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Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“What!? You mean you haven’t even finished one!?”
The twins seemed perplexed, as if that had been out of character for him. The junior who had written ‘Grains of Sand’ was yet to even finish transcribing one single book, unlike his clubmates, who had transcribed into the double digits.
“It really is talent…” Gong Il murmured by reflex. Although Sun Hwa and Bom had put a significant amount of time into transcribing, they couldn’t write anything that came remotely close to ‘Grains of Sand.’ Having read every book exhibited in the library, it was only natural that the twins would think Juho was talented.
“If you want to call me a genius, feel free to,” Juho said in a calm tone of voice. While Gong Il studied his expression because of his dry tone, Juho waved in order to comfort her.
“You can call me whatever you want, but at the end of the day, I’m me,” he said, trying to come across as more carefree. Then, he remembered the stacks of papers taking up most of his room, which were mostly pieces of writing that were less than satisfactory to him. They were failures that Juho had piled up just to write one book. Fortunately, the suffocating state of his room was not visible from the outside.
“There’s something about that that makes you look like an actual author,” the twins said to Yun Woo simultaneously. From then on, he had to endure a barrage of questions from them.
“Juho, did you place these short sentences back to back to make this part more immersive or were you just really into it when writing?”
After a brief pause, Juho answered, “I’d say both?”
“Does that mean you recognized the fact that she wasn’t alone from the beginning?”
Another question followed without a delay.
“Juho, is the woman’s description of the school foreshadowing the upcoming events?”
“I think so?”
“Why is it that she doesn’t say a word?”
“Words vanish in a split second. That’s what she’s most afraid of.”
Considering both the quantity and quality of his questions, Gong Pal was on the right track with his transcription. Juho thought it was rather refreshing to receive questions from a person transcribing his book. At the same time, it was uncomfortable. Watching someone grope about in his writing right before his eyes was quite unpleasant.
That time, a similar but thinner voice called to him. There was one more. As if competing with her brother, Gong Il also came to Juho with questions. Because he couldn’t turn the curious freshmen away, avoiding the unpleasant feeling of having his book examined was no longer possible.
“Do you think Yun Woo is an older man?” Gong Il asked a question that penetrated deep into Juho’s heart.
“What makes you think that?” Juho asked.
“I just feel it while transcribing.”
“That it’s written by an older man?”
“His experience,” Gong Il said in a serious tone. “The only thought I find myself having while transcribing ‘River’ is: ‘I can’t believe this was written by someone who’s just two years older than me.'”
“… That sounds about right. I mean, the title alone kind of gives off that impression, doesn’t it?” Juho said, looking down at ‘River’ under her arms, the printed words coming into view.
“Didn’t you watch the interview? He revealed his age himself,” Gong Pal rebutted from the side.
Although looking unsatisfied, Gong Il admitted quietly, “I know. When he’s talking about the boy, it’s so pure, like in ‘Trace of a Bird,’ but the rest of the characters feel like they were written by a middle-aged man.”
In ‘River,’ there was a boy always holding hands with his sister, walking alongside the riverbank. In actuality, that was a character based on a real fan who had lost her brother to leukemia. Then, Gong Il let out a faint sigh, clearly lost.
“I just don’t get him.”
“That’s probably because this is your first time transcribing,” Juho said with a smile. Then, after staring intently at Juho’s face for a while, Gong Il looked away.
“Why do you think we’re born?”
… a random question.
“Through physical love,” having been quietly listening to their conversation, Seo Kwang said. Although it wasn’t necessarily the wrong answer, it was most likely not the answer Gong Il was looking for. Because if that were the case, the freshman would have known it a lot better than anybody else in the room.
“Why do you ask?” Juho asked, observing her.
After thinking for a brief time, she looked down and said, “Reading ‘River,’ I just had a realization that the answer might be found in death. I’ve been lingering on the idea of birth this entire time.”
“So narrow-minded,” murmured ‘Kong Pat,’ and his sister looked at her twin brother with displeasure.
“So, what happened?” Juho asked.
“I kept looking, but it turns out death is nowhere near as fun as nuts and bolts.”
“Pff!” Bo Suk let out, covering her mouth, but Gong Il paid no attention to it. As if she had more to say, she kept on, “Now that I’ve started transcribing, I’m curious. What would this person, the author capable of such a vivid portrayal of death, believe to be the reason for our birth?”
“You have a lot in common with Yun Woo, so I thought I should ask.”
Why are people born? At the seemingly basic yet profound question, the room sank into a heavy silence, and the club members, including those who were and weren’t aware of the subtle situation, waited anxiously for Juho’s answer.
Then, Juho tilted his head and said, “I don’t know.”
The club members groaned out loud from his response. Expecting an extraordinary answer, they couldn’t help but writhe with disappointment. Meanwhile, resting his chin on his hand, Juho said, “What were you expecting? I’m just as much of a student and a person as any of you here. I worry about things everyone else does.”
“Right. At least you DID.”
“You know, I was hoping you’d unveil the secrets of this world as if a coincidence,” Seo Kwang said like singing a melody. He had waited for an answer from Yun Woo himself, and it was obvious he had had faith that the author wouldn’t have given a disappointing answer like, “I don’t know.”
“Yun Woo probably doesn’t know either,” Juho added. Then, as Gong Il looked up, Juho explained it to her once again in a friendly manner, “Yun Woo probably doesn’t know it himself. Why are we born? Why live or die?”
“Even though he writes such amazing novels?”
“Even though he seems like he has died once?”
“Why? Because he’s human, too?”
Although not exactly wrong, there was another answer that was even closer to the truth.
“Because Yun Woo writes.”
“What about it though?” Gong Il asked, still puzzled.
Juho explained, “Life, is what we call the time spanning the moment we’re born until we die, and it’s an author’s job to observe that life, wrestle with and think about it, and lastly, write about it. That’s a job only someone who doesn’t know what life is can carry out.”
Then, he pointed at the literary magazine under her arms.
“Have you read all of it?”
“Uh, no. The only piece I’ve read thoroughly is ‘River.'”
“Then, take some time to read the rest of the book. I assure you, there’s not going to be a single piece that’s the same.”
At that, Gong Il looked down.
“So, I’m sure Yun Woo’s asking himself the same question you’re asking. He’s probably just as clueless and hopelessly lost.”
The freshman remained silent. However, when she parted her lips, an incredibly compulsive remark came out of her mouth, “I want to write.”
Then, Gong Il realized by instinct that her twin brother was thinking the same thing.
“I want to write better.”
“You’ll get there. You’re part of the Literature Club, after all,” Juho reminded her of the truth in a calm tone of voice.
A video game played on the screen, lighting the dark room. It was a world made entirely of incredibly simple designs and short, stubby characters, and the graphics were less than impressive. It was a game made with a game development tool called Tsukuru, or RPG Maker, and it was obvious it was made by an amateur rather than an actual game company. Everything was simple. Moving left, right and up and down, the characters went around meeting other characters within the game and granting their requests, which advanced the story.
‘Kong Pat’ had come across that game by coincidence when he was in sixth grade, and needless to say, it was sloppily made. The first impression of a game made using RPG Maker was no more or less than what Gong Pal had expected. However, the game had a redeeming factor, and that was the story within it. The heartbreaking story gave life to what would’ve otherwise been a lousy game.
Gong Pal pressed the arrow keys, controlling his character by the name of Jack solely on muscle memory. Jack left on a journey spurred by a will left by Letter, his grandmother, and the process of him delivering her will was the overall plot of the game. The contents of the will, the identity of the recipient and the path Jack had to walk through in order to meet him, and the reason his grandmother had been found outside, dead. As Gong Pal solved the mysteries one by one, he was rewarded with a sense of catharsis.
As the door opened and a voice called out to him, Gong Pal looked back, taking the headset off. His twin sister, Gong Il, was looking in his direction, and when she saw the light from the monitor and the images on the screen, she shook her head in disapproval.
“Aren’t you sick of it?”
“You don’t get sick of a masterpiece, no matter how many times you play it.”
“But it’s such an old game.”
“In that case, isn’t physical love something really, really outdated? It makes you delve into human fossils, like ‘Homo habilis.'”
“How are they similar!? Love is an emotion!”
“There’s emotion in video games, too.”
Just like Gong Pal had said, there was story and love within video games. The game began with the announcement of Letter’s death. According to the forensic results, she had passed away between noon and 2:00 p.m. It was July, and Letter had been under the Sun.
“The atmosphere is what’s really important, here. The plot makes everyone think that the Sun is responsible for the grandmother’s death, and there are clues that make you wonder if the Sun is part of something greater and sinister.”
After her brother’s speech, a blatant look of disgust appeared on Gong Il’s face. Then, looking straight at the face that looked nearly identical to him, Gong Pal said, “But the Sun was the symbol for something she had loved. Letter gave it her all to fulfill the promise with her beloved of reuniting after they had each realized their dreams, and her life was nothing short of greatness. I still vividly remember hugging the monitor and crying my eyes out when I was in sixth grade. Even now, when I see the intro scene, I feel something well up from within. The truth you face after two hours of gameplay is truly heartbreaking, yet it is also beautiful.”
“OK. I get it. Just lend me an eraser. Mine’s missing.”
Looking at his twin sister with displeasure after her lack of appreciation for his favorite video game, Gong Pal pointed to his backpack.
“Take it. It’s in there.”
After finding the eraser, Gong Il left the room and closed the door. The room grew dark once again. Then, just as he was about to get back into the game, the word ‘transcription’ began to bother him. In the end, after brief contemplation, he saved the game as was customary and turned the light on.
The backpack was left open after Gong Il had gone through it, and inside it, were ‘Grains of Sand’ and his transcription notebook. Then, moving cautiously, he took out the book, shuddering from the terrifying image of spilling coffee on it.
‘Grains of Sand.’ Gong Pal had just come up from the sixth grade when he first read the book, and what he was feeling at the moment was quite similar to what he had felt back then. Despite it being written by an amateur and a book that he had read in the school library, its quality was outstanding. He thought of the author: Juho Woo, the junior. Even the most complex of characters became easy to understand through Juho’s sentences, and readers were able to picture the woman immediately upon reading them, able to understand her every single action.
Gong Pal still couldn’t understand what kind of person Juho was. Even though he was transcribing his book, and after having asked questions, and even after hearing the answers directly, everything became hazy the moment he turned around. If the book was really written by somebody like that, then it was truly remarkable. It was an endless string of doubt and admiration.
‘How was he able to write like that?’ The freshman had yet to see the junior write, yet Mr. Moon had never bothered to scold him, and neither had the rest of the club members. However, there had been occasions when Bo Suk had looked at the mysterious junior with anticipation.
“I think I wanna see him write,” Gong Pal murmured and picked up his pen.
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