Life, Once Again! - Chapter 529
“It’s quite late.”
9 p.m. Although Sunday practices usually ended around 3, it went on for longer today. He waved his hand at his juniors leaving the hall in tatters. They smiled back at him awkwardly.
“Aren’t you tired?” Daemyung asked as he tossed him his bag.
“I am. My throat hurts a bit as well. I’ve never talked for so long before after all.”
Maru looked at the three 2-liter water bottles in the plastic bag. He had drunk those over the span of six hours. When he decided to watch everyone’s acting, he did not plan to do things lightly, but nor did he plan to dig so deeply. When he talked to them, he realized that he got something out of it from talking to them, and when he kept asking questions because of that, the sun had set.
“Why didn’t you stop me?”
“I just kept watching since it looked fun.”
“Really? They looked tired though.”
“Not for them, it looked fun for you. Also, it was fun just listening to them, so I didn’t want to stop you. In the first place, they wanted this after all. They should have been prepared for this much at least.”
“Were you always the strict character?”
Daemyung shrugged. Maru turned the lights off in the hall before checking whether there were any windows open.
“Where’s Dowook? I think I saw him with Chihwan before.”
“He left first. Apparently, he has to help out with cleaning a large vehicle at the petrol station.”
“He’s going to succeed that business, so I guess he should do that. But it looks like Dowook and Chihwan are pretty close, eh? I could see them together for quite a bit today.”
“Chihwan also likes bicycles, apparently.”
They relied on the light from their phones to walk down to the 2nd floor. They knocked on the door of the night-duty room which was to the right of the staircase and told the security guard that they finished practice.
“You should go home early.”
Leaving behind the security guard who climbed upstairs while yawning, they went down to the 1st floor.
“You’re riding your bike home, right?”
“Then I’ll get going first. See you tomorrow.”
“Watch out on your way home.”
Daemyung disappeared with the juniors who were waiting by the school gates. Maru pulled his bike out from the bicycle rack. The wheel moved and the chains started turning.
He thought that he should lubricate it since he could hear unpleasant friction noises from the chains. Dowook would probably take care of it if he asked. As for the fee, some bread and milk should suffice.
He turned on the headlights he attached in between the two handles. He lightly kicked off and went outside of the school when he saw a long shadow right underneath his wheel.
“Why haven’t you gone home yet?” Maru asked as he looked at Chihwan.
“I had something to ask you, seonbae-nim.”
“Ask me? You should’ve done that through text.”
“I don’t think that’s polite.”
“I’m not that stuck-up…. So, what did you want to ask?”
“It might sound like a stupid question, but there’s no one to ask around me other than you.”
Chihwan tensed his eyes.
“Is it hard to become an actor?”
Maru replied without hesitation.
“Yeah, it’s hard.”
Done? – he added before pedalling away. The bike moved forward.
Chihwan walked quickly next to him.
“Is it really that hard?”
“It is really that hard.”
“Do you think it’s harder than studying?”
“Studying is hard too.”
“Then which one is harder? Becoming successful as an actor, or becoming successful through studying?”
“Well, both of them are hard. But in the case of the former, there are elements of gambling. If you have an ace up your sleeve, you will become popular, but if you don’t, you either take it slow and steady, or just fall altogether.”
Maru sped up his pedalling. He was pretty exhausted right now. If the questions were on point and he could help with them, he would’ve stopped to answer them, but he didn’t feel the need to answer any of them since all the questions required the resolve of the person.
“You’re good at running.”
Despite the fact that he sped up, Chihwan kept up with him.
“If there’s one thing I’m confident in, it’s running.”
“Why don’t you make use of that talent and become an athlete? You have a good build too.”
“I only like running. I’m not good with ball sports either, and I’m a little afraid of them.”
“I guess you’ll be a marathoner then.”
“I abandoned any thoughts of that after I did a half marathon once. I’m not fast enough for short distances, and I tried swimming as well, but there are real freaks in swimming. Their legs and shoulders are just enormous.”
“You tried a lot.”
“My older brother used to tell me that it’s good to try everything.”
“Then you can continue to do that in the future. If you keep trying, you’ll find something that fits you.”
“What if I don’t?”
“There actually might not be any. Actually, that’s the case for most people. How many people in this world actually know precisely what they want to do? They just end up doing it due to circumstances and become adjusted to it. That’s just how people live.”
“But that’s a really boring life.”
“Is your house well off?”
“I think so.”
“How good is ‘I think so’? Do you have real estate?”
“Uhm, I’m not sure about the details, but as far as I know, we own a building.”
“What did your parents say when you said you were going to an engineering high school?”
“They just wanted me to graduate safely, and not make any bad friends.”
“Are you on good terms with your father?”
“Before I entered the acting club, we always used to go fishing together. My father really likes fishing. He’s totally obsessed with it. I like it too.”
“What about your brother?”
“He runs a café.”
“I guess that’s that then.”
Maru put the brakes on. Even though Chihwan must have run for around five minutes, his breathing was stable. His stamina was really good.
“What’s what then?”
“Don’t worry about anything and just try various things out.”
“If you are uneasy about it, then you should first go home and consult your father about it. He’ll probably tell you to do what you want. If you slip midway, you can just succeed one of your family businesses.”
“But that’s not my life. I want to try achieving success with my own power.”
Maru narrowed his eyes and looked at Chihwan. Why did these Ahns have such strong personalities?
“What do you want to hear from me?”
“I might not show a lot of emotions on my face, but I’m really tired right now, okay? If there’s an answer you want, tell me. I’ll give you that answer.”
Hearing that question, Chihwan crossed his arms and pondered about it. Maru looked at him for a while before stepping on his pedals. Chihwan chased him from behind while shouting ‘seonbae-nim’.
“Are you a stalker?”
“Then please let me go home. I really don’t have good stamina. I have a fatty liver as well.”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you yet, did I? I actually have cancer.”
Chihwan quietened down before narrowing his eyes to look at him.
“Why are you doing this to me? If you are doing this to me to haunt me, then I’d like to tell you that it’s really effective. Your plan was very good.”
“I said that’s not it.”
Maru narrowed his eyes and spoke,
“This is becoming really unpleasant for me. I have an incurable disease where my self-confidence plummets when I’m with good-looking people, okay? If you were a cute girl, I might have made some time to listen, but no matter how I look at you, you aren’t the cute type. You are biologically male as well.”
“…You’re really different from what I thought.”
“That’s how it is most of the time. Well, can I leave now? It’s getting cold too.”
“Then should I buy you coffee or something?”
“No, I’ll politely decline.”
“Then what about a blind date?”
“Sorry about that, but I already have a girlfriend.”
“I’m going to propose to her soon.”
“I’m scared because that doesn’t sound like a lie to me.”
“Well, I’m serious about this one.”
After making a surprised expression, Chihwan soon clapped and congratulated him. Maru shook his head in resignation.
“You really are my natural enemy.”
He was daring, yet pure. It was impossible to calculate his next actions because he didn’t think about such a thing at all. He was like a puppy that wagged its tail as it approached him. Even if he shouted ‘go away’ and flicked it away, it would flinch and glance at him before approaching him again and then lying on its backs wanting to play with him. Maru really wasn’t good with people like that. He could easily come to a conclusion with people who talked while pressing buttons on a calculator, but those that stayed true to their emotions were hard to deal with since there was no concrete result in mind, causing the conversation to drag out endlessly. Bangjoo seemed reckless because of his loud voice, but he knew how to handle himself in front of others, so this guy couldn’t be compared to Bangjoo either.
To compare him to someone, he was like the polar opposite of Suyeon.
“Think about what you want to ask. I’m going to give you ten minutes to ask and then I’ll leave right after that, so choose your question carefully,” said Maru as he pointed at his watch.
Although Chihwan’s personality was hard to deal with, Maru liked him because he approached him in order to solve his curiosities. It was just like how people who asked how to eat something were much more likable than those that just nagged to be fed.
He got off his bike and looked at Chihwan.
After thinking about it for quite a long time to the point that he was groaning, Chihwan brightened up before speaking,
“How did you become an actor?”
“Can’t you explain to me in more detail?”
“I was acting in the acting club, and an opportunity arose which led to my meeting with the president of my current agency.”
“Ah! I guess you asked that president to make you an actor.”
“That’s how it was.”
“What did you ask him to do?”
“It’s a bit complex, but to sum it up into one line, I told him that I’ll act for three years for 300 million won.”
“Ah…. what? You gave him three hundred million won?”
“Then you received three hundred million?”
“No way, that must be a lie.”
“It’s hard to know whether you’re telling the truth or not because there are no signs when you are lying, seonbae-nim.”
“That’s why one of my career paths was a scammer. If I scam about 10 billion and then rot in jail for two years because of economic offense, I’ll still be able to live an easy life after all. If I put all that money under someone else’s name, it won’t be taken either. This country is so pro-scamming.”
“Th-that doesn’t sound like a joke to me.”
“Then maybe I’m right. Also, you know that time is ticking right?”
Five minutes – he added before putting a foot on a pedal.
“Have you ever regretted doing acting?”
“Regretted? Fortunately, no, at least not until now. I’m earning money, it’s fun, and I get to spread my name around. If I can last long, I’m thinking that it’ll be a pretty good job even if I don’t become hugely popular.”
“Don’t you want to become successful?”
“It’d be good if I did. Yeah, that would be great. But rather than becoming successful, I’m more interested in not failing. It’ll be fine as long as I don’t slip. I’ll be satisfied as long as I can feed myself and my family.”
“Is feeding your family that important of a goal for you?”
“Being able to eat properly is the most important thing. Of course, pooping too.”
He yawned and looked at the time. Ten minutes was almost up.
“Time’s almost up.”
“Let’s do one last question. I’m really tired right now. You should go home as well. Where do you live?”
“Damn kid. I have to ride my bike for over 30 minutes to get home. Let me go home already, okay?”
Chihwan laughed before scratching his head.
“Then let me ask you just one more question.”
“What is it?”
“Can I become an actor like you?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“Can’t you tell me that I can?”
“You will not be able to become an actor.”
“I’m leaving now. Also, you are forbidden from approaching me within a 5m radius for a while. You’re draining my energy. Oldies like me get tired when talking to young ’uns like you. Okay?”
The bike strode forward. His sleepiness flew away when the cold air hit his face. Once he got home, washed up, read through his script once, and lied down, the long day would finally be over. Just as he was thinking that, a short breath escaped Maru’s mouth because he heard a breathing sound. Chihwan was running towards him.
“Seonbae-nim! I really want to become an actor after I saw you acting! So I’m going to ask you a lot of things in the future too! I’m quite persistent, you know?”
Watch out on your way home – Chihwan saw him off with a cracked voice. When he glanced back, he was panting with his hands on his knees.
“Just go back to studying, kid!”
“Then become an actor!”
Maru smiled as he pedalled.
He found a new junior he had taken a liking to, though he was a bit reckless.
* * *
Chihwan straightened up his body after seeing Maru-seonbae going off into the distance. He felt like his heart was going to burst after running at full speed for a while. He panted for a while to calm his breathing before turning around when,
He forgot about something important. He took out his phone. He looked for a number in his contact list before pressing the call button. There was a series of call beeps before the other party picked up.
“Uhm, Maru seonbae-nim! I completely forgot about this and didn’t giv… seonbae-nim? Seonbae-nim?”
Maru hung up on him. Chihwan licked his lips before looking inside his bag. The lubricant for bicycle chains that Dowook-seonbae gave him was still inside.
-You have something to ask Han Maru? Then give him this since you’re waiting for him. He’ll take care of it if you give it to him. He rides his bike every day, yet he really doesn’t take care of it.
Chihwan shut his lips tight.
“I guess I can’t help it.”
He tightened his bag straps before running at full power. He should be able to catch up if he ran like his life depended on it.
“Seonbae-nim! Wait! Don’t run away, just wait a bit!”
Chihwan ran at full speed towards the bicycle that kept speeding up.