“Youth sure is good alright.”
Choi Haesoo breathed in a wave of coffee fragrance that came from her mug.
A colleague of hers gave the coffee to her as a present saying that the coffee had a strong sour taste, but for now, the smell was enough to satisfy her.
She grabbed the mug and sat in front of her work table.
It was a sitting table in the living room.
This old table that had been with her for more than ten years was the one that Haesoo cherished the most, and it was her number one item to make a living.
The cream-colored laptop on top of it was number two.
She put the mug next to the laptop and looked at her draft that she had printed out.
The manuscript she had written two years ago was only polished into a draft quite recently.
The story was about the love of a young couple.
She never had any plans to complete it, but when she had a look at her daughter recently, she really had the urge to write it.
She thanked her daughter for reminding her of this old manuscript.
She turned on the music at a low volume so that she could not hear the lyrics and opened the word processor program.
To arrive at this moment, Haesoo did some cleaning and laundry, created some side dishes, and not only that, she even carefully cleaned the clay dolls that she put up as decoration next to the TV.
After that, only when she admitted that there was nothing else for her to do other than write, did she make a cup of coffee and sit in front of the laptop.
However, just because she opened the word processor didn’t mean that she was going to write immediately.
As for how long it would take her to write the first sentence, no, even the indentation for the first sentence, Haesoo herself didn’t know that either.
“What a bold kid.”
He carefully asked if her daughter had returned only after all sorts of formalities and blessings for her family.
She was impressed by the amount of effort he put into knowing the absence of her daughter so she answered him pretty easily.
-Then she should be back soon, I guess.
Understood, thank you, ma’am.
Saying those words, Maru then said all sorts of other formalities like how he’ll visit next time, apologized for calling so late, and things like that.
Haesoo herself ended up asking him to take care of her daughter and hung up.
“Wait, did he aim for that?”
What a devious kid.
The way he used his smarts wasn’t that hateful, so he didn’t lose points there, though.
The text from her daughter saying that she got on the bus was twenty minutes ago, so perhaps the two had met up at the bus stop right now.
Haesoo drank a sip of coffee.
She was told that it had a strong acidic taste, but perhaps thanks to her dull taste buds, it was no different from any other coffee.
In fact, it was good that it tasted ordinary.
If it was too peculiar, she wouldn’t be able to drink it properly.
“Maru should be the leading huh,” she muttered as she put her hands on her laptop.
She wondered if she should ask him sometime.
It was obvious that asking her daughter would make her jump around in embarrassment and gloss over it, so it would be better to ask Maru instead.
“Should I just call him here instead?”
It was another kind of fun to watch her daughter being uneasy.
Ever since her husband passed away, her daughter seemed to be under the impression that she should grow up strong, leading to the loss of her cute side that she showed when she was young.
Although she was thankful that her daughter was growing up healthily, there were definitely some parts she wasn’t entirely satisfied with.
Her daughter was a kind girl, but she always found it hard to rely on someone else.
It wasn’t that she hated it, but that she found it hard to do so.
As a parent, she couldn’t help but feel sorry whenever she saw her daughter like that.
Her daughter was a girl of a lot of tears but was not weak, and she was always worried about her mother.
Her daughter had become, no, tried to become an adult early.
Haesoo always hoped for her daughter to rely on her more.
Acting childish, stubborn, and even crying at times.
She wanted to see her being immature just like any others of her age, but her daughter always wrapped her immature soul in the shell that she should be an adult and smiled.
As a mother, Haesoo did not want to ruin her efforts, and as such, just accepted it silently.
‘At least she looks she has changed now.’
Haesoo didn’t know whether it was because she started acting, or because she met Maru, but ever since she entered high school, she had changed quite a lot.
There was a lot less hesitation when talking about what she holed up inside.
Recently, she looked like she was holding something back just like before, but Haesoo did not pry.
If she asked worriedly, that child would instead curl up even more and say to her that she was okay with a smile.
“Would it have been different if he was still alive?”
Haesoo looked up at the ceiling while holding the mug which still had some warmth, before shaking her head.
That was enough reminiscence.
It was time to work now.
Just as she was thinking that she got a message through the messenger program that she opened.
The message was from Ahn Pilhyun.
She had sent him the completed draft a while ago to get his opinion, and the message seemed to be about that.
-Isn’t it too old woman-like?
Haesoo clenched her teeth and sighed in a low voice.
This man was a cheap guy that would sell his soul for a glass of beer and some fried chicken, but he was brutal when it came to evaluating others.
He never went easy on his colleagues.
Haesoo made a smirk as she pressed the spacebar.
Thanks to him, she was now motivated to work.
* * *
The swing made some creaking noises.
She kicked the dirt beneath her foot once again.
The swing once again made some loud noises.
“The weather’s gotten cold,” said Maru, who was sitting on the next swing over.
She said ‘true’, in a small voice.
“What brings you here?”
It had been ten minutes since they met.
She greeted him dazedly back at the bus stop, and she followed without thinking when he said that they should go to the playground.
She was only able to ask that question after spending ten minutes in a daze on the creaky swing.
“I’m here to see you,” Maru said, as though he was stating the obvious like ‘the sun will rise again tomorrow’.
She became speechless once again when she heard such a direct answer.
Normally, she would tell him that he shouldn’t have come in a panicked, prankful, then joyful manner.
That was what ‘being herself’ was, but for some reason, it was hard for her to say that today.
For some reason, she replied in a dry tone.
She thought to herself that that wasn’t right, but she soon reached the conclusion that this was for the better.
It would be better to show him her tired side.
Then, Maru would worry about her condition, and if she led the conversation that way, they wouldn’t have to talk about what she was holding within her.
It was a shallow method, but she did not have the leisure to think too deeply.
I didn’t come at a bad time, right? – Maru said back at the bus stop.
She inwardly thought that he came at the perfect time.
The moment she saw Maru at the bus stop, she almost blurted out the story of that person that bullied her for the past several weeks.
She wanted him to know and understand just how hard and painful she had it, and she wanted him to console her.
The only reason she managed to hold back her urge was because she was reminded of her resolve to not become luggage for him.
“What a bland reaction.”
“Sorry, I’m just tired.
I’ve been yawning for a while now.”
She forced her mouth open to act like she was yawning.
“You know what?” Maru said after staring at her.
“When you yawn, you usually end up showing your canine teeth.
If you yawned that intensely, then it means that you are really tired.”
Maru smiled as he showed his own canine teeth.
She made an awkward smile and avoided his gaze.
How he knew such a thing didn’t matter right now.
What mattered was the fact that Maru was looking at her worriedly.
“I’m just tired.
I have practice during the week and shoots during the weekend.
I don’t have any free time at all.
Moreover, mom keeps sending me on errands at home.
You know that my mom doesn’t do any housework when she starts writing, right? I had to do the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, and… let’s not even get there.
I’m practically a housekeeper.
Even if we do get married later, I’m not worried about doing household chores.”
She spoke without any directionality.
She didn’t even know what she was talking about as she was talking.
She felt her hurried words sink like wet cotton.
Maru was quietly looking at her.
What was she supposed to say here?
She then talked about the things that happened during the day without taking a breath: like how she felt bad because the noodles that came out for lunch were all bloated; like how she was surprised because she was picked out to present in front of the class; like how funny one of her club juniors was….
She felt her mouth drying out.
She made an awkward smile before standing up from the swing.
“Hey, we might go past midnight at this rate.”
She hesitantly looked at Maru.
At that moment, Maru stood up from the swing.
“The practice I do in Anyang is really hard.”
Something completely unexpected came out of Maru’s mouth.
She was dazed and just stared at Maru’s mouth.
“Senior Ganghwan really isn’t easy to deal with.
He never takes a break unless everything from one to ten is perfect.
I want to just fall down and get some rest, but he doesn’t allow that.
Not only that, senior Miso is no better than senior Ganghwan, in fact, she’s worse.
But the problem is, even as I do so much practice, I feel uneasy in a corner of my heart.
I put in so much effort, but what if all this effort becomes useless?”
Maru looked really exhausted and afraid as he said those words.
She had known him for two years, but this was the first time he showed her such a weak side.
This was completely different from when he cried subconsciously at the cinema.
“Even now, I think to myself every now and then – Do I need to stop now and focus on something else? But I become hesitant once again because I find acting fun.
It’s frustrating, really.”
He looked like he was going to fall down at any moment.
Her heart raced.
What happened? Why was he acting like this? Maybe something serious happened to him? But above all,
Everything will go well.
I mean it,” she said from the bottom of her heart.
She couldn’t think of anything else other than calming down the uneasy Maru.
She wanted to say something cooler and more helpful, but that was all she ended up saying in the end.
She felt that anything else was unnecessary.
Maru, who was making a depressed expression, took in a deep breath before making a relaxed smile.
“That makes me feel much more relaxed.”
Maru approached her, and slowly spoke,
“If you have anything to tell me, you really should.”
“If you don’t, then that’s fine too.
It’s getting cold.
Be careful on your way home.
Thanks for listening to me.”
Maru tightly grabbed her hand once before turning around.
At that moment, she started talking without even knowing it.
“There’s someone I really don’t like.
She’s an actress called Lee Miyoon, and I really hate her.
When I look at her, I just want to run away.
I want to cry, and I want to give up on everything.
But I don’t want to do that.
I’m going to keep doing it, I will endure it, and I.
I will make her acknowledge me.”
She said those words as though she was shouting.
She panted to calm her rough breathing as she looked at Maru.
Maru, who had his back to her, turned around slowly and made a soft smile as he spoke,
Everything will go well.
I mean it.”
“If it doesn’t work, then I’ll give her a good rebuke.
That bad woman, that is.”
Maru waved his hand at her.
She dazedly looked at Maru who was getting further and further away before clenching her fists and running towards him.
Then, she grabbed his shoulders and turned him around forcefully before placing her lips against his.
Maru was surprised and took a step back.
She turned her head upwards and breathed out before looking at Maru again.
“Don’t just come over as you wish, that’s a warning.”
“And also, thanks.
I’m going now!”
S-see you next time.”
She waved her hand at the stuttering Maru before turning around.
The frustration in her heart had disappeared without a trace.
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