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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
‘Grains of Sand’ was a short story. Though transcription is a time-consuming process that involves copying a book down to its last punctuation, the amount of work was manageable, considering that it was a short story. After setting a transcribing goal for himself for the day, Gong Pal wrote away deep in concentration just as the story was nearing its end. Reading each and every sentence thoroughly and attentively, he wrote with his hands what he had taken into his head, acquainting himself even more with the sentences written by the author.
Transcribing a book written by a junior who went to his school was a fascinating experience. Although Gong Pal couldn’t put his finger on it, he was getting the impression that Juho was quite the writer, capable of writing stories that Gong Pal wouldn’t be able to write even if he were to be born again. The more he transcribed and understood the depth of the short story, the more it dawned on the freshman just how incredibly talented Juho was. It was easy to picture him being an author.
Then, Gong Pal found himself in need of an eraser, which he had lent to his twin sister.
“Yo! Number one!” he called out to her, but there was no answer no matter how many more times he repeated himself. In the end, Gong Pal walked out of his room irritated. When he went into his sister’s room, she was lost in her transcription of Yun Woo’s book.”
“Hey, I need that back.”
“Take it,” Gong Il said in a dry and indifferent tone, and Gong Pal retrieved his eraser from her.
Upon seeing his sister working busily, a question arose in his mind: ‘Who would be a better writer? Juho or Yun Woo?’ Considering the fame, popularity and his recent candidacy for a renowned literary award, it had to be Yun Woo. Besides, he was a professional author, while Juho was no more than a member of the Literature Club at some high school. Comparing the two was nothing short of mockery. Yet, Gong Pal couldn’t help himself. ‘Grains of Sand’ was that great a piece of writing, so much so that it enabled its readers to imagine the junior rising above Yun Woo.
“How’s the book?”
“Better than Juho’s?”
“…” Without replying, Gong Il stopped writing, looked up, and started to contemplate the question with all seriousness. She, too, was a reader with a deep affection for ‘Grains of Sand.’
“Well, what do you think?” in the end, rather than answer, what came out of her mouth was a question.
… and before he could help himself, Gong Pal blurted Juho’s name, admitting that a junior in some random Literature Club was a better writer than Yun Woo, the world-renowned author. Then, without saying much else, her nearly-identical twin murmured, “I think I wanna see him write.”
As usual, they were thinking the same thing.
“When do you think he’ll write?” she asked. Unfortunately, that was a question that only the author would know the answer to, and the author was elsewhere.
“Should we ask him tomorrow?” she suggested.
“OK. You ask.”
“… No, you ask.”
“You’re the one who wants to see him write. Besides, you’re the one transcribing ‘Grains of Sand.'”
“But you’re number one. You ask him first.”
“What’s the point in setting an order when we’re asking a question we’ll probably never ask again anyway? You do it.”
“No, you do it.”
In the end, the two only agreed to an order the following day.
Juho had stayed back reading while waiting for club activities. As Seo Kwang’s recommendations tended to be, it was a fun read. The book was closer to being a collection of reports written by a psychologist based on actual experiences rather than a novel. It outlined various patients whose cases had mostly to do with dreams. From people suffering from insomnia or nightmares to people having prophetic dreams or out-of-body experiences, there was a wide array of cases that were either realistic or hard to believe.
“Hello,” the twins greeted Juho. When he looked up, the two nearly-identical faces came into view.
“Where’s everyone else?”
“They went to the cafeteria. Sun Hwa’s on cleaning rotation today, so she’s not here yet.”
Then, looking at the backpack next to him, the twins nodded.
“… What are you reading, there?” Gong Pal asked, and Juho showed the cover of the book he was reading to him willingly.
“Seo Kwang’s recommendation.”
Upon seeing the title, the twins shook their heads, unfamiliar with the book, and Juho went back to reading. Then, rustling around briefly, they took their writing tools and transcription notebooks out of their backpacks. Nevertheless, the science room was quiet, and the faint sounds in the distance only accentuated the silence. Locking eyes with each other, Gong Il and Gong Pal began to nudge each other’s arms.
“What’s the matter?” Juho asked, noticing them quarreling silently.
As the junior looked intently at the twins who seemed like they had something to say, Gong Il spoke up, “So, are you planning to write anytime soon?”
“Yeah, uh… I saw everyone else working on something.”
At that, after staring briefly at them, Juho said, “I don’t really have a reason to.”
“What was that?”
“It’s just I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read lately because I’ve been so occupied with writing. So, I got Mr. Moon’s permission to read for a little while. Besides, reading can be good practice to help you become a better writer.”
At that, the twins caught on to Juho immediately and asked, “So, when are you planning to start writing again?”
“I write every day.”
“Yep. Even if I don’t have any good ideas, I write at least five pages before I go to bed.”
“… That’s quite a bit.”
“If you wanna be a better writer, then you gotta write a lot,” Juho said, stating the obvious.
Then, as he was about to direct his attention back to his book, ‘Kong Pat’ interjected, “Then, when are you planning to write during club activities again?”
Juho stared at the twins intently, finally noticing the repetitive questions. The twins had a specific answer they wanted to hear, and from the sound of it, they wanted to see him write.
“We’re here!” a voice announced as the door flung open, and the room became filled with noise all at once.
“Oh! The freshmen are already here!”
“Well, well. I see that you’re reading the book I recommended.”
“It’s a pretty good book.”
As the room filled with voices and the sound of chairs dragging, Juho looked at the book and at the twins in turn and closed the book. Then, rising from his seat, he walked over to the corner and returned with a few sheets of manuscript papers. Seeing that, the club members looked at him with interest.
“Are you gonna start writing?”
“Already? Didn’t you say you were gonna read?”
“I just wanted to write all of a sudden.”
“Oh-ho!” Sun Hwa let out a long exclamation, and the twins, too, shouted for joy internally.
“What are you gonna write about?”
“I still gotta figure that out.”
“Don’t know, yet.”
“What about a character?”
“Is it for the exhibition?”
At Bom’s question, Juho faced a dilemma. Not too long before, due to their schedules growing more hectic toward the end of the semester, Mr. Moon had suggested that the juniors each start writing a piece to be exhibited. So, with the exception of Seo Kwang, the club members had decided to each write a piece to be exhibited in the library one last time.
“I’m gonna have to find out,” Juho said. There was no way to know what kind of story would come out at that moment. The only way to know whether it was good enough to be exhibited or not was to see the finished product.
“I won’t be able to give you any helpful answers anytime soon, so you guys should just start writing.”
At that, the club members let up, smacking their lips. Then, Mr. Moon came in shortly after. Glancing at the sheets of manuscript paper in front of Juho, the teacher put the twins to work, making them play word-chain with each other. Then, while Bo Suk, Sun Hwa, and Bom came up with plots for their new pieces, Seo Kwang worked on a translation with Mr. Moon’s permission. Everyone was busy with their own tasks, and amid it all, Juho concentrated all the more.
By that point and because of the experiences he had had while being part of the Literature Club, Juho had become well acquainted with the sight of his clubmates rustling around. The more his piece took shape, the more distant it grew from the outside world. Then, Juho listed a series of images that came up in his head: Similar. Love. Video game. One and eight. Curiosity toward birth. Question. Influence. Obsession. Stubborn.
The beginning, the decision, the conclusion, the development, the crisis. As a series of scenes appeared in his head, Juho placed them in order and saw that some of the transitions needed to be improved. Upon fixing them, the narrator appeared, and the world, according to her point of view, along with her. Her misunderstandings became truth, and her decisions, results. While the readers were free to doubt, they wouldn’t be able to get away from those truths and decisions.
A box appeared in front of the narrator. She wanted to know what was inside of it. She embraced the box with both of her hands. Then, trees filled with ripe fruit appeared, and under a peach tree at the center of all other trees, she buried the box and went on her way. Soon, she came across an old man opening up the prickly outer shell of chestnut with a branch and asked, “I wanna open that box. How can I do it?”
The old man answered, “Wanna give this branch a try?” What the old man was offering was less than helpful. She wouldn’t be able to open the box with a mere branch. As she kept on walking, she eventually ran into a woman feeding cows and, just like she had asked the old man before, she told the woman, “I wanna open that box.”
At which point, the woman answered, “What makes beasts beasts is that they can’t keep their mouths shut for even a day when you starve them.”
A box had no mouth, therefore her answer was unhelpful. After walking for a little while, she came across a child playing with marbles. Again, she said, “I wanna open that box.”
“There’s a box at my house, too, and I open it only when I wanna put something in it,” the child answered.
“I see. That’s it!” the woman let out as she found the answer she was looking for and retraced her steps.
Juho wrote away unhindered. She dug the box from under the peach tree. Although it was exhausting, she didn’t stop. Inside it, was the one thing that she had always wanted: happiness. Then, without hesitation, she opened the box.
The sound of ripping paper echoed Then, stopping his hand, Juho turned toward the source of the sound and saw that Gong Il had accidentally ripped her manuscript paper while trying to erase something using a cheap eraser. Some of the lines were fading from excessive erasing, and Juho realized that she was repeating the same movements over and over again, completely lost in something.
“Ripping your paper isn’t something to apologize for.”
With that, Juho directed his attention back to his piece. A box. As she finally opened the box, she woke up. It had all been a dream. The beautiful scenery that had lain before her eyes was nowhere to be found in reality. Instead, there were children in front of her.
“Mom,” one of them called to her, and at the sound of her child calling out to its mother, she snapped herself out of the state she was in and asked, “Where was I?”
The child answered, “You opened the box.” Then, the older child asked, “Why couldn’t you opened it in the beginning?” To which, the mother answered, “Because it was password protected.”
Then, the younger child asked, “Did you figure out the password then, mom?”
“That’s right. I fought against the world with everything I had to protect what I wanted,” the mother said, and the two children asked simultaneously, “What was the password?” The mother smiled, and the two children smiled along with her. There was no one else there aside from those three.
“Zero-One-Zero-Eight!” the twins answered, their eyes sparkling brightly.
Then, scanning through his manuscript, Juho said, “I don’t think this is good enough to be exhibited.”
“Can I read it?”
“It still needs to be revised.”
Although Juho didn’t feel like the piece was good enough to be published, he decided to improve on the scene of the mother having the conception dream, as well as expound on her raising the children as a single mother.
“When would that be?”
“How long does it take you to finish a piece of writing?”
The twins began to pester the young author with words disguised as questions. Then, after a brief pause, Juho raised his manuscript and said, “Don’t get your hopes up now.”
As the corners of their mouths turned up, Mr. Moon rose from his seat.
“But first, you gotta turn it in.”
Just like that, the manuscript went into Mr. Moon’s hands, and having been pushed back in line, the twins weren’t able to get their hands on Juho’s manuscript until much later. After that, the twins took all of their password-protected belongings and changed the passwords to 0108, which became a popular topic among the club members for a while.
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