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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
While reading it casually, the uneasiness of the book wasn’t all that apparent. Like an actor who was lost in his character, its emotions were raw and uncontrolled. As he was about to open the book to its first page, he heard a voice, “It’s here! ‘The Sound of Wailing!'”
When he glanced over, there were a boy and a girl who looked to be elementary students. The girl seemed to be delighted that she had found the ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ Juho set aside his thoughts and focused his ears.
“This book is lit! You should read it!”
“What’s so great about it?” The boy asked apathetically.
“You know Yun Woo, don’t you? It’s his new book.”
“Oh, yeah, I’ve heard that name. I heard he’s in high school.”
“He’s my favorite writer. I read it as soon as it came out. You should too. I recommend it.”
“Why me? I hate books.”
“You’ll cry like a baby after you read it.”
The boy sneered.
“Pff! I’ve never cried from reading.”
“I hadn’t either, until I read this one.”
In the end, the girl had won the argument, and the boy quietly listened to her, still looking indifferent.
“Yun Woo is a real genius. I want to be just like him. I thought no book would be as perfect as ‘The Trace of a Bird,’ but this new book changed my mind.”
Hearing such praise from an elementary student, Juho couldn’t help but feel worried. ‘That book probably isn’t appropriate for kids her age…’
“What do you like about it so much?”
“I don’t want to live like this person.”
“What?” The boy asked as he looked at her dumbfoundedly.
“When I grow up, I want to raise my child with everything I’ve got. I’ll never smoke. I’ll ask for help when I need it and I’ll give it when a person asks for it.”
“What does any of that have to do with what I just asked?”
“That’s what I like about it. I like that it helps me understand what I want to do in the future,” she said as her eyes sparkled. “I felt the same way after reading ‘The Trace of a Bird.’ I decided I wanted to be a writer, so I went to the store and bought a notebook that same day. It hadn’t even crossed my mind before. Writing was just boring to me, but I changed my mind after reading that book. Yun Woo is amazing. I want to be just like him.”
“I didn’t understand a word of what you’ve just said,” the boy said as he gave her the same dumbfounded look. “Well, my mom gave me some money for books. I’m hungry, can we get some food?”
“OK, I’ll tell you more as we eat.”
With that, the two walked out of the bookstore. Juho thought as he tried to tame his excitement, ‘I guess visiting the bookstore from time to time isn’t all that bad.’ He looked at the two kids who were on their way out. They were both short, and the boy was even shorter than the girl. Perhaps it was around their age when readers were capable of maintaining the purest perspective toward what they read. Being a young reader had its advantages, especially when it came to looking forward to the future rather than the experience described in the book.
From then on, many people visited the bookstore and bought Juho’s book. At one point, there was a lady with colorful nails and jewelry that sparkled all the more on the gray background. At another, there was another hand that was wrapped in bandages and a person who was covered in dust. Some were in suits with their employment IDs around their neck. Some snatched the book without even examining it, whereas a boisterous group of high school girls took copies of the book in a bundle. Then, a woman who seemed to be a university student read through the first few pages with her earphones on, placing it on top of a pile that she had in her hands.
People of all ages, genders, nails, attires, appearances, and behaviors walked out of the bookstore with a copy of ‘The Sound of Wailing.’
Juho looked at those people absent-mindedly.
“Sorry, sir. Pardon me.”
Juho moved aside for an employee with a cart filled with ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ When Juho turned his eyes back to the display rack, most of the books piled up on it were already gone.
As lunch hour approached, the bookstore became all the more crowded. There were long lines in front of the cashiers. As Juho looked at the crowd, he took a step back.
“Excuse me,” said a familiar voice. However, it wasn’t directed toward Juho. It sounded like it had come from near the display rack. Juho slowly turned his head to find out who the voice belonged to.
“Pardon me.” There was a distinct politeness in the man’s tone. By the the time his hand reached for the gray book, Juho was standing right behind him. As he was about to walk toward the cashier, his eyes met Juho’s.
“Ah! Didn’t expect to see you here.”
Juho greeted him. The man’s thick eyebrows furrowed.
“Are you here to buy the book too?” he asked. Juho shook his head as he showed him his empty hands.
“I’m just stopping by. Seems like you’ve already found what you were looking for?”
“Yep. ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ It’s Yun Woo’s next book. I have to get one.”
“I don’t think you necessarily “have to.””
“It’ll help me catch up to him sooner.”
Juho had forgotten about that. Sung Pil had a strong sense of rivalry toward Yun Woo.
“You’ve already bought a copy, right?” he asked with a serious expression.
Juho answered after a brief time thinking, “No, not quiet.”
‘I didn’t buy it, but I did get a copy from the publishing company,’ he said to himself internally.
Sung Pil’s thick eyebrows twitched once again.
“So, are you here to buy one?”
“Didn’t I say that I was just stopping by?”
“Well, you should read it. You write too.”
“Eh, it’s fine. There are plenty of authors who are better than Yun Woo.”
“Then, I’ll lend you mine after I read it. How does that sound?”
Something didn’t quite add up, which was a frequent occurrence in their conversations.
“You won’t regret it,” Sung Pil finished.
He must have missed the phrase written on the binding in thick letters, ‘Are you prepared for regrets?’
With a chuckle, Juho asked Sung Pil, “You don’t have to. Why don’t we go grab a bite to eat?”
He nodded while maintaining his serious expressions.
“Sounds good. I was starting to get hungry.”
“I’ll be outside. You take your time,” said Juho as he made his way out through the crowd while Sung Pil got in line.
After walking into a snack shop nearby, the two sat themselves at a table. With two cups of water in his hands, Sung Pil asked, “Would you mind if I start reading the book now?”
He was referring to ‘The Sound of Wailing.’ After a brief thought, Juho shook his head.
“What am I supposed to do?”
With a disappointed look, Sung Pil set his book aside. Looking at the disappointment on his face, Juho felt the urge to give in, but wasn’t used to someone reading his book before his eyes. He poured the ice cold water into his mouth while trying to avoid making eye contact with Sung Pil as much as possible. As he put down his cup, the book somehow made its way into Sung Pil’s hands.
“Why did you ask if you’re going to read anyway?”
“Oh! I thought I should take a look while you were drinking your water.”
Juho chuckled at the sight of him closing the book and waved his hands in the air, saying, “You know what? Just read it.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” he answered as he opened the book in a hurry and brought it close to his face. Sung Pil was reading Juho’s book. After staring in his direction for some time, Juho turned his attention to the television. Unfortunately, it was only showing advertisements. The page turned.
‘He’s a fast reader,’ Juho thought as he waited for the food.
When he looked out of the window, he saw that there was a crowd of people going busily about their way. The new book had been released onto the world. Some bought the book while others read it. ‘How long has it been since I felt this way?’ he thought as he felt touched and hungry at the same time.
‘Caw!’ a black bird cried.
He turned his eyes toward the sound. The bird sat precariously on a tree branch. At that, Juho thought of the bird in his book. There was a scene where the mother confesses to her son her experience of killing a bird. She tells her son that the bird had eventually come back to life. She tells that him the bird was now flying across the world with its wings spread out.
In an ambiguous state, the son keeps the story to his heart, neither believing or disbelieving. Only he could know how a son who had witnessed the downfall of his own mother would turn out to be. Juho looked up at the branch. There was no bird. There was nothing but the sound of Sung Pil turning the pages of his book.
Soon, the owner of the place brought the tteokbokki and soondae they had ordered. While taking out a pair of chopsticks, he called out for Sung Pil. He didn’t respond. His eyebrows were furrowed even more. Juho picked up a piece of tteokbokki and brought it to his mouth. The spice was just right.
“This is good.”
His words lingered in the air, but Sung Pil paid no attention. Juho moved his hand toward the plate of soondae.
“The soondae’s good too.”
He still didn’t respond. Juho stared at him intently as he chewed. Sung Pil was fully immersed in Juho’s book. He looked rather serious. Juho became curious as to which part he was reading. ‘He’s probably in the beginning still,’ he thought. However, the downfall of the characters begun with the very first sentence of the book. It made sense for Sung Pil to be wearing such a serious expression.
Even as Juho brought another piece of tteokbokki and soondae to his mouth, Sung Pil didn’t take his eyes off of the book. ‘I’m going to end up eating the whole thing at this rate,’ thought Juho as he lightly kicked Sung Pil’s foot. Sung Pil looked down sluggishly.
“What’s the matter?”
“Somebody kicked me.”
“Huh?” Sung Pil answered as he finally looked up from his book.
Juho added with another piece of tteokbokki in his mouth, “Food came out.”
“… Huh,” he said as he looked at the food on the table.
“Your concentration is impressive,” Juho said as he ate.
With that, Sung Pil shook his head as his thick eyebrows twitched.
“No matter how good of a book I’m reading, I usually don’t forget to eat. Normally, I’d have known right away.”
“Not this time. Your concentration must’ve improved.”
“No, it means that this book is that impressive.”
Juho blinked quietly.
“It really sucks you in. You can’t afford to look away for one second,” said Sung Pil as he stroked the book. He seemed rather moved by it. “Yun Woo really is incredible.”
Without words, Juho brought two more pieces of soondae to his mouth.
“If you’re not going to eat, I’m going to finish this.”
Seeing how the amount of food had grown smaller, Sung Pill finally picked up his chopsticks.
“It was somewhat unexpected though,” Sung Pil said as he chewed his food.
“Yun Woo,” he said with his eyes fixated on the book. “I didn’t know he’d write something like this for his next book.”
“Why is that?”
“It feels really different.”
Juho asked feeling a prick in the heart, “… How are they different?”
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