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The Great Storyteller Chapter 13

Chapter 13: Chapter 13 <A Clue Regarding an Identity>


When the first years returned from the library, there was a small change in the science room. Next to Mr. Moon, was a mound of crumpled up graph-like paper that came up to his calves.

"We're the Literature Club for god's sake. We should at least be writing on Korean manuscript paper."

Mr. Moon distributed the sheets of paper to each member. Juho saw the red squared on the paper in front of him and thought, 'It's been a while.'

"You all know the writing format for this paper, right?"

"Just barely."

"That's true. It's really tricky to understand, especially when writing a citation page."

The kids were staring at their sheets of paper as if they had never seen them before. Mr. Moon encouraged them and began to explain things, "What do you think the reason is for leaving the first square blank when starting a paragraph?"

He stopped for a brief moment and went on to answer his own question, "So, it looks neat."

The kids appeared unsatisfied with Mr. Moon's answer.

"A piece of writing exists to be read. Moving down a line when starting a new paragraph or dialogue is for this very purpose. It enables the readers to read more comfortably. If everything was stuck together back to back, it'd be impossible to read. So, you switch over to the next line and skip a square. Then, what do you think you should do when the dialogic sentence starts to get longer?"

Sun Hwa thought briefly, and answered carefully, "Go to the next line?"

"Why?"

"So it looks better."

"That's correct."

She was truly like an exemplary student. Even while Mr. Moon was explaining punctuation, arabic numerals and spacing in the English alphabet, he emphasized repeatedly that writing existed to be read. Manuscript paper, according to him, was like a well-decorated cake.

As the students slowly began to come to grasp how to write using the manuscript paper, Mr. Moon explained the mission he had previously given. He revealed why he had sent everyone all the way to the library in the middle of club activities.

"Do you guys know what a transcription is?"

"We've heard of it, but it's definitely not something you hear everyday," Bom answered. The others must have felt no different.

"How about copying?"

"We've heard of that, mainly when I got in trouble with my teacher," Seo Kwang said playfully, as if he was reminiscing to a time when he had been caught.

"They mean the same thing. From now on, you guys are going to be transcribing the book that you checked out from the library."

"We're copying them?"

The word 'copy' had an unpleasant connotation. As Seo Kwang had said earlier, the word was often associated with warning statements. A student could get into a world of trouble with the teacher for copying his friend's homework.

Mr. Moon took a deep breath and started speaking, "The copying we're about to do is for practice. It's a commendable deed. You guys might not be aware, but you'll find this often when a famous author is being interviewed: 'I've transcribed the work of an author I respect the most.'"

It wasn't clear who he was imitating, but Juho understood what Mr. Moon was saying. For the would-be novelists, transcription was something they tried at least once. It was a natural occurrence. For anybody who aspired to be a novelist, even without being told, if he or she was human, there would be at least one or two authors he or she admired. When memorizing the names of every single book written by an author and reading their work repeatedly no longer satisfied one's heart, one began to copy the author's writing.

'I want to be able to write like this person. I'm jealous of everything this author has. I'm mesmerized by his writing.' It was a heart like that that motivated them to move their hands, so that they could turn their idol's talents into their very own.

"One thing to be mindful of when you're copying is to not do it in a hurry. You have to follow the intention of the author as-is. In order to do that, you copy every character down to every single punctuation."

"Yes, Mr. Moon."

'That's right.' Something any would-be novelist tried at least once. For that reason, Juho didn't have experience with transcription. His first full-length novel had been his debut work, which meant that he couldn't be considered to be an aspiring novelist.

Juho opened his book, 'The Winter,' written by Hyun Do Lim, and started with a narration of the protagonist reminiscing about his past. He was an old man, well past his sixties and was an unwavering and stubborn person. He had declared to his family that he would not be joining them on a family trip that had been long-due. After all, his wife and child had left him behind.

Left alone, the old man spent time going through various emotions and eventually came to recognize the three brothers living next door. They always played near the old man's house. He spent time listening to their conversations. Soon, the eldest among the three got bullied by the other two, and the old man believed that the two were doing the right thing. He found himself in a good mood. Then, the old man received a call and discovers that his family had been tragically killed. Finally, the old man looked into the mirror and ended his story.

Juho looked around. Mr. Moon was gone and Seo Kwang was distracted, reading instead of writing. Sun Hwa and Bom were working hard on transcribing their books. So, Juho slowly copied the content of his book. It was the scene when the old man declared his solitude after sending his family away.

Although their deaths were yet to be known by the old man, he lethargically reminisced about his life. That perilous tone itself was foreshadow. It was quiet and lonely and it was consistent from the beginning and to the end of the novel.

As he copied the novel, Juho felt down for no apparent reason. He was experiencing the extreme emotions that existed in midst of silence. It was different from merely reading. It was blatant and uncomfortable.

He put down his pen for a brief moment. After taking a short break, he asked Baron, who was in the middle of drawing, a question, "What are you drawing Baron?"

"A book illustration."

He gave Juho a short answer, and Juho looked closer and saw the printed images. There was a character with a playful expression holding a rice paddle in one hand. He appeared to be Nol-bu. Aside from the character, there were also the drawings of a freckled girl in a dress and a kid with a runny nose.

It was artwork to be inserted in between the pages of a novel.

Though the genre was different, Baron seemed to be participating in a form of copying.

In his case, he wanted to be able to draw better. Overhearing the conversation, Seo Kwang poked his head in, looked at the drawings and asked, "When did you start drawing?"

"When I was young. I went to an art institute instead of kindergarten."

"So, it's been a while."

Baron shrugged without saying much. He seemed to be putting even more distance between himself and the other club members. Juho recognized that and no longer tried to talk to him. Although Seo Kwang was someone who knew when to push and when to pull away, he too no longer tried to interact with Baron. Sun Hwa was glaring fiercely at the guys as they talked. Soon, there was only the sound of friction between pen and paper.

As soon as the members finished transcribing about seven pages, the bell rang and indicated the end of club activities.

The next day, Bom made a move to convince Baron to give her a sample of his writing. Unlike Sun Hwa previously, Bom had been discrete.

"So, it's a bribe?"

"Not exactly."

"Wouldn't it have been better if you handed it to him in person? It won't do anything if the receiver doesn't know the giver."

"I felt weird about handing it to him in person."

Bom couldn't gather her words between Sun Hwa and Seo Kwang's discussion. Apparently, she had come to school early and gone into the empty second year classroom to leave a bag on Baron's desk. The bag was filled with other bags of chips and cookies.

'When did she find the time to watch Baron eat?' Juho thought to himself, impressed by her.

"Does this mean you can demand a written note from Baron as he munches on your chips and cookies? 'I'll take your writing as payment.'?"

"What?" Bom was startled by Juho's words.

"What's the matter? Didn't you give Baron all those snacks to get him to write something for you?"

"It's true, but I don't feel confident about speaking to him directly."

"Do as Sun Hwa did, as if you were blind."

"Who's blind?"

"That's even worse."

As Sun Hwa appeared, Bom expressed a strong denial to Juho. At the end, Bom wasn't able to ask for anything, so she had left Baron a gift without even revealing her name. Despite Seo Kwang's frustration over her generosity, that was the extent of her effort.

As if left with no choice, Seo Kwang shook his head and said, "Very well. I'll tell Baron while I'm on it!"

"Huh?"

He must've had a plan.

"What is it? What are you planning on doing?" Sun Hwa asked.

"Hold on to your hats."

After seeing his confident display, Juho had already lost interest. Ignoring the insincere response of the crowd, Seo Kwang kept on, "If you want something from a person, then you should prepare something he wants."

"Duh! That's obvious."

That was why Bom had given all those snacks to Baron, like Robin Hood.

"Then, there's one question left. What does Baron want?"

"Snacks?" Bom answered timidly, and Seo Kwang gestured at her answer.

"Snacks are good, but I have something more delicious in my hand."

"What is it, chocolate?" Sun Hwa answered in a lukewarm manner.

Realizing that Seo Kwang wasn't going to stop anytime soon, Juho took out a book from his bag. It was 'The Winter,' the book he had checked out of the library for transcription, and he thought to himself that he'd read it again from cover to cover as he transcribed it.

"I found a clue for the author who wrote 'The Trace of a Bird.'"

Juho's hand stopped in its place.

"Are you serious?"

"Where did you find it? Tell us!"

'He can't possibly be talking about me,' thought Juho as he slowly put down his book. In contrast to his calm appearance, his mind was working frantically.

Yun Woo. Identity. Clue. There hadn't been any updates from the editor either.

"Whoa! Control yourselves."

"Did Baron read the book too?"

"I saw it with my own eyes."

Juho had seen it too. The book Baron had read on his first day of club activities had been 'The Trace of a Bird.' He still remembered the expression on Seo Kwang's face when he saw the book in Baron's hand. He looked like he was about to wrap his arm around Baron.

"How do you know that he's a fan of the author though? It's weird to make an assumption like that just because he was reading the book."

'That's true,' Juho agreed silently. There was no proof that Baron was obsessed with the author simply because he had read the book.

As if he was mocking Juho and Sun Hwa, Seo Kwang clicked his tongue and said, "Since he's read the book, it'd be impossible for Baron not to be curious about the author."

"You know, not everyone's like you just because they're a fan."

"Who said anything about a fan? I'm simply saying that he'd be curious. Imagine you found $10,000 on the street. Wouldn't you think about who it belonged to? It would too big of an amount, so you wouldn't be able to celebrate either. You'd stay up all night deciding whether you should take it to the police or not. 'The Trace of a Bird' is just like that."

"What the heck are you talking about? How can book and money be the same?"

"You know, I can't help but notice that you've been commenting on my analogies."

Seeing how the two were starting to digress, Bom chimed in. She was curious about the clue Seo Kwang had found on the mysterious author, "Seo Kwang, did you find out who the author of 'The Trace of a Bird' is?"

"Yes, that's the main focus."

Seo Kwang cleared his throat and lowered his voice. The room felt hushed, and he pulled out a piece of paper from his chest.

"So, I ran into something really interesting on a blog."

"Show us."

Standing behind Sun Hwa holding Seo Kwang's piece of paper in her hand, Juho read the note faster than anyone else there. The first thing that caught his eyes was the title. 'Revealing the Identity of Yun Woo, the Author of 'The Trace of a Bird.'"

The intent was quite provocative.

The End

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