“I honestly want to make this club great again . I need to get the people who are truly serious in that case . Understand?” she continued after a brief pause, “High school clubs are usually for casual things, I understand . But not here . Not as long as I’m here . I only want the crazies . I want the ones who are really crazy for acting . Otherwise you might as well just give up entirely . ”
Her words had strength to it . A different kind of strength from a typical leader . Miso was a tyrant . She was trying to take over the club entirely . This was wrong, especially since this was coming from a person unrelated to the school . But… When Maru turned to look at the second years, he noticed that they had their mouths closed . Even Yoonjung . Did they talk about this beforehand? Or…
The second years might actually like Miso . She was a tyrant . One that was determined to make the club members suffer . They experienced it last Sunday already . There was probably only one reason why they tolerated Miso’s tyranny despite all else .
The woman was talented .
She started with a club that had nothing, and took it to first place at nationals . Not only that, she became an instructor for a university club, even . The second years might not like the way she did things, but they had no doubts about her abilities . Because they were crazy, they were crazy enough to stay with the club even when everyone else left . They cared a lot for the club, more so than anyone else .
Maybe Miso and the second years recognized that they both loved the club more than anything else . That might be the reason for their acceptance of her way of teaching . They moved to the left without another word, with Miso standing in the middle of them and the first years still standing to her right .
“I’ll say this again . Sunday was just a hint of what you’d get out of me . That was about the worst you’ll get out of physical training . But you’ll definitely need to be prepared . I have quite the personality, as you may have realized by now . Despite this pretty face of mine . ”
Miso grinned . This woman was definitely pretty . She was expressive, and she even had a good body . But no one in the room thought that the woman looked pretty right now . Maru looked around him . To his expectations, everyone’s bodies were stiffened up even more than usual .
Except for one person .
Geunseok stepped to the left before Miso even managed to finish . He looked at Miso without another word . Miso nodded .
“Those of you who are thinking of working with me, be prepared to sacrifice your weekdays and your weekends . So think carefully . You really don’t want to be here to be casual . I don’t want people who are crazy in acting to become an actor . ”
Miso looked to her left .
“I’ll torture the people to my left . Same for the stage managers as well . After all, just because you signed up to be a manager once doesn’t mean you will always be a manager in this club . ”
And then to her right .
“I’ll ask for small tasks from the people to the right . Hey, can you do this? What about that? Stuff like that . I promise a fun high school life from you . I’ll let you watch plays every once in awhile as well . Sounds good, right?”
Her face wore a smile, but her eyes weren’t . She was making her position very clear to the students . The people to the left were the ‘real’ club . Everyone else were only here for the sake of it .
The first years exchanged their looks . Daemyung and Dojin looked at each other as well before turning to Maru .
“I’m doing it . Daemyung is going to as well . You too, right?”
“Dunno . ”
“What do you mean, dunno?”
Dojin walked over to the left with a deep breath . Daemyung scrambled over as well . The first years began moving one by one to the left . Iseul moved, then Taejoon followed . Yurim seemed hesitant at first, but ended up following her friend Soyeon to the left . Maru was the only one left .
He looked over for a second . Everyone in the club was looking at him expectantly . Plays . He actually quite liked plays . He’s seen a countless number of them when he was a road manager . He’s even asked several personalities about becoming an actor in the past . He was interested for sure .
Maru looked inside himself for a second . Just how did he want to live? The club would be fun . The people were great . He’d be able to be with his friends . But would it be a good thing to lose so much of his time to the club? He looked over at his two friends . They probably didn’t know how difficult life would get after this .
College degrees didn’t matter for squat if you didn’t come from a big one, and you had to learn random words from different languages for the slight chance you could use them .
Learning that you couldn’t become an employee of a company even after suffering for weeks as an intern, and realizing how stupid and unreal ‘dreams’ were in the end .
That was the kind of life waiting for his friends .
Even now, Maru was trying his best to study right after school . It wasn’t like he was trying to succeed as a scholar . He didn’t even have the brains for it . But he did know the amount of choices good grades would provide for him in the future .
That’s right .
He knew .
And that was the reason for his hesitation . If he didn’t know all of this, he would have stepped to the left right away . To make all those wonderful memories with his friends . He would’ve spent his time working his ass off to try to become an actor . But even now, he was weighing his options carefully . He was thinking about how much good this would do him .
Even though he didn’t want to . He couldn’t help it . He’s cried too much suffering from society trying to feed his family in the past . Thanks to it, there was a module in his head that did all his calculations for him .
He didn’t want to do it .
He wanted to just jump in there for a year .
[Daddy, can you buy me that? Please? Ah… No, no . I don’t actually need it . I don’t need it . ]
What day was it again? Christmas? Her birthday? He recalled his daughter’s exact words as she looked at something with desire . The first thing Maru thought of at the time was his empty wallet and his wife’s warning of ‘raising the rent’ . He didn’t say anything and just looked down at his daughter .
The poor girl caught onto his thoughts far too quickly . It was less painful for him to suffer a beating from his boss instead . Looking at such a little girl having to shake her head with such a knowing look made him feel like the world was falling apart .
He was living in the present .
But his mind was still stuck in the past . A constant reminder of his future .
The woman said to him that he could meet his wife and child again . His past came crashing back down on him . If he didn’t want to repeat his poor life again, he would have to try hard . He’d have to invest a lot in order to succeed in life .
What he needed to invest was time .
“Well, we’ll say this is it, then,” Miso turned her back on him .
The first years all looked at him strangely . Right, this was fine . He would give up a little bit of fun in the present to gain a greater happiness in the future .
Maru… did not move from the right .
“Now, Maru,” Miso said .
“Yes . ”
“You can leave now . ”
“…Yes . ”
He waved goodbye to his two dumbfounded friends and slipped out . What he wanted to do, he had no answer for . He was just getting chased around by the idea that he couldn’t ‘waste time’ .
A fun life…
Maru scratched his eyebrow . It felt like something was burning inside him, but maybe he was just imagining things .
* * *
Maru sat down on his table after getting dinner . He felt like a third year already . He didn’t like math or english very much, but studying it constantly at least allowed him an understanding of it .
‘I guess they were right when they said you study with your butt,’ he found himself thinking .
He looked at the clock after a while of studying . It was 10pm already . His phone beeped right then . Two text messages .
[You damn traitor!]
[Maru, this really hurts . ]
They were from Dojin and Daemyung respectively . It must be over now . Today was probably bad for them as well . He would expect no less from Miso . He sent them a text telling both of them to rest before coming out to the living room . His sister was watching TV . She glanced his way for a second, did she want to say something?
“You want to use the computer?”
“No . ”
“Are you hungry?”
That temper of hers again . His father wasn’t back yet . He was at his second night shift . Mom was out at her friend’s place working . Something about building cars? Maru didn’t quite know what she did . All he did know was that all of their money was being invested right back into this household .
He didn’t know when he was young . He just thought this kind of stuff was just… obvious .
Of course the fridge would have food . Of course the house would always be warm . Of course his parents would provide for him . But… They weren’t such obvious things in reality .
He recalled the phrase ‘equivalent exchange’ . This was what the house was . All the comfort he was experiencing came out from an equivalent amount of work .
“Do you want juice?”
“Oh my gosh, stop it!!”
His sister passed by him into her room after looking at him like an alien .
“Puberty, huh . ”
Maru stepped back into his room with a cup of juice in hand and started studying again . He would ask the smart guy about the parts he didn’t understand tomorrow . His pen moved smoothly over his book . Right now, he didn’t understand whether the decision he made today was the right one or the wrong one .
“I’ll be able to tell far in the future . ”
Maru studied for another hour before standing up with a stretch . He exercised for a few minutes before returning to his room .
It was a productive day . As a matter of fact, he probably couldn’t have been more productive . So why…
“Why am I sighing so much?”
Click . He shut off the lights in his room . Maru lay down on his heated mattress . Right as he was getting ready to sleep, he noticed a small light on the wall . It was a glow-in-the-dark sticker, shaped like a moon . Something he put up in the past .
[Moon is cool because it shines . ]
He recalled saying . But he knew better now .
“The moon is a pitiful thing . It can’t shine by itself . ”
The moon only shone next to someone brighter . Maru closed his eyes .
That night, Maru dreamed, looking up at the moon above him .