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Chapter 7 : Believe

It's like we never, almost, had sex.

He's gone completely back to normal. He was upset the night of, but the morning after was a completely different story. No, this morning he woke me up with excitement over a new drink added to his favorite cafe's menu (with extra fruit or something) and with the statement that we just had to try it together. It's truly frightens me that Sangwoo can just flip a switch in his head and become an entirely different person.

So here I am, with my best friend who almost had my virginity last night, casually sipping banana milk and taking in the aesthetics with him. It's all I really wanted to do here, referring to the country, I just wanted to relax and really have some good experiences. I wanted to spend all my time sitting here, with his much enjoyed company, soaking in the much enjoyed melancholic atmosphere. I spent all of high school working to get here and into a medical university.

Now I'm just wasting my time drinking banana flavored beverages. When I call my parents, I'm not going to have anything to tell them in regards to my progress. They're going to be so disappointed in me because of this. It was a waste, because here the fuck I am - dropping out of an elite university.

"You know what?" Sangwoo lets the straw out of his mouth. "This is our place." He provides me with a subtle, yet extremely gummy smile, and places his hand over mine.

His light fingertips smooth over my palm, eliciting a humming noise from me.

The relaxed moment is cut short by the approaching of a woman, in a pants suit, looking vibrantly professed in her own world, and she doesn't examine me long enough to conclude that I am, in fact, not a native.

"Pardon me. I'm so sorry. Can I ask your name?" She addresses me in Korean.

Her voice comes across as slightly panicked. It's similar to my voice during school, and it does nothing but provide me with war flashbacks.

I don't hesitate to look to Sangwoo for assistance. He's been my impromptu translator recently, just until I become fluent but that could be some time from now.

It's just another downside to my unofficial dropping out of college. The school would have provided me with someone who spoke English very well. When I was twelve, I wanted to speak an Asian language just to have something to show for not living in Korea. It was almost Korean, but no. My mother thought she'd benefit me by swooping in and telling me to learn Manadrin, because she read somewhere that it was the language of the future. We see how well that shaped my ideals.

The two have a conversation in front of me, about me, as if I weren't here. I use my context clues to determine that it is, in fact, a conversation about me.

They continue, so far that she's profusely shaking his hand that's when he turns to me to whisper. "She's a talent agent." And that's it before he's speaking to this lady again.

She's speaking too fast, that her hair is whipping into her eyes, just to hastily wipe it behind her neck. I examine this woman closely. She's not ugly. Just enough for me to be jealous that she gets to speak to my friend, comfortably, and I don't.

I can't even follow along with my excruciating limited amount of knowledge of the language.

About five more minutes pass by and she hands him a small card with her contact information on it.

I can't help but fake a smile when she reaches out and grabs my hand, graciously shaking it.

She says one more thing, before waking away from us. This is the only thing I understood from the conversation.

You'll never regret this.

•| intermission |•

Opportunities present themselves at the best and worst of times. You have to adjust to their schedule.

They know what's best.

•| intermission |•

"Who the hell was she?" Sangwoo ignores me, while closely examining the card.

"She's a talent agent." He mumbles, still paying more attention to the piece of paper than me. "She saw you from," He motions around him as if to suggest a table but halfheartedly. "Anyway, she thinks you're pretty, which is an understatement. She wants you to swing by an audition later."

He says this in a monotone and passes me the business card. It's futile, every word is in Hangul.

"Did you tell her that I'm American?" I face Sangwoo's bad attitude skeptically.

"No, but it became obvious after I translated for you." He looks away, and out of the window. My thoughts wander back to the first time we were in this place, the types of people that caught his attention and it fully sickens me.

It's a good minute, a fucking awkward minute, before either of us say anything.

"What's your problem?" I ask harshly.

He doesn't reply for awhile. Honestly, he's trying to piss me off. "I don't have a problem." He bores his eyes into mine, and I definitely return the treatment.

"Stop lying. Is this about last night?

His breath hitches and his head tilts slightly. He doesn't speak up until we're on the sidewalk, following his lead. "It's about right now. What makes you think you have what it takes to be an idol? Just because you're pretty? It's childish for you to even consider it."

Sangwoo's eyes glaze over with something I've never seen in him before, but it's definitely not a good thing. "Who said I was considering anything?"

"You didn't necessarily have to say it. I know that look, and it says all that I need to know. Don't be so ignorant, Yerin."

Who does he think he is? "Are you serious? You can't mistake ignorance for hopefulness."

I never said anything about actually going to the audition but looking at the card, I continue to think. I let him talk me into dropping out of college. I'm not going to let him talk me out of pursuing a goal. I'm depending on a stranger, whom I think I can just call my best friend without knowing who he was before we met.

And I still have to tell my parents about all of the bullshit I've subjected myself to foolishly.

"I can mistake your so-called hopefulness for obvious stupidity."

I stop walking but he doesn't. I don't think he's acting like this maliciously. A part of me knows that he's only offended because an opportunity to make music just fell into my palms, while he's been clawing his way into the industry since his birth.

He doesn't stop walking away from me, he knows I'm not following behind him but all Min Sangwoo does is stuff his hands in his pocket and leaves me alone.

"You'll regret not believing in me." I say just loud enough for him to hear me, but he clearly doesn't give a damn.

That's not what friends do to each other.

I don't hesitate to pull out my phone and use the map app, searching for the building that says 영 소울 엔터테인먼트 (Young Souls Entertainment). I have to be able to trust that I'm talented enough for this.

I enter the lobby, elegant and chic. Not one surface that isn't white or clear and clean and perfect. This is worth it. The sacrifice that I made not even an hour ago.

"Hey, you came. I knew you would!" The same woman from earlier walks up to me speaking Korean again.

She looks at me expectantly for a response before she remembers that I'm not a native. "Yah! Kim Hyeseong. Come here. This is going to be our newest trainee. She's not fluent in Korean, so I need you to be her companion."

"Okay!" A mousy brunette leaves a group of others like her. My recruiter gives me a chaste handshake before -in English- whispering a welcome and a good luck to me, then she's gone.

"America?" The girl called Kim Hyeseong asks me, and suddenly I remember. My first, and now only, friend I've met. I suddenly feel self-conscious about my surroundings.

All of these beautiful Korean women, and they're talented, more talented than I could ever aspire to be.

This is futile for me. It was stupid of me to make this decision on a whim simply because of Sangwoo. That's all I've been doing since I met him.

Deciding to ditch my graduation party and fly here ahead of schedule, not saying goodbye to my parents, quitting college, almost having my first time with him, and now this. I'm at an idol audition. It's his fault that I'm about to make a giant fool of myself. I've never in my life danced one step or picked up a microphone.

"This is what you stopped going to college for?" Hyeseong walks me into a more secluded area marked '공식 연수생ㅅ.' I don't recognize it immediately but I do the one across from it marked, '외국 오디션' and it makes sense.

"Doesn't that second sign say... foreign audition? I'm not sure what this one says but I fit that description best." I point over to the section's label, double checking to make sure I translated it my head right.

She takes a second to register my English. "Ah, Somin unnie has you categorized as a full trainee. You're not auditioning for anything." She says curtly, with a hint of mock jealousy.

I'm confused. The long line of native auditionees have numbers printed on their torsos. I glance over to Hyeseong and see that she's number 708 in place. The current audition is at 3000-3010. Each audition is only a few minutes long, but she's going to be here for awhile. "I think she said that she'll meet with you once the auditions are all completed.

Scratch that. We're going to be here for awhile.

"Why do you think I'm not having to audition?" I ask, but I know the chances of her actually knowing are slim to none.

"She thinks, just based on your appearance, that you have potential. She's not wrong either. You have strong visuals. Even if you're not at the same level of experience as most girls here," Hyeseong motions to the long line that she's going to return to any moment now. "That she can turn you into a big deal."

That doesn't make any sense. I was nobody coming into the world. I'll be nobody going out. It's obvious, just take a look at my messed up life.

"She's going to make you famous. Just wait and see." She winks and holds up a peace sign.

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