Things at Tallulah, Priscilla, and Bernie’s apartment had become even more crowded than usual. On any given day, Jemima could usually be expected to visit at some point because she lived across the hall and she frequently needed to be talked out of cyberstalking spirals. Lawrence was also over more and more often to spend time with Bernie. He liked to go to her apartment rather than have her over to his because then they got to hang out with Tallulah and Priscilla, which was an adorable sentiment. Oscar spent a lot of time at their apartment because his was too warm and too full of bugs. Besides, as he claimed, he had moved past the point in his break-up depression where all he wanted to do was lie face-down in his living room. Now, apparently, he wanted to lay face-down in someone else’s living room. All of it made for a very busy apartment.
One Monday evening, Tallulah came home from her shift at the record store to find Oscar already in her apartment, lounging on the couch and watching K-pop music videos on TV. Priscilla wasn’t even home so Tallulah had no idea how he’d gotten in. A couple years previously, her dad had given her a blu-ray player that had internet capabilities. He had been really proud of himself, as he should’ve been because it meant they got to watch Netflix and YouTube videos on the enormous TV they’d been given by their grandmother.
“What the hell are you watching?” Tallulah asked him, stopping behind the couch and frowning at the television.
“I got sucked into a YouTube vortex,” was Oscar’s answer. Tallulah snorted, but she ended up sitting down and joining him for roughly forty minutes. They were still watching K-pop music videos when Bernie and Lawrence came home from dinner.
“I like this group a lot,” Oscar said. “All of these dudes are about a thousand times cooler than I will ever be in my entire life. Look at that guy’s hair. They all have such cool jackets. I wish I could dance like that.”
“What are they saying?” Bernie asked, frowning at the television.
“I don’t know, Bernie, I can’t speak Korean,” Tallulah answered. Bernie rolled her eyes.
“I was talking to Lawrence,” she said, gesturing to her Korean boyfriend.
“I mean, part of the chorus is in English,” Lawrence pointed out. “You guys know what the word ‘fire’ means, right?”
“Wow, Lawrence, you’re a little shit,” Tallulah commented, but she meant it as a compliment.
“I like him,” Oscar interjected, still transfixed on the TV. He held out his hand for Lawrence to fist bump.
“Thanks, bro!” Lawrence returned brightly.
They continued to watch K-pop videos for the rest of the night, even when Priscilla came home from spin class and Jemima wandered over, apparently bored of cyberstalking Noel on her own. They spent a good four hours watching music videos of Oscar’s new favourite boy band, BTS. Ultimately, it was that that lead to Oscar first discovering that BTS was putting on a concert at a neighbouring city and, secondly, buying tickets for all of them to go. He didn’t even ask if any of them were available. The next night, he just showed up at Tallulah, Priscilla, and Bernie’s apartment announcing that he had bought six tickets to see BTS in concert and that all of them were coming with him.
The concert was insane. They borrowed Lawrence’s family’s minivan to make the trip. It was a 2003 teal Toyota Sienna, the interior of which was coated with golden fur from the Wu family’s pet golden retriever. Tallulah sat in the very back, in the corner furthest from the door, and sang along to all the BTS songs on the mixed CD Oscar had made for the car trip. It involved a lot of mumbling and then confidently shouting all the English words. Then she squeezed her way back out of the van when they reached the venue. It was surprisingly difficult now that she was an adult and had developed hips. Her own family had had a minivan growing up and she couldn’t recall it being nearly as much of a struggle to get out.
“Jesus fuck, it’s like being born again,” she commented as she shimmied her way onto the pavement, trying to keep her skirt from riding up and exposing her entire ass.
“Nope,” was Priscilla’s response.
Inside the venue, which was essentially just a warehouse with strobe lights and a stage, tonnes of people had already gathered. Everybody was dressed like they were going to an EDM festival. Tallulah had never seen so many crop tops in her life. And everybody was cute and fit. The crowd was high energy. The girls next to them were literally bouncing on the spot with excitement. Tallulah got it. She had only been a fan of BTS for a week and she was beyond thrilled to be seeing them in concert.
“I feel a hundred years old right now!” Bernie yelled to them over the sound of the crowd.
“Yeah, that’s because we’re so old compared to all of these very small people!” Priscilla returned unhelpfully.
When the concert actually began, it was unbelievably amazing. There were bright lights and a smoke machine and what was definitely at least two wind machines. The dancing was precise and amazing. Oscar was enthralled. The crowd was out of control and Tallulah loved every second. Everybody in the band had the exact same haircut, just in varying colours. There were costume changes. Each new jacket was more amazing than the last. One of the band members literally tore off his shirt. He was completely shredded. The girl next to Tallulah nearly fainted. It was spectacular.
But then the concert ended and they made their way back to the parking lot with every other person in the venue. And that’s when it turned to shit. Everybody was trying to leave at the same time. Lawrence moved the minivan about two feet in an hour and a half. Tallulah lost the will to live.
“We’re going to die here!” She wailed from her seat in the back. “We’ll never see our loved ones again! The last thing I’m ever going to see is the bumper of that Prius and your face! I’m so tired of your face!”
She had turned to Oscar, who was sitting next to her, to declare this.
“Thank you so much,” he replied flatly.
“First of all, fuck you, I am your loved one,” Priscilla piped up from the seat in front of Tallulah. “And secondly, shut it. We’ll get out of here eventually.”
An hour later, Priscilla had changed her tune.
“Do you think we’ll ever get out of here?” She demanded, gripping onto Lawrence’s headrest to pull herself forward in her seat. “Or is your severely elderly Toyota to become our shared coffin?”
“Good Christ, you two are grim,” Oscar noted.
“Do you think this is actually a secret plan to cull the population because it’s grown too large for the earth to sustain us?” Jemima cut in conversationally. “Like, they’re going to gas the lot of us so that the rest can continue to eat grain products and beef?”
“Never mind,” Oscar said. “You’re all fucking grim.”
Another thirty minutes later, people in orange reflective vests were released into the parking lot to start directing traffic. It was about three hours too late for that however, so it wasn’t nearly as effective as it likely could’ve been. They had moved a little more so they were about three cars back from the parking lot exit. Someone from the car next to them had gotten out to yell at the parking attendant. She was wearing the shortest shorts Tallulah had ever seen. They were essentially denim underwear. She felt it was a particularly bold choice for the beginning of February.
After a little while, Short-Shorts was joined by two other angry people, who also began shouting at the parking attendant. The parking attendant appeared to be ignoring them, which was mostly in keeping with what Tallulah knew about his personality thus far. He didn’t seem to do much of anything if she was being honest and that was very likely the problem to begin with.
“Oh look,” she said. “More people have gone to yell at the parking attendant. On the one hand, I feel bad for him and I wish that woman in the inappropriate shorts would stop shouting abuse at him. On the other hand, I think he might actually be more useful if he was a rock.”
“Maybe one of them will murder him and we’ll be free to drive out of here whenever we like,” Oscar replied.
“Now who’s grim?” Bernie retorted, rolling her eyes so that they could see in the rearview mirror.
After another forty-five minutes and a surprising burst of very loud cursing from Lawrence, they finally made it out of the parking lot and onto the road. They drove back to Roehampton, which took about an hour and a half, and Tallulah was in bed by three o’clock in the morning.
The next day, she called Priscilla from the record store when she knew Priscilla would be taking her break for lunch. They had each gotten roughly three hours of sleep before they had to get up for the day. Priscilla was undeniably having a worser time of it, given that she had to do actual things at her job. Tallulah just had to sit behind a counter and occasionally sell Frank Zappa records to eccentric people.
“I’m losing my attention span rapidly,” Tallulah admitted to her sister. “And let’s be honest, I never really had much of one to begin with.”
“At this point, I honestly think I would be more productive if I was replaced with a life-sized cutout of myself,” Priscilla returned.
“I’ve gotten progressively worse and worse looking throughout the day,” Tallulah said. “I started out alright, but now I look like a live-action claymation character that’s just been brought back from the dead.”
“I’m so tired that I took an accidental nap in the bathroom after I let a blink go on too long,” Priscilla replied flatly.
“Alright, you win,” Tallulah conceded.
“Do I?” Priscilla asked skeptically. “Do I really?”
It was a fair point.