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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Time passed, and the last compilation that Baron took part in came out. Then, the day of his entrance exam arrived, and despite the bitingly-cold weather, the entire Literature Club came out to root for him. Although he managed to score higher than the lowest possible score he had planned, he wasn’t able to get into the school he had desired to attend the most. Nevertheless, he managed to get into a fairly-recognized school as a design major. While everyone celebrated with him, they were also sad to see him go.
“I’m sad that we won’t have you around in the club, anymore,” Sun Hwa said, dejected, unlike her usual self.
“Who’s gonna design our book covers now?” Seo Kwang said playfully, but he, too, sounded weak.
“I’m so sad that you’re leaving,” Bom said, about to burst into tears at any given minute, and…
“You’ll do great, no matter where you end up.”
… Bo Suk wished him luck, sincerely and maturely.
To which, Baron answered with his mouthful of chips, “What’s the matter? Nothing lasts forever. You’ve read ‘Language of God.'”
“That’s not true! This moment will never change! That’s what ‘Grains of Sand’ said!” Sun Hwa said, denying him emphatically while the author of the two stories was distracted by something between her and Baron.
Then, putting down his sketchbook, the junior said, “I’ll leave this sketchbook here before I go so that you can look at it when you miss me.”
“Sniff, Baron!” Seo Kwang said, covering his face with his hands. Although he was making a fuss about it, it was obvious that he was sad about Baron’s departure. Now, there was no one in the club who could draw the club members when they were busy writing, or no one to design their book covers. There was no one who ran faster and stuck out more than Baron.
“Come by every now and then,” Mr. Moon said while sitting on his comfortable chair with a dried squid in his mouth and a comic book in his hand, looking a tad too comfortable. As club activities officially came to an end, both the club and the teacher grew idle. Juho looked at Mr. Moon, who had sunk comfortably on his chair. Although he didn’t appear so on the surface, he had to have mixed emotions about the junior graduating. After all, Baron was the first student to graduate from the club that the teacher, himself, had formed. Mr. Moon just happened to be better acquainted with goodbyes than the kids in the club.
“Thank you for everything,” Baron said, and the teacher gave him a slight nod.
“You know, it still blows my mind how generous I can be, accepting you into the club and all.”
As the room was filled with nothing but the sound of Mr. Moon chewing on a piece of squid, Juho found himself getting confused, wondering, ‘Is he really OK? Did he really have no attachment?’ Mr. Moon genuinely seemed calm and unfazed.
At that moment, while everyone fixed their eyes on the teacher, a corner of his mouth turned ever so slightly. Then, swallowing the squid in his mouth and setting his comic book down, he pointed at Baron and said, “So, from now on, you’re in charge of cover designs for the compilations!”
“… I’m sorry?”
“That wasn’t going to be the extent of your gratitude, was it? Saying ‘thank you?’ From here on out, I expect you to keep reading and to think of fitting designs for what you read.”
What was he saying to a graduate?
“Uh… Mr. Moon? I think he’s gonna be busy with school. Isn’t that a bit much?” Seo Kwang asked quietly, and the shameless teacher said, “It’s once a year. I don’t see how that’s too much.”
“From what I hear, the amount of assignments art majors go through is beyond one’s imagination.”
“That’s fine. If the quality isn’t there, I won’t use it.”
Mr. Moon didn’t seem to have understood, and according to his logic, it would have been better to hire a professional. Before anybody had time to make a comment, he asked the junior, “You wanna do it, right?”
Then, he walked toward the desk and picked up a piece of dried squid.
“You still wanna see what kind of writing these kids come up with, don’t you?”
Compilations were about the process, and they contained every piece of writing that had been written within that year as a record. What Mr. Moon was suggesting Baron do was to read what would come out of the Literature Club in the future.
“Besides, it’s not all that much trouble to print one more copy while we’re still in the process of making the compilation,” he added.
At which point, Baron answered, “Of course, I’ll do it.”
At Baron’s answer, Sun Hwa cheered out loud.
“Does that mean we still have an artist in the club?” Sun Hwa asked.
“Once a year,” answered Mr. Moon.
“That’s so cool! It’s like a love story,” Bo suk said.
“You mean between the Literature Club and the artist?” Seo Kwang asked,
“That sounds like some good material,” Sun Hwa said, and Seo Kwang said in a hurry
“I said it first.”
“In that case, it belongs to Bo Suk.”
Then, Sun Hwa and Seo Kwang began to quarrel over Bo Suk’s idea, and Bom quietly picked up her pen. Amid the scene that was all too familiar to him, Juho looked at Baron, who was wearing a bright smile.
It wasn’t until later in the future that Juho reminisced to that day while explaining how Baron came to be a book designer.
A day before the winter break, the school held a send-off event for the juniors. The freshmen and sophomores came together in order to send the juniors off. There were two thick, chalk lines on the ground at the schoolyard, and the juniors walked within them while the younger schoolmates cheered for them and celebrated their graduation, giving them gifts or flower necklaces.
Because there were no classes that day, everyone was in high spirits, and Bom and Juho were chatting while waiting for the event to start.
“How do you think Baron is feeling?” Bom asked, saying that she was curious about what it would feel like to graduate high school.
“Anxious, happy, something along those lines, I’d presume?”
“You think so?’
“You’ve graduated before.”
“But I feel like graduating high school is gonna be a different experience.”
“Well, we’ll find out soon enough.”
At that moment, Sun Hwa and Seo Kwang walked in through the back door. Although the students took a brief interest in the outsiders, they soon went about their businesses.
“What brings you here?” Juho asked, and Seo Kwang said, “Isn’t it obvious? We have to plan for when Baron shows up.”
For what it was, it was quite the title.
“Is that really necessary? Can’t we just wave our hands or something?” Sun Hwa said, sitting on a desk.
“Baron likes to stand out, so let’s give him what he wants. Let’s make him a legend while we’re at it.”
“A legend? How?” Juho asked, and Sun Hwa said, “What about tossing him up in the air?”
For something that came after the word legend, it was quite weak. On top of that, it was not realistic by any stretch of the imagination.
“I doubt that’s gonna be possible. I mean, look at that line. There’s not gonna be time or space for that.”
“Should we pop some party poppers?”
“Do you have any?”
Sun Hwa seemed to be thinking out loud. Then, Seo Kwang opened his mouth and said, “What if we recite a poem on his way out, like ‘Azaleas’ by Sowol Kim? It suits us being in the Literature Club and all.”
“That sounds embarrassing…” Bom opposed timidly, and Juho also agreed.
“It’s gonna get buried when people start clapping and shouting. How’s he gonna hear that?”
“Then… what about flipping through the pages of his sketchbook as a way to reminisce past memories?”
“Same problem. How are we gonna flip through the pages when the whole place is already booming with people?”
As Juho reasoned against their ideas, frustrated looks appeared on Sun Hwa’s and Seo Kwang’s faces. Although their hearts were commendable, the setting brought about a series of challenges.
From then on, a few more absurd ideas came up, but none of them realistic enough to be actually carried out. In the end, Juho had to calm down the two.
“Wouldn’t it be enough to just hand him the gifts that you guys prepared? I think Baron will appreciate that.”
“Yeah, at this rate, we’re gonna end up being the legends,” Bom said, agreeing with Juho’s idea. Having been absorbed in thinking of creative ways to send off the sole artist in the club, Sun Hwa and Seo Kwang contemplated for a little while, but the bell rang, indicating that there was no more time to think.
By the time the club members went down to the schoolyard, there was already a massive crowd there, starting from the stairways all the way to the front gate. Arranged in what looked like an intestine, a snake, or a waterway, the freshmen and sophomores waited anxiously for the juniors.
“Oh, my! Look at all these people!”
Because the Literature Club fell behind on securing a spot, they ended up having to stand the closest to the gate, and Sun Hwa scowled as if unhappy with the spot, but there was simply no choice. Then, they ran into Bo Suk on their way, who seemed fascinated by the event she was seeing for the first time. There were quite a few people who wanted to send someone off on a good note.
“They’re coming! They’re coming!” somebody said from the front, and the crowd shouted in the distance, the cries eventually spreading to the entire schoolyard. Walking in groups of two or three, the juniors were all wearing a colorful paper ornament on their heads and around their necks, and carrying bundles of gifts in their hands. Excitement was in the air, intoxicating even those who didn’t know anybody younger in school and the freshmen or sophomores who didn’t know anybody older.
Then, a student who was exceptionally tall appeared in the distance.
Despite the distance, everyone waved their hands enthusiastically, and seeing his clubmates waving, Baron, too, responded by waving back. Thanks to his distinctively white teeth, his smile was clearly visible even from afar. As the juniors responded to the cheers of their younger schoolmates, everyone waved and shouted all the more. While Baron walked down the aisle alone, the club members handed him their gifts. Bo Suk was first in line.
“I heard you’re an active person, so I got you these,” the freshman said, handing him a box filled with wristbands and various sporting goods made by her favorite brand since middle school.
“These, are your favorite snacks,” Bom said, handing him a black plastic bag.
“And these are comic books. I chose them carefully based on your preferences. Give me a call when you finish them. I’d love to talk about them with you,” Sun Hwa said, handing him a hefty tome. It was quite a long series.
“These are top-secret ideas, so make sure to keep them to yourself. They’re conjectures and theories on Yun Woo’s identity. Although you probably know by now, you’ll also find an added bonus about HongSam’s identity in there,” Seo Kwang said, handing him a thick bundle of pages. Baron’s uniform was no longer visible through the gifts.
Then, Juho said to him, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
With that, Baron stared at the gifts in his hands for a little while, and thanked his club members for them before walking on. The freshmen and sophomores followed the juniors to the front of the gate, and Baron, too, was surrounded by his clubmates, who were complaining about how every one of their plans to serenade him had fallen through. Meanwhile, Juho watched from afar.
“A person like you can’t possibly be left alone, Baron.”
Just like that, Baron graduated in one piece.
The next morning, Juho came out to the park for his morning exercise. His ears felt like they were about to fall off from the cold, but he quickly got used to it on his way to the park. Despite it being early in the morning, the bakery was already open, and the scent of freshly-baked bread permeated the air around the stores that were yet to open. Then, a corporate worker walked into the bakery looking exhausted, as though made miserable by the fact that they no longer got to enjoy the benefit of winter break. Walking past the bakery, Juho crossed the street and headed toward the park.
“Hey, Baron,” Juho said, waving at the figure who had arrived at the park ahead of him. Wearing his sporting attire, he no longer had the look of a young high school student.
“It’s cold out,” Baron said as soon as he saw Juho. Until the beginning of his first semester, Baron would be killing time while looking for a part-time job. Since the SATs, Baron and Juho had been exercising together on a regular basis.
Then, Juho said while stretching his body stiff from the cold, “You’re early.”
“I managed, somehow. I figured it wouldn’t get any easier if I were to stay in bed any longer.”
It was only natural that one would find it less than desirable to get out from under their blanket in weather like that. The cold winter made the warm, cozy bed all the more tempting, making them wish that humans could also hibernate. Of course, fighting off that natural desire was always a tough battle. However…
… there was yet another person who managed to win that battle. Juho greeted the person while looking at his thick eyebrows, and after conversing for a little while, Juho introduced his friend to Baron.
“This is the friend I told you about, Sung Pil.”
“Pil Sung Choi.”
Baron was caught off guard by the two different names that had come up simultaneously. Then, seeing the two exchange brief greetings, Juho believed that he was witnessing the beginning of a new friendship.
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