“I honestly didn’t think you’d go this far.
I’m both thankful and a little ashamed as a teacher.”

“Well, things would’ve been different if I knew them better, but… to be honest, I don’t know them all that well.
It’s really the difference of being one and two steps away.”

“Was… it really that easy?”

Maru took a bite of his food.

“Well, that was exactly why I did it.
Because it really was that easy.”

At the same time, Maru remembered something.
It was back when he was told that his paycheck would depend completely on how servile he was towards his boss.
When he almost quit out of sheer rage, the faces of his wife and daughter floated into his vision.
At that moment all the anger inside him dissipated, and his brain immediately started to calm down.

Compared to the humiliation, anger, resentment and desperation he felt back then, this was nothing more than a joke.
It wasn’t like antagonizing the entire club was going to endanger his livelihood.
This was just a minor event.

“You didn’t feel disappointed?”

“When my friends didn’t side with me?”


“Teacher, do you decide if someone’s your friend solely based on whether or not they take your side?”

“…I asked you a stupid question.”

Maru had to admit, Taesik was a good teacher.
The man didn’t take his students’ words lightly, instead using it as an opportunity to learn.
It was something that only teachers who respected their students could have.

“You really are a teacher, teacher.”


“If I ever get a daughter, I’d love to leave her in your hands.
You’d listen to her words at face value.”

“That was a pretty decent compliment, I’ll have to admit.
Do you want to eat anything else?”

“I did notice that a restaurant next to this place sells really good beef.”

“That’s… a little too much for my wallet, I’m afraid.”

Taesik smiled awkwardly in response.

* * *

Nothing changed.
School food was still alright most of the time, except when potatoes were on the menu again.
The old man at the school store would still throw you a burger with incredible accuracy after taking the payment.
The floor of his class was still cold, the air hot and filled with sweaty smells.
Students still rushed to the cafeteria come lunchtime, and come break time they would all rush over to the school field.
By the time the last class came around, everyone struggled to stay awake, almost as if they simultaneously took a dose of melatonin.

There were a few things different, of course.
The greenery outside the class was starting to turn brown.
The gym that was under construction was finally opened, but use of it was still prohibited for students.
The yellowed curtains of the class were finally washed for once.
The fact that this would be the English teacher’s final year teaching after getting her second kid was a change as well.

“Hey, Dowook! Let’s go to the store!”


And there was the fact that Dowook started getting along with the rest of the class as well.

“Yo, guy with the big head, can I borrow a thousand from you?”

The fact that Changhu, the class bully, started to become more overbearing was another change as well.
Maru looked out the window with his chin resting on one hand.
It was the last day of August.
A saturday.

“Let’s go, Maru,” Daemyung said, pulling on his arm.

Maru followed his two friends with a yawn.
He cursed the heat for not leaving despite it being so close to september as he stepped up to the fifth floor.

“It’s hot.”

“For real, so hot.”

The trio greeted the first years they ran into at the entrance, and entered the auditorium.
The second years were standing next to the windows in their gym clothes.
The first years stretched gently as they made their way over to the group.
Maru joined in.

“Be sure to drink a lot of water as we train, alright? We don’t want any of you getting too dehydrated,” Yoonjung said with a clap, making the first years respond with an enthusiastic shout.

Maru responded quietly before making his way over to the audience seat.
Like always, he picked up a book he had been reading and opened the page he was on last time.

Nothing changed.

And nothing will change.

Things will continue to move, calmly and peacefully.
He occasionally noticed Geunseok and Yurim stare at him, but he could easily ignore that.
Or just smile back in response.


The couple turned away their heads.
Nothing special.

“The instructor’s coming today, to help us prepare for the nationals in winter.”

If the national competition held in august by the national theater association was the biggest competition for acting held all year, then the one held in winter was the follow-up.
It wasn’t all that different from the august one in the sense that it was also funded by the government.
As a matter of fact, the payout from this one was actually bigger due to the involvement of various companies.

If the fall national competition was about honor, the winter one was about money.

The club members began practice.
They were nothing like their former selves during the regionals.
Everyone was going about their duties with passion and energy.
The lot of them suggested switching things up to doing a different play for the winter competition.
They’d have to talk it out with the instructor, but the idea of doing a different play pretty much seemed like a fact at this point.

Maru turned the page of his book.
Before they started making props, there wasn’t much for him to do, save for reading his book and pondering by himself.

‘This is pretty nice.’

Recently, Maru started gaining an interest in reading classics.
He read a lot of books in his past life, but they were mostly about self-improvement.
From the time when all he wanted to do was follow the recipes for success given to him by other people.

‘Well, now I have all the time in the world.’

Maru wasn’t that interested in self-improvement books anymore.
He’s realized how pointless they were.
Instead, he decided to try and get a glimpse at the lives of his ancestors.
The reason behind classics were their unchanging values and rules about the world, after all.
There was value in reading it.

As Maru turned another page, with the club members acting as his background music, his phone dinged.
When he flipped his phone open, he found that the message was from a person he had been expecting all along.

[I’m coming!!]

It was a short message.

“As I thought…”

Maru shook his head, thinking of the blonde lady who would soon come open the door to the auditorium with a bang.

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