Wendy is fantastic at multitasking – but only if she’s doing something she’s not supposed to be doing.
She’s great at movie marathons while she bakes a batch of her favourite cookie recipe. She can skilfully decorate her New Horizons island while she does a complete album listening party to whatever’s on her weekly music radar. She’s great at dotting minms and semiquavers all over staff paper while reruns of Friends would play statically in the background. Wendy questions whether it’s talent or survival. Perhaps she isn’t fantastic at multitasking at all, maybe it was her subconscious making a decision to complete all the tasks she enjoy doing in the shortest amount of time – the life she leads simply won’t allow time to be wasted on mere hobbies, but these hobbies make her feel alive.
Summer closes in, paving way to a brand-new semester. Wendy shouldn’t feel excited about being back in university, but she does. University entails countless sleepless nights cramming on the differences between various cellular bodies, only distinguishable by a small change in number or letter. But going back to university also means breathing a little better at night, having a bit more freedom with how she spends her time and who she spends her time with.
Wendy is not rebellious. Far from it actually. She is obedient when a task needed to be done and she respectfully agrees to demands that she sometimes think are a little frivolous. Compliance is hard wired into her system that the thought of doing the opposite gives her anxiety and sleepless nights. And maybe that’s why Wendy has been feeling torn lately. Having tasted a little bit of her desires from her countless multitasking sessions, she begins to wonder whether she will be content giving up the things she love for the comfort of others.
The new semester means that her lease in one of the dorm rooms restart. Last year she was stuck with the most demure, unadventurous girl – not the most fun experience. Wendy learnt that having two of the most introverted people in the same vicinity would only resort in a lot of awkward silences. Neither of them wanted to start a conversation and so the quiet ensued.
This year, courtesy of her being a fourth-year student (turns out seniority comes with perks), she was granted the privilege to choose who to room with. And of course, she picked Seulgi. Seulgi, her ever supportive best friend that would tolerate her weird and annoying habits.
“I honestly thought it would be bigger.” Seulgi deadpans.
Wendy shoots Seulgi a look that screamed: stop being an ungrateful heathen.
“Look, I’m very grateful that your parents are paying for both of our rents, but I honestly thought they’d go for something more… spacious. More luxurious. More grand!”
Wendy continues to ignore Seulgi and takes a suspiciously long time in unpacking a small box.
“I mean for someone rich, your parents are kinda stingy. Hmmm… Maybe that’s why they’re rich. They get all their money from living so scantily…” Seulgi continues to ramble on, completely unaware of the one-sidedness of her conversation.
“OH MY GOD. WENDY!” Wendy’s shoulder jumped up a bit, startled by Seulgi’s unflatteringly booming voice.
For someone popularly known to be cute and dainty, Seulgi never fails to break that public image of her, always annoying the ever-living crap out of Wendy. The whole campus should know this other side of Seulgi, her admirers would be appalled that the campus school crush is boisterously unruly (and annoying according to Wendy) behind closed doors.
“What?” Wendy answers with an audible groan. Wendy hopes Seulgi can hear the irritation in her tone, but of course Seulgi doesn’t care. Their years of friendship really has Seulgi feeling way too comfortable with her behaviour.
“Okay I take it back. Your parents are not stingy because, LOOK AT THIS VIEW!” Seulgi basically shrieking out.
Wendy winces a tiny bit at the high-pitched squealing, before making her way towards the huge windows at the other end of their shared space. Had she been less stressed out about the moving and had she had an hour more of sleep, maybe she’d be joining Seulgi with all the shrieking, because gosh the view truly is amazing.
Located on the eighth floor of the dorm building, their living quarters flaunts a breathtaking view of Seoul. With the sun slowly setting in the horizon, she can see the way glass buildings would reflect off the light, shimmering blindingly in the summer heat. She sees the miniscule silhouettes of people sprawling around the city, looking so infinitesimally insignificant, much like how humans look at ants. She wonders how high up they actually are. She can see the tips of the buildings, some blinking morse code red lights to those high enough to see its hidden messages.
Wendy doesn’t realise was left hanging open until she hears an amused scoff from Seulgi.
“Told you the view’s nice.”
Wendy wishes she can wipe the smirk from Seulgi’s face, so she shrugs and pretends to be unaffected by the view.
“Maybe we can enjoy the view more later if you could be useful and help me unpack.” Then, Wendy adds with a competitive glint on her eyes, “last one to unpack has to cook dinner.”
Seulgi widens her eyes and runs.
With a little bit of distance from her parents, Wendy begins to think a little bit more clearly. She can plan without their nagging voices in the background, easing her from stress.
Wendy realises that although her mental health is important, it has also set her back a year. A year in the scheme of things isn’t much – but she can’t help but feel a bit of shame when she sees people her age having more success in their lives. She knows she shouldn’t compare, and she should be content with what she has. She does have a lot to be grateful for (a very soft bed, food on her table, Seulgi, Joohyun), but it doesn’t ease the heaviness in her heart knowing that she could do better.
After an unexpectedly gruelling day at the café, Wendy was finally allowed to go home. Taeyeon pitied her a bit and has allowed her to go home thirty minutes before her supposed ending shift time.
Wendy knows that with her parents’ income, she can afford to not work, but she actually enjoys her job. Sure, she has to deal with rude and pretentious customers almost every day, and the pay is definitely not worth the emotional abuse nor the manual labour she has to do, but Wendy swells with pride every time she gets her own payslip. She’s happy knowing that she’s spending her own hard-earned money, and not leeching off her parents’ wealth. Wendy knows that her parents’ wealth doesn’t necessarily extend to herself.
Her parents are rich. She is not.
She makes her way to the familiar bus stop, just in front of the café. Letting out a deep exhale, she slumps herself on the cold metallic bench, waiting for her ride home. She closes her eyes for a bit, fatigue settling in on her like a tonne of bricks.
The voice was so soft, gentle and soothing.