Lies and Truths: Short Story

I got the inspiration to write this from the Korean reality show “We Got Married” where celebrities (singers, actors, models, comedians) are paired up as husband and wife. There’s always controversy about the show, however, as people never know how much is acting and how much is real. The show does interviews with participants after to get how they felt after the first meeting or a particular couple mission. It does seem like some couples did develop feelings, but then again, how much is staged? (Read more about it here)

The concept of the show always bothered me because it was encroaching onto something private. Marriage and falling in love is important and sacred, and yet We Got Married and Bachelor exist. Sigh. I personally think that after spending that much time with someone, feelings will appear eventually. How strong they are and if they are returned is a different story, of course, but still it seems somewhat cruel to play with someone’s feelings in front of camera.

I wrote this short story as if I was a rookie singer who was invited to participate in We Got Married. The story is in diary format, as in each break means another day. Enjoy, and feedback is always much appreciated~ 🙂

///

So I guess my acting for that mini drama paid off in the long run because soon after I was pelted with CFs (commercial filming), photoshoots, and variety shows. But the crown jewel of it all was the invitation to participate in We Got Married. 

The other girls in my group were jealous, especially Mijoo who expressed several times in public and private her desire to be on the show. She craved attention and more than that, affection. And she could have easily gotten both with her ideal slim body and perfect face topped with long, luscious hair. But alas, the dating ban…

Honestly, I almost wished it was her instead. She had experience in dating and she was a lot more likeable. I wasn’t as pretty or charming as she was either. Maybe the producers wanted me on the show for my acting skills? Or to take advantage of my sudden popularity?

And yet, I was still excited to participate. It would be fun to fake marry…even if it was only for a bit. I was fully aware that it was mostly scripted and that most likely, off camera my ‘husband’ wouldn’t treat me the same. Ah, well. At least it’d be a good acting experience.

///

I refused to check any website to see who he’d be. I wanted it to be a surprise, and this way I could control some fraction of the show and display what I really felt.

The girls were obnoxious about it, though. Mijoo kept on voicing her jealousy and our youngest member Jenny wouldn’t stop giggling about it. Only our eldest member and leader Akyung respected my decision to remain ignorant. But even then, sometimes I saw her talking with the others about how they thought I would react.

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow…

///

I’m done.

Why did I accept this offer?!

WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?!?!

Guess who it was?- Out of all the celebrities they could have chosen, they chose Joonsuh, in other words the singer I’ve adored since I was in my first year of high school. Oh, then why would you be angry about it? Isn’t this a fan’s dream come true?

FALSE. FALSE FALSE FALSE. Because this…it’s all cruel. He’d never actually like me in real life, I don’t fit his style; if anything, Mijoo fits his ideals. But too bad for him because he’s stuck with me, the less pretty, dark-skinned actress who was suddenly catapulted into the spotlight. And it’s not like he can complain-there’s too much at stake. So he’ll whip out his acting skills (that won him three awards in the past) and win the world over with his ‘love’ for me.

And that’s what makes it hurt the most, though, the fact that it’s all a lie. What irony; I finally get to meet Joonsuh only to have him force marry me for the public’s entertainment.

Well, I mean, I’ll still play my part too,but I won’t invest into it too much because when the cameras get packed away I don’t want the drop to reality hurt more than it needs to…so I’ll keep my distance. I’ll treat it just as a role and nothing more, because that’s what it is and always will be.

///

He serenaded me for today’s filming. He took out his famous dark green guitar and his gorgeous voice, the one that sang me through exams, sang to me, only me.

Or rather, the on screen wife image of me. I honestly almost forgot it was all fake when he started singing, his eyes at first fixated on his fingers, then onto me, those pools of dark brown softly reflecting the candles around us. I melted, just as I did before I became famous and was one of millions of girls enamoured with him.

But then a candle died behind me and a crew member ran up to light it again and my fantasy was smashed, revealing once again the truth of the matter. It hurt when it hit me, so much that tears slowly escaped my eyes. I quickly brushed them off and placed a hand over my heart with a slight smile, as if to steady my heart from my overflowing love towards him, when I was instead trying to prevent the waterworks threatening to burst. He paused, concern filling his eyes and asked if I was okay. Of course, just your voice is so nice, I said back with a small smile…please, continue. And so he did, but this time I closed my eyes so I don’t have to see him.

///

Apparently my crying was a big deal because now everyone ships our couple together and once again, my popularity sky rocketed. We became the ‘candlelight couple’ because apparently that was the episode that I realized that I loved him.

Ha ha ha…

///

At the end of today’s filming, I bowed to the crew and quickly grabbed my belongings as usual, to leave before Joonsuh and avoid seeing him. I always left in a rush, to quickly sever fact from the delicious fiction we created for the camera. But today, I couldn’t find my phone.

I panicked. My phone was my most valuable item; it had my lyrics, pictures, doodles, secrets. I flew around the set completely berserk, scaring staff along the way and tripping over wires and cords until I heard “Looking for this?” in a painfully familiar voice.

Joonsuh held my phone with one hand, grinning mischievously. I looked around, cautious; was this some extended footage for the show? But no, the cameras were all packed away and besides, he was standing off to the side by the trees where no one could see us. I stomped towards him, furious, and lunged for my phone, but not fast enough. He was too tall and dangled it over my head, but now with a serious face.

“Mia, wait. I took it for a reason..hey, hey, can you at least look at me?” I slowly lifted my eyes from studying the dirt and took a deep breath to steady my frantic heart. Courage, I told myself firmly. Just put up with him then you can leave and clear your head.

Joonsuh dropped my phone into his pants pocket and leaned against the nearest tree, his lean frame slumping slightly, as if it was deflated.

“…Do you hate me?” he asked me quietly.

“What?-No, um no, why would you think that-“

“Because as soon as the cameras turn off, your face completely changes and something enters your eyes, something different from the happiness that used to be in them. You become more stiff and never look back at me, not even to say good job or goodbye. Then after, you seem to flee from the set. At first I thought it was because you had a busy schedule, but I checked and you don’t.”

“I, um…” Do I tell him? Will it change anything in the show and potentially be detrimental?-No, of course not. We were both professionals and wouldn’t compromise our performance because of a private issue.

“I hate how it’s all a lie,” I start, quietly, as if warming up for the torrent of words bound to come later. “I mean, we’re both doing this because it’s part of our job, another role to play, but it’s more personal because this role leaks into our daily lives. We have to act like we’re married even off set on broadcast shows, performances, and interviews. We can’t sever this role from our private lives because it’s supposed to be a part of our private lives. And it takes over our lives to a degree that it almost makes you believe that it’s true but it’s still a lie.

At this point, words start gushing out and I can’t stop them, don’t want to stop them. “A lie that you’d willingly marry, date, or even notice me. And it’s not like you can complain about being paired with me, because the nation’s watching and you have to save face. Look, I know that I don’t match any of your ideal concepts for a girl but too bad because this is what we’re casted to be, in love with each other and honestly you do it so well to make even me believe in the fantasy that I, your fan since freshman year in high school, could be loved by you and you make me believe that maybe you could care about me and maybe even love me when in reality, it’s all just scripted romance and all…all a LIE!”

I squeeze my eyes shut to block out his face and his reaction to my speech. A lone tear slips out but before I can swipe it away, his index finger rubs my cheek to catch it.

His hand was so soft. I already knew this, we held hands on the show many times before, but this was different.

“A tear from my fan…a tear from my wife,” he said quietly. I opened my eyes cautiously and he was right there, a foot away from me, his head turned down to study his finger. We were never this close before, not even on the show (yet).

I scrambled back from him, away from the moment he just created that made my heart rate spike and made me almost lose my logic. No, keep your head screwed on tight Mia.

“So, yeah, there it is if that clears anything up,” I mumbled, trying to wrap up our conversation to escape back to my room and my music. “Can I have my phone back now, because I’m going to really need it-“

“Hug me.” Joonsuh suddenly looked up at me with a glint of determination. He took my phone out of his pants pocket and slipped it into his jacket pocket. “Or, if that bothers you, think of it as a way to get your phone back.” He lifted up his arms parallel to his shoulders and his jacket swung with the extra weight of my phone.

Why can’t I just leave, I thought angrily as I marched up to him, focused on his jacket pocket and nothing us. But when I got close enough, he instead wrapped me in his arms. I squirmed as his jacket smashed into my face, smelling of peaches.

“Let go!”

“Shh, Mia,” he said softly as he loosened his grasp, but not enough to let me escape. He stroked my head gently, to calm me down and it worked. I stopped struggling, enough to realize (unhappily) that my heart rate had spiked again and I was starting to slip into the dangerous territory of infatuation. When Joonsuh realized that I stopped fighting back, he released me slowly from his arms and stooped down to my eye level. His luminous eyes soaked in my face and I felt like I was drowning.

After five seconds, he brushed aside my hair to whisper into my ear “It’s not a lie.” His breath tickled my ear and my shoulder instinctively shot up, bonking his chin, but he didn’t react as he pulled back. “Interpret that as you may, but at least know that it’s not all a lie.” He smiled, but this time the smile didn’t reach his eyes like it usually did. He looked almost sad.

At this moment, my manager burst into sight, most likely still searching for my phone. He froze when he saw Joonsuh and I alone and slowly backed away to give us privacy, but I acknowledged his presence and Joonsuh went right back to his professional self, laughing and charming people.

But as we were driving back to my dorm, I couldn’t erase his words from my mind.

///

Joonsuh broke the Internet today. He posted a self composed song on Twitter, citing me as his inspiration. This was the ultimate sign of love, netizens said excitedly, this is truly love, look at him!

And so I did, but I only remembered his half-hearted smile…

///

If anything, after our conversation, I tried even harder to avoid Joonsuh after filming. I couldn’t deal with it. Was what he said some sort of confession, and if so how…how do I deal with it? Do I deal with it? I was never good at dealing with these types of things, they rarely if ever happened to me! And this wasn’t just anyone, IT WAS FREAKING JOONSUH.

It was all a fluke, part of my mind said. He can’t like you or much less love you. Nothing matches and you’re too different from what he wants in a girl anyway.

But what was that whole “It’s not a lie” thing, then?!  Why can’t he just say things forwardly in concise words? It didn’t help that I didn’t talk with him privately again after our conversation. I didn’t text either, even though I had his number for the show. I just didn’t want to deal with him, even though I did. I didn’t want to let my imagination wander too far for fear of being completely crushed from false hope. And yet what if there was a morsel of truth? But no, even if he liked me, it couldn’t be that deep though because he barely knew me. It might not, actually, most likely wouldn’t work out, I reasoned. Just…stop it now, Mia. So I continued to ignore him, even though I saw that when the cameras turned off, he always watched me carefully, if I’d look up at him.

But I never did. I didn’t want to lose my head or more importantly, my heart. After all, he had experience in this whole dating field before and rejection (if this even counted as one) wouldn’t affect him as much as it would affect me.

I fear, I fear…

wait, am I fearing love? If this even qualifies as love, or infatuation?

What is this?!?

///

Today was kiss day. The producers hyped us up, explaining in excited voices that the show had the highest ranking in the history of its existence. Today was the culmination of the episodes and everything had to be perfect. They made him wear a nice suit and put me in a dress I honestly wouldn’t wear on me own. The setting was the most expensive restaurant in Seoul, and of course there were candles everywhere to remind the audience of our couple name.

I was uneasy and anxious. The episodes we shot after our conversation all built up to this moment but as each episode crawled to today’s, my character started to show cracks. But of course, the moments when I forgot my lines or tripped over my own feet from being too lost in thought were all interpreted as signs of me being totally in love with Joonsuh. He played along really well with it. He always laughed when I messed up and patted my head fondly. It honestly didn’t help. If anything, this pinnacle episode would wreck my last shred of resolve. If I finished today’s filming without cracking and either screaming at Joonsuh or sobbing, it would be a miracle. Well, at least there would be only one more episode after this…

He was gorgeous, as expected. His smile reached his eyes and as he scanned my outfit, I felt insecure as I imagined Mijoo’s perfect body in comparison to mine. I quickly sat myself down to steady myself. Get a grip, Mia. The filming just started, geez!-

“But no, Mia, let me seat you, as a gentleman should,” Joonsuh said in fake protest. I giggled, apologized, and let him. When I sat the second time, he left a rose on my lap, on schedule.

“You’re a rose to me, you know that?” he sang as he sat down, singing his famous song written for me. “Beautiful, yet prickling at the touch of a hand/My darling dear, I don’t think you understand/Your presence makes me feel like a man.”

I could practically hear the audience swoon.

“Joonsuh…is it okay if I speak informally now?” I asked with a shy expression.

“Of course, love.” He gently touched my cheek and I leaned in, as directed.

“But I prefer your rough edges and your naive fear.” Wait, what?! Joonsuh traced my face as he went on in an almost hypnotized voice off script: “What is it about this face I cherish so much? It has flaws,” he said as he stroked my beauty mark, “and isn’t perfectly rounded like the standard of beauty,” he said as he brought his other hand to my face to hold my jawline. I started to open my mouth but his hands were faster, closing my lips as he whispered, “And what about these lips, spitting fire at me, leaving me with burns from weeks ago? Why, lips, are you still so tantalizing to me?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the producer’s eyes grow large. Spitting fire? Our perfect couple got in a fight?! But they didn’t signal to cut off the cameras…yet.

Joonsuh didn’t notice or care what the staff thought as his dark chocolate eyes were totally fixated on me.

“About now is when I should kiss Mia, when I’d be expected to kiss her,” he announced loudly, “but…I won’t. Not now.” He dropped his hands from my face and leaned back in his chair, defeated. “Not unless it holds truth, because something as important as a girl’s first kiss shouldn’t be built on a lie.”

What?! My mouth hung open and I heard in the background the producers frantically scribbling a way out of the hole Joonsuh dug himself into. The cameramen watched them anxiously, waiting for a sign to stop, but they were too busy writing a new script to give them a signal. But it was all background noise to me because I was now only aware of my heartbeat thumping like a resounding bass, pushing me on and on and on…

My hand moved on its own, slowly and cautiously reaching up to touch Joonsuh’s cheek. The scribbling stopped abruptly, but I didn’t care because I was focused on him. I ran my thumb over his cheekbone and he closed his eyes.

“Does this mean anything to you, Joonsuh?” I asked quietly. With his eyes still closed, he murmured, “Of course it does.”

 It was as if no one was breathing and it was only Joonsuh and I in our own world, just like when we first talked privately. But it wasn’t; all I had to do was look beyond Joonsuh’s face to see a camera focused on my face. This was still a show. Was I going to save it?  The only way to was to kiss him for a good while as some sappy music swelled in the background. But I didn’t want that.

I withdrew my hand from his face and stood up, extending my arms parallel to my shoulders. “Hug me,” I said in a steady voice, my mind fully made. “Or, if that bothers you, think of it as a kiss.” Joonsuh looked up at me at first confused, then slowly grinned when he realized what I was saying. You little copycat, his eyes seemed to say as they sparkled in the candlelight. He stood up and walked into my arms, holding me gently at first, then fiercely. And this time I hugged back. His lips kissed the tip of my ear then whispered for only me to hear, “I am not a lie.”

When we let go of each other, I got up on my toes and kissed his cheek. His skin smelled like peaches.

“Now, if you’re a good boy, next time you might get one on your lips,” I said sternly.

“Wait, so you didn’t miss?-“

“I never miss.”

///

This time, we both broke the Internet. We were a top search topic and there were pages upon pages of fan art, especially ones of us kissing on the lips (sorry, folks).

The producers wanted us back for another season. Heck, the entire public wanted us for another season. But after talking it over with Joon (as I call him nowadays) we declined the offer. We wanted our relationship to grow on its own, organically and without the pressure of the cameras and without a script. So after the last episode (which was much easier to shoot, by the way), we withdrew from the show. We’re now right back into our daily lives as singers, bouncing from music shows to interviews and making music. Along the way we always text each other or call if we have time (or make time).

Even today, we still haven’t had a proper kiss, to the disappointment of the fans. But we’re in no rush; when it happens, it’ll be 100% truth.

///end

…yeah. Not gonna lie guys, I kind gave myself little chills and surprised myself as I was writing this. But I had to write it, not necessarily because the world needed it, but because the concept haunted me once it was conceived and begged to be told. Geez, I didn’t know I could write romance, ha. The last time I wrote something like this was my poem story a while ago.

Thanks for reading! This is I’m guessing my longest post so far, a whooping ~3800 words. If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations and I reward you with, uh…a high five over the Internet! *high-fives* 🙂

~ajc

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