It was noisy even though it was early morning.
Bada, who usually sleepily walked out of her room around 10 o’clock, was preparing herself early in the morning.
“Does it feel that good?”
Maru shook his head and sat down at the table.
He scooped a spoonful of rice out of the rice bowl that Bada had gotten for him.
He never realized that there would come a day where his sister would prepare breakfast for him.
“Don’t forget to message mom when you get there.
And don’t forget to message her again once it’s over.”
“Don’t worry about that.
I’m going to send ten, no, a hundred messages.”
She took out her phone and called someone in front of the door.
It was probably a friend of hers.
Today was the day of TTO’s concert that she had been looking forward to so much.
Maru remembered how she was so excited like a puppy seeing snow for the first time last night.
“Watch out on the train.
Remember to scream first if someone strange approaches you.”
“I get it already!”
“Don’t inconvenience the elder sister of that friend of yours.
You need to be polite the closer you are to your friend.”
“I know that.”
“Don’t jump around too much because you’re excited.
I’ve seen on the news that people collapse due to dehydration.
Don’t forget to bring water with you and drink regularly.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“And don’t come too la….”
Slam – Bada closed the door and left.
Well, she really couldn’t help herself at times like these.
Just when he clicked his tongue, his mother came out of the main bedroom with a yawn.
“You should’ve slept some more.
It’s only nine right now.”
“It’s too noisy to sleep.
What about Bada?”
“She just left.”
“Geez, she’s quite something.
The concert starts at six, and she has to leave now.”
“She says she’s going to hang out with her friends.”
His mother suddenly glared at him.
Maru slowly turned his gaze to the soup.
“This kimchi-jjigae is good.”
“I get that you want to help your sister, but don’t splurge the money you earn, okay?”
“I said I got them for free.”
“Like hell those were presents.
Mom looked into it already.
What? A million won?”
Lee, please calm down.
It’s a special occasion.”
“So you spent such a large sum of money without consulting me?”
“I’ll have to say this again, but I really got them as a gift.
Why would I have so much money? If you can’t believe me, should I call the president right now and hand it over to you?”
“…You just won’t lose out in words, huh.”
“That’s because I take after you.
Stop talking about a done matter and you should eat some breakfast.
You’re on break today, so you should get some rest when you can.”
Maru prepared a set of rice and soup for his mother so that she couldn’t nag at him anymore.
Since she was someone who hated to talk about bad things while eating, it should be enough to make her calm down.
As he had expected, his mother sighed and started eating.
“Are things going well these days?”
“You know, you’re going to practice something.
Was it action?”
“It’s going well.
Whose son do you think I am?”
“What about your body? Are you sure you didn’t get injured?”
You know me.
I have a sturdy body.”
“That you do, to the point that you never got badly ill when you were growing up.
But watch out anyway.
I heard that some people get crippled because something goes wrong with it.”
“You’re worrying too much.
I wonder how you gave birth to a son and a daughter with that worried mind of yours.”
“It’s because I wanted to.”
His mother smiled faintly.
“What about you? How’s work going?”
“I can handle it.
Things are complicated with labor unions and whatnot, but it’s not something for us cashiers to think about.”
“If they approach you and want you to join, then join them.
Don’t make yourself suffer.”
“Don’t worry about me and worry about yourself.
Your mom is capable of handling it.”
Who can go against our Mrs.
Maru finished his breakfast before standing up.
“You’re going to drink coffee, aren’t you?”
He asked as he poured some water into the kettle.
“Did you drink coffee?”
“Things happened and I started drinking.”
“Don’t drink too much.
It’s bad for your body.”
“I’ll stop if you stop drinking as well.”
“Mom’s fine because I’m old.”
“What kind of logic is that?”
Maru went to the living room with a cup of coffee in hand.
He turned on the TV and sat on the sofa.
The TV was talking about food that was good for the bones.
Carrot and Kale.
He wondered if he should buy a juicer.
Since it was obvious that his mother was going to object, he thought about buying it in secret.
Just as he was about to switch to the news, he heard his phone sound.
He put the coffee on the table before going into his room.
He picked up his phone which was on his bed.
-I need you to come to the company.
“The company? What time do I have to be there?”
I’ll get washed and go immediately.”
After the call, Maru went to the bathroom immediately.
He washed his face and hair before coming out.
“Where are you going?”
He dried his hair before changing clothes.
He wore a grey t-shirt with the words ‘happy’ sewn onto the left chest, and a pair of jeans.
He put a book to read on the bus in his bag and came out of his room, only to see his mother handing him a 10,000 won note.
“I have money too.”
You won’t know what will happen.”
He wondered what expression she would make if she found out that there was 300 million won in his account.
Maru received the note before leaving his house.
When he went to the bus stop, he saw a bus coming just in time.
These kinds of trivial events made him happy.
After he got on the bus, he thought about some things.
Why would Junmin tell him to come to the company all of a sudden?
‘Not that I’m in a position to ask.’
The bottom-of-the-rung had to do what they were told to.
It did seem quite urgent seeing how he called early in the morning.
He got off the bus and took the train.
When he read the book he brought, time flashed by and he was in Gangnam station.
It was 10:23.
He got off the train and exited through the 12th exit.
Just then, he got a message from Taesik.
They got the silver prize in the regionals.
“So we failed huh.”
He wasn’t that worried since their school passed the preliminaries with flying colors, but they didn’t seem to make the regional finals.
He didn’t feel like it was a pity though.
Honestly, he thought that it was a relief.
He had lost interest in the stage.
He only focused on his play with the objective that he wanted to bring Daemyung to the nationals.
Moreover, unlike last year, where the acting competition was the only thing he had, he had more important things to do this year.
Considering the opportunity costs, it was actually good that he failed here.
He felt sorry for Daemyung and the others who would be disappointed about this news, but in the end, this was just a competition on a high school level.
‘Last year, I even cried in secret because I was too frustrated.’
He had definitely changed a lot during the past year.
Just as he was wondering what to send Daemyung, Taesik sent another message.
It was the names of the schools that got grand and gold prizes.
“It’s not Myunghwa High.”
He thought that Myunghwa High would naturally take the grand prize, but a school he hadn’t heard of before got the grand prize.
Myunghwa High got the gold prize.
He didn’t think much about it since there were bound to be new and better things.
But Hwasoo High, huh.
It seemed to be a school in the northern region of Gyeonggi-do.
Just as he was texting Daemyung, Daemyung called him.
“Did you get the message?”
I guess we didn’t make it.
“Are you disappointed?”
I’m not that disappointed since we did everything we could, but it does tick me off.”
“Ticked off? You are?”
I can get angry too.
Rather than that, what do we tell the others? I think they were looking forward to going to Seoul Art Hall.
“I guess we should tell them to do their best and try their luck next year.
Hey, but can I be honest with you?”
“For me, I actually don’t feel that disappointed at all that we didn’t make it.
I’m not angry either.
In fact, I think it’s fortunate for me since I have more time.
I have things to do after all.”
His words may have been unnecessary, but he didn’t want to lie to Daemyung.
After a while, Daemyung’s voice could be heard.
-I thought you’d feel that way.
-I thought about it when I saw your expression after the regionals.
“I’m a little cocky, aren’t I?”
-Today isn’t the first time.
“Wow, Park Daemyung.
That’s how you wanna play this, huh?”
Honestly, I don’t feel that disappointed either.
Of course, I am frustrated that we didn’t make it.
After all, a completely new school pushed us out.
But like what you said, now that I have things to do, other things don’t really enter my eyes.
“You mean your romantic business with Jiyoon?”
“I’m just joking.
Don’t be so serious.”
-…Urgh, I shouldn’t have started this.
Anyway, what are you up to now? I’m thinking about meeting up and doing something with the others since it’s over.
“I’m in Seoul right now.
The president called me.”
-Really? I guess today’s no good.
“I’ll call you when I have the time.
Oh, what happened to the thing you were going to ask last time? About philosophy.”
-For now, the president gave me permission.
He said he’ll support me with tuition even if I choose that department.
Uhm, what about your parents?”
-…Well, I guess I have to try again to persuade them.
“Tell me if you need support.
I’ll go kneel together with you or something.”
Text me once your business is over.
After the call, Maru looked up.
In front of his eyes was JA building.
He got past the automatic doors and walked towards the elevator.
He pressed the button for the staff-only elevator on the right and waited.
“Uhm, you need to take that one instead of this one.
This one doesn’t go to the commercial floors.”
A lady kindly advised.
There was an ID card on her neck.
“I have business on the 7th floor.”
“Oh, 7th floor.
She nodded her head in understanding.
After getting off on the 7th floor, Maru greeted the lady sitting behind the front desk.
He had gotten to know her face as he visited her a few times after the contract.
“I’m here because the president called me to come.
Where is he now?”
“The president? He should be in the restaurant.”
“The one on the 16th floor?”
The restaurant? Was he eating by himself? He grabbed the elevator again and went to the 16th floor this time.
The last time he came here, he received a contract for the first time.
In front of the entrance was a sign that indicated that the restaurant was still in preparation.
The doors were closed as well.
Now then, what to do here.
Just then, he saw someone wave from inside.
It was Junmin.
Next to him was the elder.
He was waving at him with his kind smile.
He opened the glass door and went inside.
Relaxing music was playing in the background.
He stood right past the entrance and looked at the two who were sitting at a table.
They were hogging this huge restaurant to themselves since morning.
The president owns this place.’
He could feel the financial prowess of Junmin again.
More money was indeed better.
The elder reached out with his hand.
Maru grabbed that hand with both of his hands.
“You left the hospital?”
It was nothing big, so I had a hard time staying there doing nothing.”
“I was planning to visit you again tomorrow.”
“That’s exactly why I left.
I keep telling everyone I’m okay, but everyone’s making a big deal out of it.”
Maru let go of Moonjoong’s hand before greeting Junmin.
Junmin nodded before telling him to sit.
“Have you had breakfast?” Junmin asked.
“I had a very satisfying one.”
“Even if you did, you’re going to have to eat more.
Sir Yoon will make you eat,” Junmin smiled as he spoke.
Maru looked at Moonjoong.
The elder was nodding his head as though it was natural.
“Let’s talk after we eat.
Sir, is that okay with you?”
“Yes, let’s do that.”
Food came to their table soon.
Most of the dishes were nearly raw vegetables without any sauce.
Junmin probably ordered these in consideration of the elder.
“Isn’t this too much grass?”
“You need to eat like this.”
People become worried sick about you once you’re old.
Maru, you still remember what you promised this old man, right?”
“You mean pork belly and soju?”
“I’ll bring you to a nice place once you feel a little better.”
You and Junmin are the same,” Moonjoong smiled in satisfaction as he spoke.
‘There seems to be no problems from his complexion.
He was someone that helped him a lot when he was confused about his values.
Maru also relied on the elder mentally so he was very worried when he heard that the elder collapsed.
He felt better now that he looked healthy again.
When they were about to finish their meal, they were given red tea.
The three stopped talking and drank the tea.
Maru looked at Junmin as he put down his teacup.
He was starting to become curious about why he called him here.
There was no way he called him here to have a meal.
He wondered if it was the elder that called him here.
Just as he was thinking about that, Junmin spoke.
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