“Kim Taeyeon, stop being such a Grinch! It’s Christmas eve!! Come and join us at the Christmas block party!” Yuri yelled across the room.
Taeyeon refused to move an inch. She was buried behind a mountain of books, mostly novels.
“Go away Yul, I’m trying to read my book. You know I don’t like Christmas and going to parties. Have fun and send my regards to the rest of them!” Taeyeon hollered.
A minute later, Taeyeon heard the door shut, signaling Yuri’s exit. She sighed as she sank lower into her beanbag and continued to read her book. Taeyeon was an introvert who preferred reading to partying. She never enjoyed loud noises and mixing with crowds. The students at the hostel often organized parties at the main hall on the top floor. If it wasn’t for Yuri, Taeyeon would have never attended any of them at all.
Five minutes into her peaceful reading, Taeyeon heard someone burst through the main door heading towards her bedroom. A head popped out from behind Taeyeon’s bedroom door.
“Taeyeon ah! Yul told me you’re still stuck in your room. You’re not a polar bear and therefore shouldn’t be hibernating. If you’re not coming, I’m going to finish all the delicious food at the party!” Sooyoung threatened jokingly.
“You’re the Shikshin, not me. Be my guest and finish all the food,” Taeyeon answered without looking up from her book.
“Okay, you’ll regret missing the lovely desserts. Hey Yul, that’s my last packet of chips! Stop eating! Stop stop stop!” Sooyoung’s voice trailed off as she ran after the dark skinned girl.
A few minutes later, another person came by Taeyeon’s room.
“Taeng unnie, time for a break from your reading. Let’s go eat some delicious food to celebrate this lovely season of the year,” Yoona said sweetly.
“Yoong, you know I don’t like to attend such parties. Go and party with Yul. I’m sure you’ll have a much more enjoyable time than trying to drag me to the party,” replied Taeyeon, looking up from her book.
Yoona bounced into Taeyeon’s room and sat down next to her. She pouted and tugged at Taeyeon’s arm.
“Unnie…” Yoona pleaded with her aegyo-filled voice. She batted her eyelids and gave Taeyeon the puppy look. She knew Taeyeon couldn’t stand her aegyo and would ultimately give in. Unfortunately it didn’t work on Taeyeon this time. She had attended the Christmas parties for the past two years and decided she had enough of it this year. The older girl was determined to read her book and give the party a complete miss.
“Yoong, don’t make me repeat myself,” Taeyeon said firmly.
Yoona knew Taeyeon could be quite stubborn. She had no choice but to release her hand from Taeyeon’s arm and left the room.
Taeyeon sighed. Christmas was just another day to her; nothing fancy, nothing special. The only two things she did for Christmas was to buy presents for her two closest friends – Yuri and Yoona and to make a wish on Christmas eve. Since starting university, she made the same wish every year but it never came true. She would write her wish on a piece of paper and chuck it underneath her pot of plant in her room. Every Christmas, she would remove the past year’s paper and replace it with a new one, though the wish remained the same.
Taeyeon’s mood for reading was lost after the constant interruption. She closed her book and left her room. Wanting to get some fresh air, she decided to head to the nearby convenience store. Walking along the corridor to get to the lift, she could hear the rowdy schoolmates gathering at the main hall on top floor. They were busy setting up tables and Christmas decorations for the party. Christmas music was blasting through the loud speakers, livening up the mood at the party.
Tugging at her scarf, Taeyeon tucked her hands into her jacket as she strolled towards the convenience store. It was rather cold that night and there weren’t many people on the streets. Most of the students were out partying at clubs or holding mini parties like her friends’ at their hostels.
The wind was picking up speed and the last thing Taeyeon wanted to do was to turn into an ice block in the middle of the street. She quickly picked out two bottles of cider and some snacks before heading back to the hostel.
Standing at the ground floor of the hostel and waiting for the lift, Taeyeon saw someone walking towards her direction. The person was wearing a dark brown trench coat with its collar turned up and she was holding three bags of stuff.
Omo, it’s her.
Taeyeon’s pulse quickened when she recognized the person who was approaching the lift. She had a crush on this person since they met in year one during one of the business modules.
The girl arrived at the lift lobby and put her bags onto the floor. She looked up and noticed Taeyeon standing there.
“Going to the party?” Taeyeon asked. It was a rare opportunity that they were alone together. Jessica was one of the prettiest girls in school. Everyone wanted a piece of her or to be in the same social circle as her.
Jessica nodded. “You?”
Taeyeon shook her head. “I’m not a fan of crowds. My friends are all going and I think you probably know some of them. Yuri, Yoona and Sooyoung, just to name a few.”
“Ya those names ring a bell. I think I attended International Business class with Yuri last year,” Jessica said. She looked at the shorter girl who was bundled up like a bun. She regretted not bringing her scarf from the car.
There was a moment of silence. Taeyeon didn’t know what to say, especially in front of the person whom she liked.
“The lift is taking a really long time eh?” Taeyeon commented, shifting her feet uneasily. She was too shy to look at Jessica directly and ended up stealing glances at her instead. Jessica had an air of elegance around her. No matter what she wore, she always looked like she was on the cover of a fashion magazine. Taeyeon was envious at her dress sense.
“This lift can be quite cranky at times. I’ve already informed the building management to look into it last week but I guess they always take their own sweet time to do their checks,” Jessica sighed.
Finally, the lift came.
“Do you need help with those bags?” Taeyeon asked, pointing at the bags which were on the floor.
“I wouldn’t mind an extra pair of hands,” Jessica smiled.
Taeyeon swore she could melt into a puddle at the moment Jessica smiled at her. She hurriedly picked up two bags from the floor while balancing her own plastic bag worth of snacks and drinks.
“Hey, I can manage two. You can help me with one would do,” Jessica said as she took one of the bags from Taeyeon.
Jessica’s hand brushed against Taeyeon’s as she unhooked the handle from Taeyeon’s fingers. Both of them looked away shyly.
“We better hurry before the lift door shuts.” Taeyeon stuck her foot through the lift in order to prevent the doors from closing.
“That’s a unique way of holding the door for someone,” Jessica giggled once both of them got into the lift.
Taeyeon blushed. “Well, my hands are kinda busy at the moment. I may have short legs and can’t run fast but they have their usefulness in times like these.”
Taeyeon placed the bag onto the floor and press the lift buttons for the top floor where the party was held and to her own floor. Both of them stood facing each other.
“I never knew you’re that humorous. Come to think of it, I don’t think I know you very well though we’ve been schoolmates for the past three years.” Jessica flashed her sweet smile again.
Taeyeon could only smile back at Jessica as she felt her cheeks turning warm. “I guess we didn’t get a chance to hang out more after we took different majors in Year two.”
“We should hang out more since it’s our last semester at school,” Jessica said sincerely.
There was a loud noise and the lift stopped. Half the lights in the lift went off.
“What is happening?” Jessica asked, looking around the lift.
“I think the lift stopped. I suspect it might be faulty,” Taeyeon replied. She kept pressing the “Door Open” button but it didn’t work. She tried the “Door Close” button and nothing happened too. Then she pressed the buttons to the other floors of the lift and nothing lighted up at all.
All the while, Jessica was staring at Taeyeon fractically pushing the buttons of the lift, trying to make something work. She was getting worried as time went on. The people at the party were waiting for her to kick start the party. The bags Jessica was carrying contained champagne and some Christmas decorations.
“Erm…Jessica…I have bad news. I think we’re trapped in this lift,” Taeyeon said grimly.
“This can’t be happening now.” Jessica walked to the buttons and started jabbing at them.
Nothing happened. There was only the soft whirring of the ventilating fan above their heads.
“Jessica, I don’t think anything is working at all. Let me try to call the service number that’s on the lift.” Taeyeon dug out her mobile phone from her jeans pocket. She dialed the number but there was hardly any reception in the lift, hence her call wasn’t able to get through.
“I can’t believe I’m that unlucky tonight, I’ve a party to attend,” Jessica exclaimed in frustration.
Taeyeon pressed the alarm buzzer but she was sure no one would hear the buzzer. Most of the students were at the party in the main hall and the loud music blasting at the party would have drowned out the sound of the alarm.
“Looks like we can only hope for someone to find us and alert the building management about the faulty lift,” Taeyeon assured. She was trying to calm the frantic Jessica who was pacing around the lift, her face buried in her palms.
“Jessica, calm down. Those people would definitely notice your absence and look for you soon,” Taeyeon assured.
“Hopefully,” Jessica stopped pacing and sighed.
Both of them stood opposite each other and leaned against the cold metal walls of the lift. It was a waiting game and no one knew the time it would take for them to be rescued. They waited in silence.
After fifteen minutes, Jessica decided to sit on the floor as her legs were tired. She hugged her knees and stared at the floor. She was feeling a little cold though the lift wasn’t heated.
“Are you cold? You can have my scarf.” Taeyeon unwound the scarf around her neck and handed it to Jessica.
“I’m fine. You must be cold too.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m feeling a little warm actually. I’m wearing two more layers underneath my jacket,” Taeyeon said, pulling her jacket slightly apart to reveal the layers of clothes. She knelt on the floor and started to wrap the scarf around Jessica’s neck.
“Not a good idea to catch a cold now. I’m sure you’ve a lot of Christmas parties to attend after tonight,” Taeyeon smiled.
Jessica looked at the girl in front of her. Her neck felt warm and her heart beat slowly picked up pace as Taeyeon tied the scarf around her neck. It was the first time she shared such a small space with Taeyeon and she didn’t mind a single bit. Her impression of Taeyeon was a quiet and helpful person who loved reading. She never knew Taeyeon had an interesting sense of humour until tonight.
“Thank you, Taeyeon.” Jessica flashed a sincere smile at her.
Just three simple words but it was enough to make Taeyeon’s day. Her cheeks felt warm again as she scooted back to her original place in the lift.
Jessica glanced at her watch. It was 10.30pm. She doubted that the crowd at the party would notice her absence anytime soon. Even if they did, they would need time to contact the building management and they would in turn need some to send someone here to check the lift. She didn’t want to miss Christmas.
Standing up, she walked towards Taeyeon and extended her hand. “I don’t want to waste my Christmas eve getting stuck in the lift. Let’s decorate the lift with the Christmas decorations I bought. Let’s have a mini Christmas party here while they have theirs upstairs.” Jessica winked.
Taeyeon was more than delighted to accept Jessica’s request. She took her hand and got up from her seated position. Both of them opened one of the bags and took out some of the Christmas decorations. Taeyeon pasted the white paper snowflakes on the walls of the lift while Jessica, being taller, hung a shimmering silver streamer across the lift doors.
After half an hour, the whole lift was decked out in silver, white and red. Both of them stood back and admired their work.
“I’m feeling a little hungry after decorating the lift. How about sharing some snacks and cider?” Taeyeon asked.
Taeyeon opened two bottles of cider and a bag of chips. Both of them sat next to each other on the floor.
“Merry Christmas Eve, Jessica.”
“Merry Christmas Eve, Taeyeon. I never thought I would spend Christmas in a lift,” Jessica laughed. They clicked their bottles of cider together before taking a sip.
“Jessica, look at the ceiling.”
“Imagine a black piece of velvet has been pulled across it, resembling the dark sky outside. Then add some sprinkles of gold and it would look like thousands of stars twinkling in the sun.”
“You’ve a great sense of imagination, Taeyeon.”
“I guess it comes from years of reading,” Taeyeon chuckled.
“So what’s next?”
“We’re sitting underneath a large oak tree, sipping cider as we admire the dark sky. We start to chat about anything under the sky.”
As they ate the snacks Taeyeon bought, they started chatting about their personal lives and got to know each other better. Taeyeon told a lot of lame jokes and Jessica was visibly amused by them. She was laughing so hard that her tears came rolling down her cheeks. Both of them hit off very well, much better than they had expected.
Soon, they finished their ciders. Jessica took out the bottle of champagne from her bag and poured it into the two glasses she brought.
“I’ve learnt so much about you in the past hour. Cheers to our friendship!” Jessica raised her glass.
“Me too. Cheers!” Taeyeon clicked her glass against Jessica’s. It was the best night she ever had in her university days. Spending a night alone with her crush in a lift and learning so much about her, what more could she ask for?
Just then, Taeyeon’s watch beeped. She took a glance at her watch and realised it was midnight.
“Merry Christmas, Taeyeon!” Jessica said as she threw her arms around Taeyeon’s neck and enveloped her in a hug.
Taeyeon opened her eyes wide, shocked by the sudden hug. She didn’t know where to place her arms.
“Erh,” was all that came out of Taeyeon’s mouth.
Jessica released herself from the hug and looked away bashfully. Hugging her friends was a norm to her but somehow this hug felt a little different from usual.
Taeyeon’s heart was beating very quickly after the hug and her palms felt a little sweaty. She reached into her back pocket for her mobile phone and clicked on an app.
“Do you know about the ancient custom of a mistletoe?” Taeyeon asked nervously.
Jessica raised her eyebrows and stared at Taeyeon, wondering what she was driving at.
“According to ancient times, two people standing under a mistletoe are obliged to kiss,” Taeyeon said softly, looking into Jessica’s brown eyes. “And we’re sitting under one.”
Jessica looked up and noticed Taeyeon was holding her mobile phone above their heads. There was a picture of mistletoe on the screen of her phone.
It finally dawned on Jessica what Taeyeon was trying to do. A soft giggle escaped her mouth as she closed her eyes.
At this moment, Taeyeon could hear her heart beating wildly. It felt like her heart was popping out of her chest soon. She leaned forward slowly, inhaling Jessica’s sweet scent as she placed a chaste kiss on Jessica’s cheek.
“Merry Christmas, Jessica. Thank you for making my wish come true.”
Jessica opened her eyes and looked at Taeyeon with a puzzled expression on her face.
“What was your wish?”
“To spend Christmas with someone I like very much.”
Jessica was surprised by the confession and pointed to herself. “Me?”
Taeyeon couldn’t look at Jessica directly. She turned away and nodded.
“You could have told me about it earlier!” Jessica exclaimed.
Jessica lowered her voice and spoke, “I have a soft spot for you when we attended the same classes in Year one. However, I didn’t have many opportunities to talk to you since you were always buried in your books.”
“Are you serious?” Taeyeon raised her voice by a pitch. She couldn’t believe her ears.
Jessica nodded firmly.
“Oh man, I’ve been such a fool!” Taeyeon gave herself a face palm for missing out on the many opportunities earlier on.
“Yes indeed. We could have spent the past three years together…maybe?” Jessica laughed and smacked Taeyeon’s back playfully.
Taeyeon buried her face in her hands and pinched her own cheeks to confirm that she wasn’t in a dream. She felt a sharp pain and was thankful for that. She quickly turned around to face Jessica.
“My heart has been beating for you since the day we met in Year one. I never expected you would feel the same way for me. I mean…who would like a nerdy kid like me?”
“Stop putting yourself down. You’re such a sincere person and that’s what I like about you. You’re not pretentious and definitely not an attention seeker.” Jessica patted Taeyeon’s arm gently.
Suddenly, the lights came on. Both of them heard some voices outside the lift door. They quickly stood up and stared at the door. Taeyeon instinctively reached for Jessica’s hand and held it tightly.
The lift door opened and there stood two people who were sniggering away. One of them had a bunch of keys in her hand.
“The both of you are sooooo dead!” Taeyeon growled, pointing her finger at Yuri and Yoona when she realised what had happened.
Yuri and Yoona burst out laughing non-stop. They were the pranksters who stopped the lift and created an opportunity for Taeyeon and Jessica to be together alone. They knew that Taeyeon had always carried a candle for Jessica but was too timid to confess. From a reliable source among their common friends, they learnt that Jessica did mention about Taeyeon on a few occasions and did express interest in getting to know her better. Hence they decided to bring the both of them together and devised such a plan.
“Oooh…looks like something good really happened while you were stuck in the lift. Yea, give me a high five Yoong!” Yuri said excitedly. She noticed they were holding hands and Jessica had Taeyeon’s scarf wrapped around her neck. She slapped her palm with Yoona’s excitedly, happy that their plan went well.
Taeyeon didn’t know if she should be angry or happy at that moment. On one hand, she was upset with her friends for playing such a prank on her. On the other hand, that prank was done out of good intentions and the end result was positive.
“Now that you’re out of the lift, come join us at the main hall for the party. I’m sure you won’t reject us know right?” Yoona squealed excitedly like a five year old kid.
Jessica, being sharp, knew what was going on. She gently tugged at Taeyeon’s hand and urged her to go to the party.
Taeyeon was still a little reluctant to party with the crowd. She was looking forward to spending Christmas with Jessica only. Yet she didn’t want to disappoint Jessica since she knew the latter wanted to go for the party.
“Yoong, let’s give them a few minutes to decide. Meanwhile, we better head back before that Sooyoung finishes all the food!” Yuri grabbed Yoona’s arm and pulled her towards the main hall.
Taeyeon turned around to face Jessica. She held both of Jessica’s hands and said, “I apologise on behalf of the pranksters. They mean no harm.”
“Well, without them, we wouldn’t have known about each other’s feelings right?”
Taeyeon nodded in agreement, feeling embarrassed.
“How about fulfilling my Christmas wish?”
“Oh sure, what is it?” Taeyeon asked curiously.
“It has been my wish to spend Christmas with you since Year one. I never thought that wishes would come true but looks like they do,” Jessica giggled shyly.
Taeyeon’s heart fluttered with delight. “Since you’ve granted my wish, I’ll definitely grant yours.”
Jessica laughed. She leaned forward and kissed Taeyeon gently on her cheek. Taeyeon felt numerous fireworks going off in her heart.
“By the way, you owe me a kiss underneath a mistletoe and I’m referring to the actual plant, not your mobile phone,” Jessica requested.
Taeyeon chuckled. “Sure, anytime. Let’s hurry before my friend Sooyoung wipes out all the food!”
Taeyeon slipped her hand into Jessica’s and it fitted snuggly with hers.
“Let’s hurry before all the food is gone,” Jessica smiled. She slipped her left hand snuggly into Taeyeon’s right hand.
This Christmas had a special one as both of them finally had their wishes come true.
= THE END =