I looked up form the photograph in my hands and stared at the clock.
What happened between me and him was a once upon a time story.
I gazed at the picture again, my heart heavy with loneliness. I traced my finger around the edges of the aged picture. What would've happened if nothing stood in our way? I wondered.
I found it a mircale that we even lasted that long together. He's still an onscreen legend while I'm the legendary fairy. How did we manage to spend more than two years together baffled me. Confused me.
Very often times, I thought about what happened during my youth years with him was something unexpected. Something abrupt, yet a miracle. I felt that I could've avoided all the drama he created but..
And I didn't think he created most of them, but participated and added to it. I haven't done any less either.
I sighed as my attention was brought back to the picture. The last I've heard of anything...was he got married. An invitation even showed up in my mailbox. Of course I didn't attend. Why should I? We weren't mutual friends. Didn't share a single thing together. Though I have debated with myself whether to make an appearace or not.
It was hard having to sit there alone while minutes slowly crawl by and having the most fanciest and glamorous wedding going on a few towns away.
But I survived.
I managed. Somehow. I couldn't sleep so I had stayed up all night and the next morning watching our old movies. It brought tears to my eyes for the first time.
I have always wondered how we won the "Best Onscreen Couple" award. And for so many years. There were so many other awards too. I had finally seen it for the first time. Finally realized it. All the nominees for different categories and winning for eleven consecutive years...I finally understood.
I placed the picture face down on the lamp desk beside me and tilted my head back. I closed my eyes as I sighed.
I could see myself standing beside him one last time in his embrace. His arms. I was in my cream satin dress. I was thirty three.
It was a beautiful night. And I took one last bow.
With Brian Joo.
It was my childhood dream. I saw sparkles and glamor all around the word "actress." Ever since I was five and saw models on runways, I knew entertainment business was for me.
I was a fashions major in New York—studying different fashion technologies and such. My parents didn't approve of my study decisions but couldn't do anything about it. They wanted me to have a more traditional career. Like a teacher or doctor. But I was positive I would succeed. I had set out to prove them wrong when I entered high school. Upon graduation, I had six scholarships and went to college for free. Being an international/foreign student from Korea, fashions department was intrigued and curious with the styles and trends available.
Soon my designs broke into the industry and were used in movies and series which fired my ambition and the need to do more. My parents were worried for a while. They visited me and my two room studio. They were shocked to find me living the way I did. They couldn't believe I left them and the luxury they've provided for my seventeen years of youth for something that's plain and in their words, "not suitable." They've begged me to return home with them but I refused. They were furious, nonetheless, but still wished me luck and left me with their best regards.
They're my parents. They love me but hate what I am.
I was sent to Paris during my sophomore year to further my education.
I had met a girl there, Lee Hyori. Another Oriental and foreign student from Korea also. She was a drama major and we lived together for a year. We got along very well and I was glad we found each other.
I learned more about acting from Hyori, who shares just as much passion as I do. I'm outgoing, yet bashful. I'm not as outspoken as Hyori, but I'm not mute either.
I attended a few of her classes and enjoyed what I've learned. She stopped by a few times to see my works, fascinated with my designs.
The year's end was close and we exchanged demographic info. I gave her my address and phone number to the home in Korea and New York while she did the same. She explained how she was going to leave for the States shortly and won't be in Paris for long. We promised we'd keep in contact.
We exchanged presents the night before my departure and made each other promise not to open it till we're apart. She drove me to the airport and waited till I boarded my plane. For some reason, I wasn't sad. In fact, I was very happy. I knew we'd reunite and keep in touch. So I wasn't worried.
When i returned home, I was greeted with warm smiles and hugs. I finally saw what Hyori gave me and smiled. A photo album filled with our pictures and a guidebook.
She called me a few days later, squealing. I had given her a dress. One of my newest designs and she was the first one to have it. She screamed and squealed like a child on Christmas Day. Saying a million 'I love you' and 'Thank you'. That's Hyori when she's too happy.
I then found out in a few more months Hyori's moving to Hollywood. She found a job and her instructor suggested I should take up the offer too. I was suprised to hear this and asked, "What do you mean?"
"He saw you act out with me. He liked what he saw and thinks you have potential."
I was flattered. I've always wanted to be an actress but I was too shy and hid behind my paper and pencil. This was it. My big break.
"C'mon Jinie! Give it a try! You're not so bad. Besides, I don't wanna live by myself!"
"But..where will we live?"
"Everything's all set. Professor's waiting for your response. Please say yes! I wanna see how it's like to live in a penthouse!"
I gasped. Penthouse?
"C'mon Jinie!" Hyori pleaded. "You can make my clothes for me if you don't like acting."
I was so tempted. But I couldn't leave. I felt bad leaving behind the things and those who've been my jumpstart.
"Lee Jin!" Hyori shouted. "Say yes!"
I bit my lip. Yes?
"Jinie..." Hyori sang.
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"For real?! You'll come?!!"
I chewed on my lower lip, contemplating. "Yes, Hyori. I'll come."
A loud scream erupted followed by happy laughter. "I love you! You won't regret it! We'll starr in movies together! People'll love us!"
I smiled. "I hope so."
"I know so!" Hyori declared. "Professor said you'll make it. You got something real. You're a cutout actress!"
I was glad somebody was saying something good about acting. For twelve years, all I've heard is, "Lee Jin...acting's not good. Not a lot of money. It brings shame to the family's name. It's a cheap way to get men to sleep with you...fame is short lived. You can't be famous forever.."
"I'll call you once I leave. You better get ready!"
We spoke for a few more mintues and hung up.
Me, Lee Jin, an actress. My dream's coming true.
I was at the studio with Hyori. It's been five months already, I haven't had much luck. I left my two room studio in New York and moved to Hollywood with Hyori. I worked on sets as costume designer while she did television series.
I had a few lines and a few scenes but she was mainly the focus. She was a hit. Reviews for the show sky rocketed. Critics praised her highly. She loved it.
I was happy for her.
It was close to a wrap and I could tell she was tired. She's a hardworking girl. I admire her. She was more demanding than the director, which makes her the bitch on the set. But when the wrap comes around, people love the bitch's work.
"Jinie," she said breathlessly as she approached me. She plopped on the empty chair I had set up for her and sighed. "I'm tired."
"I know," I replied as I removed her makeup.
"You're the best," she said softly and closed her eyes. I hurried and tried not to disturb her. She had a habit of dozing off and I sympathize her. She works all day, practically everyday. I helped her into her clothes and undid her hair. I gathered our things together and helped her into our car.
"Are you hungry?" I asked.
She shook her head.
"Happy Meal?" I suggested.
"Okay," she mumbled, half asleep.
I loaded our things into the trunk and drove off to the nearest McDonald's. I went to the drive-thru and ordered a Happy Meal for Hyori and opened the toy for her. She chewed on her burger slowly, sleeping for the most part.
We got home in ten minutes and I helped Hyori to bed while I cleaned up a bit. I sorted out her clothes and tidied up my room before going to take a shower.
I came out fifteen minutes later, the house all silent. I checked on Hyori again, the Happy Meal toy still in her hand. I went to my room and turned on some music. I was wide awake and sat down at my desk. I picked up a pencil and started sketching, my thoughts a million miles away.
What if I stayed in New York? What would I be doing right now? Still cramming for a project?
I didn't tell my parents about the move till last month. They were beyond infuriated with me. They had begun to accept what I chose to do and now...
I fail to understand what's so wrong about acting. I don't see Hyori's parents raise hell about it.
That's right. What did Hyori's parents say? I realized I never knew of her background. I pulled a few strands of hair behind my ear as I drew the eyes. I love drawing eyes. But I hated it too. It was hard but I liked capturing the expression and glimmer in them.
It didn't take long for sleep to kick in. I placed my pencil in the holder and left my drawing on the desk and went to bed.
I was knocked out seconds later and didn't wake till I felt somebody shaking me. "Uhhh?"
"Jinie!" Hyori whispered urgently.
"They gotta spot for you! It's the Professor!"
I slowly sat up and felt Hyori drag me off my bed. She pulled me to the phone and pushed me down on a chair. She put the phone in my hand and waited as I tried to clear my head.
"Hullo?" I said groggily.
"I'm so sorry, dear. I know I'm waking the both of you," the Professor apologized.
"It's okay," I said.
"Well, I'm calling to inform you that there's a screening. They're looking for fresh new faces. I can arrange for a private session. What do you think?"
I blinked. "An audition?"
"You sound shocked."
"I am," I replied honestly.
"Don't you worry. I highly recommended you and the scouts would like to see you. This is an opportunity."
I took a deep breath and sighed. "Alright."
"You'll do it?"
"Great! Hyori knows when and where. Make sure you're ready to impress!"
"I don't have any experience."
"Don't tell them that. You've said that to a few other people, haven't you?"
"That's why you didn't get a spot. Just be prepared and dazzle them. You'll be fine."
We ended our conversation and Hyori hailed me with questions. I nodded them off and went to bed. "Hyori!"
"When's the audition?"
"In two days."
I sat rigid on my bed. "Two days?!"
Hyori appeared at my door. "Yeah."
"I-I-I don't have time to get ready!"
"Don't need to. You're going in for a screening."
"You get the script when you get there."
"Script?" I felt my heart pound. "What movie?"
Hyori shrugged. "I just heard it's a screening."
I swallowed hard. Hyori could see that I was nervous. She entered my room and sat with me on my bed.
"It's okay. You'll be fine. Just read and put feeling into it. That's all."
"But..it's my first...I'm afraid I'll forget how to read and start stuttering."
"You won't. Cause I'll be there and you don't want me to let the world know you failed at your audition."
I ran a hand through my hair and sighed.
"Go to bed. Long day tomorrow."
I looked at the clock by my nightstand and frowed. Two fifteen. "It's only two?"
"What'd you think it was? Four?"
"Well, we have to be at the set by eight. So sleep!" Hyori shoved me back and I fell on my bed. She threw my blankets over my body and went off to her room.
Two days. I can't do anything in two days.
Or could I?
I got ready for my screening as Hyori drilled my on the side. She coached me as I combed my hair.
"Remember not to appear nervous!" she nearly shouted.
I giggled nervously and applied my lipstick. Hyori had picked out an outfit for me and I got dressed while she recited Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech.
"And my child," she said at the end. "You shall perchance to dream."
I picked up my keys and smiled. "Thou shall. Thy shall waltz through tis very door."
Hyori laughed and actually waltzed out the door. I followed behind and she got her set of keys and we went to the car. Hyori drove since she felt that I was tense and needed to relax.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The music was soothing and before I knew it, I fell asleep. Hyori tapped on my arm and I pried my eyes opened. It was hard considering the heaviness of the lids.
"We're there," she announced.
We got out the car and headed for the building. The unwanted fear was in my stomach again. I swallowed hard and followed Hyori to receptionist's desk.
"Hi, we're here for the screening," Hyori said quietly, placing her skinny arms on the counter.
"Here's the script. Both of you?"
"Just her," Hyori replied, pointing at me.
"Preview it. They'll call you in the waiting room. You're number thirty-five."
"Thirty-five?!" Hyori shrieked. "Damn!"
I pulled Hyori back and squeezed her wrist, silently telling her to hush up. "Where's the waiting room?" I picked up the booklet and hauled Hyori after me once I memorized the directions.
We found the waiting room and at least twenty people waiting. I was somewhat relieved yet astounded. So many people..do I stand a chance?
Hyori found seats by a huge wall mirror and we went to practice there. I flipped through the script, trying to get a jist of the plot.
"Silver Dawn," Hyori read. "That's the upcoming movie?"
I turned to the first page again. "I suppose."
"I should audition too," Hyori said, thinking aloud.
"Lemme see the script," Hyori said, reaching for the booklet.
I let it slide from my grasp as she took it from me. I watched her leaf through it, numerous expressions showcasing upon her face.
I felt my heart sank. If Hyori was to audition then she'd get the part immediately. No questions asked. She's an actress, I'm...I'm a designer. The difference was far too great. There's no room for comparison.
I blinked as Hyori peered intently into my eyes. "I'm sorry...I don't feel well."
"What's wrong?" she asked, worried.
"Nothing...it's just...I don't think I'm up to it. I don't wanna do it."
Hyori's brows knotted together. "Are you feeling well?"
I dipped my head as a door flew open. A girl, accompanied by a man in a black suit, came out and exchanged handshakes. I heard the man say he'll contact her when they reach a verdict.
The girl bowed and thanked him before leaving. The man pivoted and stopped. Our eyes met briefly and I was too terrified to look away or move. He went on his way and disappeared through the door.
A girl shot up from the other end of the room and hurried in. I felt my heart pound. So much competition...
I looked into Hyori's pretty eyes.
"You're not giving up simply because I'm considering the audition?"
I shook my head and felt my insides fold. Then another door swung open. We gasped and jumped out of our skins, not realizing the mirror wall had a door.
A different man appeared and came over to us. I felt Hyori tense beside me and I held my breath.
"Excuse me," the man started. He stared straight at me. "Are you here for the screening?"
Startled by the inquiry, I stuttered a nervous, "Y-Y-Yeah..."
Hyori picked up her head and turned to me. "You are?"
I turned to Hyori, lost. "Huh?"
"I thought you..."
I blinked. What did I say? I looked at the man. "What did I say?"
"Our director would like to see you."
"But! I-I-I meant to say no! I'm not here for anything. She is! Hyori's here for the screening!" I cried, pointing at my friend.
"Our director would like to speak with you," the man repeated.
I glanced at Hyori helplessly but all she did was gape. "Hyori!"
"He doesn't have much time."
I quickly got to my feet and followed the guy, leaving Hyori mumbling to herself. It was a dimly lit room behind the mirror and I gasped as I turned towards the wall on the other end of the mirror.
Hyori! They could see everything and everybody!
"Your name, miss?"
"Oh!" I gazed at the table full of people. "I'm Lee Jin."
"Lee Jin..." I heard a man say. I looked around, trying to spot the owner of the voice. Then my eyes fell on a young man leaning back on his chair.
He looked like the big boss type. The composure, the appearance..he was toying with a pencil.
"Turn," the same voice commanded.
I was baffled. "Excuse me?"
"Turn around. Full spin."
Strang. But I didn't ask questions. I just turned and felt twenty pairs of eyes watch me move. I resumed to my position facing the young man and saw the twenty pairs of eyes stare me.
All except his.
He was still twirling his pencil and uninterested. I was beginning to wonder who he was. As if he read my mind, he placed his pencil on the table and looked up.
Our eyes met and for some reason, I held my gaze. He did his end and we ended up locking eyes, battling out a staring contest.
"Brian," the voice said. A figure stepped out of a dark corner and approached the young man.
My eyes flickered, my heart jumped to my throat. There was another man hiding in a corner and I had no idea who and what the hell's going on.
My hands were clammy and wet. I watched the man stop by the young man and looked far off. He turned to the mirror wall and my eyes followed.
Hyori was biting on her nails and looked anxious. Angry was more like it. But there was a hint of worry imprinted on her face. I couldn't help but feel guilty.
"Brian," the main repeated. "Stand beside her."
I was once again confused and watched the young man, Brian, slowly stroll over. I felt nervous and scared. What's the meaning of this? I edged away from Brian and he sighed. He looked bored and stared at the man by the wall.
"Lee Jin," the man said.
"Look at me."
I stared at him as I felt Brian come closer. He stood directly behind me and I could feel his eyes on the back of my head.
A big smile crept upon the man's face. "Perfect!"
"What?" I looked around for somebody who would answer me. "What's perfect?"
"What?" I turned to the quiet voice. It was Brian.
"Me and you. Congrats. You're leading lady.