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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho looked around the house. The books and sheets manuscript paper that had been scattered throughout the entire place were nowhere to be found. Although his desk still needed to be cleaned up, and the sink was filled with dishes that needed washing, the apartment was starting to look more like an actual living space.
Just before Juho looked up and around his house, he had been reading the transcript of his recent interview in the magazine, which had a black-and-white photo of his face on the cover. Taken from an angle looking down from above, the photo showed the pigsty of a house that the young author lived in. From the shabby-looking chair he had sat on during the interview, to the cardboard boxes and stacks of manuscripts covered up with newspapers, the photo showed the state of the house quite explicitly.
“At least the picture came out well.”
Fortunately, that was the cover photo of the upcoming issue of a prominent magazine in the States. It was the product of the photographer’s skill. With the black-and-white filter applied to it, the photo almost gave off the impression that it carried some sort of eye-opening secret, even if the young author was well aware that all the boxes in the background were merely his belongings that needed to be unpacked.
On the release day in Korea, Juho was told that the magazine was sold out throughout the country. Some websites had sold one thousand copies in a span of five hours, while others sold out completely within three. The additional inventory that had arrived just the day before had also been sold out, and preorders were no different. Most places had sold out within a day, and additional orders were flooding the stores. Meanwhile, Juho found himself having conflicting emotions. While he was delighted to hear the news, he felt humiliated at the same time.
Opening the cover, Juho looked through the magazine. The names of the interviewer and the young author were written one after the other on a white background, and next to those names were their respective answers, written like a script. There was a brief story, which was told from the interviewer’s point-of-view, about his trip to the young author’s house as well as a brief explanation of how they had come to interview the young author while he’d been in the middle of moving in. Then, a picture of the apartment’s interior followed. It had been the very first picture the photographer had taken on his way in. In the picture, which was in color that time, was an empty apartment full of manuscript paper. Underneath it, was a brief comment from the photographer.
Juho looked through his answers on the magazine. The answers that had been turned into sentences felt much more rigid, yet polished, than the actual conversation. The flow of the written interview wasn’t all that different from when the interview happened. The description of the brief phone call with Coin carried a noticeably more subjective feel. However, that wasn’t to say that the interviewer had forgotten that Yun Woo was the VIP of the interview, and that was apparent in the detailed description of the young author’s reactions and changes in his expressions according to Coin’s responses.
Then, after checking the time, Juho rose from his seat. He was expecting guests that day. The day he had once promised his clubmates had finally come. As Juho was closing the window, which he had left open for ventilation, the doorbell rang. When he opened the door, his friends, who were now twenty years old, appeared, their hands full of food and alcohol.
“Drinks are here!”
Juho and his former clubmates had made plans to get together to have their first drink, and the friends came storming into the apartment without hesitation.
“I’m telling you, it makes life so much easier when you have a friend who has his own place,” Seo Kwang said as he plunked down on the floor, and the cans and bottles of alcohol in his bags bumped against each other.
“All right! Let’s get this started!”
“One would think that you’re the host.”
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Seo Kwang said nonchalantly.
“Well, how’ve you been, Mr. Celebrity, you?” Bom asked, looking at the magazines scattered about. Then, Sun Hwa interjected, “Oh! Speaking of which, I wanted to read that magazine, but it’s near impossible to get my hands on it. It’s sold out everywhere.”
“They’re gonna have more in stock from what I heard,” Bom said.
“It’ll fly off the shelves and, before I know it, it’s gonna be sold out again.”
Waving his hand as if telling her not to worry, Seo Kwang interjected, “It’s fine. We’re Yun Woo’s friends. It shouldn’t be that hard to get a copy or two.”
Meanwhile, Juho brought out a foldable table that he had brought from his parents’ home just in case. Then, he broke out the disappointing news to them, “I only have one copy for myself.”
“Because I didn’t want to give it to you guys.”
Seo Kwang didn’t seem to buy the young author’s answer.
“Pff! Good one. C’mon, bring ’em out. Let’s see them.”
“Do you really wanna keep a magazine with my face on it in your room?”
“I love every book in existence, my friend.”
Ignoring him, Juho took the drinks and the boxes of fried chicken out of the plastic bags.
‘I thought I could smell it when they were coming in,” Juho thought.
“Well, let’s dig in.”
Still intimidated by the idea of getting drunk, the club members decided not to drink on an empty stomach. Seeing as though Juho had actually been serious when he had said that he only had a copy for himself, Seo Kwang clicked his tongue. And seeing the funny expression on his friend’s face, Juho asked, “You’re asking me for a book when your parents own a bookstore?”
“It’s just a small neighborhood bookstore, man. We couldn’t even get out hands on the magazines. Besides, we don’t really do magazines,” Seo Kwang said. “On that note, help me out here,” he said.
Unfortunately, there was nothing Juho could do to help. The young author had intentionally asked for just the single copy. In the end, he agreed to contact the publishing company and request some extra copies for his friends.
“I guess this will have to do for now,” Seo Kwang said as he picked up Juho’s copy of the magazine. Then, looking at the atmospheric photo of his friend on the cover, Seo Kwang let out a long exclamation.
“Man! You look like you’re OUT OF IT!” he said mockingly. However, Juho didn’t bother denying it, since he actually hadn’t had any thoughts during the photo session.
“Need I remind you that we’ve all been on the TV?” Juho said, reminding Seo Kwang that he was just as vulnerable to insults in that situation. At that, as the image of a ditzy-looking expression on his face came to his mind, Seo Kwang closed his mouth.
“Well, I say we eat while they’re busy looking at the magazine,” Seo Kwang said, opening up the fried chicken box. However, Sun Hwa and Bom seemed to have a different idea.
“Come join us!”
“You know what? I’ll join you after this,” Seo Kwang said, leaving Juho to eat on his own. While his friends were sitting in a circle, reading the questions and his answers, Juho quietly ate his pieces of chicken. He was quite bothered by the fact that friends were reading the interview right next to him. Then, looking at the beer in front of him, he quietly entertained the thought of drinking by himself.
“Wow, look at the length of these questions!”
“But these are some choice answers though, Juho.”
As the young author ate the fried chicken away, his friends looked at the photos and read through the interview.
“Huh! You mentioned us!” Seo Kwang let out with a satisfied look on his face. Seeing words like ‘bookworm’ and ‘fiend’ on the pages of the magazine, the club members burst into laughter.
“I guess these guys are big for a reason,” Sun Hwa said, impressed.
“What was it like in person?” Bom asked, returning to where she had been sitting.
“It was all right.”
“Were there any difficult questions?”
“Not too many.”
“It seems like they really base their questions around the authors’ books. They asked a lot more about your personal life on TV.”
“I guess they’re just looking for different things.”
With that, the rest of the club members joined in on the meal. On the other hand, Seo Kwang reached for the chicken after having held on to the magazine until the very last minute. After making a fuss about how tasty the chicken was, they reverted back to the interview.
“I think this interview is THE hottest topic right now,” Seo Kwang said. As a currently active blogger, his words were credible and trustworthy. On top of that, it made sense considering the number of copies the magazine had sold.
“Your answers in the interview are floating around the internet. People who haven’t been able to get their hands on a copy of the magazine are making do with what they’re finding online.”
“What if they like Juho less and think he’s full of himself?” Sun Hwa asked. It was unclear whether she was joking or genuine.
“I hate to disappoint you, Sun Hwa, but people really like him,” Seo Kwang said.
Meanwhile, listening to his friends, Juho ate pickled radish.
“I mean, it’s hard not to like him after reading his answers. So, did you really talk to Coin on the phone?” Bom asked, the only person with a smile on her face.
“I did. Although, he just hung up after a little while, like it says in the magazine.”
Bom looked like she was delighted by her imagination alone.
“So, that’s how your alternate style came about,” Seo Kwang murmured as he set the bone aside, and Juho shrugged instead of giving an answer.
“Oh, what was that with the stroller? I didn’t know something like that happened to you.”
“And who was this first love of yours?!”
“I wanna hear more about this secret language acquisition technique.”
The club members all let out at the same time, making Juho feel like he was interacting with his readers. However, it was the truth. They were not only his friends but also his readers.
“It’s all in the magazine. Why ask me?”
“Because we have the real person in front of us. Now that you’ve revealed yourself, there’s no getting out of this, Yun Woo.”
‘Some friends you guys are,’ Juho muttered internally. Then, looking at the alcohol getting lukewarm, Juho said in order to change the subject, “Should I put these in the fridge? You guys prefer it cold, right?”
Then, just as Juho was about to get up with the bottles and cans, Bom said, “Maybe we should just drink them now.”
“Yeah! That way, you don’t have to go back and forth,” Sun Hwa said, agreeing with Bom.
“No one’s going to force anyone to drink here, so let’s take our time with the drinks,” Juho said, passing the cans of beer to his friends. The crisp sound of cans opening reverberated through the living room. The club members seemed excited about their first drinks. Then, Juho also opened his beer, and the same, crisp sound came from his can, along with a whiff of alcohol. ‘How long as it been?’ Juho asked, feeling somewhat nervous. Maybe he was even more nervous than he had been moments before the interview.
“Cheers!” Sun Hwa said, raising the can of beer in her hand. Then, after cheering, the club members each brought their beer cans to their mouths, looking refreshed after taking a sip.
“We’re really drinking, huh?” Bom said, as if having an emotional experience. Juho had finally reached the age that he could drink legally, and seeing his friends, he was reminded of the reality. It wasn’t likely that his twenty-year-old body would put him back in his old, alcoholic self of the past.
“Why aren’t you drinking?” Seo Kwang asked, and instead of giving him an answer, Juho brought his beer can up to his mouth. He felt the liquid pouring into his mouth and the whiff of the alcohol coming up to his nose as his mouth became filled with bubbles. It was bittersweet, and a burning sensation in the back of his throat followed shortly after. The young author exhaled unhurriedly. Just like that, the whiff of alcohol in his mouth told him that he had just drunk alcohol. Then, Juho peeked through the hole in order to check on how much he had drunk.
“This doesn’t taste very good,” he let out with a smile.
“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it,” his clubmates said playfully. They were eating more than they were drinking, and having already eaten before them, Juho sipped his beer instead of eating with them. However, the sipping didn’t last long either. Then, taking the plastic bag full of things that she had brought, Bom said while taking the contents out, “Let’s have some chips.” At which point, the young author accepted gratefully. By the time the fried chicken was almost gone and they had had enough to drink, the club members started moaning about their futures.
“I don’t know how I’m gonna survive when the semester starts,” Bom said. Because of her involvement in the Literature Club and her record of winning an award, she had managed to get accepted by a university as a creative writing major. While Seo Kwang had gotten into a school as an English major, Sun Hwa had gotten into a school as a history major. They were all starting to build a foundation for the jobs they wanted in the future.
“We all got into different schools.”
Even if they had ended up in the same school, it would still have been difficult for them to meet. Yet, the club members were not upset by that. They had accepted that they each had their own path. At the same time, they were anxious about being on a new path.
“What if I end up with upperclassmen who are really mean?” Sun Hwa murmured. The only upperclassman they had had was somebody who had sat in the science room with them, drawing. The idea of being around upperclassmen and having to interact with them was still foreign to the club members. It felt like it was yesterday that they had been worried about not getting into a university. But now, they were worried about not adapting to the new environment. It was an interesting phenomenon. Worries tended to follow people around.
“The beginning is always the hardest.”
The principle remained true, no matter what it was. There was no way to predict what the future held, and when that realization started dawning on the club members, the air became heavy with depression. At that, Juho decided to offer a solution…
“What if you guys ask Baron when he gets here?”
… and it was to hear directly from an experienced individual.
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