Act 8: Lively 4
After that, I practised with Chloe and Song Mirae several times because there was nothing better than practising when it came to improving teamwork.
Sometimes we practised together as three, and I practised with just Chloe when Song Mirae was busy and vice versa. We also tried some other songs if we got bored with singing the same song.
Like that, we practised joyfully while playing around and felt like I could see Chloe and Song Mirae’s rapid development with my eyes. It was fun watching talented people grow.
Ever since the ‘as if singing’ incident from before, she seemed to have come to an enlightenment and her skills were… on a completely different league as if she had changed into a different person.
Yu Minji-sunbae’s team was sailing smoothly like that but… if there was a problem, then it would be that Chloe was having a strange misunderstanding recently…
“How do I do this?”
“This? I’m not sure either…”
“Well… play them separately like dan dan dan?”
Like that, she would ask me something and when I returned a random reply, she would learn something by herself before turning a thankful look at me.
“…You’re more amazing I think.”
In any case, the practices that continued on like this marked its end with the presentation day right before us.
“Yunjae. I don’t look strange right?”
“Is my hair okay? It doesn’t look messy?”
“I told you, it’s okay.”
“How’s my dress? Doesn’t it look too dark? Ah… I should’ve just gone with the red one…”
Seeing Song Mirae jumping around in anxiety, I ended up shaking my head. Right before the presentation of the song, we had gathered at the waiting room because there were lots of things we had to prepare for.
We had to change into formal clothing, warm up our throats, go over everything one more time for a final check…
All of that was why we had gathered and yet Song Mirae was whining about things for so long. She asked on and on about how her makeup was, her eyebrows and the angles of her eyelashes…
Now, she started talking about the dress which couldn’t even be changed at this point.
“Are you a main character or something? Why red?”
“But still, black is too iffy! It’s like a funeral.”
Song Mirae was heaving a sigh while grabbing onto her dress, but I became dumbfounded instead.
‘…Aren’t you way too fancy to be talking about a funeral?’
First off her dress. Although it was black… there were so many adornments that it didn’t look bland at all, and in fact, I even questioned whether it was okay for there to be that many laces.
How about her hair?
She designed it so much for this presentation and her hair was tied up in a strange manner in several layers of knots.
On top of that were the bright accessories hanging on the clothes. The number of accessories that were almost exactly the same as the amount allowed by school regulations appeared to show off a mathematical beauty even.
She looked exactly like a fancy peacock.
I clicked my tongue unconsciously.
Aye seriously, kids these days… the important thing is the song and yet… caring so much about the appearance… If it was me, in that time, I would go through the music sheets one more time and check my vocalisation one more time!!!!
Holding myself back from screaming out like that, I turned and looked at Chloe who was wearing a clean blue dress. Yes, that’s how you should dress.
I felt satisfied inwardly and nodded my head.
“No problems for you right Chloe?”
“We practised a lot after all~”
She raised her chin high up and crossed her arms. I was slightly in awe of how confident she was and stared back when Chloe lowered her chin slowly and gazed into my eyes.
Then, she whispered.
“And… Yunjae taught me.”
I blinked my eyes before making a smile.
“…Alright Chloe. You’ll be my second disciple.”
Ehew. She really smiled so much.
Looking at her bright, wide smile that seemed to give off light itself, a thought suddenly popped up in my head; about Chloe before the time travel.
Thinking back, Chloe back then wasn’t like this.
How should I say it… From my memories, she was a quiet foreign girl making a lonely smile and at least, she was a lot darker than right now. She gave off a somewhat cold impression and due to her overwhelming piano skills, her unpolished Korean and her staying inside the practice rooms all the time, there weren’t that many people around her.
High schoolers were generally pretty bad in human relationships and in fact, were not very brave. Unless they became friends early on right after admission, people tend to be quite awkward with others.
Especially because it was a competitive performing arts school.
…Seeing her smile like that made it harder to connect the two though. After staring at the bright Chloe for a while, I grinned and grabbed the music sheets.
Well, her bright expressions looked better.
Before, when I quit school in my first year, I hadn’t even seen her smile once and comparing the two, I think smiles suited her more than the previous dark aura.
It was then that Yu Minji who had been staring at us with folded arms gave a clap and shouted.
“Now guys! Let’s practise one last time before we go up.”
“When does it start?”
“After 10 minutes.”
Glancing at Ku Mingi sitting next to him, Song Muntak leaned himself deep into the chair and returned his gaze to the front.
Inside a dark hall void of light, there was the stage with the sole source of light shining down brightly. Seeing that, Song Muntak thought in silence.
The song presentations. Although his niece was performing in it as well, that wasn’t the only reason for his visit today. It was because the two geniuses of the second-grade composing department were presenting their songs today which was a big event that required him, the principal, to attend without fail.
…Of course, he did have a slight, very small curiosity about the boy that would be presenting with Song Mirae, because it was his first time seeing her show so much affection towards a guy.
With his squinted eyes still facing the front, Song Muntak abruptly opened his mouth.
“If I remember correctly, wasn’t your disciple attending this as well?”
“Yes. Student Jo Yunjae. He will be presenting today.”
A great coincidence, thought Song Muntak. The geniuses of the composing department, a genius of the opera department and his niece were all gathered in the same place.
Suddenly, he heard Ku Mingi speak from the side.
“Since we’re talking about student Jo Yunjae, let me ask one thing… if he successfully finishes this song presentation, isn’t that enough of a ‘result’ that you had mentioned?”
Seeing him tilting his head, Ku Mingi smiled.
“The master class, I mean. You told him to make results and in the mid-sems, student Jo Yunjae achieved high marks and has won the prize for the UCC Contest as well so if he succeeds in this song presentation on top of that, wouldn’t that mean enough results?”
Hearing that, Song Muntak thought for a bit.
‘The song presentation…’
Indeed, he had built up quite a lot of results. His mid-sem results put him at the spot of one of the top students of the entire school and besides, he had quite a large number of views on the UCC Contest.
He remembered the teacher in charge explaining zealously about how the video of them singing inside the school perfectly reflected the freshness of adolescents, and that it had a positive impact on the publication of the school.
‘Jo Yunjae was it? He seems quite capable. Judging from how he has a girlfriend, his personality seems to be decent as well…’
Thinking up to that point, he nodded his head.
“Alright. I’ll decide after seeing the results today.”
Song Muntak nodded with a satisfied smile and sat comfortably while staring at the host babbling on.
‘Ohh. It’s that student Yu Minji performing straight off the bat. Good.’
His face that had formed a smile was soon cracked by the host’s mention of the names that continued.
“…The performers will be: tenor Jo Yunjae, soprano Song Mirae, and the piano, Chloe Denjelle!”
Song Muntak who stared at the stage with widened eyes finally dropped his chin after seeing the performers appearing on the stage.
The ultimate objective of performers going up the stage, was to demonstrate the performances we had at the practice rooms without any difference.
To do that, we had to repeat lots of practices and get rid of our tension.
So what would happen if we could perfectly pull off the performance we had at the practice rooms?
After finishing the song, I stared at the audience with a blank face under the bright spotlights and heard the roaring applause.
That was natural because even if the performance was in the gutters, there would still be people clapping.
However… the scale was noticeably different.
The claps right now seemed to be twice what I had received back at the Improvement Concert. Thinking that there might be a problem with my ears, I glanced around and found dumbfounded expressions on both Chloe and Song Mirae.
I threw my gaze back to the front and saw the silhouettes of the people fluttering like waves of water. From within the endless claps, there seemed to be an increasing number of people chattering.
Blankly, we gave our greetings and left the stage to return to the waiting room. Then we waited for a bit before leaving and when we did, the others that had been waiting for us outside ran up while making a fuss.
Noh Jusup smacked my shoulder and smiled brightly.
“Hey. Damn. You guys were so good at singing I thought you were someone else. What was that? Is it thanks to the song? The song was really good and it was like it fit you guys perfectly.”
“What’s with this reaction?”
From behind Noh Jusup who was tilting his head, a few girls from the piano department walked up and sent congratulations to Chloe. They talked about how Chloe got a lot better at the piano and that she might even be better than a postgraduate sunbae.
Hearing the compliments filled with good intentions, the blank expression of Chloe gradually regained its colour.
As if the fact that it had been a success finally hit her, she seemed to have come to a realisation as the sense of reality returned. Chloe then made a bright smile.
I watched Chloe talking with those girls that seemed to have now become her friends with a smile before turning my head.
I could see the team members receiving compliments here and there.
Song Mirae was talking tearfully with Lee Suh-ah, while Yu Minji-sunbae was for some reason surrounded by freshmen girls and Chloe was talking with her new friends.
And walking past them, Han Dasom walked up to me to hand over a bouquet of flowers. When I received it blankly, the smell of roses entered my nose as Han Dasom gave a smile from behind those flowers.
“It was really good. Yunjae.”
Only then did everything finally seem realistic.
My heart thumped rapidly and a smile formed on its own. Thinking back on the practices we had and the feedback we shared, my heart felt fulfilled.
Ah, it was a success.
After that, I had no room to think about anything and received a continuation of congratulations from various people.
Kim Wuju said he enjoyed it with a happy smile and left while Jun Shihyuk walked up and threw a compliment with a pouting expression. Then, Lee Suh-ah came up and asked with her eyes glancing over.
“Is it still hard to put in emotions?”
“Yeah. It is still an uncertain variable after all. I didn’t rely on it because if we just sang by us three… I mean four without any variables, I was certain that it would succeed anyway.”
“Is that so? Anyways, it was good. Chloe improved a lot as well. I heard it was you that taught her?”
“…Where did you hear such strange things fr…”
Suddenly, the crowd divided into two as a bald man abruptly appeared with his sparkling head.
The principal gave out a cough before glancing down at me. When our eyes met, I saw a strange look in his eyes.
Huh…? What’s this?