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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“This is one cruel way to start,” Gong Il muttered, dropping her head. Her first essay contest experience had been ruined, and that was enough to justify her feelings. On top of that, it was the last opportunity to take part in a contest with her clubmates. The juniors, with the exception of Bom, were not planning on competing in another contest, and the twins were far from being equipped for the contest Bom was going to be competing in.
“You can always go with Bo Suk, next time,” Juho said.
“I can’t believe this happened. We didn’t even get to write a single word! This doesn’t feel real.”
As Juho stared at her, the freshman sighed heavily.
“Well, I guess this is one way to fail,” Gong Il muttered again.
“Since last night, I’d been worrying about not being able to write or think of what to write after I was given the topics, or running out of lead for my mechanical pencil or ink for my pen. But who would’ve thought that we wouldn’t even get to the campus?”
In comparison to the amount of worrying she had done, it was quite a disappointing result. Because the cab driver had looked up the wrong place on the GPS, they had ended up in the wrong place. They didn’t even get to see what an essay contest was like.
“This isn’t fair.”
The twins let out. They were clearly gloomy. Meanwhile, wearing a smile that wasn’t visible to the twins, Juho asked, “What are you most depressed about?”
“The cab,” they answered without a delay.
“Why did we have to get on THAT cab of all cabs? Why did the driver have to misunderstand us? Why didn’t he bother to check if he heard us right? If only it occurred to him at some point, if only something had changed, you wouldn’t have had to be here,” Gong Il said, almost like throwing a tantrum. Her voice was filled with shame and resentment toward the cab driver.
“I knew something didn’t feel right this morning,” Gong Pal added, pouting his lips.
“I mean, c’mon! Who gets to an essay contest late!? We gotta be the first ones!”
“You’re right. At least in the Literature Club.”
Juho thought back to his first essay contest and felt that his first impression had been, in way, similar to theirs.
“Nobody has a positive memory of their first essay contest.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your clubmates! Nobody won the first time around.”
Then, taking an interest in Juho’s story, the twins asked, “Even you?”
Gong Il furrowed her brows at Juho’s brief answer. That time, she asked without hesitation, “Honestly, I don’t get it. Why is it that you haven’t won a single award? You’re the best writer in the club, aren’t you?”
“Yeah! Anybody would recognize your skills. More people have to know you.”
“Well, what can I say?”
“… Were you having stomach problems while you were at the contest?”
“Who knows? Should you have competed in the contest with me, you’d know.”
“All right, now you’re just adding fuel to the fire.”
After observing the apparent look of displeasure on the twins’ faces, Juho rose from his seat, and staring at him awkwardly from their seats, the twins asked, “Are you going to the restroom?”
“No, to the stationery store.”
“I came out in a hurry, so I forgot to bring manuscript paper with me.”
“Yeah. I’ve been working on a piece. You know this.”
Looking at the twins’ eyes, Juho felt his palms itch. Then, the expression on the twins’ faces started to change. They seemed anxious and confused, not sure if they had to write with him. At that, Juho waved his hand in denial, reassuring them.
“You’re probably not in the mood to write. I won’t force you. I’ll get just enough for myself.”
With that, the young author left the shop. Being in the vicinity of a university campus, finding a stationery store wasn’t all that hard. Because there were both a community college and a university within close proximity of one another, the town was significantly busier than most college town, most of the customers being university students. Then, after buying four two-hundred page boxes from the store, Juho made his way back to the cafe. It didn’t take all that long, and the twins were still in the shop.
“Is that all for you?!”
“Yep. Wouldn’t want to run out while I’m writing.”
“… I don’t think that’s gonna happen anytime soon.”
“You never know,” Juho said, taking a card out of his wallet and handing it over to the twins. “If you guys get hungry, get yourselves something to eat.”
As the twins remained silent, Juho quietly moved on to his manuscript paper.
“So, we checked the website,” a timid voice said. Despite already knowing what was about to be said, Juho asked, “Which website?”
“For the heck of it. We just thought we should look at it while we waited. But we saw the topics there. Not today’s, but the one’s for last year’s contest. It had the time and place too.”
Whatever the time and place were, they were already a thing of the past for Juho. As he stared intently at them, waiting for what they were going to say next, the twins rose from their seats with Juho’s card in their hands.
“We’re gonna go get some manuscript paper, too.”
“We might as well write here since we missed the real thing.”
“Well, have a seat, for now.”
They were quite naive. At the same time, quite stubborn. They were predictable. Because they were looking at a person writing right before their eyes, they were feeling the urge to write. Juho had an idea of the conversation that had taken place in his absence. In the end, Juho gave two of his boxes of manuscript paper to the twins.
“As for time limit, let’s say… an hour? Like an actual essay contest,” Juho said, checking the time on his phone. Taking the manuscript paper from him gladly, the twins took each of their writing tools out. Juho anticipated fine pieces of writing, although they would call for a significant amount of revision due to their emotional states. An angry person tended to charge forward without thinking about consequences. Similarly, Juho would always make sure he was ready to write, mentally and physically, before he started writing.
“You’re gonna be writing with us, right? The topics were American football, wind, and duck feathers.”
“Oh, right. Uh, sure. Yeah.”
The twins grew increasingly excited by the young author’s answer. They were essentially competing in an essay contest with the junior they looked up to the most. With that, after studying the twins for a little while, Juho wrote away. It was a story that had nothing to do with the three topics, and it wasn’t until they were thirty minutes in that the twins caught on to what the young author was doing.
As he was glancing over at the manuscript across from him, Gong Pal shouted by reflex, “Juho! What are you writing!?”
Having been occupied with writing, Juho answered the freshman with a delayed response, “What was that?”
“You’re writing about a bug!”
“That’s not relevant to any of the topics, right?”
“You can’t do that, can you? You’d be disqualified.”
“Yep. That’s exactly what happened.”
The young author said in a calm tone of voice. He had experienced disqualification in an essay contest for writing an essay that was entirely irrelevant to the given topics.
“There’s a piece I wanna focus on. That’s my priority.”
Gong Il slowly grasped the situation, and meanwhile, Gong Pal murmured, “So, that’s why he’s never won a single award.”
Then, as the freshmen became more talkative, Juho warned them, “Don’t you two come begging for an extension.”
Although the twins had a lot to say still, they barely managed to swallow their curiosity. Writing was of the utmost priority at the moment. The three wrote away quietly. There were hardly any people in the cafe, and even then, they were mostly university students either writing something or staring into their laptops. It wasn’t exactly the most riveting sight.
One could write anywhere. While writing unhurriedly, the young author decided to pay a visit to I in his imagination. Juho pulled him out of the deepest depths of the novel to the surface. His eyes were long and thin. He was a man of small physique. Wearing a blank expression on his face, I wasn’t doing anything. With an empty fish bowl at his side, the man was glaring into the air.
There was nobody around him, and Juho, too, didn’t bother going near or talking to him. The young author simply maintained his distance, observing the character. I seemed anxious. He looked like he was blaming himself for something. Self-blame came from failure. He had failed, failed to keep the insect alive. No matter how much he denied it, there was nothing he could do to change the truth. It was agonizing. Therefore, he had swallowed the bug.
At that moment, I took a step forward toward a lone tree. It was clear that the roots hadn’t gone down properly. The tree was out of place. It should’ve been planted in the mountains or in a field.
With that, he hugged the tree, reaching his hand and grabbing its branches. Then, lifting his leg, he hung from the tree and started climbing it. His petite body moved restlessly. An insect. He was acting like an insect. Pathetic and weak. Yet, he seemed much better off than when he had been at home. As the body shook, what sounded like wings rubbing against one another became audible. The insect chirped.
“Juho?” Gong Il said. When Juho reconnected with reality, the freshman’s image appeared before him. Then, slowly reaching for his phone, he switched the alarm off. The cafe grew silent immediately after.
“Let me see.”
“Huh! You did finish in time.”
“Of course! We got a lot of practice.”
Taking their manuscripts, Juho placed them on one side of the table. Then, as the twins looked at him with puzzled expressions, the young author took the card that had been left elsewhere on the table and offered it to them.
“Get yourselves something to eat. I need to write for a little bit.”
“I won’t be long. Just up to this part.”
“Don’t you get disqualified if you don’t finish in time?”
“They just collect your paper without mercy.”
“… Maybe the essay contests aren’t exactly your thing .”
With that, Juho looked away from them. Then, before he started writing, he asked Gong Pal, who had read what Juho was working on, “Do you remember any of it?”
“What? Oh, uh… yes. Although I didn’t look at it for that long. I don’t think I’d be able to forget it even if I wanted to, though.”
“Then keep remembering it. Try not to forget.”
“You’re gonna let me read it once you finish, right?”
“Yes, when I’m done.”
Shortly after, when Juho looked up after having finished writing the paragraph, he saw the twins lost in their phone games. The characters in their phone screens moved according to their commands, and after looking at the characters in the screen for a little while, the junior picked up their manuscripts.
“They’re both well-written.”
As Juho murmured, the twins looked away from their phones and responded immediately.
“Although, there are places that are overly emotional.”
Nevertheless, they weren’t half bad. It hadn’t been Juho’s intention for them to come up with an impeccable piece of writing. Rather, it was a means of release. Gong Pal had written about American football. Though the ball handling was incredibly rough and passes were far from perfect, it was written with honesty. There was not a peaceful moment. The protagonist was being constantly hampered by the people around them, and in the end, the game came to an end without him scoring a single point. The protagonist became furious, almost tearful. Gong Il’s story about wind was also quite sad. However, both of their stories had endings that would put a smile on their readers’ faces. At that moment, the twins asked anxiously, “So, who’s getting the award?”
“Award? Did we agree to have one?” Juho asked, and the junior was met with an angry backlash from the freshmen.
“C’mon! Tell us which one of us did a better job!”
“Somebody’s gotta win. This is a contest, after all,” the twins said, putting their phones down and looking intently at Juho.
“A contest, huh,” he said, putting the manuscripts down on the table.
As the twins became flustered by Juho’s unexpected answer, the young author added, “Neither of you would have gotten an award even if you were to have been at the contest. Besides, I’m disqualified myself. So, all that’s to say, there is no winner.”
They weren’t equipped enough and they still had ways to go before they reached the skill level that would bring them an award. Then, the twins broke out into laugher, looking neither angry nor wronged. Meanwhile, Juho returned the manuscripts to them.
“Now, revise them.”
“If this was an actual contest, you wouldn’t be getting your manuscripts back, but hey, perks of being part of a fake contest. Try finishing them. You guys are going somewhere. If you finish them before the school festival, you might even be able to exhibit them.”
Then, the twins took their manuscripts back with looks of excitement on their faces.
“Should we try giving our clubmates a ring? The contest should be over by now.”
As the idea of celebrating came up, the club members rendezvoused in front of their school. While Sun Hwa charged toward the twins as soon as she saw them, Seo Kwang grumbled, saying that creative writing didn’t suit him. All the while, Bom and Bo Suk tried to break them up. Just like that, the twins’ first essay contest experience came to an end.
“It’s started,” Isabella murmured as she read the email that had just arrived.
“The Hugo Award.”
Underneath it, was a list of nominated works, and among them, was Yun Woo. Then, Isabella thought of the author she had been working with, thinking, ‘Would Yun Woo be able to surprise us, yet again?”
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