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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“We’re open for business!”
The festival had officially started. Everyone in class either went out or started working simultaneously. The hallway was flooded with people, some wearing other schools’ uniforms and others wearing ordinary clothes. The school would become even more crowded over time.
“Hey, let’s go!” Seo Kwang tugged at Juho’s arm. Since the Literature Club wasn’t doing anything for the festival and neither of them had a role in their class’ event, they had all the time in the world.
“We’re stopping by Sun Hwa and Bom’s class first, right?”
“It’s the closest.”
The two decided to look around the school leisurely. Each of the classrooms was decorated according to its theme. It was obvious that a lot of work had gone into it. The students who promoted their classes with signs shouted all the louder. Though it was noisy, it was quite fun.
Sun Hwa and Bom’s class was decorated with an embroidered sign that read “Flea Market.” The tent-like appearance was quite eye-catching.
“They did a pretty good job.”
Juho and Seo Kwang went into the classroom. There were stacks of items brought by each of the students. Quite a few people were looking around. Then, Juho saw Bom standing by the cash register.
“Hey, guys!” she greeted them happily amid the business. Her hair was braided into two braids, giving her a cartoon-like appearance.
“Everyone’s wearing the same hairdo.”
“Yeah. Isn’t it clever? The boys decided to wear a hat.”
Everyone involved in helping out was dressed accordingly. The girls braided their hairs while the boys wore hats. It was a dress code of sorts.
“You’re buying something, right?”
“Are you trying to have us do business with you?”
“No way. Feel free to look around. Sun Hwa’s over there,” Bom said with a smile.
At that moment, she had to interact with an approaching student. Seeing how busy she was, Juho and Seo Kwang moved on to Sun Hwa.
“Oh, hey! You’re here!” she said as she waved her hand, her braided hair fluttering with it. Her hair had looked normal that morning.
“Not bad. I told you it’d work.”
The classroom was rather crowded, even at a glance, and she seemed excited. While crouching, Seo Kwang examined the items on display. Dolls, toy knives, clothes, jewelry, bowls, cups. There were all sorts of goods. There were also larger items, such as a chair or oversized stuffed animals in the corner of the classroom.
“What’s that chair for?”
“It’s an endorsement from the parents. It’s new.”
“Who would buy something like that?”
Though it looked comfortable, it was questionable if people would actually buy it.
“If no one buys it, we can always return it to the person who brought it.”
“That sounds tiring.”
“Well, it gives presence to the place.”
While Sun Hwa explained things about the chair, a voice sounded from behind, “So, this is where the Literature Club is.”
“Hi, Mr. Moon! Oh! Mr. James, you’re here too!”
The two came to visit together, and Mr. Moon’s eyes fixed on the chair.
“What brings you here? Are you here to see us?”
“No, I saw the chair in passing. It’s for sale, right? How much is it?”
He expressed interest in buying the chair. Despite Mr. Moon’s brutally honest answer, a bright smile spread across Sun Hwa’s face.
At that moment, Seo Kwang interjected, “They don’t do delivery.”
“Don’t you worry. It’s for the science room. I was thinking about getting something more comfortable.”
“You can always get your own.”
Without hesitation, he reached for the chair. All eyes were on Mr. Moon as he spent his money boldly. Some chuckled while others cheered, and it was a major boost in their sales.
“Are you getting anything?” Juho asked James in English.
“I’m not sure. I feel like I should buy something while I’m here,” James answered in English and looked around.
With a sincere hope of success for his friends, Juho suggested various items that were being sold, “How about that tea set over there? Tea would be a lot easier to make.”
“I have enough of tea sets. I got them as gifts.”
“How about a book? This is a comic book, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to read. It’ll help with your Korean too.”
“That seems better… Oh! That stuffed giraffe has a really long neck!” he said as he went closer to get a better look. In the end, he joined Mr. Moon with a set of comic books in one hand and a small stuffed giraffe in the other. Staring in their direction from the cash register, Bom received their payment hastily.
As he stepped back with a satisfied smile on his face, Juho felt piercing gazes coming from behind him. When he turned around, he saw Sun Hwa and Seo Kwang standing shoulder to shoulder, staring daggers at him.
“I really sold him on the comic books.”
Sun Hwa furrowed her forehead at his calm attitude.
“First, you create a new language, and now you’re speaking fluent English as if the former wasn’t enough. You really know everything there is to know about writing, don’t you? How many languages do you speak, like ten?”
“Twenty-three, give or take.”
“… Am I supposed to believe that? So annoying!”
“I know!” Seo Kwang agreed strongly, picking up a notebook. “I can’t stand it whenever he’s reading something written in another language. I want to be able to do that! I’m going to use this to learn words.”
“That doesn’t sound very innocent.”
Listening to the two conversing, Juho too picked up a notepad. His old one was nearly used up. While telling him the price, Sun Hwa suggested they get chicken skewers on their way out.
“Is it good?”
“Don’t know. I haven’t tried it.”
“At least you’re honest.”
In the end, Juho and Seo Kwang left the classroom, each with a chicken skewer in their hand.
“We’re going to Baron’s class next, right?”
“He said his class chose a restaurant theme. They were making toast, weren’t they?”
“I can probably eat this skewer in one bite,” Seo Kwang said.
Juho agreed. It had been a while since the last time he had had a chicken skewer. As he took a bite, its sweet and savory flavor filled his mouth.
“I feel like it tastes even better at school, doesn’t it?”
The festival had a magical effect on food. It transformed the most ordinary food into a delicacy. Like Seo Kwang said, it didn’t take long for them to finish their skewers.
“It’s been a while.”
“We came here nearly every day at one point.”
“We sure did.”
They had been the victims of a peculiar accusation at one point. Feeling mildly nostalgic, Juho stepped into the classroom. Baron was sitting in the corner. With other students selling food, it didn’t seem like he was needed immediately.
“Pff! What’s with your apron?!”
It was bright red, and one wouldn’t have been able to tell if it had Kimchi broth splashed all over. Everyone else in the class seemed to be wearing ordinary aprons.
“This is the only apron I could find at home.”
“It suits you.”
“I know,” Baron said. There was a faint smile on his face.
“You’re each getting a toast, right?”
At that moment, a girl approached Baron from behind.
“Hey, Baron? I’m running low on change, could you go get me some?”
Juho knew who that was, Sponge-Cake Girl. They seemed rather candid in their conversation. Upon locking eyes with her, Juho exchanged a brief greeting.
“Well, that’s that. Enjoy your toast.”
Baron walked out of the classroom with the apron still on him. Going into the kitchen surrounded by desks, the Sponge-Cake Girl got started on the toasts. Seo Kwang and Juho took a seat, and each ordered a carton of milk and a piece of toast. From spicy to chocolate filled, there was quite an array of items in the menu. While Juho ordered an ordinary ham and cheese, Seo Kwang made an adventurous decision to order the spicy option.
“Stuff like that will ruin your stomach.”
“Hey, man! Don’t you underestimate my stomach,” Seo Kwang said confidently. However, he ran out of the classroom in no time after chugging three cartons of milk.
While his friend was gasping for breath, there was nothing Juho could do to help him in his suffering.
“I guess your stomach is a lot stronger than your tongue.”
Murmuring and looking around anxiously, Seo Kwang rushed into the restroom. It was the consequence of overestimating his stomach. Expecting him to take a while, Juho sat himself on a chair in the hallway next to other visitors.
At that moment, his pocket vibrated. It was a text message from Sung Pil.
“Long time no hear!”
He was visiting for the school festival. Without hesitation, Juho gave him a call.
“Hello,” Sung Pil answered in his distinct tone. When asked where he was, Sung Pil answered that he was in the school library.
“What are you doing in the library? Aren’t you visiting for the festival?”
“I wanted to read your story.”
Juho blinked and thought, ‘Did I ever tell him about my short story?’
While he was busy retracing his memory, Sung Pil said, “I saw that you had an interview. You really sounded like an author.”
Again, Juho had no recollection of telling him about the interview, and Sung Pil went to the library after finding about it.
“Were you at the Newspaper Club?”
“No. They were passing out newspapers at the entrance.”
Juho immediately pictured the monkey handing out newspapers.
“I see, so you read about it, huh? How do you like short story?”
“I’m yet to read it. I’m still waiting in line.”
“Yes. The person in front of me is taking a while, especially with yours.”
In terms of length, Juho’s story was the shortest of the three. Yet, the fact that it took time to read showed just how intently it was being read. Juho felt grateful to the mysterious reader.
“I see that you’re not the only person going to the library in the middle of a school festival.”
“The interview really got me interested. It seems like people come here to take a breather too.”
Just as Juho was sitting in the hallway, there were also chairs in the library. Because it was a quiet place filled with books, it was a rather suitable resting area.
“Do you need a guide?”
“It’s OK. I’m sure you’re busy. I’m just going to read ‘Grains of Sand’ before I go.”
“Remind me, why are you here?”
“I’m visiting,” Sung Pil gave him an obvious answer. Juho was used to it by then. Seeing Seo Kwang walking out of the restroom while drenched in sweat, Juho said goodbye to Sung Pil on the phone.
“Well, have fun.”
After hanging up, Juho walked toward Seo Kwang. He seemed like he had just washed his face. Thankfully, he seemed to feel a little better.
“I’m going to recommend that to Sun Hwa,” Seo Kwang said as he rubbed his belly.
“C’mon now. Don’t be that guy.”
“It’s a flavor that I couldn’t keep to myself,” he murmured, and asked, “Is there anywhere else we can go?”
He still intended on enjoying the day. Pondering for a brief moment, Juho pointed toward the stairs. There was some unintended business upstairs, and Seo Kwang quietly followed him. When they arrived, there was no one around. It was a stark contrast to the floor under it.
“Are people not coming up here at all?”
“I guess not. No one’s here.”
“Well, I guess it makes sense considering that it’s almost entirely an exhibition.”
Seo Kwang looked around. There was a music room, where the Art Club was having an exhibition. It looked like an art-museum. Walking past the music room, they reached yet another room.
“The Photography Club? So this is where they’re having their exhibition,” Seo Kwang said as he looked around. “Are we here to look at photos?”
Juho walked toward the photos about the size of a B4 sheet of paper over a black background. Each of them was labeled with title and the photographer’s name and picture. The place was quiet and secluded. Even the excited clamoring from the floor beneath it couldn’t penetrate the silence in that room. His footsteps echoed throughout the room with his every step.
“Haha! This one’s funny. Look at the frog.”
Having walked ahead, Seo Kwang called for Juho, who realized that his friend had found the photo he’d been looking for.
“I guess it makes sense that it made an old lady smile,” Seo Kwang said with his eyes fixed on the title. That was the moment when it really shone, moving people’s hearts.
“But why is your name here?”
Seo Kwang pointed at the title. Underneath it, was the name of the girl with the camera and Juho’s name in parenthesis next to it, written in a slightly smaller point.
“Title helper: Juho Woo.”
“Were you a title helper? What is that?” Seo Kwang asked.
Juho must have taken on the responsibility without even knowing. It was the girl’s way of thanking him.
“So, you’re the one who came up with the title, huh? I get it now.”
“No, I’m not.”
“You’re not? Then, what’s with ‘title helper?'” he asked again. Juho stared at the photo intently for a brief time. He became curious about whether the old lady got around to seeing the photo and smiled cheerfully.
“I don’t know.”
Only the frog would know.
While Seo Kwang ran off to the restroom for the second time, Juho sat on the stairs alone. The crowded hallway came into view. There were even more people than earlier. Dark tent-like decorations mingled harmoniously with bright lights. Students in peculiar costumes or people in ordinary clothes were also visible.
Juho rested his exhausted eyes. As he was leaning his head on the rail, he felt it vibrate. Slow, yet light footsteps sounded throughout the stairway. They were unhurried. By the time the footsteps completely faded away, Juho took out his new notepad.
After all, a girl who believed in destiny was bound to have a destiny-like encounter.
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