Taeyeon stepped into her favourite bookstore in downtown Seoul. She wandered towards the magazine section and took some time to scan through the various publications on the shelves. She picked out some magazines before proceeding to the Arts section in the bookstore.
“Ahh…found it. Hmmm, let’s see what else I need,” Taeyeon mumbled to herself as she fumbled with her shopping list. Taeyeon accidentally bumped into someone as she abruptly turned around in the narrow aisle.
“I’m so sorry! So sorry! I didn’t realize there’s someone behind me. Let me help you with the books,” Taeyeon apologized profusely. Both Taeyeon and the stranger squatted down to pick up their respective stuff, which were strewn all over the floor.
“I’m sorry for bumping into you,” Taeyeon gathered her stuff and looked at the person whom she just bumped into. “Sica…Jessica…is that you?”
“Taeyeon?” the taller girl hugged her books and stood up. “Hey, it’s really you. Here’s your shopping list. Still prefer the pen and paper?” Jessica smiled and handed the crumpled paper to the shorter girl.
“Ah yes, I just can’t get the hang of using those apps in my phone. I suppose I’m just the old school type. How have you been? I think it has been four, no, five years since I last saw you. You still look the same.” Still as gorgeous…
“Thanks. I’m doing fine. I see you’re putting your heart where your passion is,” Jessica deduced, looking at the camera bag and the various photography magazines Taeyeon was carrying.
“Ah yes,” came an awkward reply.
“Are you in a rush? Do you have some time for coffee? It has been a long time since we last saw each other. Maybe we could catch up over coffee?”
“Oh ok, sure.”
“This place hasn’t changed a bit,” Jessica looked around the familiar café.
“Yup, thankfully the owner didn’t sell this place away. I heard it was up for sale two years ago. I suppose it’s still caramel macchiato for you?”
“You’ve a good memory. I’ll go grab a seat.”
“Earl grey tea’s still your favourite? It’s nice to know some things never change,” Jessica smiled.
“Ya, I guess. What brings you back to Seoul? How long would you be here for?” Taeyeon asked. She somehow felt nervous and awkward facing her old friend. They hadn’t been in touch for the past few years, besides sending each other annual Birthdays and Christmas e-greeting cards.
“I’m back here for a short break. I’m supposed to be on a holiday but Daddy asked me to help run some errands for the company at the same time. Are you doing photography full time?” Jessica studied the face she had not seen in the past five years. Deep down in her heart, she knew she missed the familiar face but she tried not to show it. A face she once knew so well. A face she once caressed with tender loving care. A face she once…kissed.
“Yea, I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue my passion as my job,” Taeyeon fiddled with the straw of her drink, not knowing what to say next.
“Hmm…the familiar scent of waffles from the café’s kitchen reminds me of the first time we met. Do you remember?” Jessica chuckled as she recalled that moment.
“Yes, I’ll always remember that day. It was quite memorable,” Taeyeon said with a smile.
Spring 2005 – First Encounter
“I want a double scoop of vanilla ice cream on my waffle please!” Taeyeon traced her finger across the ice cream display and placed her order. She grabbed the plate of waffles off the register and made her way to an empty table at the university’s café.
Out of the blue, a guy dashed across the café, bumping into Taeyeon, causing her to lose her balance. The plate of waffle flew out of Taeyeon’s hand and landed onto a girl nearby.
“Sorry!” was what the guy said as he left the café in a big hurry.
“Aish! Who’s that idiotic person who just bumped into me? He’s so rude! Didn’t even bother to stop and give me a proper apology. Now, where did my waffle go to?” Taeyeon got up and dusted her knees.
“Omo!” Taeyeon exclaimed as she saw the sight in front of her. Standing in front of her was a tall, fair skinned girl with long brown hair, dressed in a short white dress staring back at her in shock. The ice cream that was on Taeyeon’s waffle had landed on her dress and some bits of ice cream were dripping from the ends of her dress.
Taeyeon quickly pulled some napkins out of her bag and tried to wipe the ice cream on the dress. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to throw this plate of waffle at you, it kinda flew out of my hands. Sorry, sorry!” Taeyeon apologized profusely at the mess she created.
“It’s alright. It wasn’t entirely your fault. That guy shouldn’t have been running around the café like that. It was so dangerous! What if you were carrying a bowl of hot soup? Imagine what the consequences would be,” the girl said calmly, still in a moment of shock.
“It’s my fault too, for not being attentive enough. I’ve a spare set of clothes in my locker. You should be able to fit into them. I’ll get your dress cleaned before returning it to you.”
“I hope you don’t mind wearing these for the time being. Can they fit? By the way, I’m Taeyeon. What’s your name?” Taeyeon asked, as she stood outside the toilet cubicle.
“I’m Jessica.” The girl stepped out of the cubicle in a baggy white top and denim shorts from Taeyeon. “Thanks for lending me these clothes.” Taeyeon couldn’t help but stare at the leggy beauty from head to toe.
“I should be the one who’s thanking you for not getting angry at me for the mess I’ve created. I feel so bad about it! Can I get your mobile number so that I can contact you once I get the dress cleaned?”
“Sure. Anyway, don’t feel bad what happened earlier on. It was an accident. No one would have expected it and you did apologize and tried to help me clean up,” Jessica smiled at the shorter girl. “Well, if you really feel so bad, you could buy me lunch. I was about to have my lunch before the accident happened.”
“Sure, definitely! I know of a nice café nearby. Let’s go.”
“What would you like?” Taeyeon asked Jessica as they entered the café.
“Hmm..a caramel macchiato and a BLT sandwich please. Thanks.”
It was a quiet Tuesday afternoon and the girls were fortunate to get good seats by the café window. Taeyeon liked to sit by the café window and observe the people walking by during her free time.
“Which faculty are you from? I’m from the Arts faculty, taking photography and design as my double majors.”
“I’m from the business faculty, the boring one. Your course sounds cool, unlike mine. My subjects are so dry, I rather go watch grass grow sometimes,” Jessica chuckled when she saw the amused look on Taeyeon’s face. “I’ve always been interested in taking candid shots and want to improve my shots.”
“Well, I’m not an expert but I can share with you some basic photography tips if you like. I’m usually out and about every weekend, finding new places to explore and capture. You can join me on my photography walkabout trips. I usually go alone and I’m sure it would be fun to have another person around.”
“Oh really? If you don’t mind a newbie following you around, asking you silly questions, I would love to tag along.”
“There’s no such thing as a silly question. It’s only silly if the person doesn’t ask it in the first place. If you don’t ask, you would never gain the knowledge and learn. The camera doesn’t matter. The most important tool is you. The person behind the lens is the vital factor in determining how your photos would look like,” Taeyeon explained, pointing to Jessica.
Jessica looked in amazement at the baby-face kid in front of her. If Taeyeon hadn’t mentioned that she was a student at the same university and that they were the same age, she would have thought Taeyeon was a high school student. She didn’t expect such words of wisdom to sprout from her mouth. Nonetheless, she was encouraged by those kind words from her new friend.
“Are you really sure? I’ve only got a small compact camera though, not a DSLR. I would be such a burden to you on your photography trips. You could be wasting half your time trying to explain the basics to me instead of focusing on taking the photos you want.”
Taeyeon grabbed a clean napkin from the table. She took out her pen from her bag and scribbled some words on the napkin before handing it over to Jessica.
“Here, keep this safe. Claim it from me when you’re free,” Taeyeon smirked.
Jessica couldn’t help but giggled as she read Taeyeon’s note.
The owner of this napkin, Jessica, the boring Business girl, is entitled to claim free unlimited photography lessons from Taeyeon, the cool Arts girl, subject to the following terms and conditions:
1) Jessica shall listen to every single advice given by Taeyeon and not argue with her under any circumstances.
2) Jessica shall ask as many ‘silly’ questions as she wants.
3) Jessica shall buy Taeyeon her favourite ice cream as a treat after each photography lesson/walkabout.
4) Jessica shall have a lot of fun during these lessons.
“Thanks Taeyeon! I shall keep it safe in my diary. Can’t wait to claim my first lesson. How about this weekend? Would you be free?” Jessica flashed a brilliant smile.
“Sure! I’ll text you the place to meet.”
“It’s funny how a small accident in school sparked my interest in photography. I could feel your passion for the art back then and I’m glad you’re able to pursue your interest after graduation.” Jessica’s eyes never left Taeyeon’s face for a second as she recalled the old days back at school.
“Yes indeed. I’m happy to spread the love for photography. It’s a good way to sharing those wonderful memories,” Taeyeon said as she sipped her tea, occasionally looking out of the window.
“I remember you had a whole shelf filled with albums. Is it still the same now?”
“I’ve shifted out from my old place into a small apartment. Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of space now as part of my apartment is a mini photo studio. I had to pack those albums and photos into boxes. How’s life in the States? Your dad’s company is doing very well, I’ve been hearing lots of good news about it.”
“Once I set foot back in the States, Daddy assigned me to the lowest rank in the company. I had to work my way up in order to gain the trust of him and my fellow colleagues at work. It was a good training ground and I’m glad Daddy made that decision.”
I wanna know how you’ve been doing. I missed you, Taeyeon. Do you miss me too?
“I see. Don’t stress yourself out too much. You know you tend to have gastric problems when you push yourself too hard and forget to take your meals,” Taeyeon said in a concerned tone.
“You’re always reminding me to take my meals at regular timings, just like a walking alarm clock,” Jessica teased.
“Health is important. Without it, no matter how much wealth you have would be useless.”
‘I missed having my regular ice cream treats. Been busy lately? >_< – TY’
‘Missed ice cream more than me? I’m at the clinic now. Usual gastric problems. – J’
‘R u ok? Where r u now? I’ll go visit you right away. – TY’
‘Don’t worry, I’m fine. See u tis wkend, usual place. –J’
‘I’m only kiddin abt the ice cream. I rather u hv a good rest & get well soon. –TY’
‘Yes Ahjumma. If u go on naggin, I’ll forfeit ur ice cream. See u tis wkend. –J’
‘(*__*)III – TY’
“The trick about food photography is to shoot from a lower angle than you think you should. In this way, you’ll get an unusual angle, thus making your photos more interesting than others,” Taeyeon squatted down, positioning her lens near the bottom of the plate of cake.
“Here, look through the lens and see it for yourself.” Taeyeon gave Jessica a gentle nudge. Jessica swept her hair up and tied it into a bun before bending over to peer into the lens.
Taeyeon felt her face turning red. Jessica leaning against her arm as she balanced herself while looking through the lens. She could smell the floral scented shampoo Jessica was using. She quickly turned away just as Jessica stood up.
“You’re right! It does look different from this angle. You’ve such a good eye for things. Looks like I’ve got a long way to go before I can catch up with you. Shall we take a break and eat those delicious cakes instead of just photographing them? It would be such a waste if the cream melts,” Jessica teased, knowing Taeyeon’s weakness for sweet stuff.
“Sounds like a good idea! Let me move the camera and lights out of the way.”
“Hmm…I think it’s faster if we just grabbed the plates and go to the living room to eat, don’t you agree?” Jessica playfully scooped up a blob of cream from the cake and smudged it on Taeyeon’s right cheek.
“Hey, that’s really mean! I’ll get my revenge when I’m done keeping my camera. This is my precious baby,” Taeyeon carefully removed the camera from the tripod before placing it back into the camera bag.
“Ya, here you go!” Jessica pinched a piece of chocolate cake and stuffed it into Taeyeon’s mouth.
“If you’re too slow, I’ll finish the other slice of cake as well!” Jessica joked and skipped towards the living room.
“That girl…I wonder if she was really sick just a few days ago,” Taeyeon shook her head and smiled.
“Taeyeonie, what would you like to do when you graduate?” Jessica propped her legs on the couch and looked at the girl sitting next to her.
“Hmm…my dream would be to open a studio and be a full time photographer. I want to take pictures of people, help them capture their happiest moments in their life and leave them with photographs as keepsakes of those moments. What about you, Sica?”
“Me? I want to be a successful career woman! Well, actually that’s what my Daddy wants me to be since I’m supposed to take over the company when he retires in the future. In all honesty, I secretly wish to be a woman of leisure. Just spending my day at the nail salons, going for high teas and shopping with my friends…”
“Lazy Sica! You need to work in order to get money to do all those stuff. Can’t be relying on your dad forever right?” Taeyeon gave Jessica a gentle smack on her thigh.
“Hey, a girl can dream right? Silly Taeyeonie!” Jessica ruffled Taeyeon’s hair. She scooped up another blob of cream and cleaned it onto Taeyeon’s nose.
“Why you naughty…”
A cake fight ensued, with each girl trying to put cream into the other person’s face. Finally both girls collapsed onto the couch again, exhausted after all the running around in the living room.
“You look like a kitten! I ought to take a picture of you, don’t move!” Taeyeon hurriedly ran into her room to grab her polaroid camera.
“Let’s take a photo together! Two little kitties having fun with cakes,” Jessica pressed her cheek next to Taeyeon’s and while Taeyeon held the camera.
“Ok, ready? 1, 2, 3, smile!”
“How long would you be in Seoul for? Are you staying at a hotel?”
“I’ll be here for two weeks. Staying at the service apartment opposite the shopping mall.”
“I see. I guess it’s also more conveniently located as well. I’m sure you missed Korean food. If you like, we would meet up for dinner tomorrow night. I’m free and there’s a newly opened jajangmyun store around the corner. I heard the reviews are good.”
Jessica was elated at the dinner invitation. She had been thinking if she should make the first move to meet up with Taeyeon again. She was thankful Taeyeon made the first move. She nodded her head and said, “Definitely! It has been a long while since I last had a good Korean meal. It would be my treat.”
“Thanks in advance then. I’ll pick you up from your hotel tomorrow evening at 6pm.”
“That was a delicious meal! I’m filled to the brim, with noodles spilling out of my ears!” Taeyeon pretended to pull ‘noodles’ out of her ears as she made that remark.
“That’s way too exaggerated! You ate way too much! Your appetite’s still as big as last time. Greedy Taeyeonie!” Jessica laughed and playfully grabbed Taeyeon’s arms to stop her from doing that silly action.
Suddenly a warm feeling filled Taeyeon’s heart when she heard her old nickname. She paused to look at Jessica who was laughing heartily. It reminded her of their happy moments at the amusement park.
Sica, I missed your laughter. I missed it so much. Every night I would look at the photo we took at the amusement park before I sleep. You had such a bright smile hugging that toy dolphin I won for you at the games booth.
Summer 2005 – Amusement Park
“It’s so crowded today! I hate crowds!” Jessica was complaining as she tried to keep up with the short girl at the amusement park.
“Sica ah, the amusement park’s such a fun place! Moreover you rarely get out of the house besides school. You need a life! Let’s go on the rollercoaster first, followed by the haunted house, then the Ferris wheel…and finally…” Taeyeon was too engrossed in her thoughts at planning her itinerary at the amusement park that she didn’t notice Jessica was missing.
“Taeyeon ah, Taeyeonie, where are you?”
“Ah, Sica, over here!” Taeyeon waving her arm.
Jessica felt someone grabbed her arm and pulled her through the crowd. She followed along though she couldn’t see that person in the crowd, knowing it was definitely Taeyeon leading the way.
“Hold onto my hand and don’t let go. I can’t afford to lose you, silly girl.” Both girls held hands, as they went to take the various rides at the park.
Jessica eyed a soft toy at one of the game stores and decided to ask Taeyeon to try her luck at getting it.
“Taeyeonie, I want that pink dolphin soft toy. Can you get it for me please?” Jessica put her aegyo voice to good use and tugged at Taeyeon’s sleeve. “I’ll buy you a cotton candy if you can win it for me.”
“Alright, just because it’s for you.” Taeyeon couldn’t say no, especially when there was so much aegyo in Jessica’s voice.
After several failed attempts at trying to knock down the cans with the balls, Jessica told Taeyeon to stop and tried to pull her away from the game store. However, Taeyeon was determined to win that dolphin for her and continued trying.
“Taeyeonie, forget it. I don’t really fancy it that much. Let’s go else we’ll miss the fireworks soon.” Jessica linked her arm around Taeyeon’s and tried to pull her away.
“One last chance Sica. Just one last chance. If I don’t win it, we’ll leave.” Taeyeon knew that Jessica liked dolphins and she resolved to win it for her.
With a stroke of luck, Taeyeon finally knocked down all the cans at the last ball she threw.
“Yeah, I did it! Sica, I did it!” Taeyeon was jumping for joy, pumping her fists in the air. Jessica was overjoyed and went over to give Taeyeon a tight hug. Taeyeon was stunned momentarily and didn’t know where to place her hands.
“Here you go, young lady. It’s yours.” The man at the game store handed over the pink dolphin to Taeyeon as she broke away from the hug.
“Sica, for you.” Taeyeon smiled shyly as she handed over the soft toy to the happy girl.
“Thank you so much Taeyeonie! I love it a lot!” Jessica chimed, hugging the pink dolphin.
“Sica, let’s go to the ferris wheel and catch the fireworks. It’s starting soon!”
Jessica linked her free arm around Taeyeon’s arm and both girls made their way through the crowd towards the Ferris wheel.
“It’s such an awesome view from up here! I love the cool breeze.”
“Yup, it’s even nicer when I’m with my best friend!” Taeyeon said, while eating her pink cotton candy. She used her big fluffy cotton candy as a shield, in case Jessica saw her blushing cheeks.
“Taeyeonie, look! The fireworks have started!” Jessica tapped Taeyeon’s lap excitedly. Both girls watched the first fireworks being shot into the clear night sky.
More and more fireworks erupted, painting the night sky into a myriad of colours. The ferris wheel cabin where the girls were in was reaching its peak soon.
“Look, there’s a smiley face fireworks. Oh, there’s a heart shaped one as well!” Taeyeon exclaimed like a little kid, pressing her face against the glass window of the cabin.
“Taeyeonie, look over there! There’s a UFO shaped one as well!” Taeyeon turned around and met a pair of soft lips. She was stunned at the sudden kiss from her best friend.
Jessica broke away from the kiss and focused her attention on Taeyeon. She held Taeyeon’s shoulders gently, looking at her in the eyes and said in a serious tone, “Taeyeon ah, I don’t wanna be friends with you anymore.”
Taeyeon raised her eyebrows, giving Jessica a puzzled look. “What do you mean? Have I made you angry in any way?”
Jessica took a deep breath and continued, “No, no my dear Taeyeonie. You can be so dense at times. I’m saying, I like you more than a friend. I don’t know if you share the same feelings as me, but I feel really comfortable with you. You made me realized there’s a greater world out there besides just studying and getting good grades.”
“I…I…I am …” Taeyeon’s voice trailed off.
Jessica furrowed her brows and looked back at her friend. She was concerned she might have been too bold in her move and it had backfired. A teardrop rolled down her face.
Taeyeon wiped the tear off Jessica’s face with her index finger and brushed Jessica’s bangs to one side.
“Sica, my dear Sica. Actually, I’ve been planning for this day for the past week. I wanted to confess to you today but you beat me to it. Silly girl, you spoilt my wonderful moment. I should be the one confessing first since I’m older.” Taeyeon pouted, folded her arms across her chest and pretended to sulked.
Tears started rolling down Jessica’s face uncontrollably. She started hitting Taeyeon with both hands. “You meanie! You made me so worried just now! I thought I was going to lose a friend for sure if you had rejected me!”
“Ouch! Stop hitting me already. You wouldn’t want your loved one to end up with bruises all over, right?” Taeyeon teased.
“No, I don’t care! You gave me such a fright just now,” Jessica whined, not stopping a moment at all.
“Hey, I should be the one getting angry first. You shocked me with your sudden kiss and caused me to be momentarily loss for words. Hmm…I’m pretty sure it was a sweet one since I just had some cotton candy.”
“Ya, Kim Taeyeon! You’re still in the mood for jokes at this time?!” Jessica pouted.
“Have I ever told you that you look incredibly cute when you pout? And that I’ve always wanted to kiss you whenever you pout? So I suppose I can do it right now since we’re kinda official?” Taeyeon winked and gave Jessica a peck on her cheek before she could answer.
“I didn’t get a proper taste of your cotton candy flavoured lips earlier. Let me try it again,” Jessica wrapped her arms around Taeyeon’s neck and pressed her lips against Taeyeon’s.
“Sica…Sica…we’re reaching the bottom soon,” Taeyeon mouthed amidst the numerous kisses Jessica had showered upon her.
The two girls held hands; fingers intertwined and left the cabin with big smiles on their faces.
After dinner, Taeyeon and Jessica arrived at the service apartment where Jessica was staying.
“Thanks for the ride. Would you like to come up to my room for a cup of tea? It would be good to wash away the unhealthy street food we just ate.”
Taeyeon hesitated for a while before nodding her head. “Oh ok, sure.”
“Here you go, your favourite earl grey tea.”
“Thank you. This apartment’s pretty cosy. Must have cost you a lot of money to rent.”
“Not really, it’s cheaper than the hotel I had initially wanted to stay. Please give me a moment while I go to the washroom. Meanwhile you can turn on the TV and explore the rest of the place.” Jessica grabbed some stuff from her luggage bag and went into the washroom.
Taeyeon strolled around the single bedroom apartment, running her fingers along the oak furniture in the room. She walked towards the window, pulled open the curtains and admired the sights of the city from the twentieth floor.
Wow, what a beautiful night view of the city. It would make such a nice postcard.
She formed a square with her hands and tried to picture how the view would look like through a camera lens. She slowly stepped backwards, still engrossed in the view outside.
Ouch! That hurts…sheesshh, why am I so careless? Aish, something dropped onto the floor.
Taeyeon bent down and saw something glistening at the opening of the black velvet pouch which had dropped from the bedside table. It was a silver bracelet that fell out of the pouch. She knelt down to pick up the bracelet and pouch. Taeyeon’s heart sank when she saw the bracelet. She looked at the reverse side of the bracelet and confirmed her suspicions when she saw the engraving.
Baby J, You are my everything.
There was a small card inside the pouch. Unable to resist the temptation, Taeyeon took the card out of the pouch. She opened the card and traced her fingers across every single word that was handwritten inside.
Hearing the click of the door, Taeyeon quickly stuffed the bracelet and the card back into the pouch and placed it back onto the bedside table.
“Taeyeon, you look quite pale. Are you alright?”
“I…I’m fine. Probably just tired from the studio work this morning,” Taeyeon lied. Her heart was beating very fast and her hands were sweaty.
“It’s my fault for keeping you till late, forgetting that you had to work this morning. If you’re too tired to drive back, you can spend the night here. There’s a spare sofa bed in the living room. I can loan you some clothes.”
“It’s ok. Maybe I ate too much and am having a slight indigestion. I better get going. Thanks for the tea.”
“Thanks for the ride. Let’s meet up again when you’re free. Shall I walk you to the lobby?”
“I’ll make the way to my car myself. You better get some rest. You look tired. Good night, Sica.”
“Alright then. Good night Taeyeon, drive safe. Text me when you reach home.”
Jessica watched the small figure disappeared around the corner, as Taeyeon headed for the lift.
I wonder what happened to her. It’s definitely not indigestion. She was perfectly fine when I offered her the tea. What happened while I was in the washroom?
Taeyeon felt her phone vibrate as she unlocked the door to her apartment.
‘Have you reached home yet? –J’
‘Yes, just arrived. –TY’
‘I had a great time tonite, I hope u enjoyed urself too. –J’
‘Yup, thks for the treat. J –TY’
‘No worries, next meal’s on u? –J’
‘Sure. Aren’t u tired? Go sleep. –TY’
‘I just showered, feeling quite awake now. –J’
‘Have a glass of warm milk & sleep, else u’ll end up with panda eyes. –TY’
‘LOL! R u feeling better? Rem to take med if ur tummy is still upset. –J’
‘Much better already. Gonna shower. Good nite. –TY’
‘Good nite. Sweet dreams Taeyeonie. J –J’
Taeyeon read the last message twice and threw her phone on the dining table. She grabbed a beer from the fridge and gulped it down quickly, hoping the cold liquid would numb her heart. She stared blankly into the air, not wanting to do anything.
After a long while, Taeyeon decided to take a cold shower before starting her editing work. She crushed the empty can and threw it into the bin. She stripped off her clothes, stepped into the shower and let the cold water run all over her.
Like a waterfall, tears started to flow down Taeyeon’s face. She stood under the shower motionless for a long time, hoping the cold water would wash away the pain. She finally washed up and got out of the shower. She open a box hidden below her bed and took out a dusty old album. Flipping through the pages of photos, she couldn’t help but cry again.
That night, Taeyeon collapsed onto her bed, soaked her pillow with her tears and fell asleep hugging the photo album against her chest.
The next morning, Jessica decided to pop by the bookstore to grab some magazines to read. As she was browsing through the various publications, she felt someone tug at the hem of her blouse. Jessica looked up from her magazine and saw a little girl in pigtails standing next to her.
“Unnie, could you please help me get that Pororo magazine? I’m not tall enough to reach for it.”
“Sure, here you go little girl.” Jessica smiled and handed the girl her magazine.
“Thank you Unnie! You’re so pretty and helpful. My mummy said good things will come to people with a good heart,” the little girl kissed the back of Jessica’s hand and ran towards her mother.
What a cute little girl. Her actions remind me of her. Lately, every other thing reminds me of her. The café, the things I eat, the magazines I’m reading…even coming to the bookstore reminds me of her. I wonder if I would get to accomplish what I’ve set out to do during this trip back here.
Autumn 2005 – Library Memories
“Baby, could you bring the stool for me please? I can’t reach the book on the shelf.”
“Shorty Taeyeonie, here’s your stool. You could have asked me to get the book for you.”
“Thanks baby, I wanted to browse a few books on that shelf. Don’t want to trouble you for every single book I wanna take.” Taeyeon bent forward and gave Jessica a light peck on her left brow. “I’ll be here for a while, go do your stuff and we’ll meet at the study table.”
“Aww…but I’ll be so bored if I go to the Business section by myself.” Jessica pouted.
“You just wanna get a kiss from me right? Naughty girl! Go go! Don’t be such a lazy girl!” Taeyeon bent down again and gave a light peck on Jessica’s cheek before nudging her in the direction of the Business section.
Jessica made a peace sign and walked away happily.
The couple stood outside the library, their arms filled with books, trying to decide where to go for dessert.
“Aish! My shoelaces came loose. Baby, please hold the books for me. Meanwhile, what would you like to have for dessert?” Taeyeon asked as she bent down to tie her shoelaces.
“Hmm…it’s such a warm day. How about waffles with ice cream or patbingsoo?,” Jessica replied.
“Aww…baby this, baby that. Stop all that mushy stuff! It’s grossing me out! Can’t understand what Jessica sees in you, shorty!” A loud voice boomed.
The girls turned around to see a tall girl with very short hair staring at them.
“Jessica, are you seriously going out with this shorty? She’s nothing great. No money, no looks, no height. You ought to hang out with me instead. I can definitely treat you like a Princess. This is what you deserve.”
“Shut up, Nicole! Jessica has made her choice and it’s clearly not you. Whoever she chose is also none of your business.”
“Wow, I’m sooo scared. You look like such a weakling. Such fair complexion and scrawny limbs, even Jessica has to help you carry your books.” Nicole was trying all ways to annoy Taeyeon. She had been trying to get into Jessica’s good books but had obviously failed.
Taeyeon was seething with anger as she clenched her fist. She wanted to land a punch on Nicole’s face. It took all her might to hold it in for Jessica’s sake.
“Stop bothering us. I’ve never liked you and I’ve already made it clear to you from the start. Let’s go, Taeyeon,” Jessica held Taeyeon’s hand. She could feel Taeyeon tightening her grip around her palm.
As the two girls walked away, Nicole stuck her foot out and tripped Taeyeon on purpose. Taeyeon slipped and hit her face against the metal railing. Fortunately, Jessica managed to hold onto Taeyeon, preventing her from falling flat onto the floor.
“This is my farewell present to the both of you. Enjoy your courtship,” Nicole said sarcastically and left.
“Taeyeonie, are you alright? There’s a cut on your lips. My poor baby,” Jessica cupped Taeyeon’s face and wiped the blood with her thumb.
“Don’t worry, it’s just a little bit of blood. My teeth are still intact. Haha!” Taeyeon joked, breaking into a wide toothy grin.
“I know you’re angry but thank you for controlling yourself. It wasn’t easy but you did it! I’m so proud of you! Nicole was being such an idiot. She just wouldn’t back off and I really hope that was the last time we’re going to see her. Here, let me heal the wound.” Jessica leaned closer and sealed her lover’s mouth with a kiss.
“Oh..hmm…it’s…much better now…hmmm…instant relief…”
“Alright, you’ve been healed. Let’s go for our dessert now!” Jessica smacked Taeyeon’s butt before picking up the books from the floor.
“Last one’s there shall foot the bill!” Jessica yelled as she ran away.
“Hey, that’s cheating! Wait for me!” Taeyeon picked up her bag and chased after Jessica.
“Baby, let’s go to the History section.”
“I don’t recall you taking any cross faculty modules in History? Why do you need to go to there? It’s at the far end of the library and it’s always dimly lit.”
“That’s the whole point! It’s dim, quiet and suitable for…you know…” Taeyeon whispered in a seductive tone and gave her a mischievous wink.
“You pervy girl! God knows what ideas you have in mind. We’re supposed to be doing proper work in the library.”
“Aww…come on! It’s always nice to have an appetizer before you start on the main course,” Taeyeon gave a light smack on Jessica’ butt.
Before Jessica could answer, Taeyeon had already begun to drag her towards the last aisle of the History section, away from the crowd in the library.
“Hey, that tickles!” Jessica giggled as Taeyeon planted a trail of kisses on her neck.
“Ssshhh…we’re in the library,” Taeyeon whispered.
“Taeyeonie, someone’s coming!” Taeyeon immediately backed away from Jessica and randomly grabbed a book from the shelf, pretending to flip through the pages. Meanwhile, Jessica was busy adjusting the collar of her blouse, hoping no one notices anything unusual.
The student who came to the last aisle sensed something was amiss. She grabbed her book and left quickly.
“Shall we continue from where we left off?” Taeyeon said in a suggestive tone and pressed Jessica against the row of shelves before she could react.
“Pervy Taeng! You’re horrible! But…I like…you this way…”
Two girls were sitting opposite each other at a table in the library, poring through the stacks of books on the table.
Suddenly Jessica jumped out of her seat, causing a commotion in the library. She bowed apologetically to the people around her and sat down.
“Baby, don’t do that to me. It’s ticklish!” Jessica hissed, her face turning crimson red.
“What did I do?” Taeyeon put on an innocent face as she tried to suppress her laughter.
“Don’t pretend. You were trying to use your toes to rub against my thigh. That’s ticklish!”
“Aww…I thought it was the table leg,” Taeyeon chuckled.
“Naughty girl, you’ll get it from me later on. Focus! Don’t be distracted! We need to complete this part of the assignment by today.”
“Aww…alright.” Taeyeon pouted.
Moments later, Jessica leapt out of her seat again, this time, knocking over some books on the table. Once again, she bowed apologetically to the people around her and hurriedly picked the books up.
“Baby, I told you not to do that to me again! See, everyone’s staring at us,” said Jessica in a frustrated tone, eyebrows creased.
“No, they’re staring at you, not me. I’m innocently sitting here, reading my books like a studious teenager.” Taeyeon hummed a tune, put on her puppy eyed look as she nonchalantly flipped through her book.
“Ok, I give up. I know you’re dying to go for your dessert. Let’s pack up and leave. I can’t concentrate with you doing funny things under the table and starling me every now and then.”
“Yay! Baby J’s the best!” Taeyeon placed the books back onto the shelves in lightning speed, even offering to help Jessica return hers.
“Sooyeon, you must have having a great time partying at the clubs in LA. I heard the DJs are fantastic!”
“Ya, why didn’t you bring a Caucasian boyfriend back to show us? Don’t be selfish and introduce some cute guys to us too, alright? Afterall, we’ve been friends for so long.”
“Ya ya, I didn’t go back to LA to party my life away. I’m a busy woman. You girls should know how my Daddy is like. Anyway, we’re gathered here to have fun so don’t talk about work! Let’s cheers!” Jessica raised her glass. She was hanging out with some old friends at a pub near her service apartment. It was a mini reunion for them, as some were also working overseas in other countries.
“Anyone up for more drinks? It’s my treat!” Jessica offered. “Yay!” a chorus of cheers rang and the rest of the girls placed their orders.
“Hello, can I have two red wine and two glasses of screwdriver please? Thanks!” Jessica placed her order with the bartender. She glanced at the people sitting around the bar area. It was a Thursday night and surprisingly there were not many people around. She noticed a familiar blonde hair figure sitting at the end of the bar counter with her head on the table.
That person looks like Taeyeon. She seems to be alone. Why would she come all the way here to have a drink since her house is not nearby? Hmm..probably she just finished a photography assignment in the vincinity. Shall go over and say hi later.
“Here are the drinks, girls. Excuse me for a while, I saw a friend at the bar counter. Don’t get too drunk without me!” Jessica handed the drinks to her friends before making her way back to the girl at the bar counter.
“Taeyeon?” Jessica tapped the girl’s shoulder.
Taeyeon slowly rose from the table and turned around to face Jessica. Her eyes were blood shot and puffy. She had been drinking at the bar since evening.
“Taeyeon, are you alright? You looked like you had a lot to drink. Taeyeon? What happened to you?” Jessica was shaking Taeyeon gently by her shoulders.
“Sica? Is that you? Ahh…I didn’t drink much. I’m still sober. See? I can still count. 1, 2…6…9…” Taeyeon gave a weak smile and started counting the number of beer bottles on the counter.
“Miss, is she your friend? I would suggest you send her home. She had been drinking for the past two hours. She had two bottles of beer, two shots of vodka and two long island teas. I tried to stop her from drinking but she was making a din and I had no choice. Also, the bottles of beer have not been paid yet,” the bartender said.
“Sure, I’ll pay for her. Please watch her for me for a minute while I say goodbye to my friends over there. I’ll be right back,” Jessica dashed off and muttered several apologies to her friends before returning to Taeyeon’s side.
Jessica placed Taeyeon’s arm over her shoulder and both girls made their way out of the pub. Thankfully Jessica managed to flag a cab within a few minutes. She directed the driver to her service apartment since it was much nearer.
Taeyeon rested her head on Jessica’s shoulder. She looked very dazed and was mumbling every now and then.
“Taeyeonie, why did you drink so much? I’ve never seen you drinking like this. Did something happen to you? You can tell me about it, don’t keep everything inside of you., Jessica said gently while patting Taeyeon’s arm. “It pains my heart to see you like this, my poor baby.”
“Don’t leave me, please don’t go. I promise I’ll work hard, no, I’ll work doubly hard. Just don’t leave me…you’re my everything…”
“Okay, we’re here. Come on, just a bit more.” Jessica struggled to open her apartment door while trying to support a drunken Taeyeon with her body. She managed to drag Taeyeon all the way to her bedroom and laid her down on the bed. She took off Taeyeon’s shoes and pulled a blanket to cover her body.
“Sica, I’m not drunk! I wanna drink, give me a beer!” Taeyeon yelled. Jessica placed a warm towel over Taeyeon’s forehead. The next instant, Taeyeon turned to the side of the bed and started puking. Fortunately Jessica had prepared a pail and the mess was minimized. She was rubbing Taeyeon’s back as she saw the poor girl hunched over the pail vomiting.
“Here you go, a bottle of beer for you. Quick finish it,” Jessica coaxed as she handed Taeyeon a bottle of water after Taeyeon had finished vomiting. Taeyeon gulped the water in hurry, spilling it everywhere.
Sigh, some of the vomit stained her blouse. I think I should change it for her, else it’s gonna stink tomorrow morning.
Jessica grabbed a clean tee from her wardrobe. She climbed onto the bed, straddling Taeyeon and started unbuttoning Taeyeon’s blouse. She could feel her face turning red and her heart beating faster. She tried to suppress any feelings that were filling her mind.
I’m just helping a friend to change clothes coz she’s drunk. That’s all.
Unfortunately, Taeyeon’s necklace got caught on one of the buttons. Jessica tried her best to remove it as soon as she could in case Taeyeon woke up. She quickly put the new tee on the sleeping girl and climbed out of the bed. She brought the necklace near the bedside lamp so that she could have a better look at it.
Jessica teared up as she read the words which were engraved on the familiar heart-shaped pendant.
Taeyeonie, Thank you for giving me the gift of you. C.C.K. 4eva
“Cotton candy kisses forever. Taeyeonie, can you remember what happened that night? I can still picture the scene vividly in my mind. We were in the Ferris wheel, watching the fireworks at the amusement park. You wanted to confess but I beat you to it. You were sulking after that. Silly girl, it doesn’t matter who said it first as long as our feelings for each other are true.” Unable to hold back her emotions, Jessica swept Taeyeon’s hair to one side and placed a light peck on her forehead.
Holding onto the necklace, Jessica sat on the floor next to the bed. She propped her head on her hands and looked at the girl who was sleeping soundly, studying her every feature.
Her face looks so angelic and innocent when she sleeps, just like a little kid. Her lashes, her small nose, the curl of her lips…I missed you, Taeyeonie. You have no idea how much I missed you.
Without realizing it was quite late, Jessica finally gave in to sleep. She rested her head on the bed and fell asleep next to Taeyeon.
Taeyeon stretched her arms and opened her eyes.
“Aish! Must have drunk too much last night. The headache’s killing me. Where am I?”
Taeyeon got up and sat by the side of the bed, rubbing her temples. She heard a soft knock and the bedroom door opened.
“Good morning Taeyeon, are you feeling better today? I made you some breakfast,” a familiar gentle voice said.
Taeyeon stared at the taller girl who was approaching her. Jessica was wearing a loose fit t-shirt which showed off her shoulders and a pair of shorts. Taeyeon wouldn’t help but stare at Jessica as she placed the tray on the bedside table. The scent of freshly made waffles filled the room.
“These are plain waffles, something to fill your stomach before you take your medicine. Sorry I don’t have much food here since I’m not staying for the long term. I had to change your clothes, as you vomited quite a fair bit last night. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Thanks, I’m sorry for causing such inconvenience to you. I hope I didn’t utter any nonsense in my drunken stupor last night,” said Taeyeon apologetically.
“Don’t worry, you didn’t say anything at all. You fell sound asleep like a baby, though I did hear some snoring,” Jessica chuckled.
“Aish! Really?! I didn’t know I snored. I mean, you didn’t mention about it last time,” Taeyeon replied. She suddenly realized what she had just said and blushed.
“I’m only kidding. Quick take a bite and wash it down with some warm water. Say ahhhh…” Jessica picked up a small piece of waffle with her fork and held it in front of Taeyeon’s mouth.
Taeyeon held Jessica’s hand to keep it steady as she ate the waffle. She quickly released the grip when she realized the waffle was long gone and only the fork remained. Taeyeon looked down hurriedly, avoiding Jessica’s gaze. Jessica merely smiled and placed the fork in Taeyeon’s hand.
“I’ll leave you here to finish up the rest of the food. Remember to take the medicine when you’re done. I’ll be out in the living room watching television.” After she finished her sentence, Jessica left the bedroom and closed the door behind her.
This waffle surprisingly tastes sweet though it’s only a plain one. I think my taste buds must have been screwed up after last night. Of all days, Jessica had to be hanging out at the same pub. I guess I can’t complain since I’ve always hope I would bump into her by chance if I hang out at places near her service apartment. It’s just the wrong state of mind to be in when she saw me. Sigh,why did I end up drinking so much last night…
Taeyeon walked out of the bedroom after finishing her breakfast. She saw a head of brown hair sitting at the couch in the living room. Jessica was busy channel surfing and didn’t notice Taeyeon’s presence.
“Hey, nothing nice to watch on cable?” Taeyeon said as she sat down on the couch, next to Jessica. The couch was a relatively small one and Taeyeon didn’t mind the close contact she had with Jessica. At least, it didn’t felt as awkward as she had expected.
“Ya, just some boring kids programs and cookery shows. Do you feel slightly better now?” Jessica propped her chin using her legs.
“Yup, the waffles tasted great. It’s a pity I couldn’t have vanilla ice cream to go with it,” Taeyeon sulked. She brought her legs on the couch and hugged them.
“I’ll get you a proper waffle with ice cream next time. Your hair’s messy, let me comb it for you,” Jessica brushed her fingers through Taeyeon’s hair, soothing out the stray ends.
Forever nagging about my messy hair. And everytime, she will end up combing it for me. The feel of her slender fingers running through my hair soothes my mood and makes me feel relaxed each time.
“I think you better take a day off work today if there’s nothing urgent. You need some rest. We can go back to the pub to pick up your car and I can drive you home.”
“Ah…yes. I’ve completed most of my stuff. I’m only left some editing work but that can wait.”
“That’s good. Are you ready to leave? Let me grab my bag and we can go.”
“Are you sure you can drive? I can drive you home and catch a cab back to my place later. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’m fine, don’t worry. Your waffles gave me energy! See, I’m completely sober after a good night’s rest.,” Taeyeon chirped.
“Haha, that’s good to hear. I shall take my leave. Drive safe, Taeyeon. Text me when you reach home.”
Just as Jessica turned around to leave, Taeyeon held onto Jessica’s arm.
“Sica, do you have anything on today? Since I’m taking the day off and tomorrow is the weekend, I could be your tour guide and bring you around.”
“Oh, would that be too troublesome for you? It’s not like I don’t know Seoul at all. I can get around on the buses and trains.”
“I mean, it’s always easier to get around using a car than depend on public transport.”
“Well, if you don’t mind, why not?”
Taeyeon parked her car by the Han River. Both girls got out of the car and strolled along the riverside.
Jessica leaned over a railing and took a deep breath. “It feels good to breathe the refreshing Seoul air after being away for so long.”
“I’ve always loved the Han River. It’s such a beautiful place to take photos any season of the year.”
“I remember I used to accompany you on your photography walkabouts here. It was so cold in winter! I was always holding onto a hot cup of coffee while waiting for you to finish.”
“Ah yes, you did. Well, I didn’t force you to come along. You’ve always liked to tag along and enjoyed being my model for my shots,” Taeyeon laughed as she recalled the past moments.
Jessica spotted a familiar landmark afar and pointed at it. “Taeyeon, is that the block of apartments we…”
“Yup. That’s the one…” Taeyeon cut Jessica off. The two girls stood next to each other in awkward silence. Memories of the past started flooding both Taeyeon and Jessica’s minds.
One evening, Taeyeon and Jessica met at the roof top of a block of apartments. It overlooked most of the city. The lights of the city glowed warmly in the cool autumn night. Summer had just turned into autumn and a cool breeze was blowing. Brown leaves rustled in the trees nearby. Jessica huddled close to Taeyeon, trying to get some of her warmth. Taeyeon wrapped her arm around the taller girl’s waist and hugged her tight. She took out a warm blanket from her bag and covered their legs.
“Baby J..” “Taeyeonie…” Both girls spoke simultaneously.
“You go ahead first,” Taeyeon said.
“No, you first. Last time you were annoyed because you said you are older and wanted to be the first to say, so this time it’s all yours.”
“No, this is a different matter. You should go first. I can tell from your eyes you’re dying to give me my wonderful present right away. You’ve been fiddling with the box since we arrived. ”
“Oh, so now the younger person gets the privilege? Fickle-minded shorty. Close your eyes. Don’t open it until I tell you to, else I’ll smack your forehead.”
Taeyeon obediently closed her eyes and waited in anticipation. Jessica fished out a necklace with heart-shaped pendant from a box and gingerly placed the necklace around Taeyeon’s neck.
Taeyeon twitched upon feeling the cold metal pendant touching her skin. She opened her eyes and looked at the pendant.
Taeyeon ran her finger across the engraving behind the pendant and read it aloud.
Taeyeonie, Thank you for giving me the gift of you. C.C.K. 4eva
“Taeyeonie, I’ll always love you, until the day I close my eyes at rest. Thank you for being there with me and I wish for many more happy memories to come. Let’s grow old together. Happy 100th day anniversary, darling.” Jessica cooed.
“Awww…you’re such a cheesy baby. Thank you, I love this gift but I love you more. Too bad I didn’t prepare any cotton candy today. Let’s take a rain check for that. For now, how about a grape flavoured one instead?” Taeyeon winked as she quickly applied some lip gloss. She tugged a loose strand of hair behind Jessica’s ear and gave her a slow and romantic kiss.
The two girls finally parted their lips and gazed lovingly at each other.
“Hmm…that tasted quite good as well. Looks like I’ll need to buy you a different lip gloss each month so we can try out all the fruity flavours,” Jessica giggled.
Taeyeon cleaned off an excess bit of lip gloss from Jessica’s lower lip with her finger. She licked her finger and said teasingly, “Every month? There’re so many flavours available. How about every week instead?”
“Oh my, you’re really incorrigible!” Jessica flicked Taeyeon’s forehead.
“Aww…I know you’ll still love me for it. Baby J, here’s my little gift for you. I hope you like it. Let me put it on for you.” Taeyeon took out a shiny silver bracelet and put it around Jessica’s wrist. “I’ve also written you a card. Go ahead and read it.”
Jessica rested her head on Taeyeon’s shoulders, stretched her arm out, admiring the bracelet on her wrist against the moonlight.
“Taeyeonie, I want you to read it to me. I want to hear those words from your mouth,” Jessica whispered into Taeyeon’s ear.
Taeyeon blushed and planted a kiss on Jessica’s left brow. She opened the card, cleared her throat and began to read.
Dearest Baby J, you know that I’m not good at expressing myself with words, so I’ve found a song which conveys my message perfectly.
You Are My Everything – Chung Ha Yoon, Secret Garden OST
You are my everything
I’ll be your last shining star
I want to shine for you
I’m looking forward to see you everyday
It always excites me
Perhaps something like this must be love
Always together, keep our eyes open
I dream of that day to come
You’re my everything
For I will be your light
I love you , I will love you
I love you
You’re my everything
Your one and only Baby Taeyeonie
As soon as Taeyeon had finished reading, she felt Jessica wrap her arms around her neck, closing the distance between them. Jessica’s lips soon found her way to Taeyeon’s and both girls were engaged in a passionate kiss.
“Have I told you that you look so dorky when you turn as red as tomato, especially after we kissed?” Jessica burst out laughing and pinched Taeyeon’s cheeks.
Taeyeon ruffled her short blonde hair and tried to use it to cover her ever reddening face. Jessica brushed Taeyeon’s hair with her fingers and combed every strand back into position. Taeyeon repeated her action again and Jessica combed it back neatly again. Both girls kept going at it for a few times until Taeyeon finally gave up and looked up into the night sky.
Jessica suddenly had a serious look on her face. She gripped Taeyeon’s shoulders firmly and said, “I’m going to ask you a very serious question now. You have to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth. If you lie to me, you will….you will…you will be banned from eating ice cream for the rest of your life!”
Taeyeon sat up in shock and nodded rapidly. Being banned from eating ice cream was like asking her to stop breathing.
“What…what? Ok ok, I promise it’s the truth.” Taeyeon crossed her heart with her finger.
Jessica glared at Taeyeon and asked, “Previously, you mentioned that your camera is your precious baby. So now, tell me what positions do the camera and me stand in your heart? Who is more important?”
Taeyeon heaved a sigh of relief. She was expecting a tougher question than that and was thankful this was an easy one to answer. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.
“The camera is number one…” Jessica’s face turned dark upon hearing that and she raised her fist, about to hit Taeyeon.
“Wait! Let me finish. The camera is number one but you’re number zero. Always in my heart, never to be replaced,” Taeyeon held Jessica’s hand and placed her hand on her heart.
Jessica broke free from Taeyeon’s grip and pinched her. Taeyeon yelped. “Why did you do that for?”
“Serve you right for not finishing your sentence fast enough.” Jessica stuck out her tongue at Taeyeon.
“Such a violent girl!” Taeyeon shook her head and sighed.
“It’s not too late to change your mind,” Jessica huffed and attempted to walk away.
Taeyeon circled Jessica’s waist with both arms and pulled her back into her embrace. “Ya, silly baby! I’m only joking, can’t you tell?”
Jessica made a sad face at Taeyeon and pretended to wipe tears away from her face.
“I’ll never let you go, no matter what it takes. I love you for as long as I live,” Taeyeon whispered into Jessica’s ear, gentle patting her hair. She turned sideways and planted a light peck on Jessica’ forehead.
“Taeyeonie, I’m gonna love you with every single breathe I take. This I promise you.”
The two girls remained in an embrace, huddled in the comfort of the blanket, while admiring the starry night sky at the rooftop that night.
“Taeyeonie, I’ve something to tell you.”
Taeyeon replied Jessica, her eyes still glued to the National Geographic channel on the television. “Yes, baby?”
“It might be a good idea to put your hot chocolate on the table first before I continue.”
That sentence caught Taeyeon’s attention. She looked at her girlfriend, raising an eyebrow.
“Are you going to surprise me with a new flavor of lip gloss again? What is it this time? Strawberry? Watermelon?”
“No darling. I need to tell you something important. Promise you’ll let me finish before you say anything ok?”
“Hmm…sounds fishy. Alright, I promise.” Taeyeon reluctantly placed her mug of hot chocolate onto the table. She hugged her legs and looked at Jessica, waiting for her to continue.
“Taeyeon…” Taeyeon didn’t like the sound of Jessica calling her in such a formal manner. She had a bad feeling about this conversation.
“Remember I told you my Daddy was in town last week to settle some business matters? He told me the LA head office is doing very well and now he wants to open a new office in Long Beach. He’s asking me to go back to work for him and oversee the operations at Long Beach.”
“What are you trying to tell me?” Taeyeon raised her voice by a tone, as she tried to absorb the news that was given to her.
“I have to leave Seoul and go back to LA. I need to leave in four days’ time. I tried to tell Daddy that I want to find a job here, not work in his company but…I’m not given a choice. He doesn’t want to listen to me at all. I’m his elder daughter so he’s pinning all his hopes on me. Krystal’s still too young to learn the ropes of the business,” Jessica started sobbing. “I’m…so sorry, Taeyeonie…”
Taeyeon stood up from the couch in shock. “You’re telling me you are going to give up everything here and just leave?”
Jessica didn’t reply and continued sobbing. Tears were rolling down her face uncontrollably.
“What about us?! What about me?! Have you thought of how I would feel? You knew about this earlier and only inform me now?! You told me you had a discussion with your dad and he was okay with you staying in Seoul. Why the sudden change in decision?”
Taeyeon raised her voice and swung her arms around in disbelief. She accidentally knocked over her mug of hot chocolate and the hot brown liquid spilled all over the table and carpet. The mug broke into several pieces as it landed onto the floor. One of the broken pieces cut Taeyeon’s palm and it was bleeding.
“Taeyeonie, your hand’s bleeding. Let me get the first aid kit,” Jessica said softly, between sobs.
“Jessica Jung, come with me! To the room. Now!” Taeyeon forcefully grabbed Jessica by her arm and pulled her towards the room.
“You’re hurting me.” Those words fell onto deaf ears as Taeyeon stomped into the bedroom, tightening her grip on Jessica’s arm with every step. Jessica stumbled as she tried to keep up with Taeyeon.
“Look here! We spent days, weeks, even months building this wall of memories. You tell me you’re willing to leave behind all these, just to pacify your dad? Why can’t he get Krystal to manage the business then? Why, why must it be you and only you?!”
Taeyeon pointed to a wall filled with photographs as she raged. Memories of their 100th day anniversary, fun times at the amusement park, Han River and the occasional road trips to the outer regions of Seoul were plastered all over the wall.
“Taeyeon, Krystal’s only fifteen and still in high school. How do you expect her to manage a branch office by herself? Business plans change along the way. Unfortunately work on the Seoul branch couldn’t materialize and Daddy has decided to focus on the States first. Come on, be reasonable.”
“So now I’m the one at fault because I’m unreasonable? Fine, go, go as far as you want. Don’t ever come back. I don’t want to see you again! This wall of memories means nothing to you anyway!” Taeyeon ripped the photos from the wall one by one and threw them onto the floor.
“Taeyeon, don’t do this, please! I beg of you. I don’t want to leave you either. It’s not easy for me too. Please try to understand my position. I’m not given a choice. Taeyeon ah…” Jessica was practically begging for Taeyeon to stop ripping the photos from the wall as she fell into her knees. She tried to hold onto Taeyeon’s arms but failed. Taeyeon was too strong for her, especially when she was filled with anger.
Taeyeon’s eyes were filled with warm tears. “Those promises you made…about not leaving me forever…those empty promises you made. They mean nothing to you at all? Nothing at all? I’m so disappointed with you, Jessica. I have nothing else to say to you.”
Taeyeon grabbed her jacket off the clothes rack, stuffed her wallet into her jacket pocket and stomped out of the house, slamming the door behind her.
Droplets of tears stained the photos which were strewn all over the floor. Jessica sat down on the floor, crying uncontrollably as she picked up the photos one by one.
“Hello? Sunny, have you seen Taeyeon? No? Oh ok, sorry to bother you.”
“Hey Tiffany, has Taeyeon been to your place? Oh, it’s nothing. We just had a small argument. Everything’s fine. Catch up with you next time.”
Taeyeon ah, where have you been? You’ve not been home for the past two days. Are you roaming the streets? You didn’t bring a thick jacket with you the last time. The night’s quite cold, please don’t fall ill.
Taeyeon ah, even if you don’t want to see me again, please reply my message to tell me that you’re safe and sound.
Taeyeonie, it’s so hard to live each day without you. My heart aches for you every moment of the day, every step I walk, every breath I take.
Taeyeonie, I know you’ll understand my position some day. It’s hard for me to leave you but I can’t defy my Daddy’s wishes. Loving you always.
Taeyeonie, hope you’re somewhere safe. I’ve cleaned up your home for you. Bought your fav vanilla ice cream and frozen waffles. They’re in the freezer.
Taeyeonie, I’ll be leaving Seoul tomorrow morning. I miss you and I love you. Baby, you’re the best gift I’ve ever had. Always remember that.
“Final call for passengers on Asiana flight to Los Angeles, please report to the boarding gate right now.”
“Hey girls, thanks for seeing me off. Keep in touch via Facebook and email ok?” Jessica hugged her friends one by one.
Tiffany patted Jessica’s back. “Don’t worry, if we hear any news of Taeyeon, we’ll keep you updated. She has probably just gone on a short break to clear her mind. I guess the news was too sudden for her.”
Jessica nodded her head sadly and took one last glance around the departure hall.
I can sense that she’s here. Why doesn’t she come and say goodbye?
With a heavy heart, she pulled her luggage and made her way to the boarding gate.
A small figure in a navy cap sat at the viewing gallery at the airport terminal. Taeyeon stood up from the chair and walked towards the glass panel. As the plane made its way to the runway, Taeyeon blew hot breath onto the glass panel and wrote :
Baby J, you’re my everything
The mist soon disappeared, just like the plane which was taking off from the runway. Taeyeon watched in silence as the plane disappeared into the clouds.
“Taeng, she’s gone. I’m sure she isn’t have the best time in her life now either. Let’s go home. You need to go back to your house and start life afresh,” Sunny gave Taeyeon a friendly rub on her back.
“Ya Taeng, cheer up! It’s not the end of the world, you still have us.” Tiffany placed her arm around Taeyeon’s shoulder and gave her a squeeze.
Dragging her feet, Taeyeon left the airport accompanied by her friends and made her way home. To the home which she left a week ago, to the empty home which she no longer shared with her loved one.
“Taeyeonie…” A soothing voice, a familiar nickname.
Taeyeon turned around and looked at the girl beside her. Jessica’s long brown hair was fluttering in the breeze. She gazed into those beautiful brown eyes and felt her heart beat faster.
Jessica took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She willed all her might and said, “I need to tell you something before I go back to LA. If I don’t say it today, I’ll probably live to regret it.”
Taeyeon swallowed hard, fearing the worst. “Yes? What is it?”
Jessica bit her lower lip and continued, “I missed you. Taeyeonie, I missed you so much, it hurts to breathe because every breath I take reminds me that I can’t live without you. Every single day in the past five years, I’ve never stopped thinking about you. I bury myself at work everyday, hoping that I would forget about you but I can’t.”
Taeyeon continued to stare at Jessica, trying to remain expressionless. She had never been good in these types of situations, these vulnerable moments where she felt her feelings were written all over her face.
A teardrop appeared at the corner of Jessica’s eye. “That day at the airport, I knew you were there. Why didn’t you come and say goodbye? I was so worried about you. I left you several messages but you didn’t reply any of them at all.”
Soon, tears started to roll down Jessica’s face. “I wanted to know that you were alright before I left Seoul. I just wanted to…”
All of a sudden, Taeyeon wrapped her arms around Jessica’s neck, silencing her with her lips. She inhaled that familiar floral scented shampoo and everything felt just right. She let out her pent up frustrations, and poured all her emotions into this physical contact which she had been longing for the past few years.
Jessica was startled by Taeyeon’s abrupt move. She had braced herself for rejection but was pleasantly rewarded instead. She placed her arms around Taeyeon’s waist and pulled her close.
Finally Taeyeon broke free, gasping for air. Jessica couldn’t help but giggled at the sight of the red-faced kid.
“Dorky Taeyeonie.” Jessica gave Taeyeon a peck on her nose.
“Baby J, you’ve no idea how much I missed you. Tiffany told me that you were coming back to Seoul for a short trip. Since then, I’ve been roaming around our usual hang outs, hoping to catch a glimpse of you. Several times I saw you and wanted to approach you but my pride stood in the way. I wanted to go up to you, and tell you not to leave me again, but each time I chickened out and walked away. Like a fool, I’ve been thinking about you every day and night. I got your mobile number from Tiffany but I just couldn’t bring myself to dial those digits.”
Taeyeon held Jessica’s hands firmly and continued, “The worst thing about getting your heart broken is going to sleep and knowing you’re going to wake up and nothing has changed. I’m nothing without you. This time I’m never gonna let you go again.”
“I’m here now, standing right in front of you. I won’t disappear anymore. I’m so glad we meet again. Shall we start afresh, my dearest Taeyeonie?” Jessica winked. “Where shall we begin? We need to make up for our lost time. Let’s make new memories!”
Taeyeon used her sleeve to dry the tears on Jessica’s face. “Hmm…how about our favourite place? The amusement park?”
“Ok, last one to the car shall pay for all expenses at the park!” Jessica exclaimed as she sped off excitedly towards the car.
“Why that silly girl…wait for me! You can’t leave without me anyway, I have the car key with me!” Taeyeon couldn’t contain her happiness and smiled, chasing after the taller girl.
“Yes my baby, what’s up? Why do you have to call me so many times? I’m just right beside you.” The two girls were lazing on the couch at Jessica’s service apartment. Taeyeon nuzzled in the crook of Jessica’s neck, drawing circles on the back of Jessica’s palm with her fingers. Jessica was patting Taeyeon’s hair with her other arm as the couple enjoyed each other’s company on the couch.
“I missed calling you by that name for the past few years. I need to make up for it. Taeyeonie, are you feeling tired?”
“Yes baby. We spent almost the whole day at the amusement park. It’s a pity the ferris wheel was under maintenance,” Taeyeon replied lazily, enjoying the warm embrace of her lover.
“The night is still young! How about going for coffee at the café nearby? Or for your favourite dessert, ice cream?”
“Ice cream? Sounds good… but I would rather have you for dessert…” Taeyeon said seductively, tracing her finger down Jessica’s spine while leaving a trail of kisses across her collarbone. Jessica involuntarily let out a soft moan and shivered when she felt Taeyeon’s hot breath on her body.
“Darling…you’re resting on my arm and it’s painful.” Jessica playfully pushed Taeyeon away.
Taeyeon climbed off the couch and pulled Jessica up with her arms. The couple linked arms as Taeyeon led the way to the bedroom. Once there, Jessica pushed Taeyeon onto the bed and climbed on it, straddling Taeyeon.
“Taeyeonie, this position is very familiar. Do you recall anything?” Jessica asked in a husky voice.
“Err….nope? Am I supposed to remember something? Any hints?” Taeyeon asked, feeling worried.
“Let’s just say this was how I changed your clothes last night when you were drunk.” Jessica proceeded to undo every button on Taeyeon’s blouse in a deliberate manner. “After removing your blouse, I would have put a new tee on but not tonight…” Jessica chuckled and gave Taeyeon a slow passionate kiss to begin their long night ahead.
“Good morning, puppy.” Jessica lay on her side and brushed the blonde locks away from Taeyeon’s face.
“Morning, baby, why are you up so early?” Taeyeon yawned, not bothering to cover her mouth.
“I wanna admire this baby-face dorky girl who’s lying next to me,” Jessica traced Taeyeon’s jawline.
“Is this real? Am I in a dream?”
Jessica planted a long kiss on Taeyeon, her lower lips lingering on Taeyeon’s. “Just to prove to you this is real. You’re not dreaming.”
Taeyeon placed her arm protectively across Jessica’s chest and cuddled closer.
“Silly girl, I’m not going to run away. My heart has always been in here, can you feel it?” Jessica drew a circle around Taeyeon’s heart.
“The last time you said you’re leaving in two weeks. That means in a few days, you’ll be gone again,” whined Taeyeon.
“Darling, I’ve good news and bad news for you. Which one do you want to hear first?”
Taeyeon stiffened at the words ‘bad news’. She instinctively backed away from Jessica but Jessica had her arms behind Taeyeon’s back and pulled her back.
“Alright, good news first. Daddy’s finally prepared to open the Seoul branch of our operations. I’ve requested to be transferred here instead of being at Long Beach,” Jessica smiled.
Taeyeon’s eyes immediately lit up upon hearing that news.
“Is this for real? I mean, is he going to change his mind at the last minute again?”
“Yes my darling. It’s the truth. In fact, I just signed the deed documents for the new office space a few days ago.”
Taeyeon raised an eyebrow and asked, “So what’s the bad news?”
Jessica looked at Taeyeon’s worried face with amusement. “Well, the bad news is we’ll be preparing for the opening of the new office by the end of the year. We’ll probably start hiring staff, so I’m going to get really busy soon. This means that we won’t be able to see each other that often in the next few months.”
Taeyeon heaved a sigh of relief. “I thought you were going to say that you’re leaving me again. It’s so hard for us to meet again, I won’t want to let you go. I don’t want to relive the old days when even breathing is hard for me because you’re not around.”
Jessica kissed Taeyeon’s forehead and asked, “So tell me, why do you love me?”
“Baby J, it’s because you complete me. You’re my everything.”
Inspired by :
White Love Story – As One, Coffee Prince OST
You Are My Everything – Chung Ha Yoon, Secret Garden OST
Author’s Note: There’s a sequel to this one shot entitled Distractions.