Summary: Taemin's life from when he was born to when he was accepted into SM. The story is way more interesting than the summary, I promise! :-)
You came a little too soon.
You were due out of your mothers’ womb a week later, but you must have been an excited fetus, pushing to be released days earlier. The kicking got worse and worse, until the pain was too much for your mother to handle. She was whisked away in your father’s car to the community hospital, where she was in the hands of professionals.
The entire time, everyone was worried about your fate. Premature babies might not make it out properly; they might be disfigured; they might turn out weak. Your mother struggled to push you out, but she was determined. She had to at least meet her baby before she decided the next course of action, if necessary. She screamed at the top of her lungs, and grabbed the nurse’s hand, squeezed it as hard as she could.
Eventually, the baby was delivered. You were a bloody mess, but your mother cradled you comfortably against the crook of her neck, rocking you from side to side, not wanting to let go. Thank goodness you came out fine, she thought. She never wanted to let you out of her grasp, and wanted to protect you always.
The doctor did a check, and found nothing with wrong you. You were a little smaller and weaker than other babies, but that was because you came earlier than scheduled. You needed to be handled more carefully, and everything would be fine.
Everything would be fine.
The first day of school is always the hardest. Grandparents are overexcited and gushing over how cute you look in your new school uniform, and trying to snap a million photographs of you before you get into the car. Parents are trying to make sure you don’t cry, that you have everything in your bag, and you know exactly what class you are in. They are worried that you will get lost in your school compound, or worse, be naïve enough to get into a stranger’s car after they offer you a lollipop.
You, on the other hand, were excited to get to school. Everything around you was a flurry of activity, but you just wanted to get there. You gulped down your bowl of cereal, and got dressed in double time. Soon enough, you were in your father’s car, constantly asking, are we there yet?
And in the back of your head, you were thinking, would we ever get there?
You were always excited whenever it came to school work – your drive to excel and learn the most you could made you stand out from your peers. Your teachers were well aware of it, and so were your peers. They often mocked you; five years in school together and they still called you a ‘teacher’s pet’, a ‘suck up’, and things much worse than that. That didn’t stop you though.
It was oral presentation day, and everyone would have to stand in front of the class to speak, eventually. Everyone in class was unwilling – shy girls fidgeted nervously with their fingers, the jocks grabbed crumpled sheets of paper from their bags, the rebels just stared longingly at the door. The teacher wore a look of disdain on her face, with not a single one of her students bearing the enthusiasm to speak in her class. You hated seeing anyone sad.
So you raised your hand.
As you walked down the aisle of tables to the spot reserved for you in front of the class, everyone turned their attention to you. You weren’t used to this kind of attention – and wouldn’t be for years – and your cheeks were burning up fast. Straightening your essay, you took a deep breath.
“What I want to be when I grow up,” you began. The class still looked bored, with a guy at the back of the class falling asleep, his drool forming tiny puddles on the heavily vandalized class table. “A dancer.”
“My parents said that when I was still in my mother’s womb, I would kick her hard, as if I was dancing inside of her. When I was a small boy, my feet would start to tap whenever music came on. As I grew older, my passion and interest in dance only grew stronger. I cannot stop thinking about dancing. I breathe dancing. Just like how people have to walk, dancing is like walking for me, and I always have to dance.”
He looked up for a moment before he continued. He had some of them captured, but others were still uninterested, writing notes to each other as he spoke.
“I want to share my talent with the world. I want more people to appreciate dance for what it truly is; it is more than a series of movements with your limbs. It is about expressing yourself through how you move, how you spin, how your glide. When I dance, I am sucked into another world where nothing else matters. A world where all my troubles are temporarily forgotten, and my focus is fully on my dancing. Step by step, I get better at dancing everyday. I hope that my talent will be enough to lead me to somewhere great, and I hope I get to do what I enjoy most for the rest of my life.”
The class was silent. You thought it was because they were mesmerized by your words, your passion, your drive. Your teacher stood up from her desk, a stunned look on her face that she didn’t hide quite quickly enough.
“Thank you for that… riveting speech, Taemin.” She walked slowly towards you, gesturing for you to return to your seat. “Class, let’s give him a round of applause.” The applause was forced and unappreciative, and you heard a boy in the front row spit out “ballerina boy”.
The thought dawned on you after you had some time to think about their responses. They didn’t appreciate dance as much as you did. No, that wasn’t it. They didn’t appreciate a boy dancing. Dancing was for girls. Dancing was for girls in tutus prancing around a ballet studio with their hair up in a tight bun, or doing pliés at the barre. Or so they thought anyway.
You wanted to prove them wrong.
Your mother gathered everyone around the dinner table to have dinner together for the first time in years. Usually everyone was eating dinner wherever they liked; in front of the television, at the dining table, up in their rooms. But tonight, for some odd reason, every one was lined up like a bunch of hostages at a police station. Everyone grabbed their seats awkwardly around the table, eyeing your mother as they sat.
“Honey, what’s this all about?” asked your father.
“This is about Taemin’s future. I think I’ve found just the thing for him to further develop his skill and interest in dancing!” She looked so excited, her face literally going to burst with exhilaration. You glanced up from your bowl of still steaming rice, and looked at her curiously.
“Umma, what are you talking about? Furthering my dance skills?”
She stood up abruptly and rushed over to her purse, where she fished out a yellow flyer. Waving it around furiously, she took her seat. Your father grabbed it from her hands and spread it out in front of you.
“SM Entertainment Auditions! It’s on Saturday afternoon, so you have two days to practice. It says that if you are chosen, you will be undertaken as a trainee in the areas of dancing, singing, and presentation skills! It’s the perfect opportunity for you!”
She stopped, waiting for your reaction.
It took a little while for things to register with you. If you, for some reason, actually got through the auditions and entered the company, you would be come a star. BoA was from this company, wasn’t she? And so was the insanely popular Dong Bang Shin Ki. They were both on the way to becoming world stars, and every music stage they held in Korea was always packed with their loyal fans.
What if that were me?
You had been sitting there for ages. It was the waiting room outside the room where they were holding auditions to enter SM Entertainment. The people on your left and right were through dance, singing and even modeling because they knew they had a pretty face. You had some stiff competition, and you were sizing them up.
Some of them walked to corners of the room and started to do a little warming up. They did fancy turns and even started to break dance, and they were good. This started to wear your confidence a little, but what did you have to lose if you didn’t get in? Nothing, absolutely nothing. You willed yourself to turn away. You didn’t want to make yourself less focused and less confident than you already were.
“Number 17, Lee Taemin? Please follow me.” A woman with a clipboard walked into the waiting room, and signaled for you to follow her. Taking a deep breath, you brushed yourself off and straightened your shirt to make a good first impression. She paused outside the room, turning to you. “Good luck with your audition, don’t be too worried. You ready?” She smiled when you nodded back. “Here we go.” Knocking the door twice, she peeked her head in. “This is Lee Taemin.”
You walked in shyly, and then remembered your manners. Bowing as deeply as you possibly could, your greetings came out immediately. “Hello, my name is Lee Taemin. I am thirteen this year, and I am auditioning through dance.” You looked up at the panel of interviewers, whose eyes were fixed on you. No one said anything for the next two seconds, and you had never felt so uncomfortable in your life.
“Show us what you’ve got.”
The words came so suddenly, you were caught off guard. But once the music started playing, the dance moves just came to you. The thumping rhythm set you in motion, the music becoming a part of you, the movements just flowing out of you. You danced so effortlessly, so flawlessly, that the panel of interviewers couldn’t believe you were only thirteen.
You didn’t look at them once when you were dancing. You shut yourself off from them, and just concentrated on your dancing. When the music ended, you were grinning from ear to ear, not believing that you had just done that. You wondered how well you had danced – hopefully well enough to get in? ^_^
After they scribbled things down on the pieces of paper in front of them (what was it that they were noting, exactly?), one of them asked you a question. “What made you want to come for the audition?”
“It has always been my dream to dance, and to share my love for dance with people. When my mum passed me the flyer, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to hone my dancing skills, and show the world what dancing could be.” You rocked back and forth nervously, wondering if your answers counted for anything.
“Mhm, yes.” This time, another interviewer spoke up. “Could you sing a line of a song for us?”
Singing? Right now? Without prior notice? You wrecked your brains to find a song you were decent at singing. You never really listened to your voice before, and always sang for the fun of it.
You sang uncertainly, a line from the theme song of an old drama your mother used to watch religiously at home. Your voice was soft, and you tried to carry the tune as well as you could.
“Thank you for that. This is the end of your audition. We will let you know whether you got in through the mail in the last week of this month.” They shuffled their papers together, and the woman with the clipboard came back into the room to lead you out.
The bad part was over, but now the worse part was to come – the waiting.
To: Mr. Lee Taemin
Dear Mr. Lee Taemin,
We are glad to inform you that your audition to enter SM Entertainment as a trainee has been successful. The interviewers were impressed with your performance at the auditions earlier this month.
Please report to the SM Academy on Monday, 19 July 2006 at 0900 hours for your registration and briefing. Your parent/guardian(s) are to accompany you to sign parental forms of consent to your entering the company, as you are still a minor.
Congratulations on entering SM Entertainment. As a company with a strong history of producing strong and widely successful singers and bands, we are pleased to have you as a part of our company. We assure you that under our rigorous and strict training program, you will be able to further develop your talent in dance as well as in other areas.
After registration, all successful trainees are to report at the SM Academy on 1 August 2006 at 1300 hours for the start of your official training program.
Wishing you all the best,
Lee Soo Man
CEO, SM Entertainment
SHOULD I CONTINUE WRITING THIS? PLEASE COMMENT BELOW! (감사함니다!)
I wanted to write Taemin's trainee days and days after SHINee debuted but it would be too long winded. Leave in your comment how you want me to continue the story - chaptered fic? Separate fanfics?
From writing this story I've learnt that - one, Taemin being premature has nothing to do with the rest of the story and is totally redundant; two, i can't write acceptance letters for nuts; three, i admire taemin a lot for his passion and dedication to dance.