The Great Storyteller Chapter 238
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“So, we’re all gonna be in the same competition?”
“Yep. That happened.”
Seo Kwang looked at Juho with excitement. And Bom, upon checking that the contest wouldn’t interfere with the one she would be competing in, also decided to compete with her clubmates. It was going to be a lot of fun. For the first time ever, almost everyone in the club was going to be competing in the same essay contest, together.
“Did Mr. Moon say anything?”
“What do you think?”
Staying out of his pupils’ decision-making process was Mr. Moon’s specialty. Juho examined the pamphlet of the contest they were going to take part in. Being hosted by a university in Seoul, it offered a cash prize of one thousand dollars and it seemed to offer lectures and a campus tour afterward. It was a legitimate contest. Because they were all partaking in the same contest, the club members would be competing against each other. However, that would help the less-experienced members, like Bo Suk and the twins.
“Bom?” the twins called to her. They were preparing themselves thoroughly for their first essay contest, and their obsessive personalities seemed to have kicked in, wanting to see it to the end. Nevertheless, Juho was proud of their enthusiasm.
“I’m not sure how to move forward from here.”
“Can I see?” Bom said, scanning Gong Il’s manuscript cautiously. Meanwhile, Gong Pal was striking up a conversation with Bo Suk from behind. Looking at the younger clubmates, Juho, too, moved his hands across the keyboard. Juniors weren’t prohibited from bringing their laptops to school because there were a lot of procedures that required a computer, such as applications and self-introduction. It saved him a number of trips to the computer room, and he found it rather convenient.
“So, Bom. What are some things that I should be mindful of at the contest?” Gong Pal asked in a whisper, as if trying not to bother his clubmates. Unfortunately, despite his considerate gesture, Juho couldn’t keep his ears from listening, which inevitably made his hands slower. Meanwhile, after brief contemplation, Bom said with an awkward smile, “It’s hard to say because every contest is different.”
In actuality, there were noticeable differences in rules in every contest. From the scale of the contest to the topics, time and places, every contest was distinct, which made it difficult for Bom to offer any advice.
“Well, you always have to write within the given amount of time. That’s the most standard.”
Unfortunately, it was something Gong Pal was already aware of. Then, Seo Kwang, who had been looking up English words on his laptop, stopped his hands much like Juho and said, “There are literature clubs in other schools that teach their members how to win contests. Call it knowhow.”
“Seriously!? What about us!?” Gong Il said with interest, and Sun Hwa chimed in, laughing.
“Of course not! You’ve seen us write, haven’t you? We just write what we wanna write about, and Mr. Moon only teaches us the basics.”
“Wouldn’t that put us at a disadvantage?”
“Not at all,” Sun Hwa said emphatically, and the twins locked eyes with each other. No matter how confident she was in her statement, it was always safer to have tangible knowhow, and reading that on their faces, Bom spoke up, “If you take part in an essay contest, there’s a chance that you’ll run into students who go to schools known for their literature clubs. Some even go to private institutes after school or learn from professional organizations. You’ll flip once you find out how much money they’re paying those places.”
Then, looking straight into the twins’ eyes, which were moving busily, the junior added, “Yet, I won first place.”
Bo Suk exclaimed from the side.
“In the end, there is no such thing as a secret that will guarantee you an award. The best thing to do is to write in peace. I once heard a super famous author say that writers should be thinking about their writing, not their awards. At least, when you’re jotting something down,” Bom said, looking in Juho’s direction. Avoiding eye contact with her, the young author studied the look on the twins’ faces. They seemed anxious on one hand but excited on the other. It was a future impossible to predict, and it came with emotions that every club member had experienced at least once. So, the juniors offered the freshmen comforting words.
“Don’t get caught up with how much time you have. Once you start writing, you’ll find that you actually have plenty.”
“There are times when professors stare at you. If it bothers you, then just stop writing. They’ll walk right past you and leave you alone.”
“It’s always wise to know where the restrooms are.”
“Don’t forget your writing tools. Pick the ones that feel the best in your hands.”
“You’re not going alone, either, so don’t worry too much.”
The club members shared as much of their experiences with the twins as possible. Bo Suk, in particular, was the most enthusiastic. Then, after writing down every single advice they had heard from the older clubmates, the twins briefly glanced over in Juho’s direction and asked cautiously, “How come Juho isn’t competing?”
“I have a piece that I want to focus on,” the young author said as he started writing again. However, the twins looked puzzled.
“You mean, you’ve competed before?”
“Yep. Every year.”
“… Did you win any of them?”
Although he was fully aware of what the twins really wanted to know, Juho didn’t bother to explain himself.
“Maybe Juho’s the type who has trouble functioning under pressure.”
“But this is Juho, we’re talking about.”
Hearing the twins whispering to each other, Juho chuckled.
“They should all be there by now,” Juho said, looking up at the clock to look at the time. It was 9:00 a.m, and it was the day when all of his clubmates would be competing in the same essay contest. Because it was the weekend, Juho ate breakfast unhurriedly and prepared to write. The weather was beautiful that day. He imagined his clubmates writing, all sitting together. It would look different from how they did in the Literature Club.
“Well, I better get to working.”
With that, Juho placed his hands on the keyboard, looking at the plot that Nam Kyung had been so fond of. ‘Let’s not thinking too much. It’s just the first draft,’ the young author reminded himself as he breathed in quietly. First, the frame. It was necessary in order to acquire the space for the picture within it. In the frame, there would be I, who was going away from his hometown, and the lady, who was headed for her hometown. The train kept moving forward, never arriving at their destination until the inner story came to an end. The encounter between I and the lady would come to an end as the train came to a stop. Therefore, the train never stopped.
The young author tried looking at the story through the I’s perspective. I am me. Juho saw the world from I’s perspective: ‘After packing my belongings, I put them around my shoulders. I felt the weight of that on my entire body. Then, I headed for the train station in order to buy a ticket for the train that would take me away from my hometown. As I got on the train that was yet to have left, I started having conflicting thoughts. Should I not go? Should I just go back home?’
I knew nothing about the place he was headed to. It was an area being redeveloped, and he was fully aware that he could never make it a home, no matter how long he lived there. He would always be an outsider. He was afraid. Pessimistic thoughts started to take over his mind. At that moment, as he was still struggling with the conflicting thoughts in his head, the train started moving. Now, there was no turning back. He was already on the railway.
His hometown was less than impressive. It was mostly made of fields and rice paddies. As he grew farther from home, fear started to creep into his mind. Then, he realized that he had forgotten something. He knew he had left it behind, but he had no idea what. He had forgotten.
“Hi,” a lady struck up a conversation amid the panic in his mind. It was natural considering that she had been sitting just across from him. After a brief conversation, the two come to realize that they were headed toward the same destination. Talking about the weather, their food preferences, and their hobbies, they slowly got to know each other.
“You seem to like eggs,” Juho tried murmuring out the lady’s line
“Yes. I like them hard-boiled. The amount of water is really important. You gotta make sure that the eggs aren’t completely submerged.” as well as I’s.
I confessed that there were times when boiling his egg that the water surrounding the egg reminded him of the water that surrounded a fetus in a mother’s womb. Protecting the egg from cracking, the water regulated the temperature. Juho thought of long, thin eyes for the lady. While it made her look aggressive on one hand, it also made her frivolous on the other. I found her eyes rather charming, and he wanted to get a closer look.
At that moment, Juho’s phone began to vibrate, startling the unsuspecting author. The phone on the desk wailed all the louder, showing Sun Hwa’s name on the screen. ‘Sun Hwa? Shouldn’t she be preparing for the contest?’ Juho thought. Puzzled, he answered the phone.
As he answered the phone, the sound of rushing air came from his receiver. She was running.
“Zero-One-Zero-Eight,” she blurted out the number combination that Juho was well acquainted with. Naturally, he was reminded of the twins’ long, sharp-looking eyes.
“Shouldn’t they be at the contest with you guys?”
The twins weren’t at the contest. Juho checked the time. The contest should be starting any minute now. As Sun Hwa shouted for a reason that Juho was yet to be aware of, the young author asked his clubmate what was happening.
Then, she got to the point in a hurry, “We were supposed to meet in front of the campus because they told us that they were planning on taking the cab here. But they’re still not here!”
Then, Juho heard some noise in the background. He heard a voice say that they were ‘connected,’ so it seemed like they were able to figure out the whereabouts of the twins. Juho waited patiently.
“Oh, no,” Sun Hwa let out. It was obvious that the situation wasn’t looking good.
“I think the cab driver took them to the wrong place.”
“Yeah. They’re in front of another university.”
Without saying anything else, Sun Hwa sighed heavily. It was too late. The twins wouldn’t compete with their clubmates. They wouldn’t write.
“Sun Hwa, we gotta go,” Bo Suk’s voice came from Juho’s receiver, urging Sun Hwa. The situation was clear. The twins were the youngest members of the Literature Club. It hadn’t even been a year since they had graduated from middle school. And now, finding themselves in a circumstance completely out of their hands and stranded in an area they weren’t familiar with, they could no longer compete in the contest. In any case, somebody had to protect them.
“I’ll head there. Does Mr. Moon know?” Juho said.
“Seo Kwang is trying to get a hold of him.”
Then, after getting the whereabouts of the twins from Sun Hwa, Juho rose from his seat, got prepared to leave in a hurry and left the house. While still walking, Juho called the twins. Gong Pal answered.
“Hi, Juho,” he answered, sounding calmer than Juho had expected. With that, after confirming where they were, Juho went out to the major street and caught himself a cab. Reminding them to go into a nearby cafe, he hung up the phone. Although Gong Pal was saying that Juho didn’t need to come for them, Juho insisted, telling him that he was already on his way. Looking at the scenery rushing past, Juho wondered if I was seeing something similar on the train.
As he entered the cafe the twins had told him they were in, Juho saw them sitting by the window immediately, looking as unfazed as ever. Then, he called Mr. Moon as soon as he saw them.
“That’s a relief. Let me know when you’re back home,” the teacher said and hung up.
“We feel bad for making you come all the way here,” Gong Il said bashfully, her long, thin eyes, getting even thinner. ‘Those eyes.’ The lady on the train had those same, exact eyes. Because Juho had come in a hurry, he was quite thirsty. So, he ordered himself a cold drink.
“So, the cab driver took you guys to the wrong place, huh?” Juho said, bringing up what he had heard from Sun Hwa, ready to hear their side of the story.
“Yes. We had no idea until we got here.”
“It wasn’t until we’d wandered around campus for a good while that we realized.”
They were in a place they had never been before, so there was nothing strange about their delayed realization.
“Although, we did have a feeling that something wasn’t right.”
“When we realized what had happened, we started breaking out into cold sweats.”
Their voices grew louder as they explained their unforeseen circumstance, as if the confusion they had felt was finally catching up to them.
“Well, good thing that you guys were together. If it had been only one of you, you’d have really panicked,” Juho said, and the twins nodded in agreement.
“My brother got really angry at the driver.”
“So did you,” Gong Pal said, glaring at his sister and looking embarrassed.
“Everyone else should be writing by now, huh?”
Juho checked the time. The contest should have already started.
“I worked really hard for this”
Seeing the twins discouraged, Juho contemplated on how to comfort them.