Life, Once Again! - Chapter 74
She opened her eyes as she fumbled her toes that snuck outside her blankets . Grabbing her phone to notice that it was only 8AM, still 3 hours away from her meeting time .
“Ugh, so cold . ”
Maybe it was time for her to get a new blanket . This summer was way too short, as always . After five more minutes of fumbling around in bed, she started humming to herself a tune that her dad frequently used . Thanks to that, she found herself humming it quite often as well .
She made sure not to do it in front of mom, though . Her mom always made a sad expression whenever she hummed . After a few more minutes of rolling around in bed, she stood up with a groan . It was 8:20AM now . She took the leftovers from yesterday and put it in the microwave . Mom seemed to be sleeping still, so she had to take out her food seconds before the microwave dinged . She snuck back up to her room afterwards and found herself a few acting videos that she saved from yesterday, turning them on .
She directed her attention to her monitor as she ate . Watching people act was always fun, even if it was a play done by students . After about thirty minutes, the play ended . She put down her food and clapped lightly .
“They’re good . ”
But we’re better . She closed the window with a grin, before turning on her own blog . All the other kids asked her to use Cyworld, but that just didn’t fit her tastes very well . Instead of looking at walls of text that were glowing from the stickers decorating it, she was a bigger fan of normal blogs . Plus, normal blogs were where most professional actors gathered to begin with . There were a surprising number of blogs run by them .
The girl browsed stories about reviews, what happened during prep time, and what happened with the audience as she drew out her own dream in her mind . She, too, would eventually become someone else’s role model, just like them . Click, click . As she clicked her way across other blogs, her eyes eventually settled on a familiar one ran by a familiar ID .
“Ah . ”
It’s that blog from before, isn’t it? The blog titled, “Life, Once Again” . She left a comment there before, perhaps there was a response waiting for her? When she opened the blog, she realized that she did indeed get a reply back .
– We decided to compete in the winter competition as well . Maybe we can meet there, if we get past the prelims? Good luck, Black Swan .
The girl smiled happily . She also noticed that there were a few more blog posts here . Whoever ran the website must be a diligent person, taking into consideration the consistency of posts .
– Good luck . But we’ll get first place for the winter competition as well .
Just as she was about to submit, she stopped herself . She sighed once before putting her hands back on her keyboard .
“I sound too rude . ”
– Good luck . Hopefully, we can meet at the finals!
She didn’t want to antagonize her first blogging ‘neighbor’ right off the bat . After posting her comment, she stood up from her seat . It was about time for her to go out .
* * *
Junmin asked a friend of his to watch his house . His friend liked dogs a lot, so he trusted the person to treat them safely . Junmin had a dream of retiring in the countryside where he could live completely free with his dogs . He had the money to make his dream come true, but for now, he had too much greed for his job .
It was a Sunday morning . Normally, he’d spend the day doing nothing with his dogs, but today was different . He put an earphone in one ear as he got on the subway . He had an old notebook in one hand, and a custom-made pen on the other as he started observing the people around him .
If he was told to pick one place in South Korea where the ‘faster faster’ culture was at its bottom, he would pick the subway running at 11am Sunday on line 3 . It felt like there were some people in the subway, but reality proved otherwise . Everyone moved at a crawling pace like a bale of turtles . For example, just look at that woman standing in front of the subway door right there . Her neck refused to move for five straight minutes now . The teen sitting next to her was reading a novel very diligently . He too, barely moved .
On the other side of the subway was a female college student, who was sleeping while grasping the pole next to her tightly; no movement from her either . It was odd . Inside the fast-moving subway was nothing but silence .
Rumble rumble . The sound of the subway wheels rolling across the steel tracks sounded almost like a person’s heartbeat . Hearing it comforted Junmin very much . He was a big fan of this moment, actually . Whenever he needed to think, he always rode on this subway on line 3 around this time on Sundays .
He opened his notebook, the one he carried since the first day he joined the world of acting . He’s changed out the paper in this notebook countless times already . In fact, one of his cabinets at his house was filled with these papers . They were essentially a pure distillation of all his thoughts .
Today, Junmin got on the subway because of a certain problem . It wasn’t anything important . As a matter of fact, he could just make the decision right then and there . But instead of doing so, he decided to get on the subway .
‘He was pretty bold . ’
Junmin thought back to a meeting from yesterday .
A call came through his private phone, not his work phone . It was Miso . When he picked it up, Miso asked him if it was alright if she gave his phone number to that kid . She sounded just as confused as he was .
That kid .
Junmin thought of Han Maru immediately and said it was alright . Shortly after, he got a call . From Maru, obviously . The student asked him if he could spare some time for a meeting . He allowed it . He was rather curious about what the boy had to say after a full month . Did something change?
They decided to meet at the cafe where they first met . When he arrived at around 3pm, he found the student seated .
“It’s been a month . ”
“Yes . I’ll introduce myself again, since I didn’t introduce myself properly then . I’m Han Maru . ”
Right then, Junmin got a very odd feeling . It didn’t feel like he was talking to an immature student, but rather a very experienced businessman . Maru sat back down after a curt bow . Junmin, for some reason, felt like he needed to prepare some documents for this meeting .
“We could’ve just done this through a call . I’m very grateful you decided to meet up in person . ”
“No, it’s fine . I usually talk about important things in person . Plus… I was interested in seeing you again . ”
“Is that so . That’s good to hear . ”
“Would you like some tea?”
“I’ll get some after we finish talking . ”
The boy wasn’t stiff when he talked . His way of speech was borderline rude, but he managed to circumvent that with his expressions and gestures . Was he born with this, or did he learn to talk like this from someone else? In any case, this wasn’t how most high schoolers talked . Two weeks ago, after meeting Maru, Junmin met Daemyung and Geunseok separately .
He was interested in those two students as well . After all, he didn’t dig up talented newbies just for money . At this point, he didn’t even need money anymore . There were two reasons why he didn’t stop raising newbies . First, it was because he enjoyed the work . He thought it was a blessing for him to be able to enjoy it . As a person who thought work was what made humans human, Junmin didn’t want to stop working until his body couldn’t hold up anymore . Second, he did this because he wanted to prove himself . Junmin was a fan of being looked up to . That was why he always described himself to be ‘greedy’ to others .
He had no intention of wanting to be seen as noble or humble . No, he just wanted to be respected for his talent . Junmin loved his nickname as the maestro . He didn’t want to give that up just yet .
At one point, he visited nearly every theater company across the nation in his search for newbies . He’s toned it down a notch with his age now and all, but that didn’t mean his passion waned . He was still very much willing to show his abilities when the opportunity presented itself . Therefore, it was inevitable for him to meet with Geunseok and Daemyung . Of course, the fact that these were Miso’s students also had a lot to do with why he met them . Miso was similar to him, and he trusted her judgment due to that .
In any case, his meeting with those two students went fairly well . They were incredibly happy to find out that he was giving them a chance . They said they would try their best when he asked for a small display of their talent . They would try their best as long as they were given the chance .
On the other hand… The student in front of him now was a little bit different .
“I want to know if you’re capable of handling the risk of me jumping into the world of acting because of you . If you can, I’d like to sell my youth to you . ”
That was an interesting suggestion . At first, Junmin could only laugh at the boy . Whenever he talked to a newbie actor, they all said the same thing .
Please, give me a chance .
That was exactly what Junmin provided . He gave them a chance, looked at their talent, and then led them on wherever they belonged . If they didn’t have that talent? Well, unfortunately, he would have to let them go . What this kid was saying though… was very different . If he were to interpret it differently, the boy was basically saying this:
I’ll make use of that chance you give me, so you should take responsibility .
“Haha . . . ”
Junmin stroked his chin, the back of his neck was tingling . This was a good sign . It was a sign of something new . Something to break the dull repetitive cycle in his life . Repetition, to him, was equivalent to death in life . After all, what use was life when tomorrow looked exactly the same as today? In that sense, Maru’s suggestion was incredibly fresh to him . It was the type of suggestion that would make his today, and his tomorrow different . That was also the reason why he was unable to refuse Maru outright .
“You want me to buy your time . ”
“Would that be possible?”
“What’s making you this arrogant, to begin with?”
Junmin decided to abandon his manners for a second, since he had the advantage in this situation . After all, they weren’t speaking to each other as equals right now .
“Don’t you want me? If that’s just an assumption of mine, I’ll apologize right now and leave . ”
“ . . . . . . ”
“If that isn’t the case, and if you’re really tempted to take me in, I’d like you to buy me with a fairly high price . ”
“Yes . ”
“I won’t ask you to take care of me until the end of my life or anything . I just want you to give me enough money to have a three-person family settle in . Ah, of course, this is only if I fail in this acting business . ”
“Be more specific . ”
“2 billion won . ”
Junmin could only laugh at that number . Well, it wasn’t like he could give it . He could easily get that much money if he sold one of his buildings right now . He could even make that money back right away if he introduced a decent actor to a big management company right now .
“Billion, billion . Do you think that amount of money is a joke? Did you watch too much TV?”
“No . I’m well aware that it’s a ridiculous amount of money . After all . 99% of our population dies without ever earning that much money . ”
“But you still want it?”
“Yes . Only if you value my youth that much . ”
“Hah, and you think I’d actually take you up on that offer?”
“Yes . ”
“Because you’re still here . ”
Junmin could only laugh .
– This station is Chungmuro . The doors are on your…
Junmin came back to reality as he looked down at his notebook . Inside it, he wrote a single name: Maru .
“Han Maru, huh . ”
Junmin got off the subway with a nod . He’s finished thinking . He just needed to tell the boy his decision .