The Great Storyteller Chapter 100
Chapter 100 Face It 1
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“What should I eat?” Juho contemplated, clasping his rumbling stomach.
Cars passed by in front of his eyes. He was on his way back from a walk. As he exited the park, the noise in the environment flooded his ears. Everyone had to be out for the weekend. The streets were booming with people.
Though it was too late for breakfast and too early for lunch, Juho was still hungry. ‘Maybe some bread?’
Without hesitation, he made his way to the bakery across the street. With his eyes fixed on the traffic light, Juho waited desperately for it to change. People were standing on the sidewalk while the cars zoomed past them on the road.
Frankly, Juho had wanted to stay home all day writing, wrestling with his pen. Eating had become a hassle, and he didn’t want to spend any more time on it than it was necessary. However, he was not in the state to be able to handle writing such a book. In order to create a world that was elaborately detailed, he couldn’t afford to keep his stomach empty.
Juho stared at the road where the cars were rushing past the white lines on the ground. Those lines had been drawn for the people. It told them ‘Walk here. Cars, wait until everyone has crossed safely to the other side.’ It was a promise of safety. Unfortunately, people simply had too many reasons to break that promise. When one broke the promise of safety, it often resulted in death. ‘Is that how it works in war?’ Juho thought, fiddling with a USB-drive in his pocket.
His stomach rumbled. Juho regretted leaving home without having eaten. As he stared intently at the bakery, the light finally turned green. While everyone crossed the street at the same time, Juho stepped on the road without delay. It wasn’t long until he reached the other side of the street and the green light began to flicker.
By the time Juho had nearly crossed the road, people who had arrived late began to rush across. The cars were inching past the white line, announcing their intention of taking off as soon as the light turned.
Everything seemed perilous. A middle-aged woman running from afar, an elderly pushing a stroller, a curious dog with its young owner. They were all still walking on the white line. Juho watched anxiously until the light turned red. Thankfully, nothing happened. The light turned red after everyone had safely crossed onto the other side.
Juho made his way toward the bakery. Although he was yet to arrive, the scrumptious fragrance of freshly baked bread tickled his nose. Then, he remembered how hungry was. He felt like he would end up buying a lot more bread than necessary. ‘It’s not everyday I’m at a bakery,’ Juho justified himself as he opened the door confidently and stepped into the bakery. As he contemplated on which one to choose, his phone began to vibrate in his pocket. A call from Yun Seo, and Juho answered it quickly.
“Yes, Mrs. Baek.”
“Yes, hello, Juho. Are you busy?”
“No, I was on my way back home from a walk,” Juho answered honestly.
“Is that so? Does that mean you’re available today?”
“Yes, I’m flexible.”
“Great! Come eat.”
Juho was more than happy that Yun Seo had asked him over. He much rather her warm bowl of rice over a generic sandwich sold at a bakery. Because he was already hungry, he answered without hesitation, “I’ll be there.”
“Be safe, and watch out for cars.”
After the call, Juho decided to take some bread with him, becoming more intentional about his choices. Remembering what she had always said habitually about not having enough food, he made sure to buy a generous amount.
‘Bark! Bark!’ with the sound of the dog barking in the distance, Geun Woo came out to greet Juho.
“Are you opening up a bakery?” he asked, looking at the bags full of bread.
“Nothing’s sadder than not having enough to eat,”
“Hm I could’ve sworn I heard that somewhere.”
As he walked in with Geun Woo, they ran into Yun Seo coming out of the kitchen.
“You’re here! What’s all that?”
“I brought some bread.”
“Oh, you didn’t have to. There’s plenty of food.”
“More the merrier.”
“Of course. Go hang out with Geun Woo for a little while. Lunch is almost ready.”
Putting on her apron, Yun Seo went back to the kitchen, smiling cheerfully. As she had told him to, Juho sat down with Geun Woo.
“Where’s Joon Soo?”
“He had a lecture.”
When he thought back on it, their first encounter had been at a university, and Juho had left without listening to his lecture. In the middle of catching up with Geun Woo, Juho asked, “Have you been working on anything lately?”
“Yeah. I got a request for a short story for a magazine, so I’ve been working on that.”
“I see, the splendor of a celebrity author.”
Suddenly, Geun Woo asked a question while mimicking Juho, “Don’t you get requests like that too? You’re the one and only Yun Woo after all.”
“I’ve been turning down every single one of them,” answered Juho, smiling.
“I’m anonymous, and I don’t like the idea of writing on a deadline. I want to be able to write when I want in peace.”
“I get what you’re saying. Trying to meet a deadline can be a living hell.” Then, Geun Woo asked, rustling the bag of bread Juho had brought, “You’re not going to end up like San Jung, are you? Living like a hermit in the mountains?”
“Are you talking about San Jung Youn?”
“Duh! Who else writes living in the mountains?”
San Jung Youn had been famous for many areas. A skilled writer, one of the things she was known for was having built a house in the mountains. She stuck strictly to novels. In order to realize that conviction, she moved to the mountains voluntarily. She was quite eccentric. However, Juho had had no clue that she and Geun Woo knew each other.
“How do you guys know each other?”
“She was also one of Mrs. Baek’s pupils,” Geun Woo said light-heartedly, taking a bag of bread from the sack.
“I had no idea.”
“Most people don’t. She wasn’t here for that long. By the time she came here, she was already an author, so she wasn’t exactly a student either. She refused to do interviews too.”
“How did you guys get close?”
“She likes to drink. I’m about the only person here who drinks regularly. We drank together, and we got closer in no time. Speaking of which, I haven’t really seen her since she moved to the mountains. Wonder how she’s doing,” Geun Woo said, tearing the wrapping around the bread. It was almost time for lunch, but he was rather impatient.
“Don’t blame me if you can’t finish your food.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll eat every bit of it,” Geun Woo said confidently, taking a big bite out of the bread. At that moment, Yun Seo saw him as she came out of the kitchen, and he got an earful.
Lunch was delicious. Her cooking was warm and welcoming. After the meal, Juho went outside to walk around a little bit while looking at Yun Seo’s garden. There were all sorts of different vegetables. Squatting in front of it, he watched an ant as it crawled by.
He took a small pebble and placed it before the ant. As if flustered, it moved about side to side, but soon found a way around it. Even when he placed bigger rocks before it, the ant somehow went around it, as if it knew that something bigger existed. Juho was proud of that spirit. As a gesture of apology, he decided to give it a small piece of bread. When the piece of bread landed on the ground, the ant moved about nimbly. As he watched the ant carrying its food back to its nest, Yun Seo called for him from behind him.
“Come have some fruit!”
Seeing the piles of fruit she had brought out, Juho sat next to Yun Seo.
“So, what have you been working on lately?” Yun Seo asked. Though he had never brought it up with her, she somehow knew that he had been writing.
“I’ve been working on a short story and novel.”
“The two ideas hit me at the same time. I couldn’t help it.”
Juho talked about the day when he made the spontaneous trip to the beach. Yun Seo listened cheerfully.
“You really have a lot in common with Wol. That must have been a lot of fun.”
“Yes, it was! Sometimes, going on a spontaneous trip isn’t half bad.”
“Isn’t it tiring?”
It depended on the author, but writing two separate books at the same time hadn’t been such a bad experience for Juho. Of course, it had been much more demanding in every aspect than working on a single book, but it had been twice as rewarding.
“I’m glad to hear. Sounds like you’re really meant to be a writer.”
“I’ve already finished the first draft of the short story. I think writing in different locations has really helped.”
School and home. By writing in two different environments, Juho was able to keep his thoughts and ideas organized, and the two books seemed to have a positive influence on one another.
“Although I still got a ways to go with the novel.”
“There’s no rush.”
“Yes, I agree. I’ve been taking my time with it. I’ve learned the benefits of keeping my shoulders relaxed when I write.”
“Hyun Do?” Yun Seo asked, smiling.
“How was he?” she asked, curious about their encounter.
After a brief time thinking, Juho answered, “It was an honor. There is so much I can learn from him. I had a great time.”
“Hyun Do told me the same. He said he had a great time as well.”
Juho felt relieved that his meeting with the literary giant had gone smoothly.
“Hyun Do may be comforting, but he’s hardly the one to reach out to people first.”
“Of course! He likes to write in the quiet, so he becomes a hermit when he’s writing. It makes people around him anxious, but I keep telling them that there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Why is that?”
“Hyun Do is the master when it comes to eating alone,” Yun Seo said, laughing cheerfully. Juho looked at her intently. Though she had used the word ‘alone,’ that was hardly the truth. With a friend like her who trusted and supported him, Hyun Do was never alone.
“He was moved by your writing,” Yun Seo said.
“Are you sure?”
“That’s right. You got his heavy ass to finally come outside. You can be proud of yourself. I think you can afford to be a little arrogant,” she added, calmly looking at Juho.
She knew about Juho’s bondage to past failures keeping him from celebrating the present successes. Celebration was but a moment. Afterward, everything went back to the way it had been. An author tended to be more focused on the harsh criticisms than on the praises. When Juho published his new book, he had been happier about the fact that he wasn’t reliving the past failure than about his book being published. He had always worked hard to keep himself under control.
“I’ve watched over countless authors over the years.”
“You stood out among the other authors I’ve met. You don’t show it. You’re almost too good at keeping your emotional boundaries.”
She had known his struggle all along and was reaching out to help. Juho answered playfully, “What if I actually become really arrogant?”
“Then, I’d have to put you in your place.”
“That sounds scary.”
“It’s not good to be scared from the start. Don’t be preemptively afraid of success or of failure. ”
“Are you saying that I should set them aside?”
“I’m simply telling you to face them.”
Face it. Juho thought of the crow.
“You accept it.”
“And then what happens next?”
“I believe it’s up to you. At the end of the day, this is your life,” Yun Seo said while looking up at the sky. She seemed to be reminiscing about someone. Seeing the longing in her eyes, Juho guessed that she was thinking of her husband.
“There’s this favorite author of mine. He’s an amazing writer, and I really respect him.”
“One day, that author told me that he saw a bird.”
A bird. Juho was surprised by the familiar sounding word.
“Apparently, it was injured, so it couldn’t fly. He wanted to look after that bird. I couldn’t understand him, but I let him anyway. He always sees things that I can’t see.”
Juho imagined an injured bird that couldn’t fly.
“Now that I’m older, I think I’m starting to get it. After writing twice the amount he wrote throughout his life, I barely came to understand it. He wanted to fly. Freely,” she said, smiling.
“That’s why he wanted that bird to be able to fly. In the end, that bird was a representation of himself. It’s the same reason he had to start writing.”
Juho felt like he had discovered a light in the dark. He felt like he had finally grasped the stream of light that he couldn’t before. The crow never flew, and it only stood on its fragile legs. The reason why he hadn’t named the crow was because Juho wanted it to fly away.
“You’ve seen it too, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Lucky you. I don’t have that kind of imagination.”
After a moment, Juho asked, “Do you think the bird flew away?”
Did Wol Kang get his hands on freedom after all?
“Yep,” she answered confidently. “I’m sure it flew away, as good as new.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve read what he wrote. I got to read his last novel. It’s still unfinished.”
Yun Seo rested her hand on Juho’s shoulder. It was as light as a feather.
“If you want to fly, don’t you think your shoulders need to be lighter? So, be more confident kiddo.
“You’ve written amazing books. People are praising you. Your writing has moved the hearts of many, so it’s OK to be excited. Celebrate it. Don’t be held back by the jealousy of others. I really wish for you to learn to do these things.”
An overwhelming compliment. Juho laughed, feeling like he hadn’t done so for a long time.
He decided to take her advice. Anybody could change. On the other hand, anybody could stay the same.
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