Chapter 8:

'We are pleased to inform you…’

Bonded by Music

Saying that the week passed slowly would be an understatement.

Eloy had hoped it wouldn’t be the case since he had a lot of work related to his thesis, which would have normally prevented him from thinking too much about the contest. However, Mako hadn’t exaggerated when saying that 'Tune it Up’ was very successful because it was everywhere on the internet. And with each passing day, Eloy became more and more convinced that he and Genta wouldn't make the cut.

It wasn’t that he thought they had done a poor job. It was true that there hadn’t been much room for error when they met to record the song, since Genta only had an hour to spare before having to return to work. In the end, though, they had only needed three attempts to be satisfied enough with the result.

The problem was that the hashtag #mySongForTuneItUp was trending everywhere. Even without searching for it, Eloy had come across many people who had posted sneak peeks of the performances that had supposedly sent. And some of them were really good, at a professional level. Also, according to the news, more than 15,000 people had applied for it. So being realistic, the probabilities of being among the 200 that would be selected were rather small.

And, the worst part was that he had no one to talk to when nervousness struck. He hadn’t wanted to tell Elia or Cara before being sure that they were going to have a chance in the contest. And though he had Genta’s number now, the couple of times he had initiated a conversation Genta had answered with monosyllabic responses, clearly indicating that he preferred limited contact until the results were announced.

So, in summary, the week was rather horrible, but eventually Friday night arrived.

Eloy could feel his heart beating fast against his chest as he sat at his desk. It was 11:56 PM and his eyes were fixed on the website that would announce the number of participants that had been selected, along with the judges who were still a secret despite rumors circulating about them. Theoretically, the selected pairs would be notified by email simultaneously with the website update, but Eloy had zero faith that the email would arrive on time.

When the clock struck 11:59 PM, Eloy looked at his phone, tempted to text Genta. But in the end he decided not to do it. After all, he was the eldest of the two. He was supposed to be the cool and composed one.

But needless to say, composure was nowhere to be found when midnight struck, and Eloy started frantically pressing F5 on his laptop because the damn website wasn't updating anything.

Eloy lost count of how many times he pressed refresh while cursing under his breath non-stop. He knew this would happen, but that didn't make it any less exasperating.

Five minutes passed without any changes. And then another five. And finally, after another five, a new post appeared on the website, announcing that 200 pairs had been selected among the 21,245 applications received, and that the selected participants had been duly informed.

Eloy quickly checked his email, his heart pounding in his ears. But there were no incoming messages. He checked the spam folder, but found nothing there either. He spent a few more minutes trapped in a loop of refreshing the screen and checking the spam folder, but to no avail.

He let out a deep breath, feeling foolish for expecting that they could be selected. Just as he was about to turn off his laptop, his mobile received a notification, and a new message popped up in his email.

Eloy didn’t even read the subject. He clicked on it with trembling fingers. He had received so many emails in the past three years that he had become an expert at detecting the key words in an email to know if there was good or bad news.

It took him less than a second to spot the sentence that read ‘We are pleased to inform you…’ causing him to spring out of his chair, exhaling a shout that blended surprise and triumph.

“Oh my god.” Eloy exclaimed, releasing an incredulous laugh as he placed his hands on his head, still standing and fixated on that sentence confirming his inclusion among the 200 selected participants. “Oh my god, we actually made it.”

He was still processing the news when his mobile rang. Eloy’s eyes widened. There was only one person who could be calling him at that moment, so he answered without even glancing at the name on the screen.


“Did you receive the email?”

Eloy smiled, relieved to hear Genta sound as frantic as he felt.

“I did.” Eloy dropped on his chair again and stared at the email with a silly grin on his face. “We made it.”

He heard Genta let out a snort of disbelief on the other end.

“Damn, I still can’t believe it.”

“Same here. Were you checking the website too?”

“Dude, today I’m working at the store, and the coverage here is shit. I’ve been stressing out because the damn website wouldn’t load.”

Eloy burst into laughter upon hearing Genta's exasperation.

"If it makes you feel better, I almost broke the F5 key on my laptop tonight." Genta chuckled in response. After a brief pause, Eloy decided to share something. “Actually, I was about to text you. Just to check that I wasn’t the only idiot stressing out about this.”

There was a moment of silence before Eloy heard Genta clear his throat.

“Well, I don’t know how the next stages are going to be, but, um, you can text me the next time you are nervous. Not to suffer alone and stuff, you know?”

Despite the last touch of irony, Eloy could detect Genta’s awkwardness in his words.

“And what if I’m not nervous? Can I still text you?”

Genta snorted on the other end, but Eloy could sense the suppressed smile in his response.

“You can, as long as you don’t expect me to answer immediately. Oh, and please don’t be one of those annoying people who send a bunch of videos and stuff. I hate it."

Eloy laughed and nodded, even though Genta couldn't see him.

“Duly noted.” At that moment there was movement in the website, and Eloy’s eyes widened. "Wait, it seems like they're updating information about the judges now."

“Oh? And what are they saying?”

They stayed on the phone during the following minutes, with Eloy sharing the new information that gradually appeared on the website. The updates were shrouded in secrecy, featuring dark silhouettes accompanied by cryptic sentences that provided hints about the judges but without revealing their identities.

“Okay, I’ll text Mako now,” Genta said after the last silhouette was uploaded. “She has spent the whole week reading theories, and gathering information to start preparing for the selection.”

“Really? But we didn’t even know if we were going to make it.”

“Yeah, well, she was super convinced that we would pass.”

“Don’t tell me that you bet against her again.”

“Nope, I’ve learned from my mistakes. And don’t worry, I’ll give you your ¥500 tomorrow.”

Eloy opened his eyes more. He had forgotten that they had also made a bet about it.

“You can keep them. I bet that we would pass, but I didn’t have much faith on it.”

“Well, faith or not, we have passed, so the money is yours.” Eloy heard the familiar tune of the store in the background, as well as Genta's polite greeting to a customer. “Damn, I have to hang up now. I’ll text you to meet tomorrow, ‘kay?”

Eloy barely had time to say goodbye before Genta ended the call. After that, Eloy took a deep breath and texted Elia, biting back an amused smile.

[Me] hey Eli, do you have a moment to talk?

The response was immediate.

[Eli] wait, how is it that you’re still awake? did something happen?

Eloy plugged in his headphones, sent Elia a quick explanation via text, and waited.

As predicted, five seconds later, Elia video-called him. And Eloy was grateful for his headphones, as otherwise, her loud exclamation of "WHAAAAAAT?!" would have echoed throughout the entire share house.

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