The 27th.
The heat of August seemed to be cooling down a little.
It had been raining since early morning, the wind was pretty cool, and since heat came early, Maru wondered if it was going away just as fast, but he soon realized that it was nothing but a delusion.

-The motto of our school is to try hard.
I hope you spent your summer holidays with the faith of….

After they spent twenty minutes just lining up properly, the sweat that formed on his forehead started falling down.
The rays of the sun hit them at a right angle, scorching their heads.
Maru tried touching his hair a little, and it seemed like he could fry some eggs on it with ease.

-As I have emphasized, the safety of playing around water and….

The voice of the principal, which was broadcasted out the front speakers of the school, still was full of energy.
Maru predicted that it wouldn't end for at least ten more minutes.
The principal, who couldn’t stand on the dais platform all summer, seemed to have taken a liking to the microphone he hadn’t grabbed in a while.
Maru couldn’t see because he was too far away, but he felt like he could see the principal smile.
He decided to believe that the one who just chuckled with a ‘pfft’ was not the principal.
Whether it was due to humane reasons, morals, or common sense, he shouldn’t do that.

“Is anyone willing to fall over? I think it’ll only end if someone collapses.”

Someone from the front spoke.
Maru nodded energetically.
Any traces of the rain during the early morning had disappeared.
The black dots on the floor were from the sweat of the students.
The teachers lined up underneath the dais also looked stiffer and stiffer as time went on.
You have it good, teachers, at least you get to stand in the shade – Maru thought.

Maru wiped his sweat with the back of his hand.
Sometimes, he thought that schools were even more absurd than the military.
Even the military made its soldiers refrain from outside activity when the sun was scorching, but this principal did not seem to have any intentions of doing that.
20 minutes lining up, 10 minutes waiting, and 10 minutes of speech.
It had already been 40 minutes since they came out here, but the principal probably didn’t even consider the 30 minutes that they had been waiting before he came out.
Maru looked next to him.
He saw Dojin, Dowook, and Daemyung, who belonged to the next class over.
All three of them were glaring at the principal with killing intent.
Even Daemyung, who always looked at other people with gentle eyes, was fiercely staring at him.
The heat was enough to make any man a psychopath.

-Your principal appreciates the fact that you have returned to the school safely and….

Maru had the thought that the same students who returned to the school safely might meet their demise right here.
He tried wracking his brain.
What did he need in order to escape this terrible trap of words? The answer was simple.
It already came out from the front.
Someone had to take the brunt and collapse.

Maru scratched his eyebrows.
That was when he met eyes with his three friends in the next class.
They exchanged short gestures and eye signals.
Dojin crossed his neck with his thumb, Dowook laughed fishily, and Daemyung nodded heavily as though he was some revolutionary preparing for a grand scheme.
Maru understood the grand scheme immediately and expressed his will to participate.


Someone groaned.
Dojin became the fuse.
He suddenly collapsed on the ground before leaning back slowly.
Dowook supported him and made some noise.
He didn’t shout out loud.
It was a restrained shock.
He didn’t show up to acting practice a lot because of his work at the petrol station, but his acting skills had not rusted.
Maru raised his thumb as he looked at them.
If there was a high school acting competition, that guy would probably win the male actor award.


Maru shouted in a moderate voice.
He provoked the vigilance within people as he approached Dojin, and the lines they painstakingly stood in became twisted.
The students murmured as they looked at the fallen Dojin.
Some people sat down as well due to this opportunity.
This looked like the textbook definition of ‘all for one’.

Maru approached Dojin, who was lying down obediently.
Dojin winked at him before closing his eyes again.
The teachers waiting beneath the dais and the back quickly ran over.
Piiiiii – noise could be heard over the microphone, and the principal’s speech stopped.

* * *

“Our hero is here!” Maru said as he waved his hand.

Dojin, who was sitting down with the food tray, started chuckling.

“What did the nurse say?”

“I just found a way out.
We can’t have anything serious happening, right? I just said I fell over because I felt dizzy, so the nurse said I should drink some water and lie down.
Thanks to that, I was able to spend first period with air conditioning.
But how was I? Did I not look awkward when I fell over?”

“The year of acting practice shone through.
It was perfect.”

“I also had the feeling when I fell down.
That this was gonna be perfect.”

When Dojin clicked his finger and laughed, Maru saw the girl who approached him from behind.
It was Iseul who was looking down on the back of Dojin’s head with a serious expression.


Maru gave him a signal.
Dojin’s eyes became round and he turned around.

“You deserve a beating.”

Iseul’s hand hit Dojin’s back.
Dojin struggled and tried to use his hands to protect his back, but Iseul’s hand fiercely aimed for the vacant spots.
Only after ‘I’m sorry’ came out of Dojin’s mouth about ten times did Iseul sigh and sit down next to him.

“I heard that someone collapsed so I peeked over and I saw this guy.
All sorts of things crossed my mind.
Did he help out at the restaurant too much throughout the summer and it took a toll on him? He said that he had a stomach ache yesterday, so did that become a problem? But then I found out that… what? Pretending to be sick? It was so absurd.
Considering how surprised I was, you deserve to get hit even more.”

Iseul glared at him.
As Iseul was quite pretty, she didn’t look scary even if she fiercely glared at someone, but it showed that she was truly worried.
Dojin kept apologizing to Iseul with an uneasy face.

“Thanks to him, we got to rest.
Isn’t that good?” Dowook said as he put down his food tray.

Daemyung was next to him.
Iseul glared at Dowook, but it wouldn’t be Dowook if he backed off from that.
In fact, he snorted and kept eating.

“Park Daemyung.
You of all people should have stopped them.”

“I know, sorry.
It looks like I was out of it because of the heat,” Daemyung made an excuse.

Iseul did not drag things on with Daemyung either.
Her arrows were pointed at Dowook, yet Dowook just picked his ears as he moved his spoon.

“Han Maru, you let them be because you didn’t know, right?”

Maru, who was eating some tofu, shook his head.

“You knew?”

“I did.”

“Then why didn’t you stop them? What were you going to do if the teachers found out?”

“Things like this are okay once in a while, right? It’s impulsive and thrilling.”


Iseul looked at him with a shocked expression.
Everyone else did the same.

“Why are you saying something that Dojin might say?” Dowook asked as he scanned Maru from top to bottom.

Maru pressed Dowook’s cheek with his finger to turn his head away.

“Well, I guess it was strange that everything clicked together.
You’re the type to hold everyone back.
As for Daemyung, he’s the type to go with the flow if we shake him up a little,” Dojin said.

“The weather was way too hot.
I felt like falling over if I stayed any longer, so since you were doing it, I even felt grateful.”

“It feels strange when you say stuff like that.”

Maru shrugged at Iseul.

“I can’t interfere with my friends when they are saying that they are going to do things together.
Also, the risk of being found out was small.
The weather was hot enough that it wouldn’t be strange if someone fell over, and the principal’s speech was no different from torture.
If Dojin didn’t act like he collapsed, maybe we would’ve seen a real heatstroke patient.
Iseul, there are quite a few girls in your class, right? Some of them should have said that they felt dizzy, you know?”

“That’s true, but it was still too reckless.”

“When else would I do something as reckless as this?”

“Did something happen to you over the summer? Or did I miss out on practice too much? Daemyung, was he always like this?”

Everyone’s focus was directed to Daemyung, Daemyung, who was putting laver on his rice, thought a little before speaking,

“Maru did change a little.
He treats his juniors well and teaches them acting in his spare time.
I think he’s no longer the guy who drew the line and will not interfere with anything.
He jokes and smiles a lot now.”

“Han Maru, you became human now, eh? You were such an outsider in your first year.”

Maru looked at Iseul, who patted his head as though she was proud of his growth, before speaking,

“Maybe I finally feel like I understand high school students? These days, I feel a lot younger.”

“Now of all times? We talked about this amongst ourselves, but you did seem like an old dude.”

“Dojin, Daemyung.
That’s how you saw me all this time?”

Dojin and Daemyung nodded without the slightest bit of hesitation.
Maru made a bitter smile.
He might be mature on the inside, but he looked like a completely normal high school student on the outside, and yet they still thought he was an old dude.
He would much like the expression ‘mature’ or ‘composed’ instead.
Or maybe even ‘kkondae’[1] instead.
Kkondae felt like it was the essence of survival in society, so it didn’t make him feel bad to be described as one.

“That’s unfortunate.
I took care of you guys so much too.”

“I know.
I do know that, but during the beginning of first year, you definitely had a stiff side to you.
You didn’t have a good relationship with the seniors either.
When I found out that you sacrificed yourself for the acting club, I honestly felt really disappointed.
You never talk about your own worries yet you care about the ones around you.
That’s not what being friends is about, is it?”

Dojin drank some water after saying those words.
Maru faintly smiled.

“In that sense,  I really like your attitude recently.
You moderately play around and joke around.
Before you were like – how should I put it? – distant? I felt something like that, but you don’t feel like that these days.
Though, you’re still hella smart.”

“That’s strange.
I’ve been treating you all with my whole heart since the beginning.”

Dowook said ‘bullshit’ in a small voice next to him.
Everyone chuckled.
Maru looked at them composedly.
Everyone had their circumstances, but they had smiles that were truthful.
He felt relieved when he thought that he had contributed to those smiles.
Distant, huh.
Looking back, he felt like he was rushing ahead too much.
It would’ve been fine to look around him from time to time and get some more breathing room.
When he thought about it now, he only wondered why he was so hung up on success.
What good would it be if his life after succeeding was lonely? Matching his steps with his friends, who were sharing his time, was probably just as important as success.

For a brief moment, he was reminded of a railroad that went straight towards success.
For a strange reason, what lied at the end was not success but something else.
Something more important than success, and something that was founded on success seemed to lie at the end of the rail, but even if he focused, nothing specific came to mind.

“What are you thinking about?” Iseul asked.

Maru talked about what he just thought in his mind,

“It just suddenly came to mind, but why do we need to be successful?”

“Is there a reason to need to be successful? It’s better than failing.
If you fail, your life will be doomed,” Dowook said in a grumbling tone.

Daemyung replied that it was because success felt good.

“Like what Doowok said, don’t you think it’s because success is better than failure? If you ask me precisely why people need to be successful, I think it’ll be hard to answer.”

That was Iseul’s reply.
Just as everyone was coming to similar conclusions, Dojin spoke as he grabbed the yoghurt that came out as dessert,

“Only if I become successful would I not make the woman I love suffer.”

Iseul asked if that woman was her with an evil grin on her face, but Dojin refrained from answering.
Maru looked at the two quarreling.
They were a couple that did not show any signs of breaking up.
For a brief moment, he felt dizzy as though he woke up with a hangover.
Maru drank some water.
Amidst the fading pain, blurry figures could be seen.
A young woman and a little girl were waving at him as they looked at him.

“Hey, do you feel sick?” Dowook asked as he grabbed his shoulder.

Maru smiled and shook his head.

“Looks like I basked in the sun too much in the morning.”

“Just eat your stuff and sleep.
That’s the best cure.”

“Couldn’t find a better answer.”

Maru put the last spoon of rice in his mouth.

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