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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Huh, so this is where you guys were all hanging out.”
The door opened, and Yun Woo came in looking for them. Juho stood in front of the door with a towel on his head covering his wet hair, vulnerable and clueless. Droplets of water were still dripping from his hair, wetting his shirt and leaving a trail on the floor.
“It’s because SOMEONE wouldn’t stop complaining about their skin. Would you like some?”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Although he never really used lotions regularly, he took a dollop from Dae Soo to the back of his hand and began to rub his hands on his face as if washing it. Then, Dae Soo asked in passing, “Choi’s snores were really something, weren’t they?”
“They were exceptional,” Juho said, mumbling through his hands while applying the lotion on his face. As if aware of his snoring, Sang Choi pretended to be distracted. Being the astounding snorer he was, there had to have been times when he had woken himself up due to their sounds.
“Have you been thinking about your next book?” Dae Soo asked. Seeing the young author’s eyes through the reflection of the mirror was quite different from usual.
After that answer with no trace of fear whatsoever, Dae Soo felt a slight disappointment, but at the same time, relief.
“You know what, there’s a ravine nearby that’s perfect for relaxing. Wanna come?”
“Sure. I haven’t been to one in ages.”
“Haven’t you gone with your friends? Well, I guess your generation prefers to hang out at internet cafes. Am I right?”
“No, I prefer the bookstore.”
“Are you trying to show off because you’re friends with authors?”
After breakfast, the four went to a nearby ravine and had the time of their lives until sunset.
“Must’ve been nice not having to come to school.”
Juho had lost count of how many times he had heard that sentence. After running into Seo Kwang in the science room for the first time in a while, Juho started listening to his grumbling patiently.
“It sure was.”
At that, Seo Kwang pouted and murmured, “I’m sure it was. While your friend is in the prison called ‘school,’ staring up to the sky through the bars…”
“The weather was nice though, right?”
“… Eating nasty school lunch.”
“I’m sure you were able to make up for it at the cafeteria.”
“Nope. Stayed in class the whole time.”
There was simply no end to his complaints. However, Seo Kwang had a reason that had nothing to do with Juho’s absence in the last several days, or even that he hadn’t been invited to the vacation.
“I couldn’t get a hold of you the entire break, and you couldn’t even tell me that you wrote a short story like that?! Seriously, what was that story!? It’s a freakin’ masterpiece! My heart tightens up just thinking about it, and you didn’t even tell me about it!? Oh, yeah, right… Don’t let me get in your way. It’s not like I’m your FRIEND or anything. I’m just a helpless reader who can’t meet Yun Woo, even by coincidence.”
Then, Juho looked up at the ceiling. Wearing his earbuds, Baron had been tuning out Seo Kwang and his ongoing grumbling for some time, and while Bom had offered Seo Kwang some cookies while wearing an awkward smile, that had only resulted in providing him even more energy to go on.
Then, Sun Hwa blurted out, “Shut up already! For how much longer are you planning on being a crybaby!? So much for being a cool guy. Don’t you try my patience, now.”
“My emotions are delicate and fragile. I can’t just stop them from coming out.”
“Ugh! You’re such a PAIN!”
Despite Sun Hwa’s disgusted glare, Seo Kwang didn’t stop. Then, Bo Suk, who had been spectating the situation quietly, opened her mouth.
“I read that short story, too. Maybe it’s still sitting heavily in Seo Kwang’s heart. It really was scary.”
At that, the entire literature club turned their eyes toward Juho. Everyone in the club had read the story, and they all knew that it couldn’t have come from a friend or their other peers. As if…
“It felt like it was written by someone who had died once,” Seo Kwang said, and Juho, too, turned around to look at him. He was quite perceptive, and the amount of reading he did on a regular basis was second to none. He had the subconscious training to reach the deepest possible understanding of a book, and as far as Juho was aware, he was one of the most sensitive readers he knew.
“I’ve been reading it, even up to today,” Seo Kwang said, staring quietly at Juho.
“Yep. I saw you reading it during recess.”
Juho had witnessed him with the magazine in hand, in person. He had bragged to Juho about purchasing three separate copies for himself. One of which, he carried around until it wore out and became raggedy.
“You know, this magazine is just full of charm. I’m in love with every single piece in here.”
“Ugh,” Sun Hwa let out, disgusted, but Seo Kwang remained unfazed.
“But yours? I had a bad feeling from the moment I first started reading it. It undid whatever emotions had built up from the pieces before it. But you know what’s really weird? I can’t stop reading it. In fact, I read it the most out of all the pieces in the magazine.”
“No, no. This isn’t just about making you look good,” Seo Kwang said, taking the raggedy magazine out of his bag. “I’ve read pieces like this before. One written by an author who had been pardoned from death row, and another by an author who had broken off their engagement because of their calling to be a writer. It was also similar to a piece that was written by an author moments away from their death.”
Then, Seo Kwang pulled out the magazine, and although Juho retreated, he still clearly saw the title, ‘River.’
“Are you OK?”
“What do you mean?”
“After writing a story like that?”
‘River’ was an autobiography, and the plot was rather simple: a person drowned to death. At just over nine thousand words, Juho had polished it thousands of times while staring at the very river in which he had drowned.
“I wrote that over a bowl of black bean noodles.”
At that, a hopelessly disappointed look appeared on Seo Kwang’s face. Then, burying his face on the desk, he muttered, “Give it back. My reading experience. My love.”
“I thought it made you feel uncomfortable?”
“I said I read it the most.”
Then, Sun Hwa took the opportunity to mock Seo Kwang, who grumbled, “Now, I’m gonna think of black bean noodles every time I see the title. I’ll never be able to look at that piece the same way, ever again.”
Although his attitude change was good for Juho, Seo Kwang read ‘River’ from that day on for an entire week, despite what he had said.
“The teacher’s here,” Mr. Moon said, making his presence known as he walked into the room with ‘The Beginning and the End’ by his side.
“Did you all stop writing? What about you, Bo Suk? Did you do your homework?”
“Yes, Mr. Moon.”
“Learn from the freshman, ya rebels.”
With that, he sank into his comfortable chair and began to read Bo Suk’s manuscript, and everyone else returned to working on their own assignments.
While Juho was busy mapping out his piece, his phone began to vibrate in his pocket. Looking cautiously in Mr. Moon’s direction, he checked his phone and saw that had received a text from Dae Soo. Intending on skimming through it, Juho tapped the screen and let out involuntarily, “A book concert?!”
Along with the message saying that she planned on making it a club-wide event, there was also a somewhat forceful-sounding line: ‘I expect you to participate.’
“What is it?” Mr. Moon asked as Juho stared intently into the screen of his phone. At which point, Juho shoved the phone back into his pocket and shook his head in denial.
“What I meant was that you should come as a member of the audience,” Dae Soo said, offering Juho a cold beverage.
It wasn’t until he went to her office after school that he got to hear a detailed explanation.
“A member of the audience?”
“Yes, as Juho Woo, instead of Yun Woo. That’s doable, right? It shouldn’t cause any issues, either.”
In that case, there was nothing to worry about for Juho. Aside from the eight authors, nobody would know who he was, and being in the audience as an ordinary student would allow him to blend in with everyone else around. Munching on a scoop of ice in her mouth, Dae Soo directed her attention to Juho’s school uniform.
“You really look like a student.”
It was an obvious statement.
“I am one,” Juho answered.
“Yes, but now that I see it with my own eyes, it’s really starting to dawn on me. Yun Woo wearing a school uniform. Man, I’m almost tempted to take a picture of you and sell it. Maybe I should give ’em out to everyone who shows up to the concert?”
Then, she laughed heartily and gave Juho the time and location of the concert, which was to take place in the corporate building of a well-known bookstore in Gwanghwamun.
“Is it going to be in a concert hall?”
“Yep. I gave a lecture there once. There are three hundred and fifty seats, and we’ll start at nine o’clock.”
“That’s quite a few.”
“Everyone else in the club is going to be there, so it’ll be necessary to have that many seats available for the fans. San Jung has been staying at Mrs. Baek’s place, so I was able to get a hold of her without much trouble.”
Without Yun Woo, there would be eight authors, which meant that there would be a significant number of fans. It seemed like it would be a rather massive of a concert. Then, Dae Soo handed Juho an envelope that had a ticket inside.
“You’ll be sitting in the center, first row. I need you to work up the crowd.”
“I think the fans will be very enthusiastic, even without me,” Juho said in passing.
And Dae Soo, looking expectantly at him, answered in a whisper, “C’mon, try interacting with your readers, this time.”
As the news of the book concert spread rapidly, getting a hold of a ticket grew into a bigger challenge. Since all of the club members wanted to go to the concert, Juho had promised to get them each a ticket, but they had all insisted on getting the tickets themselves, which ended in an utter failure. The tickets flew off the shelves because of a rumor that Yun Woo would be participating in the concert, and due of that, Juho ended up having to watch the book concert on his own.
On the day of the concert, the twenty-first floor of the building was booming with people waiting anxiously for the concert. Although it was well before start time, there were people standing in line, which stretched endlessly, and Juho couldn’t believe the sight of it.
“What’s this line for?”
“It’s so long.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this.”
The line that started from the entrance hall extended all the way to the emergency exit and was separated into multiple rows in order to seat people in order.
While walking toward the front of the line, Juho saw the crowd, which consisted of all sorts of people. There were some who looked like they were around Juho’s age, while there were others carrying brand-name bags. From grandmothers holding their grandsons’ hands to young couples, fathers and their daughters, older men on wheelchairs and an incredibly tall woman who appeared to be an athlete, there was quite an array of people.
Born out of an impulsive decision made by nine, well-known authors, ‘The Beginning and the End’ had left the hearts of its readers shaken. As the disappointed look on the club members’ faces rushed past Juho’s mind, he was reminded that there had to be countless others who had hoped desperately to come to the concert. When he looked down at his ticket, it read: A-13. He was going to be sitting in the center, at the very front.
“Is this the line for row A?”
“Yes, it is,” a woman answered him in a friendly tone.
When they locked eyes, there was a trace of pleasant excitement on her face as she seemed to be feeling a mysterious sense of unity and belonging, and being unfamiliar with concerts, Juho stood behind the woman, sharing that same feeling. As Juho got in line, the man behind him made room for him with no trace of displeasure. When there was joy before their eyes, people were capable of being much friendlier to each other.
“This is incredible,” Juho said, impressed by the long lines all over again. The sight and the excitement level of those in line reminded Juho of a celebrity’s fan gathering, a musical, or a play. Book readings were typically humble events where only a handful of readers came together at a place like a book cafe in order for each to read their books out loud, but this was a concert. Having had a similar image of the event in mind, Juho couldn’t help but be taken aback by what he was seeing.
“Do you think Yun Woo is here?” a woman asked. She, too, was rather friendly.
“I’m not sure. Maybe?” Juho answered awkwardly.
Carrying a large bag next to her, she had a defiant look about her.
“When I heard that cameras aren’t allowed, I knew immediately.”
“That Yun Woo might actually be at the concert.”
At that, Juho corrected her gently, “I heard there was a separate time designated for photos? They don’t allow photos because it can be distracting for the people onstage. It’s quite common, actually.”
“Well, my intuition is saying otherwise. Something very unusual is going to happen. I just know it. I mean, seeing Yun Woo onstage? My heart beats faster just thinking about it.”
Then, she went through her bag and took out a small digital camera.
“As soon as I see Yun Woo, I won’t hesitate to use this.”
‘Well, the time for that would be now,’ Juho muttered internally.
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