*** This is part 6, the ending. For parts 1 - 5 please see my previous cards. ***
The morning of the concert I awoke to the sound of Cassie using the hair dryer on her purple-and-teal tresses.
“You’re finally awake,” she half-shouted over the noise. “You slept right through my alarm. Whatever was wrong with you yesterday it left you pretty tired! If you get up now and get ready we can still grab breakfast downstairs and take a walk to see some of the city before we need to head to the venue.”
I nodded, still sleepy, and climbed out of bed. Cassie finished with her hair and sat by the window looking out over the street as she listened to music through headphones. I could hear her humming as I removed today’s outfit from my suitcase and laid it neatly on the bed. Having showered the night before, all I had to do was brush my teeth, wash my face, put on some mascara (waterproof in case I was moved to tears at the concert), and change into my clothes and I was ready to go.
“No makeup,” Cassie asked, suspiciously.
“I put on mascara,” I said. “It doesn’t matter anyway. I wasn’t wearing any yesterday.”
“Okay, then. Suit yourself. I’d hate to be seen by EXO with a bare face, even in the middle of a crowd of fans in a dark venue.”
My only response was to giggle.
“Oops. I forgot to deal with my hair! Why don’t you go ahead down and I’ll meet you in the Silver Room,” I told her. We both laughed at the ridiculous name for the breakfast room and she went ahead without me.
I brushed my hair enough to make it no longer look like small animals could be living in it and slipped on a headband. I looked in the mirror, decided that this was as good as I was going to get, and stuck my phone and a key card into my back pocket before turning off the light and walking into the hall. I pressed the down button for the elevator and waited. When the doors opened I had to step back to let what 24 hours ago I would have assumed were 8 figments of my imagination exit the elevator before I entered it. One of them turned back and leaned slightly to wave at me as the doors to the elevator closed. I decided not to tell Cassie about this and not to bring up any of what happened last night for the rest of the day. It was perfectly reasonable of her not to believe me and we’d have more fun at the concert if we weren’t in the middle of an argument.
Breakfast was pretty standard. Cassie was seated at a table in the back waiting for me with a muffin, a banana, and some orange juice in front of her. I picked out a flavor of instant oatmeal – cranberry almond – that sounded decent, grabbed an orange, and poured myself a cup of black coffee. The Silver room was, predictably, very silver. The walls were a bright, frosty white and the tables and chairs were all trimmed with silver metal. It was so noisy that Cassie and I didn’t speak while we ate but did a little people-watching instead. Two tables over there were four stout, middle-aged gentlemen with their expo badges already clipped onto their suits. Just behind them were three tall, slender ladies in politely bland special-occasion dresses, with their hair pinned neatly atop their heads; wedding guests of the congressman’s daughter, presumably. The whole room was like that. Nobody else looked remotely like someone who could be here for the EXO concert. SM must have chosen the right hotel.
After breakfast, Cassie and I went back up to the room to get our jackets before heading out into the cold. We walked for a little while but the city wasn’t that exciting and the cold was a bit too much. We returned to the hotel and stayed in room 304 until it was time to head to the venue and line up. It was only after we arrived at the venue and got ready to follow the instructions for lining up that I saw the numbers on our tickets: we would be close to the front!
As we swarmed into the venue along with all the other EXO-Ls, the excitement seemed to take on an energy of its own buzzing around us, through us. Cassie and I stood in our spots, amazed at the view we would have of the stage, and waited. It was dream-like, again, but without the panic I felt the night before. The concert went by in a blur, a blissful, wonderful blur of sound and motion. There was a reason we all loved EXO and everything about that night was proof of it. I thought it couldn’t possibly get any better and then, in the middle of flirtatiously teasing the crowd in our section, Kai stopped and stared for a moment. Cassie poked my shoulder excitedly and mouthed “he’s looking this way” at me. Then Kai started nudging the other members over one by one and pointed… right at me! Cassie screamed loudly and much too close to my ear. There were smiles from the stage and a few enthusiastic waves before the band members dispersed back across the rest of the stage. Now it couldn’t get any better.
After the show was over and everyone filtered out of the venue and back into the real world, Cassie suddenly stopped and turned to face me.
“You weren’t joking. You weren’t hallucinating. All of what you said happened last night really did happen, didn’t it?”
“Oh my goodness, you met EXO.”
I nodded again.
“I’m cold. Let’s go back to the hotel now, okay?’
This time Cassie was the one who just nodded.
We were too exhausted to go out for food and instead had a makeshift dinner of fruit we’d smuggled back from the hotel breakfast earlier, trail mix I had stashed my suitcase, and some crackers Cassie had brought with her. I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to shower and brush my teeth before climbing into bed and passing out. I didn’t dream of the concert; in fact, I didn’t dream at all.
The next morning I woke up refreshed and happy. Cassie was not in the room. I opened the door, still in my pajamas, and there she was, keeping watch in the hallway. “They’re probably already gone,” I told her. “Let me get dressed and we can go down for breakfast before we pack up and check out.” She insisted on staying in the hallway until I was ready but there was no sign of EXO.
Cassie barely ate breakfast as she was too busy watching and waiting. I ate my oatmeal – blueberry peach, today – and then had a second bowl. We disposed of the breakfast debris and took the elevator back up to the third floor. There, in the hallway outside of room 304 stood all of EXO. We were greeted with a chorus of “Hey! Room Key!” Sehun was tossing a red delicious up in the air and catching it. He winked at me and tossed it to me. I somehow managed to catch the apple despite feeling ambushed. Suddenly, I was pulled into the middle of the group and turned to face Cassie who was staring, frozen to the spot. Sehun placed a phone in her hands and then rejoined the group, motioning at her until she got the idea. She snapped a succession of photos before handing the phone back. A flurry of pats on my arm, smiles, winks, waves, and they were gone.
I had to grab Cassie’s hand and steer her back into the room to pack up. We checked out and walked back to her car. She didn’t say a word until we were on the highway.
“You have a photo with EXO. I saw EXO and you have a photo with EXO and I’m still not sure how that even happened!”
“You see why I sounded like a crazy person the night we arrived at the hotel? It’s like some sort of magic.”
“People will believe you now, though. You have a photo with EXO!”
I started to laugh and kept laughing so hard that I was shaking and there were tears rolling down my face.
“Cassie. Cassie, I don’t have a photo with EXO.”
“Yes you do,” she insisted, “I was there, I took it. In fact there are several photos. Xiumin was even staring at you instead of the camera in one of them!”
“No, you don’t understand. I don’t have a photo with EXO, EXO has a photo with me. That phone belonged to one of them.”
With that Cassie started laughing too and we had to pull off to the side of the road until she was able to compose herself.
About a week later, a photo in which all the members of EXO, excluding Lay, were standing with an unidentified fan in a hotel hallway showed up on Sehun’s instagram. His caption was mysteriously just an apple emoji. The first comment to appear was Chanyeol’s, translating roughly to “girls aren’t supposed to see me in my bathrobe.” I smiled to myself and decided it was best not to say anything.