The first play Maru has ever experienced was a comedy about a troubled family . He bought the ticket during his college years, and sat down with his friends at a small theater .
The plot appeared complicated when he was watching it, but it turned out to be rather simple . The alcoholic father wasn’t actually an alcoholic, and the mother who always shouted was actually a big coward . The son who always swore in the house was actually a gentle soul who volunteered, and the daughter who always said she hated her family actually loved her family . The play ended with the family all coming to a mutual understanding with each other .
Being able to see each and every expression, breathing, and beads of sweat from all the actors came as a pretty big shock to Maru at the time . After that day, Maru’s watched plays pretty frequently . The reason why he decided to be a road manager to begin with was because he liked plays .
“Plays, huh,” he said, looking down at his desk .
There was a time when he wanted to become an actor . For a very short while, he’s admired actors on the stage very much . They looked like they were content with their lives . To Maru, who was struggling to find jobs at the time, they couldn’t have looked cooler .
Of course, he gave up upon realization the lives they led off the stage .
“Hey, you,” Dojin said .
It was right before the start of the 4th class . The class before lunch .
“You look really absent minded sometimes . ”
“It’s not that I look absent minded . I AM absent minded . I’m sleepy . ”
“No, tell me for real now . Did you . . . ”
[Masturbate all night?]
A word bubble popped up above Dojin’s head, making Maru smile a little in surprise .
“The hell are you laughing for?”
“Because I masturbated . Why do you ask?”
Dojin frowned in confusion .
“By the way, did you get the message?” Maru changed the topic . Thank goodness Dojin wasn’t the inquisitive type .
“About us getting together after school?”
“Yeah . ”
“Course I did . Why are we getting together, though?”
“Who knows . ”
Maru thought about it some more during the class, but he didn’t really get an answer . Eventually, the class ended, and the announcement for first years to go to the cafeteria played . They were running down the corridors as if a war broke out .
“Damn, look at them run,” Dojin said . He and Maru were the only ones left in class .
Eating slowly became a habit for them . There was one more person, actually . Daemyung slowly crept up to join them .
“Ah, I’m kind of scared,” Daemyung said, unexpectedly .
“What for?” Dojin asked .
“I’m worried about what the seniors might do . ”
“You worry too much . ”
“But you saw before, didn’t you? That pipe . ”
“That was pretty scary . ”
“Do you think they’d really hit us?”
“No way . ”
Maru butted into the conversation .
“Joonghyuk might hit us for real, though . ”
“That doesn’t sound surprising . ”
Dojin and Daemyung nodded in agreement .
“Ah, I asked a third year about the acting club a few days ago, right?” Dojin said, motioning the other two closer . “Apparently something happened last winter . That’s why all the third years and most of the second years left . ”
“Really? What kind of an accident? Did they fight…?”
“I don’t know the specifics . The senior didn’t know much about it either . ”
“Accident, huh . ”
Maru thought of a few of the possibilities . First, there was some trouble caused by two students dating . But this school didn’t care much about romance . Even the teachers mentioned students dating each other every once in a while . Dating was fine as long as it didn’t affect grades . Even Yoonjung was fine with it, unless if there was trouble with dating in the club . Then… a fight? Maybe . Or an incident might have happened .
“Should we ask?”
“When it’s time . ”
“Might be better not to . . . ”
The three of them said as they looked out the window .
* * *
“You’re all here . ”
The club didn’t meet in the club room on the fourth floor, but in the auditorium in the fifth . There were costumes and props strewn all over the place .
‘The club room would become incredibly cramped if the props all went into the room,’ Maru realized . The club room wasn’t as big as he thought it was . With those props back in there… it might not even be able to fit all 12 of them?
“You can tell why we called you here, right? Ta-da!”
Yoonjung pointed at the costumes with an excited look, to which Geunseok responded with a question .
“Are we moving all of these to the club room?”
“Yes, but we’re going to have to sort them out first . They piled up since we never threw away any of the props . They’re all precious, but we’ll have to get rid of stuff we don’t need . ” Yoonjung spoke in a sad voice . She wanted to keep all of them .
“How do we need to sort them?” Maru asked .
“Mmm, well, if you feel like you need it, put it on the left . If you feel like you won’t, put it on the right . ”
“ . . . . . . . ”
“ . . . . . . . ”
There was a short moment of silence . Man, Yoonjung . You aren’t very motivated about this at all, are you? Probably got forced to do it by someone else . And that someone else probably was…
“Just sort it according to how damaged it is . If clothes have big patches on them, put it on the right . For props, put it on the right if it’s too damaged to use . Got it?” Joonghyuk said .
Knew it, had to be that guy .
“Of course old things would get damaged . But they all have memories, if we throw them away . . . ” Yoonjung stepped forward only to be ignored by Joonghyuk .
He felt vastly different compared to his anxious self from when he introduced the club . This was probably what he was usually like . Well…
“Hey, hey! Let’s not throw that away, please?”
Some of them looked the same no matter in what context . Especially Yoonjung, with her traditional dress in hand .
Joonhyuk was absolutely merciless, though . The dress flew away to the right . It was understandable . The thing was almost reduced to little scraps of fabric .
“Boo!” Yoonjung pouted right from the back .
Joonghyuk sighed in embarrassment before turning to the first years .
“Don’t pay attention to the president . If you’re not unsure, put it in the middle . We’ll take care of those . ”
He was pretty efficient about it . The type of student that teachers would like .
“Now then! Let’s finish this quickly and go home!”
The first years got to work . Maru and his friends decided to stick with the props for now . There were stuff from scissors, spoons, and even some mysterious iron sticks in the pile . Just massive amounts of iron that you could sell for quite a profit to the waste collectors .
“Oh lord, there’s a lot . ” Dojin said .
Even Daemyung pulled out a fireplace scraper going ‘hey, I saw this at grandma’s place’ . Just what kind of plays were they doing? There were phones and even various armbands as well . How old were these props? It kind of made sense that Yoonjung wouldn’t want to throw any of these props away . Even Maru could feel the memories in each of them .
Maru turned back . He could see Joonghyuk looking at the pile in the middle hesitantly . He was pretty reluctant, too, from the looks of it . He looked at a particular drawing for a while before putting it to the left .
“Oh, yeah!” Yoonjung jumped up in joy .
Cute . She looked so pure and innocent .
‘ . . . Hey, Maru . You’re a high schooler too . Come on man . ’
His perspective kept switching over to his forty five year old self . That wouldn’t do . He couldn’t look at these people with the perspective of an adult . He needed to be a high schooler just like them .
“Here, get some food in yourselves . ”
Minsung and Danmi walked into the room with a few choco pies and drinks . Taesik, the advising teacher, walked in as well .
“Work hard . Don’t stay too late though, alright? If it does take too long, just call me . I’ll tell security . ”
The teacher disappeared promptly . It looked like he was the one who bought the snacks as well . Speaking of which, there was a question Maru had intended to ask . He turned to Danmi .
“I heard the teacher was the one who made the club?”
“Ah, yeah, that’s right . He gathered people to start the club in the beginning . He came up with the name ‘Blue Sky’ as well . He’s kind of like our super senior?”
“I see . ”
“He’s a good person . ”
Danmi offered him some more soda, which Maru received with a bow . After a short break of eating, the club got back to work .
“Uh… Senior . ”
Someone raised their hands from the costume section . It was the chubby girl . She had a troubled look on her face . Kim Soyeon, was it? Yurim, the girl with the brown hair next to Soyeon, wore the same look on her face as well . Maru stood up to take a look . He could see the seniors make their way over, their faces turning similarly troubled .
“Who the hell did this?!” Yoonjung ended up shouting .
Maru could visibly see a vein pop up on her forehead . He made the way over as well along with the other first years .
There was a line of costumes on the floor . All pretty clean . Wait, there was a small black spot in every one of them . Maru lowered his head a bit to look closer at it .
“It’s cigarettes . ” Dojin said . The club turned to him with a questioning look .
“Here, here, and here . Dojin must be right . I think someone burned a hole with cigarettes in each one of them . ”
Joonghyuk took one of the costumes and smelled it carefully .
“I can smell it . It’s pretty faint, though . ”
The second years only looked more distraught by this . Maru thought of the date for a second . It was… Monday . He’s heard that the seniors moved all this on Friday .
“Were the costumes like this on friday, by any chance?” he asked .
“Of course not . They were all fine . These two dresses were in pristine condition since they were so expensive . ”
“So it happened some time from Saturday till now . ”
“Can’t be,” Joonghyuk shook his head . “We locked the doors of the auditorium right after Saturday . I unlocked it myself just now . ”
“So it happened from Friday to Saturday . ”
“That’s right . ”
“There’s no way teachers would smoke here . ”
“So it has to be students . Probably third years . ”
Right then, Maru got a small flashback . He remembered seeing Dowook and his friends walk out together with cigarettes in hand . Were they talking about the auditorium at the time? Joonghyuk seemed to have noticed a change in Maru’s complexion .
“Do you know something?”
Maru shook his head . He didn’t want to point fingers just yet .
“No, I was just thinking about who might’ve done something like this . ”
“Hah… Don’t tell others about this just yet, ok? The acting club’s reputation has already taken a hit from the past . This would hurt us more than it would help if we told others about this . So… just keep it a secret for now . ”
Joonghyuk organized the situation pretty fast . Why wasn’t this guy the president again?
“We’ll put the costumes with the holes over here . We can just fix them . Let’s get back to work, guys . We have to finish this . ”
The auditorium was filled with sounds of props being moved again .