Yoonjung stared at the green tape under her feet . Once she stepped across it, she would be on the stage . In front of her, her friends were acting in this imaginary stage .
Joonghyuk, who was acting as the main character’s father, was sitting in a steel chair . Instead of a newspaper, he was holding his script in one hand and pretending to scroll through the television channels with the other .
“Why isn’t that idiot coming back? It’s already eight,” he said casually .
As expected of him . He spoke his line flawlessly .
Minsung walked into the stage next . As the uncle of the main character, Minsung stumbled onto the stage with his hands in his gym pants .
“Jungsoo still isn’t back?” he asked .
The uncle was a jobless character . He was supposed to be the main reason why the main character rebelled in the story .
The man was just one of those characters that decided to give up on working and live with his own family . The two characters started arguing on stage for a little . Since nothing really happened in the play so far, they weren’t really being serious about it .
This cheery air in the play would soon be broken by the main character’s rebellion, an ascension to a climax, then end with the entire family talking it out with each other on the dining table .
‘Phew, I’m getting nervous,’ Yoonjung thought .
Miso was still looking pretty calm at this point .
This practice run wasn’t as serious as an actual dress rehearsal, but they were still acting out the entire thing . She couldn’t help but get a little nervous by this .
Around this point, as the scene was about to end, Minsung ended up making a small mistake . His tongue must’ve gotten twisted . That was fine . He would just need to continue from there .
But instead, Minsung spent a brief second staring at Miso nervously . The woman’s eye twitched wordlessly .
Yoonjung felt her heart beat . There was no stopping this run, since it was supposed to go like a real dress rehearsal . Minsung swallowed before finishing off his line quickly . With this, the scene was finished .
Minsung and Joonghyuk stepped away from the stage . Yoonjung glanced at Minsung . The poor boy was nervously glancing at Miso .
Next scene .
Geunseok, the main character, walked into the house with Taejoon and Iseul, his friends .
‘As I thought, he’s good . ’ Yoonjung thought .
Geunseok plopped down on his chair, exhausted . He looked very natural doing it, too . Their conversation started . The scene was supposed to focus on the main character starting to feel conflicted because of his two friends .
Conflicted about traveling, that is . His friends wanted to travel to the beach in the weekend in secret . Geunseok was tempted, but he was feeling conflicted because he didn’t have the money for it, and he knew his father wouldn’t allow it .
“Come on, man . We don’t need to get permission at our age . Let’s just go . ”
“Yeah, come on . ”
Geunseok said ok for now, giving into the pressure . This much was fine . The scene ended pretty smoothly .
‘The problem is me,’ Yoonjung thought .
Yoonjung played Geunseok’s mother . She was supposed to be a very mean, overbearing woman . One that judged children purely based on their grades . She was supposed to be one of the bigger reasons why the main character’s relationship with his father worsened .
“Jungsoo,” she said, crossing the green line .
The air around her changed right then . Wasn’t it spring? It was supposed to be warm . But… why was it so cold around her? Was it because of Miso looking at her?
“Yes, mom,” Geunseok nervously responded .
He looked like a saddened child . Good . She should be able to match him pretty well . She was a senior, after all .
“Your midterm grades this semester… Why are they this bad?”
“I’m sorry . ”
“I knew it’d be like this . From the very moment I saw you slacking . All of my friends’ kids are competing on the national level, but look at you . You’re just embarrassing me . ”
“I’m sorry, I’ll do better in the final . ”
“Jungsoo, do you think I’m saying this to save my own face? I’m saying this for you . Alright? Look at me . Scores are everything for a person . Your happiness in the future correlates directly to your scores now . ”
Yoonjung tried to look incredibly satisfied by her own words . To try to look as annoying as possible . Now, it was Geunseok’s turn . The scene would end with Geunseok acting out of character under his mother’s gaze .
Suddenly, Geunseok’s eyes changed . He jumped out of his seat and charged towards her . This was in the plan, of course . He was supposed to shout at her . It was even in the script .
They’ve practiced for it .
But… this was way too different . The boy almost looked like he was going to run into her . His eyes were full of anger . Enough anger to make Yoonjung forget about the play for a second and step back with a flinch .
Geunseok started shouting . He was doing incredibly well . Yoonjung only managed to regain her senses when Geunseok started trying to signal her with his eyes .
Ah, she almost missed her line!
“Y-you dare speak out against your mother?!”
Ah, she screwed up . She looked like a mother that was afraid of her son, not one that had control over her son .
In any case, she stepped back off the stage . With that, the lights went off, and the scene got cleaned up . This was supposed to be the point where the scene changed to the ‘marketplace’ .
“Ugh, I’m so dead,” Yoonjung muttered, stepping off .
Danmi patted her back reassuringly . This would’ve helped normally, except this time it didn’t . She could feel Miso glaring at her . That lady had way too scary of a gaze .
“Hah . . . ”
“Cheer up, she’s just going to scold you at worst . ”
“ . . . ”
That’s the scary part…
* * *
Daemyung stepped on stage with Dojin . They were to lighten the mood of the play as they passed by a store .
They were also going to start a fight with the main character, as two 40 year old men going out for a drink after work . In the scene, they would run into the main character smoking with his friends out on the streets .
‘We can do this . ’
Frankly, Daemyung was surprised by the skill exhibited from his first-year friends . Yurim and Soyeon played their roles perfectly as the mother’s friends . Not only that, Taejoon and Iseul seemed natural during their performance as well .
Geunseok was exemplary, as usual . The only people who needed to do well were Daemyung and Dojin now .
The two exchanged glances . One mistake here, and they were as good as dead . Dojin was the first to step towards Geunseok, scolding the other boy for smoking . Daemyung’s role acted as support for Dojin’s . But when the time came for Taejoon to respond with, “just keep going on your merry way, misters”, the boy just stood there dumbly .
After a few seconds of awkward silence,
“Ugh, please! Just leave us alone!” Iseul shouted .
She took over for Taejoon instead, causing Taejoon’s expression to change into a slight frown . “You little bitch . . . ”
Daemyung changed the “bastard” in his line to a “bitch” instead . Iseul nonchalantly hit back with Taejoon’s line . She must’ve memorized all of the scenes by herself .
The third scene came to an end, and the other characters all left the scene, save for Geunseok . As soon as Taejoon stepped outside the green line, he turned to look at Geunseok with distressed .
“Ah fuck . ”
There were no better words to describe the situation for them at that moment .
* * *
After a few minutes of silence, Maru started to hear the joyous sound of laughing children again . Soojin seemed to handle everything on her own quite nicely . Maru peeked down at the first floor after playing with the finger dolls by himself for a while .
The kids were smiling again . Since they couldn’t continue with the puppet play, Soojin was playing with the kids with the dolls on her hands .
Maru couldn’t help but feel a little sorry . He messed up the entire play trying to go over the top . Soojin had explained to him that his audience would be children, too… He should’ve kept that in mind when performing .
Children are naive and oblivious . If you hid behind a door for a second then came out again, they would believe that you disappeared for a second . They understood everything at face value .
Of course they would be frightened if Maru roared loudly like that . He just completely ignored what would be considered appropriate and went with it .
Despite Soojin’s efforts, she was clearly having trouble handling 50 kids all at once . The teacher offered little relief, since the kids were just going straight for Soojin since she had the dolls .
Maru watched this for a second before looking back at the second floor . He remembered seeing something there a while ago…
There it was . In the corner of the floor was a fox mask . He put it on and stepped downstairs . Soojin smiled lightly as soon as she saw him and pointed .
“Look, there’s a bad fox over there . ”
The kids immediately responded .
“Mr . Fox is trying to hurt big sis Soojin . Big sis doesn’t like owies . ”
From Maru’s perspective, it almost looked like Soojin was a kid herself . She really had a knack for being a kindergarten teacher . He had to wonder at this point what her real job was .
“Bad Mr . Fox!”
Soojin pointed at Maru with a sniffle . The kids all ran towards him, grabbed his pants, and started shaking .
“Don’t hurt her!”
“Bad Mr . Fox! Bad Mr . Fox!”
These little twerps had a ridiculous amount of strength in their little bodies . Maru slowly made his way back to the room where the kids came from . He could play here, but the staircase behind him could be dangerous .
That was rule one of acting . Part of its purpose was self-satisfaction, but ultimately, it was a show for the audience . The audience here were the kids, and therefore, Maru would have to put them in the proper environment, for the most amount of entertainment .
“Mr . Fox is here to hurt . Fox! Fox!” Maru said .
He waded through the crowd of kids with a light voice . He couldn’t remember what foxes sounded like, so he just said “fox fox”, but the kids seemed to enjoy that even more .
“Why would a fox go fox fox? Hehehe . ”
“Then what does the fox say?”
“Eh? I don’t know . ”
“Let’s just say it says fox fox then . ”
Maru picked up the talking kid and shook the boy lightly . The kid seemed nervous for a second, but immediately burst into laughter .
“Me too! Me too!”
The kids crowded all over him, completely forgetting that he was supposed to be a bad fox . Maru turned to look at Soojin through his mask . The woman was giving him a big thumbs up with a smile .
* * *
“Do you really want to go play with your friends that much?”
“No, I don’t . ”
“If you really want to, just go . Make sure to call every day though . ”
“ . . . Dad . ”
Joonghyuk stood up from his seat and left the stage . Yoonjung, the mother, looked at Geunseok coldly before leaving herself . Geunseok gripped the spoon in his hand tightly for a second, before standing up with a sigh .
With that, the play was over . The actors came in one by one through the green line to prepare for the curtain call . The side characters were the first to bow to the audience . Once everyone else was done, Geunseok would take his place in the center .
The eleven actors grabbed each other’s hands, standing side by side, and bowed . With that, the run was over .
“What a shitshow,” Miso blurted, “a total shitshow . ”
“ . . . . . . . ”
“I knew things would be like this when you never bothered to do anything more than reading the damn script . Do you only practice when I’m around?”
No one could answer that . Of course they all practiced in their own time and of course they tried to read the script whenever they could . But at this point, anything they say would come off as nothing but excuses .
Yoonjung looked over at the kids next to her . They were all sighing dejectedly .
“Second years,” Miso called out .
Yoonjung and Minsung were the loudest of the group . Probably because they were the ones that made the mistakes .
“You guys were average . Perfectly average . Is that enough for you, though? You guys did even worse than the first years . ”
Miso glared .
Yoonjung didn’t dare look up . She completely fumbled on stage .
“Does it make sense for Jungsoo’s mom to flinch like that in front of her son?”
“No . ”
“Oh, so you knew that, but you still thought it would be a good idea to flinch? Unless… don’t tell me that you were intimidated by a first year?”
“ . . . . . . ”
“You have to get into character . You need to become an embittered woman that only thinks of her son as an advertisement for herself . You get it?”
“Yes . ”
“You’re only good at responding quickly, aren’t you?”
Miso turned .
“Minsung . ”
“Yes . ”
“Were your lines gum or something? You were chewing on it on stage for some time . ”
“I’m sorry . ”
“You think you’ll be able to apologize to the audience if you make the same mistake?”
She clicked her tongue afterwards . When Yoonjung glanced sideways, she noticed Minsung gritting his teeth .
Miso turned to look at the first years .
“Daemyung . ”
“Yes . ”
Daemyung responded nervously . Yoonjung recalled seeing the boy carry on the play pretty well with Iseul before .
“Good job . The worst thing that can happen during a play is for the audience to realize that the actor made a mistake . It’s also the most embarrassing thing for an actor to experience . You did well though . Iseul, you too . You need to step in immediately the moment you notice the idiot next to you makes a mistake . Never let the play come to a pause . Always remember, the show must go on . Understood?”
“Alright, we’re going to get dinner before doing this again . I’m going light on you guys since this was your first run . But be prepared to be scolded a lot if you make a mistake next time . ”
Miso’s eyes narrowed as she scanned the club .
Yoonjung avoided the woman’s gaze . Honestly, this teacher was so scary…