Hyehwa station . It’s been a while . The streets were filled with the gentle breeze of May . He could see people walking around with light clothes . Were they actors or audiences? Maru wasn’t sure . He could see a man walking around with a guitar on his back . The man sat down next to a cafe and started playing like that was his stage right there .
The guitar’s noise didn’t travel very far, especially without an amp . People still flocked around him regardless . The man’s melodic voice had quite the strength to it . Various students, couples, and individuals were flocking around him .
“Want to listen?” Miso asked . Maru nodded .
The man’s music was good enough to pay to listen to . The man was surrounded by a massive crowd in no time . After finishing his first song, he gave the crowd a short bow . This definitely wasn’t his first time . The crowd opened up their wallets as the man opened his case towards them . Maru took out a thousand won, too . One of the kids even gave the man an unopened pack of bread on his hand .
“Thank you . ”
The musician took a bite of the bread, giving a curt nod towards the kid . Someone else gave him a drink in response .
“Man, I’m lucky today,” the man laughed . After finishing his food, he started his next song .
He was playing purely using his fingers and voice, unaided by any devices . After singing four more songs, the man stood up from his spot .
“The next performance will be at Maronier park . ”
He left with that, bringing a part of the crowd behind him like rats following the pied piper .
“Shall we go?” Miso asked .
“What else would we do here other than to watch plays? Let’s just watch a short one . ”
Miso tried to drag Maru away by his arm again . Maru removed his arm from her grip carefully before walking by himself .
“You’ve got quite the personality, huh?”
“I don’t like being dragged around . ”
“Even if you were dragged all the way here already?”
“We could go back, then . ”
“…Tsk . You talk too well . ”
Miso stepped forward first . There was quite a crowd in front of both of them . It was a warm Saturday . It was inevitable that lots of people would come out to play . But as the two of them stepped towards one of the smaller theaters, a voice called out to them .
“You’re here to watch plays, right?”
The voice was from a handsomely-dressed man . Probably a college student . He had a few tickets and pamphlets in his hand .
‘A part-timer, huh,’ Maru noted .
One of the few regular things you would get to see at Hyehwa station . Some of it was done by the youngest member of the troupe, but most of it was done by hired part-timers . Maru knew about them pretty well . Since their pay rate depended directly on their sales, they would often stick to you like leeches .
“This is a play that our theater is host…”
Right when the man said about this much, Miso grabbed the man’s shoulder and pushed him away .
“We’re both in the same line of business . Can we not?”
The man shut his mouth with a frown . He looked like he stepped on feces . He dusted off his clothes and walked away muttering ‘freaking unlucky’ .
“What? Unlucky?” Miso snarled .
“Just leave . Don’t bother my work . Jeez . ”
The man stepped off after giving Miso a short glare . Miso opened her mouth for a second with an angry expression but stopped herself after a glance at Maru .
“Ugh, so many delinquents around here nowadays,” she said instead .
“Don’t worry about it . He’s just trying to make money . ”
“Right . Trying to make money . That’s why I’m being so understanding . But that doesn’t mean… wait, did you come here before?”
“A few times . ”
Maru answered lazily before turning to look at the man again . He was approaching a few female students with a bright grin on his face . He was beginning to explain with a bunch of gestures, halting the students’ movements .
“He’s got one, that bastard,” Miso said .
Maru took another look at the man and the students . The man was using more forceful words by the second . He could feel the students getting more troubled as well . The man showed them the tickets . He didn’t seem to be planning on letting them go unless they bought it . In the end, the students whispered together for a second before reaching for their wallets .
Maru headed over to the group . It wasn’t bad for them to get introduced to plays this way, but… He didn’t like how the guy was doing it . Threats were a no go .
“Just go buy the love tickets . ”
“Excuse me?” the students responded .
Maru could feel the man glaring at him .
“Students get to watch at a cheaper price . You should check them out . “
“Ah, thank you . ”
The girls shuffled away towards the way Maru pointed . They didn’t stop even when the man shouted ‘hey hey, come back, we have better things here’ at them .
“Damn it . Had to get a few idiots blocking my way . ”
The man stood in front of Maru .
“You here to sell tickets as well?”
“Nope . ”
“Then what are you doing? Why are you blocking my sales? Are you from a different theater? No, there’s no way . You’re just a high schooler . Fuck . ”
“Please why your language . And there’s nothing good about forcing your tickets onto poor students . ”
“Force? Me? Hah . You call a nice introduction like that a forceful one? Huh? Huh?!”
The man poked Maru’s shoulders a few times . A word bubble popped out when their eyes met .
[Fucking turd . ]
Well, there really was no need to see it .
“I’m sorry for being a little turd . In any case, I would actually like to apologize for interfering with your business . ”
Maru bowed . He wasn’t planning on saying this much in the beginning . He was just planning on walking away after getting the girls away . But the more he talked, the more annoyed Maru became . Why was he getting so annoyed over this? This wasn’t the type of thing that should bother him this much .
“Hah, just leave . You’re annoying me . ”
“Just don’t be so forceful . What if they never come here again?”
“I get it so leave . Fucking…”
The man raised his fist . Maru wasn’t too surprised . The first thing that came to his mind was ‘I’ll just report him if I get hit’ . The classic method of defense against older men . He stepped forward, taunting the man to punch . The man was the one who became more troubled by that . He walked away with an annoyed face, looking for a new place to sell tickets .
“You’re quite a piece of work, did you know that?” Miso said .
Maru had to agree with that one . He really didn’t expect to be doing that . That wasn’t something neither his younger or older self would’ve ever thought about doing . So what was that? What made him so annoyed at the part-timer? He couldn’t really figure out why and thinking about why just made his head hurt more .
‘Did something happen in the future?’
His memories were just getting hazier . Watching them just sink underneath like that in real-time made him feel a little scared sometimes .
‘At least I can remember them at crucial moments . ’
“Let’s go . ”
“…Sure . ”
* * *
The place Miso lead him to was a small theater located on the second floor of a building . The theater’s name was Blue Sky .
Miso smiled mysteriously as she stepped in . When Maru followed, he was greeted with a line of people next to the entrance . He could hear a few voices from inside .
“We’ll be accepting those with assigned seats first . I’m sorry for the wait this might cause . ”
A lady was guiding the crowd with a smile . She seemed to be in her mid-twenties .
“Let’s wait a bit . We don’t want to bother the audience . ”
“Sure . ”
Miso was very forceful a lot of the times, but when it came to her work she was more serious than anyone else . Eventually, they were next in line .
“Hey . ”
“It’s been too long . ”
“Too long? I was here 2 weeks ago . ”
“But I wasn’t here then . Are you here for someone?”
“Nah . I’m here to show this kid a play . ”
The woman’s eyes landed on Maru, who responded with a curt nod .
“He looks nice . Who is he?”
“I have no idea . ”
The woman made a confused look for a second .
“You got any seats left? We’ll stand in the back if not,” Miso continued .
“We’ll probably have a few available . ”
“I’ll wait, then . I want to check if you’ll get any more customers . ”
“Ok . ”
Maru stepped into the theater with Miso . It was dimly lit with darkened lights . There seemed to be around 70 seats in the entire theater packed into the building . It wasn’t possible to sit comfortably, but that was what made theaters charming .
“Please stop eating once the play begins . We’ll give you plenty of time for pictures after the play as well, so please refrain from that during the actual play . These are rules that are meant for you to enjoy the play to the fullest, so please understand . ”
The lady at the line started talking on the stage . The audience started putting away their food immediately .
“We don’t have any spare seats . ”
“I can watch standing . ”
“Yes, let’s . This can be pretty fun, too . ”
Miso seemed strangely excited . She actually felt quite a bit different compared to her usual self when she came to Hyehwa station . More… excited? Kind of in a way that kids were excited . The lights started to dim in the theater, signaling the start of the play . Right then, someone came up to the two of them to talk .
“You’re here . ”
“Yep . ”
Maru took a look at the man talking with Miso . He couldn’t make out much of the man’s face out of the shadow .
“Alright, I’ll see you later then . ”
“Where are you going?”
“The director wants to see me . ”
“Ugh . You’re a total star now, aren’t you?”
“Psh, this is nothing . Who’s the kid?”
“Who knows, a future coworker?”
“Hm, is that so?”
Maru squinted . His eyes were starting to adjust to the dark light, but before he could make out the man’s face, he stepped away from sight .
“Sorry you have to work with Miso . She’s a piece of work,” he said before leaving .
Maru couldn’t help but snort a little . Miso opened her mouth to say something, but the play started by then .
“It’s starting . ”
“Shut up and just watch . ”
“Alright . ”
The spotlight turned on with a ding of a bell .