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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Since the five members of the fancafe were focused on finishing their meal rather than the taste of their food, they ate in silence. There was important business they needed to attend to afterward.
“All right. I’m gonna go on ahead,” the fan said after finishing their meal before anybody else. It wasn’t until then that the other four members looked up from their bowls and dishes.
“Guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see you finishing first.”
“That was quick.”
“Enjoy your lunch, everyone,” the fan said as he paid for the food and exited the restaurant. Like the true fan that the fan was, the fan had already figured out a place to read. There was a seating area near the store, which was close to the street, meaning that the fan would have to deal with the exhaust fumes of the cars passing by. However, the fan didn’t mind it one bit as long they had the golden book with them. The fan rushed to their reading spot, which, thankfully, was still empty. Without hesitation, the fan grabbed a seat and opened the book, ignoring the car horns in the distance, murmuring the title of the book written in a stylish looking font.
As the fan turned to the next page, the About the Author section of the book became visible, which usually contained an author’s name, level of education, nickname or nicknames, and biography. Although none of them were new to the fan, there was something special about coming across those pieces of information through the author’s book. The fan had been in an elevated emotional state since the night before, even as they woke up at four in the morning to pack their breakfast. Just the fact that Yun Woo had come out with a new book made life so much better. ‘How will he surprise me this time?’ the fan thought, feeling their heart beating faster.
It wasn’t long before the surrounding noises faded away. ‘How did the title come about? What does it mean? What kind of story did he write this time?’ Although the fan was full of questions, the answers became clearer as they flipped through the pages of the book.
As cars and pedestrians passed by, a burst of laughter came out of nowhere. Humans were capable of laughing, and everyone had their own reasons for it. In the case of the fan, they were laughing because of the golden book, their shoulders, which had become tense as the fan competed and fought for their desire, moved up and down. Alexandria’s cheerful demeanor automatically put the reader in a better mood, making them hold their sides from laughing.
“So, Yun Woo’s has a way with comedy too, huh?”
Reading a book from Yun Woo had never been funnier. The book was quite fast-paced, and before they knew it, the fan was burning through its pages. On top of that, not only was it easy to read, but it was also a great read. Alexandria was quite a loveable character. Originally, Alexandria was a port city located in northern Egypt, by the Mediterranean Sea, which was also known as a vacation spot. Thinking of the city, the fan often thought of the ancient library in Alexandria, which was the largest and most influential library in existence during its time. As a character, Alexandria was unreserved, successful, and in her prime. As a protagonist, she wanted to learn to read, write and expand her world. Of course, she didn’t let her desires stay as mere wishes. She acted on them, fought for them, and finally, obtained them. After having learned to read and write, she felt unstoppable.
As the fan flipped through the pages of the golden book, impressed by the young author’s sense of humor and wit, their hand stopped as the fan reached a certain point in the book when a character jarringly out of place appeared all of a sudden. The unexpected turn only added to the anticipation. Somebody had stolen a book.
At the voice calling to them, the fan looked up in a delayed response and saw a cheerful-looking person. They had to be the one to interrupt the fan’s reading experience.
“Do you know how to get to the bookstore from here by any chance?”
At that, the fan felt their irritation welling up from deep within. ‘Why me of all these people? It’s gotta be the book,’ the fan thought, pointing toward the store with a swallowed sigh, “Go straight that way, and you’ll see it.”
“Ah! I see, thank you very much!”
Upon hearing the thank you from the pedestrian looking for the bookstore, the fan felt their irritation subside. Those who weren’t used to the area were bound to ask for directions at some point. Besides, there had to be quite a few people traveling a long distance to get to the signing event. Then, just as the fan was about to resume reading, a man walking past them caught their eyes. Not only was the man tall, but well built. Although he was wearing a hat and sunglasses, there was something about him that made him look out of place. In other words, the man looked like a celebrity. As the man walked in the same direction as the pedestrian who had just asked for direction, the fan stared at him until he disappeared into the distance. He returned to reading shortly after.
There was not a minute to waste. The fan was anxious to read more about Alexandria, the book thief, and their fight. As cars and pedestrians passed by. Birds chirped, and leaves blew in the wind. After some time had passed, the fan, who had finished the entire book in one seating, said, “So good!”
If only the fan could, they would grab a random pedestrian and urge them to read the book. A sense of satisfaction filled their heart to the point of making it feel like it was about to explode. What was even more irresistible was that there were two long-awaited short stories after the story about Alexandria. There was still more left to be read and enjoyed. Checking the time, the fan deciding to go to the bookstore, saying, ‘I better go get in line. I’m savoring those short stories.’
“Hey! You’re back!” the second-in-line, who was guiding people who were confused after having arrived late, said to the fan.
The store was filled with people who were hopelessly lost, not knowing where to find the book or where to get the numbered ticket. Even if they managed to get their tickets now, they would most like be in the three hundreds, which meant they would have to wait for at least three hours until they could get an autograph from the young author.
“Did you finish reading the book?”
It made sense for the second-in-line to be in such a good mood, even going as far as helping others out with the friendliest looking expression in the world. Similarly, the fan was also wearing a similar smile. Then, in order to discuss the reading experience with a fellow fancafe member, the fan asked, “Did you read Alexandria?”
“No. I started with the short stories, so I only got to the middle,” the second-in-line said, bringing their index finger to their lips, gesturing that the fan not spoil the book, as if saving the best for last.
“You must be on cloud nine.”
“I sure am!”
The thought of what was left of the book alone made their heart beat faster, and the fan was fully aware of what that experience was like. Then, catching on to what the fan had been implying, the second-in-line asked, “You saved the short stories for last, didn’t you?”
That time, a subtle look of superiority appeared on the second-in-line’s face.
“Let me tell you, you won’t be disappointed.”
At that moment, an announcement came out of the speakers in the store, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re here for the signing event, please form a line in an orderly manner.” When the fan got to the spot where the signing was set to take place, they saw their fellow fancafe members also waiting in line, whom they walked right past in order to stand in the front of the line, feeling as though they had become Alexandria. After investing time and effort into planning for the event ahead of time, the fan had been rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. Now, the fan would enjoy the privilege of being the first person to get Yun Woo’s autograph. The fan looked behind at their fellow club members, who were having a heated discussion about the young author. Nevertheless, they were all excited. The wait for the actual signing event had begun, and the members of the fancafe remained in a heated discussion about Yun Woo.
“I think what sets Yun Woo apart is his unique writing style. ‘Sublimation’ has to be, easily, the most shocking book I’ve ever come across. How should I put it… It was like when I first heard a singer who sang like a dolphin. It was jarring at first, but before I knew it, I’d fallen in love with it.”
“I, personally, would describe him like Lionel Messi’s dribbling. When you watch how he handles that ball, you can’t help but think that he’s a genius.”
“For me, it kind of reminded me of my first time at the movie theater.”
“For me, I think it was similar to the cultural difference I felt when I traveled to another country for the first time. It felt awkward and foreign, but charming all at the same time.”
While the fancafe members were busy talking to each other, the line started getting even longer. While some waited anxiously for the young author’s appearance, a handful of others were reading the remaining portions of their books that they hadn’t had the chance to get to. Meanwhile, those who had read the entire book were still enjoying the lingering emotional experience.
As the time of the event approached, a store employee started passing out pens and sticky notes to those waiting in line, with which they wrote down their names as a reference for the young author during signing. Although the fan entertained the thought of writing down their user ID for the fancafe, or even Alexandria, they decided to take the occasion more seriously and write down their real name. As the anxiety started catching up to the fan, they briefly reviewed the things they were going to say upon meeting Yun Woo as the first person in line, things the fan had already thought of the night prior to the event. First, would come the hello, while telling the young author that they had been reading his books since ‘Trace of a Bird.’ Then, after taking a picture and shaking the young author’s hand, the fan would ask him the question that had been burning in their mind: ‘What’s your emotional state like when you’re writing?’ At that moment…
“Isn’t that Yun Woo!?”
The fan saw somebody in the distance walking toward the crowd, the table and a couple of chairs that had been set up ahead of time. Those who had gathered around the store to observe without getting the young author’s autograph all took their phones out at the same time. Being the first-in-line meant that they were granted the privilege to see Yun Woo up close. Then, the crowd started growing louder, eventually exploding into screams.
It was Yun Woo. At the sight of the young author, the fan let themselves go, screaming from the top of their lungs, taking the store employees by surprise. Looking toward the crowd standing in an endless line, the young author smiled subtly at his fans, causing the fan to gasp for breath. Yun Woo was smiling. Being surrounded by people screaming from all directions, everything felt surreal to the fan. The staff from Zelkova were surrounding the young author, protecting him. Simultaneously, there was a group of reporters on one side of the store frantically taking photos of the young author’s first signing event with professional equipment incomparable to the mere smartphones of the fans and spectators.
“I’m so nervous.”
A couple of the fancafe members said from behind, and frankly, the fan was practically in the same state. While the fan stood in a daze, Yun Woo’s face came into their view, along with the people around him, each wearing a lanyard that read: staff.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will start the signing now,” one of the staff members shouted. Then, catching on to an employee signaling them subtly, the fan started walking toward the young author, feeling like their legs were about to give out. As the fan placed their book on the table, which was covered in a velvet table cloth, the editor opened the book and handed it over to the young author, who proceeded to check the sticky note for the name and sign an autograph on a separate sheet of paper. Meanwhile, the fan’s mind was blank.
“What time did you get here?” Yun Woo asked the fan.
“At six in the morning,” the fan replied by reflex. Then, realizing how cocky they must have sounded, a sense of humiliation washed over the fan.
“Wow! That’s dedication,” the young author said, impressed. At which, the fan felt immediately validated. Despite the flashes going off and the cheers that came from the crowd from time to time, the fan saw and heard nothing but Yun Woo’s face and voice.
“Didn’t we lock eyes with each other this morning?” Yun Woo asked, and the fan nodded emphatically, realizing that it really was Yun Woo that they had seen that morning.
“I saw you standing first in line. Getting here early really paid off, huh?”
“Yeah! Uh… I wanted to make sure I got here before anybody else. Although, I am the first-in-line… I mean, not that I’m talking down to people standing behind me in line or anything like that. Um…” the fan started fumbling over their words. And, remembering what they had read in the book earlier, the fan tried to justify their statements. The fan was feeling pricked in the heart, being fully aware of all the name calling that had taken place in their heart. With that, wearing a subtle smile on his face, Yun Woo returned the book to the fan along with his autograph.
“You know, you remind me of Alexandria,” the young author said to the fan. At which, an indescribable feeling washed over the fan. With that, the turn went to the next person in line, and being mindful of others, the fan stepped away to the side, clenching their empty hand into a fist. Despite having been the first person in line, the fan hadn’t been able to shake Yun Woo’s hand nor take pictures with him, which the second-in-line was in the midst of doing.
At that moment, the fan was struck by a realization about themselves and Alexandria. Because everything had taken place much later than for most people, Alexandria was inevitably far from being number one. Nor was she in second or dead last for that matter. She was simply Alexandria. In an elementary school, she had a characteristic that was unique to her. Getting a late start in life had ultimately made her unique, no matter where she went. However, that wasn’t to say that she had a reason to look down on or get intimidated by others. In the end, that was why the fan had been so fond of Alexandria. Emotionally overwhelmed, the fan placed their hand on their chest, realizing that that experience wouldn’t have come through a handshake or through taking pictures with the young author.
“Thank you for writing,” the fan said amid the clamoring cloud. Although there was no way to verify if Yun Woo had heard that or not, the fan was genuine in what they said and wished that the young author would recognize that there were readers out there who felt like that. There was no promise that Yun Woo would hold another signing in the future. Nevertheless, the fan was ready and determined to be there to tell Yun Woo what they couldn’t that day. With that, the fan turned around and walked away from the crowd. Even those who were visiting the store to buy books were looking in the young author’s direction. When the fan exited the store with a sense of pride and accomplishment, they were met with surprise yet again.
“How long is this line!?”
The line was stretching out the door and around the store, even up to the stairway. It seemed like there was no end to it.
“What’s this line for??”
“Yun Woo’s signing event.”
“Huh! Should we get in line too?”
Even the officers regulating traffic and the construction workers on the other side of the street took interest in the jaw-dropping sight. The drivers in their cars waiting on the street with their windows rolled down were also looking in the direction of the bookstore. Meanwhile, the fan walked against the direction in which the line was moving. Then, after locking eyes with the people waiting in line in the Sun, the people asked, “Did you get his autograph?”
“Yes. I was first-in-line,” the fan said light-heartedly, and the people in line also accepted it light-heartedly.
“So it begins.”
There was a person squatting, lining up the rocks on the ground. Then, seeing that the rocks seemed like they were lined up according to their rank, the fan laughed out loud like when they had first read the golden book. ‘I’m gonna get started on those short stories, the first when I get home,’ the fan thought to themselves, excited and deeply satisfied.
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