Act 9: Whimsically 12
After that, we practised together, and the process was rather simple. Chloe would play the accompaniment for Elf King and I would sing accordingly with a two-way feedback after that.
Facing each other, we talked about the parts that were good and those that required a different approach. Through those, we raised each and every expression on which our opinions differed and… after a few repetition of those processes, the noises that obstructed the harmony all disappeared.
“I think we can stop here.”
Hearing Chloe say that, I checked the clock and discovered that it had roughly been an hour since I came to her house.
Hmm… she was right; it’s only been an hour. I thought it would take a bit longer but it ended after around six tries so… the word ‘already’ was definitely a fitting one.
‘Didn’t it take three to four times more time during the previous song presentation practices?’
Actually, we required a long time over a few days of practice and even though there was Song Mirae to consider back then, today was still very fast.
Touching my chin, I searched for the reason our practices ended so early, to the point it was doubtful, but soon, I nodded my head in understanding.
I mean, it’s already been a few months since Chloe played accompaniments for me and it was around time we understood our approaches to music. After some casual taps on the piano or a few vocal notes, we could start to feel how each of us wanted to approach the song.
In fact, I also somewhat understood Chloe’s piano. It was cheerful and fast, yet had delicate touches with a dense storm of emotions hidden beneath that…
After some thought, I raised my head and replied.
“Maybe it’s because of the song presentation we did last time. We practised a lot together after all.”
“The song presentation… I think we did it over a hundred times.”
Seeing Chloe pouting her lips as if complaining to Yu Minji who wasn’t even here, I let out a smile. Well, it was understandable considering that Chloe didn’t have much time due to being called in rather late.
“But thanks to the practices back then, we ended early today.”
“That’s true too.”
Raising her lips to a smile, Chloe stood up from her seat and started packing up the piano with dexterous fingers. Removing the stick that supported the lid, she folded the music desk and closed the lid over the piano keys.
After gently organising everything in a seemingly elegant manner, Chloe tapped on the cover before stretching her arms out. Due to that, her belly button showed a glimpse before soon being covered again.
“Huuttt…! Phew. In any case, it finished earlier than I thought. One hour… maybe I shouldn’t have made you come all the way to my house.”
“It’s nothing. Your house is closer than the school.”
Tilting her head, Chloe asked.
“Really? Do you live far away?”
“Hmm… it does take around an hour after getting on and off a few times. I came to your house with one bus after 30 minutes you see.”
Seeing her eyebrows being lowered, I broke out into a smile.
“What else can I do? The school is the only place I could practise in, so I should actually be thankful for them even opening during the holidays.”
“Then do you want to practise at my house?”
Hearing the nonchalant words thrown at me, I stopped.
Practise? At Chloe’s house?
I quickly racked my brain.
Saving 30 minutes, or rather, since it was a return journey, I could save one hour which meant I could spend one more hour for practice. If those hours stacked up, how many more songs would I be able to learn?
After slight hesitation, I forcibly shook my head and rejected the tempting offer.
“No, it’s okay.”
“No-one uses it anyway~~”
“Even then, it’s not good manners.”
Seeing Chloe questioning something I considered normal, I scratched my head. Although Chloe appeared like an adult sometimes, she was still like a kid and in situations like this, I would understand once again that we were still in high school freshman age.
“If I just went to your house to practise, imagine how uncomfortable I would be. It would also look like I’m using you to make my life easier if I came and went from your house after just practising.”
And if I had to repay the favour to not feel indebted, that would ultimately take time away from my practices so that would be putting the cart before the horse. In the end, it would just ruin our relationship.
“Is that how it is?”
“Nn. Anyway, thank you for the offer but I’ll just go to the school. It’s not right to feel awkward amongst friends just to save 30 minutes right?”
Besides… another big aspect was that the one hour of travelling to school was spent listening to songs so there was no need to get rid of it in the first place. Since listening to other people singing was a practice in itself, I shouldn’t neglect it.
Burying those thoughts inside, I smiled.
With a strange expression, Chloe stared at me and murmured ‘Friend…’. Then, the usual smile returned to her face as she replied.
“I’ll get going then. See you next semester and good luck practising for your concert as well!”
Wearing a bright smile, Chloe waved her hand and stared at the door closing with a thud.
It remained still without moving an inch. Left standing alone on the entrance, Chloe heaved out a small sigh and turned around.
‘Was I in too much of a rush?’
Blaming herself, she carried her feet. Since the practice today ended a lot earlier than she thought, she was baffled. Although she had been expecting to meet him for a few days, it had ended in one day, in one hour so it was a lot lacking compared to the plans she had in mind.
That was why she unconsciously gave a rash suggestion. Reflecting on her mistake, Chloe opened the door to her room. Behind the door that was pushed open, her room appeared in full.
Just like the living room, her room was tidy and staring at that room which had not a single decoration, Chloe quietly thought.
Although it was a rash suggestion, the situation was still very fine compared to the past. Chloe who had been smiling soon stopped and formed an indifferent expression that appeared cold at a glance.
She thought back to the days she spent in France, her childhood that took a large portion of her short life.
Now that she thought about it after arriving in Korea, France wasn’t all that different. They were both countries with people living inside so there were a few staple things.
At school, students would take lessons and at home, they would live with their parents. Regardless of the difference in language and culture, and regardless of the skin colour, people would all eat, and breathe without any difference.
And just like how there were bad people in Korea, there were bad people in France as well. There was a bad person that had ruined her primary and middle school days.
Although hearing the word France might make you think of a country filled with tall-nosed, white-skinned French people, France was in fact, surprisingly closer to a multicultural nation.
It was a country filled with immigrants from Arabic nations, Asians and black people. Because it was such a country, racism was absolutely an ongoing problem. All sorts of people were gathered in one place so it was inevitable for there to be some conflict.
Especially kids that didn’t know any better could become cruel to kids ‘different’ from themselves – that was something Chloe was made to learn.
‘Because we look different.’
At the start, it had been one person teasing her but when that became the starting point, eventually no-one talked to her.
However, she didn’t care too much about it and instead, she walled herself away from them.
It was okay. Because she had an interesting friend called the piano, the rest wasn’t important and as long as she could play the piano, nothing else mattered.
That’s what she thought but the animals called humans were not tough enough to be able to survive alone.
Lying down on the bed, Chloe abruptly reached out to the ceiling with her hand. Feeling the warmth from the light bulb heating up her fingers, she repeated the word.
She, who had been thinking of something soon surfaced a smile as warm as the bright sunlight.
One month was very long yet short.
Thinking back on the prac test, it felt like it had been ages but the casual jobs with Lee Suh-ah and the practices with Chloe felt like it all happened yesterday.
Time flew past and today was the long-awaited first day of the semester; one day before the Prac High-achievers Concert.
“Hey Yunjae! You didn’t forget anything right? Did you pack the lotion I placed on top of the table? It has been a few days since I put it there so how come you’ve never packed in it yet? You take after your father so much…”
Overwhelmed by the words overflowing out from my mother, I repeatedly replied ‘yes’ when my father gave out an empty cough.
“Right, so when was the school starting again?”
“It starts in 30 minutes.”
Then, he quietly turned back towards the entrance of Future Arts High.
The entrance, crowded with people, was wrapped in a rowdy atmosphere. There were students walking into the school in uniforms, their parents that brought them here and teachers talking amongst themselves.
It was a scene that proved the start of the second semester of Future Arts High. While staring blankly at the front, father opened his mouth.
“It’s already been six months…”
Six months. Right, it has already been six months since I returned here.
“Back then I was worried about you going to a performing art school when you’ve never properly learned music but you even got a scholarship.”
Father’s words prompted the images of the past to flick past my eyes like an album.
Thinking back, it was an eventful period of six months.
After suddenly returning to the admission day, I sat a test and had to get used to school life. While practising, I had to attend lessons and take more tests.
Plus, there were people I was meeting after a long time including teacher Kwak Jungsoo and many other friends. With some friends I had never talked to before, I got to create lots of memories…
Seeing me lost in thought, father slowly opened his mouth.
When I saw his expression that looked a lot brighter than before, I turned away in embarrassment.
It was good that my father looked happier than before but thinking about how I stole the young Lee Suh-ah’s scholarship, it seemed like a greatly shameful act.
He tapped my shoulder a few times with a smile but soon took his hand away and opened his lips in seriousness.
“I made a request on the admission day, do you remember?”
I looked back after blinking my eyes in thought.
“…the thing about making a lot of friends?”
“Yes, friends. I’m more curious about that than your scholarship.”
With his eyes on the expensive car driving past us from the side, he asked.
I tried counting.
First off, there were Noh Jusup, Han Dasom, Chloe, Lee Suh-ah and… Jun Shihyuk… well, maybe it was a bit off to say he was a friend, and I didn’t talk much with Kim Wuju either.
It definitely is more than before but…
With my fingers raised up, I was counting when a voice reached my ears from the side.
Turning around, I saw Han Dasom standing there.
Fully showing off her clean forehead, she seemed quite different from last term and it appeared like she was wearing some makeup. Now, she looked almost identical to what I saw on the TV in the past.
She was facing me with an expression that seemed to be sparkling and soon found my parents standing next to me.
Then, she quickly lowered her head towards the ground astonishedly.
“Hello…! Um… I’m Yunjae’s frie… Han Dasom!”
Father squinted after the initial surprise and stared at Han Dasom for a while before widening his eyes in a flash.
“You are the girl that sang with Yunjae on youtube.”
Oh, right, I sent him a link last time.
While I was scratching my head, he turned and stared at me with a strange look and nodded as he opened his mouth.
“Good for you.”
What does he mean by that?
Apologies for the misinformation in the past. So here, there are 2 semesters (from what we know so far. Maybe there’s a 3rd, short semester after the New Years holidays)
Been way too long since I studied in Korea…