Scherzando – to play in a joking, light-hearted manner
Jessica checked her phone several times a day, hoping to see a text message from Taeyeon informing her of their next meeting. In the past week, she looked forward to meeting Taeyeon at night and learning more about classical music. It was a change from her routine administrative work in the office. Having a star as a teacher was definitely a bonus.
One Wednesday evening, Jessica heard her phone vibrating in her drawer. She silently pulled the drawer open and saw an incoming text message.
Free tonight? – Taeyeon
A smile automatically appeared on Jessica’s face as she typed ‘YES’ and pressed sent.
“Ah! Why did I press Caps Lock?” Jessica muttered to herself, hoping that Taeyeon wouldn’t think she desperately wanted to meet Taeyeon.
Great. 8pm at the café along the Han River. – Taeyeon
Take care and see you later. – Jessica
Jessica finished filing the stacks of papers on her desk in lightning speed and left in a rush. Her colleagues wondered if she was going out on a date. Jessica jostled with the crowd, hoping to get home in time to shower and change before she headed out to meet Taeyeon.
Standing in front of her wardrobe, Jessica took some time to decide which dress she should wear. When she finally decided, she realised that she only had twenty minutes to get to the café. Moreover she wanted to drop by a store before going there. Blaming herself for taking such a long time to choose her dress, Jessica picked a pair of flats from her shoe cabinet and dashed out of the house.
Jessica was fifteen minutes late when she arrived at the café. She stepped into the café and looked around for Taeyeon. She spotted a person in a navy blue hood sitting in a corner of the café with her back facing the entrance. It was the same hoodie which Taeyeon wore during her days at the train station. Jessica recognized it from the yellow star that was printed at the top of the hood.
The hooded person looked up from her phone and smiled.
“Sorry I’m late,” Jessica apologized as she sat opposite Taeyeon.
“It’s alright. Hungry? What would you like to eat?” Taeyeon asked as she handed Jessica the menu.
“Just a chicken sandwich and coffee for me,” Jessica replied.
“Nice dress,” Taeyeon complimented as she waved her hand to get the waiter’s attention.
“Thank you.” Jessica blushed. She was trying her best not to squeal when Taeyeon commented on her dress.
Wheee!! She noticed my dress! She did! My effort hasn’t gone down the drain.
After placing the order with the waiter, Taeyeon removed the hood which was partially covering her face. She removed the rubber band that held up her hair, letting her light brown hair caress her shoulders.
It must have been a long day at orchestra practice. Her lower lip is quite red, probably from playing the clarinet for too long. After five minutes, my lips are red and feeling a little sore. I can’t imagine the pain that she goes through. Looks like what I’ve bought would come into good use.
“Taeyeon, I got you something. I hope you’ll like it.” Jessica placed a small paper bag on the table and pushed it towards Taeyeon.
“Oh? Can I open it now?” Taeyeon asked, curious about its contents.
“Yes you can.” Jessica waited in anticipation while Taeyeon opened the bag.
“It’s a lip balm,” Taeyeon said with a smile. “Thank you. I’ll use it well.”
Jessica giggled. “You sound so formal with me. Aren’t we friends? Moreover we’re of the same age.”
Taeyeon chuckled, “Perhaps I’ve been mixing around too often with the older folks at the orchestra.”
Taeyeon insisted on paying for dinner since Jessica had given her a small gift. They took a walk along the Han River, taking in the night scenery.
“Sorry I don’t have the time to teach you at the moment. We’re trying to confirm the pieces to play at our upcoming nationwide concert so I’ll be getting pretty busy,” Taeyeon said as they stopped at a random spot along the river. She leaned against the metal railings and took a deep breath while stretching her arms out.
“It’s okay. I can read books and watch youtube videos to learn. You’ve already taught me a lot.” Jessica turned around and looked at Taeyeon. In her casual clothes, she looked like any other young working adult who was fresh out from school. She knew that Taeyeon had probably been through much more than her in order to get to her current star status.
“Hey, let me play you something. Something that’s… non classical,” Taeyeon said merrily. She whipped out her instrument case from her backpack and started to assemble her clarinet while sitting on the grass patch.
“Don’t. You’ve just ended a long day and I’m sure you must be really tired,” Jessica said, concerned. She took the lower joint of the clarinet from Taeyeon and placed it back into the case.
“I’m fine, honest! Today’s practice is nothing compared to the amount of hours I put it when I auditioned for the Seoul Youth Orchestra years ago,” Taeyeon insisted. Within seconds, she had the instrument prepared and was set to go.
Taeyeon crept around Jessica on her toes, just like the Pink Panther as she started playing the popular tune. The mellow sound of the clarinet suited the song perfectly and Jessica couldn’t help but laughed at how comical Taeyeon looked.
It made Taeyeon happy when she saw Jessica laughing at her silly antics of pretending to be the Pink Panther. She felt relieved and the stress of practicing for her solo earlier on was long forgotten.
“If you get the name of the next two songs right, I’ll buy you dinner. If you can’t get both of them correct, you’ll have to buy me dinner instead,” Taeyeon announced.
“Challenge accepted. Bring it on, Kim Taeyeon!”
The tune started off somewhat familiar but Jessica couldn’t put a title to it. As she listened on, she found herself humming to the music, trying to get the title of the song out of her head.
As the song approached the chorus, Jessica suddenly burst out singing, “It’s hard to look right, at you baby, but here’s my number, so call me maybe?”
Taeyeon laughed and couldn’t continue playing. “And the title is?”
“Call me maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen! Wow, it sounds so cute and bubbly. Such an interesting cover on the clarinet.”
“That was easy eh? Now for a more difficult one,” Taeyeon smirked as she started playing again.
This time, Jessica was still scratching her head for an answer after the song had ended. Taeyeon grinned triumphantly. She was already deciding on where to go for her free dinner.
“I’ve heard it before. I just can’t remember where. Argh!” Jessica exclaimed in frustration. “Can you play it again?”
“Ok, one last time and you’ve to give me the answer,” Taeyeon replied.
While playing the song, Taeyeon noticed that Jessica had taken out her mobile phone and opened a music application which would identify the title of the song.
“Hey, that’s cheating!” Taeyeon stopped abruptly and pointed to the phone.
“Well, you didn’t state the terms and conditions clearly. You only said that as long as I get the song titles correct, I’ll win a free meal from you, bleh!” Jessica stuck her tongue out at Taeyeon.
Jessica looked at her phone anxiously, wondering if it had identified the name of the song based on the short excerpt which Taeyeon had played. Both of them stared at the phone, waiting for the loading to end.
Super Mario Bros theme. – the words flashed across the screen.
“Ta dah! Here’s your answer, now where should we eat?” Jessica shoved the phone in front of Taeyeon, flashing a cheeky grin.
“Okay okay, you win. I thought I had you for the last song,” Taeyeon lamented.
After fooling around for a while, both of them decided to rest at bench. Taeyeon hugged her clarinet as she propped her legs onto the bench. Jessica sat right next to her. Their arms touched but none of them made an effort to leave a gap between them. They admired the night sky, accompanied by the sounds of leaves rustling on the trees and the occasional runner jogging past them.
“I did a research on the characteristics of clarinetists. I think you fit the bill quite well,” Jessica said, starting a conversation.
“Oh really? What’s a clarinetist like? Someone adorable like me?” Taeyeon teased.
Jessica laughed and attempted to pinch Taeyeon’s cheek. Taeyeon used her clarinet to block in defense.
“Thick-skinned more like it. I read somewhere that clarinetists are born leaders and they are dedicated people who achieve their goals in a consistent manner.”
“Tell me more,” Taeyeon said softly, her tiredness was evident in her voice.
“They’re organized and ambitious people. They have a list of tasks which they would strive to complete and get a sense of satisfaction when everything is ticked off their list. The first impression a clarinetist gives is usually quiet and a little serious. However, when you get to know the clarinetist better, he or she is usually funny, dorky and entertaining.”
Just as Jessica finished the last word, she felt a weight on her left shoulder. She turned around and saw a mop of light brown hair. Taeyeon had fallen asleep on her shoulder.
She must have been worn out after a long day.
Jessica cautiously removed the clarinet from Taeyeon’s grasp and packed it into the instrument case. She felt Taeyeon moving her body, as if to find a better position to sleep in. Wanting to make Taeyeon more comfortable, Jessica wrapped her left arm around Taeyeon’s shoulders and pulled her closer. She hoped that Taeyeon wasn’t aware of her erratic heartbeats or her quick breathing. She sat there quietly, listening to the soft breathing of the musician.
Jessica wished that time would stop at this very moment. Tucking Taeyeon’s soft brown hair behind her ear, Jessica took time to study the sleeping musician’s left profile. Little did she realised that Taeyeon was actually half awake, woken up by Jessica’s touch. However, Taeyeon didn’t want to wake up as it meant that she wouldn’t have an excuse to get physically close to Jessica.
“Taeyeon ah, can I call you that? It makes me feel that we’re closer. You’ve such smooth and fair skin, I’m so envious,” Jessica mumbled softly to herself.
Jessica let out a soft giggle after mumbling to herself but stopped once she felt Taeyeon move, worried that she might have woken Taeyeon up by accident. Instead, Taeyeon snaked her arms around Jessica’s waist and she adjusted the position of her head on Jessica’s shoulder.
Is she really deep asleep? Should I wake her up? But…I like it when she holds me like this…maybe I should just enjoy this moment while it lasts.
Sensing that Jessica didn’t move, Taeyeon continued to pretend that she was asleep so that she could enjoy Jessica’s warm embrace and the floral scent of her body wash.
I don’t feel lonely when I’m practicing alone anymore because I have you in my heart.
Jessica noticed a smile appearing on Taeyeon’s face.
She must be having a good dream. I shan’t disturb her…for now.
Leaning back against the bench, Jessica put her head on top of Taeyeon’s and admired the night view of the Han River as both of them sat there in silence.