July 2009, Monday morning
Taeyeon is rudely awakened by a shake. In the woozy second of semi-consciousness prior to full awakeness, she hears her name.
“Taeyeong,” a pause, another shake, “…Taeyeong.”
“Nngg…yeah?” she responds, her voice thick with sleep.
“Where’s your toothpaste?”
None of it makes any sense to Taeyeon in her lack of consciousness but she raises a heavy arm and gestures in the general direction of her toiletries. “Oower there…” The weight on her bed lifts and sounds of things being moved are coming from the corner she pointed at. But her eyes remain closed and she drifts back into sleep once more.
Minutes later, her alarm sounds and her eyes are jarred into opening by the brutal sound and she wakes up this time. She looks around the room; it takes a while to orientate herself. This isn’t her bedroom, it’s her new dorm room and it’s the new semester of her second year in uni. Wake up!
“Hey, you’re finally up.”
“Morning,” Taeyeon croaks. Tiffany in her form-fitting tank top (without a bra) and little college shorts makes her wonder if she is actually dreaming. But the fragrance that she catches a whiff of tells her that she isn’t dreaming; it’s much too in-her-nose to be a dream. She sits and watches as Tiffany bends over to pick her backpack up. It’s a flashy backpack, luminous pink and black zebra stripes all over, and Taeyeon balks at the thought of ever having to carry such a backpack to class.
Tiffany straightens up, puts her bag on the chair and rummages in it for a bit. “I can’t find my pencil case. Where’s yours?”
“In the drawer,” Taeyeon answers.
Tiffany turns around, opens the drawer and unzips the pencil case in it. “You won’t mind lending me a pen or two, will you,” she says as she takes a couple of blue pens. “Thanks, Taeyeong.”
“You’re not Taeyeong?”
“I swear I heard Taeyeong the first time.”
“It’s Taeyeonnn,” Taeyeon emphasises the last consonant of her name.
“Right. Taeyeonnn.” Tiffany grins and nods. “Got it, Taeyeonnn.”
“It’s not Taeyeonnn. Just Taeyeon.”
“But you said Taeyeonnn.”
“I was trying to make it clear.”
“Okay. So it’s Taeyeon.”
“But I wanna call you Taeyeonnn.”
“Why do you wanna call me that?”
Tiffany shrugs. “Just for fun.”
“It sounds kinda irritating, to be honest.”
Tiffany grins. “That’s the whole point, Taeyeonnn.”
February 2001, Monday afternoon
“I’m concerned about your daughter’s obsession, Mrs Kim.”
“What’s wrong? What is she obsessed with?”
“I’m…I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but she’s…well, I er,” Mdm Sung stutters a little and even turns a little pink.
“It’s okay, Mdm Sung. You can tell me the truth—whatever it is.”
Mdm Sung nods. “Well, on several occasions in the past month, during lessons, I’ve caught Taeyeon doodling instead of paying attention. But that’s not actually the main issue.”
“Oh? What’s the main issue then?”
“Well,” Mdm Sung coughs, then takes a deep breath, looking as though she’s trying to convince herself of something, “The problem lies in what she’s doodling. Mrs Kim, your daughter has been drawing—”
Mdm Sung’s jaw hangs loose for a beat, then she recovers. “You—you know about it?”
Mrs Kim turns to Taeyeon with a frown. “Why are you drawing during lessons? You know that you have to do well to get into the high school you want to go to.”
“Mrs Kim, I believe the cause for concern is Taeyeon’s preoccupation with bras.”
Mrs Kim turns to Mdm Sung. “Why is that a concern?”
Mdm Sung looks like a she’s heard something strange for a moment. “It’s not healthy to be obsessed with bras. It may lead to…things.”
“Your daughter is only twelve. It’s not normal for a twelve-year-old to be this obsessed about bras. She has drawn an entire sketch book full of bras. Nothing but bras. And when I ask her why she’s drawing bra after bra she tells me she wants to be a bra painter one day.”
“Yes, it has been Taeyeon’s dream since she was three so there’s nothing to worry about.”
March 2010, Tuesday afternoon
“Why didn’t you tell me it’s your birthday today.”
Taeyeon looks up from her lecture notes. “You didn’t ask.”
“If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t even know about it.” Tiffany sits on her chair and rolls it next to Taeyeon’s. “So. What do you want for your birthday?”
“It’s okay, you don’t have to give me anything.”
“Nonsense. We’re roommates. I can’t just let your birthday go by without giving you something.” Tiffany pouts suddenly. “But as you know, I’m pretty much broke so I probably can’t buy anything for you. Mmm…” Tiffany taps her lips as she thinks. “Ah! What about a kiss? I’ll give you a kiss for your birthday.”
Taeyeon makes a face. “No, thanks. Just a hug will do.”
“Why don’t you want my kiss?” Tiffany huffs. “Do you know how coveted my kiss is? I’ve got a whole list of guys and girls who would die for my kiss.”
“I’m not one of them.”
“Hng!” Tiffany rolls away but rolls back even before Taeyeon can turn the page. “Taeyeonnn…”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Stop it. Please.”
“Okay, okay. What do you want now? More toothpaste? Or my shampoo? What.”
Tiffany shakes her head. “No. I don’t want all those things right now.”
“Then, what do you want?”
“I want you to let me kiss you.”
Tiffany moves like a cat on a mission and grabs Taeyeon. The girl, though surprised, manages to dodge Tiffany’s lips by jerking her head to the side. Tiffany is not to be outdone and leans forward with her arms sweeping up to pin Taeyeon’s head in place. The last thing Taeyeon remembers seeing is Tiffany’s twinkling eyes as lips press upon hers; a firm, confident touch.
“Happy Birthday, Taeyeonnn!” Tiffany flashes her winning grin and smacks her lips. “You taste like berries.”
Taeyeon blinks. It’s all she can do as her brain tries to find it way back into the scheme of things. At the moment, she’s busy thinking about how Tiffany’s lips are like two little cushions of heaven and such thoughts prove to be mighty distracting. Way too distracting indeed.