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Cherry

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Jihoon had spent three months between projects which could only mean one thing: endless boredom. On the plus side, his last client had paid him a nice sum of money so that his roommate, Soonyoung, couldn’t complain about late bills - if he was the type to even notice, anyway.

Ever since Jihoon was little, he had dreamt of becoming a writer. He begged his parents to buy him notebooks and pens to scrawl down his stories and this didn’t cease as he grew older. If you were ever looking for Jihoon, you would most likely find him huddled by a window somewhere, hastily scribbling down his ideas before they left his brain. He wrote short stories, near-novels, poems and more in as many genres as he could muster. Jihoon was pretty good at it too. He made it to a good university and achieved the highest grades before graduating with a degree in creative writing.

The only issue Jihoon had was self esteem. He was terrified of anyone reading his work. When a school bully had found his poem and read it out loud to the people around them, Jihoon had cried and screamed for him to give it back whilst they laughed at his depressing metaphors. Maybe that was what had prolonged his fear of his beloved works becoming attached to his name. It worked out fine though because Jihoon found a job as a ghostwriter shortly after graduation. Soonyoung did too, and since the pair were close, they moved in together.

Now Soonyoung discovered Jihoon lying on the living room floor with his legs against the wall and his arms spread out like he was creating a strange snow angel. Indoors. His roommate chuckled when he saw him.

“Should I ask?”

“Best not,” Jihoon said. He followed it with a sigh. “How’s your work going?”

“It’s okay.”

“What is it?”

“Murder mystery.”

Jihoon groaned. “Ugh, I’d love to write a murder mystery. Why won’t anyone pay me to write them a murder mystery? Why won’t anyone pay me to write anything? It’s been three months!”

“They’re saving you for something good,” Soonyoung insisted as he walked into the kitchen, “you’re wasted on those YouTubers that nobody’s heard of.”

Jihoon sighed. He turned his head to watch his roommate pour himself a bowl of Weetabix. It was a little difficult when the kitchen counter looked down on him and the sofas stood in the way. He was mostly looking at cupboard doors.

The kitchen was tucked into the far left corner of the room from when you walked in the front door. The oak counters cornered into a sort of U shape, with a breakfast bar separating the kitchen from the living room. In the living room, there were two grey sofas with red cushions thrown over them. None of it was part of a matching set so it was all vaguely different shades that kind of bothered both of them, but neither wanted to splash out on replacing a perfectly good couch and/or cushion and so neither said anything. The coffee table was white but you could hardly see it through both boys’ scraps of paper and empty mugs scattered across it. Fairly sized windows overlooked the grey, dull street where nothing happened apart from innocent passersby and a million pigeons. Down a short hall there was a small bathroom and two fairly equal sized bedrooms. Overall, it was a nice enough place. Pretty bland, but they could do a lot worse, especially in London.

“Have you eaten?” Asked Soonyoung.

“Does gingerbread count?”

“It does not. Jihoon, you have a gluten intolerance.”

“It’s minor!” Jihoon argued as the lover of gingerbread.

Soonyoung rolled his eyes and poured him a bowl of cereal that wouldn’t anger his intestine. His roommate finally moved from his weird position and sat at the breakfast bar to eat after a small thank you. Soonyoung disappeared to his room momentarily to grab his laptop. Jihoon watched him type between bites with jealousy.

“Do you wanna know who I’m writing for?” The writer asked.

“You aren’t supposed to tell anyone,” Jihoon said.

“It’s Zoella.”

“Dude!”

Soonyoung kept typing, unbothered. “And you know that actor, Kim Mingyu? The one who played Becca’s boyfriend in Pitch Perfect?”

Jihoon frowned. “That wasn’t Kim Mingyu.”

“Yes, it was. Anyway, you know his book that came out last year? I wrote that.”

“You are going to get yourself into so much trouble,” Jihoon said in disbelief, “and it isn’t just because you think Kim Mingyu played Jesse in Pitch Perfect.”

“He did!”

Jihoon rolled his eyes, finding it best to ignore Soonyoung’s stupidity. That was what made him a decent ghostwriter - he had no idea who anyone was.

After breakfast, Soonyoung moved to the couch to work. His roommate returned to the floor, this time huddled in a ball, to flick through his phone. He screamed when it began to ring.

“Hello?”

“Jihoon! I have a project for you.”

It was his agent, Irene. He sat up abruptly.

“Holy shit, I’m listening. I’ve been so bored, you have no idea.”

“It’s only been three months! Anyway, I was waiting for something good for you. This one is good. It’s an autobiography for– hold on, are you near anyone?”

Jihoon got up and hurried to his room. “Not anymore.”

“Okay. It’s Choi Seungcheol.”

Jihoon’s jaw dropped. Choi Seungcheol? Global superstar Choi Seungcheol? top of Hollywood, Oscar nominated, lead role of every hit film in the last five years Choi Seungcheol?. The one who every girl swooned over and to be honest, Jihoon understood the appeal of? The world had practically watched the star grow up through screens. Even Jihoon always liked to flick the TV on and see him filling any role. It wasn’t often that a blockbuster film had somebody who looked like him.

“The Choi Seungcheol wants me to write his autobiography for him?”

“That he does,” Irene confirmed, “there’s a restaurant booked for the two of you on Wednesday evening. Il Piacere, 7pm.”

She went on to discuss the size of quote Jihoon should offer and all of the other boring things, but the writer just stood in his room in shock. The Choi Seungcheol was so lazy that he wanted little plain Jihoon to climb into his mind and write about his life? The guy wasn’t even that old. Overall, Jihoon was just confused.

“You’ll need to get close to him,” Irene said, “and meet him often. Not just to learn about his life and everything he wants to say, but you need to understand him, his mannerisms, his way of speech, and God knows what else. Your writing has to sound like it’s from his heart. This is too huge to fuck up.”

“I understand. God, thank you for this, Irene.”

“I hope it makes up for the three months of rest?”

“And all of the gingerbread I ate,” Jihoon added. “I really, really appreciate this, Irene. I won’t fuck it up.”

The call ended and Jihoon stared at his bedroom wall, his heart thudding with excitement, his thoughts swirling with fear.

“Soonyoung,” he called, “I’ve got something big.”