“Club activities start today?”
“Yeah, it’s been a while since school started, so we should slowly start getting things together.”
“Have you decided on a play?”
“Not yet. I’m planning to decide on one once the instructor comes.”
“Sorry I can’t help you out.”
“Once we get the schedule straight and we start practicing, I’m going to call you all the time, so don’t worry about that.”
The acting club started practicing for the winter nationals. During the summer preliminaries, they were defeated by a high school they didn’t even know the name of. Hwasoo High. That was a high school that they didn’t even hear about in last year’s preliminaries. Yet, such a school had gone to the nationals as second place after Myunghwa High. He didn’t have enough time to go watch their play, but he could hear some opinions from her.
-One incredibly good guy is leading the rest.
Although the national competition held in Seoul Arts Hall in August was won by Myunghwa High as he had expected, it was not a complete victory. They had to give up the Best Actor Award to Hwasoo High. The myth of Myunghwa High’s undefeated record of perfect victories had been finally broken.
“Hwasoo High, were they always so good?” Maru asked Daemyung.
“I was also curious about that and asked teacher Taesik. But even he said that it was a school he didn’t know. Apparently, they never participated in the Gyeonggi regionals until now.”
“Are they a new school then?”
“No, it’s not that either. Apparently, it’s a school in Seoul, and it seems quite famous in terms of academic results. It has a high advancement rate into good universities.”
“And they suddenly participated in the regionals this year and got second place?”
“Yeah. He told me that he heard some very skilled first years created the club, but I don’t really know many details. Oh, we have to go now. Good luck with your work.”
Daemyung and Dowook left the classroom together.
Iseul grabbed Dojin and disappeared. Dojin was practically marrying into Iseul’s family, not the other way round. Apparently, it had been more than half a year since he started going to her family’s restaurant and working there. He apparently chopped onions all the way through summer, so Iseul’s parents should have taken a liking to his earnest actions.
“Han Maru, let’s go play basketball.”
“I have work to do.”
“Why do you always have work?”
“I wonder about that too.”
“Can’t you just play a single game? It’s because we’re lacking people. Also, we’re playing with the class next door, so we can’t exactly bring anyone.”
“Which class? Electrical? Mechanical?”
Maru looked at the time. It was 5 p.m. While academic-focused high schools practically forced their students with mandatory after-school self study sessions, this school was taking ‘self’ study sessions a little too broadly in its meaning. This was why practically no one remained after school.
“Aren’t you going to self study sessions?”
“I can do that starting 3rd year. Rather than that, you’re coming, right? If you really can’t do a full match, then just help us out until 40 points. It’s an 80-point bet.”
“80 points in this weather? You guys are amazing.”
Maru pointed at the school field with his chin. The kids holding basketballs were cheering.
“But hey, what are you doing? A drama?”
“No, today, it’s for an ad.”
“You shoot ads too?”
“I’m just an extra. I’m just in the background.”
“Who else is in it?”
His friends listed the actresses in the country with a big grin on their faces.
“How would I know? I’m just going because the company told me I had work.”
“They didn’t tell you anything?”
“They would if I needed to know something. But why would I need to know anything when I’m at the bottom of the rung? I just do whatever they tell me to.”
Maru left the school building with a basketball in hand. He saw the guys from the mechanical engineering class waiting at the court.
“I’m leaving after 40 points.”
“Alright, everyone starts that way. 40 becomes 50, and 50 becomes a full match.”
The boys patted his back as they ran forward. Maru sighed as he followed them. A sports match between classes, whether it was basketball or football, was a match where they put their pride on the line, so it would cause a huge fuss if they lost. This was especially the case with the four people in his class. Those four played basketball whenever they had the time to. If he pulled out mid way without showing them anything, they’d probably text him and call him endlessly. It would be quite annoying.
“It’s hot, so let’s get this over with quickly.”
Maru threw the ball to the court as he spoke. There were three hours until the shoot.
* * *
He wasn’t running - that was the thought he had as he wiped the sweat off his forehead. The heat that he washed away along with his sweat at the washing area had come back to him again.
“Sorry. The air conditioning is broken. Don’t close the windows!”
The wave of heat he felt as he scanned his bus pass was just the preview. It was 6 in the evening, and the bus was full. He could tell what expressions the people on the bus, nay, the portable sauna, were making.
‘Man, I wanna get a car.’
When it came to driving, he had driven more than he ever needed to, but right at this moment, he wanted to grab the wheel. Even a small car was fine, as long as he could go somewhere in comfort.
Despite the silent screams from the bus, the bus driver kept loading more passengers into the bus. Maru, who was pushed to the window side, made an awkward smile to the person sitting and looked outside the window. He would arrive at the train station in just 4 more stops. Air conditioning was coming.
* * *
Murphy’s law. He had to read the expressions of the people in the car when the train arrived. The train driver’s announcement floated above his head: the air conditioning is currently under maintenance. We apologize for your inconvenience.
The door opened along with the announcement that they arrived at Yeouinaru station. Maru shook his head as he left the train. It was quite a tiresome day. This was definitely not his lucky day today.
After passing the ticker barrier, he immediately entered a convenience store. He was finally greeted with some cool air. He bought a tube popsicle and the chilliest canned drink he could find. He wanted to buy some beer, but he wasn’t old enough yet.
He chewed on the tube popsicle as he headed towards the meetup place. His original schedule today was a shoot for the historical drama, but he got a message that it was cancelled the night before. He wasn’t notified of the reason though.
He thought that he could get some rest since a schedule was up in the air, but it seemed that his company did not plan on having him rest. He immediately got a call from Byungchan. There was a shoot for an ad, and he was needed to fill the headcount.
He left through the 3rd exit. The Hangang park was filled with people running away from the heat. After throwing away the empty popsicle tube, he looked around. He saw a group of people in a place a bit away from the 3rd exit. They looked completely awkward with each other, so they didn’t seem to be companions. That left one possible answer. Maru also walked towards that group. He saw a person checking names.
“Is this the meetup place for the ad shoot?”
“Ah, yes. Where are you from? Taeyang? Daejoon? KA?”
“I just got a call from my company.”
“Really? What’s your name then?”
“Han Maru, Han Maru. Oh, here it is. JA, huh? Do you know how to write the log?”
The man handed him a palm-sized piece of paper.
“Write ‘commercial advertis.e.m.e.nt’ on the program, and ‘casual’ for the clothes. Once you’re done give it back to me.”
He gave the man the log after writing his name, and some of his personal information. This was usually for companies that managed background actors for their payroll. There was no reason for him to write one since he didn’t come here through one of them, but he wrote one anyway since he was told to.
There were around twenty people gathered here. Since it was a shoot for a telecommunication company, there were only young people around.
“We’re moving now. Please get in the coach.”
They got in a coach and were driven for around 10 minutes. Maru saw a school outside the window. Jangho Highschool. The bus went past the school gates and parked in the middle of the school field.
“We’re getting off.”
There were many cars parked in the school field other than the coach they came in. Students peeked outside the classroom in curiosity since they seemed to be in self-study sessions. It seemed that there weren’t any celebrities here yet. Maru could tell that from the lack of noise.
“Please change into gym uniforms. Oh, and don’t forget to take off any accessories you’re wearing. Over there! The one with strong hair. Please tone it down.”
A man who styled his hair with wax brushed his hair with his hand in dejection. Maru changed into the gym uniform in the bathroom and moved to the right side of the main school building. He saw a few students who escaped the watch of the teachers and came here to watch, but they soon left after finding out that there weren’t any celebrities here.
“Please quiet down. We’re going to the 4th floor.”
The man led the people to an empty classroom on the 4th floor.
There were table tennis balls in many colors inside boxes. Just the number of boxes lined up in the corridor numbered a dozen at least. Maru wondered what they were going to do with all those balls.
“Once the shoot begins, you just need to throw the balls around and look like you’re enjoying it as much as possible.”
“You mean those?”
The uses for them were revealed. He thought that there was going to be a warm couple since he was told that it was an ad for a telecommunication company, but it seemed that he was wrong. He went inside the classroom and waited for the main characters. He wondered which celebrities were coming.
He yawned and had a look at the time. It was past 8 now. The equipment for the shoot seemed to be almost set up as well. There were eight cameras in the corridor shooting the class through the window, and six cameras at the back of the class. He had never seen so many cameras before. He thought that the funds for shooting a 15-second long aesthetics would match the budget of an ordinary drama episode.
“Please get ready. The director is coming.”
It was finally time. Maru stretched his neck out and looked at the back door of the classroom. He saw a woman with dark bags under her eyes. She looked very tired. She was young too, so Maru wondered if she was sick or something.
“I hope we can do this enjoyably, Haha. I am Park Jiseon, and I’ll be working with you today. And yes, I am the director. Though, I don’t think any of you wanted to know that.”
She yawned as she staggered her way across and sat down. Behind her, a good-looking man and a woman pair came in. They were actors he saw on TV. Also, one of them was someone he knew.
“Oh? Han Maru.”
He waved his hand at him. It was the guy who always had a grin on his face, Sooil.