The days leading to Wonwoo’s departure were devastatingly angonizing. Both of the two had to act as if everything was normal. They had to walk around, the weight of their unexpressed feelings standing like tall edifices on their chests.
They went about with their normal routines-making their way to the terrace, feeding Drake, and discussing what had happened in the course of the day. They both put up the biggest facades, masterfully masking what they were really feeling.
On July 24th, 2014, Wonwoo left Gyeongsangnam.
They silently said goodbye to each other, refraining from crying.
“I’m going to miss you, Woo,” Mingyu said, looking down at Wonwoo with a bright smile.
“Don’t worry, dude. We’ll see each other again,” Wonwoo said.
“Yeah, I hope we will.”
Mingyu watched as Wonwoo walked away and stepped onto the bus. He was hoping against hope that by some weird miracle, his friend would decide against going away. But the bus rumbled and started to move, leaving Mingyu to stand outside and wave, tears welling up, as Wonwoo waved back from behind a window.
He was smiling, and Mingyu made sure to keep that image permanently embedded in his mind. Those crescent eyes that dazzled in the sun, his little nose that scrunched up when he laughed, his pink lips that made the most beautiful smile. Yes, the night sky was awesome, but Jeon Wonwoo was more. Jeon Wonwoo was extraordinary, he was astounding, he was magnificently fantastic, he was just…everything.
This was the first time Mingyu had met Wonwoo’s parents. They were warm, cheerful people, who were evidently proud of their son.
On September 28th, 2013, Mingyu had realized that he had never met Wonwoo’s parents. They rarely ever spent time in each other’s houses; they preferred the library terrace, where Wonwoo could feel at ease with the breeze, and the hamburger place, where both of them could savour their food in the infinitesimal time they were not talking. But Mingyu often talked about his parents, regardless of whether what he had to say about them were positive or not. He had also introduced them to Wonwoo when the latter had sneaked up to Mingyu’s room on his birthday. Wonwoo had never uttered a single word about his parents before, and Mingyu had noticed that he often became quite distant while talking about them.
“Hey, Woo, how come… how come you never talk about your parents?” asked Mingyu, seated atop the terrace, legs swinging dangerously off the edge.
Wonwoo looked up, a monotonous expression plastered across his face as he tried to not look taken aback.
“I always talk about my parents. I’ve never heard anything about yours.”
“Well, my parents… are there. Nice and healthy. Still alive,” said Wonwoo, avoiding Mingyu’s eyes. He could feel them staring at him, trained on the back of his head.
“Are- You’re, er, OK with them, right?”
“You know you could tell me if something was wrong.”
Wonwoo threw his books aside and lay on his back to face the sky. He let out a loud scream, his hands forcefully stretching his cheeks down.
“OK, shoot,” retorted Mingyu, unfazed with Wonwoo’s sudden outburst of emotion.
“Dude, it’s complicated.”
Wonwoo had realized that he didn’t like talking about his family, not due to their profession, but due to his. More specifically, Wonwoo was passionate about pursuing a career in music, but his parents were completely against it. He had never voiced his emotions out. During his 10th grade, he and his family had had a discussion at length about his future career, and they were absolutely bent upon him learning the trade of fishery, or if not, at least something solid, that was sure to get him a stable income. Not music, no way. Ever since then, Wonwoo simply distanced himself with any discussions involving employment. He loved his family, of course, but did not like thinking about their reaction when he did go off to compose music, because he would never, ever do anything else.
Wonwoo narrated his predicament to Mingyu.
“And that is why you have never heard of my parents,” concluded Wonwoo, his eyes now tiredly closed.
Mingyu solemnly nodded, as if in deep thought.
“I think you should just tell your parents. No matter what they say- no, I know you’ve already told them. I’m saying, keep reinforcing that that’s your passion, and you’re not going to settle for anything else! Bring the topic up whenever you can, argue with them, shout, whatever. Do something to prove you’re worthy if you want. Just make them believe in your skill, and your liking for the subject,” Mingyu advised.
“I don’t do stuff like that, Gyu… I can’t shout at my parents.”
“Dude, Wonwoo, you’re just too…,” Mingyu trailed off before wiggling his arms and swaying his body. “You know, breezy. Like, you just let anyone do whatever they want to you and you just accept it, and coop your feelings inside, and you’re just too…easy. No offense. You just can’t let everyone step on you, dude,” Mingyu said, forcing Wonwoo’s eyes open and lying down next him, making sure they faced each other. “I believe in you. But unless you take some action, unless you get up and do something instead of sitting around and moping, you’re going to start losing belief in yourself. You can’t expect anything to happen; later, when it doesn’t, you’ll just accept that as well. Get your butt down and start arguing.”
“Since when were 11th graders philosophers,” asked Wonwoo, after Mingyu’s lecture finished.
Mingyu smacked Wonwoo’s chest eliciting a loud groan from the latter.
“But seriously, good advice, young man.”
Wonwoo later convinced his parents after months of steady arguments, to let him study music. With the help of Mingyu, Wonwoo composed prize-winning songs for local competitions, resulting in Wonwoo’s parents finally believing in his future as a musician.
He had Mingyu to thank for everything, including his move to Seoul.
As Wonwoo was whisked away in the bus, he could only think of Mingyu. Yes, he was going to miss his parents, and the rest of his family, but Mingyu was the most important person in his life. While Mingyu didn’t know this, he had changed Wonwoo. Every one of his actions shaped Wonwoo from a helpless, loner, to a confident man, whether on purpose or not. His presence and company were enough for Wonwoo, and while ruminating over his thoughts, he often found himself thinking about Mingyu, and what he would have done. Thanks to Mingyu, Wonwoo was now a strong-willed, cheerful person, and the thought of his best friend itself made Wonwoo feel equipped for anything life was to throw at him. But it seemed that that was only true for when Wonwoo knew he could see Mingyu the next day.
Seated in the bus and left to his own thoughts, the same indescribable feelings as when Mingyu sang for him enveloped him. He could not bear to look at Mingyu’s face, and yet, he could not make himself look away. The both of them waved at each other, forced smiles masking the torment they were going through, until they could no longer see either one’s hands waving. Wonwoo was left to grapple with his conflicted emotions, while Mingyu was left to drown in his new-found feelings for Wonwoo, seemingly forever unrequited.
On July 25th, 2014, Wonwoo called Mingyu from his hostel after having settled down- which meant opening his suitcase and looking through it for underwear to wear- and spent more than five hours talking to him.
“How’s college?” asked Mingyu, relieved to listen to Wonwoo’s voice.
“It’s there…. It’s fun I guess. They’ve only just started with the basics, so it’ll only become interesting after sometime,” Wonwoo said, lying down on his bed.
To be honest, Wonwoo’s move was not easy. He had never travelled outside Gyeongsangnam, and Seoul was a world apart. Everything was different-huge shopping complexes left and right, the most advanced technology employed in everything, from grocery shopping to watching movies, and the hustle bustle of a much more modern way of living-were daunting changed for Wonwoo, and the street smarts he had cultivated over the years in Gyeongsangnam were not enough for him to settle down easily in Seoul. In addition to that, he knew no one. He had been quite used to being alone before he had met Mingyu, but after the younger boy entered his life, he was now used to years of his best friend sticking close to him, jabbering away, and sorely missed him. All he could think about was Mingyu.
“How’s 12th grade for you?”
“It’s fine. Kind of hard, but I guess I’ll get through it.”
“Cool. How’s Drake? You’re feeding him, right?”
Mingyu chuckled, answering positively between laughs while imagining what Wonwoo would have done had he let Drake to fend for himself.
“I really miss you.”
Mingyu felt like he was going to explode. One Wonwoo-less day was torment of the nth order for him. He wanted to hug him, kiss him, and tell him how much he loved him. He wanted Wonwoo to know how he felt. The least he could do was keep his urges in, and instead say something more platonic-like how much he missed him. He missed him like how much the sun would miss the moon. How the morning would miss the night. But all he could was to keep those emotions to himself.
Wonwoo felt a pang of sorrow on hearing Mingyu’s words. He really missed him too. There were no words to describe how much he missed him, and the extent to which he missed him made him question his very feelings.
“I do too, man.”
That was all he could say, for without Mingyu, Wonwoo was once again a colourless, lifeless person, at one with the cold winds that blew. He was the gray clouds and the slush that he loved so much. He was the silent, night sky, incapable of speaking.
And for some reason, he sorely missed his morning beyond what was platonic.