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Chapter 8 : Year

If you ever want to amount to something, do as you're fucking told.

After these words followed cruelty. I think I earned this after I fell down during dance practice.

No, I was pushed but told to keep that a secret.

The truth is that I'm nothing more to them but a face for them to distort. I'm clay; they're the hands that mold me into their desired shape and there's nothing I can do about that. Quitting is not an option. It's been two years.

I actually just got told that I'm ready. To an outsider that sounds like 'You're ready to debut. Congratulations.'

To me, it sounds like I haven't wasted two years of my life. I haven't destroyed my relationship with my family. I haven't lost every friend I've ever made, and made new friends as if they were replaceable. I haven't intentionally deteriorated my health.

Not for nothing. These little tragedies... were not done in vain.

They seem more worth it to an insider but to an outsider, they're heartless.

I really have my manager to thank. Somin turned me into what I am today. She practically raised me from a little doctor-want-to-be to a respected idol.

Two years - which is less than standard for a trainee but no one's bragging here- and I watched her destroy herself training me, and trying to give me the same stats as her.

She succeeded.

"She looks peaceful," I whisper to the person next to me, it does not matter who they are or were to the dead woman.

This woman became my mother. She taught me everything, she discovered me when I was feeling lost; questioning my worth.

Feeling hurt was out of the question; being the one that hurt others was not. Whatever it takes to get to the top, and I'll have no regrets over it. She didn't die with any, I'm sure.

I look around at her mourners. It's a dark day, and they're showing it through they're attire. We're here to respect her life, and acknowledge that it's over.

I'm here, only because of her.

I inhale. "Well, that's enough."

I shove my hands into the pocket of my black trench coat, the only winter coat I own and all it does is make me look suspicious.

I don't allow myself to indulge a minute longer and bid my final goodbye to my manager.

Then I walk out of her funeral and into the constant rain and fog and disgustingly chilly weather.

There's not much to do, that I would want to anyway due to the whole company being at Somin's funeral.

I guess you could call it a day off but with me there's no such thing or rather no such luck. Don't be one of those people that look at an idol in performance and say, 'I can do that.'

Because -news flash- you can't.

Idol life brings a whole new meaning to it's not as easy as it looks.

I haven't had a break since he and I quit talking. Well my mind hasn't, everything seems to remind me of him. Even things that don't typically remind you of men.

I keep thinking about how abrupt it was; our ending. Neither of us clearly saw it coming.

I know it's been two years and to be thinking of this is considered obsessive; I'm not it's just mind-numbing.

I only ever think about him, or allow myself to think of him, in a complete state of solitude.

Each lone thought of the beautiful stranger whom I trusted does nothing but result in a constant pool involuntary of tears.

It's not that I'm particularly still hurting over the loss of a personal friend but I'm indifferent. Should I be grateful that fate worked out in the favor of me never seeing him again. He showed definite signs of mental sickness. Maybe I dodged a bullet.

Every time I have that thought, that losing him wasn't a bad thing, I shake it away.

"What are you doing here, pabo?" There's a tiny voice that asks from behind me. A set of hands comes to rest on either side of my shoulders on the revolving chair that I've taken the liberty to lounge in, spinning my worries away.

The slightly younger version of me sits across from me but isn't wearing the shining smile that normally adorns her pale features. It's the mood that will most certainly surround the atmosphere of YS Entertainment. This is the vibe for days to come. Everyone will be in mourning, not because they took a liking to the executive manager and top talent agent of the company, but simply because that's what they think is expected of them. To be upset over the loss. In truth, no one liked the woman.

They pretended because she signed a few paychecks, but when she left whispers broke out about her attitude or how 'this bitch really thinks she owns the building or something' other ridiculous and generic slurs follow on a repetitive loop that I wish didn't exist.

I might've been the only one that truly cared for her, but it's probably because I'm the only one that saw the real her. I saw who she really was. It's her own fault for living like that though. She was the type of person that never let anyone in unless she had no other choice. I quite remember having to beg her for it, for that one chance and opportunity to be a part of her life. She was so hesitant. That's how I knew I could trust Somin as not only my manager but as my friend.

"Don't let what happened to her ruin you. It wasn't your fault, Min." Hyeseong rests her hand on my knee to relax me, but she's been trying since we got the news of how she died. It was so gruesome and tragic that I can't consider bringing myself to recount it.

"We saw it." And now we can't unsee it. "I've never even seen that much blood in my life."

She doesn't keep trying, finding out that it was useless from the beginning of this chain. As if she could speak with dignity on this subject, I remember how she lost her stomach when we walked in on the scene.

I guess I lost mine when it really sunk in, days later.

And the other girls... they're weaker than I am. Somin put us together to be a girl group of eight but after we saw what happened, I think it was too much for them because they left the day after. Some went back home, some I haven't been able to contact.

Hyeseong wasn't even strong enough to deal with what happened to Somin. I had to talk her into staying with me. I had to help her through the tragedy while pretending that I wasn't phased.

She was dead, but I was dying.

•| intermission |•

Once upon a time there was a guy. He played the good guy and he played it well. So well that people were honestly tricked into loving him and made to trust him. He'll get what's coming to him, playing this game.

Karmic retribution works both ways.

•| intermission |•

"Y'know we only have fourteen hours to find six more trainees. And then another two weeks to train them for our cursed debut." Hyeseong reminds me of the responsibility that Somin died with.

"Just pull them from the pool of trainees." This company has thousands of them, with a steady number growing every ten fucking seconds.

"I feel like we should do this together and be personal towards them, but you're the leader. Ultimately it's your decision." She shrugs. "Just let me know what you want to do."

She's still trying to push me into auditioning them like they're children or something. She's not right. An audition is something for the higher-ups to do. Hyeseong doesn't understand that it's not our problem.

"Pull them from the pool of trainees." I repeat with an edge in my tone.

I don't say this to be cruel, but I hear how harsh my tone is. Little Hyeseong can't handle people being harsh towards her but instead of doing the right thing and apologizing, I just walk out of the room and into the empty hallways.

Reporters are shadowing anyone and anything leaving the building, trying to get a shot of someone -doesn't matter who- crying or having a meltdown of some sort.

I pull my hoodie over and make my way out of the lobby and into the elevator. The throw flashes from their cameras at me relentlessly. All I hear before the elevator door shuts is another crackling of lightning and shouts asking whoever I am, to come make a comment about the death in our company. "Fuck," I look away not being able to hold myself together anymore. I have one floor to go down until I'm in the parking garage.

I'm almost there. Keep it together. I unlock my car and slam door on my way inside. I no longer feel the overwhelming urge to cry no matter how well I've been holding it in.

My finger flicks the dial turning on some random station and not really giving a damn about what it lands on.

It's when I gradually slow to a stop light that a familiar voice assaults my ears. "Watching her like a stalker. I am your stalker of love."

"What the fuck?" I whisper to no one.

I've heard this voice before. "This love is a mystery to you. A merciless infatuation."

But I can't match it to any particular face.

I tell myself that I'm going to do some googling when I get home, find out who the rapper is that I heard in the new song 'When She's Asleep.'

Hyeseong calls and asks to come over with the girls she chose for debut.

"I'm not even remotely in the mood for meeting new people."

"You never are. Min? You there? Whatever it doesn't matter, I'm coming over because I went with a different approach and you're going to want to know about it. Bye." She hangs up in my face and I take it upon myself to get dressed, since apparently I'm having company over.

The doorbell sounds as I'm finishing up my makeup. I have to wear makeup when people I don't know come over to my house. I understand that it makes me sound insecure but I really just care about my image as a celebrity.

It would really be a waste if I worked this hard only to have it be ruined but six total strangers that are coming into my house without permission.

My shows click against the finished floors.

It's funny, thinking about my lifestyle. I'm not even famous right now, not well known to any population, yet I live like I am one with the checks I get bi-monthly, simply because I'm signed to a label as big as YS.

Even before I open the fucking door, Hyeseong is scrambling to reassure me that she made a mistake but it supposedly works out for the better. I'm hardly even listening to her babbling.

I strictly hold an open-palmed hand to her, signal for her to just shut up. She obliges, remember that I'm in charge out of the two of us despite the age difference that leaves me younger than her but a year and however many months.

It's not that I'm intentionally a bitch, when she continues her ranting but I yell for her to be quiet before I kick her out of my fucking house.

I look behind her as nothing but two other girls trail behind her. Let's say for argument's sake that they look very predebut, and not in a positive tense.

They look like they won't be easily fixed, like they wouldn't care either way or as if they've never worn makeup.

To put it, finally and honestly...

"They need work," I say not even letting them introduce themselves. Hyeseong looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something else whether it's good or bad. I look at the two again, not even asking why they're two of we're supposed to be an eight member group. I gauge my opinion quickly, not really having to think about it. A regrettable opinion is already formed, and I can't help but think Somin would be one hundred percent against it.

"But they can be fixed."

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