Chapter 46: Clash (4)
Su-hyuk Jang, a producer with five years of experience, clicked his tongue in disapproval the moment he stepped into the meeting room. “Jaehyung!” he yelled, turning towards the youngest producer in the team. “I told you so many times to get this place cleaned up before I get here! It’s like a damn barn in here!”
“Oh, another team just got done with their meeting, so…”
“Hey. Kiddo. Didn’t I tell you to just get moving and not give me stupid excuses? Getting into weird habits, aren’t we?”
Jang raised his hand towards the young producer, who cowered in fear and quickly dropped his head.
“I’m so sorry, sir.”
“Get on with it then! Chop chop, get this place cleaned up!”
Jaehyung scurried over to the meeting table, frantically getting rid of all the used cups and stray pens and markers rolling all over the place. As he watched the young man work, Jang muttered to himself, wholly dissatisfied. Such laziness, and from the newbie of all people! How was he supposed to trust this boy with running errands? Huffing and puffing, Jang took his seat at the head of the table, followed by three writers. They each sat in their respective seats, sharing nervous glances between each other.
“A-Anyway, Ms. Kim!” one of the writers spoke up, attempting to lighten the mood. “What happened with that tip from the other day?”
“Nayeon went to check it out. Go on, tell us.”
Nayeon promptly arranged some pictures on the table and began to explain.
“Have you all heard about the “reading boy”? He went viral a few months ago, and you can definitely tell why. He has this sort of… other worldly feel to him.”
“Hmm. I’m not familiar,” said Jang, scratching his head as he scrutinized the pictures.
“Oh, he’s so cute!”
“I’ve seen him!” exclaimed the young producer. “I remember thinking he was really good-looking. Weirdly so, to be honest. Still, you can’t stop looking at him.”
“Huh. He must be pretty famous, if even Jaehyung knows about him.”
“Yes, actually. His pictures were trending on quite a few search engines at the time. Anyway, the tip was about him. Oh, I have a picture from when I went to talk to him!”
Nayeon quickly tapped her tablet screen, searching and searching, as the others continued to admire the pictures on the table.
“Wow, look at him. He seems pretty photogenic, yeah?”
“Definitely. Guaranteed views right there.”
Found it! Nayeon held up her tablet triumphantly. “Here! He shot an ad!” The picture on the screen was of a young boy sitting at a desk, intently reading a book. It was an ad for the public library, yes, but a sort of picturesque fantasy feeling emanated from the picture despite the modern props.
“He’s a model?”
“Not professionally, but the picture that went viral was taken in this library. So they took this as an opportunity to advertise the public library in time for the fall exhibit, and had him be their model.”
“Okay, that’s enough backstory.” Jang sighed as he waved his hand dismissively. “Tell me about the tip.”
“Oh, of course. I spoke with his homeroom teacher first, to confirm the tip, and she claims that he’s not like the other kids. All the other teachers know about him, too, so he’s pretty well known in school. He’s really good at math, and he’s started to learn physics. Alone.”
“Alone? He’s self-taught?”
“Yes. Just like our tip said, he doesn’t receive tutoring at school or at the institute. Spends most of his time at the library. I spoke to the institute as well, and apparently he borrows books from the older kids and reads those all day. Of course, no private tutor. The kid confirmed this.”
“Reads books, huh…? What about tests?”
“I went ahead with the interview before giving him the test papers, but honestly, it was pretty easy to tell he’s different.”
With that, Nayeon recalled yesterday’s events at Inpyeong Elementary.
The two sat across from each other in the counseling room.
“Oh, it’s warm here,” noted Nayeon. “I’d heard that schools had good air conditioning now, but I didn’t think it’d be this good.”
Lucid stared at her blankly, which made her laugh a bit. “Don’t worry, I’m just talking to myself. Should we start off with some questions? First things first, what’s your name?”
He told her.
“Did your parents name you?”
“No. From my understanding, the chairman of the institute I’m staying at came up with it.”
“Oh, really? Well. It suits you. Anyway, I heard you like reading. Is that true?”
“Hmm… Yes, I suppose you could say that.” Lucid answered rather hesitantly.
“Could you elaborate?”
“I think it’s more accurate to say that I like reading books to study.”
Had she heard him correctly? She wasn’t exactly sure. First of all, where the hell had that answer come from? And second of all…
“I’m sorry, but you are in the first grade, correct?”
That was answer enough, but Nayeon still had to stop herself from asking his age.
“Alright, then. Could you explain the difference to me?”
“I think that reading and reading to study have different objectives. When I first came to school, I read everything I could get my hands on, because I liked to read. I read biographies and textbooks on math, science, grammar. My goal back then was to immerse myself in the books and marvel at the ideas in them. But now, my goal is to study. I’m reading books so I can understand their content and gain more knowledge. So, since there are two different goals, I think they should be seen as two different things.”
Nayeon thought (or rather, knew) that further interviewing would be rather pointless. If a first grader was able to convey his thoughts with such eloquence and sound logic, didn’t that automatically qualify him as a genius? This wasn’t just a tip. This was a huge scoop.
“Well then,” she continued, “what books have you been reading recently?”
“Physics, mainly. I’d like to learn more about physical phenomena. But I found out that you need to know a lot of math to understand physics. So I’ve been reading math books, too, but I’m not that good at it, so the physics books make little sense to me.”
“How far along are you with math?”
“Just the four arithmetic equations. I think I understand linear equations well enough.”
Was he really a first grader? He sounded more like a middle schooler.
“A first grader who knows linear equations?” Jang asked, interrupting Nayeon’s recollection. “Are you sure he’s in elementary? Not middle school?”
Nayeon cringed internally at the realization that she and Jang had thought the same thing, but powered through to continue her explanation.
“Yes, sir, yes. Anyway, we don’t need to have a long meeting about this. With his looks and his brains, he’s going to be a huge hit! I know it.”
Jang turned around to look at Wang, one of the writers.
“Do you have a story in mind?”
“First, we need more information on his school life. Or even his life at the institute,” Wang answered, twirling a pen between her fingers. “We’ll include some more interviews, get his IQ tested, and ask a science high school or even a university to collab and get a professional evaluation. That good?”
“He’s even more stunning in person, I guarantee it.” Nayeon chimed in. “He doesn’t look wholly Korean, but it’s not like he looks like a foreigner, either. It’s weird, but it works. You take one look and you know he’s objectively really good-looking. My point is, the story doesn’t matter! His face alone could bring in so many views!”
“Nayeon, sweetie. I admire your confidence, but his face is something the camera crew will take care of. We’re writers.”
“I’m just saying. There’s nothing wrong with having something pretty to look at.”
Jang ignored this whole exchange, instead turning to the younger producer to relay directions.
“Jaehyung, get the cameras ready. Ms. Wang, I trust you to come up with a good storyline and a solid schedule. Get back to me with both.”
“We’re not sure this’ll work, so 20 minutes for now.”
And with that, the meeting was over. As they left the room, one of the writers, Yunseon Jo, approached Nayeon.
“Was he really all that?” she asked.
“Oh my God!” Nayeon shouted. “You have no idea! Like, so much better than any child actor I’ve ever seen! I literally had to stop myself from hugging him, it was insane!”
“Look at you. You’re totally gone. I saw it coming, with you going on and on about his face instead of focusing on a story. Are you into kids?”
“Hey! That’s going way too far! I’m just saying, his face keeps popping up in my head…”
A loud noise rang through the hallway as Yunseon slapped Nayeon’s arm.
“That! That’s going to far! Watch what you say, Nayeon. That’s honestly going into lovesickness territory.”
Nayeon rubbed her arm gingerly, but still looked like she had more to say. Thankfully, Wang stepped in just in time to stop her.
“That’s enough. The producer told you already, but I’ll remind you just in case. We’re writers. We come up with a story for the program. The camera works on the looks. Or do you want a transfer?”
“Ms. Wang! Aww, that’s so mean! I was born to be a writer, you know that!”
Nayeon tried her best to escape her situation, using her status as the youngest writer to act cute and innocent. It didn’t exactly work, per se, but Wang still found it endearing enough. She invited her juniors to dinner, and the three took the elevator down.
Lucid, having reached middle school level mathematics, had gotten a new idea during class a few days ago and was now attempting a new type of magic. He found that the best thing to come out of this whole “prodigy” ordeal was that none of the teachers scolded him for not paying attention in class.
“Kyung-ho,” Hee Yeon warned,”pay attention, sweetie.”
“But plaster face…!”
Indeed, “plaster face” wasn’t paying attention at all, but before Kyung-ho could point that out, Hee Yeon sighed and warned him again.
“Kyung-ho! You know better than you talk back to your elders, don’t you?”
“Yes…” said the boy, his voice barely a whisper.
“I’ll let it slide just this once, because I know you’re usually a very good students who listens to what
I say. But it’s just this once! Next time I catch you doing something else, you’ll have to be punished. Is that clear?”
Hee Yeon knew that she was being rather unfair, but she pushed her guilt aside. Even during the slight commotion, Lucid appeared to have been lost in his own thoughts, but Hee Yeon was actually quite grateful for this. Though it had only carried on for a short while, the other children all rather enjoyed watching their teacher become increasingly flustered at Lucid’s incessant questions. It had been something of a game for them, and they had grown to look forward to Lucid asking questions, going as far as to persuade him to do so."Read latest chapters at Wuxiaworld.site
Thankfully, however, Lucid’s interest had shifted to self-study (or so Hee Yeon firmly believed, as she didn’t want to think that he was disappointed in her lack of knowledge), meaning he now spent the majority of his time pondering to himself or reading books. This meant that Hee Yeon could finally relax, with no need to be on constant guard for potential questions, and it was also why she left Lucid be in class.
During break, Lucid left the classroom and made his way down to the courtyard, which he had been staring at for the better portion of class. As it was, Myeong-su, from the classroom next door, had also come out to play. As excited as ever, he ran and ran, determined to make the most out of the ten minute break between classes.
“Oh hey, plaster face!” he called. “Aren’t you cold?”
While Myeong-su was wearing a thick jacket, Lucid was only wearing a T-shirt.
“Oh, yeah. I’m fine.” Lucid grinned.
<Clash (4)> End.