As I sat down at the gate and got out my passport I could feel the eyes on me. I couldn't blame them I was old enough to fly on my own but I can't say I looked the part. I was pretty short for my age (not tiny but enough to be made fun of by Frankie or mistaken for a Middle Schooler) and my frizzy hair didn't help the matter. Plus being on my own on a plane to Korea was pretty much out of the ordinary. That's when I saw a girl that looked about my age with long shiny black hair and a white sign that had 'MARIA' in huge black print. I walked up to her and she looked up with a smile
"You wouldn't happen to be Maria would you?" she asked, standing up i was glad she wasn't much taller than me- I hated looking up to people when I talked. "My name's Jane and I'm your translator!" She was very outgoing which I liked but i was more on the shy side.
"I didn't know you could be a translator so young! Jane how old are you?' She couldn't be more than 16.
"15, only a few months older than you, because your going to an unfamiliar place I'm here so that you can know someone" she smiled kindly
"So I guess we're going to be pretty close friends then huh?" I ask shyly.
Jane smiled widely and pulled me toward the gate just as the women at the desk announced it was time to board. It was all i could do to keep ahold of my suitcase and viola case. As we boarded Jane and I grabbed our seats which were together and towards the front of the plane. We talked for awhile about our families. She loved that I had a twin brother and when she asked about my viola case her eyes sparkled and she begged me to teach her so I spent the next hour teaching her notes and rhythms on a napkin that I had with my Pepsi given to me by the flight attendant. She learned quickly and soon she was telling me about herself- how she was born in Buton but knew English from her father and relatives that she sometimes visited in New York. She taught me some Korean words like how I'm allowed to call her "Unni" and i smiled widely at this.
"AWWW! YOU HAVE DIMPLES!" she almost shrieked and i felt myself blush- another thing to make me look younger although she assured me that it was a good thing and that photographers would love it. We spent some time talking about our favorite bands (mostly from Korea) and she asked me about my favorite books. I showed her my stash of about 20 books that i threw into my suitcase at the last minute. I LOVE to read and I explained that I was always getting in trouble for reading in class and at that we both laughed. Finally the lights were dimmed and most passengers were sleeping.
"Unni?" I ask "What if they don't ...like me or think I'm weird. How do they feel about me being a girl- or American for that matter?" My nerves were finally fluttering inside my stomach after i had suppressed them for so long.
"They don't know yet." she said simply
"WHAT?" It was all I could do to make my voice come out in a hiss rather than a scream. "But the letter- they knew I was a girl!"
"I forgot you didn't know! Only the President of Pledis Entertainment knows about who you are and he refused to tell anyone but me! One more thing" She smiles apologetically at me and continues " The members don't know it was a random selection- they just know that a new member is coming so everyone thinks you are a guy."
"So everyone is expecting me to be a guy and they think I can dance??" a businessman sitting across the aisle stirred and I physically had to control my breathing.
" I saw videos of you dancing online! You're great!" Jane protested
"Not THAT great! have you seen these K-pop moves? I'll fall on my face!" my voice was shaking.
" I promise they will not care- they'll be too stunned by the presence of a pretty American girl" she said slyly. I rolled my eyes and turned over in my chair and willed myself to fall asleep- as soon as this plane landed I would practice my ass off. I woke to Jane shaking me as we were descending from the 15 hour flight.
"Please don't hate me but there's one more tiny detail I forgot to share with you." She spoke as quickly as possible.
"Oh no way in he-" I start but stopped as she took my tied up hair and mushed it under a cap on my head and gave me a bulky Unisex jacket. "Wha-?"
" The press are all over the airport they don't know if the new star is coming from America or Japan or what so we want to just taunt their guesses a little."
"we?" i say skeptically
"There will be a bodyguard when we get out to the gate and he'll take your stuff just stay behind him and act invisible like me"
"That'll be easy" I say truthfully and she rolled her eyes just as the plane hit the ground.