I never really planned for anything.
My parents wanted me to have a normal life. You know, the usual, Japanese way of living. Drudge my way through high-school, slave away at some dead-end job, and probably settle down as a housewife at some point. Some might call it a boring life. It probably is a boring life, but I was content with it. I had friends, I enjoyed middle school, everything was shaping up to be what my parents hoped for.
Then I moved to Korea for an Idol-group audition. I know. What the hell? That’s a pretty massive time-skip, right? Honestly, how I got here isn’t really an interesting story to tell. One day I just felt like it, and I had all the “necessary” qualifications for it. I wouldn’t call myself beautiful, but I’m probably good enough for TV. I liked to dance, even joined up with the culture club back in middle-school. I was pretty fit, too. Probably more than the average girl. My parents were obviously surprised at first, but eventually they supported me all the way. I don’t know how I convinced them to let me go. They probably figured it would be useless to try and hold me back. I’d run away eventually.
That was just the kind of person I am. I always go with the flow, but once I set my mind on something, I don’t think anything can hold me back. Sometimes this ended up being a good thing, most other times it ends up backfiring though. I think back in pre-school I really wanted to be a dancer. My dad was against it at first, but he let me join up a small recital eventually. Well, I fucked up. I don’t really want to remember it at all, but at the end, I ended up crying on my dad’s arms.
This fact does bother me a little. When we hugged at the airport, waiting for my flight, it did cross my mind a little. What if this is going to end as a failure? What if I’m just going to end up crawling back crying to my dad? It was uncomfortable, yeah. The whole flight I was nearing the brink of a total anxiety attack.
You guys know the story from here. I ended up barely making the cut. Apparently the guy in charge liked me enough to put me as the main dancer. The audition was rough. Tears, sweat, and maybe a little blood was secreted. To tell you the truth, the only reason I managed to brave through it all was a girl I met there.
Her name is Sana. We kinda immediately clicked together because she was also Japanese. Being in a foreign country, most people tend to gravitate towards their comrades. There was another Japanese girl too – her name was Mina. The three of us supported each other. We hung out after practice, we taught each other basic stuff, it was your usual friendship really.
This is a little weird for me to say, but our little circle, even though it was pretty close, has kind of a weird dynamic. Yeah, the three of us could talk for hours, enjoying the little break we had from practice. But somehow it felt different between Mina and I when we were alone. It’s weird. It felt like our "circle" hinged on Sana. Without her, our relationship just kind of.. changed. None of us really brought it up at the time, but I’m sure we all secretly knew this inside. It's not like I didn't get along with Mina, quite the opposite, actually. But somehow the friendship I had with Sana just felt different than the friendship I had with her.
I think this was why when we finally made our debut, I immediately clinged to Sana. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I just really liked hanging out with her. I’m sure she felt the same too, because she was really, reaaally bad at lying. I could tell the smile on her face when we hung out was genuine.
Months went by, we made history together. Fancy became an international success. Our next single, Feel Special became an even bigger success. We supported each other through everything.
“You know, I don’t know if I could get through all the pressure like this if I didn’t have you” Sana once jokingly said, after practice.
I blushed a little. I don’t know why, but my heart kind of raced. I’m sure you all already know this, but despite appearances, I’m actually kind of easy to fluster. This was different though. I wouldn’t call it uncomfortable, but it was certainly a weird feeling.
“How could you even say that with a straight face?” I retorted, it was a miracle I was able to say anything back, I was really embarrassed at the time. “Umm.. yeah, me too. I guess”
“Aww, are you embarrassed?” She laughed. “Look at your face!”
“Shut up” I said, desperately avoiding her gaze.
You know what, let’s talk about her eyes. I don’t know what it is about her gaze. Sometimes I can look at her straight no problem. Other times though, it felt like her gaze pierced right through me. I felt naked. I know it’s not rational, but at the time, it felt like she could see right through me. Maybe I’m just a bad liar, maybe I’m just really bad at hiding my emotions, but she always finds a way to corner me with just her gaze alone.
I didn’t like it at first. I’m not good at dealing with other people. Every time she gazed at me like that, my heart beat so fast I thought I could die. The more we hung out, though. The more we began to inch closer to each other.
I think I’m starting to like that gaze.
Maybe a couple months after the release of Feel Special, we went on a trip together. This was a pretty normal affair for us. We once went to Hawaii together, but that’s a story for another time. With all the tours, the fan events, and all the promotional shoots finally over, we figured it was a good time to take a break. Jihyo, Mina, and Tzuyu decided they were going to travel around Japan together. I think Nayeon and Jeongyeon stayed in Korea together. I don’t know where Chaeyoung and Dahyun went. One morning after breakfast they just packed their bags and told us they were going on an adventure.
We went to Hawaii already, so we decided to look for another tropical island. “How about Guam?” Sana suggested. “I’ve never really been there before. It might be fun”
I was a bit more skeptical though. “Guam? I’ve been there once as a child. I’m not saying it’s a bad place, but it’s pretty much just Asian Hawaii. Same beaches, same sunsets, and all”
Sana seemed pretty amused at my response. “I don’t think our Guamese fans would be very happy to hear that” she said, laughing at my nonchalant disrespect towards a whole island.
“What the hell is a Guamese? Aren’t people there called Guamanian or something?”
We ended up debating this point for a while until we finally settled on texting Jihyo and asking her. She didn’t respond.
We lazed around the couch a little more. The house we all lived in at the time, we had this little corner next to the kitchen. It was a small little corner, but Mina (god bless her rich parents) bought a tiny sofa for us to laze around in. Chaeyoung decorated the place with pictures of us, Jihyo brought pillows from home, and eventually the corner turned into some kind of secret place for us to hang out in. Come to think of it, the corner ended up being our little safe space. Every time the pressure was too much to handle, every time we had our little problems, Jihyo would gather us all around the corner. She’d sit on the sofa while the rest of us were scattered around in front of it. She’d tell stories, comfort us, scold us. We have a lot of memories here. The house itself was pretty beautiful for my standards, but this small, cramped corner holds a special place in my heart.
The sofa itself was pretty small. You’d maybe fit two people at most. It was the perfect size for both of us though.
Sana slumped over and rested her head on my lap. It smelled nice. “I think I’d like to go somewhere secluded. Somewhere without any people around” she said, in a sleepy, seductive kind of voice.
Why’d you have to say it like that?? My heart started beating and I start to feel a little warm. I silently thank Mina for putting an AC here.
My voice wavered a little. “Humans have been around for decades by now, I don’t think there are any places left without any.”
“You know what I meant, smartass” she flicked my nose. Her fingers seemed small and frail, but the way she snapped it to hit me was elegant. Her skin was fair and smooth. They way I felt the weight of her head on my lap felt nice and soft. Uh oh. It’s getting worse.
“I meant a place where we can get a little privacy, you know? We spent all this time around people, around fans, around corporate people from JYP. I just think it’s been a while since we had quality time together” she flipped her head and rustled around to face me. I started rustling her hair unconsciously.
“I just had my hair treated yesterday. Do you like it?” she laughed. I gotta say, her hair does feel nice. So this is the power of modern hair treatment facilities? Science is scary.
I pulled back my arms and pinched her soft cheeks. “Yeah. It does feel nice. You know, my parents bought a small villa in Okinawa for retirement.” I said. The voice that came out of my mouth sounded a lot softer than I intended. “We can probably borrow it for a while. It’s a quiet place near a lake. Probably not much to do besides hanging around the villa and swim though.”
Her face lit up in an instant. She moved elegantly to position herself right on my shoulders. It’s actually kind of amazing how smooth her movements were. It probably took some strength to pull your body up and twist it that way. “That sounds really nice. Would your parents mind?” she still had that soft, whisper-like voice, but I could make out a glimpse of childish excitement in her voice.
I adjusted my elbows a little to cushion her head on my shoulders. Damn. I thought her hair smelled nice when she was on my lap, but with her being this close it was just a complete sensory overload. It smelled like strawberries and vanilla. It’s a smell that suits her, I admit. It’s also an effective weapon against me. For a moment, I contemplate how dangerous it is for such a frail woman to hold so much destructive power. “I’m sure they wouldn’t mind. How about we visit your parents for a while, then we head back to Kyotonabe to meet my parents and grab the keys?” I whispered.
I calculated all the logistics inside my head, it was quite difficult, owing to the fact that my thoughts are currently being infiltrated by strawberries and vanilla. “My parents drive a manual, and I don’t know how to drive those kinds of cars. We can probably rent a car at the airport, right?”
“I want a car with a cute color” she said, snuggling up to my shoulders.
A car colored like your hair would probably be pretty cute, I thought. But that sounded like a cringy thing to say so I held back.
“Alright, so we have a plan, then? You already asked for a time off, right?” I asked her, partly to divert my attention back to the matter at hand.
She rested her hands on lap and excitedly whispers. “Yep! Just need to let Jihyo know about where we’re going, but otherwise, I’m pretty much set to go!”
I smiled. Thank god no one put a mirror here. I didn't want to see the stupid grin on my face. It was weird. I was feeling anxious, embarrassed, and my heart raced a little bit because of her. But then all I felt after giving her the OK and finalizing our plans was just pure happiness. I can’t remember the last time I felt this excited for a trip! Probably middle school?
I was so excited, so happy, I felt so alive that I wanted this feeling to last forever.
I think this was the point where I finally realized that I didn’t just like her as a friend. I loved her.