Act 9: Whimsically 2
I stayed blank-minded for a bit before carefully thinking back on it.
Did it take this long for the results of the prac test to come out?
It could be different from my memories by a day or two but it had already been a week since the prac tests were over, with only a few days to go until the final exams.
If this was my previous life, a few days would’ve passed already ever since the announcements of the results.
Besides, it was impossible for me to have forgotten the exact date.
On the day when the results of the prac test were out, the entire school was in a rowdy mood because Kim Wuju and Lee Suh-ah had both gotten full marks which were historically quite rare.
…Plus it was a shocking day on which I received a C+ myself so my memories were quite accurate. Marks any lower than that would never be given unless you totally failed the test so it was pretty much the lowest possible mark…
I was lost in my memories for a bit before contemplating with folded arms.
‘That means the future has changed…’
The future changed? Although I did get a lot better than the past, was that something that required a reschedule of the announcements?
Tilting my head, I thought when Lee Suh-ah sitting on the other side of the table entered my sight. She was blankly staring at her textbook.
I stared at that face before glancing around with a shrug of my shoulders.
Our friends had gathered at a table to study for the final exams. Apart from Chloe, Lee Suh-ah, Han Dasom and Noh Jusup who I always stayed with, there was also Song Mirae, Kim Wuju and Jun Shihyuk whom I sometimes chatted with.
Although it wasn’t a lot of people, it was miles different from the past when I was alone.
My surroundings had changed this much so it wasn’t strange for the likes of an announcement date of the prac results to change, and it would surely arrive if I sat back and waited patiently right? I turned my eyes back to the textbook with a faint smile when Noh Jusup opened his mouth with a complaint from the side.
“Seriously. Why finals straight after the prac test? It’s so annoying.”
His crumpled expression suggested that he was regretful for not being able to play around much.
What could we do though? That was how packed the schedule of Future Arts High was and we all entered despite knowing that.
“Just bare with it. The first semester will be over soon after the finals.”
I grinned after seeing him sigh.
“At least it’s better than doing the prac test after finals. Now, the most important songs are finished so we can study with a relaxed heart.”
When he heard my words, Noh Jusup shook his head with a serious expression.
“No. It’s better to sit the finals first. That way, I can say I was preparing for the pracs and couldn’t study even if I failed the finals. But now? There’s time to study so I can’t use that as an excuse.”
“…Maybe they scheduled it like this so that you can’t make such excuses?”
Looking at Noh Jusup wearing a smile, I shook my head when a voice suddenly sounded from the side.
“Ah, how do I solve this~?”
When I turned around, I saw Song Mirae supporting her chin with her hands looking like the stems of a flower.
In front of her was an opened maths exercise book.
I was staring blankly at the question booklet which strangely had way too many red crosses when Song Mirae quickly added more words after stealing a glance.
“Maths is too hard~ Is there anyone that could help me?”
When I stayed silent while dully blinking my eyes, Song Mirae finally met her eyes with mine.
“Yunjae~ Weren’t you good at maths as well? Help me with this please!”
“Lee Suh-ah’s good as well. Ask her.”
I turned my gaze away from Song Mirae who rapidly crumpled her expression back to my textbook.
Hmm… I guess there wasn’t anything too difficult so far. I glanced over the questions that could potentially come out in the test when Han Dasom suddenly whispered from the side.
“Can you please help me here…?”
“What is it?”
Fortunately, it was on German which I knew very well. When I immediately told her the answer, she made a bashful smile in response and whispered thanks. Then, she turned her head over to Song Mirae and I caught sight of her lips being raised to a side.
What were they doing?
They were doing something quite funny so I watched on from the side when Chloe opened her mouth after a long stretch.
“Uuunn…! Phew… I wish the finals would be over soon…”
“Yeah. It will be the holidays as soon as the finals are over.”
After wording it out, I became slightly surprised myself.
Holidays. It was already nearing us.
I could still vividly remember somewhat forcibly being returned in time to the admission day and yet it was almost the holidays now… While I was caught in the midst of a strange recollection, Chloe turned to me with a sparkling gaze.
“What are you planning to do during the holidays Yunjae?”
“I don’t know. Maybe practise singing?”
“Huhuh. Not that. You won’t be doing anything fun?”
Hmm? Isn’t singing fun?
I tilted my head when Chloe suggested with a bright smile.
“Do you wanna learn the piano? I think you’ll be very good!”
…She was like this ever since the song presentation and kept on nagging me to learn the piano.
With a sullen expression, I shook my head.
“…Like I said, I can’t play the piano.”
“Just try it oncee~ The piano genius Chloe will be teaching you~”
“You’re really thick-skinned now huh?”
While having such minor conversations, we kept studying when the library suddenly started turning noisier. The voices were different from our whispering voices and were noisy in excitement.
Wondering what was happening, I frowned my eyes when bits and pieces of their voices started entering my ears.
“…prac test is…”
“The results… are on…”
“Seri… no wa…”
Slowly, words started being formed in our heads.
Prac test. Result. Announcement.
We who raised our heads up in a flash looked into each other’s eyes.
The prac test results of Future Arts High were always announced the same way.
On the entrance of the main building, on the large wall that appeared to be inside a large hole. It was usually for all sorts of announcements but the prac results of the top achievers would be placed there.
Of course, only the names of students with marks above A- were revealed because it would be too much to reveal the names of C+ students. In other words, it was like a hall of fame that displayed the names of high achievers with marks above A-.
We headed towards the first floor of the main building with the guys that had been studying with me, but our steps were heavy.
We didn’t want to go, but at the same time we wanted to and although we didn’t want to check, we wanted to. The paradox of emotions filled my heart and started fiercely battling one another.
The top mark, A+ was only available for two students. It was that position which allowed an entry in the Prac High-achievers Concert; that position which had been taken by Lee Suh-ah and Kim Wuju in my previous life.
Will I be able to reach that position… even if I didn’t, I should at least get an A right?
Despite walking at a slow pace, I could unfortunately still see the entrance to the main building in the distance before long.
My heart trembled like I was in front of the gates of hell. When I pushed it wide open, I realised that there were already countless students gathered, regardless of grade.
“Hey hey! Your name’s there!”
“Where’s my name…”
“Ah… mum… huuk…”
Joy and sorrow were mixed into the crowd.
Some students were in tears after not seeing their name on the board while some were in tears of joy. There were students that raged after seeing the names of other students on the wall as well as some students that glanced across the board without any hope.
Walking through all those students, I stood up in front of the wall.
There was a large piece of paper that read ‘Freshmen’.
The piano department, violin department, viola department… beneath all sorts of instruments, there was a row called the opera department. That row was further divided to make boxes for A+, A0, and A-.
After a deep breath in, I turned my eyes.
Rapidly, to A+.
A+: [Kim Wuju, Lee Suh-ah…]
When I read up to there, I heaved out a sigh.
Kim Wuju, Lee Suh-ah.
In the end, the future hadn’t changed.
I was disappointed when a few words written after their names entered my sight.
…Jun Shihyuk? Why is his name there? I’m pretty sure A+ was only given to two students though?
My confusion reached the summit when I finished reading the words after it.
[… Jo Yunjae, Han Dasom]
On the white piece of paper, the words written in black font appeared distinct. White and black; the blank space and the font formed an intense contrast and etched itself into my brain.
I… got the highest mark possible at the prac test?
Thinking that it perhaps was a dream, I stood there blankly when a trembling voice reached my ears.
When I turned my head to the side, I saw Han Dasom’s face. On top of her white face, she surfaced a red excitement and poured words out in a stutter.
“Is that… true? Did we really get A+…?”
“I guess so…? There’s no reason for them to lie about it…”
“Then it’s true?”
Our eyes met.
The dull unfocused eyes of Han Dasom widened as tears appeared on her wet eyes. Her eyebrows soared into the skies as her lips formed a teary smile.
Seeing that rapid change of emotion, a wave appeared inside me as well. My blank expression quickly reddened as my heart slowly started beating fast.
I could once again remember the faces of the judges – their vague, curious expressions. When I thought back on it, a smile sneaked past my lips.
Ah… my song…
It seemed to have been okay.
From the side, Chloe jumped in joy.
“Huk! Yunjae and Dasom are both A+ as well?”
“Yeah…! I think so!”
“Wahhh! I’m A+ as well!”
Screaming with the highest note she had ever made in her life, Han Dasom embraced Chloe.
After rejoicing like that, they dragged me into it and jumped around before eventually dragging even Lee Suh-ah in and making a fuss.
“Haa… haa… Congr…atulations…”
“Un… You too…”
…Of course, it didn’t last long because they all had a weak stamina. After a minute or so, they leaned their backs onto the wall without moving an inch.
I watched them with a smile but a question suddenly popped up in my head.
‘But, why are there five A+s all of a sudden?’
That question was soon answered.
The principal’s room I visited after a long time was still the same.
Elegant wooden furniture and expensive instruments decorated the room.
If he was just going to leave them aside like that, wouldn’t it be better to just lend the instruments to someone else? I was looking at the instruments with such thoughts when the principal opened his mouth.
“Ohh student Kim Wuju. It has been a while. Have you been well? Student Lee Suh-ah and student Jo Yunjae as well. It has been a while.”
“Right. Student Jun Shihyuk and student Han Dasom as well – welcome. Thanks for coming.”
After a round of greetings, I could somewhat tell where the conversation was going to be headed to. There’s the vibe they give off before the main topic, with their tone and aura right?
When I saw another man sitting to the side with a smile, it felt all the more so. We were the kids that received A+ and that person was… the judge from outside. In that case, it would obviously be about our marks.
I looked at the middle-aged man with such thoughts and before long, our eyes met as he then faced a smile at me.
“Well, I’m sure you all know me; I’m the principal, Song Muntak. This here is the head of SJ Opera Company, Mr Han Seungjoo.”
“Hello everyone. Nice to meet you all.”
Seeing us five giving an awkward greeting, the principal gave a clap and immediately brought out the main topic.
“I’m sure you all are busy with your studies so I won’t keep you for long. The reason I’ve gathered you here is simple – it’s precisely because of the prac marks.”
…He wasn’t going to say it was a mistake right?
Is he going to say something like there being a printing problem for the ones after Kim Wuju and Lee Suh-ah, and that we were in fact A0…
Nervously, I stared at the principal when he gestured for us to sit down. We sat ourselves down as the principal leaned his bum onto an extremely comfy-looking chair and opened his mouth.
“You must’ve realised that there was something strange happening. You probably heard from your seniors that only two students would be given A+… right?”
I looked forward with a trembling heart when the principal returned a grin in response.
“It’s all because you guys were too good.”
“What I’m saying is that there is nothing wrong with your marks and that you can be relaxed.”
Joy appeared and spread on our faces.
Thank goodness they weren’t going to cancel the marks.
However, after I let out a sigh of relief, I realised that there was an unanswered question in my mind.
Then why did he call us?
I tilted my head and saw the principal folding his arms.