First Love Nocturne
A Korean word guide is at the end for those new to the language.
“That was excellent, Eunji1!”
Eunji finally mastered a Chopin piece—Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27, No. 2 to be exact. Seo JooHyun2, her music teacher, had pushed her to learn and perfect it in only one week. The fifteen-year-old doubted she would ever do it for she was not a child prodigy, but she perfected it just in time.
“I knew you could do it well!” praised the pregnant music teacher.
“Aw, thanks Aunt JooHyun,” Eunji chuckled. “I couldn’t have done it without your help and encouragement.”
“Was it hard to learn that piano piece in just a week?” JooHyun asked and then chuckled. “I feel like I pushed the time limit too much on you this time.”
“It was,” the student nodded, “but it became easier as I got the hang of it.”
“That’s good. You’ve really grown since I first heard you play.”
Eunji smiled proudly. She then bowed to her teacher and said, “Thank you! I mean after all, you’ve been teaching me since I was 4…”
“Now,” JooHyun clapped her hands and slowly got up. “Our lesson is over. Let’s pack up now.”
“Yes, Teacher!” Eunji sprang up from her seat and gently closed the piano. She was planning on grabbing her bag, but she just stared at the baby grand piano in front of her. It was a piano older than her—about 25 years old—but it was still working properly and could even be mistaken as a newly bought instrument. It mesmerized her every time she stared at it, and she had always been honored to play on a beautiful piano that probably had lots of history.
When JooHyun suddenly moaned softly, Eunji snapped back to her senses. JooHyun was about to carry a heavy bag and that was not something Eunji wanted her pregnant music teacher to struggle with. She quickly offered help and JooHyun gladly let her take the heavy load. JooHyun raised her in so many areas ever since she was a little child, so this was one of the least things Eunji thought she could do to repay her back.
“You know you shouldn’t be lifting heavy bags like this,” Eunji said as she supported JooHyun. “Mom said you always try to do things on your own and that’s not always a good thing. Even your husband told me that. You should be careful not to put all the weight on yourself, especially since you’re pregnant.”
“I know. I get that a lot from everyone, hehe. I’m sorry,” JooHyun chuckled. “Ah!” JooHyun snapped her fingers, “That reminds me.”
“Hm?” Eunji turned her attention to her teacher.
“I’m going to have a long break starting tomorrow and probably deliver this baby soon. That means I can’t teach you tomorrow.”
Eunji’s spirit went down as she heard this news. Music lessons twice a week were one of her favorite activities. JooHyun was just too sweet that Eunji enjoyed her company even when she was only a four-year-old little girl.
“But don’t worry, I hired a substitute teacher,” JooHyun added, making Eunji feel relieved.
“Who? Uncle YongHwan again?” Eunji said, referring to JooHyun’s husband who had been her substitute teacher a few times.
“No,” JooHyun replied, “he’ll be taking the break with me.”
“Then who is it?”
“He’s a great friend of mine. Don’t worry, he’s a charming man.”
Eunji pouted and replied, “But I don’t need a charming man. I need a music teacher.”
“I know,” JooHyun laughed. “Believe me, he’s a great music teacher. He loves music just as much as you do. The second he enters this room tomorrow, you’ll see what I mean. You don’t have to worry.”
“Okay…,” Eunji sighed and opened the door for JooHyun.
As Eunji helped carry her teacher’s bags to JooHyun’s car, she couldn’t help but wonder who her substitute teacher will be. Ever since she was a little girl, the only people who taught her about music properly were her mother and JooHyun. At some occasions, it would be YongHwan, JooHyun’s husband, but he’s boring to Eunji. She feels like he’s uncomfortable and awkward every time he sees her. They can’t even discuss music without him clearing his throat every five seconds.
Starting from tomorrow, she will be taught by a stranger. It was starting to feel like the first time she met YongHwan, who became her substitute teacher one day without even knowing what to teach her. She just hoped it wouldn’t be too awkward this time around and that her substitute teacher would actually know what he’ll be doing.
Oh, well, what can she do? JooHyun stopped accepting her money a long time ago. Eunji’s music lessons weren’t that expensive or anything, but when SeoHyun did start having a good income from her jobs, she made up her mind to make her lessons free only for Eunji. And since Eunji’s mother, Stephanie, was one of JooHyun’s closest high school friends, there was no point for her to accept her money. So if some days Eunji learned nothing or if substitutes weren’t as fun as the times with JooHyun, Eunji couldn’t really blame anyone.
It was another usual Friday morning for the little family of mother and daughter. Eunji walked to the kitchen only to find cereal already served and her mother, Stephanie, preparing coffee. She gave her mother a kiss on her cheek and sat on the kitchen counter.
“Good morning Mom.”
“Good morning Sweetie,” the mother replied back with a warm eye-smile3 taking shapes of crescent moons. “How was your music lesson last night with JooHyun?”
“It was fun,” Eunji said as she yawned heavily. “I finally finished the piano piece she gave me a week ago.”
“Oh really? You should play it for me later, okay?”
“Yeah, sure,” she chuckled.
“Oh yeah, how’s JooHyun doing?” Stephanie asked remembering her old friend who was expecting her first child.
“She’s fine,” Eunji replied as she was scratching her eyes. “She’s actually going to take a break and probably give birth soon.”
“Oh, really?” Stephanie was about to squeal at the thought of seeing her old friend’s first child but suddenly remembered Eunji’s lessons. “Is she going to teach you today?”
“No,” Eunji sighed, “she hired some old friend to be my substitute teacher for today… or probably for the rest of the month.”
“Ah…” Stephanie nodded. “What’s the teacher’s name?” Eunji’s elbows suddenly dropped from stretching when she heard her mother’s question.
“Oh, I forgot to ask her about his name!”
“Aigoo4, Eunji…” Stephanie sighed.
“Agh, really… I’m so stupid!” The teenager planted a face-palm on herself and laughed, feeling like an idiot to forget to ask about his substitute teacher’s name.
Suddenly, Eunji stopped laughing and sat properly on her seat with her elbows resting on the kitchen counter. A smirk crept on her face. “By the way, how was your blind date yesterday?” She casually started to eat from her cereal bowl without breaking her disingenuous stare. “I didn’t hear you come home last night. Did something happen?”
When Stephanie turned around to face her daughter, she frowned seeing her with one eyebrow raised as if she was going to be interrogated. “Hey, don’t look at me like that. Nothing happened last night.”
“Really?” Eunji stared at her mother in disbelief. “I mean that Jo Yun-Ho5 guy looked preeettty cool—”
“Nothing happened, okay?” Stephanie looked at her in the eye to prove she was not lying and continued, “He took me out to watch some crappy movie and tried to kiss me.”
“YOU KISSED?” Eunji almost choked on her cereal and restlessly sat on her seat.
“What?” Stephanie suddenly paused from pouring her coffee and replied. “No! He just tried to kiss me. I kept on resisting, of course. You know very well that I can’t just kiss a man like that on a first date. I mean doesn’t that sound stupid? Kissing on a first date? He barely even knows anything about me! Good thing he got the idea when I slapped him on the face before leaving him in the theater.”
“Eii…” Eunji went back to her seat to continue eating her cereal, but silently blurted out, “It would’ve been better if you kissed him…”
“What?!” Even though Eunji whispered it to herself, Stephanie heard it clearly and immediately flicked her daughter on her forehead.
“Ow! I’m just saying…” Eunji grumbled, rubbing the part of her head that her mother hit.
“He was not very appealing to me, okay?” Stephanie said, taking a sip of her coffee. “Besides, his table manners were the worst.”
“Mom, why is it so hard to find you the right guy? Aunt Jessica and I found the perfect guys for your age yet you still don’t find any of them acceptable? Let me count… Ok Tae-Sung6 who you friendzoned, Yoo Chul-Woo7 whom you actually almost had a thing with, and then there were a bunch of other guys whom you just totally ditched. But even Nicholas Hun, who by the way was the nicest guy I have ever met and had actually almost proposed to you, you just didn’t let in.”
Burying her face in her pink cup, Stephanie shyly replied, “I’m sorry, but I just have my reasons.”
“Ugh mom, if you’re gonna make up excuse again, I don’t want to hear it. You’re just thirty-four years old. You’re not that old yet, but you are getting a little old for being a single maid. I’m actually surprised that someone really pretty like you hasn’t found someone special for so long. I mean fifteen years, seriously? You deserve to be loved.”
“Excuses are different from reasons, Eunji.”
“Well then what is one of those reasons? Are one of those the thought of hooking up with a thirty-four year old woman who already has a teenage child—it scares them away?”
In Korea, single mothers are quite taboo and they are not exactly widely accepted and supported as they are in America. Stephanie knew Eunji felt really bad whenever she was the reason why her relationships have failed. She had to let her daughter know that it was nothing like that. “It’s not about you Eunji. It’s definitely not about you. It’s about me.” Stephanie let out a deep sigh and continued, “I wish I could tell you my reasons, but not right now. Don’t worry about me too much.” Stephanie pinched her daughter’s cheeks and walked away from the kitchen. “I’ll be fine. I’ve been fine for fifteen years.”
“Eii… ‘It’s about me’ my butt,” Eunji softly scoffed and replied, “Fine.”
It was lunch time in Eunji’s school—a time to forget everything about school. Eunji loved this time of the day since the only things she and her friends would do are eat and talk about the most random things, especially during Fridays, since they would plan what to do during the weekends to hangout.
Eunji cheerfully approached the table where her best friends called her. There she found her friend Bomyi who was busy eating her meal to even take a glance at Eunji, Sarang, who flailed her hand merrily towards her, and Minjae, the boy in their group, who just smiled at her. It was a usual sight to see and she loved seeing her friends like that every day. She sat beside her friend Bomyi. Across her sat Sarang who was beside Minjae.
Bomyi, Sarang, Minjae
“Hi guys!” Eunji greeted.
“Oh,” wiping her mouth with a tissue, Bomyi said, “you’re here.”
“Hey!” Sarang exploded, “Why are you always the last to come to this table?”
“Oh no… Here we go again,” Eunji whispered, making Bomyi and Minjae snicker.
“You know I can’t eat when the four of us are not complete in this table!”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” Eunji laughed. “I’ll try to be earlier next time.”
As Sarang calmed herself and finally started to eat her food, a boy approached their table. It was Kibum8, Minjae’s friend. The boy had a crush on Eunji for some time but he never really told or tried to show it to anyone. Just recently, he’s been trying to casually get close to Eunji, but since he’s friendly to almost everyone, Eunji sees him only as a friend. He knew very well that he can’t just ask her to go on a date because the expected answer would only be her laughing at him.
“Someday,” he always says, “she’ll be mine.”
“Heeey!” Kibum happily greeted them. “Mind if I sit with you guys today?”
“Yeah, sure,” The four agreed and Kibum sat between Bomyi and Minjae.
“So, how did your mom’s date go?” Kibum asked Eunji.
“Oh yeah, how did that turn out?” Bomyi and Sarang both questioned. Eunji’s four friends really loved her mom. Despite knowing that her mother had Eunji alone when she was nineteen, they didn’t hate on her or look down on her. Stephanie was the coolest mom, they thought, for she was a mixture of a caring friend and a mother. She was not as old as their own mothers who didn’t know anything about the ways of their current generation. She knew how to handle teenagers quite well and can still relate to them in a way. She was, as you could put it, the hip-mom of the neighborhood. At least once or twice in the lives of Eunji’s friends, Stephanie had been a great help, and so they would always think of doing something nice for her.
Stephanie only thought her friend Jessica and her daughter Eunji were the only ones trying to find her dates. But the truth was there were actually much more people trying to help. That included Eunji’s friends. These five have been on this mission for almost two years, but still, there was no success.
“The guy tried to kiss her,” Eunji casually replied as she consumed a spoonful of rice.
“What?!” Bomyi’s mouth dropped.
“Really?” Sarang gasped.
“Are you serious?” Kibum’s eyes widened.
As Eunji was chewing her food, the three were just staring at her, stunned by what she said. After a few seconds Eunji swallowed her food and continued. “She didn’t kiss back. The guy just got a slap to the face.” The three melted from their frozen state and broke their stare on Eunji.
“Eiii… She should’ve,” the two girls pouted.
“What are you two talking about?” Kibum pointed to Sarang and Bomyi. “If she kissed a man on a first date, it would’ve turned bad!”
“Why,” Bomyi raised her voice. “Are you some kind of first date expert? Don’t you know what a first date kiss could do two people?”
“Well do you?” Kibum argued back.
“Yes, I do. I’ve seen it on TV!” Bomyi shouted.
“Aigooo! You girls and your drama shows,” Kibum scoffed.
“Anyway, my mom’s date last night failed again,” Eunji continued.
“I guess we’ll have to keep looking then,” Bomyi said.
“No,” Eunji refused. “I think we’ll have to stop for now. She clearly told me this morning not to find anyone anymore.”
“Oh, but your mom is too pretty to be single at that age,” Kibum pouted. “Minjae and I will keep looking if that’s okay with you.”
“Yeah, sure,” Eunji nodded. “I guess that’s alright.”
“Minjae and I will try to find the best, right Minjae?” Kibum nudged Minjae but there was no reply.
“Hey, Lee Minjae,” Kibum snapped his fingers in front of Minjae, who had his mind somewhere else during the whole conversation.
“O-oh, did you say something?” Minjae replied.
Realizing what was going on with his friend, Kibum sighed and said, “You’re too obvious.”
“What?” Minjae became confused.
“You’re lost in space again,” said Sarang.
“Lost in the space… of looovee,” Bomyi teased, making the four burst into laughter.
“No, I’m not!” Minjae scratched his eyes, trying not to make it obvious that he’s actually indeed love-struck.
The four took glances on where Minjae was spacing off and they were right. Minjae’s reason for not hearing their conversation was So-Eun. He had a crush on the quiet girl who was sitting alone just a few tables away from them for quite a while now, and the four knew this even though he hasn’t really talked about it. It was so obvious to them that Minjae liked her because his ears would shut down every time So-Eun was around.
Eunji, who was dying of laughter while clapping her hands the whole time, became quiet and secretly whispered something to Bomyi. Bomyi passed the message to Kibum.
“How about a double date, Minjae-yah9?” Kibum suggested.
“What?” Minjae’s face turned red as he took his hands off of his face.
“Good idea!” Eunji spoke. It was actually her own idea, but she wanted to make Minjae believe that it was Kibum’s.
“What are you guys talking about?” Minjae became more and more confused around his silly friends.
“Since you like So-Eun so much, why don’t we have a double date? You and So-Eun will be dating while Eunji and I will be there to make it less awkward for the two of you,” Kibum said.
“I’ll go ask her right now.” Before Minjae could stop her, Eunji already stood up and approached So Eun.
“Argh! Why are you all doing this?” Minjae’s face became even redder, making him bury his face in his hands.
Sarang, Bomyi, and Kibum watched carefully as Eunji started talking to So-Eun. It was hard to tell if So-Eun was agreeing or not because she seemed calm and graceful as always and that made them a bit nervous. But as soon as Eunji went back to her seat, Eunji said,
“She said yes.”
“Really?!” The boy, who was blushing, suddenly sprang up from his seat.
“That simple?” Sarang wondered. “When and where, though?”
“I just said we’ll meet up after youth group this Sunday.”
“No turning back now, Minjae,” Kibum teased.
School for the whole week finally ended and the sun slowly gone down to the west. It was again the time for her free music lessons.
Eunji entered the building where she usually took her free music lessons with her music teacher, JooHyun. Her heartbeat slightly pounded as she walked through the empty hall. The closer she got to the small studio, the faster her heart raced.
“How should I introduce myself?” “What should I do?” “How will he be?”
Her thoughts were crammed with these questions. She was not used to meeting new people who weren’t teenagers at all. Her heart was almost about to explode just imagining the first encounter, but as soon as she entered, she turned the lights on and there was no one in the room. She felt slightly relieved.
“Oh? Am I too early?” She dropped her bag near the door and leaned on the baby grand piano. “Hmm, that’s alright. I can wait with this beauty.” She skipped her way to the small, wooden shelf where JooHyun kept all the music sheets and started running her finger through the titles.
“I haven’t learned this one.” She grabbed a Chopin music sheet and walked back to the baby grand piano. She seated herself properly, prepared the music sheet, and opened the piano.
“Now, Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9 No.2, how do you do this?”
Cracking her knuckles, taking a deep breath, she read the first notes and started letting her hands touch the black and white spruce keys. In a few seconds, she was playing it fluently.
“How should I introduce myself?” “What should I do?” “How will she be?”
These were the thoughts of Eunji’s substitute teacher who already stood in front of the mini studio hesitating to open the door. He’s new in town and this was going to be his first teenage music student.
He was Kim Jinwon, composer and writer for some music company in the entertainment industry or at least… that was what he used to do. You see, back in the heart of the glamorous city of Seoul, he was recognized as the easy-going composer who wrote mostly about friendships for indie artists. He also wrote many songs to heal lots of different emotional scars and those got him the steady job. But due to some company and personal complications, he lost his job—the only job he had for the past 7 years.
Feeling like he had to accept the fact of losing the only job that basically occupied most of his time and life, he asked JooHyun for possible places he could spend money on and maybe settle down. His memory had become a little shaky lately because of stress. He just wanted to relax his head for a month, or year—as long as it would take to recover his deteriorating memory.
JooHyun led him here in an area on the outskirts of Seoul, casually telling him that he once lived around this neighborhood. He was told that he grew most of his teenage years here even though he could not recall such a memory. Because of his shaky memory, he grew to be oblivious about this place. He doesn’t even know that JooHyun was his friend back in middle-school. Now that she has found an opportunity, JooHyun was secretly willing to jog his memories back by planting little seeds in his head. She had been doing so for years, but this might just be the biggest seed that could grow a memory in his brain.
JooHyun was more than willing to give Jinwon this job of teaching Eunji music. After observing them for a long period of time, she sure knew that they would get along well. They were both witty in the same way and had almost the same kind of humor. They were both intuitive and had amazing creativity in writing and composing songs. They both admired their main instruments like a spouse and they both dearly loved music. But above all, there was a hidden bond between them will surely be revealed beautifully.
About the substituting job, JooHyun insisted in paying him at first because this was such a big deal to her, but Jinwon denied her offer. He said that after working for 7 years in a music company, he had enough money that could buy the whole area. Also, due to his interest more for work than girls, he barely spent all of his savings on anything but gifts for family and close friends. So it wasn’t necessary to pay him for something as simple as this.
Back to the description of his job offer, JooHyun told him that Eunji was quite interested in learning piano and classical music. That made him a bit nervous. He knew nothing at all about classical music. The only classical song that he heard of or clearly remembered was the famous Fur Elise and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Of course, Eunji already knew how to play that. And another thing is he also did not know how to play piano very well. JooHyun said it will be fine, though. All he had to do was to teach her whatever he knew about music. He’s done it before to some of his clients back in the music company so it shouldn’t matter if he will be teaching someone new.
He took a deep breath, fixed the hanging guitar case on his shoulder, and reached for the knob. Before he could turn it, music started playing from the other side of the door.
(Play>> Nocturne No.2 in Eb Major) (for more added feels, please take a listen)
When he thought he had no knowledge of classical music, the soft echoes sounded rather familiar, but he couldn’t quite remember where he might have heard it. It sounded like a recent dream filled with so many stories that he could not recall. He stood there, his heart beating loudly, captivated and dazed, and unable to open the door.
“Wow, I like this song.” Eunji said as she played the first part of the song. “I can’t believe Aunt JooHyun never introduced this piece to me before.”
“I’ve definitely heard this song before,” Jinwon wondered. He could not think of anything else and tried to find a certain memory relating to it. There had to be a clear reason why his heart was breathlessly reacting to the tune.
Suddenly, Eunji stopped playing the last part of the song. This made the substitute teacher, who was in complete awe on the other side of the door come back to his senses.
“Oh, how do I do this?” As Eunji grabbed the music sheet to look at it a bit closer, the substitute teacher finally came in.
“Hi!” greeted the teacher.
“Oh,” Eunji turned around to see who it was and bowed. “Hello!”
“I’m Kim Jinwon, your substitute teacher… for now I guess,” Jinwon gave her a warm smile and shook her hands.
“Ah, yes, I’m Eunji. Nice to meet you,” the student replied as she kept bowing to him.
“I heard you playing while I was outside,” he said as he laid down his guitar at the corner. “You were really good. Like seriously, you were awesome!”
“Thank you,” Eunji chuckled.
“So you’re Eunji, huh? JooHyun told me a lot about you…”
“More than a lot, really,” Jinwon continued in his head. The truth was Jinwon had known Eunji for a very long time—not directly, though. JooHyun started teaching Eunji when she was four which happened about eleven years ago. So for eleven years, JooHyun told him stories about how adorable and awesome this girl named Eunji played, how she improved every single week, and how she would love him to meet her someday. Through JooHyun, Jinwon knew more about Eunji than his nephews and nieces. But he didn’t want to tell Eunji that. He wanted to get to know her more whether or not whatever JooHyun told him was true. Was this girl really someone he had to desperately meet?
“Ah really? What did she say about me?” Eunji asked.
“She said you’re not a hard student.”
“I guess,” Eunji nodded, agreeing to that fact.
“Okay, since you probably don’t know me, let me introduce myself,” he said as he unpacked his guitar from its case.
“With your guitar?”
“Yeah, to make the atmosphere less awkward for you. I do this to you know… just to get tension off of me, too,” he smiled.
“Ah, okay,” Eunji laughed.
Jinwon sat on a chair and took out his pick. He took a lyric sheet out and placed it in front of him. He cleared his throat and looked at the fifteen year old. “This is a song I wrote a while back. It became quite famous. You probably have heard of this song before. Feel free to sing along with me if you like.”
Jinwon plucked his guitar strings and started singing.
(Song: 7989 – TaeYeon and Kangta)
So why are you smiling so broadly today?
Is it because of the person that I introduced you to last time?
Is that happy man making you smile?
So why are you looking so blue today?
I’ve been sitting here for an hour smiling.
It really makes me worried
Eunji was watching him who had his eyes closed while he was singing. It was true what her teacher JooHyun said. He was a charming man. He had a gentle face with a very masculine jawline and was handsome. His hair was combed back but it was still a slight mess, making him look totally like someone from a boy band. Seeing him play and sing with his smooth voice made him more attractive than usual. This relieved Eunji for he found Jinwon to be quite friendly and confident—and handsome.
We’ve been together for such a long time
Do you still not know?
Do you really not know me?
Is there really someone as stupid as you?
Do you still not know?
I’m standing here with my arms wide open.
He paused from singing and made a mini solo on his guitar.
Where are you going in such a hurry?
I want to walk a little bit slower
This time I am spending with you is precious
I want to experience it a little bit longer.
Soon, Eunji began to slightly sway with the song.
Where are you trying to go so slowly?
I want to go a little bit faster.
I only see you once a week
and there are many things to do and see.
Automatically, she started singing along as second voice. This made Jinwon smile.
We’ve been together for such a long time
Do you still not know?
Do you really not know me?
Jinwon stopped singing and let Eunji sing. Eunji picked up the lyric sheet and sang.
Is there really someone as stupid as you?
Do you still not know?
I’m standing here with my arms wide open.
Soon they were harmonizing perfectly like they have practiced the song for before.
It must be like this
I must be like this
We are standing in the same place
Looking at different things
I’m only looking at one thing
But you don’t know
Can you please look at me?
Jinwon showed off his guitar skills and played a guitar solo. Even though the solo he was doing was actually way too simple and easy for him, it impressed Eunji anyway.
For such a long time
We’ve been together
Do you still not know?
Do you really not know me?
Is there really someone as stupid as you?
Do you still not know?
I’m standing here with my arms wide open
When the song came to a stop, Jinwon and Eunji both clapped their hands.
“Wow, your voice is awesome, and you quickly blend so well,” Jinwon noted. “You’re better than what I expected!”
“Ah thanks,” Eunji chuckled, “you were also better than I expected.”
“Really? What did you think of me before you met me?”
“I thought you were going to be like Mr. YongHwan.”
“Ah, that bum,” Jinwon laughed, “really?”
“Mm,” Jinwon nodded. When he felt that the awkward silence was going to fall between them, he asked, “Did you learn how to harmonize from JooHyun?”
“No. I learned from my mom.”
“Oh really? She taught you well!”
“Thank you. My mom is actually a friend of JooHyun.”
“They’ve been friends for long time… She’s thirty-four years old,” Eunji answered, trying to see what reaction Jinwon would have.
“Oh really? She’s my age.” He took it like it was nothing, like he was not surprised at all to know that his fifteen year old student has a mom the same age as him. This calm reply confused Eunji. She has never seen this kind of reaction before, especially from a man. Usually, people’s faces would drop and they would start asking her questions but Jinwon didn’t do such a thing.
“JooHyun told me that you like playing the piano and that you like playing classical music. To be honest, I have no knowledge in any of those fields. I can only play guitar and sing.”
“Ah, what are you going to teach me then?”
“Hmm, I’m not quite sure,” Jinwon scratched his head. “Let me hear you sing more. I think I could give you some tips that I’ve picked up while singing and playing instruments at the same time. Can you sing and play piano at the same?”
“Yes I can.”
“Then show me.”
“Okay Mr. Kim.”
“Mr. Kim? Where did that come from?” Jinwon laughed. “You can just call me Jinwon.”
“Okay… but it feels awkward to call you like that! Agh, I’ll just call you Mr. Kim,” Eunji laughed and eye-smiled.
In that instant, when her eyes were shaped like horizontal crescent moons, Jinwon’s world suddenly stopped. His vision slightly went dark.
“You have the best eye-smile.”
There was this faint whisper that came out of nowhere. Jinwon became frozen as he started to regain his vision back. He could do nothing but stare blankly at Eunji.
“What was that?” he thought, trying to find the answer in Eunji’s eyes.
“Is… something wrong?” Eunji asked, starting to feel uncomfortable from Jinwon’s intense stare.
“Ah, nothing,” Jinwon quickly looked away. “I thought I forgot to lock my car.” Eunji gave him a suspicious look. His excuse sounded too lame to hide whatever he was thinking but she just tried to brush it off.
“I’m going to play now.”
“How was your substitute teacher?” Stephanie asked as Eunji flopped herself to the couch.
“He was really cool.”
“Do you finally know his name?” Stephanie sat on the couch and Eunji laid her head on her mother’s lap.
“His name is Kim. Mr. Kim.”
“Kim?” Stephanie wondered as she brushed Eunji’s bangs away from her face.
“Yeah,” Eunji closed her eyes. “He’s really cool. Even though he really didn’t teach me much, I had fun.”
“What did you do then?”
“We just had a jamming session. His voice is really good! We even harmonized while singing a few songs.”
“It must’ve been lots of fun! Jamming with the right people are always the best.”
“Have you had jamming sessions before?” Eunji opened her eyes and looked at her mother.
“Of course,” Stephanie said. “When I was in high school, I was part of a band, too. I even worked part time as a singer at restaurant when you were just a baby. Jamming always happens whenever great musicians are hauled together.”
“Wait, high school? Really?” Eunji’s eyes opened wide. “How come you never told me? Who was it with?”
“Oh,” Stephanie forced out a chuckle, realizing that she opened a part of her life that she had almost sealed close. “You know them all,” she said. “Jessica, Hyungsoo10, Yohan, and JooHyun.”
“Wow, all of you must’ve been close because of that… What did each of you do?”
“Well, Jessica and I sang, Hyungsoo played the drums and JooHyun played the piano as always, and Yohan played the bass.”
“No one played the guitar?”
“Ah…, Yohan played the guitar, too,” Stephanie tried to casually say. Yohan wasn’t exactly the one who played the guitar on her high school jamming session even though Yohan knew how to play. Yohan was usually the bassist. The guitarist was just someone she could not talk about to her daughter. Feeling her heart getting heavier being reminded of the guitarist, Stephanie changed the topic.
“Can you play for me the song you mastered in just a week?”
“Sure.” Eunji stood up and turned on her piano keyboard. She sat properly and started to play Chopin’s song, Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27, No. 2. An eye-smile slowly started to show on Stephanie’s face as she watched her daughter play the piece. Every time she sees Eunji on the piano, she was proud. She could clearly see Eunji’s strong personality, talent, caring, and cheerful heart as she plays the black and white keys. The hard times she went through while raising Eunji were totally worth it. Soon, the song ended.
“Wow!” Stephanie clapped. “That was awesome!”
“Thanks,” Eunji chuckled. “I’ll play you another song.”
“Yeah, I kind of learned this song just a while ago while waiting for Mr. Kim and I liked it so much.”
“Yeah. I’ll start now.” Even though Eunji couldn’t remember the last part of the song, she still wanted to play it for her mother. She relaxed her hands, closed her eyes, and tried to picture the music sheet in her head. Soon, she was playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, Op.9 No.2.
Stephanie’s smile started to drop as soon as Eunji started playing. Her breathing became heavy and her heart began to beat loudly. The past that she didn’t want to be reminded of slowly started to haunt her. All of the emotions from the song slowly kept coming back to her without warning. Tears began to form in her eyes but she tried not to let it fall. Good thing for her, Eunji cannot see how gloomy she suddenly had become right now.
Suddenly Eunji stopped near the ending and Stephanie panicked, trying to look as cheerful as before.
“Oh, I can’t play that part,” Eunji said, opening her eyes.
“That’s alright, it was still nice,” Stephanie said, trying to hide her tears. She wiped them as if she was getting a bit sleepy.
“It was a beautiful song, wasn’t it?” Eunji chuckled.
“Yeah…” Stephanie forced a smile. “It was beautiful.”
“Ah, what a day…”
Jinwon stretched his arms as he crawled under his blankets. He was completely happy to have a jamming session after a while. Eunji definitely made a big impression on him. Never before has he met such a young and talented teenager like her. At first, he really didn’t have high expectations, but after observing her, she didn’t really need his help in music at all. She was already too good to be taught.
While he was lying on his bed trying to sleep, he remembered the song that he heard before entering the studio. He was sure he had no knowledge of classical music whatsoever, but that song somehow seemed to prove that thought wrong. He has heard it somewhere before, for sure.
“Maybe JooHyun played it before?” he thought.
He also remembered the faint message he received from his sudden blackout. He couldn’t figure out how it happened. “Maybe I have super powers,” Jinwon laughed to himself.
“You have the best eye-smile.”
This echoed all night in Jinwon’s head until he drowsed off.
“Jinwon, you go on ahead. I’ll help Hyungsoo with his drum set,” Yohan said from the back of the car.
Jinwon, Hyungsoo, Yohan, and JooHyun used to play in Hyungsoo’s three-story house, but JooHyun’s father generously bought them their own studio. Today they were finally moving their equipment in. It was an exciting day, especially because two new members were coming in, too.
Cheerfully, Jinwon entered the small building. He was excited to meet JooHyun’s friends who wanted to join their little band. Even though their small band of four already had enough singers, it was never too late for anyone to join. The more members, the merrier!
Going closer to the small studio, his heartbeat began to race. He was not used to meeting new people, but it was still exciting to him. Taking a deep breath, he reached for the door knob, but before he could turn it, a sad piano piece started playing from the other side of the door. Soon enough, there was a girl singing.
(Song: By Myself – Tiffany (SNSD)
Please just pass by without acknowledging me
Please don’t even glace at me
On a windy day like this
Don’t give anything to me
I’m folding away my only heart
I’m hiding my only tear
Like it’s the first time we’ve seen each other, like we’re strangers
Just pass by. It has to be like that.
By myself, I confessed my love
I gave love away
In the memories I cherished alone, my tears overflow.
Even if you’re far away, I hope that you’ll be happy.
I’ll bury my love deeply within my heart…
Then it stopped.
It left him breathless. He doesn’t usually become affected by hearing sad songs, but the girl’s voice was just slightly rough and full of emotion that his heart almost broke as she sang the lyrics.
He knew he shouldn’t just hang around and wonder about it all day, so he opened the door.
“Ah, Jinwon Oppa11!” JooHyun stood up.
“Seobabyyyy” exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around the younger girl.
The other girl, who was just standing there, felt a little awkward, but she laughed anyway. “Are you guys in a relationship?” the girl teased.
“Eii, No Unnie12!” JooHyun withdrew from Jinwon’s embrace. “He’s just a friend!”
Hyungsoo then barges into the door while barely carrying parts of his drums. “Heeey, Seobaby, heeey new band mate!”
“Hyungsoo Oppa!” JooHyun and Jinwon helped him gently lay the drum parts on the corner.
“Seobaby?’ Are you on a relationship with these guys?” The girl teased again.
“No, they just call me that because I’m the youngest.”
“Should I start calling you that too?” The girl laughed.
“If you want,” JooHyun chuckled.
“Where’s Yohan?” Jinwon asked Hyungsoo.
“He’s outside with some blonde chick.”
“Some blonde chick?”
“Yeah. I think she’s also going to join the band.”
“Ah, that’s probably Jessi,” the girl said.
Soon, the pieces of the drums were set up. They just needed to wait for Yohan and the drums’ cymbals.
“Hi, I’m Jinwon,” with a cute and friendly smile, he introduced himself to the girl.
The girl’s face became a blur as soon as he turned to introduce himself. There was nothing clear at all other than the girl’s eyes.
“I’m Stephanie,” The girl said, with her eye’s looking almost as if closed.
Everything was starting to become a more blurry. He was waking up from a dream.
However, it didn’t end there. There was the same faint sound.
“Wow, you have the best eye-smile.”
He woke up.
“Stephanie? Who’s Stephanie?” Jinwon wondered as his eyes fluttered open. “Wasn’t that Eunji?”
- Eun-Ji (은지) (ən’-ji)
The EU is pronounced like the first “U” in “CURFUE”
“JI” is pronounced like the letter “G”
- Seo JooHyun (서 주현)
SEO is pronounced like the word “saw”
The “U” in “HYUN” is pronounced like the U in “UMBRELLA”
Perfectly arched eyes.
16/17 year old Stephanie (1996) and 15 year old daughter Eunji
(2009(?) Tiffany of SNSD and 2012 Eunji of Apink)
- “Aigooo!” (아이고)
a Korean expression usually said with a sigh
Korean version of “geez…” “sheesh!” “oh no!” “hay nako!” ect. depending on the context
- Jo Yun-Ho (조윤호)
“YUN” can also be read as “YOON”
- Ok Tae-Sung (옥태성)
“TAE” is pronounced like the “TE” in “TEMPLE”
- Yoo Chul-Woo (유철우)
The “U” in “CHUL” is pronounced like the U in “UMBRELLA”
- Ki-bum (기범)
Pronounced as KEY-BUM (as in lazy bum)sss
“-ah” or “-yah” is occasionally added after a person’s name when they are informally being called by someone their age or older.
- Hyung-Soo (형수)
“HYUNG” is pronounced like the word “YOUNG” with an “H” at the beginning.
- JooHyun: “Jinwon Oppa!” (진원 어빠)
“OPPA” is the word GIRLS use to address an OLDER BOY they are comfortable with.
- JooHyun to Stephanie: “Unnie!”
“UNNIE” is the word GIRLS use to address on OLDER GIRL they are comfortable with.