Two days. Forty-eight hours. That’s how long I’ve been holed up in this pink room. That’s how long I’ve not seen or heard Ms Pink. Not a single word. Not even through our telepathy. Given that half of that time was spent sleeping, that’s still quite a lot of awake time to be deprived of Ms Pink. But I’ve not been left entirely alone. Seo was assigned to stay close to me, ensure I take my meals and take general care of me. So in this way, Ms Pink is still with me.
Sunny and I have called each other too, so I got to talk to her and hear about her wonderful weekend with Summer. I had to be vague with my description of my weekend with Ms Pink, or Tiffany rather. And Sunny had been delighted when I told her about Ms Pink’s insistence that I call her Tiffany in private . . .
“It’s a huge step forward!” said Sunny in her high pitched tone of excitement.
“Yes, it is. But I don’t really like how it’s like an order from her. Like I have to call her Tiffany.”
“But Taeyeon, don’t you want to call her Tiffany instead of Ms Pink?”
“Yes, I do.”
“So the problem isn’t a big one. I mean, you want to call her Tiffany. She wants you to call her Tiffany. It’s just the way she said it that you’re not happy with.”
Sunny’s summary of the situation simplifies things for me and I see her point but Sunny doesn’t understand the complete world of Ms Tiffany Pink, the vampire Princess Pan Ni. She doesn’t understand how I have to struggle with being Ms Pink’s claim and the conditions that come with it.
As for the rest of the time, I am alone and silent or in contemplation with music playing from my phone. I’ve also done some drawings and painted my nails with the incredible collection of manicure tools that I found in the room. And skipped classes. (Ms Pink did not turn up to insist I attend them.)
Maybe the downtime is good for me. I certainly need the time to think. It has been a rollercoaster ride since the moment I saw Ms—Tiffany holding Yuri up against the wall with just one hand. Vampires. Baits. Vanguards. Sovereign members. More vanguards. Borens. Yenews. The Park triplets. The Federation. And blood. Lots and lots of blood. Blood shed. Blood taken. Blood lost. And a beheading by bare hands to top it all off. It almost seems absurd that I am able to lie here on Tiffany’s pink bed. Tiffany. It doesn’t feel right somehow. Tiffany. I’ve called her Ms Pink for so long (just a month but it feels like a decade) that Ms Pink seems more natural to me. Yet the way I feel about Ms Pink now compared to the early days . . . is as different as the north and south poles. That is to be expected too. I mean, there’s nothing like going through literally life-death situations to forge a bond between two hearts. Sabotaged helicopters, vanguard assassinations, triplet abductions . . . just how much can a human brain take?
But to me, the real question would be just how much a human heart can take.
It would appear that Seo is quite done with my inactivity, judging by the way she is hauling me up from bed this morning. And when I say haul, I mean hands under armpits, yanking my entire body out of bed and standing me on the floor, thus reminding me that she too, is a vampire and possesses supernatural strength. She then hauls me into the bathroom and leaves after saying just one word: Wash.
Staring at my face in the mirror, I am shocked to see how desolate I look. There is no life in my eyes, no blood in my cheeks, no smile in my lips. I have become a living zombie of a human. I splash water on my face and step into the shower to rinse the death out of my hair, scrub the sloth out of my limbs, and it makes me feel a little bit better. As my skin awakes to the cool water and warms to the bath gel I swab all over myself, my mind is coming out of the fog too.
Forget the Federation. Forget the Sovereign. Forget the fact that I am a vampire’s claim. Forget the Erika lying dormant inside me. I am Taeyeon. A human. Still a student in university. A person with a future. With hopes and dreams. I have always wanted to be an illustrator. A designer. When did that fall into the background? My pulse begins to quicken as I step out of the shower and towel myself dry. The wounds on my arm remind me of the harrowing experiences I’ve had in the past few weeks but I push those thoughts aside. They will not distract me from what I should be doing. I know what I should do.
Seo is waiting for me at the dining table with breakfast laid out. “Eat,” she says and that’s what we do. When we are done, Seo hands me a pink envelop. The question in my eyes does not receive an answer from her so I open the envelop with shaky hands, suddenly dreading the content inside. It turns out that my dread is uncalled for. It is an all-pink invitation to a fashion show. Ms Pink’s fashion show. Her winter collection. This is the show that Summer mentioned some time ago. So Ms Pink must have disappeared because she is preparing for this event. I begin to understand but that does not translate into a better mood.
“Ms Pink has arranged for you to get your hair and makeup done. Your dress is also ready.”
Seo nods. “Ms Pink has designed a dress especially for you.”
My heart beats faster at the thought of wearing such a precious dress. “When did she design it?” I can’t think of a time when Ms Pink had time for this.
“Over some time,” Seo replies. She stands and beckons me to do the same. “Your hair stylist is here. Follow me.”
Several hours later, I emerge from the rooms with a new hairdo, freshly massaged and oiled skin, manicured nails and makeup that made me take a second look at myself when I looked in the mirror. Feeling out of sorts after being subjected to an afternoon of pampering, I follow Seo to a room that is literally a walk-in wardrobe. Clothes, including dresses and gowns hang all around us but they all pale in comparison to the dress hanging in the middle of the room.
Oh my pink lord. The dress is beautiful. Elegant. Gentle. Simple. Yet complex and uniquely detailed. But what takes the cake. What really surprises me is the colour. The dress isn’t pink. The dress is not even red. The dress is blue.
Flashback to the first time I met Ms Pink. The interview. She offered me an internship. I politely refused. The words I said to her back then are still vivid to me. High definition, high resolution. Sharp and clear. I had said to Ms Pink: I don’t like pink. I prefer blue.
Ms Pink remembers. Whether the credit for her excellent memory is due to her vampirism or something else, I am still gay as a lark. Holding hands and skipping around kind of gay. So right there and then, I forgive and forget. All I can think about is the blue dress that Ms Pink designed for me. My eyes trail over luxurious silky cloth, drinking in the charming deep sea blue. They stop to admire the intricate gathers at the top of the bodice folded in a near criss-cross design. Then they drop down to the waist that nips in and follows as it flares again, in a magnificent waterfall drop to the bottom. Imagining myself in this dress, walking around at Ms Pink’s fashion show, I develop a strong feeling that I’ll probably be able to emphatize with Cinderella at the ball—minus her evil stepsisters—after tonight.
Seo helps me with the dress and I stand before the mirror, speechless. The deep blue contrasts against my fair skin and newly revitalized blonde hair. The tube bodice wraps perfectly around my bust and the length, once I’m fitted on a crystal-studded pair of high heels, is just right. Such precision. Workmanship. Genius. Such blue. I can’t get over the blue. I can’t imagine Ms Pink tolerating the blue of the dress as it was made. This is the simplest, yet hardest and grandest gesture of love I could never have imagined, wrapped around me, bathing my skin in its soft, gentle material.
Ms Pink, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing . . . thank you.
I arrive at the mega designers’ mall in a pink limo and it is obvious that I am an esteemed guest of Ms Pink’s since the limo bears the PINK brand on it. It is made even more obvious with Executive Secretary Seo by my side, showing me the way. It might be a grand gesture from Ms Pink that affirms how important I am to her, but it also puts me in an awkward place for two reasons.
- I am an unknown.
- I don’t understand fashion all that much.
Eyes are all over me as I take my place in the prime seat reserved for PINK’s VIPs. I wish the eyes would go away. I shift in my seat, trying to get comfortable on the lush pink bench but really, it’s not the bench that’s making my fidget.
“Taeyeon, is there something wrong?”
I turn to Seo with a pout and nod. “Everyone’s looking at me.”
Seo smiles. “Of course. Look at you.”
“Me? What about me?
“You’re the only person here in blue.”
It strikes me then, that Seo is completely right. Everyone in this place is wearing some kind of pink. I spot a few famous faces as I scan the crowd and have to try not to stare.
“Isn’t she the actress in that action drama showing on TV recently?” I whisper to Seo, trying to point the actress out surreptitiously.
“Many actresses wear PINK. Most, if not all, own at least one PINK item. And you will see many celebrities tonight. We only invite the A-list celebrities and they will be sure to make time for this because it shows the world that PINK acknowledges their worth.”
I look around in silence, spotting more well known figures in society at large and realize that Seo is saying it exactly as it is. And as someone who doesn’t follow the latest in fashion, the magnitude of what I’m seeing hits me. It is incredible to me that Ms Pink has achieved so much, although I really shouldn’t be surprised, given my knowledge that she possesses additional talents due to her vampiric nature. This place and everyone in it is about PINK. And this fashion show is the most anticipated event in this industry, throughout the world. I mean, there is an entire row of international superstars sitting on the other side that I’ve only just noticed! Oh my God. This is real. PINK is real.
“Stunned? Shocked?” Seo nudges me with a knowing look.
“It’s different when I am in the middle of this world of fashion.” I gesture at the dozens of spotlights hanging from the ceiling. “This. Everything. Everyone. This is real.”
“Yes, it’s real. Ms Pink’s success is well beyond what you think it is.”
“How does she manage everything? How does she carry out her duties as—you know—and keep this going, all at the same time?”
Seo smiles like she knows a secret that I don’t—which is probably the case. “Ms Pink’s true talent doesn’t lie in her eye for colours and design. It doesn’t lie in her courage to experiment and invent. Ms Pink’s true talent is her diligence. Her undying will to work at it till she attains success. This is what she wants and this is what she will get because she will work so hard to make everything happen.”
I nod as I listen. Yes. The extent that Ms Pink is willing to go to just to achieve her aim is definitely a kind of talent. The talent of hard work. Some people are better at it than others. Some have the flare for working hard. Working tirelessly.
“So, the company you investigated,” I probe, touching on this topic for the first time since I returned to Ms Pink’s, “and all the things you presented, and the selection of the new Fed—are these are results of her hard work?”
“You can say that.”
“How powerful is Ms Pink exactly? How much influence does she really hold? Just how much about her don’t I know?”
Seo shakes her head. “This is neither the time nor place to discuss this. The show is starting. Enjoy it. This is Ms Pink’s pride and joy.”
I sit back and watch as the lights dim and the soft music turns into louder, atmospheric music that makes me think of clouds, castles and a land of fairies. Pink fairies. Stars light up all around us, on the walls, on the runway, on our seats. The spotlights rotate and focus on the brand name in bold on the wall: PINK. Bright colours of different shapes pop up here and there at random around it, reminding me a little of Andy Warhol and his pop art. Repeated frames of diverging colours.
The wall slides open and out comes the first model. She is shockingly beautiful in an alien-like way. And she carries the flowing cloak of pink behind her silvery mini dress is unique. She is walking like any human would, yet she looks like she could float into the air any moment now. Adorable pink fluffy boots and a silvery tiara complete the look of a pink fairy princess out to play in winter. I’m in awe.
Outfit after outfit, model after model. Series after series. From the pink, silvery theme to snowy white and pink to dark-as-night black and pink to lush-forest green and pink. No less than thirty designs are presented by the procession of models strutting up and down the runway. Seo whispers notes about each series to me, explaining the colour combination, the choice of materials and other little details that impress me even more. Ms Pink is brilliant.
However, as much as the other designs astound me, the last outfit is what takes the cake. The silhouette of a bride donning a gown, fluffed out, grand and magnificent as a single spotlight shines down from above. More light falls on the dress as the model walks forward and we are treated to a stunning sight of a gown designed with a cherry blossom pink lace that lays over the lavender rose inside. The dress is almost magical as it shimmers and shines, bouncing light off the reflective bits woven into the gown from head to toe. A metre long train trails behind the model as she turns and the crowd gasps and murmurs, clearly in awe of this masterpiece.
“Beautiful,” Seo breathes and I have to agree. This dress is how I would spell breath-taking.
It is with all my heart and soul that I clap when Ms Pink makes her appearance on the runway. She looks good enough to pounce on, with her soft pink jacket and white blouse and pants inside. She smiles at me as she walks down the runway and I clap even harder, jaw hanging hopelessly loose. This is Ms Pink in her element and she looks happy. Only then does it hit me. Is this why she refuses to join the Sovereign? Does she prefer the human world to the supernatural? I can only wonder. Or is it possible to ask?
Ms Pink walks back behind the sliding wall of pink stars and the fashion show is over. The lights come back on and the place is abuzz with talk of the masterpieces that graced the runway just moments ago.
Seo tugs on my arm. “Come. We are to return to Ms Pink’s.”
I stand, wishing I could be part of this a little longer but I follow Seo anyway.
Seo sets the wheels in motion the moment we get back. I am brought into the bathroom and she moves around me, fixing my hair and makeup.
“Stop,” she says when I reach around to remove my dress.
“Aren’t you helping me to change out of this dress?”
“Ms Pink wants to see you as you are when she returns.”
My heart is set aflutter all at once. “Really?” I can hardly suppress the smile forming on my face. “She wants to see me?”
“Will she be back soon?”
Seo nods again. “After she is done with the necessary.”
I’m not going to lie. I am excited. Happy to finally get to speak to Ms Pink after two days. Excited to hear about the fashion show from her. Who am I kidding? I miss her. I really do. Does she miss me too? These are questions I think about as I sit on a chair in the private hall. But one hour passes and Ms Pink still hasn’t returned. And here I am, sitting still, watching the seconds go by. My eyes begin to droop and my head begins to nod but just as I am about to close my eyes to doze, a shadow falls over me. I look up and there she is. All pink and beautiful.
“Ms Pink . . .”
Ms Pink frowns. “We’re alone now.”
For a reason unknown, heat rushes to my cheeks. “Tiffany,” I say instead.
Ms Pink takes my hands and pulls me up. She looks deep into my eyes, sweeping the hair out of them and I can feel her breath hitting my skin. Oh my goodness. “Did you like it?”
“The fashion show?” I smile. “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” And you’re the most amazing vampire . . .
Ms Pink smiles and my heart melts and I almost forget about her forty-eight hour disappearance.
“So this is what you were busy with for the past two days? You could’ve told me.” I look down, feeling decidedly shy as I confess, “I-I missed you.”
I do as Ms Pink says and look at her expectantly. She seems to have something on her mind. Ms Pink steps to the left, then to the right, pacing in front of me. What is it? I am beginning to feel something bad coming on.
And true enough, Ms Pink finally stops in front of me and says, “You will not be my claim anymore.”