“Would you like to sit by the window?”
Yuna nodded at the waitress who smiled at her.
She scraped the soles of her shoes on the mat before walking inside.
Was this place always this wide? – Yuna thought as she followed the waitress.
Family restaurants were familiar to Yuna since her mother had taken her to such places a lot.
When Bitna had a tight schedule she would always drive the two of them to a nearby restaurant to get their meals, and this place was one of them.
Both the interior as well as the employees were familiar to her, but for some reason, they felt rather unfamiliar today.
Perhaps it was because she was the one leading someone in to eat rather than following her mother inside?
They sat by the window from which they could see Suwon station.
Buses that left Suwon station were lined up in a long trail, and there were people moving next to that line of buses.
This was a busy time when employees going home intermixed with people seeking out entertainment.
“I’m going to eat something expensive, okay?” Maru said as he sat down.
He was tensing his eyes.
Yuna opened the menu and pushed it towards Maru.
“I’m not holding back, okay?”
“Then I’ll go with this one.”
Maru pointed at the corner of the menu with his index finger.
The word ‘special discount’ could be seen.
Chicken steak, the price was 9,900 won.
It also said in red that the price did not include drinks.
“Seonbae, you can eat something more expensive, you know?”
“In that case, I’ll get something expensive and pay for it myself.”
“No, I said I’ll treat you.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t like being treated without reason.
I think 9,900 won is enough for listening to your story last time.”
Although he was saying that softly, persistence could be felt from his words.
Yuna looked at the menu again.
The words ‘special discount’ and ‘does not include drinks’ couldn’t be more bothersome right now.
Maru was being polite, and she knew that it was for her sake, but she didn’t like that for some reason.
Yuna fell into thought as she looked at the menu.
Why did she feel upset about it?
“Are you uncomfortable with me, seonbae-nim?”
“I’m not exactly uncomfortable with you, but nor am I comfortable.
This is only the second time we’ve met.”
Looks like I was thinking too much even though this is our second meeting.
Seonbae, I know it’s late, but do you think we should go over there now?”
Yuna pointed at the kimbap restaurant across the street.
She felt a sense of distance from Maru ever since they entered this restaurant.
All she wanted was to have an enjoyable meal and have a talk with him.
She wasn’t planning on thinking deeply about the menu, nor did she want to look at him awkwardly like this.
Yuna felt like she had become a fool.
Why did she get so excited, get dressed up, and put on make-up like it was a special occasion? Why did she bring seonbae to a restaurant like this?
All she wanted to do was have a talk….
“Something’s wrong after all, isn’t it?”
“I was rather confused when you said you wanted to meet me at this hour.
Bitna mentioned when we met that you seem to want to see me.”
“Then the reason you called me was….”
“I didn’t plan on saying that if possible, but I think that’s the least of your problems right now.
You still have some worries left, don’t you? I’m not sure if I can be of help, but I can listen.
They say just spilling out what you have pent up inside you will make you calm down.
So there’s no need to force yourself to buy me something expensive.
In fact, it might be better if we have a quiet talk in a café or something.
Don’t feel too much pressure.
I have plenty of time to listen to you.”
The moment she heard his words, Yuna realized the identity of the sense of distance and unfamiliarity she was feeling since a while ago.
Maru wasn’t here to get a meal from her.
He was here to listen to her worries.
She was here to have an enjoyable talk, while Maru came here with the mind of a consultant.
Naturally, there would be differences in their attitude towards this meeting.
She now understood how she was portrayed when she suggested to Maru that they eat something more expensive.
The way she talked about meaningless trivial talk while picking the menu might have been portrayed to Maru as her being hesitant to talk about her worries.
Perhaps that was why Maru was being direct – don’t beat around the bush and say what you really want.
“I don’t have any worries at all.”
Her voice didn’t contain any energy.
She could see Maru’s expression coloring with confusion in front of her.
Then why did you call me out at this hour? – his eyes seemed to be asking.
“I just, wanted to treat you to dinner…,” she spoke slowly.
This meal had no meaning to Maru.
Perhaps the reason he said they should eat light while pointing at the kimbap restaurant was also his way of indicating that they should finish the side event that was having a meal quickly and start talking about her worries as soon as possible.
Thinking back, perhaps it was natural that he misunderstood.
When he said that he was in Seoul, she reflexively said that she would go there.
She even said that it only took an hour by train and that she definitely wanted to go.
‘Just having a meal’ was definitely something strange to do for a meeting at 10 in the evening and without any prior appointments made beforehand.
Like what he said, this was only their second time meeting after all.
“Did nothing happen at all?”
Yuna nodded with difficulty.
If possible, she wanted to break the window and escape from this place or turn back time.
She only continued sitting still because both of those were impossible to do.
“You really called me out just to treat me to dinner?”
“Yes, that was my intention….”
Yuna felt dizzy.
She felt like she would have a hard time enduring if they became silent here.
She kept turning her head in order to find something to talk about.
“And there’s something I want to boast about.”
That was the answer she came to in the end.
Maru spoke after drinking a sip of water.
I actually passed an audition.”
Looks like you had no problems with acting after that.”
“I felt really refreshed after talking it all out back then.
I stopped acting like it was my duty and thought about it deeply.
Do I really want to do acting? When I asked, I came to an answer quickly.
I felt itchy.
I was itching to do more acting even though I thought I was fed up with it.”
Yuna collapsed her hands.
“Like you said, acting wasn’t entirely fun.
When I looked back, there were more times when I had a hard time.
But I just thought of it as ‘not hard’.
I fooled myself into believing that it wasn’t hard.
Acting is something really precious to me, so I thought that feeling tired or painful because of it was something that doesn’t make sense.
This isn’t hard, this isn’t painful – like that.
Then, before I realized it, I became insensitive.
There were definitely times when I was tired and when I didn’t want to do it, but I ignored those feelings.
I can only say it now, but I was really stupid.
It’s not like ignoring them would make them disappear.
After I talked to you, I talked a lot with my mother.
Mom said that it was natural.
That it was obvious for the painful feelings to be just as intense as the fun feelings; that not everything would be just good.
She also said that knowing the exact reason why you hate something is also an important process to becoming a pro.
When I heard that, my thoughts all just cleared up.
It was then I found out that I like acting more than I want to avoid it.
After I realized that, I started liking acting even more.”
Yuna spoke without stopping as though she was uttering out what she had pent up inside.
She was afraid that things would get awkward if she stopped talking.
Once silence arrived, she would start thinking – that Maru-seonbae was only here to give her a consultation; that he wouldn’t be here if not for that.
She kept talking in order to not think of the conclusion that followed after that.
However, unlike her mouth, her mind produced the conclusion and brought it to the center of her mind.
Maru-seonbae was not someone who would come and meet her for private reasons.
She thought that she didn’t have any special feelings.
It was just one meeting.
Although he ended up embracing her and wiping her tears, she thought that it was just an accident.
She thought that she wanted to treat him to a meal purely to pay back her gratitude, not because she had fallen in love at first sight like in dramas.
She realized that she was wrong while they had their conversation.
The fact that Maru-seonbae was here for a consultation and out of a sense of duty made her feel cold.
The fact that he wasn’t here just to get dinner from her – the fact that he wasn’t here because of a trivial reason like that made her disappointed.
She now felt embarrassed by the perfume she put on.
She felt more embarrassed by her clothes now than when she was naked.
She felt ashamed due to all the hopes she had while looking at the clock while waiting.
She found herself pathetic for denying the fact that she was dreaming of being Cinderella.
It was just like her acting.
She avoided it without looking at it straight on.
She had plenty of time to look at herself, but she did not do so.
She suddenly felt her face go hot.
She felt like a child who had just lied.
“Yes, it’s good.”
“Then I’ll treat you for today, as a celebration of sorts.
Also, don’t feel too much pressure.
All I did was just listen to you, you don’t need to think about paying me back or anything like that.”
Maru spoke with a smile.
For some reason, she found that side of him rather hateful.
She thought that he acted like that while knowing everything.
Her head knew that it wasn’t like that, but her emotions started going rampant.
So I’m really a child – she thought.
At the same time, she spoke,
“You can treat me, but I can’t treat you? Why? You said you didn’t like being treated because we aren’t close, didn’t you? Why didn’t you think that I would be the same?”
“It’s okay when it’s an adult buying it for you.”
“We’re only a year apart.
Seonbae, you’re young too.”
Unlike what she thought – I should be more polite – her words were quite thorny.
She could feel the blood vessels in her head thumping.
Her neck became hot.
She didn’t even know what she was doing, yet her mouth kept blabbing on.
It had escaped the control of her mind.
“I am young, I guess.
Well, yeah, I’m young.
I was too short-sighted.
Sorry about that.”
Maru scratched his eyebrows and immediately apologized.
That nonchalance stopped Yuna.
It was clearer than ever now.
Maru didn’t have any personal feelings towards her.
It was obvious.
It was normal that he wouldn’t.
It was her who was strange.
Let’s calm down and act like it’s nothing for today – Yuna decided to act wisely.
It would be foolish of her to reveal her heart so suddenly.
She just had to admit that she had favorable feelings towards him and keep proceeding when they met next time.
After all, she decided not to fool herself from her feelings from now on.
Her head felt a lot clearer now.
She just had to ‘coolly’ eat the food and return home.
She just had to retract her grumbling attitude, thank Maru-seonbae for coming, and finish up for the day.
Maru-seonbae would probably just laugh it off thinking that it was a child being coquettish.
He looked like someone who would do that after all.
Everything was perfect.
“Seonbae, I think I like you.”
Then, the words she said completely betrayed her perfect plan.
The gap was as wide as the price tags on the dishes from this family restaurant and the kimbap restaurant across the street.
Today, Yuna found out why people called out to their mothers when they were surprised.
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