Life, Once Again!

After Story 11

After Story 11

She watched TV for a while before looking at the clock. The hour hand was already nearing 8. When she opened the curtain slightly, she saw that a thick purple atmosphere was enveloping the residential area. She didn’t know that it had become so late already.

“It’s late,” said her mother, who was looking outside just like her.

“Mom, do you want to sleep over for the night?” Haneul asked her.

“I can’t. Your dad will be lonely.”

“Well, I guess he really can’t do without you.”

Her mom stood up and started scanning the living room and the fridge. She really was overly worried. Even after having looked at them all day, she looked at them one last time before going back.

“I’ll eat and clean up well, so don’t worry.”

“Who says I’m worried? I was just curious.”

“Should I take you to the bus stop?”

“Forget it. It’s just around the corner.”

While her mother put on her shoes, she went to her room and got her wallet. She took out five ten-thousand won bills and folded them twice before hiding them in her hand.

“Mom.” She grabbed her mother’s hand and handed her the money.

“This is my first pocket money for you.”

“You don’t have to give me this. You should use it for yourself.” Her mother stubbornly refused.

She knew words wouldn’t work, so she pushed her mother’s back out the door. “Then think of it as money for the side dishes.”

“I said you should use it for yourself.”

“I’m earning more than enough through my part-time work, so don’t worry about me and get something nice to eat with dad. Dad likes bulgogi. There’s a new bulgogi restaurant in front of the station that opened recently. You should go there together.”

“Geez, girl.”

She waved her hand at her mother, who awkwardly held the money. Her mother put on a complex expression, but she could definitely see her smile as she turned around. She could tell what her mother must be feeling: gratitude towards her child, who looked out for her even though she thought she didn’t do anything for her, as well as apologetic.

“Mom, you know I love you, right?”

Her mother, who was walking down the stairs, nodded without a word.

I’ll tell dad about it separately — she added.

After closing the door and turning around, she fanned herself with her hand. Her face felt hot. Whether she had matured or not, saying I love you to someone was rather embarrassing, even though she said such words out of habit when she was young.

She cleaned up the living room and called Maru.

-How’s mother-in-law?

“She went home.”

-Did she say anything?

“She flinched after seeing the soju bottle. She must’ve imagined her daughter holed up in her room drinking booze.”

-She must’ve thought that you’re a drunkard.

“Maybe. Anyway, it’s a relief that we didn’t get caught.”

-I really should go say hello to her in a while. It’s not like we’ve sinned, so it’s funny to be so nervous.

“I’ll try bringing it up later, so you should show your face at that time. We need to be natural about it.”

-You’re good at things like that. And also….

He trailed off immediately. This was rare. She sat down on the sofa and listened closely. Her husband, who was usually clear-cut about doing things, was hesitant. This indicated that what was about to come was considerably important. She nervously waited.

-I should’ve asked this before, but things were so hectic that I only got to ask now.

“What is it?”

-Honey, do you want to do acting again?

A sense of silence turned around and looked at her. She sealed her lips. It seemed that her husband had seen her saying the lines from the drama in the morning. She could hear his faint breathing over the phone.

“You heard that in the morning?”

-I was drowsy, but yes.

“I just did it out of boredom. There’s no big meaning to it.”free𝓌𝗲𝒃𝓃𝒐𝐯𝒆𝙡. 𝑐𝗼m

-Are you sure?

“The memories of the previous life are the most vivid to me. How much acting do you think I did? Do you think I would want to do that again? It’s just that my habits as an actress is still in me, so I did it out of reflex.” She chuckled.

-If you say so, then I don’t have anything to say about it either.

“Why are you being so serious all of a sudden? Mr. Han Maru, I get what you’re worried about, so I won’t say anything much. You know what I want to say too, right?”

-Alright, okay.

After chatting for a while, she hung up. She pulled one of her knees up and watched a newly-released mini-series drama.

“I know. I know it too,” she whispered.

Maru told her to do what she wanted to do, but that was more easily said than done. What she wanted to do, and what she did well. The two were different things, and becoming successful in it was an entirely different matter.

If she said she wanted to become an actress, her husband would not hesitate to support her. He would not think for long about which jobs to choose and start earning money, and that money would then be spent on her. They had lived tens of thousands of lives together, so she could easily deduce that much.

That was something she didn’t like. If one person chased a dream in the sky, then the other would naturally become a ladder. Maru encouraged her, saying that he would be successful in whatever he did, but she knew — and he must know too — that it would not be the case. She couldn’t leave without regrets, like a bulldozer, just because she had experienced everything there is to life. In fact, she felt even more cautious precisely because this was the last time.

This was also the reason that she was worried about Gaeul, who hadn’t even been born yet. She had lived as a mother for too long. She was painfully aware of the hardships of welcoming a baby without a proper foundation. As someone who had experienced both a plentiful and a poor environment, she would definitely choose the former if given the choice.

She couldn’t help it. Such was the desire and trait of a social animal. If both parents sought their dreams and slipped up, then all that remained would be hardships.

Moreover, if the dream was acting, then it would take time to slip up. Actors weren’t born in a day. That industry was one where even the most famous child actors would disappear without a sound once they become adults.

Had she not come across the drama ‘Flaming Lady’ in her previous life and had not built her acting during high school before that, then her dream of becoming an actress would have rotted away like a seed in asphalt, not able to take root.

Above all, there was the ‘rabbit’ in the previous life. The rabbit was the most exceptional consultant when it came to acting. The rabbit was Han Haneul, yet not Han Haneul. The delicate feelings the rabbit possessed had been completely erased.

The background of her mother being a writer, the fact that she had been interested in acting and doing related activities from a young age, as well as the opportunities that were the rabbit and Flaming Lady. Every single one of those elements came together to give birth to the ‘actress Han Gaeul’. Not only that, the contributions of the talented CEO of her agency could not be ignored.

Compared to that, how was this life? She stood in front of the mirror. Her face, which was no different from that of the previous life, was reflected in the mirror. However, looking at the details, the two faces had to be called completely different.

She tried smiling. The tips of her lips did not go up as much as she expected them to. Then, she tried frowning. She creased her forehead and narrowed her eyes. She changed expressions a few times before chuckling in vain. If it was the previous life, her acting instructor would have slapped her.

She was a twenty-two-year-old college student, who had lived a life totally unrelated to acting. Her body and face were completely untrained. Adding to that, she was extremely shy and passive in this life. She rarely actively expressed herself with her full emotions. Her facial muscles had stiffened, giving her a dull impression, and her body was too skinny because of an unbalanced diet.

Actors required muscles to express what they were trying to do. Actors with good air around them, actors with good acting; all of those elements were created by precise muscular control. Actors who had trained constantly were able to transmit emotions to the viewers behind the camera lens just with their eyes, even if their words weren’t enough. That kind of acting wasn’t something that could be made in a day or two. It required a body that followed every single intent down to the detail, understanding of emotions, and the mechanisms behind displaying such emotions. That was just the basics. The basics would create an actor, and proficiency would create ‘actors with a good air’.

She left the mirror. She knew the road there, so given enough time, she had the confidence to return her face back to that time. However, she did not know what awaited her at the end of all that training.

That uncertainty was what she was afraid of. Pursuing an invisible path after removing all the elements of success wasn’t chasing a dream. It was closer to using her life as gambling chips to receive cards while praying that she would get a blackjack. She wanted to become an ordinary parent rather than a gambler. Her husband must be thinking the same, and that was probably why he told her to pursue her dream.

Even if you become a gambler, I’ll work to death so that our house does not sway — this was how he sounded to her. Using her husband, who would be working tirelessly with their daughter on his back, as a foothold was horrifying. Maru was her husband, not a safety net. Transmit the consequences of failure to him? How could something be more absurd than that?

She fidgeted with her phone. Just like how she was attached to being an actress, the same must be true for her husband. She held herself back from calling him, afraid that she might say the same thing to him: do it if you want to, I’ll take responsibility.

Dreams come in many different forms, she thought as she watched the drama. She just had to do something that she did well that also had a high probability of success.

Let’s just enjoy what I like as a hobby. That was the conclusion she came to and thus tried to switch the channel, but for some reason, her finger did not move. The movements of the actors on the screen kept catching her eye.

For one moment, she found herself standing in the middle of the screen.

Her perspective changed again. She was in the middle of a set, and she could see the camera in front of her, as well as the production crew monitoring her in the distance. She herself was looking at the script for a while before chatting with the actors who talked to her. Faintly, she could hear the director shout cue and cut.

She closed her eyes. Her imagination, nay, her delusions scattered.

“Han Haneul, get yourself together.”

She had to forget about this sweet dream. If she slipped up after trying her hand at being an actor with the memories of her previous life as the basis, there would be no next time.

She decided to just focus on what she could do now. First, she had to think about whether to continue going to college or not. Would she be able to make a living off of baking? Considering her own skills and the products of her work until now, she didn’t think she had the talent to be a baker. The world of gourmet was an unknown territory that she had not visited even in her previous life.

Considering the cost and time until graduation, was it really worth investing in? She kept asking questions. If she stopped college now, what would she do?

“So it comes down to a personal business after all?”

She had experience running internet shopping malls. She also had experience earning big money by selling clothes when she was young. Although most areas were becoming red oceans, there were still plenty of opportunities to take advantage of. If she picked up the successful cases and tried her hand with a small sum of money, then the risks of losing money would be low as well.

As for marketing, she knew that more than well enough. Beads crafting classes and selling DIY kits weren’t so bad either. These had fewer risks of inventory management as well. If she rented a small office and started a hobby class and did it alongside running a blog and making online videos….

She stopped for a moment and lay back.

“The New Actress award goes to…. Han Gaeul from Flaming Lady. Congratulations,” she muttered as she looked at the ceiling. That moment felt like a distant past.