Remember The Name - Chapter 39
Lucid’s first ever break was nearing its end. With Yun-jeong’s help, he had finished all his homework, and since summer classes closed three weeks before the start of school, he had plenty of time to himself. Lucid spent most of this time visiting the public library, reading everything he could. He also had the chance to try all sorts of foods, foods that he wouldn’t have been able to have back at the institute (Yun-jeong had helped with this, too). As a result, he had gained some weight to him, which gave him a much healthier look than his previous rather skinny physique.
With only one week left before classes resumed, Myeong-su passed the morning running around the courtyard. No one really knew whether he had finished his homework or not, but he was rather carefree as he asked Lucid to join along, so that was that. Unfortunately, Lucid had decided to stay in his room, as he hadn’t been allowed to go to the library due to “special circumstances.” Still, just because he couldn’t read at the library didn’t mean he had nothing better to do than run in the courtyard.
Lucid rolled his pencil on the desk. It appeared to roll down rather smoothly, but it soon came to an abrupt halt, as if someone had pulled the brakes on a car. He picked it up again, and rolled it towards the other side of the desk. Again, the pencil rolled and rolled, and stopped in its tracks.
“So if I maximize friction, I can stop things from moving.”
Lucid was in the middle of magic practice disguised as a physics experiment. He had arbitrarily chosen a coefficient of friction and increased it until the object in motion came to a stop. Until now, he had only focused on the “slip” factor of motion, but after he had learned about friction, he realized that it could be applied to many, many things. Once he had been able to establish an arbitrary number as the condition (chapter) for friction, Lucid applied his knowledge of mathematics to experiment with this newfound concept.
“There are so many variables.”
For now, he was able to pick assign any number as the coefficient of friction, but he had no way of accurately predicting the exact force he exerted on the pencil when he pushed it. In that case, was there a way to exert the same amount of force each time? As Lucid pondered over this question, his eyes drifted towards Somi’s book, resting on the shelf. If he tilted the book and let the pencil roll off of it, then it would fall down. “Gravity” had been another new concept he had learned recently. Gravity, as far as he understood, was constant, as long as distance and mass were also constant. This meant that if he tilted the book at a specific slope, then the force exerted on the pencil by gravity would always be constant. All Lucid needed to do was to alter the friction (or more accurately, the coefficient of friction) to observe the changes it brought to the pencil.
Though referring to this moment as the birth of a physics prodigy would be rather dramatic, it was true that among all his peers (and even middle and high schoolers), Lucid took the most proactive approach to studying physics within the provided education system. The only drawback was that Lucid hadn’t yet learned about sine and cosine, which meant that he was currently unable to make accurate calculations. He therefore relied on assigning the coefficient of friction as his independent variable and observing the most basic physical changes it brought upon an object.
Still, the fact that he had discovered another way to use magic was a great accomplishment in itself. This type of magic was on a much higher level than what he had attempted until now, which had consisted of abstract concepts. It was more difficult now, using specific numbers to control the magic he manifested, but it was also much more applicable and practical.
However, Lucid’s progress towards becoming a genius physicist was stopped short by one of the institute teachers.
“The chairman wants to see you in his office.”
When Lucid came closer, the teacher took a good look at him and straightened up his clothes. Satisfied that he had done a good job, he took the boy to the chairman’s office.
“Oh, you’re here!” The chairman exclaimed. “Come, have a seat. Would you like some juice?”
At this point, Lucid wondered whether drinking juice was a requirement for staying at the chairman’s office, but he didn’t refuse.
“Good, good. I’ve heard you’ve been studying hard! You’re the talk of the town, so to speak. I’m so glad to hear it. You know, I think that everyone should have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, then you don’t have a goal, and you just can’t make it in life without a goal. That’s why it’s important to set one early on and work hard to achieve it. That’s a student’s duty! You’re doing a wonderful job, as a student and as someone who should make it in life. That’s why I called you here, to compliment you.”
There was no way that the chairman had called him all the way here just for a few compliments, but now, Lucid knew better than to question such things. So he simply sat, sipping on his juice. Thinking of it, juice was no longer a thing of wonder for the boy.
“Everyone wants to succeed in life. That goes for me, too, and for all the other kids in this institute. But the world isn’t such a kind place. For example, there are people who are always frowning because life is just too hard for them, and there are others who turn to stealing because they have no special talents of their own. So what happens? They end up in jail. But why people like that exist in the world? It’s all because they didn’t have dreams growing up. They didn’t have any dreams, so they never set up any goals, and that means they slacked off in their studies. So they just played all throughout their lives, unable to get a proper job, and when they can no longer sustain themselves, they turn to crimes. So what I want to say is that you need keep a positive mind and continue dreaming and hoping. And keep studying, as is your duty as a student. That’s the only way you won’t become a criminal, and instead become someone great. In that sense, you’re a model student. You’re going through so much, yet here you are, working so hard. Am I right?”
Lucid thought that the chairman’s speech was rather unreasonable. His roommate, Myeong-su, didn’t study. At least, not very much. But it was hard to imagine that he would grow up to become a bad person. As far as Lucid was concerned, Myeong-su was the most cheerful, positive, and kind friend he had. Even if he were to continue to not study, Lucid couldn’t agree with the idea that Myeong-su would become a criminal, because he had spent a long, long time in a town full of people who had never studied in their lives. He refused to agree with the chairman’s assumption that all those people, including his own parents, were all potential criminals.
“Honestly speaking, we’re doing the best we can for children like you who’ve gone through some rough stuff, but I’m sure it’s not the most comfortable thing, is it? But complaining about it is the wrong thing to do. That’s why I feel very proud of you, but also feel the need to apologize. All of us here want to help you kids out much more, but we’re simply not able to. Still, we all love each and every one of you very dearly, as if you were our own children. Isn’t that right, director?”
The sneaky raccoon of a man smiled as he spoke, urging the director to agree, but all the latter wanted to do was to shrug and dismiss the chairman. Still, he resisted the temptation and simply smiled and nodded. After all, that was his job as a side character in this little show.
“And actually, you showed such great determination during your last trip to the library that you became a sort role model. That’s why everyone on the internet was overcome with the urge to study, and they all complimented you for being such an exemplary student.”
The latter part was completely made up, but the director just continued to smile and nod along.
“That’s why the library reached out to us, asking us for a favor.”
Was the chairman finally getting to the point? Lucid looked up from his juice, and his eyes met the chairman’s. The man seemed to take this as a sign of enthusiasm on the boy’s part as he continued to talk excitedly.
“They want to shoot an ad with you as their model. They’ll take some pictures of you studying and use it for their publicity campaign across the whole city. What do you think? I know it must be a bit of a shock for you, but wouldn’t it be a great experience?”
“… Me?” Lucid asked hesitantly.
“Yes, you. Don’t think too much about it. It’s just a few pictures. You’ll need to pose for them, sure, but it won’t be much. They even said that if you agree to do this, they’ll offer you special privileges at the library. It’s a great chance for you, so you should give it a thought. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to just anyone, you know.”
Lucid’s lack of enthusiasm must have made the chairman nervous, prompting him to keep talking and talking.
“It’s really not too hard, just a few pictures. You just listen to what they have to say and do as you’re told, and it’ll be over in a heartbeat. It’s just… Well, it does mean that your face will be shown all over Inpyeong, but isn’t that exciting? Doesn’t it sound fun? You’ll be like the city’s celebrity.”
The director sighed under his breath, unimpressed by the chairman’s rambling. No matter how much he talked about the benefits of this deal, Lucid was still just a child. Without knowing what the child wanted, all the chairman could do was provide vague, superficial explanations. But enough was enough.
“Is there anything you’d like?” The director asked, at last. “I think we could grant you a little wish if you agree to be their model. Of course, it’ll have to be something that we can actually do.”
The chairman was wholly unhappy with the director’s interruption. He was, after all, only here as supporting role. The director cleared his throat as the chairman’s piercing glare prickled his skin, and waited for the child to speak.
“Can I really have whatever I want?” Lucid asked.
“Oh, of course. If it’s nothing too difficult to manage, we’ll do everything we can to provide you with what you need.” The chairman answered quickly. Now that he had the boy’s attention, the old raccoon began to make all sorts of promises, though he of course didn’t forget to include conditionals.
“I’d like more books. I want to read more.”
Neither the chairman nor the director had heard about Lucid’s love for books, but they quickly began to mentally calculate how many books they could buy with their budget and the most efficient way to buy the most. They couldn’t just give him one book and call it even (that was much too unfair, even for them), but they also couldn’t afford to buy as many books as the boy wanted, especially now that the institute was implementing policies to reduce spending. Even the increase in staff (the two teachers and the three counselors) had caused the board quite the headache when figuring out budgets.
“Well, sure. So if we get you more books, you’re okay with being the model for this campaign?”
“Yes, I am.”
For now, the chairman just wanted to seal the deal and get it done with. The director of administration would be the one to take care of the cost anyway, so all he had to do was to make the necessary decisions.
Once the conversation ended, Lucid bowed to the two men and left the office.
And so, the future physicist became the face of the public library.
lt;Misunderstanding (3)gt; End.