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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Because both parties were students, the meeting between Jang Mi, Juho and the young fan was set for that weekend, at an awkward time, slightly past lunchtime.
Following the path informed by Jang Mi ahead of time, Juho headed for the meeting spot. After walking through an alleyway in a residential area near the publishing district, he arrived at a cafe hidden halfway behind a raised surface. Although it was located on the ground level, the location made it look out of place.
Juho looked around as he stood in front of the cafe. The interior was shrouded in dim lighting, making it difficult to discern if the place was even open. Then, he quietly pushed the door that seemed much heavier than it was open and was greeted by the potent scent of coffee. There were no guests, and the host was dozing off behind the counter.
‘This place is very quiet, even on weekends. Perfect,’ he thought and greeted the owner as he locked eyes with her.
As the owner gave him a nod in response, Juho walked toward the innermost table in the cafe and took a seat. Because Jang Mi had informed him that she would be coming to the cafe with the mysterious student, all Juho had to do was wait patiently. The dimly lit interior was filled with exotic looking chairs and furniture, and the table was decorated colorfully with what seemed like hand-knitted coasters.
First, Juho ordered a cup of coffee. Since meeting Kelley Coin in person, the brown liquid reminded Juho of the author’s face. From what he was told, the eccentric author was furious to hear that the translated copy of ‘Belongings’ was already in print. First, he suspected that the early completion of the translation had to have come at the cost of its quality, and second, the word was that the translation was of excellent quality, contrary to what he thought would be subpar at best. He had to have been secretly hoping that the young author would find himself in a difficult situation, despairing after realizing the weight of his work.
After all, he was the infamous Kelley Coin. His ill-tempered nature was very much intact. It was unfortunate that he wouldn’t be able to read the translation of his own book, but he would still hear from the reviewers in Korea, including their evaluations. Unlike usual, Juho hoped that he and the author would be on the same page in terms of evaluation. Only then, would he be able to rest assured that Coin wouldn’t be making a vengeful trip to Korea.
At that moment, his phone vibrated. It was a text from Jang Mi saying that they were near. After writing back to let her know to take her time, Juho drank his coffee unhurriedly.
Soon, a series of footsteps sounded from outside, and as Juho looked toward the entrance, the door opened just as quietly as when he had first opened it. It was almost too quiet, to the point of it being out of place.
‘Would’ve been nice to put up a piece of paper or something, at least,’ Juho thought, and then his eyes locked with a girl’s.
“Hello,” she greeted him in a soft voice. There was a small pimple on her pale face.
As Juho greeted her back, the girl handed something over to Juho in an awkward motion. It was a box of energy drink* from the pharmacy, and he took it without making any comment. Upon taking their seats, Jang Mi and the girl each ordered a cup of tea, and soon, the two cups were placed on the cloth coasters. Sadly, the designs of the coasters didn’t quite match the cup.
(Editor’s Note: These are not your normal American energy drinks. You can say they are more like vitality drinks, and they usually say that there is some health benefit to them.)
After exchanging brief self-introductions with the girl, who was frozen in place, Juho asked her, “Aren’t you suspicious of whether or not I’m real?”
At that, the girl’s eyes began to shake, and the ice broke.
“No,” she said, without trying to hide her flustered expression.
“What makes you so confident?”
“… The editor is here.”
“What if we were on the same side?”
Then, the girl glanced at Jang Mi, who wore a faint smile on her face without involving herself in the conversation. Finding herself at a loss, the girl clenched her lips tightly.
“So, you trust that I’m real, yet I noticed that you have yet to ask me about the ending of the book. That’s why you made the call in the first place, right?” Juho asked.
The entire purpose of her calling Jang Mi had been to deliver the ending of the book to her brother. Then, her shoulders stiffened up, and…
… the girl bowed her head and apologized, her hair covering the colorful coaster on the table.
After staring at her quietly, Juho said, “You should give your grandmother a call.”
“Call her and let her know that you apologized, and that you were forgiven. She’s probably worried sick.”
“Better sooner than later.”
Then, studying the expressions on Juho’s and Jang Mi’s faces, she rose from her seat and went out of the cafe. The owner was still dozing off behind the bar in a comfortable position, and as Juho stared at her intently, Jang Mi asked, “Like you said, it is kind of strange. I thought she would be just an immature girl who was selling the story of her brother just so she could meet you.”
“She doesn’t seem all that happy to see me, does she? She doesn’t seem all that satisfied either.”
Not only had the girl been polite, but her appearance was tidy and presentable. Although one couldn’t judge a person solely on their appearance, she didn’t seem like a child who would get a kick out of making prank calls.
“It’s strange that she left her grandmother’s actual phone number too,” Jang Mi said. She was just as baffled as Juho, and the mystery grew deeper as she met the girl in person. At that, Juho nodded gently in agreement.
“Well, let’s find out.”
After the quick phone call, the girl came back into the cafe, and again, the door was as silent as ever.
“I called her,” she updated Juho and Jang Mi.
“What did your grandmother say?”
“She said that you were good people and to never do such a thing again.”
At that, Juho asked the girl, “Why did you lie?”
As she remained silent, he approached the subject from another angle.
“Up to which point were you lying?”
Yet to understand his intention, the girl answered with a voice that had grown quiter, “They were all… lies.”
WIthout trying to corner her, Juho took a sip of his coffee and asked calmly, “You weren’t actually at the hospital, were you?”
“And what you said to be your parents’ number was actually your grandmother’s.”
“What about the time running out?”
“That was a lie.”
Juho observed her calmly, and it wasn’t hard to read her emotions.
“What about your brother being a fan of my book?”
That time, she gave no answer. Her lips were clenched tightly, and Juho was able to tell that she hadn’t lied.
“… How did you know?”
“I talked with your grandmother.”
“She hardly talks about him.”
“I didn’t hear her in person, of course.”
Information tended to be connected. Anxious to be sending her young granddaughter on her way alone, the grandmother had insisted on coming along, and in the end, Jang Mi had to take over to convince her after a long conversation.
The girl’s brother had already died before she made the call, and it had to have happened in less than a year, probably a few months, at most. The grandmother didn’t seem like she was struggling to accept the passing of her grandson either. Only, she sounded unstable.
“Would you mind if we talked about your brother?”
The girl nodded willingly, and there was not a trace of reluctance. On the contrary, she took the initiative to speak.
“My brother wanted desperately to know the ending of ‘Language of God,'”
While her lies were successful in deceiving Juho and Jang Mi, they weren’t entirely hollow.
“And he was a fan of Yun Woo.”
“Not Won Yi Young?”
“At first, no.” Then, she added, “He was always reading Yun Woo’s books at the hospital, and he would read the same books ten, twenty times over. When the new book came out, we were celebrating together.”
Then, Won Yi Young appeared.
“Then, he started growing curious about Won Yi Young. He was being called Yun Woo’s rival, after all. Then, my brother read his book, and it wasn’t long until he became a fan.”
With that, the girl’s expression grew darker.
“Won Yi Young was different from Yun Woo.”
There was no way she didn’t know that the two authors were the same person.
“Won Yi Young’s books are a lot longer. It takes a long time until it reaches the finale.”
Time was running out for her brother.
“Was your brother not fond of that?” Juho asked.
“No, but that’s what made things difficult.”
Because of the limited time her brother had left in this world, the girl wanted desperately for her brother’s wish to be granted.
“Why did you stop all of a sudden?” she asked resentfully.
Since it became known to the world that Yun Woo and Won Yi Young were the same person, the pace at which their books were being published had slowed down significantly. While the girl’s brother, who had been on the verge of death waited desperately for his new book, both Yun Woo and Won Yi Young had been distracted with translating, and she grew resentful of them both.
“Good question,” Juho said, and the girl looked up at his ambiguous answer. “If I had made a different choice, your brother might have been able to read my new book.”
There were many reasons as to why Juho had made the decision to take up the translation gig. While Hyun Do’s encouragement had stirred his interest, the meeting with Coin had brought about a sense of challenge. Not only did he want to write better, but he wanted to write more intricately, investing more time into writing better sentences. Although he didn’t regret his choice, he couldn’t help but think to himself after hearing her lies, “I should’ve turned down the meeting and the gig. I shouldn’t have gone to that coffee shop. What if I hadn’t revealed that Yun Woo was Won Yi Young? What if I hadn’t acted on Mr. Lim’s encouragement? What if I had chosen not to go to the beach that day, and told myself that I didn’t want to write?”
Then, their eyes locked, and he saw the deep regret in the girl’s eyes.
“I’ve been thinking nonstop…”
Juho had been thinking wherever he went. At school, at home, during recess and class, and even while writing.
“… but nothing changed.”
Nothing had changed, and the day had simply come.
“It was the same for me,” the girl answered in a soft voice. “Nothing changed for me either. My brother might have died before his dream came true, but I knew all along that it’s much easier to fail than it is to succeed. I knew that he wouldn’t be around much longer either.”
Then, Juho asked again, “Why did you lie? It wasn’t just to get in my way because you didn’t like me, was it? You weren’t trying to get attention or sell your brother’s story just so you could meet me, either.”
“Because my brother knew it too.”
Her brother had been aware of the same facts.
“He knew that he didn’t have enough time left to see his wishes come true. He knew that it was easier to fail than to succeed. He knew that he wasn’t going to be around much longer, so he came up with a plan. A plan to find out how the book was going to end before it was too late.”
A plan. Juho imagined the two siblings having a conversation:
“I won’t be around much longer.”
“Probably,” the sister says.
“But I have a plan,” the brother answers, and he goes on to explain his malicious prank.
Then, she smiled, saying, “My brother is really smart. I carried out the plan, and here you are. Yun Woo, himself.”
At that, Juho had an idea of what the girl was about to say next.
“You tried to stop him.”
Polite and presentable, the girl had tried to discourage her brother from his plan as he would be trying to use Yun Woo to his personal benefit. Using his own health as bait, he waited for the author to walk into the trap, and his sister couldn’t let that happen.
Then, it all came to an end. Leaving his unfulfilled plans behind, her brother had passed away. Juho looked at her. She was alone and the only person who was able to carry out the plan her brother wasn’t able to fulfill.
The small pimple on her cheek stood out in Juho’s eyes.
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