Taeyeon could still remember the first time they met. It was during the preliminary interview for the part-time job. Even though it was part-time, the pay was good enough for her to live through a month.She saw her for the first time at one of the snack stalls. She was wearing a floral dress with pink color pattern with a confused look yet showing crescent moon shaped eyes and a beautiful smile to the people. She thought it was the most beautiful sight she had seen in the world. It still is.
The first time she spoke to her was two days after she started working. She was part time service assistant at the Lotte world. A caucasian kid asked her questions in the language she did not understand. She was sweating as hell until she came and stood besides her. She bent down to the kid and silencing the crying kid with her mesmerizing eyes. Just like she was. The boy was Spanish and he was lost in the crowd after following Mickey. The parents thanked them and gave them some pocket money enough to buy a cup of Haagen-Daaz. She could feel her heart beating loudly as she asked the girl what she wants. She noticed that she was wearing the pink hairband as she answered, “Strawberry.” Her voice was angelic. And right there, Taeyeon immediately knew that she will never forget that voice, wherever and whenever in the future.
Stephanie Hwang Miyoung was bad at Korean. That she came to know. She was staying at her aunt’s house after she decided to come to Korea, her mother’s birthplace. She had been in Korea only for seven months. She was a year younger than her but very outgoing and out-spoken when she was introverted and preferred to stay quiet. For nearly a year, they would be designated around the same area and they eventually became friends. She would help the latter with Korean and Tiffany would help her in English which she was very bad at. They would share a bit about their family and their hobbies.
She remembered Tiffany announcing that she’s not gonna work anymore after this last shift. She was already 17 and Tiffany was nearly reaching 16. They were from different high schools and cities which made Taeyeon impossible to meet her again. She did not even own a cell phone to contact her. With a hug and a kiss on her cheek, Stephanie Hwang Miyoung bid farewell for the last time in her not so bad Korean accent. Taeyeon would always remember her strawberry scent.
Days became week, weeks became months and months became years. Second by second, people change, thoughts change and life change. So was Taeyeon’s. Her mother passed away on the scene after her father’s car crashed with the ten-wheelers. Her father became comatose with no expectation of recovering. She had never seen such a remorseful and devastating look on his brother’s face before as he nodded silently to the doctor’s request for their consent to take off the life support.
Jeonju was kind. Maybe it was because of her kind-hearted parents that people from the town contributed to the funeral. People were crying, sharing their pities towards the siblings but she could hardly care. She whispered goodbye to their parents for the final time as their coffins were buried down slowly. At the midnight, the strawberry scent, the smile and her voice were the soothings to her nightmare and the shining torch of her darkness.
The second time Taeyeon met Stephanie, it had already been five years. She had permanently moved to Seoul in hope of being able to earn money enough to support her dear sister’s education. Her brother was serving his military service and he wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon. It’s now up to her shoulders to carry on.
This time, the girl had already transformed into a young woman and Taeyeon couldn’t take her eyes off her. She had dyed her hair blonde which made her eyes so distinctive. She had grown taller than her. This time, she was wearing a black-collared pink dress with black pumps. Gone were her childish demeanour. All she could think of her was a beauty fallen from the sky that she could just stand and watched all day.
They met eye to eye.
She could feel herself smiling.
It was everything.
It was the beginning of everything.