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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Sigh,” somebody let out heavily, and Juho looked up at the girl sitting in front of him. She was sitting facing him, gesturing for him to ask questions about her.
“That’s a heavy sigh.”
“Aren’t you concerned?” Bom asked, and Juho’s head leaned sideways.
“She’s doing fine,” Juho said calmly as he closed the book in his hand quietly.
Bom shook her head and answered, “I don’t think she’s really enjoying it here.”
“Really?” he asked calmly, and Bom’s eyes squinted into a glare. She was seeing right through him. She knew that Juho knew. At the sound of Juho’s chuckle, Bom let out yet another sigh.
“The Literature Club is like a resting place for us. I hope Bo Suk sees it like that too.”
Bom thought back on Bo Suk and her attitude. While she always had the choice of doing something besides from writing, she just wrote quietly without taking the liberty to choose. She was rigid and tense, as if she was always nervous.
“Maybe she’s feeling uncomfortable being surrounded by older students?”
“I doubt it.”
“How do you know?”
“Because she’s my protagonist.”
Bom’s eyes widened, and as she was about to open her mouth to say something, the teacher came into the class. The first period was math. Bom looked back at Juho, but what returned in place of an answer was his shrug.
“I’ll be going now.”
Mr. Moon nodded half-heartedly, and Juho went out to the hallway after picking up his notebook and writing tools, thinking about what he needed to write. He already had an outline for the story about Bo Suk and he was nearly halfway into his writing.
As Juho started writing after turning the computer on, a loud thud sounded in the room.
The keyboard sound stopped. Unfortunately, he had grown rather familiar with the occurrence as of late. Looking up, Juho saw Bo Suk’s face on the window.
“Just come inside,” Juho called for her. Then…
“‘Scuse me.” She walked into the computer room without hesitation. She had been visiting the computer room frequently under the pretext of getting to know her protagonist, and they each asked and answered questions about each other.
“The weather’s nice out.”
“Yes, it is.”
“That cloud over there reminds me of a sweet potato.”
“It looks more like a dog’s stool to me.”
Their conversations remained mostly shallow. As she approached him, Juho raised his hand and stopped her from coming any closer.
“My work is a closely-guarded secret. I have to ask you to maintain that distance.”
“I’m aware. I’ve yet to come any closer.”
“Did you think I wouldn’t notice you sneaking your way toward me?”
While maintaining the distance between them, Juho moved his hands busily, and the fierce sound of the keyboard filled the room again. He was writing a story about her, and writing with the protagonist in front of him made for an experience similar to painting a portrait. It was rather fun. Although it was slightly more difficult to focus, it was a manageable inconvenience.
“At the earliest, the story should be finished by the end of today, or tomorrow at the latest.”
He had planned to write a short story from the start, which wouldn’t have been a long process by any means. At what sounded like a declaration, sadness appeared on her face.
“I still have a ways to go with mine. I know nothing about you.”
“Haven’t we had enough conversations?”
“They were never all that substantial.”
“I didn’t feel that way.”
“… I think I get why the other club members were giving me a pitiful look.”
“Yes. You’re nearly impossible to read.”
Her tone was about the only thing that was polite. She was wearing a sullen look. In the end, Juho decided to help her.
“You said you used to be in the Table Tennis Club?” he asked as he moved his hands. Because the outline had already been finished, all he had to do was write the story.
“Yes,” she answered briefly with her eyes fixed on Juho’s hands still. As he wrote about her, Juho came to understand the mysterious look on her face better: awe-inspired, yet disappointed at someone.
He was also aware that her time in the Table Tennis Club was not one of the subjects she was willing to talk about. For that reason, instead of asking her questions, he told her his story in order to make the writing process easier for her.
“I heard from someone that one should hold a racket like they’re holding a pencil.”
“Huh?” she asked, caught off guard because she had expected more questions.
“Apparently, you have to hold the racket like you’re holding a pencil. I think that’s why I was somewhat drawn to the sport. I’m a person who enjoys writing.”
“But it has nothing to do with writing.”
“I write with a pen too, from time to time.”
The look on her face made it obvious that she wasn’t sure what to do with what she was being told. Juho chuckled as he looked over his monitor and saw the expression on her face. Understanding what the protagonist liked and disliked was among the most basic skills of an author. Yet, Bo Suk didn’t seem to realize the opportunity that Juho had set before her eyes.
“You’re almost done with your story, right? I guess that means there won’t be time for us to ask questions face to face.”
“I don’t know. I have another story I need to work on. I do prefer to be left alone as much as possible when I write.”
To be frank, he was willing to answer her questions until he was finished with his story. He was willing to interact with her even when he wasn’t writing. There were plenty of options, yet Juho didn’t give any of them to Bo Suk because she was hesitant. She was yet to ask the question that she had been meaning to ask, and at times, realizing that there wouldn’t be a next time acted as a source of motivation.
Juho stared at her intently, and before long, Bo Suk asked, “How are you able to focus on writing like that?”
Juho moved his hands, and the sound of the keyboard echoed throughout the room.
“I just… can?”
“… I’d like for you to answer me more sincerely, even if it’s just half as much as your concentration.”
“That was a genuinely sincere answer.”
With that, her expression hardened.
“Sun Hwa told me that you’re always calm and not fazed by anything. She also told me that she finds that annoying about you.”
“I was curious when she told me that the first time, but I think I’m starting to get it.”
“Finding something that resonates with other people is a wonderful thing,” Juho said to change the subject. “How’s writing been for you? Are you enjoying it?”
She gave him no answer.
“It’s not all that fun at the moment, right? I understand. You thought you’d be in a lazy club.”
“That’s not necessarily true. I’m used to it.”
She looked away for the first time.
“I only joined the Table Tennis Club because of my friend.”
“That’s not entirely a bad thing,” Juho said light-heartedly, but a perplexed look appeared on Bo Suk’s face.
“I’m surprised that you’re not saying anything.”
“Should I be?”
“I’m just saying. Most people would’ve had something to say,” she said. Then, she hesitated and added, “I find this place somewhat odd.”
“You mean the computer room?”
“The Literature Club.”
“The fact that there’s an artist in the club, first of all.”
It made sense from her point of view.
“Baron is quite eccentric, but he’s also brave. He’s not afraid of being alone.”
In other words, he was afraid of feeling fear of solitude.
“I’m sure you’ll get used to it eventually,” Juho said.
With that, she looked at him intently and said, “You’re a bit of an oddball too.”
Juho realized what she had really wanted to say. She was anxious, not knowing what to do in an environment where choices and unique elements coexisted. She had been thinking of herself as someone who was completely isolated.
“Everyone’s exactly like you,” Juho said, and her expressions hardened all the more.
“I don’t have what it takes to fight for what I want,” she said as faint disappointment appeared in her eyes. That was her sentiment toward herself. She was brusque and didn’t seem to enjoy being in the Literature Club all that much. On the other hand, she didn’t bother to do something else, like Baron. “Honestly, I thought about leaving.”
“The Literature Club?”
“Yes. I’m not like everyone there.”
The reason for her discomfort had nothing to do with being surrounded by older students or the fact that she didn’t enjoy writing. The issue had always lain within her. Effort. It was the very thing that was holding her back.
“But what stopped you?”
She didn’t leave because she wanted to stay. For that reason, Juho didn’t feel the need to be concerned for her. She was ready and willing to face her predicament.
“We’ve been talking for quite some time now.”
In order to understand the other person better, they had exchanged information with each other. However, those conversations had been shallow at best.
“Are you ashamed of making an effort, or envious of the ability to make an effort?”
Juho’s story would be finished by the end of that day or the end of the following day at the latest, and just as he had been before, he was ready to listen to her then. Having conversed with him for quite some time, she was also fully aware of Juho’s intentions. As he looked at her intently, Bo Suk opened her mouth and… “So, when I was young…” … began to tell her story.
“… we were having a competition in P.E. class. Whoever hung from the pull-up bar the longest would win, and I didn’t want to lose.”
The sound of typing resonated throughout the room.
“My hands started to hurt, and my body felt heavier and heavier, but I clenched my teeth and tried as hard as I could not to fall. But that’s when I saw the look on my teacher’s face.”
Leaving behind her dignity and composure, she fought desperately on the pull-up bar. Then, as the teacher came into view, she wished dearly for them to declare the outcome of the competition. She wanted to be complimented for her effort. The teacher was the sole referee and had the power to determine the outcome of her effort.
“It was a sneer.”
The teacher was sneering at their own student. ‘What are you trying so hard for?’ Bo Suk realized that her effort was no more than laughingstock, and she still remembered it vividly.
“From then on, I tried as hard as I could not to make an effort in front of others. It was the same thing in the Table Tennis Club. I wanted to be someone average without having to try so hard. I wanted to seem sophisticated and graceful,” Bo Suk said.
Juho was reminded of the racket that was held like a pencil. A tired looked appeared on her face.
“But that time, my teacher was telling me to try harder, saying that he’d never seen me making an effort in anything. Something didn’t add up. I clearly put in the effort, but people just blurt out what they think just because it’s visible to their eyes. I didn’t know what my teacher wanted from me, so I quit,” Bo Suk said. That had to be the reason why she thought she was different from the rest of the club members.
“When I read the compilation, I saw how much time and effort had gone into it, and I was astonished. It didn’t even occur to me to mock what I was seeing because I simply thought that I was different from everyone else.”
She found herself drowning deeper in confusion. ‘Why am I different from them?’ Then, locking eyes with Juho, she said, “I fell for you when I saw you writing.”
A sudden confession.
“I realized for the first time how charming it is to work hard. That’s why I chose you as the protagonist of my story. You’re charming like a protagonist.”
Juho remained silent. To which, she added, “I want to be like you.”
So, how are you able to write so hard?” she asked again.
After he stopped writing, he looked up briefly at the ceiling and said, “I was scolded by my teacher today.”
While it was a sudden change of subject, Juho pushed on without commenting on it, “I was distracted. Frankly, I do that quite often. My attention was elsewhere in class, and I’m reflecting on my habit.”
As a dumbfounded look appeared on her face, Juho added, “In other words, I’m not any different from you.”
“That’s not what I meant. You’re incredible. You’re different from everyone,” she answered.
“We’re all different from each other.”
“But you work so hard! I’m sure you were mocked and hassled, but you still put in the effort. That’s what I really want to.”
She was speaking faster. It was a sign of excitement, and Juho took notice of her behavior.
“There’s nothing to it,” Juho said light-heartedly.
“You put in the effort because you want to, as much as you want. That’s it.”
A shout came from the distance. It was coming from the schoolyard, and he had heard the same sound when he first met Bo Suk. The shout came whenever it wished to.
“There’s nothing noble or disgraceful about effort. What sense does that make when I work hard because I want to?”
Bo Suk blinked awkwardly, and her eyes sparkled.
“That’s why you don’t do things when you’re told to do them and do things when you’re told not to.”
Her lips were trembling, but no words came out of it.
“Don’t be ashamed. If writing isn’t for you, then you don’t have to force yourself. If you want to write just as well, then you do just that. You do what you want.”
She remembered what Baron said to her not too long before, “Write whatever the heck you want.”
‘Is that really OK?’ a slight sense of anxiety seeped into her. Joining the Literature Club was her way of running away from her issues. Unlike the rest of the club members, she felt that her motives were impure. She felt that she was different and that she didn’t have the privilege of exercising such freedom.
“… Those words are a lot easier for you to say. The reason I’m here is…”
Then, their conversation came to a halt as a faint voice sounded in the distance. Still, Juho was able to predict what she was about to say. He rose from his seat. The computer had been switched off long ago, and he pulled out his flash drive.
“I thought this would be one of the lazy clubs too,” Juho said as he felt her gaze. “When Seo Kwang and I first met, we would tell each other that being in a lazy club wouldn’t be all that bad. We’d be able to do whatever we wanted, so he said that he’d just read to his heart’s content. Sun Hwa joined because she didn’t recognize the Comic/Cartoon Research Club to be legitimate, and Bom just followed her. Baron had already made up his mind when he joined, and you don’t see him writing to this day.”
Everyone was hardly any different, and they stumbled their way through until they each found their own path.
“What do you want to do?” Juho asked with a smile.
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