“What’s wrong with my resolution?” Daemyung asked .
Maru answered after a brief pause .
“I’m aware that you’re conscious about your appearance and I’m not going to say that your looks don’t matter, because they do . It is very easy to capitalize on your looks after all,” Maru continued, “I agree that you should try to change yourself, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to appearances . You said video games were a form of escapism for you earlier? Perhaps . But it’s also a part of you, something you’ve invested a significant amount of your time on . It’s fine for you to think you should focus more on sports, however it’s not fine to make that decision on impulse . If people make fun of you for being skinny later down the line, you’ll try to fatten yourself up again . Either way, there is no happy ending . ”
Maru paused for a second . This was a pretty difficult subject to talk about . There was no right answer for anything . It wasn’t like Daemyung could live in ignorance of the views of society . That didn’t mean he should mold himself in accordance to others’ ideals . Daemyung needed to find a balance, and maintain it . This wasn’t something that could be explained in words . It was something a person had to experience for themselves .
“Daemyung . ”
“Just follow these three things . Firstly, don’t look down on yourself . If someone else says derogatory words towards you, just tell them to stop . Second, start praising yourself more . Even for the small things . Last of all, and this is what instructor Miso said as well . Be conscious of your voice . Speak loud enough for you to actually hear yourself clearly . ”
“…Uh, sure . I will . ”
“It’s a random thing I came up with on the spot . You don’t really have to follow it by the letter . ”
Maru looked up at the sky for a second . He’s made that advice based on his life experiences and his readings from, but he didn’t know if this was actually good advice . At the very least, Daemyung looked more relieved about himself than before .
“Do you think I can do it though? Do you think I can become that confident?”
“I told you, didn’t I? People don’t change quickly . All that matters is that you actually try . You’ll see if you’ve changed or not if you look down the line later in time . ”
Maru pat Daemyung’s back lightly . He was used to giving advice . He’s done it a lot in his past life . All that experience was helping him out in this life as well .
“Let’s go . It’s cold . ”
“Okay . ”
“Yo Dojin! Let’s leave!”
Despite the cold weather, he left with a warm feeling in his heart .
* * *
Daemyung walked back into his house . The kitchen lights turned on as he walked in . It was his mother .
“Yes . ”
“It’s late . Go to sleep . ”
“Alright . ”
Mom turned to step back into her room . Daemyung called out from behind her .
“I’m going to change . ”
It was a resolution of sorts . It was embarrassing, but he wanted to tell his mom that at the very least . He could remember his mom crying when she found about him getting bullied . She was even fine with him transferring to a worse school than the one he was originally set on going to .
‘Mom must’ve had it hard as well . ’
He could see it now . How much his mother had cared for him .
“Y-yeah . ”
Mom stepped into her room with a bit of a confused expression . Maru previously mentioned that change was difficult .
12am . He would’ve stayed up gaming normally, but he decided to sleep . It wasn’t like he was giving up on games or anything . He just decided to turn it into a healthier habit . Balance was important .
“Work hard, me . ”
* * *
“I need to apologize to him,” Dojin said .
The two of them spoke a little bit more after Daemyung left . Dojin was feeling apologetic for his friend . That was the reason why he left his place to begin with . He was the bully, and Daemyung the victim . They might have gone to different schools, but that didn’t help with the guilt .
“Just apologize, then . ”
“…It’s embarrassing . ”
“Hesitating is even worse . Besides, you’re going to do it anyway, right?”
“I should . ”
“Just apologize and cheer him on . ”
“Damn it, I poked his sensitive spot because I was a little pissed off . Damn this stupid mouth of mine . ”
Dojin walked back home in anger . Maru donned his hood and started his ride back home . It was pretty late . By the time he got back, it was already 1am . He washed his hands and stepped back into his room .
But right before he could hit the hay, a knock on his door could be heard .
“Maru . ”
It was his dad . Maru got back up to try to open the door .
“If you're going to drink, at least learn how to drink from your dad . ”
With that, the man walked away . Maru stepped back into his bed with a grin .
‘He’s just like me . ’
He could hear the clock ticking near his bed . Maru closed his eyes . There were lots of things that happened today, at the same time it gave off the feeling that nothing happened . At least he was sure that he didn’t spend the day in vain .
* * *
Maru’s phone vibrated with a ding . Maru opened his phone for a second and closed it again . A call? This early in the morning? He tried to go back to sleep after hanging up, but the phone started ringing again . This time, he took the call with a sigh .
- Wake up, Han Maru!!
The voice was loud enough to make his ears ache . Maru moved his phone further from his ear after a moment’s hesitation . Who the hell was this? It was 8:43am on a Sunday . Practically dawn . Who was crazy enough to…
Ah, Yoonjung . That makes sense .
“Yes, I’m awake, senior . ”
He rose up from his bed, still unable to muster enough strength into his voice to make him sound like anything other than a sickly patient .
- Come to school .
- Come to school .
What the hell? Maru checked the day again . Right, it’s a Sunday for sure . Definitely not a day a student goes to school .
“It’s a Sunday, though?”
- Yeah .
- I know . Come to school, okay? You can, right? You don’t go to church? You don’t seem like a religious type . Right? Right? Right?
Maru wanted to tell her to take a step back and breathe for a bit, but chose otherwise .
“I’m going to church . ”
Of course, the Han family had been atheists for generations . But today especially Maru felt like he needed Jesus’ blessings .
“Yes . ”
- When does it end?
When did his wife come back home on sundays again?
“After all the afternoon sessions, around 2pm? Or 3?”
- So late .
“Yes . I don’t know what it is, but I’m sorry . ”
Maru grinned victoriously . He had no intention of going to school on a Sunday and he wasn’t dumb enough to sacrifice his break to school activities . But just as he was about to hang up… his sister stepped into the room with a shout .
“I’m going out to meet friends! Mom and dad went out to do something a moment ago . They left 20 thousand won, so I took half, okay?”
The door closed with a bang . Maru put his phone back on his ear with an annoyed face .
- What was that about church again?
Maru replied with a sigh .
“5th floor auditorium?”
* * *
Maru arrived at the school, still struggling to wake up . School? On a Sunday? Ridiculous .
“Ugh . ”
The school was quiet . There was no way engineering students would come to school on a sun…
Oh, there goes one . And another one . There was quite a lot, actually .
There was a boy running past him with a guitar bag, and a girl running across to meet her friends in baggy pants . There were more in the field as well .
“Huh . ”
Students, on a Sunday . It looked like they were all here for club activities . He could make out the music club, the dance club, and even some of the sports clubs with their advisors . Interesting, he didn’t think people were this committed to their clubs .
“School on a Sunday…” he heard someone say behind him .
It was Dojin . Maru smiled tiredly back at the boy .
“Well, they told us to come, didn’t they?”
“Ugh, I definitely wouldn’t have done this if I knew it was gonna be this bad . ”
“You can still change, you know . Want to?”
“No man, I was just complaining a little . We haven’t even begun our club activities yet . Plus… girls, you know?”
Dojin walked in through the gate with a small grin . Maru shook his head as he followed inwards . The two of them walked up the stairs quickly, up to the auditorium . They stiffened up when they heard a few shouts coming from inside .
Maru didn’t dare open the door . Dowook agreed with that sentiment .
“I wonder what that sound is?”
“Dunno . ”
“Want to just leave?”
“I’m going in if you’re going in . ”
The two of them opened the door bitterly .
“Oh, you’re finally here . ”
Miso greeted them in her black gym clothes .
* * *
“Don’t scream . Pull it out from your diaphragm . ”
The club members were projecting their voices into the auditorium . Though it looked closer to screaming at this point than anything . All 12 of them were here in the hall .
“Starting with Joonghyuk, then we’ll start moving left down the line . I’ll be on the other side . Open your mouth widely, try to clear out your throats as much as possible, and put some strength into your abdomen . Don’t try to squeeze out your voice . Push outwards with the air in your stomach,” Miso continued as she walked away, “I’ll punish you harder if you make weird noises, so do your best . ”
Miso posed comfortably when she reached the other side of the hall . She shouted ‘start!’ from across the hall . Joonghyuk began with an ‘ahhhh’ . This was the sound Maru heard from outside the door . Now, Maru was a part of this madness .
‘You received a quest to satisfy the demon king, Miso . ’
Shouting? At this time? Maru kept his mouth wide open for now . He’s picked up a thing or two from his time as a stage manager back in the day, so he was planning on trying some of them out for this .
Miso’s voice sounded like she was speaking right next to them even from afar . Minsung was the next to start, but as soon as he started,
“Louder,” Miso said .
The boy’s voice got a little bit louder . This continued until they reached the final one, Iseul .
“Good!” Miso shouted .
Was this it? But right then…
“All of you, duck walk over to me . Right now,” she said with a smile .