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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Madame Song’s restaurant was in a rather secluded place.
Once Juho entered a dark alleyway, he was greeted by a neat row of flowerpots. According to Yun Seo, those flowerpots meant that the restaurant was near. Remembering what she had said, Juho kept on.
The ground was made of bricks that were somewhat uneven. Although Juho felt slightly uneasy at the thought of the bricks being loose, the ground seemed to be much sturdier than it looked.
After walking past the flowerpots, his eyes were met by a luxurious restaurant that came into stark contrast without its surroundings. It seemed more like an art gallery than a restaurant. ‘I wonder why it’s so secluded? It wouldn’t have been weird to find a building like this at a major street.’ The disparity in the visuals between the restaurant and its surrounding gave it a mysterious atmosphere. After looking around the building for a short time, Juho carefully stepped into the restaurant.
The gentle sound of the door made his presence known. In what seemed like a waiting room, there was a couch, a cash register and a rather large mirror in place of a wall. As he sat on the couch, he saw his reflection in the mirror in front of him. The wait couldn’t have been long. Time tended to fly when one stared into their face in the mirror.
A woman was standing by the cash register. Though their eyes met, she didn’t try to rush him to a table.
Juho stood in front of the mirror to straighten his clothes. Because it was a special occasion, one of meeting one of the literary greats, he was intentional about looking presentable. If Dong Gil had been there, he would have smiled proudly.
As Juho checked himself in the mirror, he thought of one of Hyun Do Lim’s books.
His reflection in the mirror asked, “Where is it?”
“Madame Song’s restaurant,” Juho answered without hesitation. Unlike the atmosphere in Hyun Do’s book, it had sounded more like a cheesy promotional video. At that moment, the door opened, signaling another potential customer. Juho looked at the mirror.
The first thing that stood out was the man’s straight posture. While being impressed, Juho’s eyes met his. To be precise, Juho’s eyes met the reflection of the man in the mirror.
With his eyes fixated on the reflection of the man’s black and silver hair, Juho greeted him, “Hello.”
The man didn’t respond. Juho turned around to see him in person. His still, motionless figure gave off a picturesque appearance.
“You must be Juho,” the man said.
Juho felt relieved that the man called him by his real name. Then, he realized that he had been more nervous than he had been aware of. A sense of peace washed over him.
“Yes, sir,” he answered, smiling.
“Hm. I see that your shoulders are quite relaxed.”
‘Was it a compliment?’
“It’s perfect for writing.”
‘A compliment. It was an honor.’
Finally, they made their way into the restaurant. Although Hyun Do didn’t say his name, they were lead to their table by the woman who had been standing quietly by the cash register. Walking past several tables, a room became visible. Much like the exterior, the interior was just as luxurious.
As they took their seats, a woman who seemed to be around Hyun Do’s age walked into the room with a menu in her hands. Her generous appearance resembled that of a bear cub.
“Mister Hyun Do Lim. Been a while. You need to come more often. Help a friend out.”
She seemed to be a friend of Hyun Do. Without changing his expression or attitude, Hyun Do answered, “My understanding was that you’re here to give each of us a menu?”
“Thought I should see my friend’s face too while I’m at it. I see that you have company unlike usual? He seems young,” she said. The puzzled look on her face made her look even more like a bear cub. With a laugh, she introduced herself, “Madame Song. Pleased to meet you.”
Indeed, she was Madame Song.
“Hello. Juho Woo.”
“Right. So, how do you know Hyun Do? Are you a pupil of his?”
As she made the question with sparkling eyes, Hyun do stepped in before Juho even had the time to respond, “I’m here to eat, but I haven’t gotten my menu yet.”
“OK, OK. Can’t hurt to hang out a little, you know,” she said, putting the menus on the table.
Without even looking at them, Hyun Do handed one over to Juho and said, “Pick whatever you want.”
“What about you?”
“He always gets the same thing, everytime,” said Madame Song.
“Can I order the same thing?” Juho asked curiously.
“I suppose there’s no reason you can’t,” said Hyun Do, smiling light-heartedly.
Juho had no clue as to what he had ordered, but it didn’t bother him. As Madame Song observed the two entertainingly, she took their orders and left the room with an innocent, cub-like smile.
Soon, soup and bread made their way to the table as if trading places with her. Juho and Hyun Do ate quietly without saying anything. Sitting across from Juho, the literary great didn’t seem to be put off by the silence. With a thin smile, the man’s lips parted to ask, “Do you look at yourself in the mirror often?”
Instinctively, Juho thought of the moment he first saw Hyun Do in the mirror. After a brief time thinking, he answered, “Not exactly ‘often,’ no. However, I’ve been looking at myself in the mirror for a good long while as of late.”
“Why is that?”
“I’ve been transcribing your book, ‘The Mirror.'”
Hyun Do asked his reason for transcribing that book.
“I’m part of the Literature Club at school, and we’ve been transcribing books as one of our assignments. I chose your work.”
“Was there a reason behind choosing my book?”
“I followed my emotions more than rationality.”
“So, out of impulse.”
He was right, and Juho smiled and explained, “I found your book at the school library. The moment I saw it, my hand went right for it.”
“Things are hard, aren’t they?” he asked suddenly, and Juho thought of the transcription he had fallen behind on.
‘How did he know?’ he thought.
Seeing how Juho remained quiet, Hyun Do added, “I can tell from your writing.”
“Have you read them?”
“How were they?”
Though Juho had asked that light-heartedly, inside, he felt nervous. Though his emotions had been completely composed amid the reviews of his book so far, they wavered like the ocean before Hyun Do.
“I was a bit puzzled,” answered Hyun Do without hesitation. Not good, or bad, but puzzled. Juho found himself puzzled by his evaluation.
“What was puzzling about it to you?”
“The very existence of it.”
“That’s right. The new book by Yun Woo, the genius author. I was puzzled by its existence itself. I wouldn’t have expected it to come out so soon. It also turned out to be an excellent book. The emotions were potent to the point of feeling like they had been poured out. Where did you find the time to gather all that?”
‘Gather? What does he mean by that? Is he talking about the subject?’ Juho wandered. Though he was happy that he was being complimented by the great, he was also having a hard time understanding him.
With that, Hyun Do asked, “It was a pain transcribing ‘The Winter,’ wasn’t it?”
The conversation was back on track.
“Yes. It left me with a deep impression when I’ve read it, so I didn’t hesitate to choose that book, but transcribing it was a different story. I felt somewhat repulsed by it, like I was overeating.”
To be frank, it had been quite the drudgery. It had been exhausting. He had felt like he had been engorging, forcing food into his mouth when he was already full. It had been no different from torture, and it had been just as painful as starving. However, it had also been different from it. What he had felt was closer to being excess rather than deficiency. A corner of Hyun Do’s mouth turned up as if he’d found Juho’s analogy funny.
“I’m sure that book made it worse. I deliberately wrote it that way.”
“I wrote ‘The Mirror’ like I was being forced to.”
Force to. It was similar to what Juho had experienced.
“It was a bit out of impulsivity and as an experiment, but hardly anybody seems to have caught on. Because the emotions are hidden, they are invisible at the surface, but like you said, transcribing it is a different story.”
The process of transcribing involved following the steps of the author’s emotions. It was different from interpreting the book as a reader. Juho was finally able to understand why transcribing ‘The Winter’ had been such a burden. The book had revealed his impulsive nature that had been hiding within. To be more precise, it had dug it out of him. Its emptiness had been filled by traces of Hyun Do’s impulsivity.
“You’re sensitive,” said Hyun Do. Juho didn’t deny him. “And you have skill.”
Again, he was right. Juho knew better than anyone else when to turn away from something. It was one of his methods of survival.
“Did you learn that from reading my book?”
“I can see it now that I’ve met you in person. You can’t learn things like that just by reading,” Hyun Do said as he shook his head and went on to talk about Yun Woo. “As a young, sensitive author with skill, Yun Woo wrote a book at the age of sixteen. It was hard to believe that the book was written by an author that age. Not only did it have excellent plot and atmosphere, but it also had its author’s distinct personality. People were shocked, and they started interpreting their experiences as either a gift or a miracle…
“… but, I have a different view,” he added.
“What is your take?” Juho asked.
With that, Hyun Do looked down at his lukewarm soup and bread.
“A digestive process.”
Juho followed Hyun Do’s eyes to the bread and soup. It was hard to follow what Hyun Do was saying.
“You mean the one that starts as we put food into our mouths and start chewing?”
“That’s right. Except, I’m not talking about food here.”
“Emotions,” said Hyun Do, meeting Juho’s eyes. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”
“What do you do when you’re angry?”
Juho traced back to his memories of being angry. ‘Angry. I’d probably just be angry,’ he thought. Although it seemed obvious, he couldn’t think of anything. In hindsight, he had never expressed his emotions directly to another person.
“I can barely remember anything about the last time I was angry.”
“Which means, you’ve relieved it somehow, right? As long as you’re a person, there’s no way that you can live your life without having your feelings hurt in some way.”
Just like he said, Juho too was a person. He had emotions and as long as he had them, there were bound to be times when he would be angry. He was well-acquainted with the sensation of something welling up from within. Emotions.
He looked down at his palm. Whenever he started to feel something, his palm started itching. It almost felt like it was receiving signals from something. ‘What do I do whenever I feel that?’
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