please watch over him from the side.”
Soojin smiled in acceptance. Just then, Miso called out to her from the audience seats.
“Then see you later.”
Maru looked at Miso and Soojin before leaving with the rest of the luggage.
“Actors, get changed first! The others, let’s move the props to the truck.”
Aram was leading the others well even though it was rather chaotic after having just finished the play. The first-year students moved quickly and cleaned up the set which was placed outside the opera house.
30 minutes later, the acting club all gathered in front of the truck. Nearly forty people wearing matching hoodies all looked at Miso while sitting down. Behind her was Taesik.
“Good work, guys. There were moments that made me nervous, but it was good overall. I could feel the pride of having put in the effort all this time. Well then, a round of applause for all of you.”
When Miso clapped, the others followed suit.
“And over there, she is also a graduate of Blue Sky, though it should be the first time seeing her for you first-year students. She came over early in the morning with a truck so that you guys can move faster. Let’s give her a round of applause too.”
Soojin, who was standing by the window, stroked her hair backwards and lightly nodded. Maru had a look at Dowook’s expression, and he was smiling as though it was he himself who was receiving the praise.
“I had a look at the leaflet, and I think there are about four schools that left a deep impression on me, including our school. I think you should be able to aim for the grand prize if you can do that much on a high school level.”
“How was the school before us?” one of the juniors asked.
“I watched them, but they were honestly so-so. We have only one school to worry about. It’s them over there.”
Miso pointed at Myunghwa High’s students on top of the hill.
“We have the afternoon off from school as well, so let’s eat for now. We’re going to return in time for Myunghwa High’s play. Theirs is worth watching after all.”
“Where are we going to eat lunch?”
“We’re going to have a feast in the evening, so you can buy some things to eat from the convenience store. Of course, it’s on me.”
Miso took out her credit card. Everyone cheered as they stood up.
“Aram, take care of it.”
“Don’t eat too much if you want to eat delicious things in the evening. For now, meet up back here by 2 after eating. Okay?”
Yes – after replying, everyone ran over to the convenience store. As many of them hadn’t eaten breakfast due to nervousness, they became frantic after hearing the word ‘food’.
Maru glanced at Daemyung and Dowook. They waited outside the crowded store before going inside. There wasn’t a single piece of bread on the shelves. The same was true for triangular kimbap. Maru ended up going to the counter with one ramyun and some milk.
“Seonbae, is that it for you?” Aram asked.
Maru pointed at the empty shelves without replying. The lady at the counter also chuckled.
“Did you get your stuff?”
“I should take care of the others first. Looks like I’m going to have to get ramyun too. Instead, I’m going to eat properly during dinner.”
“Yeah. The instructor did say she’s going to treat us to something good, so that sounds like a wise decision.”
Maru put some hot water into the cup ramyun before leaving. The tables in front of the convenience store were full, so they had to look for another place.
“Maru, shall we go over there?”
Daemyung pointed at a small park located between the opera house and the concert hall. There was a bench under the tree, so it looked like a good place to get some shade. They waited for Dowook, who was the last one out, before walking over to the bench.
“There’s quite a lot of people,” said Daemyung as he looked around.
Many families could be seen walking around.
“It’s Saturday after all. It also looks like there’s an event in the art gallery.”
“Should we go see that after eating then?”
“I’m gonna get some sleep,” Dowook said as he stuffed some ramyun into his mouth.
“Maru, how about you?”
“Alright, let’s kill some time there.”
Maru blew on the steaming noodles. He couldn’t remember the last time he had ramyun as the first meal of his day. He sipped a bit of the soup before he started chewing when he saw a group of students enter the Seoul Arts Hall. He narrowed his eyes when he saw the familiar uniform. The figures of the students in the distance became clearer.
“Uhm, isn’t that Hwasoo High?” Maru said.
Daemyung also looked at the approaching students after putting down his chopsticks.
“I think it is.”
“Didn’t they fail the preliminaries?”
“Then why did they bother coming? Are they here to see the plays or something?”
Maru looked at Hwasoo High approaching as he stirred the noodles in the cup.
* * *
“Didn’t failing mean that it ends early?” Heewon said as he looked up at the sky.
It was almost October, yet the sun was glaring enough that calling the season summer would be more appropriate.
“Is that something you should say as a senior member of the club?” said Park Inho who was walking by his side.
Heewon pouted and turned around. The juniors were following with evil grins on their faces.
“I need Haewon.”
“Your brother is in the English-speaking club, not the acting club. Stop looking for people that aren’t here and get yourself together.”
“But the acting club’s fine without me.”
“We did fine and failed the preliminaries, huh?”
Heewon shut up when he heard Inho’s sharp words.
“It’s not like I wanted to, not participate, you know?”
“I know. Heck, I even felt happy when I heard that the one guy who can’t be bothered with anything in this world was taking lessons late into the night. I was wondering if you were finally finding your place in this world. But what’s a pity is still a pity. If you were here, we would have breezed through the preliminaries.”
“I heard that putting all your hopes on one person is a bad idea.”
“It’s okay when it’s something like school extracurricular activities.”
Heewon shook his head.
“But hey, why are we here?”
“Why else would we come to Seoul Arts Hall? We’re obviously here to watch plays.”
“Well, you and I are done with clubs after summer, but the juniors aren’t like that. We got so many juniors thanks to the grand prize we got last year, so we should at least tell them what we can, don’t you think? Moreover, the school even gave us money to go and watch.”
“It was a stroke of luck that we got the grand prize, sheesh. I still don’t get it.”
Heewon looked behind him again. He saw a bunch of first-year students. He even felt a little dizzy. He didn’t have the confidence to become a respectful seonbae who could teach them a lot of things.
“This is nothing new, but being a seonbae doesn’t sit right with me.”
“I’m sure you just can not be bothered. Why don’t you explain to them about acting more kindly when they ask?”
“I would have if I could. You saw what happened last time. When I explained what I felt to those first-year students, they looked at me like some madman. Heck, I felt hurt, you know?”
“I’m talking about ordinary stuff and not your special stuff. You know, tricks that you get from experience. You need to explain stuff like that. If you suddenly went up to people and said ‘sadness is a colorful green’, anyone would treat you like a madman.”
“If you know that, then don’t make me do all that. I’m more suited to watching from the sidelines.”
“Huh? The ones over there.”
Inho, who was turning towards the opera house, pointed at some people sitting on a bench beneath a tree. They seemed to be around the same age and were wearing casual clothes. In their hands were some cup ramyun.
“Aren’t they people from Woosung High? I think they’re Han Maru and Park Daemyung,” Inho said.
Heewon nodded as well. They were indeed the people from Woosung High.
 Third year students are busy with focusing on college exams, so most schools allow their students to not participate in extracurricular activities.