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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“You don’t think it’d eat hard-boiled eggs, do you?”
“I’m not sure. It doesn’t look hungry, though.”
Looking in Juho and San Jung’s direction, the insect turned away from the egg and crawled toward the young author’s fingertips.
“Maybe, it’ll fly off if we force it to eat something.”
“Probably,” Juho said.
The insect balanced itself on the tips of Juho’s fingers, looking adorable with its set of legs bunched up together on a small space. At the same time, it looked as though it was about to spread its wings open, ready to fly off at any given minute. At that, Juho sensed an imminent farewell and was reminded of how attached he had grown to his tiny friend.
“I think it knows it landed on a bad spot,” San Jung said quite accurately. The insect was getting ready to fly off to where it belonged.
“Mr. Choi, I think you better prepare yourself. It looks like it’s about to fly off.”
“This way?? You mean this way!?”
“Who knows? That’d be up to this tiny fella here.”
“Make it stop! Do something!”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
Juho had no power to keep it from leaving, or to set the direction in which it should fly. The young author would take the direction he wanted to, and similarly, the insect would fly in the direction it wanted to.
“Huh,” the young author let out, feeling a faint vibration on his fingertips. There was a distinct sound coming from the insect, resonating at the tips of his fingers. With Sang’s terrified scream in the background, the insect shook its abdomen and rubbed its wings against one another. Then, out of nowhere, something turned up from its sides, revealing its shape for a split second. It was as if a door was opening. ‘Are those wings on its sides?’ Before Juho had time to confirm, the insect flew away.
“It didn’t even look back or anything,” Juho said, brushing his hand down against the palm of his other hand for no apparent reason. The young author had a feeling that his former lover had been like that insect, with which he had had a short friendship. She, too, hadn’t been afraid to part ways with Juho, and what was left at his fingertips was a sense loss, something he was all too familiar with. He could’ve sworn that she had acted charmingly around him, seeking his protection. However, to his dismay, that had been all a delusion. Similarly, the insect was more than capable of living on, with or without the young author. It had flown toward a bigger world. Love, insect, sky, delusion, and farewell.
At that moment, a splash of water came up Juho’s face, clogging his nose. Then, wiping his face, the young author opened his eyes and saw Sang standing tall and proud, with his hands wet.
“What was that about?”
“I was washing the poison off your face,” the romance writer said. However, it felt a tad too spiteful for it to be as good-willed as he claimed. It had to be an act of revenge. With that realization, Juho stood up, barefooted and soaking up to his neck, and started walking toward the romance writer through the cold sand and pebbles on the ground. It wasn’t long before a water fight broke out. The two authors splashed at each other relentlessly, paying no attention to their clothes getting soaked. With the exception of San Jung, who was watching from the distance while eating her hard-boiled eggs, everything around them became wet. The dragonfly shook off the moisture on its wings, and the grass hung limply from the weight of the water. As always, revenge had a futile and unfortunate ending.
“I’m soaked! This is incredibly unpleasant,” the young author said, feeling the weight of his wet clothes. No matter how much he squeezed them in order to get the water out, it seemed to make hardly a difference.
“I didn’t bring any extra clothes with me. This isn’t good,” he said, realizing just how wet his clothes were.
Then, hearing the young author was in a predicament, Sang sneered at him, “Well, good thing I brought mine.”
“You carry an extra set of clothes with you?”
“I can’t stand borrowing clothes from other people.”
‘How often does that even happen, though?,’ Juho wondered, impressed by how prepared Sang was.
“In that case, I’m sure you also can’t stand lending your clothes to other people, right?”
“Sorry, but I only have one extra set of clothes.”
It started to look like the young author would have no choice but to stay in his wet clothes. ‘Eh, it’s fine. This was supposed to be a day trip anyway, and my clothes will eventually dry if I sit in the Sun long enough. But what about the car seat?’ As the young author pondered the idea, San Jung chimed in, “It’s OK. I have some extra clothes back at the studio.”
“Yeah. My brother comes over every now and then, so he leaves some of his clothes at my place,” she said. It was a stroke of good luck. Then, after the three returned to the house, Juho received a sweatshirt and pants. Although their colors didn’t match at all, and the rubber band around the waist felt slightly loose, they were quite comfortable.
“Those must have been sitting in the bag for a while,” Juho said to Sang. It was obvious that the clothes had been put away for a long time, and there were folding lines all over the shirt and pants. Nevertheless, with a content look on his face, the romance writer brushed his dry clothes while letting his wet clothes dry beside him.
“I’ll bring these back next time. I just hope these aren’t your brother’s favorite clothes,” Juho said. Although he had no clue of what San Jung’s brother was like, the young author hoped that he wouldn’t be upset that his sister had lent his clothes to some stranger. At that, San Jung waved in denial.
“You don’t have to worry about it. I’m sure it’s not even on his mind. It’s essentially trash to him. He’s probably bought new clothes by now.”
Juho looked down at the sweatshirt and pants he was wearing, wondering if they really were trash.
“Then, I’ll send new ones your way.”
“No, it’s really OK. If you insist on repaying me, you can give me an autograph. My brother’s also a big Yun Woo fan,” she said. However, she had to be already aware that Juho would be sending her new clothes, along with the ones he was wearing. With that, after Sang and Juho decided to stay until their clothes had dried, the three authors sat around the table and enjoyed themselves a cup of tea.
“Have you been working on anything recently?” Juho asked, and San Jung nodded light-heartedly.
“I’ve been going around doing research. However, it’s still too early to know for sure.”
With that, she started telling a story about the things she had seen and heard up to that point. Her memories of the different people she had met at different places, the different food she had eaten, and the situations she had gone through were still vivid. Then, time flew by, and the Sun set. Being in the mountains and because of the elevation, the Sun felt like it was setting sooner than usual.
“Be safe, you two. Good luck with your writing,” San Jung said, waving at the two authors, and with that, they went down the mountain and got in their car. While Juho was occupied with thoughts of the blue insect that had flown away from his hand earlier, Sang didn’t bother him in any way. Until they arrived at Juho’s house, that is.
“Break a leg.”
Upon coming back to his room, Juho folded up the sweatshirts and pants San Jung had lent him, set it aside, and lay on his bed. Despite his hope of spotting the blue insect on his way down from the mountains, the tiny friend was nowhere to be seen. It had flown away to a place unseen, far, far away.
“Love and insect,” the young author murmured, staring at the ceiling for a little while. Then, reaching for his pen and notebook on the desk, still in bed, he started writing a story by the whim of his pen. The adventures of a blue bug searching for its mate. A blue insect on an adventure. A blue insect flying in the blue sky.
“This isn’t it,” Juho said. It lacked something. He wanted to write a story that was so deep that even he wouldn’t dare reach into its depth, leaving him tantalized. He wanted a story with a depth that would make him think that it was better to forget about it. A story that would make him deathly pale, like Sang when he saw the insect. With that, the young author moved his hand.
“I can’t think of anything other than Fabre.”
(TL’s Note: Jean Henri Fabre was a French Entomologist.)
Then, Juho chucked his notebook into the distance.
“Here’s your peppermint tea.”
Despite having wrestled with it at home for days by that point, Juho couldn’t come up with anything that satisfied him. That day, Juho had come out with his laptop as an addition to his walk. The peppermint tea he had ordered emanated a strong, minty scent. Along with the clear teapot, there was also a clear teacup. ‘Is it glass?’ Juho wondered, picking them up. They weren’t nearly that heavy. Then, as he poured the tea into the cup, steam rose from it. Juho was the only person who had ordered a hot tea in the entire cafe. Decorated to have a vintage look, a total of three tables, including the young author’s, were taken in the cafe. Of them, one other was alone, much like Juho, and seeing as though the person’s hands were moving busily, they had to be either studying or working on an assignment. Because Juho was sitting at the innermost table of the cafe, the entire shop could be seen from his seat. There were two employees, who didn’t seem to be all that close, working behind the bar.
Juho looked at the laptop before his eyes, which displayed an empty manuscript. From his former lover to an insect with blue wings, there was a decent assortment of material to work with, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
‘Am I rushing this? Am I trying to write something completely meaningless out of my own sense of urgency? Was I not excited to write about this, after all? Am I still caught up with winning the Nebula? Am I being too conscious of it? Or, am I trying too hard to ignore it?’ the young author asked himself calmly.
Then, the young author reminisced to the time he first held the trophy in his hand. He had felt the weight of it. At that moment, his instincts had kept it from reaching his heart because he knew, by experience, that he would be susceptible to making the same mistakes he had made in the past. With that, Juho placed his hands on the keyboard. However, not a single sentence came out.
At that moment, the bell attached to the cafe door rang. When he looked up, the person who’d been alone was gone, but their belongings were still at their seat. Juho glanced over at the bathroom key hanging by the doorknob of the bathroom to his side. The key was still there. ‘Must be taking a call,” Juho thought.
“Sigh,” Juho let out heavily. The fact that he was calculating meant that he was afraid of failure. He didn’t want to fail, just like everyone else. When Juho looked back, he would often find that he had climbed to a frightening height without knowing. Although faint and subtle, the fear was holding him back. Then, raising both of his hands, Juho patted his cheeks. ‘Let’s just write for now. If I don’t like it, then I’ll write it again,’ he told himself as he placed his hands on the keyboard.
‘Maybe I should look at the internet for a little bit,” the young author thought to himself, logging into a news website and reading through provocative articles one by one. Homicide, assault, celebrity divorce, conglomerates, political disputes, and Yun Woo. There were all sorts of keywords surrounding the name. Identity, rumors, writing style, Nebula and Hugo Awards, voice. Upon Juho clicking ‘voice,’ a video of Kelley Coin’s interview came up, and putting his earbuds on, Juho played the video. The same voice he had heard on his phone while talking to Kelley Coin sounded through his earbuds.
A word said on one side of the globe was being conveyed to the other. In the same manner, an interview that had been held on one side of the planet was being shown on the other. It was available for those who were interested in watching it, and simultaneously, they also had the freedom to shut it off whenever they felt like it. It was a fascinating world.
At that moment, Juho heard the bell attached to the door ringing, ever so faintly, over his earbuds. One of the employees was going outside with a broom and a dustpan. Because the cafe was on the second floor of the building, it seemed like they were going out to clean the stairway.
With that, Juho redirected his attention to the video on his laptop. The two were fighting a fierce battle. Then, the infamous author decided to do something completely unexpected. He called Yun Woo. While everyone was caught off guard, it wasn’t long until they grew ecstatic, their distant hope of hearing the young author’s voice on the phone had been realized. Then, Coin turned up on the screen, looking indifferent about his actions. Juho couldn’t help but chuckle. What followed immediately was his own voice. Hearing himself on the show, speaking through the receiver of a phone, was a rather strange experience. It simply didn’t sound like him, and to be frank, Juho had been feeling that way from the moment he started watching the video. It was unpleasant.
Then, while looping the part of the video of himself speaking, Juho came across another video, one that contained only the portion of the interview in which he spoke. Just as he had done with the previous video, he played it over and over again. He was repeating the same word at the same, exact time, without stopping. His voice in the video was saying only certain things, like the interviewer, and the infamous Kelley Coin. Everyone moving within the rectangular screen was repeating the same words. The more Juho looked at it, the more it became cloying. Because he was able to predict what was going to be said, there was no originality or freedom. It felt like a prison.
“Get me out of here!”
At that moment, the young author heard a cry. Even when he took his earbuds off, it still sounded muffled. Then, what sounded like a person banging on the wall followed. It was also coming from afar. Everyone in the cafe had heard it and was looking around cluelessly. Juho rose from his seat in order to find out what was going on. Meanwhile, the person on the other table remained in their seat, awkwardly locking eyes with yet another person on the other side of the cafe. What was happening?
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