“Honey, are you sure you need to go back?”
With my mother holding my hand anxiously. We both waited for my flight number to be called...
“I have to...he needs me right now.”
I responded feeling emotional, after the phone call I had with Jin 2 days ago. My memories just keep replaying his fragile voice. How he was unable to speak properly, almost as if he couldn’t stop shaking. All I could hear were his muffled cries that made my heart fall apart...
He sounded so broken, like shattered glass that just keeps breaking. I can’t just stay here in America and ignore his pain. I’ve tried so hard to have him speak to me, but I knew it would be impossible to do so over the phone. So I decided on my own to go back, to where I’m needed. As much I want to stay here with my family and help my sister...I can’t. Because Jin has become part of my life as well...and I know he’s in agony...he didn’t even have to tell me. Just hearing his unsettling breathing and saddened voice. I know full well...that his mother...
“I understand...I wish your father was here to see you off as well. But his job has him working late again. Though I’m surprised how clever you are with your lies now. Telling him that the company is short-handed and needs help...which is not entirely a lie. Since you will be helping the company by being there for Jin. Though I still don’t like the idea of you leaving and having to lie to your father. But... knowing you, you’ll probably still go...I’m just worried that you’re over-stressing yourself. You still haven’t gotten much rest. Melissa, don’t do anything foolish when you land there. Stay out of trouble and please...give your friend my condolences. I can’t imagine a son losing the only family member he had. I’m glad that you want to help him...but I can’t help but feel that it will be painful for you if go back.”
My mother expressed her concerns as she suddenly embraced me! With her hand patting my back gently, I rested myself in the comfort of her arms...
Feeling this warmth of my mom...made me instantly cry. Because this is the reason why Jin is falling into despair...not being able to hold his mother anymore. Taking in an uneven breath, I calmed my nerves before pulling away from her embrace. Wiping away my tears, I went ahead and gripped the key necklace I was now wearing. But what my mother mentioned about it being painful for me...she was right. Because as much as I wish to forget the reasoning for leaving Korea, it will always be embedded in my heart. The connection I have with him...all because of my necklace.
Shortly after, my flight number was called. And with only a backpack to carry, I held my ticket firmly before saying farewell to my mother. Though as upset I am with my sister at the moment, I still wish she was here to see me off. But maybe it’s a good thing that she’s not here...it would probably make things difficult to have her see me go back to Korea. I honestly hate lying to my family, but at least I have my mother’s support. Somthing that I know that my father wouldn’t be able to do so easily...
After boarding the plane, I looked outside to see that the sun still hasn’t risen yet with how early in the morning it was. I’m not sure how long I should stay in Korea, though I will have to be very careful when hiding my face now. I can’t have Sang know I’m back...but what has me more worried is that Jin hasn’t been answering any of my calls for texts. On that night when I called him, that was the last time I was able to hear his voice...
I could be overthinking it, but...Jin wouldn’t do anything impulsive...right? After hearing what Kai almost did...I’ve become more paranoid at how sensitive Jin and Kai are. Resting my head back, I did my best in trying to catch up on my sleep. But no matter how much I tried, the voices that I kept hearing from the mini tv screens that were displayed through the plane just kept discussing above the media. And the main topic they kept discussing was ExEx Idol...
“Do you think it’s true what the news is saying? That Jin is quitting the group?”
“Really?! I thought it was because Zack who wants to go solo in his music career?”
“What? No, don’t be silly you guys. I read online that Kai is working on a new song. That’s why they’re keeping quiet, their trying to surprise us!”
Listening to what the people were saying behind me, I sunk myself deeper into my chair. I haven’t even reached Korea and yet I’m already hearing everyone talking about the boys. Just how bad have things gotten? After they finished touring, it’s clear as day just how popular ExEx Idol has become, I wonder how the boys are dealing with it? Having so many eyes watching your every move. It must be so difficult for them... especially when the world has no idea what they are going through.
Dozing off and on between the hours of the flight, I could feel my body being worn out by how exhausted I really was. It’s been so long since I last got good sleep and being on a plane for 12 plus hours is starting to take a toll on me. So I was incredibly relieved once we were close to landing! As I went ahead to grab my bag, I immediately placed my face mask on. Rubbing my tired-like eyes, I looked out the window and expected to see the warm sun shining brightly in the sky. But I was surprised to see the exact opposite of that!
I said to myself as I felt the plane finally land...
Making my way through the terminals. I heard my phone going off, it was a message from my father, telling me to be safe. Feeling guilty, I texted him back that I’ll be back home soon. I know my mother wants me to tell Dad the truth of what’s going on...and I will eventually. But for now, he needs to believe that I just came back here to fill out the last of my paperwork of quitting while I’m helping the company one last time before I come back to America. As for my sister...I didn’t tell her that I was leaving at all.
After I finished messaging Dad, I hurried in waving down a cab once I exited the airport. I didn’t think it would rain so much, becoming completely soaked. It took a while before I was able to pick up a taxi, hurrying myself to get into the vehicle. I felt the freezing sensation of how cold my body was, wiping my wet face with my damp shirt. I pulled out my phone with my shaking hands and showed the driver where to take me, with the car starting to move. I saw the wet droplets leave the ends of my hair, I probably look like a complete mess right now...
Rubbing my hands together to keep warm, I shortly went ahead and began to call Jin. But he still wasn’t answering, I don’t get it...it’s the middle of the day. He should be awake, so why isn’t he answering? Growing worried, I asked the driver if he could speed it up. Though I was totally caught off guard by what he told me after he recognized the place he was taking me to!
“Oh! Do you live in this area? If so, you should be careful. This place has been crowded with reporters and crazy fans...ever since that one group came back from the tour...what are they called again? I forget...this old man has terrible memory nowadays. But lately, this young group of boys has been front news cover for these last few weeks. And I don’t know which member lives in these apartments, but let me tell you...it’s not gonna be easy entering inside. From what I heard, they have tough security scanning I.D’s to clarify if you’re allowed into the building.”
With the information the old man was giving me, I gripped my phone tightly and began to tremble with fear for some reason. Now that I’m here, I can’t be for certain that I’ll be able to even get inside the apartment?! Not only that, but how do I know if Jin isn’t just living in the dorms? Wouldn’t it be safer staying at the companies property?
Damnit! I didn’t think that far ahead. What am I suppose to do now if I can’t see Jin? With all these questions running in my mind, the sound of the rain began to pour more heavily. Though that wasn’t the only thing I could hear once I felt the cab come to a full stop! The voices of people yelling and shouting out his name filled my heart with lead. I can’t believe this...why? Why are there so many people out here still?! It’s raining so heavily yet I could see so many fans holding posters of ExEx Idol. Some could be heard crying out and begging for Jin to come out. While others questioned what Jin and the other members are hiding...
Said the old man with a worrisome smile.
Giving a thankful bow, I grabbed my bag and stepped out of the car. As the rain continued to consume me, I gripped my necklace with my cold hands and felt how chilling my breathing was becoming. Seeing how serious these fans are, it’s almost terrifying how committed they are to the boys. Raising my head, I looked up to see the clouded skies, but the foggy mist above me was so thick that I couldn’t even see the height of the apartment building anymore...“Jin...are you up there all alone?”
I whispered in a painful sorrow before making my way to approach the building.
If I remember correctly, Jin lives on the very top floor of the apartment. Opening my wet bag, I pulled out my old I.D. badge that I would have to wear when I was working in the company. What I’m about to do is going to be so reckless and really stupid. But, I don’t know what else I can do? Jin isn’t answering my calls and if what that old man said is true and they really are checking I.D’s then this is the only thing I could think of. I just hope...this works.
Clutching my badge, I pushed myself through the crowd. However, the amount of aggression that these fans had was crazy! With every inch I tried to get through, the agonizing pain of people stepping on my feet was almost unbearable! But I can’t stop here! I have to keep going, I have to see him! I need to know if he’s okay! That he’s still able to be strong...
“Oppa! Come back to us! Why are the boys not posting anything on social media!?”
“Jin! I love you! Please come outside!”
“Why are you being so selfish! You’re so mean! Oppa! Why are you doing this to us!?”
“Jin! Do you have a girlfriend!? Is that why you’re ignoring us!?”
I wanted to block out everyone’s voices, but it’s no use. Everyone here just wants to know what’s going on! I understand that they are worried, but they’re making things worse by doing this! Please! Everyone, just leave Jin alone....leave the boys alone. Let them breathe! None of you know what tragedies these boys had to endure!
“Hey, you! Step back! We will call the authorities if you trespass!”
Shouted one of the security guards who saw me passing through!
“Huh?! No, I...uhh work for the company. I’m here to drop something off-”
“Nice try, you’re not the first one to lie about working for ExEx Idol. There have been many girls like you who will do anything to sneak their way inside-”
Bringing the man to silence, I quickly showed him my I.D. He then immediately brought me inside for safety reasons, I don’t need to be reminded what would happen if any one of these fans saw my face. Though I had to pull my face mask down to show my identification real quick. Showing him my passport, I.D, and working badge. He gave me the okay in heading to the front desk, though I should have known it wasn’t going to be that easy to be let in...
“You said you’re here for work, yet you don’t have the I.D card for his room. I’m sorry, but right now with how chaotic things are at the moment, I can’t call him to come down to meet you. It would only cause more chaos at the lobby...have you tried calling him?”
Asked the front desk lady who gave me the protocols as to why she can’t give me Jin’s room information. I was starting to lose hope in meeting him...
“I have called him...but he’s not answering. I just have some papers that he needs to sign...and I must get his signature and bring them back to manager Sang.”
I explained to her as I avoided eye contact, no matter what lies I say...may it be big or small. Any lie I tell will always weigh heavy on my chest.
“I see... okay. Listen, I’m really not allowed to do this. But just this once, I’ll give you the code number to his door. So follow me...”
She said as she gestured me to follow her to the elevator. Watching her scan the master key card to the padded screen, the elevator instantly opened as she led me to Jin’s floor. Once the doors slid open, she wrote down the numbers on a piece of paper and handed them to me. Bowing deeply for her kindness, I couldn’t help but ask why she would go out of her way to risk her job in helping me.
“Thank you so much, you have no idea how important this. But... is it really okay to help me? I don’t want you to get into trouble-”
“It’s okay, besides... I’m only doing this once. So make sure you have an I.D next time...and to be honest. The main reason why I’m helping you is that...well don’t tell anyone but...I’m actually a huge ExEx Idol fan. I know it might be shocking by how much older I am compared to these young fangirls. But I’ve been worried just like them with how silent the group has gotten. And...I haven’t really seen Jin leave his apartment that much since he got back from the tour...he’s gone silent...so I hope he’s doing okay. Anyways, I hope you have a nice day. Goodbye.”
Hearing what she had to say, I watch her bow as the elevator doors came to a close between us. Though I smiled in relief knowing that Jin was staying at the apartment after all...
It’s insane just how many people the boys have touched with their music. May it be the young or old generation, I’m filled with joy that they are making an impact on the world like they said they would. Turning myself around, I walked down the hall and searched for Jin’s room number. It was when I finally found it that I immediately begin knocking on his door!
Patiently waiting, the seconds dragged on to minutes as I kept knocking nonstop. Very soon my light knockings turned into desperate pounds once I wasn’t getting a response! Somthing really isn’t right! I’ve been calling Jin since yesterday and messaging him nonstop! Even now that I’m here, I’m not hearing anything from him!
“Jin!? Open the door! It’s me! Please open the door! I’m so sorry that I didn’t call you when I left and I understand if you are angry with me! But please! Open the door! Jin!?”
Twisting on the door handle in a panic, it was obviously locked so I quickly pushed the numbers on the door pad to let myself inside!
“Jin!? Where are you! Jin-”
I instantly cut back my words the moment I saw how damaged his apartment was!
Closing the door behind me, I leaned myself back against it and covered my mouth with my hand by how shocked I was! The state that this place is in... was horrible. The ripped curtains, broken plates everywhere...thrown picture frames. Shattered mirror glass everywhere...did Jin do all of this?
“Oh my god...”
I stuttered out my words in disbelief while dropping my bag to the ground.
Carefully walking around the mess, I paced myself as I slowly looked around. With all the lights being off, the room itself gave out a cold lonely feeling in the air. Emptiness, is this how Jin been living? It’s completely different from when he first brought me here, this place seemed so full of life before. I could still remember the sweet smell of homemade pancakes that Jin’s mom made for us...just remembering it, already moves me to tears.
I voiced out his name once I was able to pick up a faint noise.
It’s strange, but the closer I followed it. I noticed that the floor I was stepping on was wet!? Seeing where it was coming from, led me to where the bathroom should be. Did Jin forget to turn off the faucet of the sink? With the door being closed, I grabbed hold of the knob and felt very uneasy all of a sudden. Why...am I too scared to open it? With my heart beginning to ache, I shook out any negative thoughts that were preventing me from opening it.
Twisting the knob slightly, I slowly opened the door. However, it was completely pitch black inside. So I instantly flip the switch to only be choked in a panic attack of horror! I could feel my face growing pale as the inner gut of my organs felt like their about to be pulled out of me! I couldn’t breathe and I feel like I could die at any moment!
Screaming out his name in terror, I ran towards the huge tub. Seeing his body being submerged in water, I quickly turned off the faucet! Jumping in the tub and wrapped my arms around his body! I was too panicked to even check if he was even breathing! The water was freezing cold just like his body as I held him tightly in my embrace!
“Jin! Don’t do this! Don’t you dare do this to me! I won’t ever forgive you! Please! Please don’t die! JIN!”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you or someone you know is dealing with a mental crisis, please don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Know that you aren’t alone, be strong, and live each passing day to love yourself more and more.
(It’s okay to not be okay.)