Shuffling can be heard as a black van approaches the venue. The hold on their cameras tighten as the automobile narrows the distance. It halts in front of hundreds of eager people pushing through the crowds to catch a glimpse of whoever is inside. The door opens and as soon as the head of the subject of the attention pokes her head, a multitude of camera shutter sounds can be heard along with shouting of individuals.
“I love you!”
The woman releases a smile and raises her hand for a wave as she takes her stride towards the TV station. Despite the chaos, she remains calm and collected maybe because such circumstances have been an everyday occurrence for someone her caliber.
She’s the complete package – actress, singer, dancer, model, and many more. TV ratings for her drama would shoot up straight to the top of its timeslot ratings, her singles would leave her lounging on the top of Melon’s roof for a great duration of weeks, her endorsed products would be sold out in a matter of minutes after she wore it. Everyone knows her even your neighbor’s dog. To say she’s a top star would be an understatement. She’s a phenomenon, a goddess, an ethereal being to the Korean entertainment industry.
And she knows it. She goddamn knows.
“Here’s the last question! It’s something I’m sure everyone’s very curious about,” The interviewer shifts his eyes from the interview card to Irene.
“Fire away, Henry,” She replies.
“Are you in a relationship right now?” Henry asks with a glint in his eyes.
Irene giggles at the question. She looks at the crowd to witness their eager and hopeful faces. There’s a pregnant pause amongst the crowd as they anticipate her answer. She knows her effect on people and knows how to use it to her advantage.
“I’m not,” She replies.
The crowd releases their breath they’ve been holding, and several sighs of relief are added afterwards. “May we know why? I’m sure you had long lines of suitors wanting a taste of your love,” Henry added.
She chuckles at his choice of words.
Have. I still have long lines of admirers. Or should I say a legion of them?
“I’m not really sure. I haven’t found anyone attractive yet,” which is true. Irene has truly never found anyone that has attracted her.
There’s no one who’s much more beautiful than me.
Everyone says she’s molded after the beauty that is Aphrodite (her manager, Yeri, begs to differ saying it should be Narcissus). She’s quite sure she’s the most beautiful person walking on Earth and she’s actually a bit sad that she would probably never find anyone more attractive than her (insert Yeri’s eyeroll here).
But, boy, she was so wrong.
It was one Sunday night where she’s free of schedule that she decides to order a pizza as substitute for a proper dinner and binge watch any show she would find in Netflix interesting. She’s halfway through the first episode of Kingdom when she heard the doorbell ring. She stood up and opened the door expecting her most awaited pizza at the other side of her door.
She found love at first sight instead.
In front of her, standing right now is the most beautiful being she has ever seen to walk on Earth. Mind you, when she said being she meant herself included and including herself but still finding the girl more beautiful (and handsome, and cute) is saying a LOT (a freaking miracle– Yeri would say). Irene’s mouth was left ajar as she takes in the wonderful sight in front of her. The girl has seductive brown eyes in the form of monolids. Her nose is high with unique heart shaped nostrils. And her lips, oh god, her pink lips looked so soft and inviting, and… appeared to be mouthing something? Irene furrows her eyebrows as she mimics the movement – her focus so intense that all thoughts seem to block her ears from hearing.
“Mi– Misi– Mrs– Mrs. Kim?“ She unintentionally raises her voice upon realizing what the other girl was saying.
“Mrs. Kim?” The delivery girl flinches but repeats the name. “Is that you? You ordered chicken right?”
There are so many wrong things about the string of phrases that the pretty girl – which she will now dub as loml (short for love of my life) – said.
First, it is the pride of Irene Bae that not one single person in South Korea doesn’t know her since she emerged in the industry three years ago. As soon as she made her debut, she shot right of the top like a rocket seizing everything from roles to advertisements left and right. She’s not only the talk of the town, she was the talk of the country.
Second, her baby (she reasons it’s easier to pronounce that than loml) not only does not know her but thought she was a married woman. For s sake (not literally), Irene Bae is very much single and only her baby can change that.
And last but not the least: Chicken?! Rumors say that you can never put Irene and chicken in the same sentence (Obviously, it’s not true because I just did). The same goes for the theory of time and space stating that her and chicken can never ever co-exist in the same place at the same time.
Why? When she was young, her mother made her devour chicken for the whole week (yes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even midnight snacks) that she vowed never to ever eat the forbidden food ever again. During the rare and accidental times that she did, she would suffer from an upset stomach and vomit everything. Everyone knew this, and a petition was actually made (but got rejected) before about passing a law that will prohibit anything chicken-related within a 100m distance from the top star.
Seeing the formation of a scowl on Irene’s face, the girl suddenly doubted herself. “Are- are you not Mrs. Kim?” She nervously raises rearranged her cap causing her ears to peek from the strands. This immediately earned an almost squeal from Irene due to the sight of her very cute and large ears – instantly forgetting her sentiments a while ago.
“It’s the right unit though? 30-D right?” She verified by looking at the number and letter written on the actress’ door. “Ah! Is this Tower A?” She shifts to look straight at Irene’s eyes. Albeit under a haze, the singer managed to shake her head.
“Omo! It should be A. I got it wrong! I’m so sorry!” The employee apologized profusely while bowing to the actress. Irene raised her hands and waved both to signal her to stop and show that it’s okay. As soon as she stops bowing, the delivery girl sported a pout.
Irene was a goner at this point as she keeps repeating that very cute pout in her head. It was only when she heard the ding of the elevator that she realized that the love of her life is leaving. She hastily ran after her. The elevator closes before she can stop it. Before it fully closes, she was able to spot the text written on the box of chicken the girl was holding.
She shuts the door after yet another failed attempt at finding the love of her life. As soon as she came in her apartment three days ago, she searched for branches of the chicken restaurant online. Turns out there are three branches within her neighborhood. She called each one of them and requested delivery. She could’ve asked about her during the phone call but doubted if they will provide information. Her strategy proved quite efficient because she had the delivery people wrapped around her finger as soon as they saw her. Unfortunately, every one of them told her the said girl does not work at their branch.
She was starting to doubt her existence. Maybe she really isn’t real? A girl that beautiful yet handsome looks so surreal to even exist in this world. It’s impossible to even be on par with Irene Bae’s beauty so a person surpassing her is surely out of this world.
She drapes the blanket over her face as she continues to sulk in her bed. Just like that, a light bulb seemed to pop open on top of her head.
She rang the bell to Mrs. Kim’s unit. The door opened revealing a young man whose eyes are now as wide as saucers.
“Omo! Irene Bae is here, Omma!”
As soon as those words were released, she swore the heads at the door multiplied by twenty folds as if she’s witnessing a real-life Naruto in action.
“Who? Irene Bae?”
“It really is Irene!”
She wasn’t even able to react before she was pulled inside the house.
She lied on her bed with all energy out of her body. She just came back from Mrs. Kim’s place. It just so happened that today was Mrs. Kim’s 50th birthday so a lot of her relatives and friends are there celebrating her day. She can’t believe she had to do a mini-fan meeting in her unit.
She looked at the small paper that she was holding where the numbers she needed are written and smiled.
The 30 autographs, 100 selfies, and 2 song & dance numbers she went through in Mrs. Kim’s place was worth it.
She woke up way early the next day. She went to the spa to pamper a bit in the morning. Afterwards, she went to the salon to have her hair and make-up done. Last but not the least, she went and bought a designer dress to finish off the look.
She asked Yeri to come over at the boutique, “What do you think?”
Yeri took a once-over at her before replying, “It’s good but where are you going?” She cannot recall anything scheduled for the girl – personal matters included.
“My house,” she replied confidently.
“Excuse me?” The manager asked with a creased forehead wondering if she heard wrong, “Are you having a party?”
“No. Why would I have a party?”
Yeri looked at her dumbfounded by her response. “So, uhh, you dragged me here and you dressed up so you can go back to your house?”
Irene smiled, “Yes.”
“The are you smoking, Unnie?”
When Irene spoke to Mrs. Kim, she found out that it was a newly opened branch roughly five blocks away from their apartment. She wanted to go visit the store but it’s in a very crowded place and she would not be able to talk to her love if people will disturb them so she settled for asking the delivery number of that chicken place.
She smiled somewhat maniacally. After all, alone time with the delivery girl would be the best.
That was what Irene Bae was expecting when she haphazardly ran to the door once she heard the door bell ring. She stopped and took one more look at herself before making sure to straighten out any creases in her designer dress. She took one deep breath before she held the handle to finally open the door.
Disappointment washed over her when the other side revealed a different girl.
“Heol! Bae Irene?!” The delivery girl, which the actress will now dub as Not-Love-of-My-Life, was very surprised to find out. After recovering, she was berating herself that she should’ve known from the name “Bae Joohyun” written as the recipient. How could she forget the Goddess’ real name! She’s a huge fan apparently. She even knows Joohyun’s 3rd most favorite fabric conditioner when she doesn’t even remember her Mother’s maiden name.
“You ordered one Classic Buffalo chicken, Ms. Bae?” She said while holding up the box of chicken and smiling at Irene like she put the stars in the sky.
The top star hummed as a sign of confirmation.
“But you don’t eat chicken, right?”
Irene shifted uncomfortably before replying, “It’s… Uhhh… for my… Hmm… Manager.” She wanted to order other foods but, unfortunately, everything in this restaurant’s menu is chicken-related (excluding the drinks of course).
Not-Love-of-My-Life ecstatically replied to her. Her eyes beaming with a proud spirit over her idol’s kindness. “Thoughtful as expected,” She said while giving the popular girl her order.
The singer was a bit hesitant asking the employee about the girl but this is her only hope so far in finding her lost romance. (She was partly convinced that Mrs. Kim definitely scammed her. She’s gritting her teeth while remembering herself singing and dancing Amor Fati in front of Mrs. Kim’s guests. It was not even a song released by hers to begin with.)
“Uhm… Is there a delivery girl with monolid eyes, black hair, heart-shaped nostrils, and large ears working in that restaurant?” She asked while looking with hopeful eyes.
The woman beamed at the mention of the description while nodding, “Oh. Seulgi? Is it Kang Seulgi?”
Irene tried to stop a grin from forming in her lips and opted to act indifferent. She can finally put a name (and a beautiful one) to the image of her love. “Yes, Seulgi,” She replied at the girl, whose new nickname evolved to Not-Seulgi. “Tell me about her.”
“O-ohhh. I’m a f-fan of yours really but Seulgi-unnie is a very private person. I-I’m not sure if I can tell,” Not-Seulgi replied while scratching the back of her head. Seulgi really doesn’t like sharing anything about her to other people unless she says them herself.
A knowing spark emerged in Joohyun’s eyes, “Really? I was thinking of giving you my album if you told me what you know about her.”
The woman looked at her with surprise written on her face and mouth slightly opened before shaking her head very faintly.
“…It’s signed by the way.”
Not-Seulgi gasped before carelessly fondling her pocket to find her phone, “O-oh! Wait! I think I can ask Seulgi-unnie for permission.”
The popular girl interrupted her when she was finally dialing Seulgi’s number, “…And I actually wouldn’t mind taking a selfie with you.”
She heard Seulgi answer the call, “Hello? Joy? What is it?” She was sure she would decline (because home girl doesn’t even know one single celebrity) but she was sure she can scam her way into making her agree anyway but it will take a lot of time and Ms. Bae is definitely not a woman with a lot of it.
Joy pressed the end call icon before looking at Irene with a grin, “On second thought, I really think she wouldn’t mind.” She then suddenly furrowed her eyebrow. “Uhhh. B-by the way, why do you want to know about her? Did she do something to you?”
Joohyun chuckled rather loudly before replying, “Yeah.”
“S-she did?!” Joy gasped. Seulgi is definitely not one to offend anyone and the only time she did it happens to be Bae Irene?! She worriedly added, “What did she do?”
Irene’s eyes drifted away from her. She saw her smile so fondly before releasing a sigh.
“She took my heart.”