Softly, mostly distantly, I heard the instruments to a new song.
[I gave you all the love I got
I gave you more than I could give
I gave you love]
My breathing hitched, I frowned, sitting up and staring at my radio, confused. I blinked a few times, shaking my head and got up, twitching to find the sensation still there. I sighed, carrying my glass to the kitchen.
“Hey.” Jongdae said, pouring himself a glass of juice, leaning against the fridge.
“Hey.” I said, carrying my glass to the sink, washing and placing it on the drying rack. Used to Jongdae’s occasional sleepless nights, having been the victim of sleep deprivation and forced to watch horrors and play video games at ungodly hours, I didn’t question him being up at this hour.
And then I looked out of the window above the sink. Some dark clouds in the middle of the night, no stars to be seen. But then again, I thought, noticing my appearance, there are some dark looking clouds in my face, too. I squinted, still confused.
“Is there a reason you’re glaring at yourself?” Jongdae said, resting his chin on my shoulder, usually against it due to my overtaking him a year back. He quirked an eyebrow, wiggling it afterwards.
“I dunno,” I said sighing, “I feel—I feel off. I don’t know. Kind of twitching. And sort of, sort of lame.” I said, sighing again, feeling weird. I didn’t like this. It felt like a heavy cloud was hanging over me.
I felt Jongdae’s hand against my forehead, and saw him put it against his afterwards. He frowned slightly, “You don’t feel warm or anything. Not too warm anyway.” He said, placing his hand on my forehead again.
I grimaced at the thought of getting sick but figured if I did, at least I’d know why I felt this way, and after a while of meds and fluids, I’d be good again.
“Did you eat breakfast? Drink enough fluids?” Jongdae asked, taking my glass to the fridge and filling it with some milk.
I huffed a laugh, “You know we live together and eat breakfast together every day, right?”
He grinned, “Never hurts to ask.” I laughed, sipping slightly at the milk.
“Oh. What did you think of Joonmyun?” Jongdae suddenly asked, sitting down and pulling up a chair next to him. I sighed as I sat, feeling the tugging in my chest ease for a sec, before starting again.
“Um... Joonmyun. Yeah, he seems cool. Okay guy.” I said, mumbling; only ever seeing the back of his head.
Jongdae pursed his lips, drumming his fingers on the kitchen table. “You didn’t even see his face, did you?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. I pursed my lips. He sighed, as if he had some otherworldly burden resting on his shoulders. “That nerd.” He mumbled annoyed.
I got up, taking my glass to the sink again, having finished the milk, Jongdae also standing up, scraping his chair on the floor.
“I’m heading upstairs. Homework. Senior homework,” he said, leaning in the doorway, hand poised like models in French magazines, “Freshman have it so easy.” A sway of the hips.
I laughed, and then stopped immediately, no longer feeling the tugging, but a duller ache, all the way to my knees. A breathe rasped out of me, causing Jongdae to walk over and wrap his arm around me. I leaned against him, feeling weaker than I did a few minutes ago.
“Was it the milk? Did it make it worse?” He asked, worriedly looking me over. I sighed softly and then laughed and lifted myself off his shoulder, which took a whole lot more effort than I would have liked.
“I’m okay.” I said, turning to wash my glass.
“Jongin.” He said, worriedly. I laughed at his expression, remembering his ‘dad’ frown. I told him so, distracting him a bit, as he laughed all faux annoyance.
“Yeah, well at least I’m not in some hippy mood, listening to ‘90’s ballads.”
I laughed harder at that, knowing he loved this song too. “I smell a hypocrite.” I sing-songed, a little breathy because of the ache.
“Yeah, yeah. It has a nice melody or something. I’m going to head up, let me walk you to your bedroom, and let me know if you need anything.” He said, still sounding slightly worried.
“Yeah I—” I froze.
Melody. The melody. I leaned over the sink, suddenly feeling sick.
The melody. What—the melody. I felt myself heaving, hyperventilating.
“Jongin!” I felt something wrap around my waist, holding me, but I didn’t care.
“Jongin, what is it? Jongin, talk to me!”
No. No. No. No! No! NO!
“Jongin, please.” I felt the panic in his voice.
“Jongdae.” I couldn’t recognise my own voice.
No, the song—the song, the song goes like this! Softly and then--
“Yes, Jongin? Mom! Mom! Just hang on!”
“Jongdae.” The melody. I know how it sounds. I’ve always heard it. I know it. I know it!
“Just hang on Jongin, just hang on. Mom!”
No, I know it! I know it! I haven’t—it’s not! I know it!
“Jongdae? What’s wrong? What happened?” and then “Jongin?!”
“Jongdae.” I moaned, miserable, my heart—my heart. It hurts. No!
“Jongin, darling, what’s wrong? Jongdae, get your father up now!” I heard my mom’s tears, I don’t care, just— “Just hang on, please.”
“Jongdae.” I sobbed.
“Jongin.” I heard his reply, desperate.
(Now when you don’t hear it anymore... that’s— that’s the worst.)
No, I sobbed. No.
(The song stops playing.) I felt like I was choking.
(Not even a hum, and only the bare memory of it.) I whimpered. Jongin!
(Just-- just like a dream.)
(The harder you try to remember, the further it gets away from you.) No! I couldn’t lose it.
(But you know something was there.) It’s still here! —I heard it. I know it—I know it!
(And you wonder how on earth it is that you could lose something you never got the chance to have.) How could I—No!
It felt like—I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t hear. Sliding to the floor, Jongdae’s arms holding me, and chanting heartbrokenly, it’s okay, it’ll be okay.
“It’s gone.” I sobbed.
It seemed like it was going to be a good day. So I wonder how it ended up so wrong.
There were lots of emotions I didn’t even know the names to then, but what I remember the most is the anger. I had never felt so angry in my life. I wanted- I wanted to destroy everything. Because how dare they? How could this happen? This- this was never supposed to happen; this—how could this happen?
“Jongin.” I heard my mom whisper, over the heat in my head and my gut, pacing and hoping with every step that the ground will break open and swallow everything.
No. Shut up. Shut up.
Shut up. Shut up. Just leave me alone!
“Jongin.” The sombre tone of my brother’s voice stopped me short. And I felt even angrier.
“No,” I snarled, “how—how dare they? Do they- do they know how long I’ve been waiting?! Do they know how long I’ve been singing this song in my head, and now-- now I can’t even remember it?! How dare they?!” I sobbed, breaking off, feeling so angry and just so lost.
“Jongin,” softly, he spoke as if the slightest sound might set me off. And it did.
“No! Just—shut up! Get out! Leave me alone!” I snarled, picking up a pillow and throwing it at him. Any other day and I would never ever dream about doing this, especially when he’s looking so sad, and so empathetic, but now, I wanted everyone gone. Just gone.
Kyungsoo came by later, after a call from Jongdae is what he told me afterwards. He just sat there, with me, shoulder to shoulder, backs against the wall. It was quiet for long, very long, and I know if it was anyone else, they’d have said something by now. But this was Kyungsoo. And he’d wait patiently.
I wasn’t angry anymore. I wasn’t even sad. I just felt... nothing, I didn’t feel anything.
“It’s okay.” He said. I looked at him. He smiled softly, “It’s okay to not feel anything.” Still that sad smile. And my chest just hurt so, and the tears were something I couldn’t control.
“It’s not fair.” I cried, leaning on to his shoulder, wrapping my arms around him. “It’s just not fair. It’s not fair at all.” Don’t think I’ll understand.
Softly, “I know Jongin.”
A wrecked sob, “Why would they do this to me?”
“I don’t know.” Wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close, he held me until I could breathe a little easier. And then it was quiet for a while again. And I felt childish, for all my daydreams and hopeful futures with my soul mate.
I laughed bitterly then, Kyungsoo glancing at me worriedly.
“I had this dream, you know? That my soul mate would be exactly what I always wanted. That they would get me you know?” I said, pulling on the frayed end of my blanket, “that they would understand my silence not as a mood, but just as how I am. That it takes a long time for me to warm up to people. That social situations or ordinary things like class orals or group projects really stress me out. They’d understand that I was just the type to be always anxious.
I didn’t even care that I was rambling at this point. “And they wouldn’t pressure me to go out and be someone I’m not, or tease me for being so; they’d take my hand and help me along as long as I can handle it. And they’d hold my hand, but not too much, that it becomes difficult for me. That they understood that I really hate change. The smallest changes can have me upset for days at a time. But even then, I accept, in a way, that it has to happen.
“They’d let me be selfish, and childish, and unreasonable.” I sniffed, feeling ashamed.
“Yeah,” Kyungsoo whispered, “I know.”
I stared at him and forgot for a second that he did know. I sucked in a deep breath, and breathed another bitter laugh.
“I just. I just felt that-- I was made for them, you know? And they were made for me. They’re supposed to be mine, because I’m theirs too. They’re supposed to be,” and I felt ashamed for all my hope filled wishes, and I whispered, “I wanted them to be. How can they not be there anymore?” I felt like I was choking again.
Kyungsoo wrapped his arm around my shoulder, pulling me against his, and whispered, sounding exactly as I felt, “I don’t know.”
Life somehow, carried on even after that. I remember all the emotions I was feeling, all the hurt and pain and anger. I remember every single day felt like—like nothing was ever going to happen again.
That twitching, it just... stopped. As soon as I realized what was missing, it stopped, and even the memory of that became vague. Everything was just a dream.
Mom and Dad blamed themselves, for letting me grow up so dependent on my soul mate. But I don’t think that’s it, not really. I think I was kind of stuck on the idea that someone was made for me, exactly for me. And the mere thought, the idea of someone like that existing, my soul mate--
My soul mate, huh.
At times, I’d feel bitter, and I’d stare out my window, questioning how the world was still turning. And then I realized I was only one person. Jongdae’s someone too, and so is Kyungsoo. The world didn’t stop then; why should it stop for me?
But it felt like it did, sometimes. Sometimes, it just got too quiet in my head. Not a single sound. No melody. No one waiting for me anymore, somewhere out there. It’s just me now. And
—and no one was made for me. And I was made for no one.
And it wasn’t healthy how I dealt with it, by not dealing at all. Jongdae at least, had his moments when he was alone, and could voice his anger. I just-- shoved it all deep down, deep down, where I knew it wouldn’t disappear, but where I wouldn’t have to think about it. Not for now, anyway. Not for a long while.
Mom suggested I clean my room, after a while. Clear the clutter, change your space. Change. Everything’s always changing, even when there was no reason for it to. And I’ve always hated it, and somehow that was what drove to change this time; my dislike for change. Though when I finally got around to doing it, all I did was space out and throw things that I wouldn’t have thrown away a few months ago.
And coming across my old shoebox, beneath my bed, holding all my thoughts and feelings, and written solely for my soul mate; I felt nothing. And I felt a bit of panic beneath the surface, because I felt nothing, but that too, that I just pushed out of sight. And for now, I pushed the shoebox back where it belonged.
I stopped writing, for a longer while than I noticed. Not right away. After I realized I wasn’t doing much else than writing different renditions of the same thing over and over again, I decided it was better to just... stop. At least for a while.
(I miss you.)
(How can I miss you?)
(You’re not there.)
But now, it all just seemed too much, and I needed to write again, even if it was to someone who wasn’t anywhere anymore.
So I found myself writing to them again. A habit that’s grown with me, and to simply cut it off would be cutting too much of me away as well. But it’s changed now, not holding much of anything anymore. Fleeting thoughts, or words I’ve read or heard before.
And getting up one morning, and rolling to my side, I felt okay. Until my eyes landed on my notebook, tucked away in between notebooks and textbooks, something I wouldn’t have seen unless I was looking for it, and I realized it’s been more than a year since I wrote a letter. Since I wrote anything. I sighed, irritated, at the person I’ve become. Self pitying to an annoying level.
Rolling onto my back to stare at my ceiling, the glow in the dark stars looking like they usually do, though a bit accusing, everything a bit accusing, as if to ask me why I thought they would be any different.
And blinking slowly, I got up and made my way to my desk, pulling out my notebook, and my favourite black pen. My favourite black pen, I thought, dazed, which I haven’t touched in a year, except to move it. And picking it up now, I found myself—writing.
Today I woke up feeling okay, and for a few moments, everything seemed okay. But it still feels the same. I couldn’t word it for a while, but now I know what it is; it feels like nothing is ever going to happen again. Everything’s changing, always changing. People, places, feelings, too many things are changing. And it scares me, it always has.
I took a deep breath, pen faltering, feeling vulnerable putting all of this on paper now. Even though this time, it’s not addressed to anyone who can read it. My eyes burned, as if I was sleepy, though I knew I wasn’t, and I was reminded of the days when they did burn because I was sleepy. Staying up till two in the morning, just to write a letter to—
To someone who can’t be found now.
Drawing in a breath, I continued, blinking hard once.
Think that’s why you’re so—you were so special to me.
No one ever understands this part of me. Over and over again, as if saying it more than a hundred times would make it clearer; I hate change. I always have, and I can’t explain why anymore, and I don’t want to either. But you, you were the one who was supposed to understand. It was always supposed to be you. That’s what—it’s what I’ve been waiting for the most. And now—now I...
It feels like nothing is ever going to happen again.
Staring out of my window, I just wanted to let go of all of it. Dump it somewhere. It’s heavy.
Time passed by, as it’s supposed to. And I spent my days the same way I did before. At first, it seemed... off somehow. Everything did. Kyungsoo said it would. Said everything is just strange for a long time. And you can’t really tell how. You know why though, he had said, walking while looking straight ahead.
I didn’t ask for how long. I figured that part on my own.
Sehun was... Sehun, thankfully. Loud, obnoxious, annoying, nasally and everything I needed him to be; just my best friend.
Walking back now, I could tell something was on the tip of his tongue. It happened a few times before too, I figured easily what it was about, but never what it was exactly. He’d brush me off whenever I asked, feigning annoyance what are you? My dad?
His response wasn’t much different now, though this time he seemed genuinely annoyed. There’s really only one reason for that.
“What. Did Sunyoung finally decide to cut all ties with you?” Kyungsoo asked, brutal as always. I winced, noticing the red splotches on Sehun’s neck.
“No.” He said, eyebrows furrowed.
And then I took a moment to really look at him. Sometimes, I find myself in a state of confusion when I see different sides of him. I used to get annoyed, always wondering why everyone was changing so much. But he wasn’t, I just wasn’t looking properly at times.
And looking at him now, scrunched eyebrows, his mouth pursed; I knew something he was too embarrassed to talk about was what bothering him. Especially when he didn’t even rise to Kyungsoo’s insult.
Exchanging a look with Kyungsoo, he shook his head once. If Sehun had something he wanted to say, he’d never feel better if we have to get it out of him. He needs to figure it out on his own.
We walked in silence for a bit, Kyungsoo avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk as he usually did, Sehun lost in thought, and me—just thinking too much again.
“Am I-” an irritated exhale. He stopped walking, twisting one of the straps on his bag.
“Am I being ungrateful right now? Am I- do you- do you guys hate me now, just a little?” he asked, unable to really look at anything.
Freezing at the turn of events, and feeling confused, I looked at Kyungsoo again. He looked... contemplative. As if he was considering, and just a bit proud, and fond.
“Why would you think that?” Kyungsoo asked, schooling his expression.
“Just- just because of.” He sighed, breaking off again. And looking at him properly now, I saw a bit of hurt on his face.
“Why, Sehun.” I asked softly, reaching out to wrap my fingers around his wrist.
He glanced down, and then up, and then back down again. Breathing deeply, he started, “I- Sunyoung. We’re not really soul mates, no, we are, but we don’t do anything about it. And we hardly talk, most of the times because I can’t even look at her without my face catching fire, and I’m not even trying, I’m a coward and I knew-” he said, sounding choked, “I knew it was her right from the start. And I’m not doing anything, even though she’s right there, and I know if I could just reach out, I could have her. She could be mine. And I could be hers. But I’m not doing anything.” He finished, and hastily wiped his face, and I realized; he was crying. Sehun was crying.
Feeling a lump in my throat, I wrapped my arms around Sehun tightly. I wasn’t any better with words but if Sehun could try this hard to tell us something, I’d do the same.
“Gosh Sehun, you noodle.” I said, laughing, feeling his tears in my neck. “We love you, you know? And we don’t hate you even a little. I did, sometimes, feel envious of you. Sometimes, even a bit angry. But hate you? Sehun, you’re one of my best friends. One of the most important people in my life. How could I?” I said, feeling the tears at the back of my eyes.
“Were you carrying this the whole time?” I asked, kissing the top of his head. “Idiot.”
Pulling away slightly, Kyungsoo mussed Sehun’s bangs. Sehun peeked from in between them, looking at him sadly. “Everyone’s different. Why would we blame you for this? For how you are? Everyone reacts differently to these things. This is how you are, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s not always a good thing to take things slowly, and never a good thing to waste time. But it’s never a good thing to rush into something either. I know it’s hard for you. Jongin knows it, too. We’re not much different anyway. I doubt we would have been much different.” Kyungsoo said with a laugh. I grinned, too, poking Sehun’s cheek.
“You’re so cute.” Kyungsoo added, still ruffling his bangs.
He looked teary eyes between in the two of us, and finally broke out into a watery smile. Tugging his bag tighter around himself, he started walking again.
“You guys are weird.” He said, grimacing at how fond he sounded.
I laughed, sharing a grin with Kyungsoo.
[It must have been love
But it’s over now
Must have been good
But I lost it somehow
[--] It must have been love
But it’s over now
It was all that I wanted
Now I’m living without.]
And before I knew it, I was off.
Sitting in my bedroom, suddenly, everything felt surreal.
Me leaving for university; me leaving home.
Even though Jongdae and Kyungsoo would be there too, and Sehun wouldn’t be too far away, it still felt too strange. All this... change. I sighed, heavily. I had hoped that somewhere along the way, with growing up, I’d somehow get over change. That it’d stop putting a sour pit in my stomach.
I don’t even know why I feel this way anymore. I’m not opposed to it at all. In my head, it’s pretty acceptable, even encourage able. I want to leave this time. I want this change.
I sighed, rolling my shoulders, and got back to packing. Besides my clothes, and some books, I wasn’t taking anything else with me. Everything else would stay the same here.
Finished with the last bits of packing, I looked around my room, checking to see if I’ve forgotten anything.
Everything seemed in order until I was nearly out the door. An old shoe box peeked from beneath the bed, and pulling it out, I felt... tired. Wasted, in a way. Yet I know, if I could, I wouldn’t have done this differently. A confusing contradiction.
Opening it, I flipped through messy letters, varying from messy handwriting to messy thoughts, and feeling a suspicious burning in my throat, I closed the box, and shoved it, less gently than I probably would have any other day, back under my bed.
Closing my door, I didn’t look back.