* * * *
Although he felt unlucky when he picked the number four, he never realized that he would be one of the first to be picked.
Thinking about how numbers 1, 2, and 3 would be sighing in relief and laughing at him, he felt a headache.
Unlike his name, Gwangseok, which was a manifestation of his parents’ wishes for him to grow up brightly like the light (Gwang, 光), and sturdily like a rock (seok, 石), Moon Gwangseok’s expression was very dark.
‘Since it’s like this anyway’, Gwangseok decided to think positively about it and opened the door to the audition room.
What he saw were two men sitting behind a long table, as well as a monitor and a camera that stood next to them.
He was expecting that much, but the people behind the two men weren't something he expected at all.
There were people who were staring at him with their lip sealed.
‘Wasn’t there supposed to be two judges?’
“Number four, step forward and the rest of you may wait behind, “ Hoyoung, who introduced himself as the film director, spoke.
He gave off a heavy pressure.
Junmin, who spoke softly outside the room, also looked very serious.
Gwangseok felt his legs go limp.
“Stand on top of the x mark and get ready.”
He stood on top of the spot marked x with duct tape.
He felt like going crazy right now.
This was the first time he stood in front of so many people in an audition.
Gwangseok’s first audition was more of self-introduction for someone else’s graduation project, and the one after that was for a short film and only the director was present during the audition.
However, over five people were staring at him along with Lee Junmin, who was a famous producer.
‘This is a minor role, why are there so many people here?’
He gulped subconsciously.
He felt a tingle behind his knees.
His lips felt dry.
It would be over if he got nervous here.
Gwangseok remembered about his parents who were fully supporting him and faced his fears.
“Don’t mind the camera and look wherever you want.
You can look at the camera, or you can look at us.”
“Don’t be too nervous.
If you get nervous, we will get nervous as well.
Just drop all your worries.”
Hoyoung acted quite nicely.
Gwangseok cheered up and took deep breaths.
“Once you're ready, you can begin.”
Gwangseok introduced himself with a “I’m number four, Moon Gwangseok from Star Academy,” and started his free acting.
The short skit he prepared was ditching after school self-study sessions and persuading his friend to join him.
“Hey, let’s go.
Even if we do get caught, it’ll only be a few hits.
But if we ditch, we’ll get to play with the girls from the girls high school next to us.
What’s youth about? Is it staring into a textbook? Of course not.
Youth is when a man and a woman of age share passionate love.
The teachers always tell us, don’t they? That there’s something more important than studying.
Today’s that impo…,” He spoke up to this point when someone interrupted him.
“Stop,” it was Junmin, who had never spoken a word until now.
“Do you know why I told you to stop?”
Gwangseok walked towards the table and had a look at the monitor, which Junmin was pointing at.
Right now, the monitor only showed empty space.
When Junmin pressed a few keys, the video rewinded.
Soon, his own skit started rewinding.
Junmin stopped and resumed the footage.
When Gwangseok watched his own skit, he couldn’t help but frown and bite his lips.
“We’re not an academy.
I don’t even have time to tell you what you did wrong.
But you should at least have something to earn from this place, right? You see what you did wrong, don’t you?”
“Go and wait on the side.”
He wasn’t able to ask if it was over for him.
He did poorly according to what he saw in the footage.
His expression was stiff like a rock and lacked vitality, and his gaze was all over the place.
When he pondered to himself about why he did so, he realized that he was too conscious of the people behind the judges.
Above all, his actions were terrible when viewed through the monitor.
He mistook that the camera was taking a bust shot and did not control his hand movements properly.
Gwangseok grieved when he saw that he was fidgeting to himself when he was acting.
‘I was too conscious about the camera.’
Hyoung definitely told him not to mind the camera.
Gwangseok closed his eyes and went back in line with the rest.
He didn’t even fill the five minute time limit and only spent 20 seconds.
As for his script acting…
“Next,” a cold voice sounded out.
Gwangseok looked downwards in dejection.
* * * *
Although he expected it, it really wasn’t easy just like what he thought.
The two people sitting in front of him weren’t looking for students for a school festival musical but a proper actor.
Meaning, they would not forgive any mistakes.
If there were a few people applying, then they might have given him another chance, but there were a lot of people waiting outside.
It would take an extremely long time to go through their skits one by one, so there was no way they would give another chance to someone who missed their opportunity.
They were extremely rational and cruel.
Junmin’s eyes as he looked at the rest of the participants contained no hint of affection.
He was looking for just skills, just character, and just creativity.
The fact that he signed a contract with Junmin was useless here.
‘In fact, it might be a disadvantage.’
Junmin was a clever man.
He would give full support if it seemed like something or someone profited him, but immediately cut all connections if he deemed otherwise.
If someone became close to him, then he might change his mind, but right now, there was nothing like that between Maru and him.
In fact, Maru had the obligation to prove his worth to him.
“Next, number 11.”
“My name is Park Jintae.
Please take care of me.”
“That’s what I want to say, and you’re supposed to do well.”
“Stand on top of the x mark and begin once you’re ready,” Hoyoung spoke as he had a look at the monitor and the person alternately.
He looked like a completely different man from the interview.
His casual impression was gone and his eyes contained a hint of sharpness.
His eyes were fiercely looking at the candidates.
If one was pressured, then they wouldn’t be able to bring out even half of their skills.
Taking lessons from the first candidate, the second person did better.
This boy, named Jintae, acted a delinquent.
His swaying motion looked very good.
It was just that…
“Wait,” Junmin raised his hand and stopped him.
It wasn’t a ‘stop’ but a ‘wait’.
The boy immediately stopped his act and stood upright.
Then, he looked at the judges.
“If you keep fumbling your words like that, the boom mic won’t pick up anything.
The boy seemed to have understood and started over, but as his rhythm was interrupted once, his actions started becoming awkward.
As Maru watched from the back, the swaying motion now seemed to stem from injury rather than from being a delinquent.
Jungmin gestured for him to stop.
However, before he could say anything another voice sounded out from behind.
“Let’s have him try the lines.”
It was a man wearing a baseball cap.
His voice was quite deep.
Junmin nodded his head and passed a script onto the boy through another person.
‘Is he an actor?’
Due to the baseball cap and the script in the man’s hands, his face couldn’t be seen.
Maru predicted that the man was in his forties from his voice.
You see Gyushik’s son’s lines, right?”
“Have a close look at the stage directions and begin once you’re ready.”
After having a look at the script for a while, the boy took a short breath before going through the lines.
“Father, I’ll be off then.”
“Yes, be careful.
Oh, don’t you need any pocket money?”
You gave me some not too long ago.”
“You can stop there.”
The boy gave back the script.
Junmin wrote a few lines on the boy’s profile.
The boy expected that he was going to do more, but it was over.
He came back.
The boy, Jintae, didn’t look too good.
His expression contained deep disappointment as though he could show them more than what he did now.
Maru felt like he was in a canned tuna factory.
He was a canned tuna who went through processing, and the people in front of him were quality assurance personnel evaluating his quality.
If he did average, then he wouldn’t be picked on, but nor would he be elected.
He would just become any other ordinary canned tuna.
He had to be different from the rest.
Whether in a good way or in a bad way, he had to catch the eyes of the people in front of him.
It had been ten minutes since the audition began.
Despite that, the people in front of him clearly had bored expressions.
This was a very dangerous sign.
From the fact that the people in front of him had dozens of other people to see, this stale atmosphere had to be changed as soon as possible
“I’m number 18, and my name is K, Kim Joonmyoung.
I’m from G, Gangnam actor.”
This candidate was the worst possible candidate to change the atmosphere.
He seemed like he was a patient with an anxiety attack.
The atmosphere became even worse.
Maru found that the people seated behind the table as well as the people standing behind them had disdain in their eyes.
“Go on once you’re ready.”
Despite that, Hoyoung and Junmin looked at the boy in front of him.
They had the mindset of professionals to not miss any potential candidate.
It would have been good if their passion for work worked positively for the boy, but the boy named Joonmyoung seemed to be heavily pressured by their gazes.
“Uhm… uh… uhm….”
Maru found him pitiful.
This boy should have prepared a lot for this.
However, the audition was where one needed to show results.
After watching for about 10 seconds, Junmin sighed and shook his hand.
The boy standing on the x mark didn’t even see his gesture and stood still.
You can go back,” only after Hoyoung spoke out did the boy come to himself and step backwards.
The boy did not have any expression as he stepped back.
He looked dazed.
Maru heaved a deep breath before standing up.
Although he had prepared a delinquent act as well, it seemed that it was better for him to change it for something else.
It was used too much before him.
If he did the same, he would probably get lower scores.
He had plenty of lessons from the people prior to his turn.
His breathing was normal, and he had just enough tension.
The x mark.
That was the stage.
Thinking of it as a stage, he became a lot more relaxed.
He even felt a little excited.
He even had something like an uncontrollable urge to spill all of his emotions to the people in front of him.
However, Maru suppressed those urges temporarily.
The skit he was about to do was not something that required him to express his emotions violently.
What he was about to do was to show a thin strand of his emotions flowing out from his suppressed emotions.
Perhaps what he was about to do was not acting, but a confession.
“May I use a chair?”
“Sure,” Hoyoung replied as he pointed at the chair next to him.
Maru placed the chair on top of the x mark and sat on top of it.
“I’ll start once I get ready.”
After checking Hoyoung nod, he closed his eyes for a moment.
What he was about to say now was the cold hard truth.
Though, a little technique would be added.
If acting was about imitation, he was going to imitate himself.
He heaved a deep breath.
“I got to know love at an age too young to discuss love.
I met someone I wanted to take responsibility for while I was still insufficient.
That person was a foolish person who looked after other people more than herself.
She was courageous, devoted, and above all… pretty,” Maru smiled as he reminded himself of her smile.
There was no need to proactively think about ‘making a smile’.
Just thinking about her made him smile subconsciously.
“Naturally, I had a lot of competitors.
There aren’t many men who can leave a girl like her alone.
I became close to her due to a coincidence, but I couldn’t be relieved.
That’s why I stuck to her.
So that other men couldn’t approach her.
Perhaps due to that, she accepted my proposal.
Oh, of course, it didn’t happen so easily.
There were a lot of hurdles.
In any case, we got married and moved into our own house.
Although we had to get a loan, it was a cozy home for us.”
He shrugged his shoulders before continuing.
“Those days didn’t contain that many hardships.
Sometimes, we fought because our opinions didn’t match, but those fights didn’t last long.
I know well that I can’t win against her.
Every day passed without a hitch.
Those were ordinary days with laughs and annoyances.
And amidst those ordinary days, the two of us became the three of us.”
He combed through his memory.
He couldn’t remember much, but the faint smell still lingered in his mind.
“The baby had the smell of happiness.
It was very similar to the smell of that person.
The baby grew every day and when I came to, she was walking with her two feet.
Her first words were ‘papa’.
it was definitely papa.”
His voice was very tranquil.
The faces of the judges flashed in front of him, but he did not see their expressions.
The audience of this monodrama was himself after all.
“The baby grew, and eventually she reached the age where she rebelled with a straight face.
Geez, she made me so dejected.
That feeling you get when the little daughter telling you ‘you’re awesome’ changes to ‘you should lose some weight’ is just… Phew, but that was still good.
When I opened my eyes in the morning, my beloved was next to me, and when I left my room, there was the child I loved even more.
That seemed like an unbreakable, eternal happiness.
At least, I thought so.”
Maru heaved a long sigh.
Then, he progressed with his thoughts.
His relaxed body started getting goosebumps.
That moment became vivid in front of him.
The large lump of metal stomped on his chest.
“It was an accident.
Yes, that was an accident.
The sweetness of happiness still lingered within me, yet I was dying.
I thought about a lot of things.
At the same time, I resented enough to kill.”
Creak! He gritted his teeth.
His heart whispered to him that it was time to let loose a little of his reason.
He abruptly raised his head.
Then he glared at the camera.
“That happiness wasn’t something that was supposed to end there.
That person and my child weren’t supposed to sink into sadness like that.
I resented the heavens.
I cursed god.
If I could, I wanted to rip them apart and drench myself in their blood! However… even that frustration died down soon.
The moment I realized I was dead, my rage became empty.
What remained, was just worry.”
He spat out the stale breath stuck at his throat before sitting back down again.
He was extremely agitated because he reminded himself of that event, but his eyes were surprisingly looking at the clock.
He felt that his tranquil reason was acting in contrast to his emotions.
It felt somewhat new.
Before, it was one of the two.
He either suppressed or released.
Right now, it was neither.
He felt as though he could get hot again and cold again within moments.
However, that feeling soon disappeared.
Reason and emotion started their territorial fight again and Maru started calming down
“That’s the end.”
“I think there’s more.”
“A story only attracts interest when it’s cut mid way through the fun part.”
Hearing that answer, Hoyoung burst out laughing.
Maru calmly looked at the mood amongst the judges.
For now, he wasn’t stopped mid way.
This could be considered that he succeeded half way.
At that moment, the man wearing the baseball cap voiced out.
“Let’s have some more look at that fellow.”
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