272 days and counting.
It’s all Tiffany can think about for hours. Every day. As soon as she wakes up, as soon as she registers that it’s another new morning – any time she sees the date, the squares on her calendar, some crossed out, smudged in ink – her heart would beat along to those numbers.
She likes to do silly little things that are like stepping stones on the way to the Big Day. The first week, the first month, the second month – she’d draw tiny hearts on the respective days on her calendar, more hearts as the meter went on, until they got bigger and took up the whole square. She takes pictures of the marks with her phone and sends them, along with many blushing emojis, to her one and only – who doesn’t really understand what they mean.
Tiffany is cheesy enough to think of terms like ‘one and only’ because not only do they incite reactions of reluctant amusement and dimpled grins, but they match how she is feeling. This is it. This is the one. She is in love. Unlike ‘one and only’, she is stuck with another phrase. The hated phrase. The inevitable.
“If only what?”
“If only we could see each other sooner,” says Tiffany, pasting on a smile that wouldn’t hold still and didn’t work at all. “I miss you.”
She was counting towards 300, because that’s another cheesy little mark of progress, and it was the mark that measures how long she has been in love with Taeyeon.
Taeyeon, who tilts her head to one side, making the image blur momentarily, and tries to look into Tiffany’s soul.
It’s not the measure of a relationship. They wouldn’t be a couple for 300 days.
They wouldn’t even be a couple for one day, let alone one hundred, let alone eternity.
But she wishes.
She implies it. She tries to find some way to tell Taeyeon how she feels and explain in eloquent and precise reasoning why and how they should be together forever – but she can’t do it. Not because she doesn’t want to, or because she’s afraid, but because she simply cannot explain how they will be together.
The image of Taeyeon shudders as the laptop on the other side of the world is moved. Taeyeon’s tilting it, moving closer, smiling comfortingly at her.
“It’s okay. I’ll see you soon. Not as soon as we’d like, but… I’m still working on that time travel thing.”
Tiffany grimaces. “You say that every time we Skype. I know you’re not developing a method for time travel, Taeyeon.”
Taeyeon shrugs. “Hey, I could be. How do you know what I get up to in my spare time?”
It’s just teasing, but it hurts. For one thing, Tiffany has no idea what Taeyeon really gets up to in her spare time – she could be meeting new people, new special people, who make her feel like this. And for another thing; spare time. Was talking to Tiffany so much work?
But no. She can’t think like that. So what if sometimes Taeyeon doesn’t feel like talking? So what if she only does it because she wants to make sure Tiffany is okay? It still counts. And it’s all Tiffany is going to get.
272 days of this. And counting.
It’s bullshit. And she accepts it.
She takes a deep breath, though, and she rolls her eyes in jest. As per usual. It’s another chat, going the same way all the others have done before, and will forever. Or just for now.
She doesn’t know.
Neither does Taeyeon.
All the way on the other side of the world, on the other side of the laptop, Taeyeon has a different countdown in mind.
10 years and 272 days – and counting.
It’s how long she’s known she can’t develop a method for time travel and she can’t create a practical theory for teleportation. The years are measured by how long she’s been in love with Tiffany, and the days are measured by how long since she realised it would definitely, most certainly, never be a thing.
She would never be able to kiss Tiffany. She would never be able to go on a date with Tiffany. She would never be able to point Tiffany out in a crowd and say yeah, that’s my girlfriend, and I can say with only an average amount of insecurity that she loves me back, just as much as I love her, just as strongly, and she’s looking right at me.
Sure, she could say something like yeah that’s my best friend, way over there in that other country, wave at her through the webcam and provided there’s wifi here she may even give me a smile and a ‘how was your day’ because she’s not here.
But that’s just sad.
So Taeyeon is sad. She hopes Tiffany is not. As she watches her now, in the millionth video call of twenty seven million, she thinks maybe Tiffany is a little different. A little slower, the way she blinks, the way her lips move when she’s talking and thinking and blowing Taeyeon a kiss at the end of the call – like she means it, like she wants it to reach her, like she –
No, she’s not different. She’s Tiffany, she’s Taeyeon. It’s a video call. They’ve talked about family, work, school, friends, news, games, movies, music, it’s been two hours and Taeyeon’s puppy has jumped up to greet Tiffany’s puppy and still she doesn’t know how long this will go on for.
She just takes it.
Whatever she can get.
Final morsels for a drowning girl. This is all she’ll get and it will run out one day, probably, it must.
And they accept it.
“Well, I’d better go.” move on
“Yeah, me too.” get over you
“Same time next week?” we won’t have this
“Of course. See you then.” goodbye