Life, Once Again! - Chapter 791
“I want to say that I’m doing this to gain experience, but I’m actually just trying various things out because I feel uneasy if I don’t do anything. Whether it’s actors or writers, it’s not like ‘experience’ will get you better treatment, so I’m even more uneasy. Of course, there might be people who might give me good treatment if I say I worked in this field for a long time, but if you ask me who I’ll choose if I had to choose between a young writer who had written a popular piece and a middle-aged writer who wrote so-so pieces, even I would lean towards the young writer. So how would the investors think about it? I would graduate in no time, and once I graduate, I would have to start looking for a way to live my life. I’m afraid because I chose writing as my career; the path to a livable wage with writing is quite narrow. It’s because I’m afraid that I’m struggling. I’m hoping that this short film will become a line in my experiences section on my resume.”
Bangjoo looked at Daemyung’s back and recalled what he said. Dreams always looked distant, but actually, they were often closer to reality than not. Everyone dreams of consolidating their foundations and proceeding on the path they seek, but they would often realize that their dreams were buried underneath the foundation they built up when they actually try reaching out to it.
“Living and doing what you want at the same time must be hard, right?”
Aram, who was eating pork belly at his side, rolled her eyes up and down. What the heck are you on about all of a sudden? – she seemed to say with her eyes.
“It’s Daemyung-hyung’s words. He seems worried. He keeps handing in applications to competitions, but he’s not even getting a critique back, so he must be uneasy.”
“I’m sure he must be worried. Living through writing isn’t easy, is it? Though, I’m sure it’s a different story for popular writers.”
“I even felt sorry for him when I heard his story. I honestly never worried about money. I mean, my sister paid for the living expenses and my education after all.”
“That’s right, you’re blessed. You have a top star as a member of your family. Oh, give me the ssamjang.”
Bangjoo picked up the ssamjang and put it in front of Aram.
“I probably would have also chosen to do something else if I wasn’t in a good financial situation. Maybe I would’ve become an ordinary salaryman or learned some skills since I like to use my body.”
“That’s what most people go through. But most of the time, if it’s truly something you want to do, you end up doing it. I also graduated from a two-year college and entered a small company as an accountant. I didn’t even enroll in a four-year program like my mom’s friend’s daughter, so I couldn’t even try out large companies. The only thing left on the list were small companies. I worked hard for the past two years. It was pretty okay. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but after I had become close to them, I kinda felt like it was destined for me. I was getting a monthly salary, and they were even going to raise my pay next year, so I didn’t have a reason to quit either. I’ve liked sports since I was in middle school, so I always thought that I’d be teaching kids when I grow up, but earning a stable income is more important, isn’t it? That’s how it was until Christmas Eve last year. Just as I was going home after work, the general manager called out to me. I went back to the office and checked the announcement through the company intranet, and I had this thought – ah, I’m going to work as a sports teacher. That’s when I quit and started working with the dojo master I’m working with now,” Aram said as though it was nothing much.
“If I was you, I wouldn’t have been able to do all that.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not true. This is a personal opinion of mine, but people are bound to do what they like. I do hear that people often end up just doing what they’re doing because of money, but don’t you think that they’ll quit if they find that it really doesn’t suit them? It’s because it suits them, before they can say that they’re compromising, that they continue doing it. If it was completely outside of what they wanted to do, they wouldn’t even think about staying. In the end, it’s about the degree of suitability. Either do something that suits you 100% like what I’m doing or do something that suits you about 80 to 90%. If it’s closer to 0%, I don’t think you can do it just because you have no choice. Most of the time, people shoot themselves out if they find that the place they are in is a pit of fire.”
Bangjoo nodded. He never realized that the girl who always looked like a brute was thinking of something like this.
“You really can’t judge a book by its cover, huh?”
“Somehow, that sounds like an insult to me.”
Aram raised a spoon. Bangjoo also raised his and got into a defensive position.
“Until when are you going to continue being archenemies, huh? You should get along already,” Maru said from the far table.
Bangjoo wanted to defend himself by saying that she started it, but he didn’t say anything because it might make him look petty.
Thanks to the smooth shooting progress, they were able to eat the pork belly, which they were going to eat tomorrow once all the shoots ended, earlier than they expected. Grilling meat while sitting on a bench where they could hear the mountain stream flowing down under the moonlight was a pretty emotional thing. Bangjoo, who grilled some meat on the cauldron lid provided by the cabin owner, handed the pieces out to various people before returning to his seat.
“Maru-seonbae definitely looks better now, right?” Aram said as she flipped over the pork belly being grilled.
“For sure. It must be like what Jiyoon said, and he resolved the romantic problem he was having.”
“It’s quite unexpected. Like you said, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Who knew that he would have received such a shock? I thought he would be far from the romanticist who would be hung up over their first love.”
Bangjoo ate a piece of meat and looked at Maru who was sitting on the other bench. From high school until now, they had continued their senior-junior relationship while meeting each other around a couple times a week to around once a month. Most of his classmates, who he thought he was close to, contacted him less and less, and he had lost news of most of his college friends ever since they went to the military, but this seonbae who was a year older than him still remained a close friend to him till this day. As they had known each other for a long time, Bangjoo thought that he knew what Maru was thinking to a certain extent. He at least believed that he would be able to notice what was on his mind even if he didn’t say anything. It was when Maru notified him that he was going to the military that he realized that his belief was merely a misconception. Maru’s eyes that day belonged to someone completely different.
“I’m sure a lot has happened to him. Perhaps he might be acting okay now too.”
“That person never brings up his own problems from his own mouth, so you might be right.”
Aram poured some soda and gave it to him. As they had the evening shoot left, alcoholic drinks were prohibited. Bangjoo raised the cup and toasted.
“Since we’re at it, let’s ask him directly.”
Aram, who emptied the drink as she would a glass of soju, abruptly stood up and walked over to where Maru was. She tapped Maru, who was eating, on the shoulder before pointing her head elsewhere. The way she acted totally looked like she was some street thug picking a fight. Bangjoo only replied with a blank smile when Maru looked at him with a questioning look.
“You want me to cook meat for you?” Maru asked as he crouched down in front of the cauldron lid.
“Do you think we would call you over for something like that? You’re supposed to be the main actor.”
Aram snatched away the tongs that Maru was about to pick up.
“Then I wonder why you called me here. The fact that you called me out here separately means that you are either planning to threaten me or do something shady.”
“I guess you can call it a threat. Maru-seonbae, let me say something blunt. When I had a look at your face last month, you looked like a rotten tangerine, to be honest. You know, that mushy feeling, right? You were smiling but not so smiling. I could see such an atmosphere from you.”
Bangjoo raised his head to look at the sky. He did feel uneasy when Aram said she’d ask and walked over to Maru. She wasn’t someone who would choose her words depending on the person, so he thought that she’d ask something blunt right off the bat. However, he had never realized that her choice of words would be that blunt. He feigned ignorance as though to signify that he was completely unrelated to this conversation, but Aram kindly pointed at his face and notified Maru that he was on her side.
“But when we looked at you today, you looked pretty okay. We were thinking that you got everything resolved just like what Jiyoon told us, but when we thought about it, you’re known for your outer appearance being entirely different from what you’re thinking.”
“That’s what I’m famous for?”
“Of course. So let me ask something. I heard that wounds gotten from people must be healed through people, right?”
“Seonbae, so did you find someone to be in a relationship with? If that’s the case, I can understand how the gloominess about you disappeared.”
“Unfortunately, there’s no one I’m meeting right now.”
“Then what is it? Honestly, the reason you turned into a zombie is that you broke up with that unni, isn’t it?”
Bangjoo poked Aram with his elbow. There were questions that she should and shouldn’t ask, but she didn’t seem to know the boundary between the two at all. Aram glared back at him, seemingly asking what was so wrong. Bangjoo became speechless. For a moment, he wondered how she managed to work at a company for a whole two years. Maybe the people at the company were all ascetics?
Maru, who stayed still in a daze as though he had been hit on the chest, suddenly smiled.
“There have been times when people asked me in a roundabout way but never this direct. I guess it does hurt to get hit directly on the face, huh.”
“I’m of the mind that being half-assed is useless. So? What happened? I can’t say that I know you well, but I at least know that you aren’t someone who can smile after forgetting about a problem you haven’t resolved. You are a serious romanticist, and you were hurt because of your breakup with your first love, right? It doesn’t make sense for someone to have transcended all emotions in just one month when you’ve been suffering for years. That leaves just two options. Either you met someone good that you forgot about your first love, or….”
Aram’s eyes widened as she spoke. Bangjoo also had a hunch as he listened to her, so he looked at Maru’s expression. He squinted his eyes like he would do when reading some tiny words in the corner of the newspaper. He wanted to check if what he saw wasn’t wrong. Maru was expressing that he was ‘taken aback’ with his entire face. That was something pretty hard to see. He suspected that he was not looking properly, so he squinted his eyes and checked again. The mouth of the smooth-talker who wouldn’t lose to anyone was sealed into a line. The man who never averted his gaze was glimpsing downwards. Bangjoo felt like he could hear Maru’s eyes rolling. After scratching his eyebrows to the point that it made the onlookers itchy, Maru spoke after a long while,
“I’m taken aback.”
“I know even without you having to say it. In fact, I was surprised instead to see you act like that. What is it? Are you two back together again? For real?”
“No, it’s not like that.”
“Come on, it’s not ‘not like that’. What was that expression just now? You looked like a boy in puberty. I almost felt my heart flutter. Seonbae, seonbae!”
Maru stood up, saying that he’d talk about it if he became able to. He was clearly fleeing. Aram wasn’t someone who would miss that. If Aram didn’t do it, Bangjoo would have. Aram, who had ten years of Judo experience, grabbed Maru by the sleeve. Maru shook his arm up and down, but if that was enough to shake her loose, Aram wouldn’t have grabbed him in the first place.
“Seonbae, you should sometimes let your worries out to your juniors.”
“Why do you look so bright when you want to listen to my worries? I’ll tell you about it later. I don’t really have anything to tell you right now.”
“Then let me ask you just one thing. If you lie, I’m never going to let you go.”
“Alright. I won’t lie.”
“Are you meeting that unni again?”
“But you still like her, don’t you? Something happened between you two even though you aren’t back together yet, right?”
While listening to her question, Maru looked behind Aram with a serious expression like he had just witnessed a traffic accident. Bangjoo subconsciously followed his gaze. Aram did the same. At that moment, Aram exclaimed. Maru managed to shake her off.
“You were going to ask one thing, weren’t you?”
“Is this how you’re going to be? Also, don’t start acting all of a sudden. I thought that something really happened.”
“Nothing happened. And that’s the same with me as well. You should just continue eating. We’re going to go out once the sun sets.”
Bangjoo looked at Maru walking back to his bench. Although it was for a brief moment, his shaking eyes and his crooked lips expressed his inner heart that he had hidden until now.
“Maru-seonbae might actually be pretty sentimental,” Aram said from the side.
Maybe – Bangjoo agreed.