Life, Once Again! - Chapter 84
She was fixing up her makeup in the makeup room, brightening and shading areas around her eye and mouth to accentuate her expressions .
“You’re thinking of him, aren’t you?”
She stopped fixing her makeup and looked sideways . She could see her friend grinning at her ear to ear . She tried to say “what?” at the girl innocently, but her tongue betrayed her intent .
“See? You’re being suspicious . Be honest with me here . You met him before, haven’t you?”
“No, I haven’t . That was my first time seeing him . ”
“Boo, liar . So this is your second meeting, and he just confessed right there and then?”
“That wasn’t a confession!”
“That’s a confession no matter how you look at it . ”
The other club members came over to check out what the noise was all about . There were even second and third years in the mix .
“What the, what the . Did someone confess to you?”
This is the time to stop the talk, not keep it going like this! She raised her voice a little, but all that it accomplished was to widen everyone’s grin .
“See? That isn’t very like you, getting agitated like that . Which means . . . ”
“There’s something really there, huh? Hohoho . ”
Cats . She was surrounded by a group of cats . Ones that found a piece of juicy fish in the midst of them . She closed her mouth tightly and looked into the mirror . She knew it would be pointless to try to argue here . She’d only be feeding them if she did .
“Now now, stop there . ”
Right then, the club president stepped into the fray . She was a beautiful girl pulling off short hair with a rather large physique .
The president was actually one of the people she respected . The girl managed to get an acting award twice in the nationals so far, after all . She wanted to become a good actor like the president .
“The team before us finished their play . It’s our turn, we should get ready . ”
“Yes . ”
So the play ended . For some reason, she thought of that boy for a second . Maru, was it?
“How’s Woosung high? They were going to the winter competition this year, weren’t they? How are they compared to us?”
One of the second years asked the president . The president had a habit of watching other teams’ plays . It was a pretty amazing feat . Despite having to act in just a few minutes, the president wasn’t nervous at all .
“Hm, how are they, huh . . . ”
The president raised her glasses up to her eyes .
“I don’t think we have to worry about them . ”
* * *
Dojin felt horrible . Not because of his nervousness, not because of the audience’s cold reactions . He stared at Soyeon, Taejoon, and Maru through the side curtains .
‘ . . . . . . ’
Nothing changed . It was the same as every other run . Soyeon and Taejoon were acting as usual . Soyeon played the grumpy old grandma, and Taejoon acted out the weird old grandpa . There were no mistakes, either . The play was going smoothly, but… Something was wrong . The fact that Dojin was unable to figure out what was wrong was starting to tire him .
“Damn old man!”
Soyeon stood up from her seat and stomped towards Taejoon . Taejoon quickly ran away behind the shop prop . A light laughter came from the audience .
‘And here I thought this was a pretty fun scene in the audience . ’
The reactions weren’t so great . Was this it? Was he feeling bad because of the audience?
The actors on stage moved away, and darkness enveloped the stage . Right after this darkness, Maru always appeared . Maru stepped past Dojin with some very casual steps . Dojin quietly whispered “good luck” to the boy .
But Maru didn’t seem to hear him . Maru was only focused on the stickers on the floor . Like a very, very angry person . Dojin felt a chill run down his neck . It was starting to tingle in nervousness . Maru’s focus seemed pretty frightening to him . Why did it feel like he was focused to the point of not being unable to hear anything else?
Maru’s cough on stage marked the beginning of the next act . Dojin took a look at the audience . Right then, one of the kids pointed at Maru and shouted, “he’s here!” Since this was a festival, many parents brought their kid with them . So far, they had all been watching quietly, but one of the kids ended up getting loud . Dojin felt his heart drop .
A deja vu .
Dojin thought back to what happened in the summer . A single kid was all it took to turn Geunseok into a bumbling fool . He just stood looking at the audience forgetting everything for ten seconds . Would Maru be like this too…?
“What a bright kid . ”
Dojin looked at Maru with his jaw dropped . Maru walked to the edge of the stage to wave his hand back to the kid, and spoke with the kid’s parents . Dojin looked at the scene dumbly . The kid’s parents were smiling . He couldn’t see them in the darkness, of course . But he could hear them laugh .
Reactions gave birth to more reactions . More kids started waving their hands at Maru, almost as if they were in a children’s play . Dojin reminisced about a Peter Pan play he once saw as a child . For a second, he could see Peter Pan from his childhood in Maru’s smile .
It took 5 seconds for Maru to interact with that kid . Thinking about having that time filled with silence was enough to make Dojin feel a little faint .
“Do you know? Dalseok-dong has a very smart friend living in it . But this guy’s kind of stupid, despite being so smart . What am I talking about? Well, see for yourself . ”
Maru was a little bit faster than usual . He was probably making sure he’d still be on time . It didn’t feel unnatural at all . It was almost as if that kid from earlier was a part of the play . The lights faded, and Maru disappeared . Then, an ambient blue light depicting the nighttime came on . It was Daemyung’s turn to come on .
“Phew . ”
After coming back, Maru leaned back on the wall and took a sip of water .
“Nice reflexes . ”
“It was nothing . How was it, by the way? Not too awkward?”
“Not at all . ”
“Good to hear . ”
Maru looked at the stage with his arms crossed, Dojin decided to switch his attention as well . The audience seats became a little bit loud . The parents must’ve given up on trying to control their kids . Indeed, Maru’s performance from a little earlier made everyone get a little bit more relaxed . Some of the kids were even saying hello to Daemyung .
Seeing that made Dojin a little nervous again . The play was going well so far, so why?
‘Calm down, just be yourself . No more, no less . ’
Dojin chewed on some gum . There was still some time before his scene . Even athletes liked to chew on gum to calm down, so surely this would help . Daemyung started his monologue on the stage . His stupid words and dumb logic were the comedic highlights of this scene .
‘Daemyung’s good at acting . ’
Dojin knew that for sure, since the boy was one of few people that Miso wouldn’t scold . Even now, Daemyung’s lines were coming out very naturally . There was nothing wrong with the boy’s acting . But…
‘There’s no reaction from the audience . ’
The audience was silent . Some kids were waving their hands still, of course . But for a comedy, no one in the seats was actually laughing . Was that why Dojin was nervous? He wouldn’t have felt this way on the last play they did . But then again, that play wasn’t a comedic one at all .
‘So this is the kind of pressure comedians feel . ’
The audience that doesn’t laugh, and the comedians that have to make them laugh . Suddenly… Dojin felt afraid of the stage .
“Move . ”
“Y-yeah . ”
It was Geunseok’s turn to be on the stage . The boy stepped out with a confident look . Looking back, all the club members were engrossed in looking at their script . They all looked fine so far . But how would they feel once they saw what the audience was like?
‘I shouldn’t have looked . ’
Dojin was quickly regretting having seen the stage .
* * *
“This is . . . ”
“A complete mess . ”
Miso didn’t miss the two men next to her talking . A mess . She would’ve tackled them any other time, but right now, she had to agree .
‘Ugh, this is bad . ’
Indeed, the stage was a complete mess . Everyone was acting pretty well . No one was making any mistakes, and the rhythm of the play was very well maintained . Overall, the play was being performed very well . Enough to make Miso proud . But she couldn’t smile at all .
“There’s a gap . ”
“They should get rid of it . ”
Geunsoo and Ganghwan were talking, Miso shook her head annoyedly .
‘This isn’t good at all . ’
There was one note in the song that stood out from all others . It was hard to notice, but it was easy to feel that there was something wrong when you listened to it .
‘Han Maru . ’
Miso looked at the stage with a sigh . That one note that stuck out… That was the issue .
* * *
“We don’t have to worry?”
She put down her lipstick to look at the president . The president nodded vigorously .
“Are they that bad?”
“No, they’re good . ”
“Eh? So why . . . ”
“Mm, well . . . ”
The president thought for a bit before making four students of similar height stand in a line .
“How is it?”
Some of the club members couldn’t understand the question .
“How are they, when you line them up like this?”
“I mean… It looks nice since they’re all the same height . ”
This time, the president stood in the line . The tall president looked like the odd one out, now .
“What about now?”
This time, all of the club members answered .
“You don’t fit in there . ”
“That’s exactly it . ”
“I don’t know how to put it in words, but that’s how it feels . Woosung high’s very obviously good at acting . Even I can see that . Everyone in that club feels well-practiced . But… When they’re together, they feel odd . Nothing fits . ”
“They can’t cooperate?”
“Not exactly . You’ll be able to get it when you see it . They’re good, but they’re also bad . I don’t know how else to put it . ”
Good, but also bad . She tilted her head to the side in confusion . What in the world did that mean?
* * *
Curtain call . Soyeon grabbed Taejoon’s hand and stepped forward . Holding hands with him made her feel a little nervous, but she realized there was no reason to be when she was walking out on stage .
Soyeon blanked out when she was greeted with applause . This was her third time experiencing it, but she still wasn’t used to it . It made her think, so this is why people do acting .
“Good work . Really,” Taejoon whispered to her .
Soyeon could feel her cheeks redden, so she just kept looking forward . The club members stepped forward one by one, and lastly, Geunseok bowed to the audience . This was the first curtain call . After all of the club left the stage, Maru ran into the stage hurriedly .
“Hey, guys! What about me?!”
Maru ran into the stage shouting . He did a quick kowtow to the audience before running straight back out, that was the end of the curtain call . Soyeon could hear the audience laughing outside . Did they have fun? Did they laugh a lot? She couldn’t see what the audience was like since she was so busy acting . Just saying her lines were hard enough .
‘I should congratulate everyone . ’
But as soon as Soyeon turned around, she noticed everyone had very uncomfortable expressions on their faces .
“Phew . ”
Everyone was sighing, as a matter of fact . Soyeon turned to look at Daemyung .
“What the, what happened?”
“ . . . We didn’t get good reactions . ”
“Ah . ”
Only then did she remember what the audience was like during the play . She only heard one or two people laugh silently . There wasn’t the expected amount of laughter during any of the comedic highlights . Did they fail? How did they not make anyone laugh in a comedy?
“Well, at least Maru made them laugh . ”
“They also laughed at some of the other scenes,” the other members said .
Everyone knew this wasn’t enough to satisfy them, though, so they all just went back to sighing .
“Let’s move it . The other team’s coming soon . Everyone, get to work, we need to get these props out of here . ”
Joonghyuk refreshed the club with a clap of his hand . The club members went back out to the stage with a heavy heart .