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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Just like last time, Juho came to the beach in his uniform, wearing the same backpack and riding the same train. Though he took the exact same route as before, the trip didn’t feel as long this time around. He had already gotten used to it. As the waves broke, Juho treaded slowly along the sand. A seagull flew about while the clouds calmly floated away.
Eventually, a large boulder came into view. On it, three people sat fishing. There was no way to tell if they had come separately or as a group. Quietly, they each stared into the water at their fishing line.
Taking a brief moment away from the beach, Juho found a shade and sat on dry ground to read the book he had checked out from the school library. It was a book about the history of sand, and Juho was reading about the different colors of sand. Their colors were determined by the condition in which the formation took place. As an example, there was a picture of the black sand of the Punaluu Beach in Hawaii. It was a fascinating sight. It almost looked like coals or lumps of clay.
The sand in the beach Juho was in had the typical, yellowish brown color, not particularly dark or light. Though the book dealt strictly with scientific facts about sand, it wasn’t as boring as it looked. Maybe that was because Juho was sitting on the sand.
The wave broke in the distance. Juho was in reality. There was no Agrippa. The wave wouldn’t retreat or rush toward him all of a sudden. Smelling the salty air, Juho focused on reading.
“Hello,” a voice called for him. Taking his eyes off the book, Juho looked up. The first thing that came into view was a wrinkled hand holding a plastic bag.
“Hello,” Juho greeted back. A subtle scent of food came from the old lady.
“Can I interest you in some boiled clams?” she asked. Her back bent quite a bit. Juho looked in the direction of the three fisherman. They were busy eating the clams.
“Yes, I’ll take some.”
“I’ll give you some extra, young man.”
Opening the layers of plastic bag, she scooped out some clams and poured them into a paper cup. The shells clattered against each other in the process. With the cup in his hand, Juho asked, “Have you ever picked up rocks here?”
“Rocks?” she asked in a loud voice, and Juho nodded with a smile.
“Yes. A lot of people take them as mementos.”
Her mouth turned up as if she had heard a joke, revealing a shiny silver tooth.
“I did when I was younger, but it’s no use. They just take up space. What can you do with rocks?”
“Of course! Everything becomes a hassle when you’re older. I’m busy boiling these clams as it is.”
Juho felt somewhat disappointed. As much as he wanted people to remain unchanged, everyone grew old eventually. Juho knew that, having experienced it firsthand. His movements had become sluggish. He had made mistakes more frequently. He had grown further away from his youthful self. Although the conversation had seemingly ended, the old lady still stood in her place for an unknown reason. Juho took a clam to his mouth and sucked on it. The meat popped out of the shell and into his mouth, filling it with a fresh, briny flavor. ‘It’d been a while since I’d had this,’ Juho thought.
“So, I thought about it…” she said. Juho stopped eating and looked at her.
“I don’t pick up rocks.” Though she had repeated herself, Juho listened to her like it was the first time.
“I don’t need them.” Again, nothing new. However, she wore a completely different expression.
“These rocks have become useless to me, young man.”
Juho couldn’t answer her as willingly as he had earlier.
“Why is that? Is it because they changed?” Juho asked.
“Change? You mean the rocks?”
“Well… rocks eventually rot too.”
After a quick thought, she added, smiling, “Whether you boil it or let it rot, a rock is a rock. There’s no need to think about it too much… or were you asking about me and not the rocks?”
“Either,” said Juho.
“Ah… I get it. I don’t think that I’ve changed. Haha! These are some funny things coming from an old grandma, right?”
“No, not at all.”
With her hands on her knees, she stood up slowly. As Juho helped her up, a salty scent tickled his nose.
“That’s what I feel when I stare out into the sea. Think about it. What I’m seeing has and always will look the same. Even though I’ll rot away one day, I feel like nothing has actually changed, like I’ll always be staring out at the same view. Do you follow?”
“It’s a little confusing, but I get the gist,” Juho gave her an honest answer. She nodded understandingly.
“That’s OK. It happens.”
“Anyway, I don’t pick up things like rocks anymore. I hope I answered your question. Oh, didn’t you ask if something had changed?”
“Yes, I did.” Although she was somewhat incoherent, Juho listened to her quietly.
“I didn’t change. That’s it. It’s not that complicated, right?”
“Yes, ma’am. Loud and clear,” Juho answered, smiling.
According to her, a rock was a piece of memory. In saying that she no longer bothered picking them up, she meant that her memories were being lost. Yet, it didn’t matter to her. She believed that she hadn’t changed. She believed rocks were and always would be rocks whether they were boiled or rotten. With that, she went on her way.
After getting scraped over and over, a rock eventually became sand. Similarly, a person grew old with age. However, the essence remained unchanged. Whether she decided to pick up the rocks or not, she was and always would be herself. There were things that didn’t change after all.
Juho brought another clam to his mouth and enjoyed its fresh brininess.
“Computer lab!” the club members exclaimed as the tightly lined up computers came into view.
Computers had become an essential tool for the kids living in the modern age. Though it wasn’t their first time there, they were excited to be writing in a new environment. After they each took a seat, they each spent time on their own while waiting for Mr. Moon. Juho headed for the backmost seat.
“Why go so far?” asked Seo Kwang. He sat in the second row.
“Mr. Moon said to seat apart from each other so we don’t influence one another.”
“Yeah, but is it necessary to sit that far away?”
“I’m used to sitting here.”
Juho had had permission to be in the computer lab long before anyone else. While the rest of the club members had worked on their plots with Mr. Moon’s help, he had been writing in the computer lab all along. Taking a USB out of his pocket, he inserted it into the computer. Letters and words filled the once empty screen. At that moment, Baron walked by between Seo Kwang and Juho.
“Why are you sitting there Baron?”
He sat at the innermost seat in the third row.
“I can see everyone from here, even the door.”
He seemed to have a composition in mind. As he observed Sun Hwa and Bom sitting in the first row, Seo Kwang exclaimed in agreement.
“He’s here,” whispered Baron. His position worked to his advantage, allowing him to see who was approaching the door before anyone else. In the same manner he walked into the science room, Mr. Moon walked into the computer lab. Without hesitating, he went straight to the point.
“We’re writing today, right?”
“Yes!” shouted Sun Hwa with excitement. They had been learning many theories on writing while coming up with their own plots. Everyone had a clear idea of what they wanted to write about. They were confident. They felt more equipped to be able to portray the images in their heads in writing. They were anxious to give form to those images. Such emotions were apparent in Sun Hwa’s voice. Identifying with her, Juho smiled quietly.
“Very well. Now, let’s stir up some trouble, shall we?”
Everyone exclaimed cheerfully. Then, Mr. Moon added, dampening their excitement, “But before we start…”
“You all remember the theories we’ve learned up to this point, right?”
“Yes. Characters, Main Events, Background, everything!” said Seo Kwang with confidence.
Mr. Moon nodded and added, “Now, let’s forget it all.”
The club members were at a loss.
“We’re about to start writing. From this point on, we’re treading into the territory of art. We don’t have to be hung up on anything. A theory is a theory. It’ll narrow your vision if you focus on it too much. Now, it’s time to write freely. So, set it aside for now.”
“Yes, Mr. Moon,” said Juho, and as if that had been a signal, everyone followed with an answer.
With a satisfied look, Mr. Moon said, “Now, let’s begin.”
At that moment, a peculiar sound filled the room. It sounded like neither person or wind. Finding the source of the sound was not all that difficult. Everyone looked back. The sound grew faster and more fierce, almost vicious to the point of calming any excitement in the room. Juho was sitting in the backmost seat, and his face wasn’t visible behind the monitor.
Seo Kwang stared at his monitor. Blank. Because he had just begun, he was yet to write a single word. He had officially embarked on his half-year journey. Thinking back on it, even the most distant of future would eventually become the present. For that reason, he had been thinking, naively, that the day would come when he would be able to finish his novel. However, there was no such a guarantee, anywhere. The vicious sound in the room reminded him of that reality. The best writer in the Literature Club was fiercely typing away. It almost sounded violent.
All eyes were fixated on Juho. It wasn’t uncommon for Juho to receive such attention. He was an amazing writer. His sentences were heavy and impactful, yet they flowed peacefully. He also excelled in creating a story. He knew how to control the dynamics while being witty and suspenseful. There was personality in his writing. Only he was capable of writing in the way he did. In Seo Kwang’s eyes, Juho was no different from any professional author with published work.
Juho was sitting quite far from everyone else. His invisible hand exuded its presence through sound. Seo Kwang started to feel afraid to start writing. He knew that he didn’t have the confidence to write without hesitation or jump into his story. He didn’t have the confidence to fill the room with such vicious sound either. Just like the rest of the club members, he felt his excitement die down. The air grew heavy.
Seo Kwang chuckled. Even in that moment, he looked forward to reading the things that were about to come out of him. When he looked ahead, Sun Hwa and Bom were already facing the front. The vicious typing noise from behind, and the cold backs at the front. He felt alone. He had to write in that uncomfortable place between two unwelcoming walls.
He thought about Yun Woo, who had already written two full length novels. ‘I wonder if he had to go through this same loneliness when he was writing… Were his books the prize for bringing his fear to submission? Do all authors write with feeling like this?’ he wondered.
He felt like he couldn’t write anything in that state. Subconsciously, Seo Kwang moved his hand over the keyboard and started typing. Putting strength into his fingers, he started to actualize the story in his mind. Letters and words came together and created sentences. Though awkward and crude, they were made by him. Though it was nowhere near comparable to the vicious sound coming from Juho’s keyboard, it was distinctly his.
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