For once, Jiwoo’s first thought after laying her eyes upon a vampire wasn’t being a vampire would just be so cool. Of course, she was also usually looking at a vampire through a screen. Vampires in horror movies were always fierce and calculating, almost elegant in a twisted kind of way. But the girl slumped on her apartment floor, practically gasping for air in front of her wasn’t anything like that. Jiwoo felt like she was having a . She wracked her brain, trying desperately to piece together the events that lead up to her current predicament . . . .
Another Monday, and another monster movie. Jiwoo had to remind herself that she first had to get through another day of work. Not that she didn’t enjoy her job; Jiwoo was lucky enough to have landed a job at a big film company right out of university. She was a self-proclaimed horror movie connoisseur, and her life reflected it. From her job as an SFX makeup artist to her horror movie reviewing Twitter, Jiwoo was neck-deep in the industry. Her company was currently working on a new vampire film, and it was Jiwoo’s first project being head of the SFX team. She’d like to say that she was someone who was easy to get along with and was glad that was the case. Had she not gotten close to the other makeup artists over the past year, her current position would be infinitely harder. Of the other employees, Jiwoo was closest to Jungeun Kim. They had become friends during university and had gotten closer after being accepted into the same company. Jungeun was probably Jiwoo’s best friend; even though she was easy to get along with, finding real friends was a lot harder for her.
“Ready for another day of dealing with unappreciative actors?” Jungeun greeted Jiwoo.
Jiwoo laughed. “As long as they let me do my job!”
“I don’t know how you have so much patience,” Jungeun shook her head, “I’m about ready to punch the lead actor, whatever his name is, in the face.”
“Well if you do, give me a heads up so I can watch!” Jiwoo giggled.
Jungeun wasn’t wrong, really. Jiwoo couldn’t say that every actor and actress they worked with was awful, but some of them were pretentious at best. This film’s male lead was definitely insufferable, but maybe Jiwoo was biased because she thought acting skill should be the qualifying trait instead of connections. Nonetheless, she did try her best to get along with him and be civil. Unsurprisingly, she was the only person with enough patience to do his makeup. Apparently, he had picked that morning to throw another temper tantrum. As Jiwoo and Jungeun arrived on set, they were greeted by yelling.
“Mr. Park, if you’d please lower your voice and explain the problem to me, I’m sure we can fix it in no time.” Jiwoo smiled at the fuming actor.
He whirled around to direct his wrath towards Jiwoo and Jungeun, and the problem became immediately obvious. Jiwoo had to elbow Jungeun sharply to keep her friend from bursting into laughter. The two girls could only gape at him in all his glory, his face tinted an unmistakably makeup-green colour and littered with red welts.
“It looks like you’re having an allergic reaction to the SFX makeup,” Jiwoo said with a straight face, and Jungeun wanted to give her an oscar.
“I ing know what’s happening you dumb airhead!” He screamed at her.
“We must have overlooked something on the list of allergies you submitted,” Jiwoo forced out, knowing very well he had never done as he was instructed.
“List of allergies?!” He spluttered.
Jiwoo smiled again, but there was no kindness in her eyes. “Yes, of course. I’m terribly sorry about this. I’ll have a discussion with the Director. We won’t be able to resume filming until your skin heals, so go home and rest.”
Jiwoo s her arm around Jungeun’s and pulled the girl after her, as the actor looked like he was about to explode. Sighing, Jungeun fell into step beside Jiwoo, and the two went to find the Director. Jiwoo really hoped the Director would reprimand him and his equally unqualified manager, but there was only so much any of them could do.
Just as Jiwoo had expected, the Director was furious, and they ended up with at least a couple of days off. Jungeun stretched next to her as they left the building only an hour after entering.
“Free vacation, hell yeah.” Jungeun grinned.
Jiwoo could only shake her head disapprovingly as she bid her friend goodbye. True, it was a free vacation, but Jiwoo really did wish that actors would follow protocol in order to avoid such happenings. Well, more time meant more movies to review! Jiwoo let her mind drift from driving to thinking about which movies she would watch. In the ten minutes it took her to get back to her apartment building, Jiwoo decided she would stick to monster movie Mondays. However, much to her surprise, pulling up to her building revealed a moving truck. In her two years living there, she had never once seen anyone move. In fact, she wasn’t even sure which apartment had sold. Climbing the stairs to her floor revealed piece of furniture after piece of furniture. And then, even more surprising, Jiwoo discovered the apartment that had been sold was the one across from hers. In all honesty, she hadn’t even realized someone lived there. Too entranced by the movers going in and out, Jiwoo totally missed the girl approaching her.
“Hi!” she startled Jiwoo, “I’m the new tenant, Sooyoung.”
Jiwoo had to actively try not to let fall open. Sooyoung had to be a model. She was tall and slim, her skin was flawless, and her smile was full of charisma. She watched as Sooyoung brushed her hair behind her hair and almost choked when she noticed all the piercings. She had at least fifteen piercings just in that ear alone, and most of the earrings were either shiny diamonds or sleek chains and metal rings.
“Normally, you would return an introduction, I think,” Sooyoung said, snapping Jiwoo right back to reality.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Jiwoo hid her embarrassment as best she could. “I’m Jiwoo Kim. Looks like we’ll be neighbours.”
“Well, nice to meet you, Jiwoo.” Sooyoung smiled.
“I hope you get settled well,” Jiwoo unlocked her door looking for an escape. “Oh, and if you need anything, just knock!”
With that, Jiwoo whirled right into her apartment and missed slamming the door shut by a millimeter. Standing just inside the door, all she could do was scream internally. There was no way that Sooyoung hadn’t caught her staring. She chided herself for being so rude during their first meeting. Trudging to her room and dropping dramatically on her bed, Jiwoo rolled around regretting her life’s decisions. She debated texting Jungeun to complain, but she knew her friend would make fun of her for sure. Jiwoo had never been very good at first impressions, after all. She wanted so badly for her bed to swallow her whole just thinking about how she’d made a fool of herself.
Much to everyone’s annoyance, it was a week before the lead actor’s skin healed and filming resumed. During this week, Jiwoo had run into Sooyoung quite a few times. Whether she was leaving to meet Jungeun, getting mail, or going for a walk, every time Jiwoo left her apartment she seemed to be faced with her neighbour. She was always polite and offered a greeting, but after embarrassing herself last time, she tried not to spend too much time around Sooyoung. Unfortunately, the Friday after filming resumed, Jiwoo got caught in an inescapable situation. Unlike many girls her age, Jiwoo wrapped up at the studio to rush home and watch horror movies. Though Jungeun had tried to convince her to go out drinking, Jiwoo was having none of it. After heating up the previous night’s leftovers, showering, and changing into her official Friday the 13th pajamas, she settled on the couch and broke out her notebooks and sketchbooks. Fridays were dedicated to supernatural horror films, and that night was booked with vampire movies. She figured she might as well take notes on the SFX makeup as well, hence the books. There was always room for improvement.
Half-way through the first movie, Jiwoo was interrupted by a knock at her door. She had no idea who it could possibly be, and prayed it wasn’t a drunk Jungeun. Imagine her surprise when she opened the door to find Sooyoung, smiling as if she was trying to put the sun out of business.
“Oh, Sooyoung? How can I help you?”
“Sorry for bothering you so late,” Sooyoung rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly, “I was wondering if I could borrow a pot. I guess I forgot to bring one.”
Jiwoo nodded and opened the door wider, all thoughts leaving her head completely. “Sure, let me grab one. You can come in if you’d like.”
Jiwoo turned and headed towards the kitchen, half expecting Sooyoung to stay in the doorway. As she rifled through the cabinets looking for a pot, Sooyoung spoke again.
Jiwoo spun towards her guest at the speed of light and almost dropped the pot she’d just found.
“Oh, um, kinda?” Jiwoo giggled nervously, watching Sooyoung pick up her sketchbook.
She made it to Sooyoung in about three steps and the pot towards the girl, hoping that she’d, in turn, put the sketchbook down. Instead, Sooyoung just flipped through it, her face unreadable. When she was satisfied, she returned the book to the coffee table and took the pot that Jiwoo was offering. Sooyoung smiled, thanked her, and disappeared through the door all in the time it took Jiwoo to blink. It had been two weeks since Sooyoung had moved in, and so far Jiwoo had learned exactly three things about her mysterious neighbour. One: she was pretty enough to be a model, two: she had as many ear piercings as Jiwoo had unlucky experiences, and three: Jiwoo had never seen her in anything other than a turtleneck.
Movies forgotten, Jiwoo just stared blankly at the ceiling above the couch where she had decided to collapse. She was momentarily brought from her thoughts by a text message from Jungeun consisting of a blurry and poorly lit selfie in some kind of club accompanied by the text ‘this would be more fun if you were here’. With that, Jiwoo abandoned her plans and decided she would be better suited to sleep.
Saturdays brought with it Jiwoo and Jungeun’s weekly tradition of brunch. Every week, Jungeun would get absolutely wasted on Fridays, and without fail, show up to brunch as if she’d been at home all night. Maybe Jiwoo was envious, but she didn’t go out much, so she wasn’t sure of what she was envious of, exactly. Since Jiwoo had slept earlier than usual, she woke up before her alarm went off, and in turn, had more time to get ready. Instead of rushing out the door five minutes before she was supposed to be at the restaurant, Jiwoo decided to throw on some makeup. Even though she was technically a makeup artist, she didn’t actually wear makeup that often. Not that she didn’t enjoy it, she was just incredibly lazy, and would rather sleep for the extra time it would take to put on makeup.
Jiwoo made it out the door with a good half an hour to spare and was surprised to see Sooyoung leaving her apartment as well.
“Good morning Sooyoung,” Jiwoo greeted her neighbour.
Sooyoung gave Jiwoo a once-over and Jiwoo would’ve thought she should at least try to be a little more subtle if she hadn’t wanted to die a bit.
“You look nice this morning,” Sooyoung said, a teasing edge to her voice, “Date?”
Jiwoo couldn’t stop her face from contorting in confusion. As if Jiwoo would go on a date. She was about to say something that she would probably regret when she heard her name.
Sooyoung and Jiwoo both whipped around and Jiwoo’s confusion was replaced by mystification. What was Jungeun doing in her building? They usually just met up at the restaurant.
“Jungeun? What’re you doing here?”
“Don’t you ever read your notifications?” she huffed, approaching the two girls.
Jungeun and Sooyoung’s eyes met, and they both raised their eyebrows towards Jiwoo, though they portrayed different emotions. Jungeun’s was a surprised ‘what the ?’ while Sooyoung’s was more of a sly ‘oh?’.
“Jungeun, this is my new neighbour, Sooyoung. Sooyoung, this is my friend, Jungeun.” Jiwoo emphasized the relationship with each girl because she knew exactly what they were both thinking.
The two girls eyed each other with unreadable expressions and nodded. Satisfied with how the introductions had gone, Jiwoo turned back to Jungeun.
“Anyway, you’re here because?”
“As per my text,” Jungeun faked rolling her eyes, “I came to get the skirt I left last time.”
For the 600th time in the last month, Jiwoo wanted to disappear. “Just get it later! I’m hungry, we should go now.”
Jungeun just grinned and turned her head back to Sooyoung, “Anyways, nice to meet you Sooyoung. Hope Jiwoo doesn’t give you too much trouble.”
Jiwoo couldn’t stop herself from punching her friend in the arm when she threw a wink at Sooyoung to punctuate her farewell.