Life, Once Again! - Chapter 88
It was November .
The closer the day got to the 13th, the quieter the rest of the school became . It was even forbidden to talk on the fourth floor where the third years were . For years now, the principal and the faculty worked as much as possible to change the image of the school from a school for delinquents to a school for scholars . At this point, the fact that those who stayed after school to study had the benefit of air conditioning . This right would soon get passed down onto the second years and the first years as well .
“At this rate, our school major would change from engineering to humanities,” Dojin said, rolling the candy on his tongue .
He could see a few kids gripping onto the textbook despite it being break time . They were students who came here trying to get into engineering colleges in the future . Despite having good enough grades to go to a decent school in Suwon, these kids came here instead . So that they could become the head of a snake instead of the tail of a dragon .
“You bastard, why don’t you play around a bit during break time? You study too much . ”
Changhu was going around picking fights with all the studious kids . They just promptly ignored him, though . Almost as if they didn’t care about the abuse they received from him . After all, the only reason why they were at this school was to go to a better one . Changhu probably knew that messing with them would be no fun as well .
“Go to Seoul university, why don’t you . ”
Changhu scanned the room for other targets with a mocking smile .
“Changhu! Let’s go!”
“Yeah . ”
Changhu left once the kids from other classes called him .
“That bastard, he’s always like this . ”
“Don’t worry about him, picking a fight with a dog is just a waste of your time . ”
“I’m fine, since he doesn’t really talk to me nowadays, but I still feel nervous . Especially with what he said . . . ”
“The fire at the auditorium?”
“Yeah . ”
Maru turned his head to look at Changhu outside . He stopped picking a fight with them recently, probably because he found more friends . Especially since Dojin became a lot composed lately as well . This was a good sign, Maru wasn’t a fan of having to deal with delinquents himself .
‘A fight between kids is definitely scary, after all . ’
Adults had a lot of things to consider . They would consider their losses first before fighting, but kids were different . The smarter ones also knew that they wouldn’t be severely punished for committing felonies as well . Even if they put a kid in a wheelchair, they would probably just have to spend some time doing volunteer work . Changhu knew that very well himself, which was what made him very hard to deal with .
“If he gets in my way again . . . ”
Dojin cracked his fingers with a frown .
“Stop it . I thought you graduated from that stuff already?”
“That’s true, but . . . ”
“Just focus on work . Don’t bother wasting your energy on other things . ”
“I know, I know . ”
“Good . Ah, right . Did you see that message by the way?”
“About how the prelims got pushed to December?”
Maru nodded . The competition that originally had its prelims in November and the main competition in December got pushed back by a month . Something about the location, according to Miso?
“More practice for two months, huh . Not like there’s anything more we can do . ”
The club was repeating runs of their play after that one festival, enough to start acting in their dreams . Dojin muttered a few words of annoyance under his breath before turning to look at Daemyung . Maru recently noticed that the boy’s eyes towards Daemyung had changed quite a bit .
“Did you two fight?”
“What? No way . Me? Fight who now?” Dojin asked with a smile .
“With Daemyung . You guys aren’t talking much nowadays, right?”
“Ah, right . ”
Dojin may have dismissed it, but his expression clearly said something different . Did something bad happen? Dojin avoided Maru’s gaze for a while, before finally giving in .
“I’ll buy you some hot chocolate . Can we step outside?”
* * *
Right outside the school where the school store was, was a little vending machine . One that sold little cups of hot chocolate and iced tea . To the students, this place was a sort of a pit stop . According to the rumors, the person who maintains this vending machine was rich enough to own land in Gangnam .
“Maybe I should try putting a vending machine in a school as well,” Dojin let out .
“What are you talking about, all of a sudden?” Maru said, taking a sip of his drink .
“It’s nothing . ”
“You’ve been using that phrase a lot recently, now that I think about it . Here I thought the person called Han Dojin was someone with a very vocal mind . ”
Dojin looked down at his drink . his face reflected through the brownish liquid . Whenever he looked at himself through a mirror, he used to think he was pretty well off . Nowadays, though, he looked very ugly through the hot chocolate .
It was lunchtime . Despite winter being so close, the field was still filled with students playing soccer . Dojin looked at the soccer ball flying across for a second before opening his mouth .
“I’m jealous of Daemyung . ”
He immediately regretted speaking, but it was already too late . Dojin shrugged and sipped on his drink . It felt bitter .
“Did something happen?”
Strangely enough, Dojin felt it would be alright to talk to Maru about this . It felt like the other boy would say something helpful for him .
“It looks like… Daemyung signed a contract with some sort of company . His college is going to be paid for, and he’s going to have a job afterward as well . ”
Right when he said this, he noticed Maru looking away for a second . What was that about? Maru opened his mouth after a few seconds .
“So, you’re jealous of that? The scholarship?”
“No, not that . Just, um, you know . He was a little iffy-looking when we first met him . ”
“He had all the characteristics of a victim of bullying . He was one, too . ”
“Hey! He’s a friend, you know!”
Maru grinned at Dojin’s angry words .
“At least you think of him as a friend, then . Thank goodness, it’s not as bad as I thought . ”
. . . Hearing that made Dojin a bit mad . Come to think of it, the other boy always seemed to know what the people around him were thinking .
Maru felt like a friend who wasn’t a friend, someone more akin to an older brother than anything .
“Who said he wasn’t a friend? It’s just… I felt so annoyed at myself . My middle school life was a mess, so I decided to come here to change things, but here I am . Nothing happened for the first year of high school . I didn’t study, I didn’t do anything special, nor did I win any awards . It’s not like I’m good at something, either . ”
“And suddenly seeing Daemyung, who you looked down on, suddenly doing well made you jealous?”
“Hey, that’s a very mean way to put it . It’s not like that . I’m just disappointed in myself . ”
“Be honest here . If you want to fix a problem, you need to know what the problem is beforehand . There’s a bunch of people in this world who live better lives than you, but that didn’t seem to bother you until recently . You suddenly got angry at yourself after hearing that Daemyung was doing well?”
“Yeah! Fine! I’m jealous! I hate him! Is that enough?”
He shouldn’t have asked Maru for help . He expected to hear some words he didn’t want to hear, but not to this degree…
‘ . . . No, maybe I wanted Maru to say something like this to me . ’
He was jealous of Daemyung . He was annoyed, too . Even someone like Daemyung managed to find a life for himself, and what was he doing?
Dojin’s true feelings revealed itself for a split second, making Dojin frown bitterly .
“If you knew what I was just thinking about, you’d think I’m complete trash . Good god . ”
“Something about someone like Daemyung doing well, but you can’t?”
Dojin looked at Maru dumbly .
“H-how did you know?”
“They say people only manage to communicate about 30% of information through words . The rest is carried through expressions, gestures, and the context of the entire conversation . ”
“Hah . Could you not tell Daemyung about this? I’m totally trash, aren’t I? My friend is doing well, and yet all I can think is… ugh . ”
“You always feel worse when you hear someone close to you is doing well . The feeling of jealousy is worse depending on how well you know the person . ”
“Don’t you feel anything about this? After hearing about Daemyung’s opportunity?”
Dojin was curious about what Maru thought . Was he really the only one who thought like this? Right then, Maru looked away with an awkward cough . For the second time . Dojin realized then that information really was conveyed mostly through expressions and gestures .
“ . . . You too?”
“Yeah, something like that . ”
“Mine’s actually supposed to be a secret . Ah, Geunseok probably got a similar contract to Daemyung, though . ”
“Yeah . ”
“No way . ”
Dojin suddenly felt very annoyed . What was he talking to Maru about this for?
“Don’t try to hurry,” Maru said .
He continued after crushing the empty cup in his hand .
“Life doesn’t always work the way you want it to . You can prepare all you want for something, but half the time, it doesn’t go the way you want it to . ”
“That doesn’t help me at all, you know? Ugh, I feel like I’ve been betrayed . So I was just getting left out here?”
Maru laughed a little, which only managed to provoke Dojin more .
“You guys can only say that because there’s someone watching out for you . I’m… I just get annoyed . I’m working just as hard as you, but… This just feels like wasted time . ”
“I guess it’s fair to see it that way . . ”
“Ugh, aren’t you supposed to say something encouraging here?”
“If people could change just through words, I’d use all of those words on you right now, but people don’t change that easily . Plus, you don’t need any advice or encouragement . You didn’t do anything wrong, nor is there anything wrong about the way you think . Daemyung and I were lucky, so we got chosen . Who knows when this luck would leave us?”
“But you guys ended up getting something anyway . ”
And he was the only one left where he originally started . While his two friends were advancing on and on .
“What do you want me to tell you?”
“ . . . . . . ”
Hearing that left Dojin a little lost for words . He was just annoyed . He knew he didn’t have the right to complain because he never prepared for anything or ever had any goals . Yet, he felt like he was betrayed somehow . He thought his two friends would be by his side forever, and yet…
“It’s normal to feel jealous, but try not to hang onto that feeling for too long . Don’t try to lie to yourself either . Don’t try to ignore Daemyung . Stuff like that is what ruins relationships . So just do what you’re good at doing: being honest . Go to Daemyung and talk to him about it . He’s probably a little worried as well . ”
“Hah, but that makes me look like the pathetic one . ”
“You were, though . ”
“You . . . ”
“But… thanks . ”
Thanks? Dojin looked at Maru oddly .
“Thanks for telling me your thoughts . I know that’s a very difficult thing to do . ”
Maru turned around after patting Dojin’s shoulder .
“Plus, I think it’s good that you’re worried about this at your age . But don’t try to look too far ahead into the future . You’re just a high schooler, and life isn’t so easy that it will always follow your plans . If you’re willing to make plans for yourself, you have to be ready to see those plans get broken . ”
“You say that, but you’re doing a lot of things already, aren’t you?”
Maru turned around with a slight grin .
“Well, I’m doing this because I know a bunch of things . So I’m trying it all . ”
Know a bunch of things? Dojin thought about those words for a second before frowning .
“Ah, whatever . I’m just going to say I’m jealous that you guys are doing well . So what if I feel pathetic? I should talk to Daemyung about this as well . ”
“There’s the Dojin I know . ”
“But if you guys do well, I’m going to leech off of you two hard . You better be prepared . ”
“Any time . I’m willing to feed a friend whenever I can . ”
Something told Dojin that Maru was being honest . Perhaps Maru would really lend him a room if he really needed it .
“Come . It’s practice time already . ”
Maru gestured towards the stairs .