Seojun picked up her bag as she walked out of the house, walking through the same streets she had been using for the last who knows how many years. Today she woke up feeling better than usual. Even her parents were surprisingly in a good mood. Good enough to ignore her and focus only on her perfect older brother. It didn’t take long for her to reach school. She was in her last year of school. The only motivation for her to finish school was that she just had to bear it for one more year before she could leave. She sighed as she hastily ran out of school, managing to sneak out without being noticed by people she wouldn’t want to be noticed by. She got outstanding grades and was someone you might label as an excellent student. She worked hard and studied well. She stayed away from all kinds of trouble and kept to herself but trouble always seemed to find its way to her. At least she won’t have to worry about it for three more days. They had been given three days off as a government examination was going to be conducted and her school was one of the centers.
Once she was sure she was alone, she took out a pair of earphones as she plugged in her phone and played her favorite songs. One thing Seojun loved the most was music. Music was the only thing that gave her a way out. Out of her miserable, wretched life. She had a pleasant voice too. Music was her life even though she knew she wouldn't be able to pursue it. She was quite open to all kinds of music. But she usually liked hip hop songs and ballads more. Rapping was something she could do the best as it had always been a fun challenge to her. The giddy feeling she felt when she managed to nail Cypher by Bangtan was her highlight for a whole month. It was just something about being able to hit the notes in ballad songs, that made her heart burst with sheer exhilaration.
Seojun wouldn’t usually care about what songs she chose to hear while walking back home but today she was feeling considerably down, not that she didn’t feel like that every day, and she needed enough motivation to keep herself away from doing something she would regret. She scrolled through her playlist till she found the song she wanted, Tomorrow by Bangtan. One of her favorites. Even though some might say she’s overreacting, this song had saved her on multiple occasions. Seojun played the song as she sang along, her emotions pouring out into her singing. She walked down the isolated street, singing and rapping. Seojun smiled to herself as the song faded. The song never failed to lift her mood up. She felt much better after singing the song and continued walking with a small bounce in her steps. Just as she was about to turn to her street, she paused, paranoia gripping her heart as she turned around to search for the source of her unease.
She couldn’t help but flinch while taking a step back and let out a small yelp when she found herself staring at a tall, intimidating woman. Seojun’s foot managed to find a small stone to trip over and hung uselessly as it let Seojun fall down on the ground. The woman’s eyes widened in guilt as she apologized and offered her hand to Seojun, “I’m so sorry for scaring you! I’m Min Jangmi. I wanted to talk to you.” Seojun raised her eyebrows in suspicion and reluctantly accepted Jangmi’s hand, motioning for her to continue. Jangmi gave Seojun a hearty smile and helped her up as she spoke, “I’m from BigHit Entertainment and I’ve been watching you for at least a week. I know it sounds like I’m a stalker but I’m not! You caught my eye because of your singing. I’ve been given the duty to find a potential trainee.” Seojun had an utterly confused look on her face as she tried to wrap her head around what Jangmi was saying, “What are you exactly trying to say, Ma’am?”
“Please call me noona. What I’m trying to say is that I want you to audition tomorrow at BigHit. I’ve been searching for at least a month and I finally found you. And I know you might think that this is all a fraud and I’m a scammer. I don’t blame you for that. I know that it’s not new to hear about people being scammed by fake companies. So I’m not asking you to do anything except to come to the company tomorrow. I’ll wait for you outside the building.”
Seojun stared at the card Jangmi had shoved into her hand, her fingers tracing the ever-familiar logo of BigHit Entertainment, home to her favorite idols, Bangtan. She took a deep breath and spoke even though she knew she was going to regret it. “I’m so sorry-” Seojun gave her an awkward, guilty smile as she continued, “I can’t audition noona... Uh- I can’t. I’m so sorry. I-”
“Hear me out, please. Darling, I will lose my job if you don't audition. And I promise that you won’t regret this. If you get through, I assume-no, guarantee you’ll debut in less than a year or even six months. I’ve heard you sing and rap. I can’t believe that you have that level of skill as an amateur. And I observed the way you walk, I'm sure you can dance as well. Other trainees have to wait for at least 3 years before thinking about debut. I'm saying that I am sure you'll debut in half a year. Please audition for noona’s sake, darling…”
Seojun took a deep breath as she gulped, feeling her face heat up at the casual use of the nickname, “Okay noona…” The very next moment Seojun felt herself being pulled into a hug. “Thank you so much, darling! I’ll see you at BigHit tomorrow at 9:00. I’ll be there at the entrance to wait for you. What’s your name?” Seojun stiffened and cleared her throat as she stepped out of Jangmi’s embrace, fiddling with her bracelet, “Seojun. I wanted to ask how long will the audition last…” Jangmi smiled, “Hmm, Seojun. Nice name. The audition will last for more or less 2 hours, depending on the judges. I have to run now. I’ll see you tomorrow. If you have any more questions, just call the number on the card and ask for me. Bye, darling! I’ll see you at 9:00 sharp!” Seojun nodded and watched Jangmi vanish out of sight and sighed as she stared at the card before hiding it between her books and walking towards her home.
As soon as Seojun reached home, she quickly placed her bag in the storage room and changed before going to help her mother out. She spent the rest of her day doing household chores even though she had a ton of school work to finish. Everyone had gone to their rooms by the time Seojun flopped down on the couch, utterly exhausted. She forced herself up as she sat to finish her school work, hoping it would distract her. But it failed to distract her. She couldn't stop herself from thinking about the audition. She had made a plan to go out unsuspected for a few hours and was sure that her parents wouldn't be suspicious. She knew she should refrain from being hopeful as the fact that she was getting a chance to audition was a miracle in itself and she was doubtful she would be granted another miracle to get her past the auditions, but she couldn't blow out the small flicker of hope residing in her. Seojun sighed as she cleared her school work and put it away before laying down on the couch with a thin blanket over her. She checked her alarms before giving in to a dream-filled sleep.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Seojun felt her heart thump against her chest as she scurried over to the entrance of BigHit Entertainment. She managed to reach a few minutes before nine. Seojun knew that Jangmi wasn't a fraud or a scammer, but she couldn't help it. A subconscious part of her mind kept on spouting negative scenarios. What if Jangmi had just played a joke on her? What if she had misheard the time and missed the audition? What if they had canceled the audition? What if she wasn't selected? What if she was selected? All these what-ifs made her head spin as her eyes darted around, searching for Jangmi.
Seojun couldn't help it, as a sigh of relief forced its way out of her once her eyes located Jangmi talking to someone by the entrance. She felt herself relax as she quickly walked over to Jangmi, trying her best not to break out into a run. "Hello, Jangmi noona. Good Morning…." said Seojun as she stood behind Jangmi, her voice laced with nervousness and barely above a whisper. Jangmi instantly turned and grinned, a look of obvious relief on her face, "Thank god you're here darling! I was worried for a second that you were going to bail on me." Seojun tried her best to hide the blush that was taking over her face when she heard Jangmi call her nicknames. "I don’t break promises." said Seojun with a small pout on her face. She would never talk like this to someone she met a day ago, but there was something about Jangmi that let her put her trust in her instantly. Jangmi laughed and ruffled her hair, "Okay, okay. Let's go now!"
Seojun followed Jangmi into the building, marveling at each and everything that came into her vision. The company was much much larger than she had expected. The interior wasn't anything special. It was simple, basic designs that gave the whole building a completely classy look. Seojun let Jangmi lead her through various corridors until they reached a room. Jangmi stopped Seojun before she entered, "Darling, just give it your best. They can ask you to perform any song they want or maybe ask you to perform whatever you want. Just be yourself. Okay?" Seojun couldn't help but nod as she took a deep breath and stepped inside with a small smile on her face.
She walked up to the middle and bowed 90° as she introduced herself to the two judges that sat across her. "Hello, I'm Seojun. I'm 16 and I'm here to audition. Thank you for giving me your precious time." The judges were clearly impressed by her politeness as unlike the other people they had auditioned, she was the only one, who did not try to brown-nose them before even starting or brag about her skills. One of the judges gave her a smile before he spoke, "Hello Seojun. We're glad to have you here. How good is your dancing?" Seojun shrugged hesitantly, "Average, not as good as my singing. I'm starting to think I have two left feet…" The judges laughed and nodded.
The female judge spoke up and said, "Jangmi gave us her input about you and we would like it if you could perform a rap song from any artist you like or would prefer if we chose one for you." Seojun thought for a moment before taking a deep breath and shaking her head, "I'd like to perform Cypher Pt.3 as I remember the lyrics to it better than other rap songs. Could you tell me which verse would you like for me to perform?" The judges were surprised that she wanted them to choose a verse for her, unlike others who would choose on their own to make sure they take something easy to not mess up. "Good choice. We would like for you to perform only the rap verses of the RM, Suga and J-hope. You can skip the chorus." Seojun instantly nodded and waited as they gave her a sign to start. The audition went a bit longer than she had counted for and so, Seojun found herself rushing back home after waving Jangmi a small goodbye. Luckily Seojun managed to reach home on time, without any kind of suspicion on her.
She kept her guard up the whole day, occasionally letting her thoughts drift till it was night and everyone had gone back to their bedrooms. She wondered if she had blown her audition and lost any chances of being selected. Getting scouted by a company as large as BigHit even if on the street was something extremely rare. These types of chances would come once in a lifetime. Once she was done with her audition, Jangmi had told her that she would be informed by 10:00 pm. Seojun held her phone in her hand as she watched the time tick by. Maybe they hated her and decided to ghost her rather than having an awkward conversation with her about how useless her skills were and that she would make a horrible idol hated by fans the instant they saw her? Or maybe they would call her and insult her to their satisfaction.
She sighed as she rocked herself, holding her plushie tightly to her chest as she looked out from her balcony. Her grandmother had gotten her the purple-colored bear plushie a few years back unaware that it was the last time they would see each other. Seojun, for some reason, refused to give the plushie a name and went ahead with calling it Teddy. Teddy while being a non-living thing had always provided her comfort. She would always confide in Teddy at late hours of the night when the world around her was asleep, and she laid awake with her thoughts running wild. She put her phone down and talked to Teddy about the audition and how nervous she was.
All of a sudden an awful thought came rushing in. Did BigHit know she's a girl? Even though she had a boy's name and dressed similar to a boy, she still was a girl in the end. Endless dread filled her as she thought about the ways they would react when they find out she's a girl. The worst-case scenario would be that they would reject her. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad after all? Seojun checked her phone, it was well past 11:00 and there were no messages. Maybe they did decide to ghost her after all. She went over to the couch as she laid down and fell asleep with the auditions still on her mind, unaware of how life can take a terrible turn within seconds.