“Aren’t you going to go?”

“I don’t know, don’t ask.”

“I thought you came here just to make a visit, but you actually have some problems, huh.”

“I told you I was here to complain.
Rather than that, I need some water.
You have carbonated water, don’t you? Give me some with lemon extracts.”

Ahyoung blankly stared at Narim, who boldly asked her for a drink while lying on the beach chair.
She could tell that Narim was giving her glances through the sunglasses.

“Why don’t you get it yourself?”

“How cold-hearted.
Unni is asking you for a favor, but you’re glaring back at me instead.”

“Why don’t I make you feel cool by spraying you with some water instead?”

Ahyoung walked up to a hose.
Only then did Narim stand up in a hurry and enter the building.
She came back with two bottles of carbonated water in her hands while grumbling before sitting down on the beach chair again.
She gracefully stretched out her legs.

”You keep posturing like that, but it doesn ’t look good you know? Sometimes, you get all hung up on putting on a front. ”

”Front? Please, just call it a facade. ”

”That ’s a bit harsh. ”

”Good on you for being so nice.
Also, who else could I even be this open with? Out there, I’m the definition of charisma, so I can ’t put it down around other people. ”

“Why don’t you take it easy a little? Don’t try to look too heavy.”

“If I put those weights down, those weights will all go to the people below me.
Do you think I can accept that?”

“And you’re acting like the good guy again.”

Ahyoung stretched her arms out and lay down on one of the beach chairs.
A parasol was shielding her face from direct sunlight.
As for her body and arms, they were being scorched.

“Is that how you usually do your interviews?” Narim asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Telling her every little detail.”

“I have to.
It’d be too pitiful if she challenged the industry without knowing anything and then got horribly burnt from it.”

“I thought you were talking from a business perspective.
Don’t you have to lure her in no matter the cost? From what I saw, I thought you were trying to stop her at all costs.”

“It’d be too pitiful if she challenged the industry without knowing anything and then got horribly burnt from it, wouldn’t it?”[1]

“It’s her who has to bear the risks, isn’t it? If you’re going to take her in, you should urge her to be energetic.
You’re supposed to be the president, yet you show her the shithole reality of things first.
Don’t you think she’s gonna be scared and not come?”

“Maybe not coming will be better for her.”

“She has a pretty decent face though, and she seems resolved.
I’m not sure about her qualities as an actress, but that’s not something you can find out in a short time.
The person herself isn’t lacking by any means, so it’d be good to accept her.
Why did you make her turn around by telling her all those things?”

“She said she likes acting.
It’s been a long time since I met someone who didn’t have any ulterior motives.
She is uneasy about becoming successful, but she has values she prioritizes above that.
For girls like her, it would be for the best if acting stayed a hobby.”

Just as Ahyoung was about to take a drink,

“Aha, I was wondering why you were treating her so emotionally.
You found your younger self in her.”

“Unni, why don’t you stop being a CEO and open a fortune telling business? I think you’ll earn a lot of money that way.”

“Maybe I will once I get old.
Rather than that, are you going to accept her if she wants to sign a contract?”

“I will.
As long as I’m doing business, I can’t keep acting like that.
I definitely did tell her though.
That countless people disappear from the industry while practicing.”

Ahyoung had a look at the empty bottle.
As pretty as it was, it no longer had any value.
A bottle was only fulfilling its job when it contained something inside.

“So, what’s the real reason?”

“For what?”

“For scaring her like that.”

“You were the one who told me.
I was emotional because I saw my younger self in her, and because I pitied her.”

“How many years do you think we’ve known each other? You’ve never even done acting properly.
Why don’t you tell me the real reason now?”

“Hey, I was praised by her for good pronunciation, you know?”

“That wasn’t because you were practicing acting.
You only practiced like that for your career as a businesswoman.
Hey, did you lie to her and say that you were acting when you were young?”

“That’s good for the flow of the conversation.
There’s no need to break that misunderstanding, is there? It’s something that both of us can talk about.”

“What did you tell her?”

“I told her that I was a nameless actress for a few years before I quit.
I wasn’t entirely lying.
I’ve seen so many people doing that, so I know what it’s like.
I just never experienced it for myself.”

“She looked like a good girl though.
You shouldn’t tease her like that.”

“I never did.
I only gave her a reason to accept.
Rather than as a woman who had a fantasy about neckties since young, don’t I give off a much better image when I say that I used to pursue the same thing as her?”

“What are you going to do if she finds out later?”

“If that happens, it happens.”

“Sometimes, you’re a really bad girl.”

“Deceiving someone isn’t a bad thing.
Illegally doing things is obviously not good, but deceit of that level is just some condiments to spice things up.
In fact, it’d be weird if I showed her everything about myself.
Don’t you think so? Miss Charisma?”

“I don’t dare retort.”

Ahyoung threw away the empty bottle into a trash can next to her beach chair.
The plastic bottle made a low bumping noise.

“And I wasn’t entirely lying.
Like what you said, I did find a nostalgic figure in her.
It’s just that it’s not me.”

“Who is it?”

“Someone who belonged to the theater troupe I used to be in.”

“Was that person an actor too?”

“No, she was more like the manager.
She was the one who managed the funds so that we could buy the props we need to perform plays.
Man, it feels like yesterday when we were quarreling with the owner of that building all the time, and now, here I am, lying on top of a rooftop of a building.”

“That was unexpected, I mean, you belonging to a theater troupe.”

“Unni, I’m running an agency here.
It doesn’t make sense to not have worked in a related field even once.
I even went up on stage a couple of times.
Though, I was a passerby.”

“So there was someone who’s similar to that girl in that theater troupe?”

“They were both similar in the way they were honest about acting.
She was four years younger than me, and she loved dogs.
Though she had a weird preference when it came to dogs and liked the vicious-looking ones.
No matter how hard I look at them, they’re ugly, but she found them so cute.
When I think about it now, maybe the reason I stayed in that shabby theater troupe that didn’t have a future was because of her.
When I looked at her putting in so much effort, I wanted to give her a share of my own time.”

“The lofty Yoo Ahyoung even thought about doing that? Is this the same Yoo Ahyoung I know of, who has a special attachment to her own time?”

“Why do you keep making me out to be some heartless person? Unni, I’m also a woman who has a warm heart.”

“I acknowledge that you’re a woman, but I’ll pretend that I never heard anything about the warm heart.”

“You just listen to the parts you want, huh.” 

As Narim put down the bottle on the floor, she spoke.

“But this is a bit disappointing.
I don’t know the person you seem to cherish so much.
Why don’t you introduce me to her?”

“If you want her greeting, you gotta go pretty far away, you know?”

“Where? Does she live overseas?”

Ahyoung pointed up at the sky.
Narim blankly stared at the sky before looking down again.

“She died?”

“A long time ago.
After I left the troupe to start my own business, there was an accident.
When I first heard about it, I thought it was a terrible joke.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be real.
Back then, I went home and threw the bible into the trash.
I had been a faithful person since I was born thanks to my parents, but after I visited her ashes, I couldn’t find it any more disgusting.
The people that deserve to die are alive and well, yet that pitiful girl went ahead just as she was about to unfold her dreams.
If God exists, he shouldn’t do his work like that.”

“Didn’t you introduce yourself as a faithful Christian in a private meeting? I thought you were one too.”

“I told you, didn’t I? I choose whatever has a good image for business.
There’s nothing better than the Church when it comes to that.
If God wants to test my faithfulness, then he’s gotta come himself.
But he probably won’t.

“My Lord.
What this little lamb just said has nothing to do with me.
I have dire faith in you, so please bring me salvation.”

“I am going to say that I believe in him just before I’m about to die.
I mean, if I believe in him he’ll give me a ticket to heaven, won’t he? As God, he shouldn’t retract his promises.”

“Sheesh, I really can’t stop you.”

Narim shrugged.

“So what, you were strict with her because she has the same air about her as the one you cherished?”

“There are lots of things you can do other than acting to keep living.”

“Who knows? She might become a superstar one day.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”

“Why? Does your intuition tell you otherwise?”

“No, it’s nothing like that.
Also, if I had an intuition that can tell who’s going to be successful, do you think my company will be so small? I would have put up a building in the most expensive place in Cheongdam, and then put my nameplate on it.
I just wanted to stop her because she felt similar.”

I get that you pity the dead girl, but you shouldn’t force your emotions onto a girl who has a bright future.”

“Do you think I told her everything because of a horrible reason like that?”

“Then what?”

“It’s just, I subconsciously ended up comparing the two.”

“Comparing the two?”

“Those eyes that seemed to be in love with acting itself… Both of them had similar eyes.
When I looked at those eyes, I couldn’t help but compare the two.”

“Compare their skills, you mean?”


“You don’t know much about the girl that just came though, do you?”

“Of course I do.
I looked into her the moment I got a call from writer Lee.
I’ve read about what she was doing until now, what kind of pieces she participated in, and everything.
There wasn’t much, so it didn’t take that long.”

“You sounded like you didn’t know anything about her when you were talking to her.
You were probing her about that as well then? So that you can interrogate her when she says something different to what you know?”

“I’m not that evil, you know?”

“There’s ‘evil’ written on your face.
So, what is it in the end? Who’s better? Personally, I think that someone who has debuted on public TV would be better.
You know the difference between street acting and TV acting.
The fact that she made a debut at all is huge.”

“Unfortunately, you’re wrong.
This is extremely subjective, but if I have to invest all of my money into one of them, I will invest all of it into Haejoo.
She was really different after all.”

“The person that died was called Haejoo? She must have been really good, if you’re the one saying that.”

Ahyoung reminded herself of Haejoo, who quietly remained on stage and looked up at the lights.
If there was one person that was receiving the love of the monster known as the stage, then it was probably her – that was what she thought back then.

“Sometimes, I wonder, maybe the reason I’m doing this work is because of her.
There are actors like that hidden in the world.
Maybe those people are just unable to find the stage they need to be on and end up leaving.
I’m just providing a stage for such people.
I’m just letting them be where they should be, while I get a small fee for doing so.”

“Small? Smaaaaall, you say?”

“What’s up with you? You’re in the same line of work, so you should be consoling me instead.”

“Fine, who else could understand you but me?”

“Oh, didn’t you say you were here to complain? I think I’m about done, you know?”

As soon as she said those words, Narim abruptly stood up.
She, who didn’t look like she was in her forties thanks to her skin care, turned into a vicious old woman in an instant.

“Unni, you look scary.
Calm down.”

“When I just think about that man, I just….”

“That man?”

“I’m talking about Lee Junmin! Sungjae, who I painstakingly nurtured, is meeting him more frequently than he meets me these days!”

“I thought he was going to be in a film, no? JA is one of the investors, and they are putting their own actors in it as well.
Hong Geunsoo, was it? In such a scenario, it’s not strange for him to be meeting president Lee Junmin.
He’s kinda well known for meeting many people in private, isn’t he?”

“That’s exactly what I don’t like about him.
At this rate, once Sungjae’s contract is over and he switches over to JA, I might end up fainting because of anger.”

“You should console him well so that he doesn’t.”

“If he does, I’m going to make an announcement to all the producers in the TV industry.
That they’d better get prepared to become enemies with me if they use Ahn Sungjae.”

“There you go again.
Calm down a little.”

“How much effort do you think I’ve put in to nurture him?”

“He didn’t even go yet, so why are you so worried? Even though you’re like this now, aren’t you going to tell everyone else that you’d let him go without any trouble?”

“That’s why it’s a problem.
I really hate myself.”

“Why don’t you call him out in private and ask yourself? Or you can call him here, so that I can see him after a long time.”

“Should I?”

“No, wait.
Forget I said anything.”

“No, I’ll try calling him here now.
I have to get a concrete answer from him so that I can be at ease.”

Narim coughed a few times to clear her throat before taking out her phone.
Ahyoung clicked her tongue when she watched the process of a whiny voice turning elegant.

“Mm, is this Sungjae? Why don’t we eat out together today since it’s been a while?”

“I bet ten thousand won that she’ll get hospitalized for mental illnesses later in life.”

Ahyoung faintly smiled and thought about the girl she talked to today.

‘She’ll probably say she’ll do it.
Girls like her don’t know how to give up.’

What was left was how to package and decorate her.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be a bit unconventional.”

Ahyoung started planning out the future.

[1] It’s the exact same sentence as the one above.

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