Another picture falls to the ground again. Ms Kim bends to pick it up and the prettiest girl in class giggles when the blue pencil skirt stretches around the innerwear, revealing its seams. The picture goes back on the whiteboard and Ms Kim draws a circle around it. It is a picture of an artist. Who it is isn’t the focus right now. It isn’t going to be the focus later either. In fact, it isn’t going to be the focus, ever.
“Yoona,” a friend whispers, “what?”
“What?” she whispers back.
“Pfft, are you losing your mind?”
Yoona ignores her friend and continues staring at Ms Kim. She likes Ms Kim’s voice and the way she looks. Because of Ms Kim, this is her favourite class but it’s also a class she isn’t doing well in for the same reason. How ironic.
“This is going to be included in next week’s term test so take note. Draw lines, stars, highlight it or whatever you guys do.”
“Test?” Yoona sits up straight, her cheek leaving her fist. She turns to her friend sitting next to her. “Sooyoung, did Ms Kim say test?”
Sooyoung rolls her eyes as she nods. “Yeah, there’s gonna be a test next week. Are you sleeping with your eyes open again?”
Yoona rolls her eyes right back. “I’m just surprised.”
“It’s in the calendar, you idiot. Why are you acting so strange? You’re not like this in other classes. And isn’t Ms Kim your favourite teacher?”
“You’re not making sense.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“I’ll understand after lunch.”
“Food again. When will you stop eating so much?”
“When I’m dead.”
“Hey, you two. Yoona. Sooyoung. Do you have something to share with the class?”
Yoona turns red and her usual wit abandons her in her hour of need.
“Nothing much, Ms Kim,” Sooyoung replies. “It’s just that, well, I’m hungry.”
The class bursts out laughing and even Ms Kim smiles. She turns to look at the clock hanging on the wall behind her then addresses the class again. “How would you like an early lunch break?” The class erupts in approving cheers and applause and Ms Kim chuckles. “Okay, okay. Message received. Just remember to study for the test next week, alright?”
Yoona turns to Sooyoung. “You go ahead and grab seats. I’ll catch up quickly.”
“Where are you going?”
“I need to ask Ms Kim a few questions.”
“Yeah, you’re gonna need all the help you can get for the test. Okay, I’ll grab seats. See ya.”
Yoona stuffs her empty notebook into her bag, slots her pen into the side pocket and walks down the stairs to where Ms Kim is packing her things. “Ms Kim, may I ask you something?”
Ms Kim looks up from her laptop and smiles. “Of course. What is it?”
“I’m confused with the concepts of contemporary, modern and postmodern art.”
“That’s quite a big question,” Ms Kim says with a smile. Taking another look at the clock, she turns back and says, “The next class will start soon. We have to vacate this place first. Come, follow me.”
Yoona slips her thumbs under her backpack straps and hangs her hands on them as she follows Ms Kim out of the lecture theatre and down the corridor to a study bench nearby. Ms Kim puts her laptop bag and file on the bench and sits. Yoona follows suit.
“Okay, mmm, where should I begin?”
“I don’t really know the difference. Modern, postmodern. It’s confusing. And contemporary. Isn’t contemporary modern? And postmodern should be more modern than modern so isn’t it contemporary too?”
Ms Kim chuckles and her row of white teeth, perfectly positioned in a straight line, gleam in the lights of day. It makes Yoona smile too. “Modern art has a time frame. So do postmodern and contemporary art. But beyond the time frame, it’s mainly about the type of art. The style of art. It is the expression of man, defined by the times.”
“But how do you tell them apart?”
“You’re really unprepared for the test next week, aren’t you.”
Yoona looks down at her fingers. “I’m sorry, I haven’t been paying attention in class.”
“Why? I heard that you’re a good student.”
Yoona’s eyes bolt up to Ms Kim’s bespectacled ones and she bites her lip. “Well, it’s because I’ve been distracted.”
“By you.” Yoona winces the second those words come flying out of her mouth. It sounds totally wrong and it’s incredibly embarrassing. “I mean, your voice. You have a very nice voice. Like a DJ.”
“A DJ?” Ms Kim’s eyebrows rise as she makes a sliding gesture with her hand.
“No, no. I mean like a radio DJ.”
“I see. And is my nice DJ voice distracting you from the lesson?”
“It’s not your fault. I don’t know why I’m distracted either. But your voice is like a lullaby. I feel very comfortable, and safe, and I guess, my mind starts wandering.”
“Well, there are a few more lessons left this term. Do you think you can pay attention to what I’m saying instead of the way my voice sounds?”
“I can try . . .”
Ms Kim smiles again, the corners of her eyes curling up in a cute way. “I’ll hold you to that.” She stands and picks up her belongings. “Study hard for the test next week, okay, Yoona? If you have anymore questions while studying, come and see me and I’ll help you.”
Yoona nods and smiles. “Okay.”
This is not the end 🙂