Life, Once Again! - Chapter 322
They applauded and cheered. Watching her performance up close was definitely different than watching her through a screen. Chaerim, who showed off her latest song, shined like an actor who had just finished their stage. The perfectly in-pitch voice as well as her little shoulder movements that moved perfectly according to the cute rhythm made them realize why Chaerim was loved by everyone. Professionals who had experienced many stages were indeed different.
It felt like they watched a mini concert. They applauded Chaerim again as she took a deep breath.
“That’s the general feeling. You don’t have to create a perfect choreography or anything. It’s a festival, right? Don’t try to do too well, and just do what you can. It’s just for making memories, isn’t it?”
“But watching your performance makes me feel even worse. Why are you so good?”
“I’ve practiced for years, so of course I have to do well. But I don’t do things for a talent show. I think giving your friends a laugh on stage has its own value.”
She nodded her head. Perhaps she was under the impression that they had to do well. The school festival talent show wasn’t a place where the participants were judged. There was no need to get so pressured into doing well. Although it was a simple matter, none of them thought about it until Chaerim reminded them. Everyone just thought about what they had to do. Changing perspectives was very important.
“It’s nothing that counts towards your grades, so take it easy. Also, you four were doing a dance, right? I’ll give you a CD of mine that has recordings of my choreography. That should help.”
“Really? We’ll be really thankful if you do.”
One of the boys sighed in relief. Five of them, who thought that dancing was better than singing, decided to practice the dance, while she and two others decided to sing.
“Then have fun. I’ll give you the CD tomorrow.”
Chaerim waved her hand and left.
“She’s completely different from how I imagined her.”
“That’s true. She’s really kind. Everyone on the internet was talking about how she was only like that on the surface.”
“They all say that because they’re jealous. I know that that noona has a pretty heart just like her pretty face. Hmhm, yes of course.”
“That was the first time you talked to her though.”
They started giggling.
“But Bunbun, you know Chaerim-seonbae?”
“Yeah. She comes to the acting club sometimes to hang out.”
“Ah, that’s right. She’s on a drama, isn’t she? She’s good at acting too. I thought it might be cringey, but it’s not like that at all. She’s really good. Do you practice with her at the club or something?”
“No, she just comes around to give us some encouragement. She’s a thankful seonbae.”
“Wow, that’s really kind of her. Actually, I used to write bad comments about her, but I guess I’m going to delete them all tonight and spam that she’s an angel.”
She pinched her prankster friend’s cheeks before standing up.
“I’ll be taking my leave first. I have practice.”
“Okay, okay. Bunbun is busy, so she needs to go. Let’s practice singing on Monday. As for the dance, you five can take care of it by yourselves. Now we’re going our separate paths. Since it came to this, let’s do it, whether it becomes a comedy or a serious one.”
“We’re going to be the TTO of Myunghwa High, so you girls should be prepared for it.”
The five boys who decided to dance made a suspicious smile. It seemed that they had gained confidence thanks to Chaerim. She told everyone ‘see you on Monday’ before running towards the clubroom.
“Sorry for being late.”
“If you know you’re late then do some stretching immediately,” the club president spoke as she pointed at the floor.
The other club members had already arrived. She changed into her gym clothes in the changing room behind the clubroom.
“Cleaning after school?”
“No. The homeroom teacher told me I had to go on the talent show.”
“You applied for it?”
“I got picked through a lottery.”
“Tsk, I guess you’re going to be absent during practice then?”
“I’ll try to come here as soon as possible.”
“Forget it. It’s not like you’re bad enough that a day without practice would impact your skills. No wait, it’s two days, isn’t it?”
The club president narrowed her eyes and smiled. She laughed awkwardly and looked away.
“Learn a lot of things during your shoot. You’ve decided your future career on that path, haven’t you?”
“But are you going alone?”
“Uhm… no,” she spoke as she remembered Maru’s face.
“That was a late answer. Tell me honestly. It’s a date, isn’t it?”
The club president approached her and whispered into her ears. She was startled and backed away. Thanks to the commotion, the other club members all looked at them.
“Go about your own business. Also, first years. Do you have time for this? Should we do some leg stretching?”
The first years started stretching since the club president was scary.
“What, I was planning to tease you, but it looks like I was right based on your reaction. Is it really a date? If so, you don’t have to hide it. You’ve done plenty of practice until now, so you can take a day off.”
“It’s not a date, seonbae. We’re really going to the drama shoot.”
“Re~ally? But why do I see that your ears have turned bright red?”
Hearing those words she quickly covered her ears.
“Well, I believe you since you’re not the type of person to lie, but it’s still suspicious. No, wait. Aha, you said it was a drama set, didn’t you? What drama is it?”
“The Youth Generation that your boyfriend appeared in?”
The club president nodded her head as though she understood everything and did not speak anymore. She explained to her that it was just a background appearance part time job since the club president looked like she had a big misunderstanding, but it didn’t work.
“This unni only has other girls to talk to at night, but our cute rabbit will be whispering love into her boyfriend’s ears, huh. If it goes well, don’t forget to introduce me to a good man later.”
The club president pretended to wipe away her non-existent tears as she spoke. This was what was bad about joking around with the acting club members. It all became a play. Her colleagues, who had approached the two, started teasing her along with the president. A plot for a drama was instantly created on the spot. She dazed out for a little and she had become a bad woman who was bullying the tragic heroine.
“I never wanted a daughter-in-law like you!”
“Madam! Please calm down!”
Seeing the prank go too far, she gave up and told them the truth. They were really unreasonable. But she didn’t feel offended or anything since they were just teasing her. They would apologize if she told them to stop seriously.
“Let’s get some snacks and eat it while watching the episode with her in it. It’s in two weeks.”
“That’s fine by me.”
She sighed and told them that she would buy those snacks.
“Then are you going to meet Chaerim as well?”
“I’m not sure. I only heard that I have to go there by 7 in the morning. It was originally 6, but it was delayed by an hour.”
“It’s that early?”
“Yes. I was surprised as well.”
“Well, I guess the hours of sunlight aren’t that long.”
The club president clapped to get everyone’s attention.
“Well then. Let’s begin practice. Let’s do a run after I check the homework I gave to the first years. We’re going to do it until 10 in the evening, so bear that in mind. We should put our mind into this. Get yourselves ready.”
She stretched her legs one final time before standing up. The club president no longer joked once they started practice. She would become a scary woman who would not accept a single mistake.
Phew – she took a deep breath before looking ahead.
* * *
It was 5 in the morning on a Sunday. The weight of his eyelids was considerable as it tried to close itself again. He looked at the blurred clock for a while until it became 5:01. Only when the number indicating the minute became three did Maru slowly sat up.
After slowly pushing away the blanket that covered his body, he got off his bed. The air wasn’t that cold even though it was early morning. There were signs of the weather getting warmer even though it just changed from July to August. Maru opened the door to his room and walked out. The living room was colored purple. He went to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, and the compressor in the refrigerator started making noises.
He poured some cold water into a cup and drank it. The cold water went down his throat and cleared his mind. A bit of chilliness came along with a sigh, signifying that he was waking up.
The road to being a wife-loving husband was long and rough. He did have a shoot today, at 10 am in Sangam High School. Although he didn’t have to wake up so early, he had to for today. It was all for her. She said that she would be fine by herself, but he did not want to send someone who had never even tried a part time job to a place with the scary leader and lots of other men by herself. Since she was in the 2nd year of high school, it could be said that she was grown up and capable of taking care of herself, but to Maru’s eyes, she was no different from a child. He couldn’t just let a child running towards the river be.
The kimchi-jjigae he put on the stove started boiling. Working early in the morning required a lot of energy. He also messaged her to have breakfast.
“You’re going out already?”
“Yeah. The kimchi-jjigae is still hot, so you can eat that. Oh, there’s the pickled green plums in the fridge that you like so much. Also, I think you should probably eat the squid in the fridge by today.”
“You’re like a housewife. Don’t worry about me and get going. Watch out for cars. You’re not coming back late, right?”
“I think it’s going to end early today.”
“Give me a call if you think you’re going to be late.”
“Yes yes, Mrs. Lee.”
As the supermarket had no holidays, it required his mother to work today as well. He told her indirectly that she could rest at home, but she firmly said that she wasn’t at the age yet. His mother wanted to work at least until Bada got married.
“I’ll get going then.”
He gave her a call as soon as he left his house. After around two rings, she answered.
“Aren’t you sleepy?”
-I am, fuam.
“Where are you now?”
-On the bus to Suwon station. What about you?
“I just left the house.”
-What the heck? Come quickly.
“Alright. Don’t doze off and miss the station.”
-Do you think I’m a kid?
You’re still a kid in my eyes – he swallowed those words and hurried towards the bus station. The first bus of the day was coming through the morning fog. He got on the bus filled with people that started the morning to Suwon station. When he got off, the sun was rising. He walked inside the station as he looked at the sun that was crawling up behind the station.
She waved her hand from beyond the ticker barrier. He bought a ticket before going in.
“We still have plenty of time,” he spoke since she looked flustered.
Perhaps she was a little excited because it was her first part time job.
“Yes. Have you eaten yet?”
“No,” she boldly spoke.
“I told you that you should have breakfast.”
“I thought I’d be late. Also, I’ll feel sorry if I wake mom up so early in the morning. She slept late last night because of editing her book.”
Maru sighed when she spoke like she had no choice.
He grabbed her hand and walked towards the convenience store in the station. He took out a bottle of warm soy milk from the warm drink storage right next to the counter. She liked sweet things, so he got a sweet flavor.
“I’m fine though.”
“It’s not fine at all.”
She nodded once before grabbing the bottle with both hands. A smile creeped up on her face after feeling the warmth from the bottle.
“Have you had breakfast?” She asked as she sipped the soy milk.
“I have. Food is energy after all.”
The train arrived just as she almost finished the drink. It wasn’t the rush hour yet so there were no problems getting on. Maru watched the scenery flashing outside for a while before turning around to see her. He saw the reason that made it worthwhile for him to wake up so early in the morning. She was dozing off as she tightly grabbed his hand. She was nodding off. An old lady who was sitting in front of her asked if she wanted a seat.
“It’s fine. We’re still young, and we shouldn’t take away your seat. Thanks for your consideration.”
Maru grabbed her by the arm and pulled her close. She flinched and opened her eyes.
“It hurts a lot if you fall over while dozing off.”
She silently looked up at him for a while before looking in front of her again. She hadn’t pulled her arm away from him. After yawning, she started dozing off again. She really needed a lot of sleep. It was almost a miracle that she woke up early. The train entered a tunnel. As there was a noise, she flinched and woke up again.
“We’re almost there.”
“You should wipe your drool.”
She quickly wiped off her mouth with the back of her hand. After feeling a dry mouth, she looked at him with angry eyes. Maru shrugged.
They passed another two stations. It was time to get off now. There was a huge crowd outside the train. Indeed, line number two during morning was hellish. The doors opened and before people even had time to get off, salarymen started rushing in. While Maru understood their feelings since they might not get the chance to get in… Maru saw that his girlfriend was being pushed back. She seemed flustered since this was the first time she experienced such a thing.
“Stay behind me.”
Maru barely got off the train with her at his back. One man, who was struggling to get in until the very moment the doors closed swore before turning around. She clicked her tongue as she looked at that.
“You’ll see that more once you get a job, so bear that in mind.”
“Really? I need to experience that every morning?”
“Sure you do.”
“Looks like I should get a car.”
“Don’t think that it’s easy if you have a car. Seoul in the morning is real hell.”
“Hmph, you sound knowledgeable. Have you experienced it yourself?”
“I have. A lot.”
She told him not to lie, but he just walked up the stairs with her. It was 6:30 in the morning. There was still plenty of time.
 Seoul’s line number two is indeed quite hellish during rush hours. It’s a circular line that passes most of the important points in Seoul. But I believe Suwon station is not on line number 2… Dunno what’s happening there.