Joohyun was not like any of her friends.
Her friends were constantly blabbering about finding the right guy to date, or the right guy to take them to the homecoming dance or to the grand end of the year dance—prom. Yet, here she was, figuring that it was better for her own good to stick her mind to studying instead.
She did not think she actually needed a relationship in the first place.
It was not like she did not believe in love. She did. She would rather wait for the right person to come along than jump into any relationship—like what a few of her friends have gone through. And they were single—again. But ready to jump the gun any time, as if their previous, rushed relationships have not taught them a lesson at all.
However, whenever Joohyun stated that she was not interested in someone or that she would rather wait until high school ends, her friends gave her one of the most incredulous, out-of-this-world look. Their lips did not have to move because their eyes said it all: “Joohyun, are you freakin’ crazy? This is the time where you should be messing around, snogging up next to the cutest guy you know! You’re so pretty, how can you not want a boyfriend?”
Well, they did not exactly say that, but it was implied.
And it was kind of true.
However, anything her friends would say regarding that topic would not budge her.
It was one of those days where Joohyun could not concentrate in the library with her friends surrounding her every side, chatting about boys once again. When it came to the point that she was reading a sentence in her textbook but could not exactly decipher its meaning minutes later, she excused herself and paced around campus to relax.
Joohyun ended up in the Music Hall; the only other time she was here was when she took a music appreciation class, and that was about two years ago. She did not exactly have the knowledge to play instruments nor did she have the patience to learn one, but she did appreciate the musicians who could play them effortlessly.
On second thought, Joohyun actually did not know why she decided to go to the Music Hall. She had absolutely no purpose there—she did not know any of the teachers personally, she did not know how to play an instrument, and she sure as hell did not have any close friends who frequented this place.
She hoped her mind did not subconsciously direct her here after dipping into a conversation among her friends spewing out that there were a couple of “hotties” here who could play the guitar and the drums. Sure, someone who could play the drums could be seen as attractive, but what if you wanted a soft melody? Joohyun digressed.
Joohyun snapped out of her trance when she heard a faint strumming of strings coming from the room adjacent to her. She steadily crept up to the door and peered through the rectangular window, a lonesome individual strumming a guitar in her range of sight. Joohyun was not able to make out the person’s face since they were bent over the guitar, staring at the strings as well as the phone on their lap, but it was definitely a girl by the likes of her long, wavy hair and slender body.
Joohyun figured the girl must be practicing, for the latter was strumming the same pattern continuously and stopping abruptly at some parts.
“I don’t even know why I’m still here….” she whispered to herself.
She eventually backed away from the door and proceeded to make her way home until she heard a voice accompanying the strumming of the guitar. Joohyun could have continued her path, but her body froze in the middle of the vacant hallway, as if her heart was attempting to pull her back to the door but her mind was fighting it. She ended up staying there to listen to the girl’s melodic voice.
It was sweet and beautiful, almost as if Joohyun were to sleep at night, she would want this voice to sing her to a slumber. She hadn’t heard anything like this before.
Her feet gradually directed her back to the door. The girl’s face was visible now, her eyes closed and her face slightly scrunched from belting out the melodic notes. Joohyun was in a trance at this point and she had to push the door open a bit to be able to hear her voice, and when it came clear and beautiful to her ears, she almost wanted to melt. She kind of did, with the way her heart pumped and warmth was coursing throughout her body.
Joohyun desired to know who this girl was—especially her name.
She thought about forging up a lame excuse to enter the room. Maybe a friend of hers wanted her to retrieve an instrument from her, but then she saw all the lockers in the room and not a single instrument in plain sight other than the one resting on the girl’s lap. Or maybe she could confess and say that she was incredibly entranced by her voice and yearned to hear more. No, that would be too weird and creepy, to say the least. How would she explain her wandering in Music Hall way after school hours?
But Joohyun was determined to find out one way or another, so she probably thought she should—
Joohyun jolted from her rooted position and accidentally pushed the door open wider to reveal all of herself. The girl was a bit shocked by Joohyun’s startled reaction, not thinking that she would have scared her with a soft tone of her voice, but she remained in her seat. She looked about ready to bolt out the other exit closest to her should anything happen, though.
Joohyun panicked and attempted to calm herself down before the girl decided to run.
“U-U-Um, h-hi,” she stammered, and hissed under her breath for being such a ditz. “I-I, uh, I was just—um… I’m sorry for in-interrupting….”
She was ready to hear for her to get lost and for the girl to scramble out of this room, but the other girl was still in her seat. She placed the bottom of the guitar down onto the floor and folded her hands over the top.
A small laugh escaped from her lips. “It’s okay. I wasn’t expecting an audience yet.”
Joohyun peered up from the floor and forced herself to stop fidgeting with her fingers. “Y-Yet?”
The girl nodded and smiled. “It’s a piece I’m learning for the winter concert, and it kind of was supposed to be a surprise for the whole school. But seeing that you’re here, it’s not really a surprise anymore.”
Joohyun nervously laughed. She felt the corner of her lips twitching from how stupidly edgy she was.
“I-I mean, I’m just one person. It’s not like I recorded it or a-anything like that,” she said.
The girl raised an eyebrow. Her eyes evidently scanned Joohyun from head to toe, and truth be told, the latter was not holding anything remotely similar to a device that could record.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
Joohyun appeared alarmed. There was the question.
“I-I, uh… I heard you singing, so I just wanted to listen and see who it was….”
The girl lightly hummed as a response. She moved to place her guitar into the hard suitcase resting on a couple of chairs next to her.
“You sing well, by the way,” Joohyun added. “I-I really like your voice.”
The girl zipped up her case and stood up to sling it around her arm.
“Yeah, I know,” she said with a confident smile while striding over toward Joohyun. “I should be since I’m the lead in choir.”
Now, Joohyun felt a little bit dumb.
But the girl did not think too much about it. She was face to face with Joohyun now, granting the latter a clearer view of her facial features, which, by the way, were quite beautiful to her standards. A nicely shaped face with clear, big eyes and a smile wide enough to show all of her white teeth.
“It’s okay. It’s not like the other students want to pay five bucks just to see a boring orchestra playing for two hours.” She snorted at the unfortunate realization. “What’s your name, by the way?”
“Oh, I’m Joohyun…”
The girl’s lips curled up into a small smile once again. “Well, nice to meet you, Joohyun. I’m Seungwan.”
Joohyun did not expect to become closer to her after that awkward encounter. Well, awkward for Joohyun, at least. Seungwan appeared so confident it did not seem it would bother her as much as it would for Joohyun. And all Joohyun could do for the first couple of months was think back to that time where she eavesdropped on her singing and wished she had approached the whole situation differently.
But even then, maybe their friendship would not turn out to be the way it was.
Joohyun was constantly hanging out at the Music Hall after classes instead of studying at the library. Her usual table became her friends’ hangout place and she did not want to bother with their conversations anymore, at least not right now when she did not have anything to chime in with. Being with Seungwan at the moment was not too bad anyway. It was comforting to observe her strum her guitar or hear a bit of her singing.
There were days where Joohyun would just watch Seungwan silently practice and there were other days where Seungwan would take a break and learn a different song upon her request. At first Joohyun did not want to steer Seungwan away from her practicing, especially when the winter concert was about a few weeks away, but the latter insisted and wanted to relieve her mind from doing something she was tasked to do.
So, Joohyun spewed out one of her favorite songs and she almost immediately fell in love with the fact that Seungwan was able to play the first minute of it in an hour. Seungwan decided that she should only learn up to there because she wanted to be able to accompany the strumming with her voice, which she eventually did.
Joohyun felt her chest clenching and the warmth coursing throughout her body once again when Seungwan opened to sing. She peered up from her fingers strumming the guitar to her face, eyes closed and a slight smile curled.
Lost in her expression, lost in her singing, lost in her guitar playing.
Joohyun actually thought she was falling in love with this side of Seungwan.
And she knew she did when she only paid attention to Seungwan and Seungwan only when the winter concert came around at their school’s amphitheater. The other students were definitely amazing with their assigned instruments as well as whoever was singing at that time, but Joohyun only wanted to hear Seungwan.
By the time the concert ended, Joohyun rose from her seat, a bouquet of flowers in her hands. She thought it was too much to even think about getting these delicate, aromatic lilies, but everyone else had flowers as well so she did not seem like the odd one out. Seungwan just finished embracing her parents with a sweet smile on her face when Joohyun approached her. The former was surprised, to say the least, to see Joohyun with a bouquet of flowers she absolutely adored.
“Oh, my gosh, Joohyun….”
Said girl slightly panicked upon the response. She held the bouquet by the stems tightly, slightly covering her face. “I-I, I remembered you saying that you liked lilies, so I thought I-I would get them for you. U-Um, sorry, is this too much? I-I can always just bring it back w-with—“
“No, no, Joohyun.” Seungwan giggled behind her hand before she brightly smiled at the stuttering mess. “It’s okay. I like it a lot.”
It was the first time Joohyun saw Seungwan’s parents. They observed the whole scene unfold before their eyes, and Seungwan’s mother smiled when Joohyun stuttered, and Seungwan’s father chuckled when Joohyun rambled.
It was almost like they saw themselves in the two girls.
Seungwan’s parents bid their farewell and left, reminding the lead choir to return home on time for dinner. Seungwan turned back to Joohyun with another smile gracing her face, holding the lilies close to her chest.
“Do you want to do something?”
They ended up at a nearby café with steaming mugs of hot chocolate in their hands. When they were chatting, it was almost as if they had not learned anything about each other already during the times Joohyun would visit Seungwan at the music room. It was almost as if they were just starting to understand each other again, as if they were on a date. Because they were talking on and on and transitioning from one topic to another and giving “aws” and “wows.”
Joohyun suddenly flushed up at the idea of a “date” while Seungwan was passionately and animatedly talking about another interest of hers besides music.
Who was she kidding?
Of course this was not a date.
It was a friend’s outing, and Joohyun was sure that Seungwan thought so as well.
She lifted the mug up to her lips, masking the fact that she was not actually sipping, but more so covering her lower face.
It was not the time to be contemplating too much about the mere idea of being together with Seungwan, at least not when the girl in question was basically the only person she enjoyed being with at the moment.
There was not any evidence whatsoever how Seungwan felt about her anyway.
Probably just a friend.
“Oh, shoot! It’s past eight already!” Seungwan exclaimed, her rigid posture indicating her impending departure.
Joohyun lowered her mug down onto the table and proceeded to gather her belongings to leave with Seungwan. “Wow, I didn’t think we would lose track of time.”
“Yeah,” Seungwan agreed and laughed despite the fact that she was going to get into trouble when she gets home. “I guess that’s what happens when you’re in good company.”
She turned back to glance over at Joohyun, whose cheeks were colored with a healthy blush.
Joohyun felt warm still, in fact.
“H-Huh? Oh, yeah, it’s winter, so….”
When Seungwan returned home that night to a mother reprimanding her for staying out too late, she messaged Joohyun that she got home safe first thing.
It was back to their little getaways at the music room and Seungwan was learning a new favorite song of Joohyun’s. It got to that point where Joohyun watched Seungwan all day, watched the way her fingers plucked and strummed the strings, the way she made a little noise of complaint when she could not get the chords right on the first try, the way her lips curled a bit when she sang along with the instrument, or even the way she gazed into her eyes some times and widened her smile while doing so.
The organ against her chest began to beat faster than ever because of a thought crossing her mind.
Joohyun desired to be something more to Seungwan.
The musician made her feel warm even on the coldest of days. She made her admire her bright smile or her lame jokes, which she actually laughed at as well. She made her love the sight of a concentrated and determined Seungwan whenever she was learning a new song to play just for Joohyun.
Seungwan made Joohyun fall in love.
“Seungwan….” Joohyun called out softly.
Said girl was in the middle of tuning up her guitar with a tuner installed on her phone. She looked up almost immediately at the call of her name, the last tune up echoing off the walls of the room. It became eerily silent until Seungwan raised an eyebrow and hummed a response.
Joohyun gazed at her for a moment longer, but the strange thing was for her, Seungwan was not doing anything in particular to dispel the silence. She was returning the gaze, staring back into Joohyun’s soul; it was almost as if she knew what Joohyun was going to do in the next few minutes.
A corner of Seungwan’s mouth tugged up when she finally asked, “What is it, Joohyun?”
No words were given in response.
Instead, there was more of the lingering gaze from Joohyun and a decreasing distance between the two. Joohyun gripped tightly onto the edge of her seat when her upper body leaned more towards Seungwan, and their lips touched lightly and Joohyun’s eyes are shut tightly and Seungwan was moderately surprised at the sudden kiss and Joohyun just—
She forced herself back just as fast as her lips touched Seungwan’s.
Her heart was beating and her mind was running.
Why, oh why, did I do that?
Curse Joohyun and her tendency to do whatever her heart desired!
But Seungwan was not making a motion regarding the light kiss. Instead, she gently placed her phone and her guitar onto the row of seats behind her, turning back with a pleased smile.
“Do you…” Seungwan started, garnering Joohyun’s attention and for her to finally open her eyes, “…like me?”
Joohyun gulped the dry lump in . “Was that too little of a sign for you?”
Seungwan shook her head while leaning closer toward Joohyun. “No, it was just enough.”
They both figured that Joohyun was unnecessarily too scared to continue on from this point, so Seungwan took the liberty to press her lips back onto the soft feeling she felt earlier, gently molding their mouths together.
It was soft, short, and sweet, like the first kiss Joohyun imagined in her dreams with the person she liked.
Seungwan backed away gradually.
“Sorry, I’m actually in a relationship with my guitar right now….”
Joohyun smacked her on the shoulder. “Hey!”
They began their quiet yet comfortable relationship from there on out, sneaking cute kisses and cuddles whenever they were at the music room or at each other’s bedrooms. Joohyun could not help the fluttering feeling within her body whenever Seungwan was around. She made her feel so happy with her life.
Since they barely started their last semester for high school, it was the time when acceptances from their preferred colleges were going to come one by one. Despite not knowing each other at the beginning of the school year, Joohyun learned that Seungwan applied to all different types of worthy schools, but there was one that the she yearned to attend to since the start of her high school career—the top university back at her home country.
It all made sense to Joohyun now when she realized that Seungwan was originally raised in Canada. It would explain the impeccable English she had as well as her not so common Korean features. There was a time where Seungwan spoke about wanting to visit Canada for a long time now; the last time she was there was when she was forced to move as a child with her parents. Seungwan wondered how grown her Canadian friends were, how her family besides her parents were, or even how the country was as a whole.
It saddened Joohyun to hear how much Seungwan truly wanted to head back to Canada, but it was understandable to want to return to your first, real home.
It just meant being away from her source of happiness.
That was only just a small period of time for Joohyun to dwell on the thought, for Seungwan no longer brought up the topic when it was just them two.
But it was brought back up a week after prom.
Joohyun would never forget the way Seungwan asked her out to this grand dance. They were both alone in Joohyun’s bedroom, watching a couple of their favorite TV shows. Seungwan had brought a couple of bags when she came into her house earlier that day. When asked what was inside, it was always a feeble attempt of an excuse, “No, I can’t show it to you! It’ll just ruin the surprise.”
So, they sat there for another episode until Joohyun was called down to the kitchen by her mother to help prepare dinner for the three of them. Her mother was a busy one, working a high-end job an hour away from their home and only having time to enjoy a delicious dinner whenever it was on the weekend. However, it was the middle of the week and it was a bit alarming to see her mother back at home so early.
When asked, her mother stated that she was let off early because of the flu going around in the office. She could not afford to be sick at this time of year, especially when it was just the two of them at home.
Preparation for dinner took about forty-five minutes and Joohyun was allowed to leave after she finished setting up the table. It was done in no time and just when she was about to see if her mother required any more assistance, the latter was oddly shooing her away from the kitchen, saying that she has done enough for now. Odd because Joohyun’s mother usually needed her assistance to the very end of washing the dishes.
“We’ve left Seungwan alone for too long. Hurry up and get back to her,” said her mother.
Joohyun did not think twice about it and proceeded to go along with what her mother said. She pushed her door open like how she would on any other day, but she was greeted with flickers of light spreading across the floor and a Seungwan sitting on the edge of her bed decorated with rose petals. A guitar was resting on her lap and she immediately started strumming to the first song she ever learned for Joohyun.
It was an understatement to say that Joohyun was surprised. She closed the door behind her, expecting to see her lights on and Seungwan munching away on chips on her bed when she returned.
She did not expect to see candles decorating her floor, lined up in letters to spell out, “Prom?” with rose petals shaped into a heart surrounding it. She did not expect to see Seungwan smiling at her upon her entrance nor with a guitar on her lap. She did not expect any of this at all.
A rush of feelings began to hit her one by one when Seungwan romantically serenaded her the first song she learned to play with her. The way her beautiful voice fit so perfectly with the light strumming of her guitar sent the butterflies back to Joohyun’s stomach.
By the time Seungwan strummed the last chord, she gently placed her guitar back into her case lying next to the foot of the bed. Joohyun was still frozen by the door, an almost petrified look on her face, which was not a really good sign for Seungwan. She cannot believe that Seungwan planned this all along and had her mother distract her.
“So…” Seungwan started and darted her eyes toward the candles on the floor. “Do you want to go to prom with me…?”
Fortunately, Joohyun was brought back from her trance only for her to dash across the room to crush Seungwan into a tight embrace.
“Of course I’ll go with you, dummy!” she exclaimed into her neck, voice muffled.
When they attended prom a few weeks later, Joohyun almost forgot that this was the dance that all her friends were looking forward to. The very same group she distanced herself from ever since she gotten to know Seungwan. They recently started talking again when Joohyun showed up at the library and they asked her constantly who she was going with, but she turned them down every time and said she was not going. She did not want to bring attention to herself nor to Seungwan, who did not deserve the pestering treatment from her friends if she introduced her to them.
The dance floor was a bit rowdy, especially with the large amount of couples gracing the dance floor. Seungwan and Joohyun snuck in a couple of risqué dances themselves to the mainstream pop songs the DJ was playing until they decided to call it a night and relax on the balcony of the hotel resort the prom was being held at.
“Have I ever told you that you’re beautiful?” Seungwan asked all of a sudden.
They were leaning against the rail, staring off into the waves crashing against the shore. The hotel resort was next to their local, beautiful beach.
Joohyun widely smiled. “You have…about five times this whole night. Well, six now.”
Seungwan turned to her and reached to tuck a loose hair strand behind her ear. “I’m not wrong, though.”
She leaned in to press their mouths together as one of the many passionate kisses that night.
They returned home early from the dance to Joohyun’s place. Her mother was out of town tonight for a last minute preparation back at the office, which was perfect for Joohyun, considering how she did not often get to be alone in a house with Seungwan.
Barging into her room, Seungwan’s hands were tangled into Joohyun’s silky hair, their mouths harshly breathed against each other.
“I-I can’t…” Seungwan exhaled against Joohyun’s neck. “I can’t… resist you….”
Seungwan ended up gracing the bed with her bare body and Joohyun hovering over her, mouths hot against their skin, hands roaming to cover every inch. They sent each other to euphoria for the first time ever, and Joohyun did not think her body and her mind would become so spent after fully loving Seungwan.
But she knew she would do it again with no hesitation.
Prom night was one of the most recent and exhilarating memories Joohyun had.
Until Seungwan told her she got accepted to her number one choice in Canada. Joohyun was definitely happy for her and wanted her to pursue her dreams, but Seungwan became hesitant at the thought.
“I… I don’t know if I want to go anymore….”
Joohyun shot her an incredulous look. “What are you talking about? You’ve been wanting to go to this school since freshmen year!”
Seungwan gripped onto her acceptance letter tightly. “I know… but I…”
“I want to be with you… even after high school….”
Joohyun felt the tears welling up in her eyes when Seungwan spewed out those words.
She remembered who she was at the beginning of the school year. She remembered telling herself that she did not have time for petty, meaningless relationships like the one her used-to-be close friends would always get into. She remembered telling herself to just study, study, study so she could get into one of the best schools pertaining to the major that she wanted to pursue.
And she did get into the best school for her major, but it was here on this land and not somewhere across the ocean.
It was a little more than a year and a half since Joohyun and Seungwan first kissed at the music room, but it felt like Joohyun was still dating Seungwan on the first week of their relationship—flushed cheeks, rapid beating heart, butterflies in her stomach, and uncontrollable smiles.
It felt like that every day and Joohyun remembered she vowed that she would not trade anything in the world for this feeling.
Anything except for Seungwan’s long-term happiness.
Joohyun felt the tears streaming down her cheeks already, hurting from the sob threatening to escape, her chest clenching up tightly.
“We… we c-can’t,” she choked out. “We can’t.”
Seungwan’s lower lip trembled at the sight of Joohyun crying before her. “Why…?”
“Seungwan… Canada is where you truly belong…. Your whole family is there, your first friends are there, and your life is going to be there. As much as I would love for you to stay here with me, you can’t risk your future for someone like me.”
“S-Someone like you…?” Seungwan started to scoff in disbelief. “Joohyun… you’re my first love.”
Joohyun reached to grasp onto Seungwan by her hands. She sniffed and the tears continued to fall down onto their hands.
“And you are mine, too.”
“Because I love you, Seungwan!” Joohyun cried out, and the tears fell faster than ever. “B-Because I love you….”
Seungwan lowered her head and started to sob. It was becoming difficult to breathe at this state for the both of them, looking like a horrible mess.
“I-I love you, too….”
Joohyun hated herself at that point. She hated being a bit of a realist, she hated how she did not become selfish and allowed Seungwan to stay the next four years with her, she hated how she had to think about their future whether they were together or not.
But as much as Joohyun hated herself, when she was able to think about their relationship with a clear mind, she knew she did this for the better. She was not fond of the idea of having a long-distance relationship and she knew their relationship would not end lightly, especially during the period of time where they were still growing and learning new things.
Although they ended on a mutual note the night of graduation, Joohyun still went to see Seungwan off at the airport. She still ran up to Seungwan with tears trailing down her cheeks once again before the latter went through the gate, and she placed one last messy kiss on her lips.
The second Seungwan kissed back and walked through the gate, the second Joohyun knew it was going to be the last time she would see her.
Seungwan was someone who was the right person, but someone she met at the wrong time.
Seungwan was her first.
Seungwan took her first kiss, her first date, her first time making love.
And honestly, Joohyun would not have it any other way.
One was Son Seungwan.