Tiffany has a car. It’s small, fuel-efficient, mobile for her urban lifestyle, and it’s pink. It’s her baby. She hunted all over the state for it, saved up for it, and she takes damn good care of it.
Tiffany has a girlfriend. Her name is Taeyeon. She’s small, fuel-efficient, mobile – no, she’s small, funny, smart, and not particularly mobile but she works hard. Lately she’s been putting in a lot of effort to pass a night-school course to improve her academic English while she tries to stay awake at work, so that she can finish her studies in America where she moved to live with Tiffany. It’s winter. She’s been sick. It’s difficult, stressful, but it’s one of those things that has to be done so that makes it bearable. Not great. Just bearable.
In one month, winter will be over. Taeyeon works hard and she relaxes when she can, and Tiffany does her best to make it easier for her, but it’s taken a toll and that much is obvious. Tiffany can’t stand it. She adores Taeyeon for doing this and she hates that Taeyeon has to go through this.
The thing is: Tiffany went through a lot of effort to find her car and buy it and take care of it – and she went through a lot of effort to find Taeyeon and make Taeyeon part of her life and to take care of Taeyeon. She did all these things because her car is her baby but Taeyeon is her once in a lifetime and that’s all Tiffany has dreamed of.
This situation that they’re stuck in now, with barely hanging on and pushing through to get there, it’s not right.
She looks at her car and she feels affection, but she looks at Taeyeon and she feels absolutely everything.
She sells the car.
It’s meant to be a surprise for Taeyeon. A month before winter ends, Tiffany begins to make the arrangements. She gets her car valued (it’s increased since the car has been in her hands) and she commences various notices and processes to put her car up for sale.
There’s a strong response. It’s the kind of car that’s perfect for this city, people her age, it’s in fantastic condition and it’s a reasonable price. She’s known it all along. She doesn’t jump on the first offer she gets, and she tries to keep it a secret from Taeyeon.
Taeyeon, who coughs really hard in the kitchen while Tiffany is scrolling through emails about her car. She looks up and frowns.
“Are you still a bit sick?”
“I’m fine,” Taeyeon answers, voice not as loud as Tiffany’s, and there’s a rattle as a cupboard is opened. “Just thirsty.”
Tiffany joins Taeyeon in the kitchen and hugs her from behind as she drinks water.
“Should I make you some tea?” asks Tiffany, kissing her lightly on the corner of her jaw. “I can add lemon and honey again.”
Taeyeon half shrugs, finishing her glass, and leans back against Tiffany. “I’ll be okay.”
There’s a pause as Tiffany stares at the side of Taeyeon’s face, then they separate as Tiffany goes to get a mug. “I’m making tea.”
Taeyeon tugs at Tiffany’s arm briefly to give her a quick kiss on the lips, and smiles at her. It’s obvious that she’s tired. The fact that she’s expressing her gratefulness is more than admirable. Tiffany adds on a hug after the kiss, squeezing tight.
“I love you,” she whispers as Taeyeon returns the embrace.
That’s why she’s doing it. With the money she can get from selling her car, they can finally get away from here for a while, take a real break and relax properly. It’s something Taeyeon needs and Tiffany needs Taeyeon to have this in her life.
Tiffany wakes up in the middle of the night because Taeyeon bumps against the bedside table as she gets into bed. This is the norm, for Taeyeon to stay up almost the whole night, but it makes Tiffany frown because it’s still happening even while Taeyeon is sick. She wonders about her plan to go on a holiday.
“Sorry, did I wake you?” Taeyeon whispers in the darkness, hovering nearby.
Tiffany blinks at her. “Yeah. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Taeyeon replies, and tugs the covers over herself.
Tiffany sighs, sliding closer. “You always say that.”
Taeyeon turns her head and eyes Tiffany’s deep frown. “Okay. I’m not fine. But I’m still alive and I’m still going on, so it’s not so bad.”
At least she’s being honest about it. That’s a first. Taeyeon never admits stuff like this – Tiffany wonders if this means that she’ll be able to slow down enough to take a break.
“I’m selling my car,” says Tiffany, honesty for honesty.
Taeyeon shifts uncomfortably in confusion. “Why? Is something wrong with your car?”
“No, it’s fine. It’s great, actually, and I’ll be able to get good money for it. I’ve already contacted the buyer whose offer I’ve chosen so that we can finalize it.”
There’s a brief silence, heavy.
“Okay?” Taeyeon says uncertainly.
“We need to get out of here, Taeyeon.”
This gets Taeyeon to sit up and turn on a light, and now she’s the one frowning. Tiffany sits up, too, and crosses her arms across her chest.
“You’ve been working too hard,” she says.
Taeyeon’s frown becomes a raised brow. “If I don’t work this hard, I won’t be able to finish this.”
“I know, I don’t mean it like that. You’ll be able to get through this but I’m worried about the damage it’s doing to you.” Tiffany reaches out and cups Taeyeon’s face in one hand. “I want to help you. I’ve tried not to get in the way and not to complain when I miss you, and to support you as smoothly as I can, but I want to do more. I want to take you away from all of this in one piece so that you can relax, and settle, and remember who you are when you’re happy.”
Taeyeon’s eyes roam Tiffany’s face as she considers this.
“I’m sorry,” she murmurs eventually. “I got so far drawn into this whole thing – having to push myself to get through every day and make some progress. You’ve been in the background, doing your best to make me feel better but I could always tell it was bothering you more than it was bothering me because I wasn’t letting it get to me. I can’t. I have to get through it.”
Taeyeon touches Tiffany’s shoulder lightly, brushes her fingertips along Tiffany’s collarbone.
“I love you so much.”
The exhaustion drags at Taeyeon’s features and tugs at her voice.
“You do everything for me,” she whispers, running a thumb over Tiffany’s jaw. “You take care of me, and make me feel better when I’m tearing at the seams. So much of your time and energy, you give to me. And all I do is work and stress and make you worry. I’m sorry.”
“That’s not all you do,” Tiffany says quickly. Her hands grab at Taeyeon, pull her close, and she kisses her lightly. “You’re doing all of this for me. You left a whole world behind to be with me. You’re striving to improve yourself and your life so that you can be the best you possible. With me. You’re giving me you.” She kisses her again, and again, and again; small, quick touches.
Taeyeon tangles her fingers in Tiffany’s hair, presses their foreheads together, slows her down.
“Thank you.” When Taeyeon kisses Tiffany, it’s slow and deliberate and gentle, and so warm. “Thank you for everything.”
Tiffany doesn’t have a car anymore, but she has a girlfriend. Her name is Taeyeon. And now they have something that is just like heaven.