‘Man, Daemyung, you look like you’re about to explode,’ Maru found himself thinking .
The boy probably didn’t know why Iseul was laughing right now, yet his face was redder than a ripe tomato . Well, he seemed to be fine with it, at the very least . Taejoon and Iseul weren’t mean enough to make fun of Daemyung to his face either . Maru noticed another kid in the corner quietly reading a book by himself .
It was Geunseok .
Maru was observing Geunseok carefully since a while ago . Because of how silent the boy was . He noticed that the book in the boy’s hand had something to do with acting . Such focus . Geunseok’s eyes never left the page regardless of the ongoing conversations around him .
He had a wide forehead, big eyes, and a pretty shapely nose . He still had a youthful appearance, but there was definitely handsome aspect mixed in .
Maru turned to look over some of the other club members . Soyeon, who was sitting to the left of Geunseok, she was chubby but not ugly . Kind of cute? She looked good in her short hair . She was in the same major as Geunseok and Yurim . Design . Soyeon kept glancing at Geunseok every once in awhile . How adorable .
Yurim, on the other hand, was on her phone during this entire time . She didn’t seem to be doing much on it, really . There wasn’t a lot you can do on a phone around this time . Maybe send a text, or play a few games? Her hair was a very dark brown, but it was natural . Otherwise the teachers would have said something about it .
‘Then again, this school only really cares about hair length . ’
Boys couldn’t get hair long enough to cover their ears, and girls couldn’t get hair past their shoulders . Despite the rule, students tried their utmost to keep up with trends . Yurim was one such girl . Her hair was curled right above her shoulder, a length that teachers were barely fine with . Maru turned to look at Daemyung for a second .
“The seniors aren’t coming,” the boy commented .
“Yeah . ”
“You feeling hot?”
“Not really . ”
“God, it feels so warm in here . ”
Daemyung glanced at Yurim as he spoke . Maru wondered for a second what the boy’s face would be like if their eyes were to meet . It would be an interesting sight for sure, but he decided not to do anything about it .
He’d feel bad seeing Daemyung’s face turn red as a beet again .
The boy was talking with the attractive people in the club right now and they were getting along . Dojin was mixed in the group as well . Come to think of it, Dojin was pretty handsome as a person as well . Just… his usual expressions at class didn’t allow for any appeal to his face was all .
Not as handsome as Taejoon, of course . Taejoon looked good enough to be in a TV advertisement right then and there . If Geunseok looked like a handsome, serious guy, Taejoon looked like one of those lighthearted, fun guys . He was probably really popular in class .
Maru noticed Iseul laughing in the group . She and Taejoon seemed to be close together despite being in different majors . They most likely knew each other from middle school . Iseul reminded him of Yoonjung, actually .
No, scratch that . She was like a quieter version of Yoonjung . Then again, anyone would look quiet compared to Yoonjung . Iseul, too, had very long hair that barely dangled above her shoulders . She looked like a popular kid, too .
His eyes met with Iseul’s . Maru turned away with a shrug .
‘This is pretty fun . ’
He had no idea how fun it was to observe people . They all looked so different depending on where their eyes, nose and mouth were .
That wasn’t all, of course . Everything from how their eyes moved, the way they looked at people, and the way their smiled . It made him realize once again how important body language was at conveying emotions . Even now, he could roughly tell how everyone was feeling even without talking to them . Daemyung’s emotions were as plain as day, whereas Yurim was the most difficult to figure out .
“Um, hey, guys,” Taejoon asked, getting the attention of the room, “Did anyone come here to become a stage manager?”
Finally, a constructive question .
“I want to try acting a little bit, though . Even if I end up becoming a side character . ”
“Even being an extra is fine, in my opinion . ”
Daemyung and Dojin responded respectively .
“Same here . ”
“I want to be a side character . An important one . Or a main, even . ”
Yurim responded curtly, and Soyeon carefully confessed her big plans to everyone .
“The most impactful character . Doesn’t matter who it is . ”
Geunseok got straight to the point, earning some claps from Taejoon . His expression didn’t change at all though, which reminded Maru of a Moai statue for a split second . They looked similar, actually .
“I want to be an impactful character too, then!” Iseul copied Geunseok, who glared at her a little bit .
“Yeah, sure, go for it . What about you, Maru?” Taejoon asked .
Maru thought for a second . Thankfully, it didn’t take long .
“Staff,” he answered .
“I mean, you’ll need at least one person taking care of the stage stuff while everyone else acts . I’ll come out as an extra every once in a while for fun . ”
“You don’t want to be a main character?”
“Not really . I’m having enough fun already . ”
He really was . Just being able to think and talk with different kids at the same time was very enjoyable to him . Living a fun life didn’t mean he had to be in the spotlight all the time . Maru wanted to be the person who could enjoy the little things in life, one who isn’t bogged down by reality chasing big dreams .
‘Maybe this is escapism . ’
Well, whatever . If there was anything his 45 years of life had taught him, it was that he needed to live a safe life . He remembered the piece of metal that went through the bus window and impaled his chest right then . The feeling of having all the blood drained out of your body . He felt dizzy enough to puke only seconds after the impact, he remembered .
“What’s up?” Taejoon asked in a worried tone . Maru just waved him away saying ‘I bit my tongue . ’
“And here I thought . ”
The conversation ended . It was a nice little bonding moment for them . Right then, the club room door opened . The advisor walked in with all the seniors, holding bowls upon bowls of food .
“We weren’t caught, did we?” Taesik, the advisor, asked .
“Yes, I think we’re fine,” one of the seniors responded, allowing Taesik to let out a sigh of relief .
“You didn’t wait long, did you?”
““No, sir . ””
“Well then, let’s eat first . I know lunchtime passed, but you all are still growing . ”
“Whoa . Did you buy all this, sir?” Dojin asked, earning a nod from Taesik .
“Thank you for the meal . ”
The club members closed the door and quickly started eating . The nervous air of the room was pretty fun for Maru . Taesik kept glancing at the club door . It was probably bad for them to eat delivery food in the school building .
“Um, teach, I think the vice principal saw us earlier . What do we do?” Yoonjung asked, worry imbued in her voice .
“Don’t worry about it and just eat . It’s our first meal together . ”
That was when the students really dug into their food . Maru was reminded of the military for a second . Of that time right after sports day when the troop hosted a massive barbeque for everyone .
“Eat, Maru . We need to clean this up . ”
“Yessir . ”
Maru answered, taking in a mouthful of noodles .
* * *
“You weren’t caught, were you?”
“Teach, who do you think I am? I’ve done this more than enough times . ” Minsung said proudly .
“Phew, we finished eating, so let’s head to the fifth floor now . ” Taesik said, standing up from his seat .
“The club room’s small, so most of the time we’ll be using the auditorium to practice . Even the stage feels small though . ” “The auditorium feels small? Really?” Dojin asked .
The auditorium accounted for the largest place in the main building . What would 12 people need to do to make that place feel small? The group followed the advisor all the way up to the fifth floor . Maru noticed that the props there were all covered by a tarp . Probably to prevent equipment damage like last time .
Maru glanced at Joonghyuk, who gestured at him to stay quiet .
“I know you’ve been here before, but I’ll introduce it again . This is the auditorium, where you’ll be spending your time practicing for most of the year . You can run and shout here if you’d like . Of course, not during class time, but during festival season . . . ”
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Taesik shouted like a cannon into the auditorium . His voice was loud enough to make the entire place ring, making the first years step back a little in surprise . Maru was surprised too, actually . He didn’t think a voice that loud could come out of someone who was just 160cm .
“You can shout this loudly if you want . ”
“Oh my gosh, you have such a loud voice, teacher . ”
“If you practice, you can become like this . ”
Taesik coughed a few times before continuing .
“Now then, I’ll take off after I say everything else . First of all, you know getting a teacher for you costs money, right?”
The first years’ faces stiffened, save for Maru and Geunseok . Maru knew nothing was free, and Geunseok probably knew something about this from the beginning .
“It costs 30,000 won per person . ”
“Ah . . . ”
Someone let out . Taesik smiled,
“ . . . But it’s been paid for . We got plenty of funding, so don’t worry about it . ”
30,000 won . It wasn’t a small fee for a student . Plus, no parent would be happy to hear that they needed to pay that much money for something other than studying . Especially if their child was going to an engineering school already .
“So make sure that you learn enough to perform an amazing play, alright?”
There was no hesitation in their answers . Right then, Maru realized that the second years didn’t look so well .
‘Hold on, there’s no way the club got good funding after their reputation took such a big hit . They have very few club members, too . ’
Well, that was strange . The second years’ faces probably had something to do with it too .
Taesik had been good to them . He was kind, he cared for the club, and he didn’t hesitate to give them food . In that case… .
Maru scratched his cheeks . Is Taesik using his own money? That wouldn’t be right .
Maru decided to keep watching for now . He didn’t want to say anything .