Unspoken Words – Part 1

April 3, 2013 in rahmyun, Unspoken Words by rahmyun

Locking her car doors, Taeyeon grimaced at the sight of hundreds of students wearing some combination of red, pink, and white. She had always disliked Valentine’s Day. It may have started as a simple celebration, but it had evolved into a holiday for retailers capitalizing on every chance to earn some more money.

With a sigh, she weaved her way through the hallways before coming out into the main quad, already filled by a large crowd.  Honestly, she should have expected this on the one day where you are expected to confess your feelings. She wondered if she should even try to talk to her project partner or just find her right before class.

Better sooner than later, she decided.

“Excuse me. Pardon me.” Attempting to be polite as she waded into what she would call a mob, she stumbled as someone jostled her.

A long pair of arms instantly caught her. “Taeyeon-ah, when are you ever going to learn?” sighed a tall girl, looking down at her. Helping her stand, she continued, “You need to be commanding, especially since you’re so short and people can’t see you.”

Despite her gratitude for the unexpected help, Taeyeon glared at the model-like girl for the height comment but kept her mouth shut. Who knew what Sooyoung’s fans might do to her if she was heard making a retort to their beloved goddess?

As if on cue, a female student pushed her way towards them, a box of chocolates in her hands. “Sunbae! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Sooyoung smiled, accepting the gift. “Thank you, Jiyoon. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with the girls?”

Shaking her head vigorously, Jiyoon replied happily, “Of course not!”

Before anyone else could step forward with more presents, Sooyoung turned away to peer over the sea of heads. “I assume you want to talk to Tiffany, right? Let’s see if I can’t help you…” Spotting their destination, she commanded, “Move,” her voice pitched just loud enough for the people in front of her to hear.

Almost immediately, they parted, and she pulled Taeyeon along with her. At last, they reached the center of the crowd where a group of five girls stood with a wide circle of empty space around them.

“Geez, it’s like the eye of a hurricane here,” muttered Taeyeon, pulling her arm out of Sooyoung’s grip.

The taller girl either didn’t hear her or chose to ignore her. “Hey, Fany-ah, look who I found!” she announced.

One of the heads turned, silky hair sweeping over a milky white shoulder, and Taeyeon could’ve sworn she saw at least three people faint at the sight. Unlike the rest of the peons at the school, she considered herself immune to such charms. …Well, most of the time.

“Oh, Taeyeon-ah!”

“Tiffany-ssi,” she responded coolly, nodding her head. “I just wanted to make sure you didn’t have any last minute questions about our presentation today.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to just call me Tiffany?” An eye-smile accompanied her words, and Taeyeon had to fight to keep herself focused on what the other girl was saying.

“I think we’ll be fine,” continued Tiffany. “Thanks for being my partner, by the way.”

“No need to thank me.” Taeyeon inwardly winced at her cold tone and amended her words. “Really, I should be the one thanking you, Miss English expert. Anyhow, I’ll let you get back to your friends.” On a whim, she added, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Tiffany-ssi.”

A wide smile spread across Tiffany’s face. “Happy Valentine’s Day to you too, Taeyeon-ah.”

As Taeyeon entered the crowd once more, she was so lost in her thoughts that she failed to notice the awe—or in some cases, the jealousy—her fellow students had in their eyes as she passed, or the fact that they were parting for her as they had for Sooyoung.

Instead, she was mulling over her strange relationship with the school’s most popular girls, or the “goddesses” as everyone else called them.

 ______________________

Taeyeon had transferred to Seoul High School after her father’s job relocated him and the entire family to the country’s capital. Making the transition at the beginning of her 11th grade—an awkward time to enter since it was the middle of the three years of high school, which meant everyone would already have a set circle of friends—she was prepared to spend the next two years as a loner.

Thus, on her first day, when she warily stepped into her class, it came as no surprise when she saw the unspoken hierarchy of the room.

At the front were the nerds, the bookworms, the ones who tried hard in school; and the group discussing what sounded like a theoretical mathematical equation was exemplifying their stereotype. Next came the scattered groups of friends, not especially talented in any area, but clearly had known each other since childhood as she could tell from their easy banter. Lastly, of course, were the jocks, the popular kids, the ones who everyone listened to no matter what conversation they were holding.

Thankfully, she had been smart enough to arrive right before class started—it would save her the embarrassment of trying to find a socially acceptable seat.

As she lingered before the door, someone suddenly pushed into her from behind.

“Oops, sorry about that!” chirped a cheerful, yet sincere voice. “I should’ve been watching where I was going.”

The room instantly quieted to a soft murmur as everyone subtly tried to watch the situation unfold.

Turning, she met the eyes of a girl taller than her by a few centimeters. Wow, she’s cute, thought Taeyeon, noting how the minimal use of makeup still accentuated her sculpted features.

“No, it’s my fault for standing here in the doorway,” she answered quickly, aware that they had become the center of everyone’s attention. She bowed, just in case.

Another girl, shorter than the first, appeared beside them.

“There’s no need to apologize,” she said, grinning at Taeyeon. “Fany here is notoriously clumsy, so it probably really is her fault.”

The newly arrived girl got a slap on the arm for that.

“Hyo!” scolded the one named Fany. Glaring at her friend, she turned back to Taeyeon. “Don’t pay any attention to Hyoyeon. Just because she can never make good first impressions, she thinks she can ruin other people’s.”

Hyoyeon scoffed, muttering her retort under her breath as the girl continued, “Anyways, you must be new here! My name’s Tiffany.”

From the collective hush that settled over the room, Taeyeon knew this innocent looking girl must be high up the social ladder. “Kim Taeyeon,” she politely returned. “Nice to meet you, Tiffany-ssi.”

“There’s no need to be formal; we’re all the same age in this class! Please, call me Fany.” Bestowing an eye-smile on the shorter girl, she smiled sweetly.

Taeyeon felt her breath catch in her throat when a slight movement from beside Tiffany drew her attention. Hyoyeon was pressing her lips together, almost as if she was trying to hold in her laughter.

Either this Tiffany is actually as ridiculously kind as she seems, or she’s just playing with me.

A small smile gracing her lips, Taeyeon replied, “I haven’t been here for very long, so please excuse me as I continue to be formal with you, Tiffany-ssi.”

Frowning a little, the girl nodded anyways. “If that’s what you’re more comfortable with. Would you mind if I dropped the formalities, though?”

“Do as you wish,” she answered, holding back the urge to drop into a mock curtsy. She could’ve chosen a less offhand response but couldn’t resist the veiled barb. I might pay for that later, though, if this girl is as popular as I think she is. Or I might not if no one notices…

“Well, welcome to Seoul High School, Taeyeon-ah,” Tiffany said warmly, smiling again. “If you ever need anything, don’t be afraid to ask.”

  ______________________

That was six months ago, she realized, slipping through the metal door that lead to the roof. She tucked herself into a nook protected from the wind as she lost herself in her thoughts once more.

During her first month at the school, she had quickly deduced from the whispers and gossip that the six girls were viewed as “goddesses” by most of the student population, and that Taeyeon should feel very, very lucky that they were paying so much attention to her.

It wasn’t because they didn’t interact with others; in fact, part of the reason why they were deemed “goddesses” was due to their kind and compassionate nature.

Since that first day, Tiffany and her group of friends had made an effort to make her feel welcome, chatting with her and inviting her to eat lunch with them. She had politely answered their questions, letting the conversation die when it seemed appropriate, and even accepted a few of their invitations.

No, according to current speculation, they were befriending her as a possible member of their exclusive circle. They were a tight-knit group, and even Taeyeon could see that a special bond existed between them despite their very different backgrounds.

Yuri and Hyoyeon were the athletic types, although Yuri was a swimmer and Hyoyeon was a dancer. The artsy ones—who Taeyeon always thought should be attending a specialty school—were Yoona, an actress in the making, and Jessica, the star singer of the school’s award-winning choir. Sooyoung could have easily passed for a model, yet her wit and eloquence had earned her role of captain of the debate team.

Finally, there was Tiffany. She dabbled in a bit of everything—singing, acting, photography—and her fans were arguing over whether she would pursue musical theatre or modeling in the future.

Obviously, the high school’s rumor mill was almost excessively active, which is why even transfer student Taeyeon knew how important today was for her fellow students.

Arguably the most popular person on campus, Tiffany had accepted the hundreds of Valentine’s Day gifts given her during her first year at Seoul High School, yet this year was different. Claiming to feel guilty, she had declared a week ago that she would only accept gifts from one lucky student, and that name would be revealed today on Valentine’s Day.

If Tiffany’s smart, she’ll wait until the end of lunch to announce who it is, thought Taeyeon. That way, whoever it is can spend their afternoon classes preparing to deal with the jealous fans.

She leaned her head back against the brick wall, wondering who she was to Tiffany anyways. Granted, the girl had been nothing but nice to her, yet she couldn’t help feel suspicious. After all, she was a nobody; why would Miss Popular even bother?

Take three days ago for example. In their English class, they had been assigned a group project to be completed in pairs or groups of three. Naturally, no one approached the six girls because they always worked together. Or at least that’s what had been the precedent in the past.

To everyone’s surprise that day, Tiffany had risen from her seat and walked over to Taeyeon, asking in her husky voice hers if she wanted to be partners.

As much as she wanted to say no—just to show she wasn’t another mindless groupie—Taeyeon’s English grades were poor, and she could use the help from the American-born Tiffany. Thus, with the hushed class waiting for her answer, she had said yes.

Word spread quickly about the incident, and Taeyeon was glad for once that she was a transfer student. She didn’t like strangers thinking they knew her, and so her lack of friends worked in her favor. As her private life and background remained a mystery, people began guessing, resulting in a variety of ridiculous theories that never failed to give her a good laugh.

Just the thought of it brought a grin to her face. What’s the latest one I heard? Oh yes, I’m apparently the daughter of some hot-shot CEO attempting to live a normal life.

Suddenly the bell rang, warning that class would begin in five minutes, and she scrambled to her feet, cursing. I guess I’ll just have to review our presentation during lecture.

They had decided to do the project as a skit, hoping it would be easier for Taeyeon to memorize her lines. Despite Tiffany’s generous help, however, she was still worried she was going to stumble over her words or worse, forget something. Her English had noticeably improved, but not enough to make her feel comfortable.

Hurrying into the stairwell that would take her to the classroom, she bit her lip, silently praying that she wouldn’t make a fool of herself today.